Football, Dancing, Parades: From Armistice Day to Veterans Day in Dubuque

End Of The War
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A year after World War I ended with the famous armistice signing at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, celebrations of its anniversary were big, exciting affairs all across America.  With the horrors of World War I only a year in the past, Armistice Day 1919 was very much focused on the soldiers who fought in its battles; those who had and those who had not returned home.   Americans mourned, and also partied.  Many celebrations across the U.S. were raucous affairs.


In Dubuque, the first anniversary of the end of the "war to end all wars" was marked with special services, dancing, and football.  A mayoral proclamation instructed business to close at noon in the city.  The American Legion Dubuque Post led the day's activities, beginning with a salute and the playing of "Taps" at 8th & Main to mark the 11:00 a.m. hour.  The afternoon saw a parade led by a marching band from 14th street to Municipal Field, near Star Brewery.  Both football squads took part; the American Legion team, joined by friends and members, and the Columbia College team, with students, family & alumni marched to the park where the game was played.

Although I'm not sure of the outcome of the game, it was described as "one of the snappiest ever put on here," and was followed that night by a dance billed as "one of the season's finest functions" at the Julien Inn.  Legion members and friends welcomed Canteen, Red Cross, war service, and all who had "worked for the boys" to the dance held in their honor.

Eleventh Hour
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Although it had been celebrated nationally for years, Armistice Day became an official United States observance in 1926.  The day's level of legal recognition didn't seem to make much difference in Dubuque, again the American Legion started the day's festivities with a flag service and a performance of "Taps" in front of crowds of shoppers at 8th & Main.  City offices and banks were closed.

Area schools were very much involved in recognizing the day.  It was Parents Day at Dubuque Senior High.  A group of sophomores there put on a play, and there were various musical performances through the afternoon.  An afternoon program was also held at Jefferson Junior High, followed by a girl's basketball game vs Dubuque Central.  Columbia College hosted St. Viator for a homecoming game (Columbia lost 24-7), and there were various dances and parties held throughout the town.


At the 20th anniversary of the armistice signing, November 11th was legally made a federal holiday in the United States.  As the number of years since 1918 increased, all across the nation celebrations became somewhat more tame.  By then observances in Dubuque had evolved to include a lunch following the ceremonies at 8th & Main Street.  All area schools were reported to be including observations in the day's activities.  Highlighting the night,  Dubuque Senior hosted Clinton in a high school football homecoming matchup.

Sad Memories
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A push for expansion of the day's honorees gained a lot of momentum after World War II, and in 1954, Armistice Day officially was renamed Veterans Day, honoring all U.S. military veterans.  In Dubuque, there was the traditional flag ceremony at 8th & Main in '54.  Observations at area schools included a variety of speakers on Veterans Day topics at area colleges, and special services at area churches.

Thank you, veterans

So, as has been our longstanding tradition, we express our gratitude to the men and women who have served our great nation's military branches.  As we approach Veterans Day, 2021, thank you for the sacrifices you've made, the risks you've taken, and the bravery you've shown.  You are a great blessing on our nation.


Source: Dubuque Telegraph Herald Archives
Period photos: Getty Images

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