Supporting America’s troops has taken different forms throughout the years. The Great War was still in recent memory when various groups spread out throughout Bismarck-Mandan to sell handmade forget-me-nots to honor and support disabled American military veterans in 1937. On this date, the Bismarck Tribune reported that Governor Bill Langer had declared the following day as “Forget-Me-Not Day.”
The observance is tied to the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, which was the last major battle of World War One. The battle lasted 47 days – right up to the signing of the armistice. More than 26,000 soldiers of the American Expeditionary Force died in the battle, out of 1.2 million Americans involved. More than 95,000 were wounded. Since 1926, “Forget-Me-Not” Day had been observed on the last Saturday of September in honor of Argonne Day, when the battle began. President Coolidge offered early support for “Forget-Me-Not” Day in a proclamation for Americans to support disabled veterans.
More than 50 girls and women sold the flowerlike tokens on “Forget-Me-Not” Day in 1937 in Bismarck and Mandan. Disabled veterans had made the flowers while hospitalized. Local chapters of the Disabled American Veterans, American Legion Auxiliary and the Rainbow Girls organized and sold the flowers.
The tradition continues today. Argonne Day in September and Armistice Day on November eleventh were both designated in 1929 as “Forget-Me-Not” days—whichever day may be best due to weather or other local doings. Poppy Day is a similar observance, with the sale of handmade poppies in remembrance of fallen American soldiers in all wars.
Dakota Datebook by Jack Dura
The Bismarck Tribune, 1937, Sept. 24, A1.
The Bismarck Tribune, 1937, Sept. 25, A1.