The Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month: Remembering Armistice Day

Although the United States had only been directly involved for a year and a half, World War I had been going on for over four years by the time Germany signed a final armistice ending the war on November 11, 1918.  The armistice notably went into effect at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month that year.  Newspapers in South Carolina as well as the rest of the country excitedly announced the close of the devastating global war with headlines covering their front pages.

Front page of The Watchman and Southron (Sumter, S.C.), November 13, 1918

Front page of The Ogden Standard (Ogden City, Utah), November 11, 1918

A year later, on November 11, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson declared that the day would be observed in remembrance and recognition of the significant event that took place only one year prior.  Known as Armistice Day, newspapers across the country printed Wilson’s remarks regarding the day and its meaning.

“Today is Armistice Day: Message of President Wilson,” The Mt. Sterling Advocate (Mt. Sterling, KY), November 11, 1919

Other newspapers at the time detailed events and celebrations taking place for Armistice Day, including parades, dances, and dinners for servicemen.  The Garden Island featured an article on its all-day celebration which included a parade, several races, and other sporting events to make up the “largest and best sporting event ever held on the island of Kauai.”  Service men were encouraged to wear their uniforms and participate in the events.

“Armistice Day to Be Observed Here,” The Times-Herald (Burns, Harney County, OR), November 08, 1919

“Armistice Day Programme,” Perrysburg Journal (Perrysburg, Wood Co., Ohio), November 06, 1919

In 1938, Congress passed legislation making Armistice Day a federal holiday to be observed on November 11.  By the end of World War II, the idea grew that this day should not only honor those who served in WWI, but all armed service veterans.  It was under this notion that in 1954 President Dwight Eisenhower signed a bill into law establishing that the holiday’s name would be changed to Veterans Day.

For more historic newspaper articles about Veterans Day and its origin, be sure to check out Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.  We would love to hear about anything you find!


Related Articles in Chronicling America:
Germany Has Surrendered,” New York Tribune (New York, N.Y.), November 11, 1918.
German Surrender Unconditional,” Keowee Courier (Pickens Court House, S.C.), November 13, 1918.
Armistice Day Anniversary Celebrated,” El Paso Herald (El Paso, TX), November 11, 1919.
Armistice Day, Year of Peace, Observed Here,” The Washington Herald (Washington, D.C.), November 12, 1919.
Pullman Observes Armistice Day,” The Pullman Herald (Pullman, WA), November 14, 1919.
Armistice Day Celebration Here To-Morrow,” The Bourbon News (Paris, KY), November 10, 1922.


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