Day 1: Who’s for the Khaki Suit?

Who’s for the khaki suit–
Are you, my laddie?
Who longs to charge and shoot–
Do you, my laddie?
Who’s keen on getting fit,
Who means to show his grit,
And who’d rather wait a bit–
Would you, my laddie?

-Jesse Pope, The Call

Men and women enter war in a variety of different ways, willingly and unwillingly, wittingly and unwittingly. The way you enter has a lot to do with times and circumstances, but for those who come to engage actively in war, the draws come from many different directions.

For some its as simple as getting into something greater than themselves in a spirit of adventure, as simple as joining a big game:



Perhaps one is interested in a sense of community and a sense of shared values within the military structure:



For others, honor, considerations of blood ties and land, and identity with higher causes make a case:



And, for some, it may be appeals to family and a sense of shame:



Of course, a good picture does even better with a catchy tune, such as this unsubtle call from 1914:


Backed up with the promise a little romance, if sport doesn’t do it for you:

“On Sunday I walk out with a Soldier,
On Monday I’m taken by a Tar,
On Tuesday I’m out with a baby Boy Scout,
On Wednesday a Hussar;
On Thursday a gang oot wi’ a Scottie,
On Friday, the Captain of the crew;
But on Saturday I’m willing, if you’ll only take the shilling,
To make a man of any one of you.”

-A Music Hall Song, 1914

The cavalcade is effective on many fronts, touching all the senses and impulses from adventure to lust, fear to shame, romance to sacred duty. Though well illustrated by the First World War, with its bright posters, garish nationalism, and tinny grammaphone tunes, the tactics have not changed much. We are still lured by images of youth; soldiers exalted, brave, and dashing. In the United States one can add money for a college education or a technical skill set to the list of those things the military can offer, and the adds seem to, in many cases, use the same ideals. War for the volunteer may offer much not available at home. For good…



…and for worse:


But then of course there are those who do not take the khaki suit willingly. Sometimes, by conscription or out of the conditions of war expanding to their domain, persons become combatants and targets.




And, outside rhetoric and flag-waving, some take the khaki suit to survive.



(War is My Food)



An interesting Mental Floss article about World War One Recruitment Posters:

Experience the Centennial with some original music (year by year):

For amazing (but GRAPHIC) images of the First World War you can visit

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