Utah Stories from the Beehive Archive

Utah’s First Armistice Day


Dublin Core


Utah’s First Armistice Day


Across Utah, the end of World War I was met with large celebrations. The excitement across the state seemed to function like a collective sigh of relief.

In 1918, the signing of the armistice with Germany that effectively ended World War I became the spark that ignited a series of all out, raucous celebrations across Utah. It's not hard to imagine why Utahns met the news of the war's end with more than a touch of loud revelry. The United States had only been involved in the war for a little more than a year and a half, but in that time more than 100,000 American soldiers had been killed or died of disease; more than 600 of those fallen soldiers had come from Utah. On the home front, Utahns sacrificed by going without meat on certain days, using meat and sugar substitutes, donating to the Red Cross, and buying war bonds.

When the war ended people were understandably ecstatic. In Sevier County, people poured into the streets, bells rang nonstop, cannons roared, and flags began appearing outside homes and around public places. The citizens of Richfield arranged an ad hoc parade, complete with a giant effigy of Kaiser Wilhelm, the German leader, chained to the bed of a truck. According to the local newspaper, a nighttime raid on a stockpile of dynamite in Salina provided a troop of merrymakers with enough ammunition to make people wonder if they were hearing "an allied bombardment of a German front line." Festivities in Price and Manti were more subdued, but no less genuine. Another effigy of the Kaiser was hung up in Manti and burned, and the entire town turned out for a community barbecue, while the mayor of Price declared an official holiday and citizens hauled giant logs down from the surrounding mountains to build a bonfire that eventually warmed more than two thousand revelers. The war was over, and celebrations like these seemed to function like a collective sigh of relief. 


Brandon Johnson for Utah Humanities © 2007


Image: First Armistice Day in Vernal, November 11, 1918. A great celebration was held on Main Street in front of the Bank of Vernal when news of the signing of Armistice Day with Germany was heard. There was shouting in the streets along with bell ringing, blowing of whistles, firing of guns, and a chorus of jubilee. Courtesy of Uintah County Library.

See news reports about how Utahns celebrated the end of World War I in the following Utah newspapers: Richfield Reaper (November 16, 1918); Manti Messenger (November 15, 1918); and [Carbon County] News-Advocate (November 14, 1918).


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