The 11th hour of the 11th day of November, the 11th month
The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks has always been at the forefront of supporting the nation’s veterans. The order has a direct connection with Veterans’ Day that is not commonly known.
Veterans’ Day, November 11, was originally known before World War II (and is still known in Europe) as Armistice Day. It commemorates the end of World War I, the “War to End All Wars.”
When hostilities ceased in November of 1918, President Wilson gave the American Expeditionary Force Commander, General Jack “Black Jack” Pershing, full authority to set the date and time of the Armistice. Pershing was an active and enthusiastic Elk, and selected the 11th hour of the 11th day of November, the 11th month, as the effective time of the Armistice. This was Pershing’s salute to the memory of those soldiers “Elks and non-Elks alike” who perished during the long and brutal conflict.
The hour of 11 p.m. continues to have a special significance th the Elks, as it is the time when, of any evening Elks event, all activity ceases and all members and guests rise while the climes ring 11 times and the “Eleven O’Clock Toast” is given in recollection of deceased members.
In 1917, the BPOE organized and equipped the first two base hospitals in France, which were the predecessors of MASH units. In 1918 the order built a 700-bed hospital and donated it to the Federal Government, the first of what would become Veterans’ Administration hospitals.* The Elks built a spectacular memorial to America’s veterans in Chicago in 1926, and more recently donated $1,220,000 to the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D. C.
- During 1918 and 1919 the Moscow Elks Temple was closed to our members. During those years the temple was made available to the University of Idaho SATC (Student Army Training Corps) for use as a convalescent center for returning service men from “The Great War” (The First World War) and .victims of the “Spanish Flu” pandemic.