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, Nov. 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 John "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 to the Elks, as it is the time when, at any evening Elks event, all activity ceases and all members and guests rise while the chimes 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 $1.22 million to the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.