Armistice Day cen­ten­nial leads ob­ser­vances for Vet­er­ans Day

The Wichita Eagle - - Front Page - BY BY AMY GEISZLER-JONES Ea­gle cor­re­spon­dent

The im­pact of World War I and its armistice signed a cen­tury ago on Nov. 11 was lon­glast­ing and con­tin­ues to­day, ac­cord­ing to a lo­cal his­tory pro­fes­sor.

“Even now, if peo­ple would stop and think, a lot of things go­ing on re­flect the … de­ci­sions made dur­ing and af­ter that war,” said Wi­chita State Uni­ver­sity his­tory pro­fes­sor John Dreifort, who will be a fea­tured speaker at one of the sev­eral spe­cial Armistice Day cen­ten­nial ac­tiv­i­ties hap­pen­ing in Wi­chita this week­end.

The war, of­ten called the Great War, was a wa­ter­shed event in his­tory, bring­ing about huge changes in the geo­graph­i­cal and po­lit­i­cal land­scape, par­tic­u­larly in Eastern Eu­rope and the Mid­dle East, where some­times bound­aries are still in con­flict. Four im­pe­rial dy­nas­ties in Ger­many, Rus­sia, Aus­tria-Hun­gary and Turkey fell. It led to the Bol­she­vik Rev­o­lu­tion, the rise of com­mu­nism and the con­tin­u­ing tur­moil in the Mid­dle East.

The heavy emo­tional, fi­nan­cial and hu­man toll that the war took brought about dis­il­lu­sion­ment that was re­flected in the peo­ple’s psy­che and all el­e­ments of so­ci­ety, in­clud­ing the arts. More than 10 mil­lion lives were lost dur­ing the war years of 1914 through 1918, but the weak­ened phys­i­cal con­di­tions of sol­diers and cit­i­zens and the move­ments of so many troops con­trib­uted to the epi­demic spread of the Span­ish flu later. Or­di­nance from the war is still buried in parts of Eu­rope.

It also in­creased the num­ber of Amer­i­cans who had to start pay­ing in­come tax, Dreifort said.

“Rel­a­tively few peo­ple paid taxes be­fore then, but the tax code was changed to get more rev­enue (to fund the war) and in­creased the num­ber of peo­ple who were el­i­gi­ble to pay taxes,” Dreifort said.

World War I started in mid-1914, pit­ting the Cen­tral Pow­ers of pri­mar­ily Ger­many, Aus­tria-Hun­gary and the Ot­toman Em­pire against the Al­lies of pri­mar­ily Great Bri­tain, France, Rus­sia, Italy and Ja­pan.

In April 1917, the U.S. an­nounced it would en­ter the war, fight­ing for the Al­lies, Dreifort noted, but it would take nearly a year to get an army ready to ship out.

“We had a time track­ing down Pan­cho Villa in Mex­ico so get­ting ready to take on the Ger­man army was a ma­jor un­der­tak­ing,” Dreifort said. Thou­sands of Amer­i­can forces pur­sued the Mex­i­can rev­o­lu­tion­ary in 1916.

Once Amer­i­can forces made it to the WWI theater, the armistice was de­clared a few months later.

Un­til 1953 in the U.S., Nov. 11 was of­fi­cially known as Armistice Day to mark the day in 1918 when an armistice, or tem­po­rary halt, was signed at what his­to­ri­ans note was the “11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.”

U.S. Pres­i­dent Dwight Eisen­hower, the vic­to­ri­ous com­mand­ing gen­eral of the Al­lies in World War II, signed leg­is­la­tion in 1954 of­fi­cially re­nam­ing Nov. 11 as Vet­er­ans Day to rec­og­nize vet­er­ans of all wars.

A num­ber of vet­er­ans and com­mu­nity groups are cel­e­brat­ing Vet­er­ans Day and Armistice Day over the next sev­eral days with a pa­rade, con­certs, talks and other salutes.

FRI­DAY THROUGH SUN­DAY

Pub­lic open house and war mem­o­ra­bilia ex­hibit at VFW Post 112, 1560 S. Topeka St. Post 112 is host­ing an ex­hibit fea­tur­ing his­to­ri­ans, speak­ers and ar­ti­facts fo­cus­ing on WWI dur­ing its open house from 5-8 p.m. Fri­day, 1-6 p.m. Satur­day and 1-5 p.m. Sun­day. Free. More in­for­ma­tion: vfw112.org

SATUR­DAY EVENTS

● Spirit AeroSys­tems Vet­er­ans Day Pa­rade, 11 a.m. start along Main Street in Wi­chita, from East 11th Street North to Lewis Street. Fol­lowed by var­i­ous ac­tiv­i­ties and dis­plays. Free. More in­for­ma­tion: dwss.us/Wi­chi­taVeter­an­sDayPa­rade/Post_Pa­rade_Ac­tiv­i­ties.htm

● “The Great War and Wi­chita” talk by Robert Weems Jr., WSU busi­ness his­tory pro­fes­sor, 2-3 p.m. at DeVore Au­di­to­rium, Wi­chita-Sedg­wick County His­tor­i­cal Mu­seum, 204 S. Main St. Weems will talk about the war’s ef­fect on Wi­chita, par­tic­u­larly the African-Amer­i­can com­mu­nity. Free. More in­for­ma­tion: face­book.com/events/2028806280762816/

● First of two Wi­chita Sym­phony per­for­mances of Ben­jamin Brit­ten’s “War Re­quiem,” 7:30 p.m., Cen­tury II Con­cert Hall, 225 W. Dou­glas. Ave. “War Re­quiem” is a com­po­si­tion that in­cor­po­rates po­etry writ­ten by sol­dier Wil­fred Owen killed the week be­fore the WWI armistice. Mae­stro Daniel Hege will give a pre-con­cert talk, “A Warn­ing to Fu­ture Gen­er­a­tions,” at 6:30 p.m. Tick­ets: $20 to $70, from wi­chi­ta­sym­phony.org, by phone at 316-267-7658 or at the sym­phony box of­fice.

SUN­DAY EVENTS

● “The Great War and ‘No Fu­tures for This Gen­er­a­tion,’” talk by John Dreifort, WSU his­tory pro­fes­sor, 12:30-1:30 p.m., Howard E. Wooden Lec­ture Hall, Wi­chita Art Mu­seum, 1400 W. Mu­seum Blvd. Build­ing off a quote from writer Gertrude Stein, Dreifort will talk about the prece­den­tset­ting and lin­ger­ing ef­fects of WWI. Free with reg­u­lar mu­seum ad­mis­sion of $7 adult, $5 se­niors, $3 stu­dents with ID and youth ages 5-17, and free to WAM mem­bers and chil­dren un­der 5.

● WAM also has a spe­cial ex­hibit, “Over There, Over Here: Amer­i­can Print Mak­ers Go to War, 1914-1918.” More in­for­ma­tion: wi­chi­taart­mu­seum.org/pro­gram­s_events/his­tory

● Sec­ond Wi­chita Sym­phony per­for­mance of Ben­jamin Brit­ten’s “War Re­quiem,” 3 p.m. Cen­tury II Con­cert Hall, with 2 p.m. pre-con­cert talk by Hege. Tick­ets: $20 to $70, from wi­chi­ta­sym­phony.org, by phone at 316-267-7658 or at the sym­phony box of­fice.

● De­lano Cham­ber Brass En­sem­ble Salute to Vet­er­ans con­cert, 3 p.m., West Side Bap­tist Church, 304 S. Seneca. Free, $10 sug­gested do­na­tion. More in­for­ma­tion: de­lanocham­ber­play­ers.org

● Re­flec­tion and Ex­plo­ration post-sym­phony re­cep­tion and op­por­tu­nity to see Spirit of Wi­chita ex­hibit with mem­o­ra­bilia of WWI, 4:30 p.m. Wi­chita-Sedg­wick County His­tor­i­cal Mu­seum, 204 S. Main St. Free with reg­u­lar mu­seum ad­mis­sion of $5 adults, $2 chil­dren ages 6-12, free to mu­seum mem­bers and chil­dren un­der 6.

TUES­DAY EVENTS

Vet­er­ans Com­ing Home Salute and Awards Ban­quet, 5 p.m. VIP re­cep­tion, 6 p.m. gen­eral re­cep­tion, 7 p.m. pro­gram, Dou­bleTree by Hil­ton Ho­tel Wi­chita Air­port, 2098 S. Air­port Road. Vet­er­ans may qual­ify for spon­sored tick­ets. More in­for­ma­tion/tick­ets: kpts.org

WED­NES­DAY EVENTS

“World War I in Po­etry with Mu­sic,” 1:30 p.m. Ad­vanced Learn­ing Li­brary, 711 W. 2nd St. This is a Se­nior Wed­nes­days pro­gram for adults 55 and older. Free. More in­for­ma­tion: se­nior­wednes­day.org

JOHN SLEEZER jsleezer@kc­star.com

More than 5,000 pop­pies are pro­jected on the World War I Me­mo­rial on Nov. 2 in Kansas City, Mo. The Peace and Re­mem­brance Il­lu­mi­na­tion Dis­play be­gins each day at 7 p.m. and con­tin­ues through Nov. 11 to com­mem­o­rate the 100th an­niver­sary of Armistice Day.

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