Showing posts with label Vietnam War. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vietnam War. Show all posts

Friday, November 10, 2017

Help Preserve Our Veteran’s Histories

President John F. Kennedy
President John F. Kennedy said, “A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.”
November 11 is Veteran’s Day – a day set aside to honor all American veterans who have served in our wars.  But time is passing and each day we lose more veterans, and their stories. 

US Department of Veterans Affairs
According to US Department of Veterans Affairs, the last WWI veteran died in 2012 at the age of 110. There are only 558,000 of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II still alive. A million and a half Korean vets remain. Surviving vets of Vietnam total 6.7 million while there are 7.13 million Gulf War veterans alive, and 4.5 million who served during peacetime. These stats are current as of September 2017. But how many veterans have we lost since then?
There are several groups and organizations across the country that take these interviews and preserve them for future generations. Here are just a few:

This popular genealogy site is focusing on saving the stories of WWII veterans before it’s too late.  Millions of records were lost in a fire in the National Personnel Records Center destroying about 80-100 pages per soldier. Information that included battles fought in, medals and honors received, occupations held during the war, diseases and injuries suffered, parental information, affidavits of character, photographs and letters from commanding officers - all of the details that make a service record a story. Ancestry provides a list of questions that can jump-start the conversation. All you have to do is capture your WWII veteran’s reminisces on video (Please edit it down to no longer than 4 minutes.) and upload it to the Ancestry site where it will be included in a free collection for anyone to view. 

It takes only one person to start a movement and that is what 20-year-old Rishi Sharma is doing. After graduating from high school, Sharma decided to try to preserve as many veteran’s stories about WWII as he could. With 372 of those vets dying each day, Sharma has his work cut out for him. Sharma began Heroes of the Second World War, a web site where the videos of these soldiers are available for viewing. He also makes sure the veteran, and his or her family, have copies of the interview. It takes between 4-6 hours to record an interview but Sharma intends to interview at least one WWII vet each day until the last one is gone.

In 2000, Congress created the Veterans History Project to preserve veteran’s personal stories. The VHP maintains not only video stories but materials veterans and their families donate including uniforms and medals. Each veteran has an individual web page that includes his or her service history along with other information provided. Check out the FAQ page before starting. Then visit the Participate page to take part in the project, and print out the VHP field kit forms. Fill them out and submit the entire kit with a video to the VHP for inclusion in the Library of Congress.

Witness to War is a non-profit private preservation organization that records the digital stories from veterans who served in all American wars. The interviews are then professionally edited into 2 to 5 minute war stories and are available on the WTW web site for viewing. The short format makes the interviews more interesting and approachable to today’s media savvy generation. The organization has an extensive collection of combat narratives - close to 1,500 interviews, and counting. To request an interview visit the WTW web page.

If you know a U.S. veteran, set a date, grab your questions and head out with your phone to capture his or her story for posterity. More than 600 WWII vets die each day … there’s no time like the present to get started.
~ Joy

My new book The Family Tree Cemetery Field Guide is now available at bookstores across the country. Click here for book information.

Friday, November 11, 2011

In Honor of Our Veterans on Veterans Day

Signing of the Armistice
Today is Veterans Day in the United States.  It is an annual holiday we set aside to honor those who have served in our armed forces.  It originally began as Armistice Day on November 11, 1918 at 11 A.M. when the end of World War One was declared and the German and Allies signed the Armistice agreement in Compeigne, France. 

President Woodrow Wilson
One year later, in 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the day a holiday.  Wilson said, “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.”

President Calvin Coolidge
Then in 1926, President Calvin Coolidge issued another declaration for November 11 to be held as an observance of Veterans Day in the U.S.  Twelve years later, in 1938, Armistice Day became a legal holiday.  
Korean War Veterans Statues
It was 1953 when shoe repair storeowner Stephan Riod suggested that Armistice Day be expanded to include all living veterans who had fought in a war for this country.  U.S. Representative John Salper sponsored the bill in Congress, and President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed it into law on May 26, 1954.  Veterans Day would officially be celebrated on November 11 each year.

Eagles of War
President Gerald Ford
Then in 1971, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act was passed, calling for all federal holidays to fall on a Monday.  This lasted until 1978 when President Ford moved Veterans Day back to November 11, regardless of what day of the week it falls on.

The Buddy Poppy is a familiar sight on Veterans Day.  Started in 1922, the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) became the first veteran’s organization to sell the poppies on street corners nationally.  Disabled and needy veterans still assemble the poppies. They are then sold by other veterans to provide financial assistance for disabled veterans and their families, along with the orphans, widows and widowers of U.S. vets.  Almost 90 years later and this tradition continues.

Tomb of the Unknowns 
Ceremonies and parades are held round the country each Veterans Day at national, regional and small town cemeteries around America.
One of the most famous is held at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.  At 11 A.M., a wreath is placed at the Tomb of the Unknowns, also known as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, by the U.S. Army.  This is one of only three events held each year at Arlington that is open to the public.

 Today, Veterans Day is a national celebration in America, held each November 11th to honor living veterans and thank them for their service to our country. 

President Dwight D. Eisenhower
President Eisenhower expressed his wishes for this day 55 years ago, “I have today signed a proclamation calling upon all of our citizens to observe Thursday, November 11, 1954 as Veterans Day. It is my earnest hope that all veterans, their organizations, and the entire citizenry will join hands to insure proper and widespread observance of this day”

Freedom has a price

A Poppy, in tribute to all the brave veterans
who risked their lives
past and present,
so we might have a future.
 So to all the vets out there – Thank You for your dedication, unselfishness, and the sacrifices made in the line of duty serving our country!  We appreciate you!!
~ Joy

Friday, November 4, 2011

And That’s the Way it Is……

Walter Cronkite

Today would have been the 95th birthday of Walter Cronkite – “The Most Trusted Man in America.”   As a broadcaster and news reporter, I had my two news demigods – Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite. While Murrow was the father of radio news - Cronkite was the pioneer of broadcast television news journalism. 

Walter Cronkite, Jr
Walter Leland Cronkite, Jr. was born November 4, 1916 in St Joseph, Missouri, the only child of Walter Leland Cronkite, Sr. and Helen Fritsche Cronkite.  Walter grew up in Kansas City, Missouri and Houston, Texas.  He attended the University of Texas but dropped out to take a news reporting position with the Houston Post.

As a WKY Reporter
Betsey Maxwell Cronkite
Cronkite began his broadcasting career at a small radio station, WKY in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  He met his wife, Mary Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Maxwell in 1936 while working for KCMO in Kansas City, Missouri.  From there he worked as a wire service reporter for the United Press (U.P.) 

U.P. Reporter during WWII
During World War II, he was an overseas correspondent for U.P.  His style caught the ear of radio news legend, Edward R. Murrow.  Murrow offered Cronkite an opportunity to move to CBS. Cronkite considered the offer but the United Press countered with the position of foreign correspondent, reopening bureaus in Amsterdam, Brussels and Moscow.  Cronkite turned Murrow down.

With Douglas Edwards and
Edward R. Murrow at CBS
It wasn’t until 1950 that he joined CBS as a television news correspondent and host of “The Morning Show, “ a position he shared with a lion puppet named Charlemagne.

Cronkite at the News Desk
Reporting for CBS
He became the anchor of the 15-minute “CBS Evening News” in April 1962.  In September 1963, the news expanded to thirty minutes, five nights a week.  Cronkite served as anchor and managing editor of the “CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite” for 19 years.  From 1967 to his retirement in 1981, the “CBS Evening News” was the ratings leader.

Cronkite receives the A.P. newsflash of Kennedy's death
One of the most powerful early memories of television journalism is of Walter Cronkite, stunned and  holding back tears when the A.P. (Associated Press) newsflash of Kenney’s death was handed to him.  Fighting to maintain his professional composure, Cronkite began “From Dallas, Texas, the flash, apparently official: “President Kennedy died at 1 P.M. Central Standard Time – 2 o’clock Eastern Standard Time, some 38 minutes ago.”

Fighting to maintain composure
Reading the announcement, Cronkite paused, put his glasses back on and swallowed hard in order to maintain his composure.
That moment sticks in the mind, just as Roosevelt’s announcement of the bombing of Pearl Harbor did for the generation before.

Reporting from Vietnam
Cronkite also reported on the Vietnam War.  Returning from Vietnam after the TET Offensive in 1968, Cronkite told his viewers, "It seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is a stalemate."  When President Lyndon Johnson heard what Cronkite had said he reportedly commented, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.”  Just a few weeks later, Johnson announced that he would not run for reelection.

Cronkite at the anchor desk
Man on the Moon
Cronkite is also well remembered for his 27 hours of nonstop reporting during the Apollo 11 moon landing where he exclaimed those immortal words, “Go, Baby, Go!,” when the rocket was launched.

At the news desk
In his office at CBS
A 1972 poll announced that he was the ‘most trusted man in America,” besting the President, Vice President, members of Congress and all other journalists.

On March 6, 1981, Cronkite stepped down from the CBS anchor desk.  His leaving was due to a mandatory age retirement policy that CBS held firm to.

Guest shot on Mary Tyler Moore
After his retirement, Cronkite went on to host numerous television specials.  He appeared on several regular television shows including two news-oriented comedies, the Mary Tyler Moore Show and Murphy Brown. He was a regular on the PBS, Discovery, and A & E networks.

Cronkite always considered himself a working journalist.  His main philosophy towards news reporting was to get the story “fast, accurate and unbiased.”  His autobiography “A Reporter’s Life” was a best seller when it was released in 1996.

Cronkite died in New York City on July 17, 2009.  He was 92 years old. He was buried at Mount Moriah Cemetery in Kansas City, Missouri, next to Betsey, his wife of 65 years.

On the air
As President Barrack Obama said in a statement following Cronkite’s death, "For decades, Walter Cronkite was the most trusted voice in an industry of icons, Walter set the standard by which all others have been judged. He was someone we could trust to guide us through the most important issues of the day; a voice of certainty in an uncertain world. He was family. He invited us to believe in him, and he never let us down. This country has lost an icon and a dear friend, and he will be truly missed."

"Happy Birthday ‘Uncle’ Walter!" 
And thank you for setting the standard for fair, impartial reporting, the likes of which may never be seen again.
And that’s the way it is………

~ Joy