Troops, restless in Europe, await passage home in early 1919.
“Lafayette, we are still here.”
Reportedly repeated often by the four line officers who met in late January 1919 in Paris to discuss the concept of a new veterans group
Four line officers of the American Expeditionary Forces – Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.; Lt. Col. George A. White; Lt. Col. William Donovan; and Lt. Col. Eric Fisher Wood – meet in Paris to discuss the recent passing of former President Theodore Roosevelt, along with their imminent mustering out of wartime service, morale among the troops, the Bolshevik Revolution and what might happen at home when nearly 2 million newly discharged combat veterans, many disabled and shell-shocked, return to civilian lives.
Roosevelt, Jr., had discussed the idea of a veterans organization with troops still stationed in Europe, whose morale was low as they awaited passage home. By this time, an association called Comrades in Service had formed in Europe, led by American Expeditionary Forces Chief Chaplain Charles Brent, but it wasn’t getting much traction among the troops, who were frequently absent without leave and generally causing mischief while awaiting orders to ship out.