From the Vineyard Gazette edition of Nov. 14, 1918:
The Great War began August 1, 1914 and lasted 1,567 days. The United States entered the Great War on April 6, 1917. Fighting on the battlefronts ended at 6 o’clock Monday morning, Nov. 11, 1918, Eastern time in the United States. The armistice with Germany was signed on the Eleventh hour of the Eleventh day of the Eleventh month.
Never did the blood-red sunset of war, after a night of agony, turn so gloriously to dawn as when yesterday the news of armistice relieved millions of American hearts and quickened the whole nation rejoicing. The struggle was not of our making, but it was largely of our settling. When we entered it our allies, after heroic effort and prodigious feats of arms, were at the end of their resources. America threw herself into the fight with a youthfulness, energy and valor which astonished Europe and spread dismay through the enemy’s ranks. From the hour in Oct. 1917, when American artillerymen fired their first shot on the French front, our soldiers never really lost a battle, and what they gave to the cause in manpower, in indomitable courage and in inspiration will be our pride in the years to come. That a peaceful people like ours could send 2,000,000 trained men across the Atlantic into the theatre of war in little more than a year was an achievement never before paralleled in military annals. And then we rejoiced that peace had come — a peace sparing further sacrifice, more important still, a peace of surrender, registering the triumph of right over might, and big with the promise of good to the world.
When the Gazette went to press on Thursday of last week the news had been received shortly before that: “The armistice had been signed and hostilities had been called off.” Immediately the Island, like all the rest of the country, started in to jubilate and the jubilations did not cease until it was ascertained for sure that the country had been hoaxed in the premature sending across of the alleged “big news.”
The big news first came to Edgartown at 4 a.m. on Monday through a telephone to Mr. Chester E. Pease from Mrs. George D. Flynn of Fall River. But most of the people here were first made aware that the great world event had surely happened and that the war was about to end victoriously, when at 6:30 a.m., the Congregational church bell began to ring, quickly followed by the bells of other Island churches. Soon with bells clanging, autos honking, horns tooting, and all other noises that young American knows so well how to produce on short notice, the Island started in on a varied program of celebration which did not end until after the light bearers of the evening had burned out their last torch and the rejoicers had wended their way home in the midnight hours. The racket and din was almost constant through the day on Monday. It was the greatest and best news possible to a war-weary world, and all wanted to do something to keep from bursting their belts.
Paris, Oct. 15, 1918
Mrs. Clara Rheno,
Vineyard Haven, Mass.
My dear Mrs. Rheno: But a few hours ago, I stood by the grave of your son to conduct the last service in the presence of a company gathered to pay him their last tribute. Several of these I think intend to write you and you will have all details from them, but I should like to add one more testimony to the reverence and sympathetic care that was taken in all that concerned these last services for your son. Before we left the hospital we had a funeral service proper and at which was gathered a somewhat larger company than could go the long way to the grave, and afterwards some of us following the hearse afoot, as in the French custom of showing respect, made our way to the last resting place. During the quiet and earnest progress from the hospital to the cemetery I had constantly before my eyes the American flag draped about the casket to which was pinned your son’s “Croix de Guerre” with its two palms. Over and about the casket were many wreaths and other floral tributes.
There was something fine in your son’s desire despite precarious health, to make his way back to France again in order to do what he could in the Allied cause. You have the satisfaction of knowing that to the end his face was set in soldierly fashion towards the place of service and danger. With very kind regards,
Rev. Chauncy W. Goodrich
Compiled by Alison Mead