Let's Have a Moments Silence

07 November 2016

“Let’s have a moments silence,– Let’s say a pray’r or two,– Let’s give a moment of our time for the boys who fought for you;– Let’s have a moments sorrow,– Let’s pray because it’s thru, Let’s have a moments silence, For the boys who died for you.”


"Let's Have A Moments Silence! (For the Boys Who Died for you)". Image © National WW1 Museum at Liberty Memorial Archives. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Clicking this image takes you direct to the document which has been made open access for 30 days.

The quote above is the chorus of “Let’s Have a Moment’s Silence!”, a song from 1919 about taking a few moments to think about those who lost their lives in the First World War.

Today people all around the world dedicate some time to think about the First World War, wars that followed and lives lost. Almost 100 years after the end of the First World War those of us remembering today do so from the ways in which the war was memorialised through myriad stories that were put down at the time and the years that followed in diaries, literature, film, songs and more. 

      

Left: I'm Coming Back Little Girl To You. Right: I'll Return Mother Darling To You. Images © National WW1 Museum at Liberty Memorial Archives. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

I had a look through The First World War: Personal Experiences, initially thinking I might find one person’s experience to share, but instead I came across various songs written during and at the end of the First World War.

Looking through the songs it struck me that many tended to tell a personal story of sorrow that would have unfortunately belonged to millions of people. For example, these songs above are about one of the most common but most difficult experiences of the time – saying goodbye to loved ones, not knowing whether they would see one another again.

Many of the songs were intended to uplift and boost morale by focusing on hope and a happier future amid the negative experiences. As well as providing hope, money from the sales of “Let’s Have a Moment’s Silence!” went to support the American Legion.

"When The Flowers Bloom On No Man's Land What A Wonderful Day That Will Be". Image © National WW1 Museum at Liberty Memorial Archives. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

Good-Bye France (You'll Never Be Forgotten By The U.S.A.). Image © National WW1 Museum at Liberty Memorial Archives. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Clicking this image takes you direct to the document which has been made open access for 30 days.

I was also interested to discover that ‘Good-Bye France (You’ll never Be Forgotten By The U.S.A)’ and many other war-time songs were written by Irving Berlin, one of the greatest songwriters in American history. Usually recognised for hits such as ‘White christmas’, ‘Puttin’ On the Ritz’, ‘There’s No Business Like Show Business’ and many, many more, he contributed to the war through song, feeling that it was his duty to provide inspirational music. Berlin was drafted into the U.S. Army in order to provide patriotic songs. He also composed a patriotic musical ‘Yip Yip Yaphank’ comprised of soldiers, which was taken to Broadway shortly after. Again, when the U.S. joined World War Two Berlin began writing more music to contribute. 

"Let's Have A Moments Silence! (For the Boys Who Died for you)". Image © National WW1 Museum at Liberty Memorial Archives. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Clicking this image takes you direct to the document which has been made open access for 30 days.

To learn more about people’s stories, experiences and contributions to the First World War explore The First World War: Personal Experiences now.

About the Author

Nikki Morgan

Nikki Morgan

I am a new addition to the Editorial Development team at Adam Matthew, having joined in February 2016, and am enjoying working on a range of new projects. My academic background is in literature and philosophy and my main interest is 20th century American literature and culture, particularly Sylvia Plath and Raymond Carver.

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