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When we first started this project, many months ago, we went in with the intention of uncovering the history of this artifact.
Unfortunately, this task turned out to be much more difficult than we had presumed. The supplier of this artifact, Profiles of History, could not supply any information about the object's orgins. In fact, the item in question seems to have disappeared from all their records, leaving very little hope of uncovering any background. This also dimmed our hopes of tracking down possible owners of the document. It seems that Profiles of History is an auction site with a strong focus on Hollywood memorabilia, so the entire site was just a series of dead ends. However, after much research and speculation, we have determined that the document was signed in the United States War Department on July 14th, 1946, as can be inferred from the date next to General Papagos' signature, and a newspaper article indicating that he visited the Department of War that day.
 As for what ties all these names on the document together, one can speculate and come with a fancy story of why these names are on one sheet, and some of the dates by the signatures, such as 11/24/43, suggest that perhaps the paper was not stationary, but traveled to various locations in order to accomodate the variety of backgrounds and nationalities these soldiers came from. Perhaps someone traveled with these sheets, and as they met others, they asked for signatures. Of course, we many never really know where and why these signatures were taken. But, as Socrates said, "The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing."
    Thus, we took this opportunity of not knowing to discover, and know, something else.  

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"If any good can be said to come of war, then the Second War War must go on record as assisting and accelerating one of the greatest blessings that the 20th Century has conferred on Man - the huge advances in medical knowledge and surgical techniques. War, by producing so many and such appalling casualties, and by creating such widespread conditions in which disease can flourish, confronted the medical profession with an enormous challenge - and the doctors of the world rose to the challenge of the last war magnificently." --Brian J Ford.

 

About 405,399 American soldiers died between 1941-1946 during World War II and about 670,846 American soldiers were non-mortally wounded, according to the Congressional Research Service. 

On August 22, 1864 the 'Amelioration of the Conditions of the Wounded in Armies in the Field" was the first time that governments signed a document to make it clear that Medical personnel would wear a red cross on a white field and that these symbols were to be a sign of the personnel's neutral status. The Red Cross brassard was worn on the left arm. This was supposed to give protection to Medical personnel during times of war, so that lives could be saved. This symbol of a red cross is a sign of hope for the many soldiers during WW2 who lived thanks to the medical services provided to them. 

Up until World War II, when a civilian was sick with pneumonia or a soldier was lying wounded in the battle field, there was little hope for either. The reason so many soldiers survived is thanks to the many medical advances during this time. One of these great medical advances was the discovery of penicillium. In 1928, Alexander Fleming, by accident, discovered the healing properties of penicillium. In 1945, penicillium became commercially available. One after another, new antibiotics and medications were discovered. Doctors now had the means and tools to be effective. Hospitals were created because we had the resources and technologies to help others.Because of these medical advances only about 4 in 100 soldiers died of wounds. 

By the end of World War II, there were 10 medical departments that served during the war, including: the Medical Corps, the Dental Corps, the Veterinary Corps, the Medical Administrative Corps, the Sanitary Corps, the Army Nurse Corps, the Sanitary Corps, the Contract Surgeon, the Hospital Dietitian Corps, the Pharmacist Corps, and the Physical Therapist Corps.  
  In addition to our research, we also spent many class periods deciphering the signatures and copying their names into the site with hopes of finding connections between the various soldiers. 




Sources:
  • Photos and other information from: WW2 US Medical Research Centre --http://med-dept.com
  • Quote from: http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/medicine_and_world_war_two.htm
  • Statistics from: www.crs.gov -- Congressional Research Service, American War and Military Operations Casualties: Lists and Statistics, by Anne Leland (Information Research Specialist) and Mari-Jana "M-J" Oboroceanu (Information Research Specialist) on February 26, 2010