April 21, 2017

Marshall and the Stars and Stripes

Seventy-five years ago this week, the Stars and Stripes newspaper had its second renaissance.

The first paper with the name Stars and Stripes was started by a Union soldier during the Civil War in 1861. The Union army captured a newspaper plant in Missouri and produced only 4 papers.

The newspaper was again revived during World War I. The weekly paper was produced by an all-military staff to serve the doughboys stationed in Europe with the American Expeditionary Forces. It ceased printing after the war ended.

Then a small group of servicemen started a four-page weekly paper in a London print shop in April 1942. Each copy sold for about 5 cents, and it became so popular that it doubled in page size and began printing daily.

The first edition of the World War II printing featured an interview with General George C. Marshall. He stated, “Like any other veteran of the A.E.F. in France, I am delighted to welcome the new version of the Stars and Stripes. By a fortunate coincidence I happen to be in the British Isles as it comes off the press. From the start the Stars and Stripes existed primarily to furnish our officers and men with news about themselves, their comrades and the homes they had left behind across the sea. A soldier’s newspaper, in these grave times, is more than a morale venture. It is a symbol of the things we are fighting to preserve and spread in this threatened world. It represents the free thought and free expression of a free people.”

The research library has this statement, books with the history of the publication, and a collection of 120 original issues of the Stars and Stripes newspaper from 1945 available for review.