The Christmas Concert last night! At St. Paul’s Church on Duval.

Always terrific! The oldest church in South Florida. Packed to the rafters. Standing room only.

Christmas decorations everywhere. The cream of Key West entertainers singing and playing. The Church lights dimmed. The performance basically by candlelight.

Everyone was excellent. There is always a best of the best, however. There were two performances that were absolutely outstanding. I know the people involved very well. This may have influenced my judgment, but I believe not.

Larry Smith, Christine Cordone and Kathleen Peace performed an unusual number. They combined about 20 Christmas caroles and songs together. The ladies sang in rapid fashion two or three lines from each tune. Larry was on the piano. It had to be difficult for each persn to keep up with the other.

The other performance was by Maj Johnson. Her rendition of  O, Holy Night brought the warmth of Christmas directly to one’s heart.

Last night was the 28th Christmas Concert at St. Paul’s.. The Church is amazing. It’s sits right in the heart of Duval. All the noise of party goers outside. Yet the peace and solitude of God inside.

The present Church was constructed in 1920. Notice I said the present Church. Actually the Church was initially constructed in 1831. However, due to two hurricanes and a fire, the Church has been reconstructed several times.

Today is the last segment of my World War II remembrances. The subject is the G.I. bill.

The G.I. bill  became law one year before World War II ended. 1944. Its purpose was threefold. First, to provide unemployment compensation to returning veterans for one year. Second, to provide cheap low interest loans to returning veterans to buy or build homes. The final provision concerned education. It made it possible for returning veterans to attend college at the government’s expense.

The G.I. bill was a smart move. Especially the education provision. There never would have been enough jobs for the returning veterans. Truman wanted to avoid the pre-depression days that occurred following World War I where returning veterans were living in tents and selling apples on street corners.

Eisenhower continued the G.I. bill tradition when he took office in 1952. Made sure the G.I. bill stayed in place.Eisenhower had a concern  for returning Korean veterans and the possibility there would not be enough jobs for them. He decided that the highway system in the United  States needed work. There was no national highway system. It took forever to go from one part of the country to another. A proper highway system was required. A law was passed creating the establishment of a national interstate highway system. Thousands of jobs resulted immediately.

Sound familiar.

I remember the G.I. bill having done two things.

The home loans. Very important. All of a sudden, city limits were expanded, the suburbs created. Homes sprang up all over the place. New neighborhoods and communities were created. The houses were basically boxes. Nice, but they all looked the same. The key was more the pride of first time ownership rather than esthetics.

The most important part of G.I. bill was the education provision. Returning veterans could go to school and still receive support money. The government paid for everything. As with the housing provision, colleges sprang up all over the place. Abandoned churches, church cellars, abandoned warehouses, homes, were utilized for teaching. Hundreds of new colleges established.

I believe the G.I. bill educational provision was the beginning/conception of the middle class in the United States. Returning veterans obtained  bachelor degrees. Many went on to advanced degrees. Most of these individuals would never have attended college were it not for the G.I. bill. New doctors, lawyers ansd Indian chiefs were created. Within 10 to 15 years, they became a solidly established professional and business community. Were it not for the GI bill, most would never  have moved away from the ethnic ghettos and  mill jobs of their forebearers.

Enjoy your day!

4 comments on “

  1. The GI Bill was one of our most outstanding pieces of social legislation in our history. It was FDR's last piece of his New Deal, for he was dead within a year after he signed the first one in 1944. The GI Bill transformed the US for a college education was now available to the masses. I doubt if our current Tea Party advocates have any clue about it today.

  2. Many lessons to be learned from our decisions of the past. I just wonder if any current government officials truly realize they could impact the future by looking at the past in some cases?

    Christmas Concert described beautifully, thanks for providing the mental pictures!

  3. Louis
    I want to thank you for the kind words in your Sunday blog. As I am sure your readers will all agree to have a relationship of any kind last over 30 years it requires two people who work well togather. It has been an honor to have worked for and with you all these years. Thank you for the opportunity to be of service.
    Bill Hatfield

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