Throughout the magazine's history the horrors of conflict and strife have prompted Columbia’s artists and graphic designers to compose some of the magazine’s most brilliant and stunning front covers. From World War I to the Order’s war bond drives during World War II to the Cold War and the conflicts in Vietnam and the Middle East, Columbia’s creative staff consistently presented these difficult topics in a meaningful way.
September 1922: The first American casualty of World War I was a Knight of Columbus — a fact the September 1922 issue of Columbia announced to the world. Lt. William Fitzsimmons, who was a member of St. John Council 709 in Kansas City, was killed in late-1917 serving with the American Expeditionary Forces. This issue of Columbia offered readers the opportunity to purchase a copy of the cover suitable for framing for 25 cents. Cover by Columbia staff with a photo from The Knights of Columbus in Peace and War Vol. II.
March 1937: As the threat of Communism began to rise, Columbia presented this eerie cover of two rabbits: one dressed as a businessman and the other as an almost-futuristic soldier clad in a gasmask. The unsigned cover story discussed Communism as a threat to world peace — oddly prescient of the years following World War II. Cover by Paul Orban.
December 1939: As World War II raged in Europe, Columbia published this painting, which included a poem titled “Christmas Carol: 1939” by Mary Fabyan Windeatt, featuring two soldiers with their bayonets crossed protectively over the Holy Family. Cover by William E. Luberoff.
June 1942: With America’s official entry into World War II, the Knights of Columbus — like many organizations at the time — began high-profile war bond drives. This fanciful and patriotic cover encouraged readers to buy war stamps and war bonds, and similar internal advertisements urged Americans to support the USO. The magazine’s cigarette ads took a patriotic turn as well, with handsome soldiers smoking Chesterfields; its taglines read, “Our fighting men rate the best.” Cover by Ray Crosby.
October 1945: As World War II came to a close, the Knights of Columbus pushed for one final war bond drive. In the meantime, soldiers began to arrive home and transition back into civilian life. This cover shows a man trying to fit into his business suit after returning home from the front. Cover by William E. Luberoff.
December 1968: At the height of the Vietman War, Columbia published this cover of a Christian soldier praying on the battlefield. On page five, the editors printed a brief reflection by then-Supreme Chaplain Bishop Charles P. Greco, which read, in part, “Because of the tragic war in Vietnam, Christmas 1968 reveals man’s innate longing for peace.” Cover by Anthony Hyde.
January 2002: In the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Knights of Columbus launched a number of initiatives to assist victims and their families. The most visible of these was the Heroes Fund, but K of C units around the world also supported a variety of relief efforts. Cover photo by Beth A. Keiser, Associated Press.
June 2004: As the United States became embroiled in controversial conflicts in the Middle East, the Knights of Columbus made its stance known: The Order would support the troops and military chaplains regardless of the politics. As such, the Knights began a number of initiatives, partnering with the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, to provide for the spiritual needs of soldiers while local K of C units began sending care packages to those stationed far from home. Cover montage by Richard J. Cesare.