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A showcase of our most treasured collections selected by VHP staff members. The written descriptions of these veterans’ stories highlight the diversity and dramatic content of our holdings. View additional staff favorites.

Image: This is the ArmyRobert Sidney

Go to Robert Sidney's Collection

During World War II, fear and homesickness plagued all soldiers. The U.S. Army knew that bolstering troops’ morale would help them survive. “This Is the Army” was the Army’s light-hearted all-soldiers revue-style entertainment, written by Irving Berlin and put on by GIs and for GIs around the globe, from 1942 through 1945. Robert (Bob) Sidney’s oral history and photograph collection take us behind the scenes of that unlikely yet memorable show, and reveal another side of Image of Irving Berlin and Robert Sidneywartime. All the musicians, actors, dancers, and production people involved with “This Is the Army” had been in show business as civilians. Draftee Bob Sidney, a dancer/choreographer, was transferred to the This Is the Army Detachment in the Army’s Special Services Division, to become the principal choreographer for the show. The show made its debut on Broadway on July 4, 1942, to raise funds for servicemen’s families. “This Is The Army” went on the road around the globe, wherever GIs were stationed-- in Italy, Egypt, and on many Pacific islands; in bombed-out buildings, field hospitals, and landing strips--until war’s end in 1945. The racially-integrated company of 150 men formed a special bond, sometimes performing under terrible conditions. The members of the road company remained on detachment under General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who felt the show reminded American soldiers of home. In Bob Sidney’s story, we see how show business played a part in WWII.

Chosen by Sarah Rouse, Senior Program Officer. Sarah received her M.L.S. from Catholic University. She came to the Veterans History Project from the Library's Prints & Photographs Division in April 2001.

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  The Library of Congress >> American Folklife Center
  April 3, 2009
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