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A long line of Veterans in the photo is a color guard taken at the Connellsville War Memorial. They are members of the Connellsville Veterans Commission. Photo Submitted by Edward Cope

History of Armistice Day

Max C. Floto

Veterans Day, or Armistice Day as it was long known, is a holiday that originated in Southwestern Pennsylvania through the efforts of a Connellsville veteran of World War I.

He was Max C. Floto, and it wasn't easy. A student at Gettysburg College when he entered the Army in 1918, Floto returned to his hometown in Fayette County

at war's end. He became part of the American Legion post founded there after the hostilities.

At the second meeting of the Milton Bishop Post 301 of the Legion in early 1919, Floto made a motion to promote Nov. 11 -- the date of the war's armistice -- as a national observance. That step, strongly supported by his fellow veterans, was the first in an effort that took nearly 20 years.

From there, Floto and fellow veteran Thomas W. Scott served as delegates to the state Legion convention in Harrisburg. There, Oct. 2, he gained the support of the state group.

He then went to Harrisburg and was successful in persuading Gov. Sproull to issue a proclamation for the observance that year in the state. Ultimately, the state Legislature passed an act that made the holiday official in Pennsylvania.

The two Connellsville men were delegates to the first national convention of the American Legion, coinciding with the Armistice. There, their holiday resolution was the second passed by the new organization's national body.

But the effort was just beginning. It took the federal government 19 years, until May 13, 1938, to make it a national holiday. Until that was achieved, Floto and supporters had worked with congressmen and others. Virtually every year, a resolution was presented in Congress to no avail, until President Franklin D. Roosevelt finally signed the bill in 1938.

Photo top left: From Left to Right: Max C. Floto; Attorney Carmine V. Molinaro Jr., while he was a county commissioner, and Donald A. Cope, president of the Connellsville Veterans Commission and Commander of Walter E. Brown Post 21.

Photo Submitted by Edward Cope.

Above, Max Floto (sitting at right) presents a gavel to Don Cope, the newly elected president of the Connellsville Veterans Commission in 1972. Other veterans observing the transition are, from left to right, Harry Jones, Ralph Burkett, Jack Kopf, and Clarence Smith. Floto was a World War I veteran who, along with Thomas Scott Sr., lobbied for the establishment of Armistice Day (now Veterans Day) as a national holiday. (Courtesy of Ed Cope).

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