Matamoras Minute: Veterans Day
With Veterans Day this coming Wednesday it is appropriate to turn the column’s attention for this week to some of the history of Matamoras’ veterans. Of course this holiday used to be called Armistice Day in commemoration of World War I ending on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. Unfortunately the hope of “the war to end all wars” did not materialize. At the time it was called the Great War and received its current designation as World War I only after the aggression of Hitler and the Axis Powers turned that time period into another world confict.
Once the fighting of World War II ended in May against Germany and in August against Japan in 1945 Armistice Day took on a greater significance and came to be the date to honor those who served at any time in the armed forces of the United States. The name was officially changed to Veterans Day in 1954.
Following World War I the American Legion was chartered by Congress in 1919 and in 1920 Post #378 was started in Matamoras with a large number of members. The first Commander was Charles T. Cline. The town’s American Legion building was erected on lower Front Street and dedicated in 1928. The Veterans of Foreign Wars was chartered by Congress in 1936. The local is Post #6387 of District 5 which started in 1987. Two years later the group bought its building on upper Front Street. The first Commander was Ralph Dunn.
Since Memorial Day began during the American Civil War those veterans were the first to be honored for their service on the national level. With specific regards to Matamoras after 1898 it was common for the Spanish American War veterans to join the Civil War veterans to be honored. After 1918 the veterans of World War I were added to the parade roster. As time progressed World War I and World War II veterans kept up the tradition.
John Miller is president of the Matamoras Area Historical Society. Membership dues are $15 per year single/couple. Life membership is $150. Contact the society at P.O. Box 1846, New Matamoras, Ohio 45767. Much of this column is built on the work of Matamoras’ historian, the late Diana McMahan.