Told by Sharon Kirk Clifton
Presented by the Johnson County Public Library
Part of the Sharing Hoosier History Through Stories series sponsored by the Indiana Historical Society and Storytelling Arts of Indiana
It was called the Great War, the World War, the War to End All Wars. In its early years, most Americans referred to it as the European War. We wanted to protect our own interests by staying out of the fray, remaining neutral, and trading with both sides. However, Germany would not recognize U.S. neutrality. American ships at sea became fair game.
After the Germans sank two of our ships, American sentiment shifted, and the public pressured President Woodrow Wilson to go to war against the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy. On April 2, 1917, Wilson sent a war request to Congress. Four days later, the United States declared war on Germany.
Among the first to answer the call to serve were two Hoosiers. Ruth Wright of Rochester had recently become an RN and was working at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. When she heard the Red Cross needed nurses to volunteer for duty in France, she signed up to go with the first wave. Robert H. Tyndall, an Indianapolis native, was a successful businessman who heard the call to serve and sold his half of a tailoring firm to his partner and re-entered the military. He had served in the War with Spain.
Using the Indiana Historical Society’s archives, storyteller Sharon Kirk Clifton will share the stories of these two people who, after the war, became leaders in Indiana. Sharon is a professional storyteller who is also passionate about writing, especially for children. She has published two middle-grade novels and is working on a third. She received the Frank Basile Emerging Stories Fellowship in 2004 for which she premiered Abigail Gray: Living Under the Drinking Gourd. This is her second commission for the Sharing Hoosier History Through Stories series. Her previous story, At Home and In Harm’s Way: The Role of Indiana Women in the Civil War premiered in 2007.