Ending the War to End All Wars

A parade marked Armistice Day in Red Cloud in 1918. NSHS RG1951.PH0-395

When World War I concluded with an armistice signed at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, Nebraskans joined people everywhere in celebration. The news reached this state in the middle of the night, and some didn’t wait until daybreak to express their enthusiasm. At 4 a.m. the citizens of North Platte who were awake set off forty pounds of dynamite in the city park, starting a party that lasted until midnight.  

So anxious were Nebraskans for the war to be over, that some towns celebrated victory before the peace was signed. Reports of negotiations between the United States and Germany led citizens of York to “jump the gun” and celebrate on November 7 after a mistaken newspaper story indicated that an armistice had been signed. But the premature activities on November 7 didn’t prevent York from staging another celebration for the real thing four days later.  

This World War I rally took place in Auburn on November 11, 1918. NSHS RG2304.PH1-33

All over Nebraska cannons were fired, church bells rung, locomotive whistles blown, and guns shot–the louder the better. The all-girl Walla Walla Band (pictured in the online Nebraska History article from Spring 1987 titled “Wahoo in World War I: The Photographs of Arthur L Anderson”), along with the entire town of Wahoo, celebrated Armistice Day. A number of young women with tin pans and horns paraded through the streets at 4 a.m. and awoke the slumbering inhabitants. Lincoln and Omaha had similar enthusiastic celebrations. In Omaha at least 50,000 people paraded through the streets, viewed by about 150,000 spectators.  

November 11 now is Veterans Day, which celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, but still retains the hope for peace that marked the earlier holiday .– Patricia C. Gaster, Assistant Editor / Publications

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