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March of the Bonus Army

In the summer of 1932, a group of World War I veterans in Portland, Oregon hopped a freight train and started riding the rails to Washington DC. They were demanding immediate payment of a cash bonus the government had promised them after the war – but delayed until 1945. Desperate for relief in the worst year of the Depression, the vets wanted their bonuses now. They called themselves the Bonus Army.

As they traveled east, veterans from all over the country joined up. By July, more than 20,000 veterans and their families had arrived in the nation’s capital. They established a tent city and vowed to stay until their demands were met. But finally, in a historic confrontation, General Douglas MacArthur’s Army troops routed the Bonus Army and burned their camp to the ground.

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The Bonus Army String Band, with Lillie Linebarrier on tenor banjo.

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