World War One ended in 1918, but not until mid November—the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. When this Fourth of July picture was taken in Syracuse, New York, no one knew that the end was just over four months away. It shows a gathering of soldiers’ mothers, along with one father in the background. The blue stars on the women’s banners represented the number of sons serving in the military. The white star superimposed on the blue, as visible in the banner of the woman center front in white, meant that a son had died. (Click on the link that takes you to the picture source for more detail.)
With the exception of the nurse on the left, these middle aged and older women wear very similar clothing, an updated version of the skirt and blouse set long popular in the US. The style of their blouses is so common to the era that they have come to be known as “Armistice blouses.” The hats have similar shapes as well. A few have on jackets. Was the weather cool in Syracuse that day, or did some not feel fully dressed without one?
Most of these women are not smiling—but let’s remember that they didn’t know the fate of their sons overseas.