Letter to the Editor

Morality from the past

In the 1919 "Out of the Past" sections of the Saturday/Sunday and Monday Southeast Missourian are two entries of some interest. The first entry describes a "fist fight" that took place in the office of a local Justice of the Peace.

The entry ends with this sentence: "The mix-up came in a trial in which two persons are charged with operating immoral houses [Prostitution] in the city." The second entry is a "call" for "all former white soldiers, sailors, Marines" and all other branches of "Uncle Sam's forces in the late war" to meet for the purpose of organizing "a local camp of the American Legion."

What these two entries reveal about the concept of "morality" as determined by the citizens of Cape Girardeau back in 1900 are that the owners, employees, and patrons of "houses of prostitution" are prime examples of "immorality."

In contrast, the plan for local soldiers, marines, sailors, and flyers" -- but only the "white" ones -- to organize a "local camp of the American Legion" to honor those -- but only the "white" ones -- who served in the military in World War I is an honorable and moral enterprise.

John C. Bierk, Cape Girardeau