Today we call ‘Veterans Day’ thanks to the 1954 Congress who changed the name from ‘Armistice Day.’ One hundred years ago, at the 11th hour (in France) of the 11th day of the 11th month, an armistice was declared, and “after 1567 days the greatest war in history ended…” reported the Nashua Telegraph newspaper. [Read the terms of the armistice in detail here]
Headlines across the world screamed the news that the war had ended though there would continue to be deaths. More than thirty-five hundred casualties occurred among the American Expeditionary Forces on ‘Armistice Day’ itself. Still others would die of wounds from that day and before that day, and of influenza and other deadly diseases. Some would drown or die of accidents before they were able to be sent home. It wasn’t over until it was over. Also, the armistice was a cease fire, but not a peace treaty.
The newspapers made it clear that though the armistice with Germany was signed, the military units would not immediately return home. The soldiers who had been in place the longest were to be replaced by fresh recruits currently in training camps (although there were many in the camps who were sent home instead).
The fiftieth anniversary of the Armistice was celebrated on 11 November 1968. The Manchester Historic Association online archives provided me with a photograph of that day with this description, “View of a wreath laying ceremony at the base of the World War I Victory Monument in Victory Park, Manchester, N.H. The ceremony marked the climax of Manchester’s Veterans Day exercises marking the 50th anniversary of the Armistice. Mayor John C. Mongan (left) and Parade Marshall Emile Simard are shown placing the wreath. They are flanked from left, by senior veterans Herbert Sholenberger, a Spanish-American War veteran; Laterriere Fitzpatrick, a World War I veteran; Herbert Gray, a veteran of both World Wars, and John Liokas, a World War I veteran from Sweeney Post. Members of the Marine Honor Guard are pictured in back of the wreath: S/Sgt. John McIntyre; S/Sgt. Eugene Mann; Sgt. Rod Lebrecque.” In 2018 if you are in, or visiting Manchester New Hampshire on Veterans Day, consider a trip to the Millyard Museum where they are offering free admission from 11 am to 2 pm.
At 11:00 AM (local time) you may hear the tolling of bells, Bells of Peace.
This year Veterans Day is a personal milestone. I have spent the past 2+ years researching and writing about New Hampshire and World War I, and it is time for me to move on to other history topics. So, with a very few exceptions, I am considering my WWI research completed.
I am deeply grateful to all the photographers, librarians, historical society volunteers, town historians, town clerks and friends who helped me obtain the information I needed to research and write good and accurate stories that honor all who served. Thank you to all. Let us never forget these men and women.
If you want to learn more about my New Hampshire WWI stories, look here first as I present a list of many names that link to their separate story. Also see the same links on the main menu of this blog. New Hampshire’s World War One History.
And last, but certainly not least–Veterans Day is a day to honor living men and women who have served in all branches of the United States military. Thank you for your service.