Friday, November 15, 2013

Sure Was Some Celebration: Armistice Day

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

This past week Veteran's Day was celebrated on November 11 prompting this blog post on the very first celebrations at the end of World War I.  2014 marks the one hundredth anniversary of the start of the "Great War" in Europe. Countries involved included the Allies: France, Britain and Russia; and the Central Powers: Germany and Austria-Hungary. The war eventually involved all of Europe. The United States did not officially join the Allies until April 6, 1917. 
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice was declared between the Allied nations and Germany. Although the Treaty of Versailles would not be signed until June 28, 1919 officially ending "the Great War," all hostilities stopped on November 11, 1918.  

"Service Note"
November 11, 1918
Dr. Harold Glover

For a world weary of war,  November 11, 1918 was a day of celebration.

November 11, 1918
Lucile Mitchel Miller Collection
HCHM Photo Archives
In a letter to her soldier fiance serving in France in the fall of 1918, Waive Kline described what happened in Harvey County when "Peace" was finally declared.
"There was surely some excitement Monday morning when we heard about 'Peace'.  We went to Newton about two o'clock [in the afternoon] and didn't get home until about ten.  Sure was some celebration.  There were people every place you looked and the noise. Oh! My! You could certainly see that something wonderful had happened."  (Waive Kline to Glenn Wacker 14 November 1918)

Evening Kansan-Republican, 11 November 1918

Harvey County Celebrations 
November 12, 1918

Parade on November 12, 1918
100 Block North Main, west side
Hesston, Ks
HCHM Photo Archives

Newton Armistice Day Parade
November 12, 1918
HCHM Photo Archives

A year later, "Armistice Day" was celebrated on November 11 to commemorate the ending of the war.

Newton Evening Kansan-Republican, 5 November 1919
Stores closed in Newton for the day and "Main Street was in gala attire in its patriotic decorations." The Evening Kansan Republican noted that "stores being closed emphasized the significance of the holiday observed." The parade down Newton's Main Street had more than 2,000 participants with "10,000 people in town" for the festivities.  The American Legion had a full day planned in addition to the parade, including special music, speeches, games and an Armistice Ball at the City Auditorium.

November 11th, or "Armistice Day," became a legal federal holiday in the United States in 1938 and was to be a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace.  In the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, a holiday dedicated to American veterans of all wars.
  • Glenn and Waive Kline Wacker Collection, HCHM Archives
  • Evening Kansan-Republican, 11 November 1918
  • Evening Kansan Republican, 5 November 1919, 6 November 1919, 8 November 1919, 10 November 1919, 11 November 1919, 12 November 1919, 13 November 1919,
  • Bethel Breeze in the Evening Kansan Republican, 18 November 1919 
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