A Connellsville legend fought to have Armistice Day recognized
Max C. Floto marched home from World War I in 1918 and into history many years later when he was named the Father of Armistice Day — now Veterans Day — in the American Legion's national magazine.
The Connellsville man and his friend Thom Scott Sr. of Dunbar came back from the trenches of France with one more mission: to make Armistice Day a national day of recognition for all World War I veterans.
Floto and Scott joined the newly formed American Legion Post 301 in Connellsville, named in honor of Milton L. Bishop, the first local soldier who died in the war. As 1918 faded into 1919, they got busy, determined that Armistice Day would become a national holiday.
The National American Legion adopted Floto's proposal at its first national convention, held in Minneapolis in 1919. All Legions across the United States agreed to annually observe Armistice Day on Nov. 11, the day the cease-fire was signed.
Floto and Scott had larger ideas in mind. They wanted the general population's patriotic support as well.
They lobbied the state to make Nov. 11 an official veterans holiday. On March 21, 1921, Pennsylvania's General Assembly did just that.
1938: U.S. proclamation
From there, it was on to Washington. Floto, Scott and a flock of supporters spent more than 15 years writing letters and talking to congressmen and senators. On May 13, 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed Nov. 11 as a national holiday.
Max Floto and Thom Scott Sr., in the words made famous by Gen. Douglas MacArthur upon retiring, simply “faded away” from their campaign, satisfied that they had accomplished what they had set out to do.
Floto, who lived on East Crawford Avenue for many years, remained active in veterans affairs in Connellsville, visiting the American Legion post and riding in parades. He faithfully attended the city's veterans commission meetings and banquets.
“Max was a short, quiet man, a very personable fellow,” said Ed Cope, a Connellsville native and longtime newspaper photographer.
Floto was a good friend of Cope's father, the late Donald Cope, and Allen Q. Jones, 89, of Dunbar Township, whose military titles have included a stint as Pennsylvania State VFW Commander. Both Donald Cope and Jones served in World War II, and Cope was a mainstay at local veterans events — especially Connellsville's Memorial Day ceremonies.
Floto: Courier employee
Ed Cope became acquainted with Floto at the Daily Courier. Floto worked for several years at the newspaper as a bookkeeper with Walter Driscoll. At that time, the Driscoll family owned The Daily Courier.
“Everyone looked out for Max, especially when he got older,” Cope said. “He and my father were great friends.”
Armistice Day did not become Veterans Day until 1954. A World War II soldier from Alabama — Raymond Weeks — headed a delegation that lobbied to have the holiday broadened to honor all veterans, not just those who served during World War I. President Dwight Eisenhower, who had served as Allied Supreme Commander during World War II, signed the proclamation that renamed the holiday.
When President Ronald Reagan presented Weeks with the Presidential Citizen Medal in 1982, Elizabeth Dole, wife of then-Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas, proclaimed Weeks “the father of Veterans Day.”
Technically, that would be true, if such an honor was based upon a mere name change.
There might not have been a Veterans Day in November if there hadn't been an Armistice Day first — an event made possible by the dogged determination of Max C. Floto, assisted by Thom Scott Sr.
Laura Szepesi is a contributing writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Barefoot toddlers found wandering in Uniontown Hospital lot
- Juvenile accused in Uniontown store burglary
- $7K donated to help Bullskin Township boys with rare disease
- Small Business Saturday events set in Connellsville
- Covenant Community Ministries unites 4 churches in Western Pa.
- Judge rules in favor of Seven Springs Mountain Resort over road closure
- HObo Model Railroad Club display back in Connellsville
- Donegal VFW to host Hunters Breakfast on opening day
- Fayette twins injured as newborns expected to be adopted by foster mother
- Fayette to mark Veterans Day with parade
- Most serious charges dropped against parents of Dunbar child thrown from ATV