Imagine yourself as a member of the Bonus Army that marched on Washington in May 1932. Explain why you participated in the march, and describe your reaction to the events that occurred during the march. Use the following source:

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To answer this question, you should think about the promises that the government made to soldiers during and after World War I. Imagine that you had been promised bonuses by the government that you put your life on the line for. This is a government that you trusted to fulfill its duty just as you fulfilled yours as a soldier. You may have been drafted into the army, but you were reassured that you would be given your just due for your service. Now, times are tough. Perhaps you lost a lot when the Great Depression began. This bonus that you were promised might mean the difference between starving and having enough food for you and your family.

Marching with thousands of other veterans must have been exhilarating. Many veterans were drawn to each other over their shared experience and common goals. You have likely traveled far, perhaps from the other side of the country, to have your voice heard in Washington. You may have even have had to sacrifice money and time to make this happen. Think about how this affected the resolve of the participants in the Bonus Army.

You should imagine the shock and dismay that the marchers felt when they encountered armed troops in the capital. The marchers of the Bonus Army came peacefully. However, their own government threatened violence against them.

You can also include your thoughts about what it was like living in the encampment that developed in Anacostia. What was it like living among so many people working together on a common cause? You can also include what it was like living in a desegregated community for the first time.

You should include your disappointment upon hearing that the Senate had defeated the bill to award the bonuses. Perhaps you feel betrayed by a government that you had previously trusted.

After violence breaks out during the forced evacuation, you should consider whether or not you would have supported fighting back. Maybe the tear gas attack brings back memories of the war in Europe. Now, it is the American army hurling the gas canisters. This might further fuel your sense of betrayal.

When the President calls the demonstration a Communist revolution, it is easy to imagine that the members of the Bonus Army were extremely hurt and angry. You were not here as a revolutionary but as a citizen demanding what was owed to him.

Consider how this whole event has shaken your faith in your political leaders to support you in your time of need. After the events of the march, what do you want your government to do? How do you want it to change? Many Americans supported the election of Franklin Roosevelt as someone who would not treat the dispossessed the way that Herbert Hoover did. Would you have also rallied for this change in leadership?

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