100 years since the first Armistice Day
This year marks the 100th year since Armistice Day, the end of the “War to End All Wars” or World War I.
In recognition of that milestone, the Estherville News reviews some of the history that led to the construction of the World War I monument, which stands in Library Square today.
The following excerpt, taken from the History of Emmet County, Volume III, tells of the formation of the Service Star Legion and their push to raise funds for the monument and its eventual installation in Library Square.
Service Star Legion
“One of the first Chapters in Iowa of War Mothers of America was organized Oct. 4, 1918. The object of this organization was to extend helpful comfort and sympathy to families of those engaged in warfare on land, sea and air. About 30 were present. Mrs. C.W. Crim acted as temporary president
“The first general meeting was held Nov. 15, 1918 in the Gardston Hotel. It was grand and glorious meeting, owing to the report that “The War was over.”
“This chapter gave a welcome dinner to every soldier boy who returned home from service, whether it be Army, Navy, Ai Force or Marine. Money for the organization was raised through teas, pageants and the big event was the memorial sale and cafeteria held in the Gruwell building in January 1920. It was hoped at that time a Memorial Courthouse could be built, but the involvement was too great.
In the year 1920, the War Mothers’ became known as Service Star Legion and was incorporated under the laws of Maryland. Service Star Legion carried on with the plans of the War Mothers’. In 1924, the building, which housed the Henry Funeral Home in 1976, was purchased for a Memorial building. After the sale of this building in 1935 to Fred Sternberg, we erected a World War Memorial Monument in the city park honoring our War Veterans from Emmet County.
“The efforts of these ladies, known as War Mothers’ of America and later Service Star Legion, will long be remembered for their generous donations to every call for charitable work, and their unceasing support to Veterans’ Hospitals in a monument to their memory alone.
“The Emmet County Historical Society of Estherville received as a special gift the original flag of the Estherville Chapter of the War Mothers. The flag commemorates those who served in War I and bears gold stars and names of 28 men killed in the War. The figure 612 represents the number of men who were in service 1917-18. Mrs. Ethel Watson, the last charter member, passed away Sept. 21, 1973.”