Posted by Jim Fitzgerald
The headlines in the Marshall News Messenger January 2, 1941, read, “Local Business Leaders See ‘41’ As Banner Year -- Forecasts Are Made At Rotary Club Luncheon”
Marshall Rotarians, like most Americans at that time were beneficiaries of FDR’s “New Deal” plan and booming economy, and happy to celebrate the end of the Great Depression and economic upturn.
It was a good time to refocus on the things that mattered most to them, helping crippled children, supporting education, and helping the sick.
Of course they didn't have the benefit of hindsight, but the headlines of the day must surely have given then cause for reflection if not alarm, because in the very same paper, in an article just below the story above, the headline read: “British Hit Back At Germany for ‘Fire Raid’.”  “in partial retaliation for last Sunday night’s Nazi ‘Fire Raid’ on the city of London, the British said, ‘a concentrated discharge of incendiary and high explosives’ was showered on Bremen’s shipbuilding and dock yards and railway station.”
As the year continued with accounts of hope and counter accounts of despair, the story continues:
Rotary Club Offers East Texans Chance to Hear Noted Lectures And Aid Crippled Children’s Fund”, read the headline on page two, January 10, while on the front page a headline read: “Congress Is Asked To Give President Sweeping Powers”,  to facilitate the new “Lend Lease” bill to aid Great Britain, which  passed by Congress.
Alma Milstead To Sing In Shreveport”, published February 7, 1941, reminded Marshall Rotarians of the talented young lady from Hallsville whom they had sponsored to study music in New York in the 1923, while the headline on the front page, “US War Department Wants Accelerated Deliveries of New Combat Planes”, reminded them of the realities of that day.
Sponsored by the Rotary club, National Brotherhood Week was ushered in Feb 22 through Feb. 28 in Marshall, with the headline, “Interfaith Team Members Address Marshall Rotary Club Thursday, and the headline above read, “Germans Report Success In Attacks on England”.
 “Rotarians Help Children Through School”, an upbeat article published Saturday, November 30, 1941 had no hint of the awful tragedy about to befall the United States eight days hence, and apparently neither did FDR, with all the intelligence at his disposal, as this headline in the same publication revealed, “War Within A Year Hinted by Roosevelt”.
More Goodfellows Needed As Stocking Fund Starts With $34”, the headline in the paper published Sunday, December 7, 1941, and read by Marshall residents only a few hours before the fateful bombing of Pearl Harbor, is a fitting reminder of the legacy that is ours as we celebrate those dark days which Rotarians who are still living remember, and those long gone defended so well.
These few references are but a tiny part of the narrative that Marshall Rotarians wrote during this difficult period, and which we will be honoring August 24, 2019, as we “Celebrate A Century of Changing Lives in Marshall --- And Beyond”.