Extraordinary Stories of Ordinary Life

The March to Washington (1932 Edition)

Bonus Army Poster_L

Courtesy of the Library of Congress


Author James Baldwin once wrote, “I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason: I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”

Criticism — and dissent — are patriotic.  In fact, one of the most important strands of the American DNA, is protest.  From the Boston Tea Party, to the Republican Tea Party. From Civil Rights marches to Occupy Wall Street. But it’s how the government and the institutions of power respond to dissent that is really the test of any democracy.

In 1932, in the midst of the Great Depression, a group of World War I veterans set up an encampment in Washington D.C. and vowed to stay until their voices were heard. It was a remarkable chapter in American history, and a demonstration of the power of citizens to come together for a cause. But, in the end, it didn’t turn out so well. On this episode of the Radio Diaries Podcast, March of the Bonus Army. 

Thanks to Paul Dickson and Tom Allen, authors of The Bonus Army: An American Epic. You also heard the voices of the late Fred Blacher, John diJoseph, and Lillie Linebarrier. This story was produced by Samara Freemark and Joe Richman, and edited by Deborah George and Ben Shapiro. The Radio Diaries Podcast is produced by Nellie Gilles and Sarah Kate Kramer. This story features music from the Bonus Army String Band and New Bonus Army.

Radio Diaries is part of Radiotopia from PRX, a collective of the best story-driven podcasts on the planet.

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