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My Fellow Soldiers

Letters from World War I

Belgian student Joseph Gregoire to President Woodrow Wilson

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Courtesy Belgian Children's Letters to President Woodrow Wilson, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, DC
In the earliest days of the war, Germany invaded Belgium after the government refused to allow German troops passage. The violation of Belgium’s neutrality provoked Britain to declare war against Germany on August 4, 1914. The conflict caused severe food shortages in Belgium. Though the United States remained neutral, citizens provided humanitarian aid and sent food supplies to the occupied country of seven million people. Belgian schools organized letter writing campaigns to express the population’s gratitude to the United States.

Transcription

5 March 1917

[Transcript]

Monsieur le Président,

Vers le commencement du mois d'août, une terrible guerre se déchaîna sur l'Europe, ainsi que sur notre florissante Belgique. Après l'envahissement des troupes allemandes, notre pays fut entouré de toutes parts et fermé au commerce et à l'àrrivage des vivres. Nous étions donc menacés de mourir de faim, mais Votre coeur généreuse ne pouvant voire toute une nation souffrir, se hâta d'envoyer des provisions à notre chère Patrie. Aussi nous ne saurions témoigner une reconnaissance assez grande pour votre généreuse intervention. Merci de tout coeur et vivent les Etats-Unis d'Amérique.

Joseph Grégoire, âge de 11 ans. éléve de l'école primaire, de Hotton-Belgique.

Hotton, le 27 février 1915.

A Monsieur le Président de la république des Etats-Unis à Washington.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ [Translation]

Mr. President,

Towards the beginning of the month of August, a terrible war was unleashed on Europe, and on our thriving Belgium. After the invasion of German troops, our country was surrounded on all sides and closed to commerce and the arrival of food. We were, therefore, at risk of starvation, but your generous heart, not able to see a whole nation suffer, rushed to send provisions to our beloved country. As such we cannot adequately express our gratitude for your generous intervention. Thank you wholeheartedly and long live the United States of America.

Joseph Grégoire, age 11. Primary school student, Hotton, Belgium.

Hotton, February 27, 1915.

To the President of the Republic of the United States in Washington.