Henry Nathaniel Snead

Henry Nathaniel Snead, son of William Henry Snead and Mary “Mollie” Agnes Holcomb Snead, was born Jan. 3, 1892, in Crystal Hill. He enlisted serving as a private in the U.S. Army and departed for Newport News on July 31, 1918, aboard the SS Re d’Italia, 16th Provisional Company, July Infantry Replacement Draft. He died in France circa Sept. 1, 1918, while serving in Company D, 163rd Infantry. His remains were returned from St. Nazaire, on Oct. 10, 1920, aboard the USS Pocahontas, which was carrying “Remains of Overseas Dead,” arriving in Hoboken, New Jersey, on Oct. 18, 1920. Snead is buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery in South Boston. Private Snead was awarded a Purple Heart and received the World War I Victory Medal.

The Halifax County Historical Society is making a last effort to include all veterans of World War I in its next publication.

To date more than 1,000 have been documented. The society is encouraging members of the community to share the names of soldiers, military photographs and any military information.

Members are available at the Chaffin House (110 Mountain Road in Halifax) to scan information that family members may have every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Additional dates are available by appointment by calling 434-479-0083, or information may be emailed to bdbass@stone.net.

World War I — known in 1918 “The Great War” — officially ended with the Treaty of Versailles signed June 28, 1919, at the Palace of Versailles, France. However, fighting had ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation, between the Allies and Germany went into effect 11th hour or of the 11th day of the 11th month; therefore, Nov. 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”

In November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”

Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed resolution on June 4, 1926: “Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.”

An Act May 13, 1938, named the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday — a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as “Armistice Day.” Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after the act of 1938, was amended by replacing the word “Armistice” and inserting in its place the word “Veterans.” With the approval on June 1, 1954, Nov. 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

On Oct. 8, 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued a proclamation stating: “In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans’ organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose. Toward this end, I am designating the Administrator of Veterans’ Affairs as Chairman of a Veterans Day National Committee, which shall include such other persons as the Chairman may select, and which will coordinate at the national level necessary planning for the observance. I am also requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive branch of the Government to assist the National Committee in every way possible.”

President Eisenhower signed the legislation changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day.

The first Veterans Day under the new law was observed with some confusion on Oct. 25, 1971. It was apparent that the commemoration of this day was a matter of historic and patriotic significance to many citizens, so on Sept. 20, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed a law, which returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of Nov. 11, beginning in 1978.

Veterans Day continues to be observed on Nov. 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to Nov. 11, preserves the historical significance of the date, focuses attention on the purpose of Veterans Day — A celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.