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History's Happenings for November 11

Armistice Ends World War I
1918

American dogfaces learn of Armistice

Despite an encouraging spring, it all came tumbling down for the Central Powers in 1918, after four long years of war.

Although the year got off to an ominous start for the Allies when the new Bolshevik government in Russia dropped out of the war with the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in March, a stupendous push in the Balkans in September broke the back of the Bulgarians and brought Rumania over to the Allied side.

In the Middle East, British forces assisted by Arabs under Lawrence of Arabia finally succeeded in crushing the Ottoman Empire, and an armistice was concluded on October 30, removing the southern cushion from the Central Powers.

The Allied push along the Italian-Austrian front resulted, after their disastrous loss at the Battle of Vittorio Veneta, in the final defeat of the Austrian Empire. The emperor abdicated and Austria-Hungary signed an armistice with the Allies on November 3.

The struggle on the western front with Germany had been tougher. Earlier that year the Germans, fearing to let the Americans get established in France, had launched a massive offensive in the Argonne forest, pushing the British and French back an astounding (for the days of trench warfare) 40 miles. But in June the American Army took the offensive on their own for the first time in the War. At the Battle of the Marne the U.S. Second Division stopped the German advance cold at Chateau Thierry. A second assault was again stopped at the Second Battle of the Marne.

From that point onward the direction of battle was one way ... towards Germany.

Seeing that the tide had turned, General Erich Ludendorff requested that his government initiate peace negotiations, which they attempted to do in October. However they were stymied by President Wilson's insistence on negotiating only with a democratic government.

When the accelerating retreat stirred the German population into revolt, the Kaiser was "advised" to abdicate, which he did on November 9, the same day that the German Republic was proclaimed. At 5:00 AM on November 11, 1918, an armistice was signed between the warring sides in a forest clearing near Compiègne, north of Paris. It was to take effect at 11:00 AM that same morning.

At the appointed hour the guns fell silent and Europe crawled cautiously out of its shellhole. The tenuous peace would last but two decades.

The War was formally ended with the signing of the Versailles Treaty in 1919, an over-long document that became an excuse for the next war.

Mayflower Compact Signed
1620

In the year 1620, in a cabin aboard the tiny Mayflower sitting in Massachusetts Bay, the Pilgrims who had made the two-month voyage from England to escape religious oppression agreed to live together as one community in the New World. To attest this agreement, they drew up and signed the Mayflower Compact.

The community they founded was itself not free of religious oppression, nor did it long continue in complete unity. But it did give birth to New England, later to be the spark that flared into the independent United States, and it formed the roots of the pioneering spirit that came to be identified with America.

Birth of General George S. Patton
1885

General Patton

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Washington Admitted to Union
1889

Washington State Seal

A land of beautiful glaciated mountains, deep forests and wide expanses of grain land, Washington was admitted to the Union on November 11, 1889 as our 42nd state.

Long inhabited by native American Indian tribes like the Chinook and Nez Percé, Washington was visited briefly by both Spanish explorers and Britain's Captain Cook in the 1770's. Claimed by both countries, war was avoided by respecting each other's settlements in the area.

Following Lewis and Clark's visit to the Columbia River and the Pacific in 1805, fur trading picked up in the northwest as it did in other northerly areas of the Louisiana Purchase. The first settlement was founded at Astoria in 1811 by the Pacific Fur Company, owned by John Jacob Astor.

With the outbreak of the War of 1812, American traders felt ill at ease with their British neighbors, and the American presence in the area disappeared until missionaries began to reappear in the 1830's. Despite the understandable resistance of the American Indian to the growing white presence, more and more settlers began pouring into the Willamette (OR) and Columbia valleys in the 1840's, plying the long and arduous Oregon Trail from the Midwest.

The compromise of 1846 by President James Polk settled the U.S. boundary at the 49th parallel, and the stabilization encouraged more settlement in the northern reaches of present Washington, notably along Puget Sound. When Congress organized the Oregon Territory in 1848, present day Washington, along with Idaho and parts of Montana and Wyoming were included in its boundaries. Concerned about the distance to the territorial capital at Salem (OR), Washington's citizens petitioned for their own territory and, on March 2, 1853, the Washington Territory was created, with Olympia as its capital.

The new Territory faced struggles with it's native American Indian population which, as usual, was unable to secure enforceable treaties with the white government. Continued encroachments by prospectors and settlers resulted in a series of wars and the usual insistence on Federal military protection. The Indians eventually found themselves confined to reservations.

With the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869, and its extension to Puget Sound in 1882, the Territory's population jumped, and it petitioned for statehood. The first petition, in 1878, was denied because the population was still too low. In the early 1880's it was blocked by political issues -- the U.S. government was in Democratic hands, and Washington was viewed as Republican. With the change in power in Washington in 1889, the enabling legislation was signed, and Washington joined the Union on November 11.

Washington's Stats

Capital: Olympia
Land Area: 68,138 square miles (20th)
Population (1994): 5,343,090 (15th)
Largest Cities: Seattle (516,259/1990), Spokane (177,196/1990), Tacoma (176,664/1990) Nicknames: Evergreen State.
Motto: "Alki [By and by]."
Emblems: Western rhododendron, willow goldfinch, western hemlock.

Harding Dedicates Tomb of Unknown Soldier
1921

President Warren G. Harding

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"God Bless America" Makes Its Debut
1938

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Veterans Day

American Flag

A year after the armistice that ended World War I, President Woodrow Wilson declared Armistice Day to be a national day of remembrance, in honor of those that had fallen in the defense of freedom.

In 1954, the holiday took on a new name and broadened meaning to include not only the fallen, but all of those who had served in all of our nation's conflicts.

Very soon, the generation that gave of themselves to save us from Tojo and Hitler will no longer be with us. Remember the World War II vet while there is still time.




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