100 Years Ago: The First Thanksgiving of WWI

Sketch: Wild Turkey by Church Fergus,
Bureau of Information and Education,
Pennsylvania Game Commission, 1978.

One hundred years ago Thanksgiving was celebrated on 29 November 1917. The United States had recently joined their  allies in Europe, with the first troops arriving on that continent six months before in the month of June. The reportedly first American “shot” had been fired only a month earlier on October 23rd. Most of the troops were still in training camps, and were not quite ready battlefield ready.

In another article I’ve written about how the conservation of meat and wheat was voluntarily being enforced on the home front, in order to feed both the troops and our near starving allies. Did the World War impact how Thanksgiving was spent in New Hampshire and the United States, in 1917?

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New Hampshire WWI Military: Heroes of Franklin

WWI Soldiers Monument.
From 1921 Franklin NH Annual Report

By the time the 1918 City of Franklin Annual report was printed in January of 1919, WWI had ended with an armistice declared only 2 months earlier. Those who had served (in many capacities) were beginning to return home. Edward G. Leach was Mayor during that year, and had the foresight to preserve the records of those who served.

In his inaugural address in January of 1918 he indicated: “I recommend that a Roll of Honor be kept by the City Clerk in a book kept solely for that purpose of those who have and may enter the country’s service during this war, with suitable description of their service; that this list be published in the 1918 City Report; that after the war it be further perpetuated by a marble tablet in the City Hall Building; that their taxes be abated during the war; and that suitable appropriation be made or a fund raised to render aid that may be needed by them or their dependents. I also suggested a hope that the Grand Army may so revise their constitution, if necessary, so to take them into membership or that some arrangement be made so that they can occupy jointly with the Grant Army their hall for a separate organization. Edward G. Leach, Mayor.” [1918 Franklin Annual Report, Mayor’s Address, page 8.] Continue reading

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100 Years Ago: Two Years Before Armistice Day

I continue my articles about World War I, and what was happening in New Hampshire and the world 100 years ago, with a story about 11 November 1917. Though now we celebrate Veteran’s Day on November 11th, one hundred years ago we did not.

It was not until November 11, 1919 that the first Armistice Day occurred, and Veteran’s Day followed. [Editor’s Note: the Armistice that ended WWI was on November 11, 1918, but it was not until a year later that anyone celebrated an “Armistice Day.”] In fact it was not until 1954 when the 83rd Congress amended the 1938 act that designated Armistice Day as a holiday, changing the word “Armistice” to “Veterans.” President Dwight Eisenhower signed this legislation into law. Continue reading

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New Hampshire WWI Military: Heroes of Claremont

Soldiers Monument in Broad Street Park, 
Claremont NH. Photograph by Colin Sanborn,
used here with permission.

Like many other New Hampshire locales, in 1918 the then Town of Claremont celebrated and recognized its returning heroes of World War I. A simple painted sign existed at first, the names of those who gave their lives acknowledging service until the wood began to decay, was removed, and then was lost in time.

In 1967 a modern monument was erected in Broad Street Park, facing City Hall. [The 1972 Annual Report of Claremont shows a photograph and specifies the year]. The names of many of those who lost their lives are inscribed on this stone.  A list of ALL who served from Claremont NH can be found in the August 21, 1919 edition of the Republic Champion newspaper.

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New Hampshire WWI Military: Heroes of Littleton

Old photograph postcard of Littleton NH in the
1910s; from the collection of J.W. Brown

Littleton New Hampshire has well-recognized its military heroes. The Littleton Community Center building was designated at the 1920 Town Meeting as Littleton’s memorial to the soldiers and sailors of World War I.  A monument can be found to those who participated in several wars on Route 302 in Littleton NH across from Post Office near the bank.  Arwen Mitton of the Littleton Public Library says that this monument was the subject of a Boy Scout Eagle project in the  last ten years.   And as recently as 2003 the bridge on Cottage Street was dedicated as The Veterans Memorial Bridge honoring veterans all over the years, including those who served and died during WWI. Continue reading

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