ATLANTIC CITY – The Atlantic City Public Library commemorated the 100th anniversary of the World War I Armistice at Stockton University Saturday morning.

The event was held in the Fannie Lou Hamer event room located in the Academic Building across from the World War I monument in O’Donnell Park.

New Jersey Air National Guard 177th Fighter Wing posted the colors before the Stockton University Show Choir sang the Star Spangled Banner.

Those in attendance heard comments from library board President William K. Cheatham and Mayor Frank Gilliam, who said Atlantic City played a great part in the war effort. He said Atlantic County was seventh in New Jersey enlistment, many of whom were African-Americans.

“Atlantic City stood up as one of the strongest in the nation,” he said. “The more we realize that America is the greatest country on Earth, the better off we will be.”

New Jersey Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo spoke about the war being the bloodiest in history and expressed gratitude to his father and all veterans past and present who served during time of war and peace.

Others spoke about the “war to end all wars” and the struggles for service men and women when they return from battle, experiencing isolation. The American Legion is also celebrating it’s 100th anniversary this year and has been providing support for veterans as they make their transition back to the community.

Cpl. Marco Polo Smigliani remembered the nine million soldiers, sailors and flyers and the five million civilians who were killed in the war, and advised young people in uniform to “rise and make your sacrifice on the alter of freedom.”

Keynote speaker Col. Bradford R. Everman, commander of the 177th Fighter Wing, recalled the history of the war, American military equipment manufactured in New Jersey, and the Armistice Declaration that ended four years of battles.

Following the ceremony, attendees toured the monument located at Albany and Ventnor avenues.

In the early 1920s, Atlantic City set about building the monument, which was designed by Carrere and Hastings architects of New York as a Greek temple, with 16 Doric columns made of Indiana limestone. The inscription on the exterior of the temple are the battles where Atlantic City men fought.

The bronze sculpture inside, “Liberty in Distress,” was created by American artist Frederick MacMonnies, who had lived and worked in France until the outbreak of the war. The statue, which includes the figures of a woman, man and baby, represents the sorrow and suffering that led to victory.

The sculpture, dedicated in 1929, cost $19,000 while the monument cost $97,039, quite a sum at the time. The United States gave a larger replica of the statue to France in honor of those killed in the battles of Marne.



Categories: Downbeach

Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.