Long Lines, December, 1921, pages 26-33:
Harding with casket
Congratulatory telegram


Bell  Telephone  Has  Pivotal  Part  in  Ceremony  that  Proves  Astonishing  in  Magnitude  and  Significance
HALF-WAY through the memorial exercises on Armistice Day an elderly gentleman in Madison Square Garden leaned close to the ear of his neighbor and haltingly whispered:
    "This is a tremendous thing."
    It was indeed. The thousands who packed the huge auditorium or stood bareheaded in the adjoining park, the additional thousands at the western edge of the continent, the distinguished assemblage there in the classic amphitheater at Arlington--all of them felt it.
    The solemnity, the majestic simplicity, the almost supernatural perfection of the plan by which the head of the world's greatest nation paid tribute to an unknown hero of the great war was nearly too much for everyday comprehension. It touched the heart. It kindled the imagination. It reached out over the maze of wires and finding a multitude of auditors made them worshippers.
    "Our sentiments," the audience in New York heard Secretary of War Weeks say, "can only be adequately expressed by one person, the President of the United States."
    A breathless pause. Then in tones so deep, clear and intimate that the speaker might well have been standing by each listener's side came President Harding's voice, saying: "We are met today to pay the impersonal tribute. . . ." Harding at Arlington
    Steadily and solemnly the voice flowed on, with once--near the end--a momentary, but plainly perceptible, break of emotion.
    At the conclusion, when the President unexpectedly began the recital of the Lord's Prayer, he had proceeded only a word or two when the assemblage joined with him in that wonderful climax, so closely were they following his every syllable.
    Considering the size and cosmopolitan character of the crowd, it was remarkably quiet. There were, of course, scattered individuals climbing in and out of aisles. There were moments when spasms of coughing seized this or that section. There were even times when the tense emotional state of the audience showed itself in curiously inappropriate outbursts of applause. But so intent were the thousands on the things happening that each interruption, no matter how trivial, was met with murmured resentment.
    The whole atmosphere was devotional, as of a nation at prayer. At times a wave of quiet weeping swept the place. The thought that gripped the imagination of the dullest mind was that tens of thousands at either edge of the continent were uniting with similar thousands at Arlington and honoring in unison the Unknown Warrior.
    From San Francisco, 3,000 miles away, came telegraphic reports that the voice of the President, filtering through massed foliage on the stage of the Civic Auditorium, reached those in the audience so distinctly that they held their breath in unconscious expectation that he himself might. step forward into plain sight.
    There was the deepest and most reverent silence out on the coast as the voice of the invisible speaker continued, just as there was in Arlington and New York. "Although the glinting telephone wires could not carry President Harding's face and figure across the continent," said a dispatch, "imagination completed the picture for the mothers whose sons never came home, for the halting veterans who recalled the nameless soldier perhaps as a missing comrade and for others who worked, gave and waited while the struggle went on across the sea.
    "Every note of the band, every throb of the drum, every call of the bugle sank into the ears of the auditors as if no telephone receivers, no copper wires, no amplifiers, but instead, merely a dozen yards of open air at Arlington stood between them and their President."
    Without a shade of hyperbole, the ceremony marked an epoch in communication as well as in world history. The oration of President Harding was heard by over 150,000 people, the largest aggregate gathering that ever heard one man's voice. But it was more than national in its scope, for in the amphitheater at Arlington were grouped official and military representatives of many foreign nations, officially in Washington as delegates to the Conference on the Limitation of Armament.
    Our distinguished foreign visitors, on the eve of their history making deliberations, realized that what President Harding was able to do on Armistice Day can be done at no distant time in other countries; and that a similar achievement will be possible between one nation and another, for the eventful furtherance of mutual understanding and harmony between all the nations of the earth.
    It was the idea of President Thayer that the equipment of Arlington, New York and San Francisco with the loud speaking apparatus would be a fitting contribution from the Bell System in memory of the Unknown Hero and in recognition of the Nation's interest. President Harding and the War Department were quick to see the value of this service and through the co-operation of the American Legion the meetings were organized in New York at Madison Square Garden and adjacent park and in San Francisco at the Civic Auditorium and Plaza.

San Francisco Civic Auditorium
Madison Square Garden
Arlington Ampitheater
Adjoining Madison Square Garden
    The apparatus was new and complicated. The task of co-ordinating three mass meetings connected by telephone lines of 3,700 miles in length was something never before attempted. It was an undertaking that required teamwork of the highest order between all branches of the Bell System. The arrangements were under the general direction of Colonel John J. Carty, who had the complete co-operation of the Long Lines Department and other departments of the A. T. and T. Company, the Western Electric Company and the Associated Bell Companies.
    For the six weeks preceding Armistice Day the men assigned to this task worked with true Bell Spirit, forgetful of selves, at any hour when work was required. Every detail was foreseen. Every conceivable test was made. Apparently insurmountable difficulties were overcome. If the Unknown Soldier buried at Arlington were one of the 20,000 men of the Bell System who went into military service, the effort of the loyal forces of the telephone could not have been greater.
    Long before the time for the funeral exercises, the audiences were assembled; 100,000 in the Arlington Cemetery, 11,000 in Madison Square Garden and 25,000 in the overflow meeting outside, 16,000 in the Plaza and Auditorium at San Francisco. There were present the gold star mothers, the representatives of the American Legion and other military organizations and the relatives and friends of those who made the supreme sacrifice and a great multitude of citizens.
    When the national anthem was played at Washington by the Marine Band, over 150,000 stood. At the invocation, over 150,000 bowed their heads. When the trumpet call marked the beginning of the two minutes of silence, over 150,000 stood transfixed as one.
    America was sung at Arlington and clearly heard by means of the amplifiers in New York and in San Francisco where the audiences joined in singing the second and third verses, not independently, but in perfect unison with the audience at Arlington. A telegraph operator on the platform in New York ticked back to the control room in Washington, "The audience is now singing America," and followed with, "Don't try to get me now. I am singing, too."
    President Harding's address was an earnest of the time when the nation's head can speak simultaneously to many such audiences scattered over the length and breadth of the land. For science, manifesting itself in the telephone art, has united the East and the West.
    "Burial here," he said, "is rather more than a sign of the Government's favor; it is a suggestion of a tomb in the heart of the Nation, sorrowing for its noble dead." One hundred thousand men and women, thronged upon the grassy slopes about the Arlington amphitheater, thrilled to the words as they were pronounced.
    But in spite of the fact that the setting of the scene in that magnificent marble shrine, the color of military uniforms and the presence of dignitaries from the far corners of the earth gave added point to the ceremonies for those who gathered at Arlington, they cannot but have missed something of the significance of these particular words--a significance carried with almost poignant emphasis to the thousands of others who, though separated by hundreds of miles (some of them by the breadth of a continent) from the scene, yet heard every vibrant inflection of the speaker's voice.
    Swelling chorus, chaplain's prayer; the tributes of the military geniuses of sister nations; the simple burial service; the thundering artillery; even the rolling echoes as they rang back from the hills about Arlington; and finally the plaintive voice of the bugle as it sang "taps" above this Hero's resting place--all this was heard over the long distance wires.
    There were among the thousands in Arlington, New York and San Francisco many hundreds who thrilled with pride at the thought of being connected with the organization that had made the achievement possible. But even for members of the Bell System family, the dominant emotion was more than that of satisfaction in a remarkable task remarkably well accomplished.
    They shared with others a deep and reverent feeling of gratitude for the thing that had been done, rather than mere pride in the fact that they had been privileged to play a part in perfecting the means by which it had been accomplished. Much more there was in their silence as they walked away than the sadness that invariably follows any service of deep and solemn significance.
    The miracle of it was best illustrated by two fine old ladies from the South who were at the grave of a Confederate soldier. When they heard, as if from the sky, the solemn words of the invocation, they first looked up, then knelt in prayer. Again, it must have been something of the same miraculous nature that caused the men in the offices all along the lines to snap to attention upon the signal from the monitoring operator that the national anthem was being played at Arlington and to stand with bowed heads during the two minutes of silent prayer.
    These men along the line exemplified their realization of the event's importance by the smoothest operation ever experienced in a transcontinental or loud speaker ceremony. Hardly an order was necessary after the program started and considering the fact that even a pin placed in any one of a thousand places could have interrupted the exercises, it is considered the most wonderful example of co-operation in the history of communication.
San Francisco technicians
Madison Square Garden technicians

    Back of it all lay a new conception of the American heart; a realization that this first public test of telephony's latest triumph had been a triumph for America itself; a deep and heartfelt feeling of thanks that there had been brought into being a means of binding together with newer and more intimate bonds, the Union which thousands of those who sleep at Arlington had died to preserve and which thousands, of other heroes, of whom the Unknown Soldier is forever to be the symbol, had died to protect.
Arlington technicians
Mr.  Thayer's  Congratulations

AS our tribute to those who served and fell in the Great War we offered to the Federal Government the use of our loud speaking apparatus and our lines in transmitting, to distant points on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, the spoken words of those taking part in the ceremony at Arlington in honor of the Unknown Soldier.

        This offer was accepted and we made it possible for at least 50,000 people at San Francisco and New York, as well as 100,000 at Arlington, to hear the words uttered at Arlington.

        It marked another great step in the progress which the Bell Telephone System has taken in telephony in advance of the rest of the world. It was an accomplishment made possible by progress in scientific achievement and no less by organization and by individual effort. The work of scientists and engineers of plant and construction and maintenance men, of those in central offices, in the factory and in the field, not only on that day, but in the days and years preceding, made it possible.

        When we undertook to do it, I knew that it would be done; but nevertheless when I saw it done, I felt the thrill of pride which I am sure that every other employee of the Bell System felt at being a part of an organization which could accomplish such a thing.

        We who are in the organization know how much in the way of wonderful work it meant. I would like, as the representative of you all, to congratulate us all and particularly to congratulate those who had the good fortune to take part in this particular operation which was a culmination of all of our efforts--H. B. Thayer, President, American Telephone & Telegraph Company.
Madison Square Garden control room
Arlington Cemetary control room

Commercial Broadcasting Pioneer: The WEAF Experiment, 1922-1926, William Peck Banning, 1946, page 56:
1921 Armistice layout