The (Almost) Centennial of the End of World War I

Today marks the 99th anniversary of the armistice agreement between Germany and the Allies, ending the actual fighting (though the war did not officially end until the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919). November 11th became known as Armistice Day until 1954, when the United States began celebrating Veterans Day.

Town House decorated with American flag bunting and "Welcome Home" sign
Town House decorated for the celebration, October 18, 1919

Kingston held a Welcome Home Celebration in October of 1919 in honor of the return of servicemen and nurses who had served during the war. For pictures of the parade, see our post from last month.

And thank you to all who have served in the military.


Source: Image is from the Glass Plate Negative Collection (IC3).

Kingston’s monuments

Over the centuries, Kingston residents have served in the armed forces when necessary, and throughout that time, the town as a whole has honored that service and sacrifice. Here is a brief look at a few of the monuments around town that set in stone the town’s gratitude to its citizen soldiers.

The same spirit that led Kingston to gain independence from Plymouth in 1726 made the town ready to support opposition to British rule fifty years later. In the winter of  1775, Kingston selectmen joined other towns of Plymouth County in signing a remonstrance against the crown, and began to prepare for the crisis soon to come.  Men were recruited for a company of “minute men” and when Lexington called, shipbuilders and farmers dropped their tools and marched first to Marshfield, then on to Concord.  Kingston sent her full quota to the Continental Army — 61 men, half of the adult male population from a town whose residents numbered just over 900.  The town also provided coats for these troops, and sent others to man the fort built in 1777 at the Gurnet alongside men from Duxbury and Plymouth.

Subsequent wars brought equal responses from the town’s citizens. In the War of 1812,  30 Kingston men enlisted, most serving coast guard duty at the Gurnet.  With an economy heavily dependent on shipping and ship-building, Kingston’s prosperity was certainly threatened by this war with Britain, and citizen responded once more. In the War of the Rebellion, now more commonly called the Civil War, Kingston sent 189 soldiers to fight, 19 more than the required quota.  Of a population of 1626, one in nine served; a total of 14 were casualties of the hostilities.  The town treasury paid out more than $11,000 ($5,574 from private donations) in soldier’s relief.

Dedication of the Civil War monument, 11/3/1883
Dedication of the Civil War monument, 11/3/1883

In 1883, a monument was raised on the Town Green, also known as the Training Ground, to honor those Kingstonians who fought for national unity.  Mrs. Abigail Adams personally funded the monument, while the Martha Sever Post No. 154 of the Grand Army of the Republic paid for the dedication ceremonies, pictured below.

In 1926, the town honored the 132 doughboys and nurses who fought in World War I with a monument on Patuxet Hill, at the intersection of Green and Summer Streets; the formal dedication took place on Memorial Day, May 30, the following year.  The machine guns were donated by the Kingston American Legion.

World War I Memorial, circa 1950
World War I Memorial, circa 1950

The monument to those who served in the Second World War was erected in 1953 on Main Street near the bypass over Route 3. Another memorial to veterans of foreign wars, specifically Korea and Vietnam, stands in front of the Faunce School on Green Street, while the newest Kingston monument, this one honoring soldiers missing in action, was dedicated at Gray’s Beach on Patriot’s Day, 2005.  Life Scout Joe Gibbons spent a year on the project.

Dedication of the MIA monument, 4/29/2005.  World War II re-enactor Norm Harbinson helps decorate the monument at the ceremony. Kingston Mariner staff photo/Bert Lane.
Dedication of the MIA monument, 4/29/2005. Kingston Mariner staff photo/Bert Lane.