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My Fellow Soldiers

Letters from World War I

Mabie Todd Swan "Military" pen

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The personalized “trench” pen may have been a going-away present for Private Alfred Abelson. Engraved, “Alfred Abelson 6-4-18,” the date falls exactly one week before his induction into the US Army. The Norwegian-born Abelson was not a US citizen and had to register as a resident alien in the first round of selective service in 1917. Nearly twenty-percent of US military personnel were foreign-born like Abelson. He served stateside and was in Air Service Mechanics School when the war ended.

Courtesy Richard F. Binder