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Maine History Online

Maine History Online
MHS (Maine Historical Society)
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The Great War and Armistice Day

Text by Candace Kanes

Images from Maine Historical Society, Skowhegan History House, Pejepscot Historical Society, Stanley Museum, Aroostook County Historical and Art Museum, and University of Maine at Presque Isle Library

Americans went into World War I, known at the time as The Great War, with great optimism that their participation would help "make the world safe for democracy." When Congress looked back at the conflict in June 1926, making November 11 an annual observance of the end of the war, the resolution called World War I "the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals."

In 1938, Congress made November 11 a legal holiday "a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace." After World War II and the Korean Conflict, Congress in 1954 changed November 11 to Veterans Day, to honor veterans of all wars.

Maine residents went off to war, worked in shipbuilding, munitions, and other war-related industries, served as nurses, and celebrated when the war ended. These images evoke some of those experiences of The Great War, the event that led to our present Veterans Day.