It was just a little town on the plains of Nebraska, a town most had never heard of. It had its beginning in 1886, when the Union Pacific Railroad was extended, and ended there. Eventually the rail line stretched all the way across the country, and North Platte became just one of many towns on the Union Pacific line.
In December of 1941, the United States was drawn into World War II. Suddenly thousands of young men were called into service. Trainload upon trainload of soldiers rolled down the Union Pacific line. Each train made a ten-minute stop in the little town of North Platte, and that became a haven of love and support for every enlisted man on the trains. But how on earth did this happen?
Excerpt from pages 12-13:
“The idea for the Canteen, it turned out, was the offspring of a mistake.
“Ten days after Pearl Harbor, the families and friends of members of the Nebraska National Guard’s Company D heard a rumor: Their sons, buddies and sweethearts would be coming through North Platte on a troop train on their way to the West Coast. Military movements were confidential. But even with no announcement, about five hundred of the townsfolk came to the station with food, cigarettes, letters and love to give to the boys.
“The train finally arrived. The people of North Platte hurried toward the cars.
“But the soldiers on board were not Company D of the Nebraska National Guard – they were Company D of the Kansas National Guard.
“After an awkward few moments, the North Platte residents began to pass out their gifts to the soldiers from Kansas. These hadn’t been the boys the townspeople had been waiting for – the boys the townspeople knew – but it wasn’t the soldiers’ fault. The men, women and children of North Platte wished the Kansas soldiers the best of fortune, made certain they had all the presents that had been intended for the Nebraska troops, and waved them on their way.”Continue reading “Once Upon A Town – by Bob Greene (2002)”