A blog post by Director of Collections and Exhibits Joanna Church. To read more posts by Joanna click HERE.
After the Armistice on November 11, 1918, American forces began the slow process of demobilization. Over the next several months, as surviving American soldiers, sailors, and other war workers came home, they were celebrated in ways both big and small. Cities and towns across Maryland held parades and public ceremonies honoring those who had fought, while in homes around the state lucky families welcomed their returning servicemen and -women. The triumphant ending of the “War to End All Wars” was a time of mourning for many who lost loved ones to the conflict, but also a time of celebration.
This photograph shows a WWI-era military parade in front of Baltimore’s City Hall. The banners held by spectators at left read “Baltimore Welcomes and Honors Its Heroes,” the flag in the top right corner begins “Welcome Home,” and the building in the center background has a large sign, “Bureau of Returning Soldiers Sailors and War Workers.” During the Great War, Baltimore was host to many military parades – some to raise funds for the Red Cross and war bonds, others to honor veterans of the Spanish American War – but the banners in this photo may mean that it shows the parade held on April 29th, 1919, for the returning members of the 117th Trench Mortar Battery (part of the 42nd Infantry Division), Baltimore’s “first to fight and first to return.” The Baltimore Sun reported, “…there has rarely been a turnout of the people in this city on any occasion as great as that which met” the 117th upon their arrival in the city.
For them [the crowd] began gathering along the line of march at noon, and they remained in their places for more than three solid hours just for a glimpse of them, just to let them know that their home folks were satisfied with what they had done in France and that they were more than glad to have them home again. – “City Bows to 117th Heroes,” Baltimore Sun, April 30, 1919
A similarly joyful welcome, on a more intimate scale, can be found in our collections with this hand-painted sign, made by the Zamoiski family of Baltimore to welcome home their son Calman.
Calman J. Zamoiski, Sr. (1896-1972) served in the US Army, 314 Infantry Company “E,” from December 1917 to March 1919, including four months in France. Back at home in Baltimore, his family displayed a blue star flag in his honor; they added this handmade sign to greet him upon his return home in 1919. When a collection of materials related to his service was donated to the museum 80 years later, the flag and the sign were still attached, carefully saved by the family.
This post is part of our History is Now: JMM Collects Stories of the Pandemic collecting initiative. We invite you to submit your experiences – through words, images, or objects – to help us preserve the memories and experiences of Jewish Maryland for future generations. More information here.