“I am going to stick and protect the stars and stripes” – A World War I Soldier’s Letter

“I am going to stick and protect the stars and stripes in order that they may stand forever,” wrote Leroy Temple in a letter published in the August 9, 1917 edition of the Elizabethville Echo.

Temple enlisted in the United States Army on June 5, 1917 at the age of 16. This young man lied about his age, claiming he was born on June 14, 1898 – two years before his actual birth in 1900.

The Elizabethville native was assigned as a wagoner with the Supply Company of the 79th Field Artillery. He wrote home to his hometown newspaper on the date he was assigned to his unit while training at Fort Riley, Kansas.

A Soldiers Letter

Fort Riley, Kan., Aug. 1, 1917

To the Readers of The Echo:

Just a few more lines to the people of Elizabethville about the army life. All the troops are fitted up to war strength with men and their allowance of horses. The 17th to 25th cavalry have been changed to field artillery and will be ordered to the front between now and September, myself being included in the 21st.

They have picked out all men under 18 and those who are not physically fit for duty and sent them home. I am going to stick and protect the stars and stripes in order that they may stand forever, and I feel that every young man in my hometown should join the army with the same ideas.

Trusting that I shall be able to see all my old friends again, I will say goodnight.

Leroy Temple

Featured image: Cavalry Encampment at Fort Reily, Kansas in 1917 (Library of Congress)

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