DAR Observes Armistice Day

Don’t believe it. That’s fake news! We hear this claim often in today’s political climate. However, fake news is nothing new. When the Armistice for World War I was signed between Germany and the Allied Forces on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, Americans were eager to end the carnage of war. However, a full four days before the actual signing of the Armistice, a wire report arrived in New York City that indicated that the Armistice had been signed. Wild celebrations spread from coast to coast. Businesses closed and tickertape parades were held.

Carolyn Mitchell, Committee Chair, DAR Service to Veterans, of the Martha Dandridge Washington (MDW) Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR), shared this and many other interesting facts about The Great War in “Remembering the 100th Anniversary of Armistice Day – Lest We Forget” at Parrott-Wood Memorial Library, Nov. 7, the date of the premature pandemonium. Armistice Day, now called Veterans Day, commemorates the end of four years of death and destruction across Europe.

The two alliances in the massive conflict were the Allied Powers and the Central Powers. The Allies consisted of Britain, France, Russia, and Italy. When the United States came into the war in April 6, 1917, she joined the Allies. The Central Powers included Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, and Bulgaria.

Ms. Mitchell shared the journal of her grandfather, Henry Huthmacher, who enlisted in the army in 1913 and was stationed in Arizona where he served in the mounted cavalry under General John “Black Jack” Pershing. He rode into Mexico with Pershing on a punitive mission to capture Francisco “Pancho” Villa after his men attacked the small town of Columbus, NM, and killed men, women, and children in 1916. When the U.S. entered WWI, Huthmacher boarded a troop train that took him to New York. From there he was deployed to France where he served until the Armistice in 1918. Because he had experience driving a vehicle, Huthmacher was one of the first soldiers to drive a truck in the army when General Pershing encouraged the conversion from a horse-mounted cavalry to a vehicle-powered army. Huthmacher had his journal with him in Arizona and on the train trip to New York. In it, he reported passing through Chattanooga, Knoxville, and Asheville. Ms. Mitchell noted that he would have passed right through Jefferson County. Huthmacher carried his journal with him until the Armistice and his return home.

The NSDAR was established in 1890 to promote historical preservation, education, and patriotism. Its focus has always been to promote remembrance of our veterans. Since the organization is nonpolitical, it could not raise funds for the WWI war effort, but it could raise money for humanitarian aid. The NSDAR collected $37,000 to purchase motorized ambulances to send to Europe. Until those vehicles arrived, the French Red Cross used carts drawn by animals. Dog-drawn carts were large enough to carry one wounded soldier each. NSDAR members also collected money to send chickens to France. Chickens were an easily replenished source of food for people who suffered from hunger throughout the war. People who donated money were given a pin stating “I have a chicken in France.”

Jane Arminda Delano, a member of the Judge Lynn Chapter, NSDAR, was a nurse and founder of the American Red Cross Nursing Service. She was also Superintendent of the United States Army Nurse Corps and received the Distinguished Service Medal. Hospital conditions during WWI were horrific, yet more than 10,000 American nurses and nurse aids served in Europe during that war.

Ms. Mitchell mentioned someone that the older members of her audience found familiar – Rin Tin Tin. He was a German Shepherd puppy rescued from the battlefield by American soldier Leland Duncan. Duncan trained the puppy and got him parts in silent films after the war. All of the Rin Tin Tin performers in movies and on TV since that time have been descendants of the original dog saved by Duncan. Corporal Duncan was an uncle of Julia Ann Duncan Wilber, a member of the MDW NSDAR.

In addition to the Armistice anniversary presentation at the Parrott-Wood Memorial Library, Ms. Mitchell also presented all four libraries in Jefferson County with posters commemorating the 100th Anniversary.

Throughout the past year, Ms. Mitchell has been visiting nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and retirement communities in Jefferson County to present certificates from the MDW NSDAR to veterans with emphasis on Vietnam Era Veterans. She has given out 39 Certificates of Appreciation and 24 wooden plaques to show gratitude for the service of the veterans. At the 2017 MDW NSDAR Veterans Luncheon, 22 Vietnam Era Veterans received certificates and pins, and at the 2018 luncheon, 18 Vietnam Era Veterans were honored in the same way.