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“At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month”: Remembering Veterans Day

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“At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month! A simple telegram of three lines brought us the great news: ‘At eleven o’clock today in accordance with the terms of the armistice, firing ceased on the American front.’ It meant five words to us ‘The War is Over!’ and ‘Home.’ We knew it was true and for days we knew it was bound to come, but still it didn’t seem real. Could the world really be freed of the curse that has infected it for fifty-two months, could the end really have come to the organized efforts of men to kill, could we look forward to tomorrow without wondering what horror it might hold in store for us and those for whom we cared!”

Hermann Moyse, Sr. (1891-1985), a native of St. Gabriel, La., and resident of Baton Rouge, penned the above in a letter to his fiancée two days after the Armistice of November 11, 1918, which ended hostilities on the Western Front of World War I. (Click here to access the full letter.)

The date was declared a national holiday and set aside as a day of remembrance for those killed in the war. After World War II, the observance became known as Veterans Day.

A 1910 graduate of LSU, Moyse was one of the first volunteers from Louisiana to join the World War I effort, enlisting in the Army’s First Officers Training Camp in 1917. Commissioned as a first lieutenant, Moyse was deployed to the Alsace sector, where he was severely wounded in trench warfare during the Aisne-Marne offensive on July 21, 1918. After months of convalescence, he returned to active duty as the assistant to the adjutant general of the Service of Supply at Tours, France. Moyse was honorably discharged in 1919 and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the Purple Heart, and the French Croix de Guerre with Palm. Upon returning to Louisiana he was promoted to captain in the Reserve Corps of the United States Army.

His World War I letters, which are part of the Moyse-Gottlieb-Sommer Family Papers in the LSU Libraries Special Collections, are available online in the Louisiana Digital Library. They cover the period Moyse spent at Citizens Training Camp at Fort Logan H. Roots in Arkansas, Camp MacArthur in Waco, TX, as well as his brief stay in New York before he left for France. The majority of the letters are from his time in France, during which he writes to Gottlieb about his experiences with his fellow soldiers as well as his interaction with French people he encountered during his deployment.

To view the entire archive of his war letters, go to http://tinyurl.com/7729ujm.

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