History of Veterans Day
The World War I monument at Courthouse Square in Stroudsburg is dedicated on August 11, 1924.
By Amy Leiser, Executive Director
Monroe County Historical Association
Veterans Day was established to honor servicemen (and now service-women) who had enlisted or were drafted into the armed forces. The day, however, was not always called Veterans Day; its original name was Armistice Day, and it was created following World War I to honor those veterans who had served in the “War to End All Wars.”
Although the United States had delayed its involvement in WWI until the summer of 1917, by the summer of 1918, our “doughboys” were arriving in Europe at the rate of 10,000 per day. In Monroe County, as throughout the nation, many men served their country by going “over there” to fight. One such soldier was Floyd L. Treible of North Water Gap. Treible was the first Monroe County casualty of the war; he was killed in action in France in 1917.
The official end of World War I came on June 28, 1919 when the Treaty of Versailles was signed. Interestingly, the Allied Nations agreed to a cease-fire with Germany eight months prior to the signing of the Treaty. This cease-fire, or armistice, was a formal, but not necessarily permanent, suspension to hostilities. The armistice occurred on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918.
One year after the end of the war, Woodrow Wilson, the president of the U.S. from 1913-1921, declared November 11, 1919 to be Armistice Day in America. In 1926, Congress recognized Armistice Day, and in 1938, Congress passed a resolution officially recognizing Armistice Day as a national holiday.
This holiday was a day for national pride, celebrations, and parades. Local pride was also high. An announcement appeared in the local newspaper, The Morning Press. On November 7, 1919, Carl Brown, Burgess of East Stroudsburg and C.L. Edinger, Burgess of Stroudsburg declared Tuesday, November 11, 1919 as Armistice Day in Monroe County. Both men encouraged “every Citizen big and small, male and female, be on hand at the big celebration.”
An effort was begun in 1919 to collect funds to create a monument to honor Monroe County men who served in World War I. A county-wide celebration was held on August 11, 1924 with the dedication the monument. The doughboy statue at Courthouse Square was erected by the Jacob Stroud Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Three- year-old George N. Kemp unveiled the statue for the large crowd.
It was not until years after World War II that the name changed to Veterans Day. As many Monroe County residents remember, WWII saw the greatest mobilization of manpower in the history of the United States to defend freedom around the globe. In addition, thousands of service men and women responded to the call of duty in Korea. As a result, in 1954, an act of Congress replaced the word “Armistice” with “Veterans” so that the day would always be reserved to remember the American veterans who had served their county on all battlefields.