“The particular goal of [two large dances in 1943 sponsored by American Legion and VFW posts] was to raise enough money to send a million cigarettes to soldiers overseas…. Both groups almost made it. Each sent more than 900,000 cigarettes, and on the back of each pack was the message, ‘The Citizens of Charlotte, N.C., Send Christmas Smokes for Our Overseas Fighting Folks’….
“[But] during 1944, with vast numbers of cigarettes earmarked for the military, cigarette rationing began…. Home-front smokers were more concerned with getting their own cigarettes, and no one sponsored programs that would send more cigarettes overseas.”
— From “The Queen City at War” by Stephen Herman Dew (2001)
In media eras past, fame was indisputably validated by getting your picture on the cover of Time magazine (not to be confused, of course, with getting it on “The Cover of the Rolling Stone.”)
Although the debut cover of Time (March 3, 1923) depicted a Guilford County native — former House Speaker “Uncle Joe” Cannon of Illinois — the Encyclopedia of North Carolina considers little-remembered Henry L. Stevens Jr. of Warsaw the first North Carolinian to achieve the cover (1932).
From the essay supporting the highway historical marker 2 blocks south of Stevens’ home:
“Thrust into the national spotlight in 1931-32, Henry L. Stevens Jr. led the American Legion through a tumultuous period. Himself a decorated veteran of World War I, Stevens presided over the organization’s convention [in Detroit] in September 1931. Following a personal appeal from President Herbert Hoover, the group voted 902-507 not to support the demands of veterans to cash in the remaining 50 percent of their Adjusted Service Certificates.
“Earlier that year, Congress had overridden Hoover’s veto of a measure to permit vets to cash in half of the bonus, resulting in withdrawal of over $1 billion from the treasury. Stevens bore the brunt of criticism and was burned in effigy. Demands were heard for his resignation as national commander….
“The ‘Bonus Army’ marchers descended on Washington in spring 1932 where they set up camps and eventually were routed by Army troops led by General Douglas MacArthur.”
Stevens, a lawyer and longtime Superior Court judge, died in 1971 at age 75.
On this day in 1928: At the request of American Legion officials, Durham police remove a Ku Klux Klan float from line in the annual Armistice Day parade. The float bears the letters “KKK” and two white-draped figures representing “Purity” and “Honesty.”
“Since our post is composed of men of all classes and all religious faiths ” a Legion official tells the Durham Morning Herald, “participation by the Klan in our parade would throw the entire picture out of harmony.”