Veterans’ Day

The end of the fighting of World War I was “on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month,” 1918. This was the armistice. (The actual peace treaty was not signed until June 28, 1919, at Versailles, France.)

The first Armistice Day was held November 11, 1919. In Rockford, Mayor Robert Rew had declared the day a half-holiday. The following departments stores closed at noon, so their employees could enjoy the afternoon holiday: Hess, Ashton, Field, Wiese, Brown, Stewart, Deming and Wortham. The members of the East State Businessmen’s Association, members of the Fourteenth Avenue Business Men’s Association, as well as the Seventh Street merchants and merchants from the West side were planning to close.

Carroll R. Reed, superintendent of schools, had authorized a half-day for the students as well. Officers of the Walter Craig Post, American Legion, were to speak at the schools in the morning.

At 11:58 a.m., all citizens in Rockford were to stop what they were doing and face east for two minutes, when they would offer a prayer of thanks for the armistice, and to remember those who had died in the Great War.

In 1938, Armistice Day, November 11th was made a legal holiday in the U.S. In 1954, the act changed the name to Veterans’ Day, to  honor the veterans from all wars, both living and dead. Let’s continue to remember and honor them.