Like many eager young men at the time, Ernest Hemingway (born today in 1899) tried to enlist to fight in World War I. “I can’t let a show like this go on without getting in on it,” he wrote to his older sister Marcelline. “There hasn’t been a real war to go to since Grandfather Hemingway’s shooting at the battle of Bull Run.” Rejected by the Army, Navy, and Marines for bad eyesight, he was thrilled to go to war in 1918 as a Red Cross ambulance driver.
After being wounded, and winning a medal for trying to rescue a soldier, he spent six months recuperating. Marcelline was seeing a movie back home when she was thrilled to see Ernest in the newsreel. “He was in uniform, sitting in a wheelchair on the hospital porch, being pushed by a pretty nurse,” she wrote. “He smiled at the camera and waved a crutch.” The Hemingway family went to theaters all over Chicago to catch the newsreel as many times as possible.