Thousands gathered for Armistice Day celebration

Published 4:02 pm Tuesday, November 28, 2023

By Clark Curtis, For the Washington Daily News

On Tuesday November 11, 1919, one year after the last shots were fired, bringing an end to “the war to end all wars,” the City of Washington held a huge Armistice Day parade and celebration. It is estimated that several thousand people packed the streets of Washington on that day to honor those who lost their lives and those who returned home. 

The parade kicked off at the corner of Second and Market Streets in front of the then Federal Post Office, which is now City Hall. Over 200 servicemen were joined by Civil War Veterans, the Washington Light Infantry, members of the Red Cross and American Legion, and local school children. Even citizens in their automobiles, honking in celebration, joined the procession. The parade made its way east down Second Street as thousands gathered along the route in honor and celebration. The parade turned right on Harvey Street, and then right again at Main Street towards the heart of the city. At the corner of Main and Market Streets, a huge Memorial Arch, which spanned the width of Main Street, had been constructed. As the troops entered the intersection, the parade halted and the troops came to attention during the playing of Taps by a bugle corps. The parade then proceeded up Main Street and would conclude at the Central Tobacco Warehouse at the corner of Gladden and West Third Streets. Harry McMullen, the chairman of the local draft board, who would go on to become Attorney General of North Carolina in 1938, gave what was called an “inspiring speech.” That was followed by a barbecue dinner and a dance at Bowers Hall.

“As we commemorate Veterans Day throughout the month of November, this Armistice Day celebration over one hundred years ago serves as a reminder that we as a community remember the sacrifices these men and women made for our country,” said Brown Library historian Stephen Farrell. “Beaufort County produced when it was asked to answer the call to defend liberty and our values that are shared dearly in the city and county alike. Their sacrifices have made it possible for us to walk the same streets that they walked in 1919. We owe it to our veterans to honor and preserve their stories for future generations.”