Thursday, November 12, 2009

Armistice Day

My grandmother always called November 11th Armistice Day for years and years after Congress in 1954 changed the Day of Recognition of those who served in foreign wars to Veterans Day. She had lived through that era of the Great War – the war to end all wars - which we now call WWI. Armistice Day was so named to honor those who had served, especially those who had died, preserving freedom. When America entered WW I, it shifted the stalemate that had mired Europe since 1914. The truce, or armistice, was the welcome surrender by Germany to the Allied American, British and French forces at Versailles outside of Paris where a cessation of fighting occurred at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.

Today, an event of this magnitude would be instantaneously thrust in our faces with updates on our computer screens or broadcasts by every television news commentator or radio personality. In 1918 the news came via the transatlantic cable and was disseminated through a tried and true method of communication. The bells began to ring. Every church steeple and every citizen able rang their bells and everyone knew the war had ended. And I guess a certain pride occurred as East Hampton was known as the bell capital of the world.

Our community had not been immune to the war sending 139 men and 2 women off to the great battlefields of France. Four young men, Clarence Treadway, Nelson Tucker, Clarence Coe and Patrick Cavanaugh, were killed in action and several suffered wounds or the effects of mustard gas.

After the war, the creation of the American Legion first proposed by Lt. Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. and 20 other Army Officers occurred. East Hampton veterans organized local Post No. 64 and honored their fallen comrades by naming it Treadway Cavanaugh Post No. 64, which stands today next to the Post Office on Main St.

Even though Armistice or should I say Veterans Day comes only once a year, we should all remember more often the sacrifices made by so many of our men and women to preserve freedom. I thank all our Veterans for what they have done on our behalf.

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