Have you ever heard of the North Platte Canteen? The Canteen began in North Platte, Nebraska, on December 17, 1941, shortly after the United States entered World War II after the attack on Pearl Harbor. On December 17, 1941, families and friends of the local Nebraska National Guard unit (Company D) came to the North Platte Depot to give them their Christmas presents, and then blossomed into one of the largest volunteer efforts of World War II.
The North Platte Canteen met its first troop train on December 25, 1941, and met every single troop train that passed through the town thereafter, greeting an estimated six million soldiers throughout the war. Townspeople from all around the state gave their ration cards to the cause, volunteering their time, preparing food for the soldiers, and giving anything they h ad all to ensure that each train carrying American troops was greeted with friendly faces and free food, magazines, and coffee.
The Lincoln Historical Society has a great online exhibit dedicated to this heartwarming chapter in American history. Check out Bob Greene’s book Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen from the library for more on this amazing volunteer effort.