The 1935 “Labor Day” hurricane killed 485 in Florida. Of the dead, 257 were veterans stationed in work camps by the FDR administration in the Florida Keys to construct the Overseas Highway connecting the mainland with Key West. Mass cremations and burials were held for the dead.
2. The veterans’ deaths prompted Earnest Hemingway (a Key West resident) to pen a critical article, “Who Killed the Vets?” for The New Masses magazine (a Marxist publication). At the time, transient veterans were dubbed “Bonus Marchers” and “diseased” bums by the media.
3. By 1934, the problem of transient WW1 veterans seeking jobs had become acute in Washington DC, which lacked facilties to host them. So FDR came up with a plan to ship thousands of veterans to work camps in Florida, where many wound up in the path of the “Labor Day Hurricane”.
4. “They are doing coolie-labor for $45 a month and they have been put down in Florida Keys where they can’t make trouble. The veterans had no opportunity to leave, nor any protection against hurricanes; and they never had a chance for their lives,” Earnest Hemingway observed.
5. After the hurricane killed many veterans, a Washington Post editorial, “Ruin in the Veterans’ Camps” declared: "…the camps were havens of rest designed to keep Bonus Marchers away from Washington. Most of these veterans are drifters, psychopathic cases, and troublemakers…”
Dorian touched down on Great Abaco Island, east of Miami, where a resident described the direct hit as “total devastation”. Its sustained 185 MPH winds at landfall tie it for the sustained landfall windspeed record set by the 1935 “Labor Day Hurricane”.
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