Showing posts with label Veterans Day. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Veterans Day. Show all posts

Friday, November 6, 2020

Remembering Those Who Serve

It all began with Armistice Day, a day set aside to remember those who died during the First World War. November 11 became the legal holiday in 1938, and after the end of World War Two, the name was changed to Veterans Day – a day set aside to honor all veterans of the armed forces.


It was President Dwight Eisenhower who signed the bill in 1953 proclaiming November 11 as Veteran’s Day. Emporia Kansas resident Alvin J. King had contacted his congressman and requested the day be set aside to honor all veterans from all wars and conflicts. The first national observance occurred in 1954.

This year, Veterans Day will mark the 75th anniversary of the end of World War Two, the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War, and the 30th anniversary of the end of the Panama Invasion, and the beginning of Desert Shield.

Veterans Day is celebrated each year with parades, dedications and speeches. Here are just a few scheduled for this year.


 The National Veterans Day Ceremony held at Arlington Cemetery begins with a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It continues with an event at the Memorial
Amphitheatre. These events are free and open to the public.


New York’s Veterans Day Parade, the country’s largest celebration for veterans, will be held as scheduled in New York City. An entire week of festivities and socially distant events including a Veterans Day Motorcade, a motorcycle ride and wreath-laying ceremonies. The Veterans Day Salute will be broadcast on WABC and live streamed on


The “Founding City” of Veterans Day, Emporia Kansas, will host a multi-day event. The All Veterans Tribute will run during the month of November and include a veteran art exhibit, a Freedom Fest Run and memorial services.




The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) has announced that the annual ceremony at The Wall will not be held this year. They will however hold a virtual ceremony on November 11 at 1pm ET. You can attend through Facebook or on the VVMF website


Other cities and town around the country will celebrate the day, or the weekend before or after, with civil war encampments, military vehicle displays, and rousing speeches and performances.

For a more comprehensive list visit


Today, more than 1 million active-duty personnel are serving in the United States military. More than 800,00 make up the reserved forces. And there are more than 24.9 million veterans living in the US.


Take time Wednesday to honor and remember those who fight to protect our country. Happy Veterans Day!

~ Joy

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 2, 2012

Honoring Animals That Have Served in War

Armed Forces
Each November 11th, we honor and celebrate those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.  This includes veterans who have served in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard.

Civil War Cavalry
But there is one group of “vets” that is usually forgotten during this time – the military animals. These are the animals used to assist the military in combat, and behind-the scenes.  They have been trained to act as scouts, sentries, trackers, messengers, and pack animals; they have been used in battlefield experiments; to guard, carry, patrol, detect explosives, and for search and rescue.

The first animals documented as used for fighting were horses.  They were originally used in chariot warfare.  But, once the saddle and stir-up were invented, they became war-horses; carrying warriors into battle, offering the rider a vantage point from which to fight and maneuver.  In Medieval times, a knight’s horse was used as a weapon; trained to bite and kick the opponent and his mount. Once warriors and soldiers were on horseback, they organized into a fighting group known as a cavalry.

Military Mule
Military Camel
Horses were not the only animals used in warfare.  Dogs, oxen, and pigs were also used, many times to transport or detect bombs.  Elephants, mules, donkeys, monkeys, rats, pigeons, bats, and camels have also been called into action. Dolphins, orcas and sea lions are now in active use.

Egyptian War Dog
Ancient War Dog
Dogs have been use by Egyptians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Slavs and Britons since ancient times. They have provided soldiers with protection, acted as scouts, trackers, messengers, and guards.

WW II Soldiers & Dogs
A Belgian Malinois
In the 20th century, dogs continued to assist the troops. During WW I, dogs delivered messages and communiqués to America’s allies. In WW II, dogs were trained to drag the wounded and dead off the battlefield. During the Vietnam War, dogs helped scout for mines, and patrol. And dogs are still serving in all branches today.  On the May 1st, 2011 during the operation in which Osama bin Laden was killed, a Belgian Malinois took part in the raid.

War Elephant
Elephants Attack
Elephants were first used in battle around the 4th century BC.  Designated as war elephants, they were trained to charge the enemy, break their ranks, and trample them.  Their use remained the same until the advent of gunpowder in the 15th century.  Elephants then began to be used as transport for humans and battlefield equipment.

WW I Elephant
WW II Elephant
During WW II, elephants were used to cross difficult terrain, and as heavy labor, assisting crews in buildings bridges, and moving heavy munitions.  Although elephants were still listed in the 2004 U.S. Special Forces field manual, their use is discouraged as they are now listed as an endangered species.

Pigeons in WW I
A Soldier & his Pigeon
Pigeons were first used in the Franco-Prussian War to carry messages past enemy lines. In WW I, the U.S. Army Signal Corps used 600 pigeons in France to relay messages.  During WW II, American and British forces used pigeons to send messages back and forth. The birds were trained to carry tiny capsules that contained maps, messages and cameras.  After the war, 32 pigeons, including U.S. Army pigeon, G.I. Joe, received the Dickin Medal, the highest possible decoration of valor given to animals.

Dickin Medal
Awarding a Dicken Medal
Maria Dicken
Maria Dicken of Great Britain introduced the Dickin Medal in 1943. She created the award as a way to honor any animal that displayed “conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty whilst serving with British Empire armed forces or civil emergency services.”

Face of Medal
From 1943 to 1949, 54 animals received the award, which is inscribed “For Gallantry” and “We Also Serve”.  The award is referred to as the animals’ Victoria Cross.

Theo's Medal
The medal is still being given today; in 2002, three dogs were honored for their assistance in the September 11th attacks.  And on October 25, 2012, the Dickin Medal went to a British service dog in Afghanistan. Theo, an English Spring Spaniel, received the medal posthumously for having located the most improvised explosive devices (IEDs) during the war, a record 14.*

Today & Tomorrow
Military Dolphin
In today’s military, animals still play a vital part in security and detection. Along with the usual participants, Dolphins have been used by the military to detect and locate mines, along with suspicious swimmers.
Military Sea Lion

Sea lions have been trained to tag mines, and to cuff unknown divers so that sailors can hoist them up for identification.

Honey Bees
Military Insects
As for the future, it has the look of a science fiction movie; Honeybees are now being trained to recognize the scent of a bomb, and insects could be used to gather or transmit information with a microphone implanted in their bodies.

So this Veterans Day, pause for a moment when remembering those who serve our country, and also acknowledge those paws that help support our men and women on the battlefield.

~  Joy

And in Remembrance:

*British service dog, Theo, and his handler, Lance Corporal Liam Tasker, died during a mission on March 01, 2011.  The two set a new record for bomb discoveries during their deployment time in Afghanistan.

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