Honoring the 100th Anniversary of Armistice Day
At 11am on 11 November 1918, 47 miles outside of Paris in the Forest of Compiegne, German delegates met with Allied Commander Ferdinand Foch to sign the armistice that ended World War 1 (WW1). The armistice marked the end of a war that had raged across the European Continent for over four years, leaving a trail of death and destruction the likes of which the world had never seen. By its end, whole communities had been leveled and millions had lost their lives or been wounded.
It was a war that President Wilson and the country had hoped to avoid, but its impact eventually hit home. In 1915, a German U-boat torpedoed the Lusitania, sinking it within minutes just off the coast of Ireland. Nearly, 1200 civilians, including Americans, were killed. Later, the U.S. government uncovered Germany’s plot to create a conflict along our southern border in an attempt to redirect our attention from the war to our own border. Germany’s attempt to cause instability at home was the final straw and President Wilson called a special session in April 1917, asking Congress to declare war.
Congress made the declaration. Nearly three years after it began, the United States entered WW1. The call to arms was given, and U.S. servicemen shipped overseas to join ranks with their war seasoned allies. Here in Claremont, families said goodbye to their men, waiting for their safe return. A year into the war, the waiting would stop for many Claremont families. Spring 1918 marked the arrival of the first telegram, catapulting a whole community into mourning.
John Miller was the first casualty, dying from an accident in April. The next month Harry Porter died of disease. In July, Raymond Lamere died from an accident and Oliver LaCasse was killed in action. The next month, Clifford Cady and Philias Cote both died of wounds. The news in September was even more devastating. Alfred Coulombe and George McLeod were killed in action. Arthur Baribeau, Arthur Couture, Charles Farrie , Osborne Friend, Alphonse Lebrecque, Albert Nailer, and Robert Rickard all died from disease. October followed with the news that Albert Audette, Charles Ayer and Ralph Kelsey were killed in action, and that Burton Benjamin and Roy Young died of disease. Ten days before the armistice, Don Hooper was killed in action.
In eight months, Claremont lost 20 men. Even after the armistice was signed, Claremont continued to lose men to disease or wounds. It was a story shared by communities across our nation and abroad. The war was over, but a whole generation of men was nearly lost. Those who had fought and survived would live with the scars.
This Veteran’s Day we will not only honor the veterans who have or are serving their country, but also the 100th anniversary of a war that the world had hoped never to see again. From history, we know that this was not to be. A generation later we would be thrust into WWII, and nations would again experience destruction and great loss.
If you are able, please join us on Sunday, November 11, at 11am as we celebrate Veteran’s Day in Broad Street Park. Generations of Claremont men and women have answered their nation’s call to serve. It is for them and their families that we celebrate this day.
Charlene Lovett is the Mayor of Claremont and welcomes your feedback. Please email questions, comments or concerns to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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