November 11th, 2013
Veterans Day is celebrated annually on November 11 as a remembrance of those who have served in the United States armed services. Founded as “Armistice Day” by President Wilson in 1919, it was intended to honor the heroism of the veterans of World War I on the day that hostilities ceased. The holiday was later designated through law to officially recognize all US military veterans under the current name of “Veterans Day.”
The West Virginia and Regional History Center also honors veterans through the acquisition and preservation of records that document their service. We have records of West Virginians who have served in many conflicts, including the Civil War, World Wars I and II, and Vietnam.
Robert Lynn Hogg (1893-1973) is one such veteran. He was the son of Congressman Charles E. Hogg (1852-1935) who was Dean of the WVU Law School from 1906 to 1913. Born in Point Pleasant, Robert L. Hogg graduated from WVU Law School in 1916, and went on to serve from 1917 to 1919 in the Coast Artillery Corps and the Air Service. During World War I, he did requisitions work and served at the Third Aviation Center at Issoudun, among other locations.
Since Veterans Day is historically linked to Armistice Day, it only seems fitting to excerpt a letter by Hogg regarding celebrations on that day in Paris when World War I ended:
“I did not leave until Monday noon and arrived in Paris that evening, that being the day the armistice was signed and you can readily guess, from newspaper accounts, what was encountered. On the train we met Lt. Rogers an Air Service Disbursing Officer from San Antonio, and the three of us were fortunate enough to find rooms at the Hotel Normandy on the Avenue de l’Opera. After supper we went out and the streets were so crowded we could scarcely move. At the end of the Avenue is the magnificent Opera, occupying the same position as the Capitol at the end of Pennsylvania Avenue. The building itself is wonderful and on this evening was gilded with lights. We finally elbowed our way as far in that direction as we could and found that there was an orchestra on a balcony of the Opera, overlooking the crowd. Some of the renowned artists were leading in the singing of the Marseillaise. It was, without doubt, one of the most impressive things in the world to behold the people restrained by four years of war to be able to have such a gathering. Everything was a complete transformation in comparison with the night-time Paris I had previously seen for this evening the streets were lighted, people were singing and dancing in the streets, groups of ten and fifteen were walking down the side streets arm in arm, kissing every soldier they saw. Every house was literally buried with Allied flags, the streets were filled with confetti, music was on every hand and truly it was a sight I shall never forget.”
While the prosecution of war is serious, celebrating its conclusion clearly reminds us of both what was fought for and who we have to honor and thank, as revealed by this soldier’s letter, and as remembered by Veterans Day. These revelations from the past live on into the present through the histories of veterans collected here at the West Virginia and Regional History Center.
Blog post by Michael Ridderbusch.