“Germans Sign Armistice, World War Comes to End.” This was the Atlanta Constitution headline on Nov. 11, 1918 and the good news was celebrated all over Atlanta and in the surrounding communities.
Teachers led school children in patriotic songs and then dismissed them early. Boys from Tech High School marched through town as they celebrated and cheered. Atlanta city offices were ordered closed by Mayor Asa Candler. Students of the Southern Shorthand and Business School on Whitehall Street in downtown Atlanta gathered in the street and sang “America.”
Military training and routines continued at Chamblee’s Camp Gordon, Atlanta’s Fort McPherson and Camp Jesup, which was located next to Fort McPherson during World War I. Camp Gordon soldiers applauded enthusiastically at reveille on the morning of the announcement and soldiers sang “Over There” on their long marches. Photographs were taken at Norcross Rifle Range to celebrate and a barbeque was held the following day.
Mayor Candler declared that the following day would be a half holiday. He issued a proclamation, saying “The most terrible war in history has come to an end! Peace is again to reign throughout the world and freedom universally prevail! Let us not forget the sacrifices of those who have made our present happiness possible.”
A victory parade was planned for Nov. 12, led by Camp Gordon’s commander Major General Cameron. Cameron had recently returned from the European front. Ten thousand soldiers from Camp Gordon participated in the parade, as well as detachments from Fort McPherson and Camp Jesup.
Students from the army training corps of Boys High School, Tech High School, Marist College and Georgia Military Academy joined in the parade. The Women’s Motor Corps marched, leading the floats of the YMCA, Knights of Columbus, Jewish Welfare Board, Salvation Army, War Camp Community Service and America Library Association. All these organizations were instrumental in providing services at Camp Gordon, helping to boost morale.
Festivities were held at the Auditorium (later the Atlanta Municipal Auditorium) on the evening of Nov. 12. Camp Gordon provided music with performances by two brass bands and five singers, all offering patriotic songs. Dr. David Marx, Rabbi at The Temple, delivered a prayer and Mayor Candler and Governor Hugh Dorsey gave speeches.
Although the war was over, it took months for all Americans to return home. The 326th Infantry of the 82nd Division were the last to return, leaving France on May 16, 1919.
Other sources cited include: “Atlanta and Environs, Volume II” by Franklin Garrett, University of Georgia Press, Athens, 1954; “Peace Does Not Affect Work of Training at Camp Gordon.” The Atlanta Constitution, Nov.12, 1918.