Armistice Day Commemoration | Honoring Those Who Served

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Red PoppySunday, November 11, 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the cessation of hostilities in World War One, the date known as Armistice Day in the US and Remembrance Day in the UK. More than 65 million men and women served in their countries’ armed services and casualties among military personnel and civilians are estimated in the range of 37 million. Throughout the horrors of the “war to end all wars,” charitable organizations mobilized to relieve suffering and restore order. Here are a few examples:

  • Red Cross PosterAt the beginning of the war in 1914, the American Red Cross was a small organization still in the process of developing its identity and programs. Among the most prominent services the Red Cross provided to the military during the war were the Production Corps responsible for garments, surgical dressings and other medical supplies; the Nursing Service, including active duty with the war theaters; Hospital Service; and Motor Service that provided support to canteens, hospitals, and camps. By the war’s end, nearly one-third of the U.S. population was either a donor to the Red Cross or serving as a volunteer.
  • YMCAThroughout World War I, the YMCA provided morale and welfare services for the military. By war’s end, the YMCA, through the United War Work Council, had operated 1,500 canteens in the United States and France; set up 4,000 YMCA huts for recreation and religious services; and raised more than $235 million – equivalent to $4.3 billion today – for relief work. Nearly 26,000 YMCA staff and volunteers served under the YMCA during the war. (YMCA of the USA History – 1900 to 1950s)
  • Jewish Welfare Board PosterThe Jewish Welfare Board was formed by a group of prominent Jewish Americans on April 9, 1917, as a response by the American Jewish community to the United States’ entry into the First World War on April 6th. Members of more than ten national Jewish organizations met and agreed that each of their groups would delegate power to a new agency, the Jewish Welfare Board. Among many other things, the Board provided spiritual support to 225,000 Jewish soldiers, while also serving the interests of the American armed forces at large.
  • Salvation ArmyDuring the First World War, The Salvation Army provided motor ambulances, refreshment huts in military camps, and parcels of food and clothing for combatants. Some Salvation Army officers also served as chaplains. In 1917 Evangeline Booth, National Commander of the Salvation Army in America, created a National War Board to meet the needs of the American Expeditionary Forces. Salvationists were sent to Europe from the US, including those colloquially known as ‘Doughnut Girls’ who served food (principally doughnuts) to soldiers and often worked in field hospitals. The Naval and Military League also operated an inquiry service helping relatives and friends to find service members. After the war, they assisted with visits to war cemeteries. (Salvation Army World War One history)

Photo credits (from top)

  • Courtesy of The American National Red Cross. All rights reserved in all countries.
  • The Kautz Family YMCA Archives, University of Minnesota.
  • Public domain - Jewish Welfare Board.
  • Courtesy of The Salvation Army National Archives

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