Looking Back at Veterans Day
From the DJN Foundation Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History
This year, Veterans Day holds a special significance. It marks 100 years since the end of World War I or “The Great War,” which ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 (although the war did not officially end until the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919).
Veterans Day was original called “Armistice Day,” declared to be a holiday by President Woodrow Wilson in November 1919. Unlike Memorial Day, which has been a day to remember those Americans who perished in war, Armistice Day was focused on those who served and fought in the First World War. This includes an estimated 225,000 American Jews. It is also good to keep in mind that Jews served in all of the armies of the Great War. In the aftermath of World War II, Congress voted to change Armistice Day to Veterans Day to honor all who have served in the Armed Forces of the United States.
Thinking about this 100th anniversary, I went into the Davidson Digital Archive to see how the Detroit Jewish Chronicle covered the end of the First World War. Among the many citations for the Great War or World War (it was the only World War until 1939), there were four stories that caught my eye.
An article in the Nov. 22, 1918, issue summed up the contributions of American Jews with this title: “Blood and Brain of American Jewry, in Priceless Services to Democracy …” Two articles in the Chronicle on May 23, 1919, and Nov. 12, 1920, also described post-war reports of the achievements of Jews in all branches of the American military.
And, a succinct editorial in the Nov. 7, 1919, issue stated: “May it not be hoped that Armistice Day, unlike that of a year ago, may sound the deeper note of earnest meditation upon the problems that now confront a confused and a depressed humanity?” This is still a relevant question for Veterans Day this year.
Want to learn more? Go to the DJN Foundation archives, available for free at www.djnfoundation.org.