Veterans Parade to be held Nov. 3
DECATUR — Nov. 11 marks a significant milestone in history, and groups from all over this country will pause to remember it with parades and programs.
One hundred years ago on Nov. 11, 1918, in a small railroad boxcar on a siding in Compiegne, France, just outside of Paris, an armistice agreement was signed ending what would later be called “the war to end all wars.”
World War I was one of the most destructive conflicts in the
world at that time. It began with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophie by a Bosnian nationalist named Gavrilo Princip in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo on June 28, 1914. One month later, a war between Germany and its allies and Russia and its allies began.
The Great War lasted a total of four years, three months and two weeks. In all, around 40 million causalities occurred — 11 million military and eight million civilian deaths, and 23 million wounded — making it one of the deadliest conflicts in human history.
When both sides finally called for an end to the war, an armistice agreement was reached on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 calling for a cessation of hostilities. The formal end of the war came with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919, five years to the date after the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand.
On November 28, just 17 days after its signing, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation making Nov. 11 Armistice Day, a day to pay tribute to all military personnel that perished in this great war.
Congress passed a formal resolution making Nov. 11 the national day of commemoration. In the resolution, Congress wrote:
“Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations…” (www.va.gov)
Armistice Day became a legal U.S. holiday by an act of Congress on May 13, 1938.
This day of remembrance would go through one more change, due in part to a movement by President Dwight Eisenhower. The President was able to change the name from Armistice Day to the holiday we know today, Veterans Day.
All of the veterans of “the war to end all wars” have passed on into the history books now. But we still remember them, as well as all veterans from the many wars since World War I.
The Decatur Veterans Committee will host its annual Veterans Day Parade and Commemoration Ceremony on Nov. 3, beginning with the parade at 3 p.m. from downtown Decatur to Veterans Park. All veterans and their family members (including family members of deceased veterans) are welcome to walk or ride in this year’s event. The lineup for the parade will begin at 2:30 p.m. on the corner of Third Street and South Main, near the old carwash.
Following the parade will be the dedication of a memorial tree which was planted behind the Howard-Parrish monument in Veterans Park. This was part of Governor Asa Hutchinson’s program to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the holiday. The opening ceremony begins with the posting of the colors by members of the American Legion Post 29 Honor Guard.
Food and drinks will be provided by the Decatur Veterans Committee. The Decatur High School band, with the help of the Northside music class, along with the musical group “Faith and Freedom Blue Grass,” will provide patriotic music for this year’s event
On Nov. 8, Decatur High School will host its annual Veterans Day assembly at 9:30 a.m. at Peterson Gym in Decatur. Four years ago, Toby Conrad, high school principal, organized this event to bring students and veterans together to share the Veterans Day message and to honor his own father who was a military veteran. The public is invited to attend this important lesson in the joys of freedom and those who defended it.
Members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9834 wave to the crowd as they pass through downtown Decatur on their way to Veterans Park during the Nov. 4, 2017, Veterans Day Parade. This year’s event takes place Nov. 3, beginning with the parade at 3 p.m. followed by the memorial tree dedication and opening ceremony at Veterans Park in Decatur at 3:30 p.m.