TWINSBURG — This Veterans Day will mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, and Twinsburg VFW Post 4929 will conduct its annual activities associated with the day from Nov. 8 to 11.
WWI fighting ceased 100 years ago on Nov. 11 as a result of separate armistices being signed with Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary and the Ottoman Empire, but the war did not officially end until the Treaty of Versailles was signed June 28, 1919.
The United States declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917, more than 2 1/2 years after World War I began. Before entering the war, the U.S. had remained neutral, though it had been an important supplier to Great Britain and the other Allied powers.
Slightly more than 116,000 U.S. soldiers died in the war from combat and disease, and more than 200,000 were wounded. About 4 million families sent members to the war.
World War I was billed as “the war to end all wars,” because of the great slaughter and destruction it caused. And the Treaty of Versailles forced punitive terms on Germany that destabilized Europe and laid the groundwork for World War II.
According to VFW Post 4929 Commander Joe Jasany, the Veterans Day commemoration starts Nov. 8 when the post’s Color Guard will participate in a Hospice of the Western Reserve veterans’ pinning ceremony at Warrensville Heights YMCA. It is the second year the post has participated.
The post will have a display at Wilcox Elementary School Nov. 9, with a flag raising and the Pledge of Allegiance at 8:30 a.m. and a ceremony honoring veterans related to students from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Students can eat lunch with veterans around noon, and students can have photos taken with a restored M35 series 2½-ton 6x6 cargo truck from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The display of military memorabilia, plastic models of military vehicles and equipment, a POW flag, patches and emblems from all branches of service, brass markers from all wars back to the Spanish-American and a 3-foot long remote-controlled tank also can be viewed from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“About 12 to 18 members of the post help put together the display each year,” Jasany said, adding the post will host an open house starting at about 2 p.m.
A short Veterans Day ceremony will take place Nov. 11 at noon at Veterans Memorial Park beside the post on Ravenna Road, and refreshments will be served afterward inside, where attendees can view the post’s collection of military items.
Jasany said the post has a World War I pit helmet, but not many other items from that war. However, there are many items from World War II.
In November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as the first commemoration of the armistice. The annual commemoration did not begin until 1926, and Nov. 11 became a national holiday called Armistice Day in 1938.
In 1954, Nov. 11 became known as Veterans Day to honor American veterans of all wars. From 1971 to 1977, the holiday was observed on a Monday to allow for a three-day weekend, but the official date was returned to Nov. 11 in 1978.
VFW Post 4929 dates to just after World War II, with its first meeting conducted Dec. 2, 1945. Its first Memorial Day parade took place May 30, 1946.
Jasany said a couple of years ago, the post was in danger of closing its doors when the membership dropped to 32, but it now has 53 members.
“We’ve gotten some new members via word of mouth and from a Veterans Resource Fair,” he said.
The post has four living World War II members — Stan Jewell, George Richner, Buz Solice and George Matejka. Jewell is the oldest at 98, and Jasany said he served on the USS Cod, based off the coast of Lake Erie at Burke Lakefront Airport. Home Depot recently provided a $2,300 grant to help Jewell fix up his home.
“We continue to provide awareness and information to those who require assistance,” says the post’s Facebook page. Jasany added it also supports several worthwhile causes, and conducts and participates in a number of events each year.
As for World War I history, Twinsburg Historical Society President Andy Tomko said the group’s museum has some items from the war and copies of enlistment documents from local residents who served in it.
Among the items are two military uniforms, a helmet, photos of locals who served, two gas masks, a flag which was draped over the casket of a war vet at his funeral, ammunition and a couple of pairs of spats worn by soldiers.
Copies of enlistment papers of locals who served in the war include Army Pvt. Howard E. Snyder, who served in France and Italy; James Suk, who served in the Philippines Insurrection from 1910-13 and then re-enlisted for WW I; Herman Mollenkopf, who was a bugler; and Pfc. John A. Day.
Reporter Ken Lahmers can be reached at 330-541-9400 Ext. 4189 or firstname.lastname@example.org