Graduates of World War II

The beginning of June this year brings two things to my mind: high school graduations and the 65th anniversary of D-Day.  Thinking of those, I began to peruse our year book collection in Special Collections.

The 1942, 1943, and 1944 yearbooks from Davenport High School allow a peak into the patriotism felt by these young adults.  Each school year revolved around not only your typical sports and dances, but began to include Red Cross work, paper and clothing drives, and testing to enter the armed services after graduation. 

The curriculum was altered for the war effort: an aeronautics course was introduced to teach basic flying knowledge;  Domestic Arts classes worked on making surgical dressings, and the Industrial Arts Department not only trained students during the day, but also offered adult night classes to get people into the factories.

Fun was not forgotten, but usually went on with a patriotic theme.  In 1943, Davenport High School named Marjorie Brownlie “Miss Victory” and held a Victory Dance instead of the traditional Homecoming Queen and Homecoming Dance.  Parades were cancelled due to rationing, but dances were held including the Spinster Spree (which may be called Sadie Hawkins Dance or Turnabout elsewhere).  How did these students get to the dances and events?  Many took the bus to conserve gas and tires.  An interesting image when you imagine the boys in their best suits and girls in their party dresses all riding the city bus to the event.  It must have been fun!

Reading the comments in the yearbooks from the principal and other officials, it is obvious they knew many of their young men would be walking out the door on graduation day and heading soon after to military training camp.  I imagine faculty felt both pride at what these youth had accomplished during their days at Davenport High School and fear of what they faced once they left its walls.

Principal A.I. Naumann wrote in the 1944 yearbook, “You will be called upon to do your part in bringing a better order out of this gigantic conflict. You may be asked to defend the right against tyranny in whatever forms it may have arisen.  If so, it will bring to you the sacrifice of your future ambitions for a time and a separation from all that which you hoped would materialize shortly after your high school graduation…We are proud of you, for we confidently believe that you will do your part bravely and efficiently.”*

What powerful and overwhelming words written during a powerful and overwhelming time in our history. How many of us today could imagine those words being written in our high school yearbooks?

Thank you to all of our veterans and congratulations to the Class of 2009.  We applaud those who have changed history and those who are just setting out to make it. 



*Davenport High School Blackhawk, v. 27, 1944, Pg. 9.

(Posted by Amy D.)





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