1918: Armistice Ends World War
By the end of September 1918, Germany realized its attempt to win the war before the growing American presence could turn the tide against it, had failed.
Allied attacks continued through October—including those by Pershing’s rapidly improving AEF—forcing Germany’s leaders to seek peace. An Armistice was signed on 11 November with the wars official end date the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
A jubilant America welcomed its men and women home. The American Legion organization was formed in 1919 by veterans of the AEF and continues to support and assist U.S. veterans today.
A Victory Medal with a rainbow ribbon was awarded to any member of the U.S. military who served in the Great War or in the Russian or Siberian expeditions after the world war.
Thousands of returning veterans suffered from horrible wounds needing facial reconstruction and artificial limbs. For many years veterans also dealt with the effects of “shell shock”—a term for what is known in 2018 as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
AFRICAN AMERICANS SERVE HONORABLY
370,000 African Americans served in the U.S. Army, but most were restricted to rear-area support services due to racial bias. The French military welcomed black soldiers into their units, who proved to be excellent warriors, including the 369th Infantry Regiment “Harlem Hellfighters”—several of its men earned the French Croix de Guerre (War Cross) medal for valor.
WARTIME CASUALTIES ARE SURPASSED BY A PANDEMIC
The warring nations suffered 37.5 million military casualties plus millions of civilians who became collateral damage. The influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 exceeded these terrible losses, killing more than 40 million people worldwide in the deadliest epidemic in history.
WOMEN GET THE VOTE!
Wartime service by millions of women helped convince men to pass and ratify the 19th Amendment in 1920.
1918: Armistice Ends World War Banner on view in the Veterans Building Lobby