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From the Archives: Veterans of Future Wars

<p>"Commander" Lewis Gorin ’36 speaking to members of the Veterans for Future Wars on the steps of Nassau Hall</p>
<h6>Photo Credit:</h6>

"Commander" Lewis Gorin ’36 speaking to members of the Veterans for Future Wars on the steps of Nassau Hall

Photo Credit:

Many University students who have stepped foot on Prospect Avenue have seen the words “Veterans of Future Wars” painted over a fireplace in Terrace Club. Most don’t know that the Veterans of Future Wars was a short-lived but nation-wide student movement, born in March 1936 in that very same eating club

The Veterans of Future Wars started as a parody of the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization, protesting the early payout of controversial “soldiers’ bonuses” to World War I veterans, which the students saw as an irresponsible government spending. They argued that, with another world war brewing, Congress ought to grant a soldiers’ bonus to every man between the ages of 18 and 35. The reasoning was that all of these men could potentially be drafted, and there was no guarantee that they would survive any future wars, so they ought to be given their bonuses in advance while they were alive to enjoy them. 


What started as a joke exploded into a nation-wide movement. Newspapers across the country ran articles on the Veterans for Future Wars. Members of Congress discussed their arguments; veterans’ organizations condemned them. 

Students on campuses across America started joining the movement. Most of these new members were anti-war protesters, and weren’t as concerned with the fiscal issues that had originally led to the group’s creation.

Inspired by the movement, students at Vassar College attempted to form “the Association of Gold Star Mothers of the Veterans of Future Wars,” a group which would obtain any mothers, or potential mothers, “an immediate trip to Europe … to view the future burying places of their present and future children.” 

By the end of summer of 1936, the Veterans of Future Wars were flagging, and disbanded by the next spring. 

Their two Manifestos follow as they appeared originally in The Daily Princetonian.



Original date of publication: March 14, 1936

With war clouds gathering over Europe daily and with prospects better than ever for a universal holocaust, Princeton is doing her part "in the nation's service." An organization of no little importance has sprung up on the Campus, free from association with the Military Science Department but ever ready to rally Princeton in the vanguard of patriotism. This group, for Americans only, has taken the name of the Veterans of Future Wars and we point with pride to its program. 


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‘A spectre is haunting America, the spectre of War. All the powers of old Europe have entered into an alliance to incarnate this spectre: Pope and Commissar, Hitler and Mussolini, French Radicals and German Industrialists. 

"Two things result from this fact: 

"I. War is imminent. 

"II. It is high time that we openly, in the face of the world, admit that America shall be engaged in it. 

"’To this end the Veterans of Future Wars have united to force upon the government and people of the United States the realization that common justice demands that all of us who will be engaged in the coming war deserve, as is customary, an adjusted service compensation, sometimes called a bonus. We demand that this bonus be one thousand dollars, payable June 1, 1965. Because it is customary to pay bonuses before they are due we demand immediate cash payment, plus three per cent compounded annually for thirty years back from June 1, 1965 to June 1, 1935. All those of military age, that is, from 18 to 36, are eligible to receive this bonus. It is but common right that this bonus be paid now, for many will be killed or wounded in the next war, and hence they, the most deserving, will not get the full benefit of their country's gratitude. For the realization of these just demands, we mutually pledge our undivided and supreme efforts. 

“Soldiers of America, Unite! You have nothing to lose."

A Veterans for Future Wars march in New York City

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Veterans of Future Wars Offer European Trip to Auxiliary Society of Gold Star Mothers

Original date of publication: March 16, 1939

To the Editor of the PRINCETONIAN: 

Sir: Since the publication of our original manifesto in Saturday's issue of the DAILY PRINCETONIAN, several additional points have arisen. In order to clarify these, and to make known our purposes to all whom our organization concerns, we therefore submit


To all undergraduates of Princeton and to the People of America:

Whereas all Veterans of Future Wars are agreed on the urgency of the presentation situation; (sic)

Whereas the coming war will strike American womanhood as severely as American manhood; 

We therefore offer to the women of America the following subsidiary organization: 

The Association of Gold Star Mothers of the Veterans of Future Wars, open to all mothers and prospective mothers of male children, the purpose of which shall be to obtain for all aforementioned mothers an immediate trip to Europe in holy pilgrimage to view the future burying places of their present and future children. The first chapter of this association has already been formed at Vassar College. 

We reiterate that the immediacy of our cause is twofold: (a) inasmuch as the coming war will otherwise deprive the most deserving bloc of Veterans of Future Wars of its bonus by causing its sudden and complete demise, the bonus must be paid NOW; (b) inasmuch as the coming war will obliterate the future burying places of our future noble dead, the holy pilgrimage of Gold Star Mothers must be made NOW. 

We hold this to be entirely in keeping with the ideals and precedents of American government; we hold it to be logical and sound; we shall shortly call upon all the manhood and womanhood of America to respond to our cause. America for Americans!