A Brief History of Time Change

As an American, one can reasonably ask: “What’s happened during the last hundred years, or 36,500 days?”

Presidentially speaking, America’s gone from a pedantic, virulently anti-Communist Woodrow Wilson to a bombastic, virulently anti-Islamic Donald Trump.  Coincidentally, Wilson was the most recent U.S. president to authorize an invasion of Mexico (March 15,1916), while Trump’s obsession with “our Southern border” has been more than well-documented.

Now, back in 1916, President Wilson’s “punitive expedition” was intended to capture the Mexican political outlier Pancho Villa, whose cross-border raid on Columbus, New Mexico (March 9, 1916) had killed 18 Americans.  Ultimately, General John “Black Jack” Pershing’s 6,000 man invasion force failed to find Villa, and this faulty invasion product was recalled in February, 1917. Soon after, however, General Pershing was back in the “expedition” business.  In April of 1917, Woodrow Wilson broke his campaign promise to keep the United States out of the European War by declaring “War!” on Germany and Austro-Hungary.

Sometimes referred to as the “War to end all wars,” the First World War led to an even more genocidal sequel two decades later. Also known as the “War to save Democracy,” the monarchically-shorn, but still authoritarian, legacy of World War One managed to spawn Fascist dictatorships in Italy, Spain, and Germany — not to mention the super-Czardom of Joseph Stalin in Russia, as well as a military dictatorship in Japan, which had been an ally that fought Germany during the “Great War” of 1914-18.

The ghosts of the First World War continue to haunt the warring World today.  Take the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Syria, for instance:  these two countries were literally drawn into existence by the schemingly victorious British and French: first, by secret agreement in 1916 (Sykes-Picot); then publicly, through the agency of the Versailles Treaty of 1919-20.  The United States, of course, has been waging undeclared — thus illegitimate — war “over there” — with a particular emphasis on Iraq, where U.S. troops are still garrisoned — since 1991.

A century of world war, however, is not the only contribution of the First World War to our own time, here in the early 21st — if, indeed, we can really call it “our own time” at all…  In addition to sowing seeds for one hundred years of belligerent offspring, World War One also gave us Daylight Saving Time (DST), or Time Change.  First adopted by soon-to-be enemies, Germany and Austro-Hungary, in 1916, the United States officially instituted daylight saving time through the “Standard Time Act” of March 19, 1918. Kind of like the war itself, despite a massive propaganda campaign for it, daylight saving was wildly unpopular; Congress repealed the Time Change, over President Wilson’s veto, in 1919.

Daylight saving next reared its time-shifting head in 1942, when the United States declared itself back in the World War business. The second coming of Time Change was literally referred to as “War Time”; so, in case any American citizen wasn’t aware, all of time was now “War Time.”  DST the Second was again suspended at the conclusion of hostilities, in 1945.  For the next 20 years, one might suppose, no one in America knew what time it was.  Some states kept to the DST standard, while others did not.  With a push from the transportation industry, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act in 1966, which marked the third installation of Time Change.  Of course, the United States was seriously escalating its undeclared war in Vietnam, Southeast Asia, in 1966; but, unlike 1942, no one called it “Vietnam War Time” at that time.

The Arab oil embargo of 1973, in response to United States support of Israel during the Yom Kippur War, triggered even more wrinkles in already wrinkled time.  In 1986, the DST was further modified, moving the “Spring Forward” back from the last to the first Sunday of April.  The most recent stitch in Time Change occurred in 2005, by way of the “Energy Policy Act,” which expanded DST in the dark light of the American occupation of Iraq, shifting the Time Change dates to the second Sunday of March and the first Sunday of November.

In brief, then, since the Time’s initial change in America, in 1918, the Time Change has been changed a surprising number of times. Perhaps our Overlords are unusually fidgety types?  As a pattern, they’ve changed the Time Change almost every 20 years. After all: what better way to keep a Population off-balance than to add an Hour here while subtracting an Hour there?  Throw in a few wars–and these “wars” don’t even need to be “declared” anymore, because no one knows what “time” it is — and one has a fine recipe for maintaining the military-industrial status quo first established through the persistent insanity of World War One.

The persistent insanity of World War One...Ah, yes, the current President of the United States, Donald BoneSpurs of Surreal Estate Acres:  Just look at that Hair!  That’s a faux-hawk if ever there was one:  pure 1980s, folks!   In a weird way, a kind of phantomime way, Trump has inherited Woodrow Wilson’s War-maker mantle — even though Trump’s been told that Andrew Jackson’s his “favorite” President, and Winston Churchill’s bristling bust is still ruling the background of all of Trump’s Oval Office appearances.

The Time may have changed several times during the last century, but the military-industrial song remains the same, and it’s still a sad, sickly War Song.  Donald Trump, obviously, has not changed that tune one note.  Ironically, perhaps, he’s like a one-note, black key piano player plunking out the tune of “more War, that we are forever withdrawing from, because we are forever withdrawing more forward…”

So, one hundred years into this manifestly un-Natural standardization of Time, who can say, with any certainty:  “What time is it?”

Todd Smith lives, writes, and observes the Brave New World Order in St. Louis. He can be reached at bartlebydick@yahoo.com. Read other articles by Todd.