MARION, Ohio –
Sending men off to war was a decision then-Senator Warren G. Harding did not take lightly. In April 1917, he made that vote with one consolation: the country must work to safeguard American rights no matter where in the world they may be.
As Harding Home and Harding Memorial Site Manager Sherry Hall elaborated on that statement it showed Harding’s true concern was ensuring that America would not seek to gain from what would become World War I.
“Safeguarding American rights wherever they were in the world but without the selfish interests of pushing other nations to adopt our form of government or grabbing a slice of the profits which come from manufacturing war materials,” she said in explaining Harding’s vote in support of sending troops to Europe for WWI.
Harding’s vote began a century of serving for many U.S. Army units, to include what is now the 88th Regional Support Command out of Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. With his, and a majority of the rest of his fellow Congressmen’s, vote, the 88th Division was constituted at Camp Dodge, Iowa, and began preparations to enter The Great War.
Today, to honor President Harding, the current Deputy Commanding General for the 88th RSC Brig. Gen. Stephen E. Strand spoke on behalf of current President Donald J. Trump before presenting a wreath to honor the 29th President of the United States.
Harding was elected to office in 1920 following a three-month, front-porch campaign that was run out of his Marion, Ohio home. Harding was inaugurated in March 1921 and immediately got to work on his “normalcy policies” before he died in office during a trip to the western United States in August 1923.
“President Harding’s plans to achieve greater prosperity at home went far beyond good governance,” Strand said. “Through his efforts, American workers realized an eight-hour workday and with the help of his wife, Florence, Harding formed the Veteran’s Bureau which sought to consolidate the medical care of World War I Veterans.”
In becoming the first sitting senator to be elected president, Harding had the duty of not only voting in support of World War I, but also in overseeing the post-war rebuilding of the nation and its people.
“President Harding took the dog-eared cards dealt to him and tried his best to smooth a way forward for the nation,” Hall said. “He implemented a far-reaching program of normalcy policies, many of which were ahead of their time, completing most of his goals to return the country to a normal way of living in just 27 months, two months before he died.”
Those policies have endured nearly a century after Harding instituted them.
“Harding’s vison has reached across the generations and helped give the leaders of today a strong foundation on which to build,” Strand said. “We are grateful, as a nation, to be able to stand upon those foundations and see further down the path to peace and prosperity.”
President Harding provides a crucial role in the history of the 88th as well as several other still-serving Army divisions. Without his vote in 1917, the 88th Division would not have begun its lineage. Now, 100 years later, the Cloverleaf Division will be celebrating that heritage with a ceremony August 19 at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.