President Roosevelt’s Special Car

From an email;

HERE IS A BIT OF HISTORY..Hours after Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 7, 1941, the Secret Service found themselves in a bind.President Franklin D. Roosevelt was to give his Day of Infamy speech to Congress on Monday, and although the trip from the White House to Capitol Hill was short, agents weren’t sure how to transport him safely.
At the time, Federal Law prohibited buying any cars that cost more than $750, so they would have to get clearance from Congress to do that, and nobody had time.
One of the Secret Service members, however, discovered that the US Treasury had seized the bulletproof car that mobster Al Capone owned when he was sent to jail in 1931.
They cleaned it, made sure it was running perfectly and had it ready for the President the next day.
Al Capone’s 1928 Cadillac V-8 “Al Capone” Town Sedan became the President’s Limo in December 1941.


Mechanics are said to have cleaned and checked each feature of the Caddy well into the night ofDecember 7th, 
to make sure that it would run properly the next day for the Commander in Chief.

And run properly it did. It had been painted black and green to look identical to Chicago’spolice cars at the time.
To top it off, the gangster’s 1928 Cadillac Town Sedan had 3,000 pounds of armor and inch-thickbulletproof windows.It also had a specially installed siren and flashing lights hidden behind the grille, along with a policescanner radio.


   Footnote: The car sold at auction in 2012 for $341,000.00.

A Sea Story: Why Attention to Detail Matters

Lonnie Stephens was a member of the EOD (Explosives Ordinance Demolition) Detachment on Midway for nine months and was aboard for Operation Frequent Wind.  He told his wife that he was helping to push a helicopter over the side and just as they got it tipped up and ready to go, they discovered a Vietnamese woman and child had hidden in the helicopter.  The Midway crew got both out just before the helo went over the side. 

Background: During Operation Frequent Wind, Captain Lawrence Chambers, who was CO of the Midway at that time authorized the crew to push over several helicopters.

On April 29, 1975, South Vietnamese Air Force Major Bung-Ly made the decision to load his family — his wife and five children — into a small two-seat Cessna O-1 Bird Dog airplane. Bung-Ly took off from Saigon and made it out to sea, where he looked for a ship to land on and spotted the USS Midway. Without any radio communications, Captain Lawrence Chambers made the decision to allow Ly to land on the flight deck, even though the plane had no tail hook and it was extremely risky. USS Midway Air Boss Vern Jumper readied the flight deck for Ly’s landing.
MAJ Bung landing his Bird Dog airplane on the deck of the USS Midway

Above and Beyond–National Veteran’s Art Museum

Above and Beyond comprises 58,307 dog tags. Each dog tag represents a person in the Vietnam War and is arranged in date order of death. And, each dog tag shows their name, casualty date, and military branch.

Above and Beyond was commissioned by the National Veterans Art Museum and created by artist Rick Steinbock, and veteran artists Ned Broderick, Joe Fornelli and Mike Helbing. It was originally installed at 1801 S. Indiana Ave. on May 26, 2001 to coincide with Chicago’s Memorial Day parade. Above and Beyond was created over a 2-year period as each dog tag was stamped by hand using a former military Graphotype machine.

July 17 is World Justice Day

World Day for International Justice: History

17 July is celebrated as World Day for International Justice because this day is the anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute in 1998. With the help of this treaty, the International Criminal Court (ICC) was established. In 1998 since that day, about 139 countries have signed the Court’s treaty and nearly 80 States, representative of every region of the world, have ratified it.

The scales of justice are supposed to be blind
When it  comes to having justice
Mankind is even blinder

Each side proclaims its version of rightness
Many countries operate just outside of the law
in the belief that right is one its side

Many penalties do not  create
the just desserts that the instigators deserve.

The winners decide who is guilty and who is not
The losers decide that life is unjust because they lost.

The selection
in an election
can result 
in forced rejection
but not enforced rejection.

The Statues Have Left the Pedestals

This past weekend, after a process that began in 2016 and included the infamous Unite the Right Rally of August 2017, the statues of Robert E. Lee; Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson; George Rogers Clark confronting three Native Americans, and Lewis and Clark with a kneeling Sacajawea peering out from behind the two men’s legs, were all removed from their pedestals in Charlottesville.

Before the long legal battles were settled, the parks were renamed. Lee’s Stature was in Lee Park which became known as Emancipation Park (June 2017 to July 2018), when it became Market Street Park. Jackson’s Statue was in Jackson Park which became Justice Park (June 2017 to July 2018) when it became Court Square Park.

The Lewis and Clark and Sacajawea Statue was removed later on Saturday after an emergency meeting of the City Council. It was not in a park, but along a city street.

The George Rogers Clark was removed on Sunday from it’s location on the University of Virginia grounds.

All four statues were funded by local businessman, Paul Goodloe McIntire in the early 1900s.

The petition to remove the George Rogers Clark Statue began in 2009 by Anthony Guy Lopez, a U-Va. graduate and Crow Creek Sioux tribal member who began petitioning the city to take down the Lewis, Clark and Sacagawea statue. He called the twin takedowns “an exorcism of state violence” against Native Americans. The George Rogers Clark statue was removed from UVA grounds on July 11, making it the fourth statue to come down in just 24 hours in Charlottesville. The removal was recommended in UVA’s Racial Equity Task Force’s report and approved by the Board of Visitors in September of 2020.

The Lewis and Clark and Sacajawea statue has been temporarily relocated to a Darden-Towe Park where it is sits in the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center. Although some people think that Sacajawea is cowering behind the men’s legs, other people say that she is tracking. Tracking was one of the many invaluable roles that she performed during the Lewis and Clark expedition, 1804-1806.

The pedestals began being removed on July 13.

Reblog: Janine Stange’s Mission 54–Another WWII Veteran is turning 100!

Happy 100th Birthday, Ed! I hope you had a great 4th of July!  As many of you saw on my Facebook post last week, DT Measells had an amazing 100th Birthday! He received over 1,100 cards from all of YOU!  THANK YOU to all who took the time to send a card!  Scroll down for a recap and photo of DT, his wife Imo, and ALL of his birthday cards. Now here is your next mission:  WWII and Korean War Veteran Ed Hyatt has a BIG birthday coming up … and YOU are invited to send him a card!  His family is having a party for him on August 7th, and they will give him all the cards on that day. You’ve got about a month to work on this one!  About Ed:   Ed grew up in Louisiana and graduated from LSU. He joined the Army in 1944 and was the artillery officer of the 43rd Tank Battalion which was part of Patton’s Seventh Army.  Ed made it home in January of 1946, and went into the Army Reserves.  In 1950, he was recalled to serve stateside as a communications instructor during the Korean War. He served until 1953. After the wars, Ed worked for Borden Milk Company and became the assistant controller for their division in Houston, TX. Ed was married to his wife Marie for 69 years. She passed in 2013. He now lives in Orange, TX near his daughter and son-in-law. Please send your cards by August 5th.  Just like all missions, don’t keep this to yourself!! Know of students, friends, family, neighbors, co-workers who you think would like to participate? Share away! Let’s flood his day with gratitude and love and make this his best year yet!  Their birthday party theme is 100 years and counting!! 🇺🇸🎁 MAIL TO:  Mr. Ed Hyatt c/o Ron & Susan Jones 2216 Woodmont Drive Orange, TX 77632
Mission 53: COMPLETE! DT Measells 100th Birthday! WOW!!!!! What a way to celebrate 100 years!! WWII Fighter Pilot DT Measells received OVER 1,100 birthday cards from all of YOU!  I received this message from his son-in-law John: DT was so overwhelmed by everything! It was the best 100th Birthday ever! Mayor Lynn Deutsch arranged a drive-by from the entire police and firefighters, and gave him a key to the city! Thanks to everyone who sent in cards, he’s going to have a LOT of reading to keep him busy! Thank you to JANINE’S TEAM and Phlash Phelps for helping DT feel all the love and gratitude he deserves!! Watch a video of the parade / party here.
EVERGREEN MISSION for Veteran’s Last Patrol:
This was our 51st mission, but we decided to keep it going: Veteran’s Last Patrol’s mission is to serve veterans by bringing new friendships, honor ceremonies, & emergency assistance while in hospice care. The organization is averaging a veteran’s honor ceremony a week all over the country. At each ceremony they like to give a bunch of thank you cards to the veteran being honored. Here’s your mission! Write out generic thank you cards to veterans and send them to Veteran’s Last Patrol. They will make bundles from the cards they receive and present them to our veterans. Use whatever you’d like: thank you cards, scenic cards, postcards … or better yet… MAKE cards and write notes of gratitude. Keep in mind these are for are for elderly and/or ailing veterans. Dear Veteran, Dear Hero as your salutation will work. Have children, students, young artists?? 🎨 Get them involved! Our veterans would love bright patriotic pictures, military branch logos, whatever they are inspired to create! Do you manage a group of people at your company? This is a meaningful office project too! If you’re sending more than one card (which is encouraged) no need to send each one individually – send them all in one envelope/package. Send them to: Veteran’s Last Patrol 140B Venture Blvd Spartanburg, SC, 29306 ATTN: Honor Ceremony Cards
This is an evergreen mission. So send a bunch as soon as you can, but feel free to continue this project on your own and / or involve more people.

July 6 is International Kissing Day

Kissing has a lot of slang words

  • peck
  • smooch
  • snog
  • smacker
  • osculation
  • canoodle
  • caress
  • embrace
  • endearment
  • buss
“big kiss” by demandaj is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Big Kiss was the iconic picture marking the end of World War II, V-J Day in Times Square, a photograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt, was published in Life in 1945 with the caption, “In New York’s Times Square a white-clad girl clutches her purse and skirt as an uninhibited sailor plants his lips squarely on hers”

Some classic Hollywood screen kisses

  • Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” …
  • Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in “Gone With the Wind.” …
  • Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr in “From Here to Eternity.” …
  • Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in “Casablanca.”

10 of the Greatest Kisses in Literature

  • Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.
  • Romeo and Juliet in Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare.
  • Wendy and Peter in Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie.
  • The moving-picture director and his Star in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

More items…•Feb 12, 2012

Thomas Jefferson–First President to Celebrate the 4th of July at the White House

Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, slaveholder, architect, musician, philosopher, and Founding Father who served as the third president of the United States from 1801 to 1809. He had previously served as the second vice president of the United States under John Adams between 1797 and 1801, and as the first United States secretary of state under George Washington between 1790 to 1793. The principal author of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson was a proponent of democracy, republicanism, and individual rights, motivating American colonists to break from the Kingdom of Great Britain and form a new nation; he produced formative documents and decisions at both the state and national levels.

 During the American Revolution, Jefferson represented Virginia in the Continental Congress that adopted the Declaration of Independence. As a Virginia legislator, he drafted a state law for religious freedom. He served as the second Governor of Virginia from 1779 to 1781, during the American Revolutionary War. In 1785, Jefferson was appointed the United States Minister to France, and subsequently, the nation’s first Secretary of State under President George Washington from 1790 to 1793. Jefferson and James Madison organized the Democratic-Republican Party to oppose the Federalist Party during the formation of the First Party System. With Madison, he anonymously wrote the provocative Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions in 1798 and 1799, which sought to strengthen states’ rights by nullifying the federal Alien and Sedition Acts. 

As president, Jefferson pursued the nation’s shipping and trade interests against Barbary pirates and aggressive British trade policies. Starting in 1803, Jefferson promoted a western expansionist policy, organizing the Louisiana Purchase which doubled the nation’s land area. To make room for settlement, Jefferson began a controversial process of Indian tribal removal from the newly acquired territory. As a result of peace negotiations with France, his administration reduced military forces. Jefferson was reelected in 1804. His second term was beset with difficulties at home, including the trial of former vice president Aaron Burr. In 1807, American foreign trade was diminished when Jefferson implemented the Embargo Act in response to British threats to U.S. shipping. The same year, Jefferson signed the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves.

 Jefferson, while primarily a planter, lawyer and politician, mastered many disciplines, which ranged from surveying and mathematics to horticulture and mechanics. He was an architect in the classical tradition. Jefferson’s keen interest in religion and philosophy led to his presidency of the American Philosophical Society; he shunned organized religion but was influenced by Christianity, Epicureanism, and deism. A philologist, Jefferson knew several languages. He was a prolific letter writer and corresponded with many prominent people, including Edward Carrington, John Taylor of Caroline and James Madison. Among his books is Notes on the State of Virginia (1785), considered perhaps the most important American book published before 1800.  Jefferson championed the ideals, values, and teachings of the Enlightenment. 

After retiring from public office, Jefferson founded the University of Virginia. Jefferson and his colleague John Adams both died on Independence Day, July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. Presidential scholars and historians generally praise Jefferson’s public achievements, including his advocacy of religious freedom and tolerance in Virginia. Although some modern scholars have been critical of his stance on slavery, Jefferson continues to rank highly among the top ten U.S. presidents.

July Holidays to Celebrate

July is the seventh month of the year (between June and August) in the Julian and Gregorian calendars and the fourth of seven months to have a length of 31 days. It was named by the Roman Senate in honour of Roman general Julius Caesar, it being the month of his birth. Prior to that, it was called Quintilis, being the fifth month of the 10-month calendar.

It is on average the warmest month in most of the Northern Hemisphere, where it is the second month of summer, and the coldest month in much of the Southern Hemisphere, where it is the second month of winter. The second half of the year commences in July. In the Southern Hemisphere, July is the seasonal equivalent of January in the Northern hemisphere.

July is also Anti-Boredom Month. July was selected, according to the founder Alan Caruba, because after July 4th, there’s not much going on and it’s the hotter part of the summer break from school. That’s no excuse to experience boredom during July, though.


  • Become irritable
  • Become tired
  • Begin to not care about how well we do a task
  • Seek stimulation to relieve the boredom

Canada Day is July 1. It celebrates the anniversary of Canadian Confederation which occurred on July 1, 1867, with the passing of the Constitution Act, 1867 where the three separate colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick were united into a single Dominion within the British Empire called Canada.[1][2] Originally called Dominion Day (French: Le Jour de la Confédération), the holiday was renamed in 1982 when the Canadian Constitution was patriated by the Canada Act 1982. Canada Day celebrations take place throughout the country, as well as in various locations around the world attended by Canadians living abroad]

Dog Days run from July 3 through August 11. “The term “Dog Days” traditionally refers to a period of particularly hot and humid weather occurring during the summer months of July and August in the Northern Hemisphere. This period of sweltering weather coincides with the year’s heliacal (meaning “at sunrise”) rising of Sirius, the Dog Star. Sirius is part of the constellation Canis Majoris—the “Greater Dog”—which is where Sirius gets its canine nickname, as well as its official name, Alpha Canis Majoris. Not including our own Sun, Sirius is the brightest star in the sky.

Be a Dork Day is July 15. What is a Dork?- a silly, out-of-touch person who tends to look odd or behave ridiculously around others; a social misfit A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia. A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one. A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions

How to Observe National Be a Dork Day

The creators of the day have suggested the following for how to celebrate: “Wear goofy clothing, don’t brush your teeth, eat yucky food, and fall off a swing set.” Some “goofy” clothing and accessories that you could wear to look like a dork could include highwater pants, shirts that don’t fit, suspenders, a fanny pack, and large rimmed glasses. To be a dork, you could also act clumsily and constantly talk about your pet rock or bottle cap collection.

Moon Day is July 20.

National Moon Day on July 20th commemorates the day man first walked on the moon in 1969. NASA reported the moon landing as being “…the single greatest technological achievement of all time.”

On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 carried the first humans to the moon. Six hours after landing on the moon, American Neil Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface. He spent two and a half hours outside the spacecraft. Buzz Aldrin soon followed, stepping onto the lunar surface. After joining Armstrong, the two men collected 47.5 pounds of lunar material. Their specimens would make the journey back to Earth to be analyzed.  In the command module, a third astronaut waited. Pilot, Michael Collins, remained alone in orbit until Armstrong and Aldrin returned

First Army and Navy Airplanes

The Army had the first military flight at Ft Myer in Arlington, Virginia

The 1909 Wright Military Flyer is the world’s first military airplane. In 1908, the U.S. Army Signal Corps sought competitive bids for a two-seat observation aircraft. Winning designs had to meet a number specified performance standards. Flight trials with the Wrights’ entry began at Fort Myer, Virginia, on September 3, 1908. After several days of successful flights, tragedy occurred on September 17, when Orville Wright crashed with Lt. Thomas E. Selfridge, the Army’s observer, as his passenger. Orville survived with severe injuries, but Selfridge was killed, becoming the first fatality in a powered airplane.

This replica is in the Museum of the US Army at Ft Belvoir.

The first naval aircraft took place the following year.

U.S. naval aviation began with pioneer aviator Glenn Curtiss who contracted with the United States Navy to demonstrate that airplanes could take off from and land aboard ships at sea. One of his pilots, Eugene Ely, took off from the cruiser USS Birmingham anchored off the Virginia coast in November 1910. Two months later Ely landed aboard another cruiser, USS Pennsylvania, in San Francisco Bay, proving the concept of shipboard operations. However, the platforms erected on those vessels were temporary measures. The U.S. Navy and Glenn Curtiss experienced two firsts during January 1911. On 27 January, Curtiss flew the first seaplane from the water at San Diego Bay and the next day U.S. Navy Lt. Theodore G. Ellyson, a student at the nearby Curtiss School, took off in a Curtiss “grass cutter” plane to become the first naval aviator.

Replica Curtiss A-1 Triad at the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum in Lexington Park MD.

Cause for Jubilee?

Jubilee: a special anniversary of an event, especially one celebrating twenty-five or fifty years of a reign or activity.

Mary Chapin Carpenter singing Jubilee

Juneteenth is a federal holiday in the United States celebrating the emancipation of African Americans who had been enslaved. Originating in Galveston, Texas, in 1866, it has been celebrated annually on June 19 throughout the United States.

Union Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger and his troops arrived at Galveston on June 19, 1865, with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. … The term Juneteenth is a blend of the words June and nineteenth. The holiday has also been called Juneteenth Independence Day or Freedom Day It is also known as Jubilee Day

I don’t have answers, just several questions.

  1. Does getting this new holiday make up for the failure to protect voting rights?
  2. Does a day off feel better than expecting the justice system to treat all of us the same?
  3. Does this example of Congressional bipartisanship mean more than Congressional bipartisanship on infrastructure or healthcare?
  4. Is this placation or a step in the right direction?

Flag Day–105 Years Old

June 14, 1777

On this day the Continental Congress resolved that America’s flag should feature 13 white stars on a blue field and 13 alternating red and white stripes, chosen to represent the 13 original colonies. By 1916, President Woodrow Wilson established every June 14 as Flag Day, and Congress enacted a statute in 1949 to do the same. You’ve likely seen plenty of American flag photos, but how much do you know about our grand old flag? Test your red, white, and blue IQ. You might want to brush up on these American flag facts before you start the quiz.

Do you know which star belongs to your state? Here are the original 13 colonies and their dates to ratify the constitution.

The states and the dates of ratification are listed here, in order of ratification:

  • Delaware: December 7, 1787
  • Pennsylvania: December 12, 1787
  • New Jersey: December 18, 1787
  • Georgia: January 2, 1788
  • Connecticut: January 9, 1788
  • Massachusetts: February 6, 1788
  • Maryland: April 28, 1788
  • South Carolina: May 23, 1788
  • New Hampshire: June 21, 1788 (With this state’s ratification, the Constitution became legal.)
  • Virginia: June 25, 1788
  • New York: July 26, 1788
  • North Carolina: November 21, 1789
  • Rhode Island: May 29, 1790 (Rhode Island did not hold a Constitutional Convention.)

Donut Dollies, Precursors to Special Services and MWR (Morale Welfare and Recreation)

When I first became the Ft Myer Librarian in the mid-1980s, I met many of my predecessors at various Special Library Association meetings in the DC area. They told me about life in the olden days when a library technician in a Special Services uniform would drive a bookmobile out to various Nike missile sites in the DC area. One such employee had begun her life as a Donut Dolly during WWII.

In the wake of the initial Normandy landings on D-Day, a strange vehicle hit the beaches: converted London buses driven by three female volunteers from the Red Cross. Their mission was to bring a taste of home to the soldiers fighting World War II. Their weapon of choice was the doughnut.

While their early food truck might have been a new contraption — 100 GMC trucks dubbed “Clubmobiles” were created for the D-Day invasion — the baked goods they were bringing to Hitler’s Fortress Europe was not. This was their second world war, too.

Click here to read more.

By the time the United States entered the Vietnam War in force, the female volunteers of the Supplemental Recreational Activities Overseas were there, too, and their old nickname came with them. GIs in Vietnam also knew them as the “Doughnut Dollies.”

They weren’t limited to clubs, mess halls or hospitals. The Doughnut Dollies of Vietnam could be found on Hueys or alongside tanks headed into the bush. They were also there when some units came back with fewer men than had left.

“VIETNAM Magazine February 2011 – The Donut Dollies Are Here!” by manhhai is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Statues from the D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia

June 6 is the 77th anniversary of the D-Day invasion in Normandy. Bedford, Virginia

The decisive World War II invasion took a horrific toll on Bedford, a town of about 4,000 at the time. Its D-Day losses were among the steepest, proportionally, of any community in America.

Statistics from the Museums’s webpage.

GEN Dwight D. (Ike) Eisenhower was the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces (SCAEF) for Operation ‘Overlord’.

Replica of the SHAPE Patch

Statue of a soldier wading ashore at Normandy

Soldiers attempting to scale the cliffs above the beach at Normandy

No Man Left Behind

My Last Night Aboard Midway

by Charles Paige, used with his permission. Charles is author of Petty Officer and a Swabbie. He served as RM3 (Radioman, 3rd class) about the USS Midway (CV-41) 1969-1972

My story is not one of combat and harrowing experiences against shot and shell. Mine is about life in the Navy circa 1968-72, on bases and onboard ship, and about interactions between the Navy and a civilian population not too happy we are involved in Vietnam. It is also about travels and experiences in exotic countries, as a young man not an officer and a gentleman but a petty officer and a swabbie is introduced to a sometimes belligerent but always fascinating world.

From his webpage:

He wrote this essay 30-31 May 2021.

It was September 13, 1972, and the last night I was to spend aboard the Midway. This is a
tale about that night; fictional as to timelines and what I may have been actually thinking
that last night, but non-fictional as to all the circumstances, events and significances. In
this version of that night, let’s say gifted to me by my more circumspect doppelganger
from a parallel universe, I am lying in my bunk, the lowest of three bunks and very close
to the deck. I’ve just finished reading a letter from my father stating he has received the
heavy load of stereophonic equipment I’ve had sent to his farm address from the Navy
Exchange in Yokosuka, Japan. Apparently I hadn’t informed him in advance, so all that
equipment suddenly showing up at his doorstep had thrown him for a loop.

It’d been a very busy day, but then again, which HADN’T been a busy day? I was bone tired but my brain was ablaze with thoughts of tomorrow and leaving the ship, perhaps for the last time ever. Also keeping my mind buzzing was a body full of coffee—how many cups I had drunk during watch only God knew, but I swear it was enough to make my blood one-quarter caffeinated. Still more keeping me awake was a throbbing left
thumb that had been crushed not long ago. I had been standing in the doorway between Faccon and Cryptographic talking to a group of guys, with my left hand propped against the door sill. Suddenly, for some reason the spring-loaded door closed, with my thumb crushed at the door’s fulcrum. Chief Wilson said I would probably lose the nail, which
had slowly turned red and then black.

Now that I was through with the letter, I no longer needed the reading light above my
head so turned it off. This was one of those infrequent occasions when it was night
outside the ship and I was able to sleep after Lights Out was announced inside. The
compartment was barely lit. There wasn’t much happening in the compartment’s small
entertainment area holding tables, chairs and the TV, so little noise came from there, and
I registered little activity in the rest of the compartment. That meant there was no need to
close the privacy curtains provided for each bunk. The reason for the quiet was obvious.
Everybody that could be on liberty was either spending it on base or in the nearby town
we called Olongapo City—what the locals called City of Olongapo.

It was Wednesday night and tomorrow…. Well, tomorrow….

Four years ago I had volunteered to be ripped from a different universe—one I had
known all my life. At that time ANOTHER tomorrow had come. And with it came my
mental and physical introduction into this other, then foreign universe. From the
beginning one explosion of events followed another followed another, and it was truly a
sink or swim situation. My neurons had no choice but to multiply and body to strengthen
to accommodate all the explosions, exposures and rigors. But I was one of the lucky ones
who learned to roll and thrive in the midst of sometimes controlled chaos and within
military structures and stricture.

Tomorrow I would be leaving behind a ship I had been virtually lashed to for three years.
I had seen it lie naked and prostrate at the hands of civilians. I had hobnobbed with its
prospective captain. I had seen its crew arrive, bringing with them the ship’s life blood. I
had seen it reborn. My Navy rank had increased as the ship’s readiness had grown, and in
so many ways we had evolved together.It had been a very busy day, but then again, what day HADN’T been?

The fact that tomorrow I’d be leaving the ship also helped animate my thinking. There was so much significance surrounding the event. Soon I would be leaving the military universe forever
and returning to one I thought—hoped—would be the same as the one in which I was raised. Dad expressed his happiness that he’d soon be seeing his civilian son back in the fold where I belonged. I knew my mother felt similarly. Yet my mind wasn’t so sure I’d be staying in that ‘fold’ very long. I could not see myself moving back from a California world of unlimited, macrocosmic experiences and opportunities, to Michigan and the conformity/uniformity required by community and family. Echoing through my mind were words from the prophetic WW I song “How ya gonna keep ‘em down on the farm, after they’ve seen Paree.”

Yes, I would be returning to that universe, in whatever its current form, but that meant I
was also leaving this universe that I had been forged into being part of. I had been pulled
and stretched, pounded and flattened, puffed up and popped. I had earned the right to be
what I had become, and I had a huge amount of professional pride for what had been
accomplished during the past years.

Recently I had gotten Outstanding at a flight deck inspection by Flag, AKA
COMCARDIVONE, Rear Admiral Butts. It was my third flight deck inspection while
onboard and had gotten Outstanding on the first two. The captain promised that anyone
who got three Outstandings at such inspections would never have to stand another. This
time RAdm Butts stood before me and said “Old Shoes,” at which his attendant marked
something in the muster ledger as Flag moved to the next in ranks. I was mortified. I had
been so careful to spit-polish my shoes and ensure my silk, black neckerchief was rolled
and tied just so, my uniform wrinkle and lint free, my undershirt, hat and piping sparkling
white, and everything aligned correctly. But I had been hit with “Old Shoes.” Crestfallen,
I returned to my compartment to change back into working dungarees. One of the first
class petty officers overheard me lament and then laughingly explained “that means Out
Standing.” As relieved and good as that news made me feel, I also realized the irony of it
all. I would never have to stand another such inspection again because I soon would be

Oh my God! Leaving the ship! Leaving my home of three years. Leaving all those guys I
had worked with, sweated with, and had fun with. We had seen each other through trying
times as we and the ship were put through the paces. There were never any times or
opportunities to put on the brakes and say “whoa, that’s enough!” I was sad when the few
who did buckle under the strain were gone—to fates unknown to the rest of us. Those
who started to buckle but could be buttressed until brought up to speed were carried by
the rest of us guys working together.

I always hated seeing guys leave us, for whatever reason. Usually it was because their
time in the Navy was up, or their time on the ship was up, sending them off to a different
command. And some left for humanitarian reasons, like one of our Faccon members
whose father was killed back home during a robbery at his business. Only one shipmate I
knew had left by dying. It occurred between when the ship returned from its 1971
Westpac cruise and the start of its 1972 cruise. That fellow was Sloan—someone I had
met during our BE/E “P” School days in early 1969. He recently had been assigned to the
ship, and I ran into him as he was buying a soft drink from an onboard vending machine.
Not long after our reunion Sloan fell to his death while unsuccessfully attempting to
climb around a barricade blocking a closed gangway while the ship was in dry dock. His
shocking death was heartbreaking enough, but because he came aboard between the two
Westpac cruises, his name was not included on either cruise book’s IN MEMORIAM
page—as though he had never been aboard.

Tomorrow I would be the one leaving—leaving behind the unceasing turmoil and
managed chaos at work, the engrained camaraderie of a well-grooved, tight-knit group,
the memorized maze enclosed by the protective and far-ranging ship’s hull, and the
profession that I had gotten so used to and good at.

My Navy career flashed before my eyes as though I were dying, but sleep finally came—
fitfully. Soon I would be dying and reborn, metaphorically. Before me was a future filled
with uncertainty mixed with possibility. I would be leaving a military that had gotten in
bad odor with much of the American public, and my service likely would be
unappreciated, even scorned, by many. Yet I was still young and full of hope. Then I
awoke and it was tomorrow.

Decoration Day (Predecessor to Memorial Day)

Emily pins a snowball flower on the uniform of her grandfather, a Battle of Gettysburg veteran, on Decoration Day (circa 1912) before he and some other veterans go to visit the Deep Valley schools to tell the story of the Battle of Gettysburg.

The sun was higher now, glittering on the trees with their small new leaves, on the dewy grass. Emily, too, circled the bush, inspecting the luscious white clumps. “Snowball is too cold a name for them,” she said.

Selecting the finest, she cut it carefully. He looked stern again while she pinned it on his chest. “Now! You look very nice!”

“I’ll go to the gate and wait for the auto.”

“Tell them about Gettysburg in your very best style.”

“By Jingo, I will!” he answered happily.

Lovelace, Maud Hart. Emily of Deep Valley . William Morrow Paperbacks. Kindle Edition.

Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.-VA Memorial History Day.

More from Deep Valley–the Decoration Day parade.

A tremendous emotional roar of welcome almost drowned out the sprightly tune.

For the “old soldiers” were coming, Deep Valley’s survivors of the now historic Civil War, six old men in blue uniforms with badges and bulging snowball clumps.

They were marching in pairs. They didn’t keep time very well. One walked with a cane. But they all held themselves with military stiffness. No beard equaled Judge Hodges’ beard. There were flourishing mustaches, though, and a goatee, and old Cap’ Klein’s chin whiskers. Cyrus Webster was clean shaven but his heavy eyebrows bristled with martial grimness.

Yes, Emily thought, they got feebler and fewer. And so did the old ladies of the Women’s Relief Corps who were passing now in another automobile, brave in their new bonnets. Her grandmother used to ride with them! She was gone now. And the white horse of memory was replaced by an automobile. Yet Decoration Day was always the same.

Lovelace, Maud Hart. Emily of Deep Valley . William Morrow Paperbacks. Kindle Edition.

Today, cities in the North and the South claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day in 1866. Both Macon and Columbus, Ga., claim the title, as well as Richmond, Va. The village of Boalsburg, Pa., claims it began there two years earlier. A stone in a Carbondale, Ill., cemetery carries the statement that the first Decoration Day ceremony took place there on April 29, 1866. Carbondale was the wartime home of Gen. Logan. Approximately 25 places have been named in connection with the origin of Memorial Day, many of them in the South where most of the war dead were buried.

Official Birthplace Declared In 1966, Congress and President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, N.Y., the “birthplace” of Memorial Day. There, a ceremony on May 5, 1866, honored local veterans who had fought in the Civil War. Businesses closed and residents flew flags at half-staff. Supporters of Waterloo’s claim say earlier observances in other places were either informal, not community-wide or one-time events.

By the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day ceremonies were being held on May 30 throughout the nation. State legislatures passed proclamations designating the day, and the Army and Navy adopted regulations for proper observance at their facilities.

It was not until after World War I, however, that the day was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress, though it is still often called Decoration Day. It was then also placed on the last Monday in May, as were some other federal holidays.

Happy Memorial Day/Happy Decoration Day

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier–Not Quite a Century Old

I ran the library at Ft Myer, home of the Old Guard, 3rd US Infantry for over a decade. Many of those soldiers were library patrons so for me their stories are extended family lore. In honor of Memorial Day, some news outlets talked about the Honor Guard who have guarded the Tomb of the Unknowns. They say that the Tomb is now 100 years old. Not quite!

On Veterans Day, 1921, President Warren G. Harding presided over an interment ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery for an unknown soldier who died during World War I. Since then, three more soldiers have been added to the Tomb of the Unknowns (also known as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier) memorial—and one has been disinterred. Below, a few things you might not know about the historic site and the rituals that surround it. For this and other facts about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, click here.

I left Ft Myer in 1997, when I thought that all of the Tomb Guard were still men. I was pleasantly surprised yesterday to learn that there are also female guard now.

How many Sentinels have been female?

There have been over 680 tomb guards awarded the badge since 1958 when we started counting. There are hundreds more from the year 1926 when the Army started guarding the Tomb. The 3rd US Infantry (The Old Guard) is the unit that has been given the duty of guarding the Tomb. It was given this sacred duty in 1948. The Old Guard was — and still is — considered a combat unit. As an Infantry unit, females were not permitted in the ranks for many years. It wasn’t until 1994 that females were permitted to volunteer to become a Sentinel when the 289th Military Police Company was attached to the Old Guard. The MP branch is a combat support unit and includes females.

In 1996, SGT Heather Johnson became the first female to earn the Tomb Guard Identification Badge. She volunteered for duty in June 1995 and earned her badge in 1996. However, SGT Johnson was not the only female Sentinel. Since then, there have been a total of five female Sentinels awarded the Tomb Guard Identification Badge:

SGT Danyell Wilson earned her badge in 1997
SSG Tonya Bell received hers in 1998
SGT Ruth Hanks earned her badge in June 2015
SFC Chelsea Porterfield earned her badge in 2021

Several other units have since been attached to the Old Guard — food service, transportation, medics, etc. — so now females have an ever greater opportunity to become a Sentinel. Females must meet the same requirements as the male soldiers to be eligible to volunteer at the Tomb. the only difference is that females have a minimum height of 5’8″ — which is the same standard to be a member of the Old Guard.

Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown