Others followed her lead, but this was only the beginning. The next day, Rae wrote to the local newspaper suggesting army and navy mothers meet every troop train with food and love. She offered to run the project for free, and the railroad gave her the station restaurant, which became the North Platte Canteen. President Roosevelt sent a personal check for $5.00, but no other federal funds were used. Canteen costs averaged $225/week, all donated from over 200 Nebraska farm communities. If hospital trains carried wounded veterans who were immobile, women would walk up and down the aisles distributing food. The canteen was open from 5 a.m. until midnight every day until the war ended, serving six million soldiers and sometimes meeting 32 trains per day.
If you have a few spare minutes, enjoy this video about the canteen. At the very end, a young woman calls her grandpa who she knows served in WWII. Did he ever go through North Platte? He lives in a nursing home and has dementia. He often forgets her name. What happens next may cost you a tear. www.youtube.com/watch?v=
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