Memorial Day 2015

Memorial Day 2015Over the years Memorial Day went from being a day to honor our men and women who were killed in combat to honoring all of our loved ones who have died to a three-day weekend of picnic and family gatherings, signaling in the arrival of summer fun.

I have loved ones that have died, both my parents, my brother, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents and most recently my husband. But today is not about their memory, today is about honoring the memory of those who served their God and country and gave the ultimate sacrifice to form this nation, secure the Union, and to protect our shores from tyrants and dictators.

Memorial Day also known as Decoration Day is about our military members who never made it back home. Some are buried in graves their names never to be forgotten while others are laid to rest in unmarked graves – names long ago forgotten.

These men and women have protected our nation and our way of life for over 235 yrs. Today they are not only called upon to protect our country but to help those who are oppressed around the world also bringing relief of supplies and food to those in disaster areas. Most recently are the 6 Marines aboard the helicopter that crashed in Nepal bringing food and supplies to the earthquake victims.

Please take a moment today and remember those who lost their lives for this country and to uphold the peace around the world. Today I lay aside my memories of those that are close to my heart to remember the fallen.

To those who never grew old so we could –
May you rest in the peace of God
May your deaths never be in vain
May you never be forgotten
May you always be honored

In honor and remembrance to the fallen we salute:

Staff SGT Ryan Ostrom (my sons friend whom he served with at the armory and in Bosnia)
August 9, 2005. Habbaniya Iraq
PA National Guard Co B, 109th Infantry assigned to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team
****************************
SGT Raymond Paul Kurtik (my husbands friend who he grew up with)
DOB 7-3-1949. KIA 7-7-1969,
7th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division, USARV in Vietnam.

*****************************
SP4 Leonard T. Bish. “Butch” to his friends. (my brother-in-law RJB friend)
DOB 11-18-46. KIA -5-16-67. Quang Ngai Province, Repbulic of Vietnam.
2nd Platoon, C Company, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry, 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division. “The Screaming Eagles.”

*****************************

Let us never forget – {add the name of someone you know who never made it home in the comment section}

Taps:
Day is done, gone the sun
From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky
All is well, safely rest
God is nigh.
Fading light dims the sight
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright
From afar, drawing near
Falls the night.
Thanks and praise for our days
Neath the sun, neath the stars, neath the sky
As we go, this we know
God is nigh.
Several later lyrical adaptations have been created. One, written by Horace Lorenzo Trim, is shown below:
Fading light dims the sight
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright
From afar drawing nigh,
Falls the night.
Day is done, gone the sun
From the lakes, from the hills, from the skies
All is well, safely rest;
God is nigh.
Then goodnight, peaceful night;
Till the light of the dawn shineth bright.
God is near, do not fear,
Friend, goodnight.
The other popular version, penned and harmonized by famed composer Josef Pasternack, is:
Love, sweet dreams!
Lo, the beams of the light Fairy moon kissed the streams,
Love, Goodnight!
Ah so soon!
Peaceful dreams!
Another set of lyrics, used in a recording made by John Wayne about the song, is:
Fading light
Falling night
Trumpet call, as the sun, sinks in flight
Sleep in peace, comrades dear,
God is near.

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Honoring Our Veterans

Veterans DayThe past few days I have been thinking on what to write to about for Veterans Day. Most of know the history of Veterans Day or Armistice Day and in case you do not just click on this link: Veterans Day for the history of how we came about to celebrate this day.

There will be poems and articles of our brave men and women who over the years served this country, either on the battle fronts or behind the lines. I read somewhere today that over 48 million served in our armed forces since 1776. Most not seeing combat, for every combat soldier there are 5 or 7 soldiers serving in supportive roles.

So, what better to way honor Veterans Day than to honor the men and women I know personally who served?

Many of you know I am an Army brat, that khaki green runs in my blood.

Today I would like to honor the veterans that I have had the privilege to know

My grandfather served in the Army during World War I; My father served in the Army in WWII, Korea and Vietnam, only seeing combat in WWII in France, Belgium, the Rhineland and Germany; my brother enlisted just as the Vietnam war was coming to an end; my husband enlisted in the Navy and served in Europe with the NATO Forces in the middle of the Vietnam War, then after college re-enlisted in the Army serving with Joint Services in CENTCOM (Central Command), Gulf War and the War on Terror, retiring from the PA National Guard with over 30 yrs service; my son served proudly with PA National Guard in Bosnia and Afghanistan.

One cousin served in the Army doing 2 tours in Vietnam and another cousin some of you may know served in the Marine Corp retiring after a few tours in Vietnam and 30 yrs of service. My two brother in-laws served, one in the Air Force in Europe and one in the Army also doing duty in Vietnam.

I have had the honor to work with one lady who served as an Army nurse on one of the hospital ships in the Atlantic during WWII. There was the young man who was a close friend of my fathers who served in Korea but tragically took his own life, suffering from shell shock or what we call today PTSD. I have worked with men serving on board air craft carriers and one gentleman who retired from the Navy was on the first sailors to serve aboard the USS John F. Kennedy, the only ship of her class and the last conventionally powered carrier built for the United States Navy.

There is my neighbor, a retired Korean War Veteran, who for years he served on the military honor guard at funerals of many veterans. Now retired from the military honor guard and no longer being able to get around he put on his uniform one last time to serve as part of Tom’s honor guard.

One gentleman at our church comes every year in his old Army uniform for our Veterans Day service. Another gentleman who served in the Army during WWII has not been able to attend church, came out Sunday to be a part of the service. He spoke at our youth group one Veterans Day and told us he did not do too much during the war. He served in what is now Iran, keeping the supply trucks moving along making sure the troop’s supplies were getting through to places like North Africa – no he did not too much did he, he only made sure food, supplies and letters from got through to the men on the front lines.  Like many Veterans he doesn’t see himself as a hero.

My friend’s husband, whom I never met, passed away over 30 years ago from cancer, served in the Coast Guard. There are sons and daughters of friends of mine serving in the Army, Navy and Air Force. Husband, Wives, Brothers and sisters of friends over the years that choose a career in the military leaving the comforts of home to serve in places like DMZ zone in Korea, the Middle East, Iceland and submarines or battleships.

Who is your Veteran or perhaps you are the Veteran? Please add them to my list – let us honor them by remembering what they did. No matter when, where or how our Veterans served, they are our protectors and defenders of freedom.

Armistice Day

Today is the 11th day of the 11th month – November 11 – Armistice Day.  But many of us know it as Veterans Day here in the United States and Remembrance Day for our neighbors in Canada and across the pond in Great Britain.

“Armistice Day (which overlaps with Remembrance Day and Veterans Day) is celebrated every year on 11 November to commemorate the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I, which took effect at eleven o’clock in the morning—the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918. While this official date to mark the end of the war reflects the ceasefire on the Western Front, hostilities continued in other regions, especially across the former Russian Empire and in parts of the old Ottoman Empire.

The date was declared a national holiday in many allied nations, to commemorate those members of the armed forces who were killed during war. An exception is Italy, where the end of the war is commemorated on 4 November, the day of the Armistice of Villa Giusti.

After World War II, the name of the holiday was changed to Veterans Day in the United States and to Remembrance Day in the countries of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Armistice Day remains an official holiday in France and Belgium. In 2012 Armistice Day became an official holiday in Serbia.” {courtesy of Wikipedia.com for more information click on the link}

Today we honor all the men and women from wars past along with the Veterans of the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, Bosnia, Serbia and the Wars on Terror in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan.  The war to end all wars soon forgotten.

We also remember the Veterans of Canada and Great Britain and other nations, who selflessly gave of themselves.  I do not know much of the history of Canada and Great Britain so I would like my fellow bloggers and friends to add their stories.

“In Canada and Great Britain, the red remembrance poppy has become a familiar emblem of Remembrance Day due to the poem “In Flanders Fields”. These poppies bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War I, their brilliant red color an appropriate symbol for the blood spilled in the war. ” Click on the picture for more information.

These men and women who serve their nations are proud, dedicated and brave young souls, who may go to fight wars, but they also rebuild nations.  They left their families to fight in faraway places and at times in their own backyards, to protect at all costs what they hold dear. Some paid with their lives, some with physical scars and many with emotional scars that may never heal.  It is up to us to never forget and to always honor their sacrifice.

Today we remember all of them, past, present and future.  God bless you and may we never forget your bravery or for what you believe in – “Liberty, Justice, Freedom and Country. We salute you!

Civilian Life in Gettsyburg

This is my last installment of Gettysburg.  As you can now tell, I enjoy taking pictures.  This was a very interesting weekend for us. Both my husband and I enjoy learning about history and although this was a reenactment, it allowed us a glimpse of life in America during the time our country was divided.

General Lee talking to us about his life and the Civil War.  One fact many may not know.  General Lee did not believe in slavery and Gen and Mrs. Lee were in the process of freeing the slaves they had inherited from the father of Mrs. Mary Anna Custis Lee – George Washington Parke Custis, the step grandson of President George Washington.
The United States Christian Commission ~ they served on the battlefields of the Civil War “without rifles or cannons…they came with bibles, bandages and the love of Christ… http://www.usccgettysburg.org/history.asp 
Demonstration on the women’s life in the 1860’s, fashion show and daily life for the 1860’s woman.
Pennsylvania Belles!
Sutlers that accompanied the troops selling their wares. Today they sell reenacting supplies and gifts for the tourists.
Music – entertainment for the troops. Civil War version of the USO!
The food tent – preparing food for the troops…but a few troops ordered pizza.  I could not find the picture that had Union and Confederate troops eating pizza together…now if only we can solve all wars that way.

Thank you for traveling back in time with me….

Gettysburg Battle

A few years ago we went to one of the reenactments that are held every year in July to commemorate the Gettysburg Battle.

We thought it would be a portion of the battle and that would be it.  But instead we found a tent city of soldiers allowing us to see what life was like for the Civil War soldier.  There were also demonstrations of artillery fire, living history of civilian life along with entertainment of camp music.  We thought we would be back to the hotel by mid afternoon and did not get back until dusk.

It was an interesting experience to learn not only about the Union and Confederate soldiers but to learn about life back in the mid 1800’s and what life was like for both the soldier and civilian.

The Confederate Officers – we got to know a few of them, they were pretty nice even if they were “rebels”!
General Robert E Lee and his staff…we had chance encounters with him all day, so much that by the time they were patrolling the perimeter he knew us!
This Confederate soldier is holding Tom’s Civil War rifle. We bought it a few years earlier at one of the antique shops in Gettysburg. His portrayal of a confederate was very accurate. He slept in his lean-to and his food consisted of  bacon, corn (“borrowed” from the corn fields) hard tack and coffee. He also told us he has only hand washed his uniform once or twice a year in cold water.
A Union soldier with Toms rifle. He was a bit shy, but he explained a few things about a Union soldiers life.
General Stonewall Jackson…this was a treat considering he was shot accidentally at the Battle of Chancellorsville on May 2, 1863 and died 8 days later. You just never know who you will meet in Gettysburg!
Artillery in place
We were in the Confederate line – and watched as the Confederate army marched into battle.
The Union troops preparing for battle
The Calvary
Union Calvary after the battle

Gettysburg, PA

As Gettysburg is nearing its 150th anniversary I thought I would share some pictures of the times we spent there.  It is an amazing place.  It is fascinating to be a part of the history that was made there, but it is also a solemn place because of the history that was made there.  We made frequent visits there and it is still one of our favorite places to visit in Pennsylvania.

The Battle of Gettysburg was fought July 1, 2, and 3, 1863, in Gettysburg, PA.   It was the costliest battle of the Civil War, resulting  in approximately 51,112 individuals being killed, wounded, missing, or captured. The South’s retreat and terrible losses were a turning point in the war. From that point on, the South had to abandon its attempt to take the war North.

I found out that this was not the first time General Lee entered Pennsylvania.  In 1862 after the Battle of Chantilly, General Lee divided his troops to Harpers Ferry, WV,  Hagerstown, MD,  Chambersburg, PA, and leaving the rest of his troops in South Mountain which is the northern extension of the Blue Ridge Mountain range in Maryland and Pennsylvania. From the Potomac River near Knoxville, Maryland in the south, to Dillsburg, Pennsylvania in the north, in the hopes of invading the North through Maryland (Maryland Campaign) into Pennsylvania and eventually into Washington DC.

General and Mrs. Grant visiting the troops at Gettysburg. (for those who may not know, General Grant was at Vicksburg, Mississippi July 1863) This was a surprise visit!
Artillery on top one of the Ridges – 2006
Gettysburg Battlefield – 2006
The Devils Den, Gettysburg, PA 2008
One of the original farm houses on the battlefield.
The Farnsworth House – now a restaurant that serves meals that were available in 1863. If you look closely you can see bullet holes in the side of the building from the battle.
Henry Culp Farm, Gettysburg, PA 2008 One of the stories is that the nephew of Henry Culp fought for the Confederacy and was at the battle near the farm of Henry Culp.

Independence Day

www.pccrafter.com
www.pccrafter.com

Today we celebrate the day the Declaration of Independence was signed declaring our independence from Great Britain. Here are some facts about the history of this important day.  I would like to thank pccrafter for the artwork and to timeanddate.com and wikipedia.org for the information that I gathered.

In 1775, people in New England began fighting the British for their independence. On July 2, 1776, the Congress secretly voted for independence from Great Britain. The Declaration of Independence was first published two days later on July 4, 1776. The first public reading of the Declaration of Independence was on July 8, 1776. Delegates began to sign the Declaration of Independence on August 2, 1776.

The first description of how Independence Day would be celebrated was in a letter from John Adams to his wife Abigail on July 3, 1776. He described “pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations” throughout the United States. However, the term “Independence Day” was not used until 1791.

In 1777, thirteen gunshots were fired in salute, once at morning and once again as evening fell, on July 4 in Bristol, Rhode Island.  1785 was the first official celebration held in Bristol and it is the oldest continuous Independence Day celebration in the United States.

In 1820 the first Fourth of July celebration was held in Eastport, Maine which remains the largest in the state.

Since 1916, Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York City supposedly started as a way to settle a dispute among four immigrants as to who was the most patriotic.

A salute of one gun for each state in the United States, called a “salute to the union,” is fired on Independence Day at noon by any capable military base.

Interestingly, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, both signers of the Declaration of Independence and presidents of the United States, died on July 4, 1826 – exactly 50 years after the adoption of the declaration.

www.pccrafter.com

June 6, 1944 ~ D-Day

Normandy Invasion
The Normandy Invasion. I found this picture on the internet but no details for credit. So I will list this as unknown photographer.

June 6, 1944

There were many “D” Days during WWII; including those in the Pacific, in North Africa, and in Sicily and Italy.  The D in D-Day has many meanings.  I had always thought it was specific to the invasion of Normandy and had something to do with defense-attacking the enemy.

I found it has many meanings depending on who you ask.  But the most common one I came across in my research was the “D” in D-Day merely stands for Day.  This coded designation was used for the day of any important invasion or military operation.  For military planners (and later historians), the days before and after a D-Day were indicted using plus and minus signs: D-4 meant four days before a D-Day, while D+7 mean seven days after a D-Day.

It is June 6, 1944 Operation Overlord, that stands out among all the other D-Days of WWII.  It was this beach landing that would allow the Allied forces to break through the German lines in France, Belgium and the Rhineland.  In less than a year on May 8, 1945 the Allied Forces will defeat the Nazi Regime.

We remember this day to honor those men who parachuted behind enemy lines and to the American and British soldiers who landed on the beaches of Normandy – code named: Sword, Juno Gold, Omaha and Utah. And we especially remember those soldiers who are still there in a sea of white Crosses and Stars of David – never to return home.

My father was one of many men who arrived in July of 1944 with the Third Army serving under General Patton, replacing those lives lost the few weeks of the Normandy Invasion.  He saw the death and destruction of that day.  He fought with the Third Army in France, Belgium (the Battle of the Bulge) and Germany.  He witnessed the horror of what happened at the Buchenwald Concentration Camp.

Because of those men on June 6, 1944, the way was opened for my father along with thousands of other soldiers to defeat Hitler and liberate Germany and Europe from the hands of evil.

The Spirit Of The American Woman

We come from all over the country and from different backgrounds. We are the American Woman who have been left a legacy of strength, courage, and perseverance, from generations of women who went before us.  Our legacy comes from the women on the Mayflower, to the pioneer women headed out west, and to the women of the World Wars who defied the typical roles and became nurses, farmers, and soldiers to today where women are now doctors, pilots, and leaders in our communities.

Women have always played an important part in history.  In England there were women who defied their roles and led armies to build empires.  From  Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine to Queen Elizabeth I to Queen Victoria and to each woman who had to say good-bye to their husbands and sons, often being left alone for years to care for their families and homes.  Over the centuries women have inherited their spirit and courage from women like these.

In America, that tradition continued with women like Margaret Corbin, who in November of 1776, fought alongside her husband at Fort Washington.   She later became the first woman in U.S. history to receive a pension from Congress forbmilitary service.  Also, during the Revolutionary War, there were women like Deborah Samson and Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley who took up the cause of freedom and not only kept the home fires burning till their husbands came home, but took up arms themselves being one of many of the first unofficial women in the military.

From the War of 1812 to the Civil War, ordinary women like Lydia Bacon, Harriet Tubman, and Dorothea Dix defied the roles society placed upon them to help build our country and to pave the way for women today. Many women during the Civil War, both in North and the South, served as nurses and spies.  And others dressed like men to fight for a cause they believed in.  And after their homes were destroyed, it was the genteel women who had to put the past behind them to help rebuild the south.

We have the strength of the pioneer women who travelled for months across country in covered wagons working alongside their husbands, experiencing and surviving hardships.  We may not know their names but their lives were full of adversity and tears that would inspire the future generations of women, with courage and hope for a better future.

In WWI, women had the opportunity to prove themselves in a male dominated world with over 25,000 American women serving overseas and countless others on the home front who kept the home fires burning and the defense plants running.

WWII saw women emerging from the home once again and fighting the injustices of this world war by building ships and planes and then flying the planes across the Atlantic to Britain.  They served in places like Corregidor and Bataan, with 78 nurses taken prisoner in 1942, surviving 3 years of hardships, and finally liberated in 1945.  Nurses landed with the army on the Beaches of Africa, Anzio, and Normandy setting up field hospitals.  Red Cross workers went to the front lines to bring coffee, donuts, and a touch of home to the brave men in uniform.

It was also the women on the home front who said good bye to their loved ones, and while leaving their comfortable homes and jobs and took up jobs at Defense Plants all over the country.  As more men were drafted, these women rose to the occasion to make sure the soldiers got what they needed in supplies and food.

They were everyday women who faced the issues of the day with a quiet but strong spirit.  They left behind a legacy of courage and determination.

Today our roles are significantly different from our founding mothers. We are no longer needed to fight off the enemy in our own backyard, we travel by plane and not by covered wagon, and we fight along with our Soldiers, Sailors and Marines as equals.  We are mothers, career women, or both, and most of us are also military moms, wives and sweethearts.  We are left behind to handle things on the home front while putting our fears behind us living day by day, moment by moment, like the women that have gone before us with the same courage and determination, shaping our families and our country for future generations.

– We are the American Woman –

Independence Day

July 4 a day off from work, and for fireworks, picnics, a day at the beach and department store sales.   Today is not about our pleasures; it is about men and women who were tired of living under the iron hand of British rule.   They wanted their voices to be heard and to live in a more just nation.   It all began years before the important signing the Declaration of Independence that ultimately formed the United States of America.

By the middle 1700’s, there were only 13 colonies the New World that were a part of England’s vast empire.   The ruler was King George III of England.  In 1767,  the King imposed unfair taxes on goods with the Townshend Act.  The discontentment of the Colonies began, to prevent serious disorder, the King dispatches 4,000 troops to Boston in 1768, which quickly proved a mistake, as the soldiers’ presence in the city only made the situation worse.

Tensions continued to mount until March 5, 1770, when a protesting mob clashed violently with British regulars, resulting in the death of five Bostonians.  The event became known as the Boston Massacre. Eventually, this incident and other conflicts convinced Parliament to repeal the Townshend Acts. The tax on tea, however, remained in place as a matter of principle. This decision led to more violent incidents.

One of those confrontations happened December 16, 1773, when the Sons of Liberty boarded ships in Boston Harbor and dumped chests of tea into the harbor; later, in 1834 it would be known as the Boston Tea Party.

In 1774 the First Continental Congress convenes in Philadelphia and the Boycott of British goods begins.  On April 19, 1775 American forces win the Battle of Lexington and Concord, which would later be known as the “Shot Heard Around the World”.  The Second Continental Congress then extends the Olive Branch Petition (A petition to avoid war) to King George III but King George refuses the petition and declares the colonies in a state of rebellion and the Revolutionary War begins.

It was not until July 2, 1776, that the Second Continental Congress presents and debates a second draft of the list of grievances.  On July 4, 1776, the  Second Continental Congress adopted and signed the final draft of the Declaration of Independence.  On July 8, 1776, the Liberty Bell (although not known as the Liberty Bell then) rang to mark the occasion.

The war went on for the next 8 years and we won our Independence on April 16, 1783, becoming the United States of America.

There is so much more to the story.  So many names of people who became heroes, some we know like George Washington, John Hancock, and Paul Revere, to name a few.  There are others whose names we will never know, but we will always remember their courage and sacrifice.

Today, July 4, is a day to remember with gratitude those men and women who, 236 years ago stood up for what they believed in and who created acts of treason against the crown to shape a new nation –The United States of America – a nation under God “created by the people for the people”[1].  Let us carry on that same tradition to turn this country back to the dreams and hopes of  our founding fathers, a nation created to “hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”[2]


[1]Part of the Gettysburg Address
[2] Taken from in part from the
United States Declaration of Independence