SAME at 100: Growing National Support, 1923

Explore the SAME Centennial Timeline with #SAME100

Interest in the Society and its stated purpose would spread quickly during the 1920s. Over the next decade, The Military Engineer attracted notable and varied contributors, such as Secretary of War John Weeks, then-Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover, and Maj. Gen. John Lejeune, USMC, Commandant of the Marine Corps. Anxious to contribute to the ongoing conversation across the engineering community of the need for greater readiness, they turned to SAME to share their perspectives. By 1930, the Society would have 8,000 members and 24 Posts.

A key differentiator of The Military Engineer and SAME’s membership from Professional Memoirs, TME‘s predecessor publication, was the diversity of technical fields covered and the broad backgrounds of the audience. While Professional Memoirs was written by the Corps of Engineers for the Corps of Engineers, TME was written by the engineering community for the engineering community…and beyond.

Early in 1920, General of the Armies John Pershing took to the pages of TME to address the new Society, and expound on the far-reaching impacts that the engineering community could have on the entire national security efforts by coming together.

Wrote Pershing in March 1920: “I have been much interested in reading the February issue of the official journal of your Society, The Military Engineer. I am glad to see that steps are being taken to interest the engineer in civil life in the military aspects of his profession. The complete cooperation of the engineering profession throughout the country is necessary to any policy of National Defense, and I feel certain the Society of American Military Engineers will serve a valuable purpose in furthering this cooperation and interest.”

The Military Engineer would continue to attract leading voices to its pages, such as J. Edgar Hoover, who authored articles during his tenure with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. And annually to today, the Engineering Service Chiefs have utilized the magazine’s wide reach to provide in-depth perspectives on their respective organization’s project, programs, and priorities.

Former MIT Dean of Engineering Gordon Brown once wrote that “engineers operate at the interface between science and society.” In many ways, TME has operated at the interface between the military, engineering, and everything else.

The Society of American Military Engineers is now 100. Founded in 1920, in the interests of patriotism and national security, the organization has never wavered from a vow to support the needs of the United States and strengthen the profession of engineering. As was stated in the inaugural issue of The Military Engineer a century ago: “this Society will serve no selfish purpose.”

The genesis of SAME was born from the lessons of World War I, and the realization of those who went “over there” that the engineering community was unprepared for what was confronted. That prescient leadership would prove invaluable, as “The War to End All Wars” was anything but. 

During 2020, the Society is celebrating a century of service to the nation through local and national events, programs and special activities, and coverage in print and online. At Bricks & Clicks, we will be publishing information from the TME archives, capturing the growth of SAME and the emergence of engineering and technology on the world’s stage. Follow and contribute using #SAME100