A "Bonus Army" comprised of approximately 350 World War II veterans made their way to Jefferson City from Springfield and other areas from throughout the state in 1946 to demand a vote on a $400 bonus payment for each of Missouri's veterans who served in the war. The march was formed after the state legislature twice failed to pass bonus legislation The group came by train, car and truck, some of whom are pictured in the early hours of September 28, 1946 warming themselves by a fire in Washington Park in Jefferson City while waiting for the offices at the Missouri Capitol to open.
The request was not without precedence as the state passed legislation in 1921 to provide bonus payments to veterans of the First World War.
Gov. Phil M. Donnelly met with representatives of the group later that morning to the discuss bonus payment issue. It was not until November 2, 1948 that a referendum was placed before Missouri voters to increase the 2 percent retail sales tax to 3 percent until accruing a sum of $135 million to be used to pay a maximum bonus payment of $400 bonus to each state veteran of World War II. The proposal passed with a favorable majority.
Jeremy P. Amick is a military historian and author dedicated to preserving our nation's military legacies.