During World War II, the town of North Platte, Nebraska, pop. 13,500, performed a modern day loaves-and-fishes miracle. For four years, North Platte and the surrounding communities provided sandwiches, cakes, cookies, hard-boiled eggs, doughnuts, coffee, milk, cigarettes, candy and magazines to each troop train that passed through its town. As soldiers were moved across the continent by train, the North Platte stop on the Union Pacific line became legendary.
Over six million uniformed personnel experienced the generous spirit of the North Platte Canteen. It all began in 1941, just ten days after Pearl Harbor. The citizens of North Platte heard that some of their native sons would be passing through on a troop train. Eventually, 500 family members and friends, arms full of gifts, were waiting at the station. With the arrival of the train came disappointment - the men were from Kansas, not Nebraska. Yet it only took a moment before someone said, "Well, what are we waiting for? Welcome to our city, sons, and here's a little something for you." The Canteen spirit was born.
The Canteen Spirit, a 40-minute public television special by the Nebraska ETV Network, will tell a tale of patriotism, character and gratitude. Through the voices of those who made sandwiches and cakes, and those who consumed them, we'll discover that "where there's a will, there's a way." Memories of Canteen givers and receivers will be woven with archive film, stills, and objects from the era. Historians who specialize in the World War II era will offer their perspective. Viewers will come to understand the depth of spirit that the Canteen created.
No, there's no time limit on true thankfulness. And yes, miracles can be performed by ordinary people in unknown places.
Nebraskans for Public Television is seeking funds to bring The Canteen Spirit alive for all to experience on the statewide Nebraska ETV Network. Special production grants will allow the story to be told through people who were central to the Canteen story and through authentic film and newsreel footage that portrays the times for viewers of all ages. Major contributors will be recognized within all broadcasts and videotape copies throughout the life of the program.
For more information about contributing to The Canteen Spirit production, please contact Anita Rose Ducey at Nebraskans for Public Television at the address below:
For information about contributing contact:Mid-Nebraska Community FoundationFor production information contact:
Lincoln County Historical Society Fund
PO Box 1321
North Platte, NE 69103
1-308-534-3315Anita Rose Ducey
Nebraskans for Public Television
1800 N 33rd Street
Lincoln, NE 68501