Brighton in the Two Great Wars

After the turn of the century, Europe was a place of turmoil. Americans, Michiganians, and Brightonians, were called to arms to defend allies and ultimately ensure the safety of the United States of America. Brighton faced many hard internal challenges during this time, however, with many internal struggles facing the town daily. The turn of the century brought with it a rapid urbanization of the country. Before the tuen of the century, America’s population consisted of 65% of people living in small towns, villages or farms (McMacken, 461). However, by the early 1920s, the population of Americans concentrated over 60% into urban areas (McMacken, 461). Places like Brighton were faced with tremendous internal challenges.

 

However, with the internal struggles, Brighton answered the call to the First World War. Woodrow Wilson called the war a war for the safety of democracy. In 1917, the Selective Service Act was passed, requiring all men ages 21-30 to register for military service (McMacken, 462). Brighton answered the call, as Livingston County sent over 460 men into service. The war was called, “A humanitarian crusade, war to end all wars” (McMacken, 462). Ultimately 58 men from Brighton served in the war. When the war was won in November of 1918, Brighton had erupted into celebration,

 

 

Photo of WWI vets from Brighton (McMacken, 468)
Photo of WWI vets from Brighton (McMacken, 468)

 

Twenty-three years after the celebration that ended World War I, Brighton was called to defend the nation. Initially when World War II broke out, Brighton (like most Americans) was adamantly against involvement in another overseas war. On December 7th of 1941, Pearl Harbor was attacked, calling the nation to war. Distracted with an economic collapse, Brighton was again faced with a two front battle; the home front and Europe.

 

Two World War II Veterans from Brighton (McMacken, pp 477)
Two World War II Veterans from Brighton (McMacken, pp 477)

1.7 million men from Michigan registered for the draft under the Selective Service Act, and ultimately over 600,000 men served from Michigan in World War two (504 coming from the Brighton area) (McMacken, 475). The Brighton Argus wrote, “Like all Americans, all political differences relegated to the background, we the City of Brighton, pledge loyal support to national unity, the successful termination of the war, and lasting peace that well survive the years” (McMacken, 475). Residents of Brighton played a vital role in raising money for the war effort, by buying war bonds (McMacken, 478). As Americans won the war, Brighton sacrificed 23 men in the effort to protect their countrymen.

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