A Thank You to our Veterans

I just wanted to take the time  today to say thank you to all the veterans out there. No matter if you served in the United States Army, United States Navy, United States Marine Corp, United States Air Force, or United States National Guard. Thank you for severing our country.

 

Veterans Day wasn’t always called Veteran’s Day. It was created after World War I as a day to observe the end of the ‘The Great War’, which was November 11, 1918 and was called Armistice Day. It wasn’t a legal holiday until 1938 when an Congressional Act was passed that May making November 11th the “day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day’.”

It wasn’t until 1954 when President Eisenhower signed a bill that that expand Armistice Day to a day to celebrate all the Veterans that served, not just those who died in World War I. Eight years before in 1945 a World War II veteran named Raymond Weeks from Birmingham, Alabama started the campaign for the expansion of Armistice Day and has since become known as the “Father of Veterans Day”. Mister Weeks was awarded the Presidential Citizenship Medal in 1982 by President Ronald Regan for his work in being the driving force for the holiday.

The bill that President Eisenhower signed was amended by Congress on June 1st 1954 to change the name from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.

Even though the holiday was scheduled to be celebrated on November 11th of each year, that hasn’t always been the case. The Uniform Monday Holiday Act which was passed in 1968 but didn’t go into effect until 1971, changed the from November 11th to the fourth Monday in October. It stayed that way until 1977. The Dates it was celebrated between 1971-1977 are as follows Oct 25, 1971; Oct 23, 1972; Oct 22, 1973; Oct 28, 1974; Oct 27, 1975; Oct 25, 1976 and Oct 24, 1977. The date was moved back to November 11 in 1978 and has stayed that way ever since. Even though the legal holiday is November 11th, if the date falls on a Saturday or a Sunday then if is Formally observed on either Friday or Monday respectfully.

 

I know I may have posted one of these poems before but, I can’t help but share them again because whenever I think about Veterans day I think about these.

The first is “In Flanders Fields” by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae. You can see the history behind the poem by reading my Memorial Day blog post here.

 

In Flanders Fields

BY JOHN MCCRAE

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

    That mark our place; and in the sky

    The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,

        In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

    The torch; be yours to hold it high.

    If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

        In Flanders fields.

Another was written about the Battle of Normandy, otherwise known as D-Day. It’s titled “Carentan O Carentan” by Louis Simpson

Carentan O Carentan

BY LOUIS SIMPSON

Trees in the old days used to stand

And shape a shady lane

Where lovers wandered hand in hand

Who came from Carentan.

This was the shining green canal

Where we came two by two

Walking at combat-interval.

Such trees we never knew.

The day was early June, the ground

Was soft and bright with dew.

Far away the guns did sound,

But here the sky was blue.

The sky was blue, but there a smoke

Hung still above the sea

Where the ships together spoke

To towns we could not see.

Could you have seen us through a glass

You would have said a walk

Of farmers out to turn the grass,

Each with his own hay-fork.

The watchers in their leopard suits

Waited till it was time,

And aimed between the belt and boot

And let the barrel climb.

I must lie down at once, there is

A hammer at my knee.

And call it death or cowardice,

Don’t count again on me.

Everything’s all right, Mother,

Everyone gets the same

At one time or another.

It’s all in the game.

I never strolled, nor ever shall,

Down such a leafy lane.

I never drank in a canal,

Nor ever shall again.

There is a whistling in the leaves

And it is not the wind,

The twigs are falling from the knives

That cut men to the ground.

Tell me, Master-Sergeant,

The way to turn and shoot.

But the Sergeant’s silent

That taught me how to do it.

O Captain, show us quickly

Our place upon the map.

But the Captain’s sickly

And taking a long nap.

Lieutenant, what’s my duty,

My place in the platoon?

He too’s a sleeping beauty,

Charmed by that strange tune.

Carentan O Carentan

Before we met with you

We never yet had lost a man

Or known what death could do.

And lastly here is a poem called “The Night of the Bayonet” it was written by Walter Gordon and Paul Rogers of Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne. It’s about what happen to another Company member, Floyd Talbert, one night early in the Battle of Normandy. The poem was read during the HBO Mini Series Band of Brothers which depicted the events of what happened to Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne during World War II.

The Night of the Bayonet

The night was filled with dark and cold,
When Sergeant Talbert the story’s told,
Pulled out his poncho and headed out,
To check the lines dressed like a Kraut.

Upon a trooper our hero came,
Fast asleep; he called his name.
“Smith, oh Smith, get up, it’s time
To take your turn out on the line.”

Private Smith, so very weary,
Cracked an eye, all red and bleary,
Grabbed his rifle and did not tarry,
Hearing Floyd, but seeing Gerry.

“It’s me!” cried Tab. “Don’t do it!” and yet,
Smith charged toute de suite with bayonet.
He lunged, he thrust, both high and low,
And skeweth the boy from Kokomo.

And as they carried him away,
Our punctured hero was heard to say,
“When in this war you venture out,
best never do it dressed as a Kraut!”

Well that’s it. Once again I would like to thank all of our Veterans. Because without you none of use will have known the freedoms that comes with your sacrifices. Thank You.

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Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day, which is one of the holidays which we Americans remember the price of our freedom by remembering those service men and women who have been killed in action.

Due to Memorial Day falling on the last Monday in the end of May, it also serves as the official start of summer, so sometimes the meaning of the Holiday gets overshadowed a bit by people.

The holiday, which is a Federal Holiday by the way, was started back in 1868 as Decoration Day by the Grand Army of the Republic which is an organization of veterans who had served in the Union military during the Civil War. They established the day so the nation could honor those that had died by placing flowers on their graves.

Since those honoring the Union and Confederates had separate and competing Holidays for honoring those who died serving in the Civil War, it was decided sometime in the 20th Century to merge both holidays so that all those who had died no matter what side they had served on was honored by the nation.

Here is a poem, written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, who was a Canadian physician who served in Belgium during World War I,  which is one of my favorites and one of the best ways to sum up what Memorial Day is all about.

In Flanders Fields

BY JOHN MCCRAE

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
        In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
        In Flanders fields.

Lieutenant Colonel McCrae served during the Second Battle of Ypres and was said to have been inspired to write the following poem titled “In Flanders Fields” after the death of his friend Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, who was killed during the Second Battle of Ypres. Lieutenant Colonel McCrae died near the end of World War I, not due to a bullet or artillery shell in battle, but because of pneumonia while he was in command of No. 3 Canadian General Hospital (McGill) at Boulogne.

Even though I’m not Canadian, I’d like to thank Lieutenant Colonel McCrae and Lieutenant Helmer for their service to their country. I’d also like to extend my thanks to those servicemen and women of the United States Army, United States Marines, United States Navy, and the United States Air Force who have died in action. And for those of you who may read this or read my blog, and have a family member of friend who have died in action, know that I will always honor them.

I’d also like to post a letter from President Abraham Lincoln to Mrs. Lydia Bixby of Boston, Massachusetts. It is a consoling letter by President Lincoln after hearing from the War Department how Mrs. Bixby’s five sons have been killed fighting for the Union during the Civil War. It turned out later that only two of Mrs. Bixby’s five sons were actually killed during battle. It is still unkown wny the War Department had incorrectly said that all five sons had been killed. The following is the text of the letter as it appeared in the Boston Evening Transcript on November 25, 1864, which was the same day the letter was delivered to Mrs. Bixby by the Adjutant General of Massachusetts, William Schouler

Executive Mansion,

Washington, Nov. 21, 1864.

Dear Madam,

I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,

A. Lincoln

So everyone who is Barbecueing over this holiday weekend, take a moment to honor those who have died defending our country and protecting our freedom so that you have the right to Barbecue. Also remember that for freedom there is a price, maybe it’s not paid by you or a family member, but there is a price paid by someone’s family member. So honor, respect, and never forget.

Keep those in Nepal in your thoughts

Yesterday I made a post where I mentioned the recent earthquakes in the country of Nepal, well it occurred to me a little later that I had forgotten to say to keep those in Nepal effected by the earthquakes in your thoughts and prayers, like I had for the victims of the Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia.

So please keep all the victims and everyone elses effected by the  earthquakes in Nepal in your thoughts and Prayers.

Also breaking overnight was that they finally found the missing Marine UH-1 Huey that went missing while delivering aid to a village in Nepal that was effected by the earthquakes. The news doesn’t seem to be good, it is believed that all on board the helicopter (six United States Marines, and two Nepalese soldiers) have been killed. Though there have been no official word from the Department of Defense yet. So also keep the families of those 8 service members in your thoughts and prayers.

Also please keep the family of blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist B.B King who passed away yesterday (May 14th @ 9:40 PM) at the age of 89.