This Veterans Day marks a special anniversary for those who had family members serve in World War I as Veterans Memorial Hall in downtown Rockford made sure those who served are never forgotten.
“They actually had a ceremony on this site,” said Veterans Memorial Hall and Museum Director Scott Lewandowski. “From the mid to late 20’s until the late 30’s, where thousands of people would gather here for Armistice Day.”
A photo taken in 1938 shows a large crowd in front of the building, to honor what was then called Armistice Day. Later, the name of the holiday was changed to Veterans Day.
“Armistice Day transitioned into Veterans Day and there is a difference between the two, in the fact that, as Armistice Day was to honor the peace, Veterans Day is to honor the veterans and their service,” Lewandowski said.
Museum Curator Leanne Wright added, “WWI was also big on the homefront. It wasn’t just the soldiers that were overseas.”
Inside Veterans Memorial Hall, a display stands to honor WWI service members that lived in Rockford.
“What we have in our collection is a diary that somebody put together in 1917,” Wright said. “What she did is, for two years, she kept track of these little service notices that they published in the newspaper here. We took those names and put them on little pieces of paper and put them in here, to give you an idea of the number of men from Rockford [who served.]”
The museum held it’s 100th Armistice Day Anniversary ceremony this past Saturday.