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The first Thanksgiving Day football game took place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1869 - and numerous college teams subsequently kept the tradition alive in the decades that followed. The American Red Cross operating in post-W.W. I France recognized the importance of this tradition in keeping morale high when the Doughboys of the A.E.F. remaining in that country simply wanted to get on the boats and go home - and so they organized a game for them to watch with their assorted feasts on that day-of-days. There can be no doubt that the U.S. Signal Corps photographers must have snapped a few pictures of this game but to our knowledge these images have never been published. The American Red Cross also saw to it that movies and assorted other forms of entertainment were available for the troops as well. Numerous French families had volunteered to invite American soldiers and sailors to their homes to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday.

The Armistice was eleven days old when this column first appeared. Today, Thanksgiving and football are joined at the hip.


Thanksgiving and Football (The Stars and Stripes, 1918)

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