November 11, the date World War I formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, was selected for Armistice Day to honor veterans of World War I. President Woodrow Wilson issued the following message to all Americans on November 11,1919.
A year ago today our enemies laid down their arms in accordance with an armistice which rendered them impotent to renew hostilities, and gave to the world an assured opportunity to reconstruct its shattered order and to work out in peace a new and juster set of international relations. The soldiers and people of the European Allies had fought and endured for more than
four years to uphold the barrier of civilization against the aggressions of armed force. We ourselves had been in the conflict something more than a year and a half.
With splendid forgetfulness of mere personal concerns, we remodeled our industries, concentrated our financial resources, increased our agricultural output, and assembled a great army, so that at the last our power was a decisive factor in the victory. We were able to bring the vast resources, material and moral, of a great and free people to the assistance of our associates in Europe who had suffered and sacrificed without limit in the cause for which we fought.
Out of this victory there arose new possibilities of political freedom and economic concert. The war showed us the strength of great nations acting together for high purposes, and the victory of arms foretells the enduring conquests which can be made in peace when nations act justly and in furtherance of the common interests of men.
To us in America the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service, and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of nations.
The first Armistice Day in Transylvania County was to be celebrated with a parade by the students of the Brevard Graded School and Brevard Institute, followed by the singing of patriotic songs, prayers and speaking. The parade was cancelled due to inclement weather but the other events went forward with a large audience at the Baptist church.
|WWI Transylvania County soldiers. Front row: Avery Orr, 2nd from left; Virgil Merrill, 5th from left. Middle row: Jesse Scruggs, 3rd from left; Carl Hardin, 4th from left .Back row: Coy Surrette, 2nd from left; Travie Hart, 7th from left. Others pictured include Harold Harden, Lauder Lyday, Ernest Miller and Victor Orr. They served in France in the Medical Department, at Field Hospitals and with Ambulance Company 324 from August 1918 through June 1919.
Following World War II and the Korean War veterans’ organizations advocated for changing Armistice to Veterans to honor those who had fought in all wars and those who served in the U.S. military forces during times of peace. Congress officially renamed November 11 as Veterans Day in 1954.
Photographs and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Library. This article was written by Marcy Thompson. Visit the NC Room during regular library hours (Monday-Friday) to learn more about our history and see additional photographs. For more information, comments, or suggestions contact NC Room staff at [email protected] or 828- 884-1820.