100th anniversary of Armistice Day to be celebrated at Fremont Park

by Bo Crane on November 8, 2018

Beginning at 10:30 am on Sunday, November 11, the Menlo Park Historical Association (MPHA) will host an event at Fremont Park in downtown Menlo Park celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 1918 Armistice that ended the Great War, now known as the World War I. The celebration will also include the 80th anniversary of the dedication of Fremont Park, located in the middle of what was once Camp Fremont, a World War I training camp.

Armistice Day, observed since 1926, became a national holiday in May 1938. On November 11, a parade with bands and floats began at the Menlo Park Depot and marched up Valparaiso Avenue before turning towards the park. The flag was brought out by the American Legion, and the U.S. Army Color Guard played To the Colors, a bugle call that was a substitute for the National Anthem. The band from Sequoia High School played America. The American Legion then took over the program, including the placing of a wreath for the unknown solider, concluding with Taps.

Mayor James Cooper presided at the 1938 dedication. Before he spoke, a solo was preformed by Leonid Bryner, a 26-year-old Menlo Park resident and Stanford graduate, born in Siberia. Cooper introduced two prominent guests: Herbert Hoover and Samuel M. Shortridge.

Hoover, 64, was five years out of office as President, having lost the 1932 election to Franklin Roosevelt while the country was in the Depression. As a member of Stanford’s first graduating class, he had served to provide relief for Belgium during the Great War. At his talk, the former President warned that America “must be prepared to defend our independence and our honor.”

Samuel Shortridge, 77, a San Francisco attorney raised in San Jose, was also five years out of office, having served as a U.S. Senator. Once a Menlo Park resident but then living in Atherton, Shortridge delivered the dedication of Fremont Park. Stars and Stripes Forever closed out the ceremonies.

This November 11, MPHA will hold a brief ceremony at Fremont Park at 11:00 am. Barbara Wilcox, author of The Story of Camp Fremont, will give a talk on the history of the Camp and what the Armistice meant. The Camp closed shortly after the Armistice, occurring famously at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.

MPHA vice-president Michael Demeter, born in Menlo Park, will read an editorial that appeared in the Menlo Park Recorder the day in 1938 when Fremont Park was dedicated. Bo Crane, the MPHA secretary, will talk about the history of the Park, created through the efforts of a German immigrant, Jacob Frederick Carl Hagens, 20 years after the Camp closed.

In 1954, following World War II, Armistice Day became Veterans Day.

Photo of Division Headquarters, which was was on El Camino Real opposite Ravenswood Avenue, courtesy of the Menlo Park Historical Association

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