Nearly a century after the day first celebrated “on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month” in 1918, Veterans Day will once again be commemorated in ceremonies in Gloucester and Manchester.
World War I officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, but the fighting had ceased the year before with an armistice signed at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, the date that is now called Veterans Day.
Nov. 11, 1918, was generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars,” according to the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs website. In 1938, Congress made that date a holiday, “dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as Armistice Day.”
In 1954, Congress changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day to acknowledge what happened in the decades after that and to honor “all American veterans of all wars.” By that time, the veterans affairs office noted that World War II “had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the nation’s history.”
In Gloucester, the annual Veterans Day ceremony on Monday starts at 9 a.m. at Gloucester High School’s Benjamin Smith Field House. There, Michael Chipperini, U.S. Army (retired), and Gloucester firefighter will serve as the main speaker, and Richard Gonsalves, Jr. will be the guest speaker.
Richard Barbato, Director of Veterans’ Services, will serve as the master of ceremonies. Soloist Alexandra Grace will sing the national anthem, the Docksiders and the Plum Cove Singers will provide musical offerings, and the Gloucester High School Marine Corps JROTC will provide a drill team demonstration.
This program at GHS will be followed by a parade to the Lester S. Wass Post 3 American Legion hall for a ceremony at 11 a.m., with a laying of wreaths, volley and taps. That gathering will be followed by a lunch at the American Legion Hall.