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Jack Jouett Chapter

National Society Daughters of the American Revolution

Charlottesville, Virginia

Est. February 13, 1922

Jack Jouett Chapter American History Essay Contest Winner

Reprinted in its entirety with permission from its author
Willa Mae Simmons
Crozet Elementary School

2017 - 2018 Title: World War I: Remembering the War to End All Wars

Essay Topic: The end of World War I was the beginning of a new age. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War. Imagine you are living in 1918. State where you are living and how the end of the war will impact your daily life. Discuss the pros and cons of the changes this War introduced to society and how you imagine those changes will impact the United States in the years to come.

Picture of Essay Winner


"The war is now officially over. It has raged for four years, and there has been much suffering. But, the men are finally coming back home."

I switch the radio off. Both my older brother, James, and my husband, John, should be coming home.

I shrug my wool blanket off my shoulders. The announcer had left something out when he was talking about the war. Women everywhere have been getting jobs, having more responsibility. I now manage a hundred acre farm in California that my cousin asked us to supervise while he was at war. He didn't know that John was enlisting, too, and that I'd have to manage the farm on my own. The farm is right next to the Sacramento River.

Without many men, we lack the concentrated strength needed for some of the heavy labor. I only have seven workers: five women and two men. In exchange for their work, they sleep in my guest house.

I go outside to gather the brown and mint green eggs. On the way to the barn, I walk past Emma. "Have you heard the news? The war is over!" I exclaim.

"Really? The men are coming home?" Emma asks.

"Yes!" I answer her question happily. "I better get to work. We need the farm running perfectly for the boys." I say.

It's cold in the barn. This is only my second year living in northern California, so I'm not used to the cold. My favorite sow gave birth to eleven piglets, and I named them after flowers. The sky is turquoise, and birds seem to be announcing the end of the war, but the grass crunches under my feet, and I have a feeling this will be a long winter.

I don't understand why a Serbian terrorist had to murder the Archduke and his wife. Then the war started. And then America joined the war.

My brother was a doctor before the war. Then he went to Belgium to treat Ally soldiers. My husband enlisted and fights in the army. We all sent letters to each other, but then the letters stopped coming. I don't even know if they are alive.

Life is different now. Women have much more independence. I hear that women may even be able to vote soon! A ten-year-old girl, Sage, lives with me. Her parents died from the influenza. That same influenza killed many other people I knew. The illness was gruesome.

"Jackie!!" I recognize Emma's voice. "There's a letter from your husband." I pry open the envelope and start to read. The handwriting looks different, choppy.

Dearest Jackie,

How are you? I think of you constantly. I hope that you have the farm help that you need because I don't believe I will be of much help. I lost my arm in Europe. I was shot near my elbow, and before I could get the help I needed, my arm got infected, and a doctor had to amputate it. I'd like to take care of you, like before, but now we'll have to manage the farm together.

All my love,


I can't even imagine how hard this must have been for John, just writing this letter would have been a huge challenge. I will have to prepare for his return both emotionally and physically. It will be a struggle to tend to the farm without his help, but I've gained independence in this war, so maybe we'll manage.