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The Woman Who was Banned from Playing the National Anthem

Seeking to do a little something special for the 1928 Christmas season, the New York Central and the New Haven Railroads hired Mrs. Mary Lee Read to play appropriate music on an organ in the Great Hall of Grand Central Terminal in New York. Mrs. Read, who had been playing in the Denver railroad station since 1921, proved so popular she was brought back every year for more than 30 years, and also played for Thanksgiving, Easter Week, and Mother’s Day, occasionally accompanied by choral groups during the Great Depression and World War II.

Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Sunday, December 7, 1941, Mrs. Read began playing ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ during rush hours. The music brought the busy terminal to a halt, as everyone stood at attention, often singing along. But the performance disrupted train schedules, inconveniencing not only commuters, but also military personnel, with whom the terminal was often filled.

As a result, Mrs. Read was asked to refrain from playing anything that would keep people from reaching their trains on time.

Mrs. Read thus became the only person in America who was forbidden to play the national anthem.

 

Casualty Causation in the Homeric Epic

Hermann Frölich (1839-1900) was a German military surgeon who ultimately rose to Oberst-Stabsarzt (medical colonel) in the Royal Saxon Army. His years of peacetime training and his field service in the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 (in which Saxony was allied to Austria) and the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871 (with Saxony allied to Prussia) had made him a specialist in wounds and their treatment, about which he wrote extensively.

Like any educated man of his day, Frölich was well versed in the classics, and could read ancient texts in the original Greek and Latin. Some time during the 1870s, perhaps after once again reading The Iliad, Homer’s grim tale of the great war between the Greeks and Trojans, Frölich started to think about the poet’s description of military medicine around 1250 BC. So he began to study the text in great detail, searching for evidence of the medical practice of the time, the nature of wounds, and the treatments provided.

Frölich published his results as Die Militärmedicin Homers. In a slim volume of only 65 pages, he gave a brief outline of military practice and medicine as described by Homer, and then presented the results of his analysis of 147 instances in which a wound was described with sufficient detail to permit some conclusions to be drawn. The principal weapons were, of course, spears (both stabbing and throwing types), swords, arrows, and rocks, the latter often grabbed up during desperate hand-to-hand fights.

Frölich’s Analysis of Wounds from the Iliad
Weapon
Outcome Sword Spear Arrow Rock Total
Head Fatal 8 17 2 4 31
  Non-Fatal 0 0 0 0 0
Unknown 0 0 0 0 0
Neck Fatal 4 8 0 1 13
Non-Fatal 0 1 0 0 1
Unknown 0 0 1 1 2
Torso Fatal 4 59 3 1 67
  Non-Fatal 0 5 3 1 9
Unknown 0 3 0 0 3
Arms Fatal 1 0 0 1 2
Non-Fatal 0 6 1 0 7
Unknown 0 1 0 0 1
Legs Fatal 0 0 0 1 1
  Non-Fatal 0 3 2 2 7
Unknown 0 3 0 0 3
Total   17 106 12 12 147

Of Frölich’s 147 cases, 114 were fatal (78 percent). Spears were the most dangersou weapons accounting for 84 deaths (57 percent). Wounds to the head were always fatal, and those to the torso resulted in death in 84 percent of the cases, followed by those to the neck, 82.3 percent, while those to the arms and legs were much less deadly, at 20 percent and 9 percent respectively.

A more recent look at casualties in The Iliad in Richard A. Gabriel’s Man and Wound in the Ancient World, breaks them down somewhat differently, considering only the range at which wounds were inflicted. This means more cases are included, since Frölich limited his work to injuries for which some detail was given. In Gabriel’s analysis of 213 casualties, 192 died, about 90 percent. The largest number of casualties, 147 were injured at “close-range,” in hand-to-hand fighting, of whom 138 died, 93 percent, while of the 66 injured at “long-range,” 54 died, 82 percent. Interestingly, Gabriel’s analysis of casualties from Virgil’s epic The Aeneid, composed about six or seven centuries after The Iliad, yielded figures that were not particularly different from those in earlier epic. In The Aeneid, 180 men were wounded, of whom 164 died, about 91 percent. Of these casualties, 120 were injured at “close-range,” with 115 perishing, 96 percent, while of 60 men injured at “long-range,” 49 died, 81.6 percent.

Despite the somewhat different bases of calculation, the figures found by Frölich and those found by Gabriel are not very different.

 

Austro-Hungarian Military Organization in 1914

The Hapsburg Monarchy was a complex institution, essentially a federation, under a common sovereign, of the Austrian Empire (consisting of the Kingdoms of Bohemia, Dalmatia, Slavonia, and Galicia, plus the Archduchy of Austria, a flock of lesser duchies and some miscellaneous entities) and the Kingdom of Hungary (the Kingdoms of Hungary and Croatia, the Grand Principality of Transylvania, and some smaller entities), plus Bosnia-Herzegovina, ruled as a condominium by both Austria and Hungary. Each half of the monarchy had its own government, which controlled internal affairs in its balliwick. The “Imperial-and-Royal” government was led by a common prime minister, who oversaw just three ministries, Foreign Relations, Finance (which administerd Bosnia-Herzegovina), and Defense.

The defense of the monarchy was vested in three different ministries:

  • The Imperial-and-Royal War Ministry directly oversaw
    • The Imperial-and-Royal (kaiserlich-und-königlich or k-u-k) “Common Army” with 49 infantry and eight cavalry divisions. The “Common Army” oversaw two somewhat autonomous forces,
      • The Bosnian-Herzegovinian (Bosnisch-Hercegowinische) infantry, of four regiments and a jaeger battalion
      • The Imperial Tyrolean Rifles (Tiroler Kaiserjäger), comprising four regiments, and
    • The Imperial-and-Royal Navy (kaiserlich-und-königlich or k-u-k Kriegsmarine).

This ministry also indirectly oversaw some of the activities of

  • The Austrian Ministry for National Defence, which supervised the Imperial-Royal (kaiserlich-königlich, k-k) Austrian Landwehr, with seven divisions plus additional forces.
  • The Hungarian Ministry of National Defense, which administered the Royal Hungarian Honved (königlich ungarische or ku Landwehr or in Hungarian the Magyar Királyi Honvédség), with seven infantry and two cavalry divisions, plus additional forces, and included the somewhat autonomous Royal Croatian Landwehr (Kraljevsko hrvatsko domobranstvo), of four regiments of infantry and one of cavalry.

It’s important to understand that both the Austrian Landwehr and Hungarian Honved were active-duty standing armies, rather than second-line reserve forces as Landwehr was in Germany. The Landwehr and Honved had considerable autonomy in peacetime, though they had to coordinate some things (such as arms and tactics) with the Imperial-and-Royal Army, to which they were subject in wartime. The Imperial-and-Royal Army, the Austrian Landwehr, and the Hungarian Honved could each conscript men into its ranks, who had to serve set periods on active duty, and then in the reserves, the territorials, and the militia. All these services had somewhat different uniforms, some differences in organization, and occasionally also differnces in equipment.

Naturally, this three-part division of the Monarchy’s ground forces did not make for the most effective fighting force, a matter further complicated by the problem of language.

Austria-Hungary was a mishmash of cultures and ethnic groups. As a result, only 142 regiments in the three branches of the ground forces had one official language, while another 163 had two languages, a score or so had three languages, and a handful had four or even five.

Some examples:

  • The k.u.k. Infanterie-Regiment “Hoch und Deutschmeister” Nr. 4, based in Vienna, had about 95 percent native German speakers.
  • The k-u-k Infanterie-Regiment “Gustav V, Konig von Schweden d. Goten u. Wenden,” Nr. 10, based at Przemyśl (southwestern Poland), was 47 percent Ruthenian speaking, 43 percent Polish speaking, and 10 percent “others.”
  • The k.u.k. Infanterie-Regiment “Viktor Emanuel III, König v. ItalienNr. 28, stationed at Prague, was almost entirely Czech speaking.
  • The k.u.k. Infanterie-Regiment “General der Infanterie Liborius Ritter von Frank” Nr. 61, at Temesvar, consisted of “roughly equal numbers of ethnic Germans, Magyars, and Romanians, with a dash of Poles, Ruthenes, Serbs and Croats.”
  • The k.u.k. Infanterie-Regiment “Feldzeugmeister Georg Freiherr von WaldstättenNr. 97, at Trieste, had a mix of Slovene, Croatian, and Italian speakers.
  • The 1 honvédsky peší pluk (Honved Infanterie Regiment Nr. 1), based in Budapest, had about 91 percent native Hungarian speakers.
  • The 13 honvédsky peší pluk (Honved Infanterie Regiment Nr. 13), in Pressburg (now Bratislava, Slovakia), had about 50 percent Slovak speakers, 28 percent Hungarian speakers, and 21 percent German speakers

Officers were required to be fluent in German and at least one regimental language or face delayed promotion. Surprisingly, most officers were able to speak three or four languages; Emperor-King Franz Joseph himself could speak German, Czech, Hungarian, French, and Italian, and also had some Latin and Greek. Once the war began, as casualties among the prewar officers rose, their replacements often lacked the necessary language abilities, which contributed to reduced efficiency and diminished morale.

Although native German speakers (about a quarter of the Monarchy’s population) dominated the officer corps, other communities were represented: 11 percent were Hungarian speakers, and Czecho-Slovak and Serbo-Croat speakers numbered about 5 percent each. Oddly, in the highest ranks, ethnicity was not a major obstacle to promotion. Of the six field marshals on active duty in 1914, one was a native speaker of German, two of Hungarian, one of Slovak, and two of Serbo-Croatian.

 


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