By Greg Bailey, University Archivist, Texas A&M University
Sunday November 11 marks the Centennial of the Armistice that ended the fighting between the Allies and Germany during World War I. The Armistice went into effect at 11 a.m. Paris time on 11 November 1918, the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. In essence it marked defeat of Germany, but not a formal surrender of Germany. The formal end of the war did not happen until the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, which was signed on 28 June 1919 and took effect on 10 January 1920.
Leading into the Armistice both College and Bryan were continuing their work in supporting the US Military and Government as they proceeded to ramp up their capabilities to meet the demands around the world. The Student Army Training Corps program on the Texas A&M campus was finally starting to being up after the influenza outbreak. The training of soldiers and cadets resumed their full schedule as the war continued around the world and an Armistice was considered to be unthinkable around the United States.
On November 7 College instructors and employees, Campus residents and neighbors voted unanimously to form a Community Council of Defense so that the College could give larger support to war activities. At the same meeting the Red Cross Auxiliary on campus voted to organize that body into a branch of Red Cross, giving them larger powers, scope of work and responsibilities. Two days later a new United War Drive was launched by the College community with a goal of $1950 to be reached, while a day later a student drive was launched with an aim of $13,000.
In the early hours of November 11 word reached Bryan that an Armistice would go into effect at 11 a.m. Paris time, 6 a.m. local. Around 5 a.m. the news had made its way to College and students began organizing a celebration. The whistle at the steam plant was sounded, further awakening campus and helping to spread the news. Campus residence and students then built a bonfire in front to the YMCA. Meanwhile in Bryan residence gathered in downtown to talk of the armistice and huddled around bonfires. Bryan Mayor Jonathan Lawrence declared November 11, 1918 a city-wide holiday with business and schools closing, a parade through downtown was scheduled for the afternoon, and a Thanksgiving devotional to be held at the Palace Theater that evening.
Meanwhile on campus, Reveille sounded and breakfast broke the celebration, though only momentarily. Celebration resumed immediately after breakfast with an impromptu automobile parade with the army trucks on campus being used to carry students and part of the band, with vehicles of College residents and Bryan citizens joining in. At some point a cadet or soldier climbed the flag pole in front of the Academic Building. Guns were fired into the air and the Signal Corps fired several rockets.
Cadets pushed for a cancellation of classes in honor of the armistice, but this was deemed inadvisable. Classes and drill would continue, but in their free time the cadets and soldiers were free to celebrate, as long as things did not get too boisterous and destruction of property would not be tolerated. There was no disorder reported during the celebration.