The city of La Crosse was awarded this Liberty Loan Honor Roll flag on June 16, 1918, during the Great War, today known as World War I.
Liberty Loans were bonds sold during the war in an effort to raise money for the government’s war expenses to buy things such as medical supplies and food for the soldiers who were fighting. Citizens throughout the US purchased a Liberty Loan, and then after several years they sold it back to the US government for the original price including interest. The Third Liberty Loan allowed the US government to issue $3 billion worth of war bonds at a rate of 4.5% interest for up to 10 years.
This Liberty Loan Honor flag was a special award during the Third Liberty Loan campaign, which is why it has three blue stripes. The flag is pieced-together red, white and blue wool with metal grommets and measures 36 x 54 inches. Any town, city or business that met or exceeded their quota for war bond sales was awarded this flag of honor.
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In addition to the flag, every citizen who purchased a Liberty Loan received a small poster proclaiming their status as a Third Liberty Loan subscriber to display in their home. These posters had pictures of the Third Liberty Loan Honor flag to encourage other people to buy Liberty Loans.
On June 16, 1918, Mayor Bentley, was presented this flag at city hall. After receiving it, he was quoted in the La Crosse Tribune “the awarding of this honor flag was an historical event of importance in the city.” La Crosse’s Third Liberty Loan Honor flag was flown at La Crosse City Hall for a while after being awarded, evidenced from the wear marks on the flag. This shows how much pride the city took in being awarded this honor flag, and how much it meant to them that they worked so hard to get it.
This flag was donated to the La Crosse County Historical Society in 1929.
Faith Kalvig is a La Crosse County Historical Society intern.