Food For Thought
Eight years after the Nov. 11, 1918, signing of the armistice that ended the fighting in Europe after the first World War, Armistice Day became an official national holiday. Its intention was to honor the veterans of that war, as well as those who had lost their lives in what was then known as the Great War. In 1954, the holiday was renamed Veterans Day to include the veterans of World War II and Korea, Today, we honor, officially or unofficially, the veterans of all wars and military conflicts. After WWI, veterans’ organizations were formed in nearly all countries whose military forces had participated in that war.
In the United States, leading veterans organizations include the American Legion which was chartered by Congress on Sept. 16, 1919, six months after its beginning in, not the United States, but in Paris, France. The Legion arose from a caucus of American Expeditionary Forces stationed in Paris. Post 460 in Solon was given a temporary charter in March of 1920, and its permanent charter followed soon after, on Sept. 8. The Stinocher post was named for two brothers who had died during the war. James was killed in the Argonne Forest and Edward succumbed to an equally vicious foe, the flu epidemic, while stationed at Camp Cody in New Mexico. Five local men had died in the war and their names were included among the 44 charter members.
Another leading veterans organizations in the United States, Veterans of Foreign Wars has included veterans of the Spanish-American War, the Philippine Insurrection, the campaign on the Mexican Border, the First and Second Nicaraguan expeditions, World Wars I and II, and Korea. Founded in 1913, VFW includes members who have seen service in all foreign countries or foreign waters.
Other American organizations include: Disabled American Veterans; AMVETS; American Veterans Committee; Catholic War Veterans; Jewish War Veterans; and Military Order of the Purple Heart.
These organizations, societies or associations are chiefly patriotic and social, and were formed by war veterans in an effort to keep alive the comradeship formed under the stress of war, to provide recreation for their members, support legislation favorable to veterans, promote patriotic causes, and provide aid to veterans in distress.
The oldest such organization, the Society of the Cincinnati, was formed in 1783, while George Washington still led an active army. After the Civil War, Union soldiers organized the Grand Army of the Republic, and Confederate veterans organized United Confederate Veterans.
The list goes on. Organizations both local and world-wide have arisen in the aftermath of all conflicts. Some organizations remain specific to those veterans of a particular conflict, others merge with similar groups, some shelter under the aegis of the larger, nationwide organizations. All include, involve, and honor those veterans who risked their lives for our nation, and the memory of those who gave up their lives and futures.
The first meetings of Solon’s Stinocher Post 460 took place in the CSPS hall, now Ruzicka’s Meat Processing, and continued there until early in 1927, when it moved to the basement of Monk Meyers Tavern. From there, it moved, in 1950, to what is now part of the present Legion building, and took over what had been Kessler’s Tavern next door in 1978.
During the Great War, patriotism in Solon was evident everywhere. Even before the notion of the American Legion was born in Paris, the Solon Community Club started a fund drive to raise $3,000 for the erecting of a memorial carrying the names of servicemen from Cedar, Newport and Big Grove townships who had died in the war. And that summer there were numerous picnics, banquets and dances inviting servicemen to attend free of charge if they wore uniforms.
The Community Club sponsored a gala two-day celebration in October to honor the returning soldiers and sailors. There were two baseball games, a band, speakers, a festive dinner, and a big dance at the CSPS hall featuring the very best Cedar Rapids orchestra..
One of the highlights of the event was stunt flying in an “aeroplane” piloted by Lieutenant Ohenauer, who performed breath-taking loops, Immelman turns, cartwheels and the deadly spinning nose-dive, Those who bought tickets to the ball games and air show were entitled to free rides in the plane afterward. Nine brave persons took advantage of the offer, and detailed accounts of the sights and sensations they experienced appeared on the front page of the weekly paper.
(* From Standard Encyclopedia and Sesquicentennial History articles by Milli Gilbaugh.)