As most of you know, today is Veterans Day. It is also a special Veterans Day. This special day of remembrance was once known as Armistice Day which began when the November 11th Armistice was signed in 1918 to mark the end of World War I. The photo below shows some American soldiers celebrating the end of this horrific war in which an estimated 9 million military personnel died.
The time period leading up to and during World War I was a difficult one in the primarily German communities here in East Perry County and other surrounding areas. There was animosity in America against Germans, and this area was made up predominantly of people of German descent. I know that very soon, one of our docents, Charles Rauh, will publish a new book titled, Hysteria, which will tell the stories about how German-Americans were treated during that time.
That time period was also one in which many young men from this area went off to serve their country as soldiers in that war. As I have run across stories from this time period, I have been amazed at how many young men from Altenburg, Frohna, Uniontown, Wittenberg, Farrar, New Wells, Jacob, Illinois, and other nearby towns were either enlisted or drafted to fight in this war. I have told some of those stories on this blog. I encourage you to go back and find stories of their service.
Men from Perry County left to be trained at camps with names like Camp Dodge, Camp Pike, and Camp Funston. The photo below shows Perry County men who were being shipped off to Camp Dodge in Iowa for training. I am sure there must be some in this photo from our local towns.
The Perry County Historical Society has several photos like this one which show men posing before going off for training camp. If you are interested, several of these photographs can be found at the website below.
Many of these men were not only trained for war, but quite a few of them went overseas to actively fight in it. They served in many capacities. I know I have told stories of men who were carrying guns, some who were cooks, and some who handled horses and wagons. And not all of them came back alive. I have told a few stories about local men who died in World War I. Their bodies were either brought back to be buried in local or national cemeteries, or they were buried in cemeteries in Europe. One of those stories was about Theobald Lungwitz, whose picture is on display in our museum.
I have posted several photos of local World War I soldiers in their military uniforms. I will show just a few here. First, here is one of Ferdinand Poppitz.
The photo below shows three Harnagel brothers who served in the military during World War I.
World War I was not the first one in which men from Perry County fought, but it was the first one in which they had to go off to fight against the country of their ancestors. That must have been a very difficult thing for these men to do. However, it really did not take long for local residents who had immigrated to this area to give evidence that they no longer considered themselves Germans. They were Americans now. And when their country was in need of warriors, they were willing to serve.
World War I became known for a while as the “War to End All Wars”. Of course, that was not the case. It was not that long before another World War took place. Scripture tells us a different story.
6And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. Matthew 24: 6
There may yet still be wars that our young people may have to fight. However, that does not mean that we cannot stop for a moment today and think about peace. Peace was realized and celebrated 100 years ago today, and it is good for us to remember it. When members of Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg head off to attend worship services today, they will see this.
This is a sight which may be seen whenever we celebrate days like Veterans Day, Memorial Day, and the Fourth of July. Folks in Perry County are very proud to be called Americans.
To help remember this special anniversary of Armistice Day 100 years ago, bells all across America will be ringing at 11 a.m. The bell shown below is ringing today along with all the rest. It is a bell that arrived with the immigrants in 1839 and is mounted above the 1845 church building which is now part of the Lutheran Heritage Center & Museum.
Thanks to all our veterans who have served their country so faithfully.