WWI, Veteran’s Day, & Davidson College

SATC at Davidson in a field in four groups

Davidson’s connection to Veteran’s Day comes in two ways.  First, it was President Woodrow Wilson (Class of 1877) who signed the proclamation establishing November 11, 1919 as the first Armistice Day. The date celebrates the signing of the treaty ending World War I. Davidson College’s involvement in the war was limited but had long-term effects.

newspaper headline stating, "Memorable Ceremony is Held at Formal Inauguration of S.A.T.C. at DavidsonA Board of Trustees vote in May 1918 to institute military training if asked by the government led a mass induction on October 1, 1918 of all Davidson students over the age of 18 into the Students’ Army Training Corps. Military exercises were added to the curriculum cutting into the regular academic program. College president, William J. Martin informed students and parents that the curriculum was altered “so as to be useful for the purpose of training officers.”

W JBryan sketchWith the war ending on November 11, 1918, the college did not have much time with new classes or training. The college was excited to host Woodrow Wilson’s former Secretary of State and noted orator William Jennings Bryan on October12, 1918 newspaper headline stating, "New Uniforms Caused Many Ludicrous Sights" and then amused by the late arrival of SATC uniforms on November 19, – eight days after the Armistice.Still the uniforms were put to use first as the college revised SATC activities and then when the faculty voted on November 29 to apply to host an Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program.  Starting in late November 1918, military drills were held only on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Every SATC student was given a 5 day furlough at Christmas. Half from December 21-26 and half from December 24-26. The ROTC program began at Davidson in February 1919. It continued as a required part of the curriculum until 1969, when participation became optional. [NOTE: clicking on the headlines and Bryan’s image will bring up complete articles from the Davidsonian.]


SATC at DavidsonDavidson’s SATC students in uniform in December 1918

Davidson students celebrating the first Armistice Day with a parade in CharlotteDavidson students celebrated the first Armistice Day with a parade in Charlotte.

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