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Sixty-five years ago this country was at peace--and determined to stay that way, thanks to the Neutrality Act of 1937. But things were about to change. Late in 1937, during their war with China, Japanese forces had attacked a U.S. naval vessel. Less than two months later, President Roosevelt asked Congress for a significant increase in spending for naval construction. It was slowly becoming clear that, despite popular feelings, the U.S. could no longer ignore the increasing likelihood of international conflict.
While these first stirrings out of neutrality were taking place, the Louisiana National Guard was compiling a yearbook for the year 1938. The work was intended in part to "reflect the spirit of those who affiliated themselves with the National Guard and are doing their part to make worth while this component of the first line of defense of this country." Distribution of the completed work took place during the first half of the year, just about the same time that Congress was voting to give the President the money needed to prepare the Navy for war.
The yearbook comprises a history of the Louisiana National Guard and its constituent units, accompanied by individual photographs of its leaders, group photographs of its members, and "action photographs" of the units during training exercises. For our April 2003 Images of the Month Gallery we present a selection of images from the 1938 yearbook along with additional photographs from the WPA Photograph Collection. By the time some of the latter photos were taken, global war was inevitable.
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