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EXHIBIT: Of Bronze and Bravery: Local Voices of Conscience

A guide to the companion exhibit to "Voices of Conscience: Peace Witness in the Great War"

The Young Men’s Christian Organization served a vital role in bolstering the morale and welfare of American servicemen.  A number of Bluffton men served with the YMCA or found support from the YMCA in training camps and troop trains at home and overseas.

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“When the new solder entered the camp he found the Y ready to help him in countless little ways, such as sending his civilian clothing back home, providing writing paper and postage stamps, advising on matters of the daily routine, and giving information on all sorts of subjects…  A typical program which appeared to satisfy the men included the following: two evenings each week for motion pictures, one evening for a special entertainment, one for an educational lecture, one for athletic stunts, and two for religious meetings.  Outside the huts there was always an extensive educational and recreational program, in barracks, in company streets, and on the athletic field.  Through the cooperation of the American Library Association there was a library in each hut."

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Excerpt from p. 9-10 of Summary of World War work of the American Y.M.C.A.; with the soldiers and sailors of America at home, on the sea, and overseas.  Published in 1920 by the International Committee of the YMCA.  https://archive.org/details/summaryofworldwa00youn/page/n4

Oliver Kratz

In closing his 1918 annual report of activities to President Mosiman, Bluffton College Physical Director Oliver Kratz first laments losing A.C. Burcky and Homer Geiger, two star baseball players, to the army draft.  Having already left campus and submitting his report from New York City, Kratz requests a leave to serve with the Y.M.C.A.:

“I respectfully ask the Board of Trustees to grant me leave of absence for the next school year.  The need for men to do athletic work and Y.M.C.A. work among our troops in Europe is great.  Only recently France as turned over her army to the United States Y.M.C.A. and Italy is also asking for aid…”