Cucumber Time right now, so I'm a bit (more than a bit) behind in everything. But I thought in the spirit of Occupy Wall Street I'd do a little piece on a moment of American history that I've never heard of before, and which has become sharply relevant just now.
The Bonus Army was a group of World War I vets and their friends and families who marched on Washington in the spring and summer of 1932 to demand early payment of a bonus promised them for their service. It was not due to be paid them till 1945, but since many of them had been out of work since the beginning of the Great Depression, they were asking that this bonus be paid early. Washington, even liberal Washington, seemed not too keen on the idea.
Rachel Maddow did a very nice piece on this moment in our American past, showing the parallels to what was taking place in the Oakland version of Occupy Wall Street.
(I've edited this to put in the audio version, because the embedded segment hasn't led to the right video clip here)
I probably would have just watched without doing much more with it except that I came across a New Yorker archive article that they've made available without subscription about E.B. White's reaction to the Bonus Army (He was sympathetic with their plight, but not so impressed with the action itself.)
Then this week, I found that the Library of America blog was posting some reporting by John Dos Passos on the movement.
I like the way this current occupation is reflecting back echoes of American movements past. Mario Salvo and the Free Speech movement has also figured in the picture lately. I think sometimes we don't see the importance of such moments for our common history--our human common history, not just America's--until some aspect of those moments is mirrored in our own.