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Armistice Day 1919
Written by Larry Roeder, Editor
2017-11-08

            Before Veteran's Day was officially named by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1964 it was known as Armistice Day. Originally observed on November 11, 1919 (the first anniversary of the end of World War I), Congress passed a resolution in 1926 making it an annual observance.

            With the exception of a period of time from 1971to 1975, it has been observed on November 11.  During that period of time it was observed on the fourth Monday in October, thanks to the Uniform Holidays Bill passed by Congress.

            President Gerald Ford returned it to November 11 due to the historical significance of that date.

            The first Armistice Day observed in the Upper Perkiomen Valley was met with a little adversity, thanks to Mother Nature, but when the sky cleared there was a grand observance.

            The veterans of the region were to be honored in a parade on November 11 followed by special "moving picture" attractions event at the East Greenville's Liberty Theater and a dance in Realty Hall.

            The dance, with music provided by David Croll's orchestra and held for the benefit of Perkiomen Post, was reported to be a huge success and raised over $100.

            But the parade – well that would have to wait till Saturday, November 15.  It proved to be well worth the wait.

            The parade was billed as a grand military spectacular and the largest patriotic demonstration ever held in the Upper Perkiomen Valley.  It featured veterans of two wars - World War I and the Civil War.  The parade was led by 80-year-old, Civil War veteran Jonas Boyer of Red Hill.  Clad in his Civil War uniform and carrying old-glory, the octogenarian marched in front of 75 uniformed, area veterans.

            The parade began in East Greenville and picked up the Pennsburg contingent as it passed through that borough, and then the Red Hill marchers joined in when the procession reached that town.

            Then, the parade turned around at the southern end of Red Hill and marched back through all three boroughs.  Once back in East Greenville, the parade ended at the East Greenville baseball park (now the site of B&H The Home Market) where an exhibition drill was held by the veterans.

            But, the parade itself must have been something to see.

            In addition to the veterans, there were three bands in the line of marchers.  The East Greenville Band, Hillegass Band, and Red Hill Band provided the music to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the end of the "War to end all Wars" and honor the all veterans.

            Girl Scouts, led by their leader Maude Kneule on horseback, along with Boy Scouts and a host of other organizations participated in the parade.

            The East Greenville Knights of Pythias were joined by the Red Hill Knights of Friendship and the Red Hill Patriotic Sons of America.  Other organization appearing in the parade included Woodmen of the World, Woodmen Circle, Patriotic Order of America, and the Ladies of the Golden Eagle.

            Borough officials road in cars as did members of the Board of Directors of the Upper Montgomery Red Cross Branch.  The latter group presented a float showing Red Crosses nurses sitting around a cot on which there was a soldier.

            The Hevener and Shelly department float was pulled by a pair of black horses.  The horses were led by Valintine Miller and William Freas, the first two Pennsburg "boys" to answer the draft call.  They were led by Clark Mensch, dressed as Uncle Sam, carrying a table with the name of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

            Elementary school and high school students rode in decorated floats of unique design.

            Several are businesses had floats in the parade as well:  Weiss Pennsburg Department Store entry was decorated as a ship;  and East Greenville Garage and Electric Company's entry contained an army machine-gun.

            Plumber A. B. Feather, tinsmith E. S. Krauss, Pennsburg Motor Company, John Beyer, Hillegass Cigar Box Factory, jeweler J. C. Holtzman, Claude Harley, furniture dealer H. H. Blank, and farmer Henry Hunsberger – the list goes on and on.

            For as grand as the parade was, it is important to note that many homes along the parade route were patriotically decorated as well.

            After the parade, the veterans gave an exhibition drill on the baseball field.  The day was closed when the Stars and Stripes were lowered amid the strains of The Star Spangled Banner.

            Such was the first Armistice Day observance in the Upper Perkiomen Valley.


 

 

 

 

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