When it entered WWI, the U.S. military had to go from 200,000 troops to around 4,000,000. Connecticut supplied plenty of guns, bullets, and uniforms, but the New Haven-based Knights of Columbus provided something just as important.
They called them “Huts”. The Knights of Columbus built and staffed hundreds of them during the war as a place for troops to read, pray, write home, and sometimes dance or exercise.
“Knights of Columbus felt a real responsibility to serve those that were serving our country and to show national unity and national support,” said Carl Anderson, the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus.
That is captured in the Knights of Columbus Museum exhibit “World War One: Beyond the Front Lines.” The effort getting recognition Thursday from pretty high up.
“How much this organization has contributed to the service of our nation,” said Maj General Paul Hurley, the U.S. Army Chief of Chaplains.
That was another way the Knights helped – they supplied chaplains for those millions of troops.
“They made a meaningful contribution to American victory in World War I, offering soldiers encouragement, faith and hope,” said Dr. John Boyd, PhD., the Chaplain Corps Historian.
The top current chaplain came to the museum to officially recognize the work done by the Knights in what was called “The war to end all wars.” For that and the work in all the wars since, he inducted the whole organization into the order of St. Martin, a group within the Chaplain Corps that is named after the patron saint of chaplains.
“It’s a matter of pride for us and an encouragement to continue to do good work, to help support those who are serving our country,” Anderson said.
One more announcement: The World War One exhibit at the Knights of Columbus museum was supposed to close at the end of the year. Now, it has been extended through April due to popular demand.