7:00 pm

Jane Sweetland “Boxcar Diplomacy: Two Trains that Crossed an Ocean”

_0000_janeBoxcar Diplomacy is about two trains that crossed the Atlantic after WWII. “The Friendship Train” was initiated by columnist Drew Pearson who noted that Communists were getting a foothold in a hungry Europe and Americans could showcase democracy with gifts of food. On November 7, 1947, eight loaded boxcars rolled out of Los Angeles; eleven days later, the train arrived in New York with 700 boxcars bound for a hungry Europe. In February 1949, France reciprocated with a “Merci Train:” forty nine boxcars, one for each state and one for Washington DC which carried over a thousand gifts ranging from children’s drawings and handcrafted flags, to valuable works of art. This lecture will take you back to the very beginning of the Cold War, when America united in a gesture of friendship designed to showcase what people living in a free country could do. Americans chose not to isolate themselves from Europe's far greater need. And France would not let the moment pass without acknowledging their gratitude, --for the sacrifices Americans had made on their behalf in war and in peace.