Happy Armed Forces Day, 2019

Seals-Military-Branch-Seals-signHave you ever been part of something bigger than youself?  You may have been a cog in the machine or a face in the crowd, but you knew deep down inside of yourself that your being there was making a difference.

Although I have never served in the military,  at least once I was part of such an effort.  In 1997, as a Morale Welfare and Recreation Specialist I deployed to Taszar, Hungary as part of Operation Joint Guard.  Each day I awoke in my barracks room, trooped down two flights of stairs to the women’s bathroom and then moved over to the adjoining shower room.  While I was waiting my turn to use the shower, usually still dressed in my bathrobe, someone would ask me what the night’s movie would be or what the plans were for the next concert in  Budapest.  And so my day would begin about 0600.  After my shower, I would put on my uniform (green/brown BDU’s –battle dress uniform for the uninitiated), lace up my combat boots, and walk over to the mess hall, where the food was surprisingly good.

After breakfast, I would go over to the office in the headquarters building.  Taszar was an old Hungairan airbase with two MiGs still out front.  The only room in the building that had AC was the one where the computers were located.  The Hungarian staff did a miraculous job keeping the worn tile floors clean.  (In  many places the tile had been scrubbed away, leaving the rubber subfloor peeking through.)

In early July, we were busy preparing to celebrate the 4th of July.  It was a chance to show our allies an American good time.  What I affectionately called the Hungarian mafia, were busy telling why we needed all of their entertainment acts even though we had just seen these same acts for the Memorial Day celebration.   The fireworks contractor assured me his fireworks would completely burn up and not have cinders floating down to possibly start a fire in some farmer’s field.

Hungarians often used an elaborate style when writing or speaking in English.  The public affairs officer laboriously tried to emulate that style when creating the invitations for our Hungarian VIP guests.  Unfortunately, I did not retain an example of the invitation.

The staff from the MASH  unit was planning the 5K run for the American and Hungarian troops/civilians.  The MWR staff was planning a variety of sports competitions including Golf, basketball, horseshoes, beach volleyball, pinball.  I used the Internet to lookup how much sand was need for beach volleyball since our Root and Brown, the local Army maintenance contactor, wanted to provide as little sand as possible. (This was relatively early days for the Internet so they were surprised to find that we could prove how much sand was needed.)

Although, July 4th began about 0500 when we got the Mess Hall as soon as it opened so we could start setting up for all of the events (the 5K began at 0800) and ended just before midnight with a relatively safe and succesful fireworks display, it was a wonderful opportunity to share our Independence Day with the troops so far from home.  We also got to share it with our Hungarian friends and allies.  (One person did complain the next day about catching a cinder in his eye while watching the fire works.

For those of you who have been in the military  thank you for your service. I’d also like to acknowledge the people who support the military (as a friend, family member, volunteer, contractor, appropriated fund or nonappropriated fund employee).  We all support those who serve.

 

Taszar C130 Jul 97
Me in front of a C-130 at Taszar Airbase, July 1997

 

 

 

Introducing LC’s Story Maps

The Library of Congress staff is excited to launch Story Maps, interactive and immersive web applications that tell the incredible stories of the Library’s collections!

Story Maps, created within a Geographic Information Systems (GIS)-based software platform created by Esri, combine text, images, multimedia, and interactive maps to create engaging online narrative experiences. Under a program spearheaded by the Geography and Map Division, collection specialists from across the Library have produced Story Maps with content from the hidden and not-so-hidden collections of the library. We are pleased to showcase the first three published Story Maps from this program, with many more to come!

There are currently eight story maps available.  The most recent follow the four D-Day soldiers as they come ashore at Normandy.

D-Day story map

The other story maps include:

Holy Land Photography. Journey across the Middle East with English photographer Francis Frith. This Story Map includes 19th century photography and written testimony from Sinai and Palestine, a photographically illustrated book by Frith at the Library of Congress. This downloadable CSV file provides the mapped data in this Story Map.

Camera and Locomotive. Explore the parallel histories of photography and the transcontinental railroad. Objects in the Library of Congress collections tell the story of the fascinating interconnections between the two technologies. This downloadable CSV file provides the mapped data in this Story Map.

Maps that Changed Our World. Using the collections of the Geography and Map Division at the Library of Congress, this Story Map will explore the changes in world maps throughout the centuries and how as a result, perceptions of the world have shifted. This downloadable CSV file provides the mapped data in this Story Map.

Treasure Trove of Trials. This is a story map is centered on a digitized selection of Law Library of Congress piracy trials. This collection is critical for understanding how various nations of the world handled piracy issues before the year 1900. This downloadable CSV file provides the mapped data in this Story Map.

Surveying the South. Noted architectural photographer Frances Benjamin Johnston created a systematic record of early American buildings and gardens called the Carnegie Survey of the Architecture of the South (CSAS), primarily in the 1930s. This downloadable CSV file provides the mapped data in this Story Map.

Incunabula. This Story Map will explore major themes in fifteenth-century (incunabula) printing, including: the transition from manuscript to print, early hand-printing methods, the invention of typography, and the integration of woodcut illustrations with type. This downloadable CSV file provides the mapped data in this Story Map.

Behind the Barbed Wire. A unique glimpse into the daily lives of Japanese-Americans in internment camps during WWII through the digitized collection of internment camp newspapers at the Library of Congress. This downloadable CSV file provides the mapped data in this Story Map.

Write to a D-Day Veteran

Reblog from Janine Strange https://www.janinestange.com/dday

DSC00516.JPG

June 6th marks the 75th Anniversary of D-Day.  Of the 16 million US WWII Veterans, fewer than 400,000 remain today. The average age of our remaining ‘D-Day Survivor’ veterans is 96!

On June 4th through June 9th, the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, VA will be hosting “The Final Salute: D-Day Plus 75 Years” which will combine the best of the Memorial with the best of the D-Day story: a gathering of veterans and the general public at the nation’s memorial to the invasion of Normandy for reflection and remembrance – the story of ordinary people in extraordinary moments.

Below is a list of D-Day Veterans who are able to attend the National D-Day Memorial’s Final Salute.

Write them (one, two, three … or all) a letter of gratitude. Your letters will be presented to each D-Day Survivor in attendance in the hospitality tent.

In addition to expressing your gratitude, tell them about yourself – and the things you’ve done with the freedoms they fought and sacrificed to ensure we have today.  This is an awesome group/school/family project. Unfortunately, we will not have these national treasures with us much longer. Don’t let them leave this earth without taking a moment to personally thank them for their selfless service.

Send your mail directly to:

The National D-Day Memorial

attn: Veteran’s Name

(or if a generic letter: Attn: D-Day Veteran)

PO BOX 1171

Bedford, VA 24523

Mail needs to arrive on or before June 3rd. 

SS Jeremiah O’Brien

 

Liberty Ship Jeremiah O'Brien.JPG
Currently docked at Pier 45 in San Francisco

Dedicated to my father and the other civilians who sailed in these (mostly) unarmed merchants ships during WWII

  Living symbol of the Arsenal of Democracy

Built in 56 days.

Launched in 1943.

One of three remaining Liberty Ships

Out of the 2,170 built during the war.

A rare survivor of the D-Day armada,

Operation Overlord.

After D-Day, transferred to the Pacific Theater

Outlasting most of the people who built her

The crew who served on her

The enemy who tried to sink her.

Mothballed in 1946.

Restored as  museum ship in 1979.

 Returning to Normandy

for the D-Day 50th anniversary.

Still serving in 2019.

Facts from Wikipedia

 

 

 

Happy National Vietnam Veteran’s Day

Nationial Vietnam War Veterans Day

Vietnam was the war where WWII era military served with Baby Boomers.   Unlike WWII, it was never a declared war. When the troops returned, they were vilified–not treated like the conquering heroes who defeated the Nazis and the Japanese or the Thank you for you service with which we appropriately greet our veterans today.  They were the last troops to be drafted and the first of the All Volunteer military we have today.

Ironically, being a veteran has once again become a political asset–Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Iraq or Afghanistan are all treated with respect.

According to the  American War Library, on February 28, 2019:

As of this date The American War Library estimates that approximately 610,000 Americans who served on land in Vietnam or in the air over Vietnam between 1954 and 1975 are alive today. And approximately 164,000 Americans who served at sea in Vietnam waters are alive today.

Vietnam Vets die at a rate of 390 a day. So please thank a Vietnam Vet while there are still some left to thank.

Hallelujiah! Today in History–March 23

handels messiahHandel’s Messiah was performed for the first time in London in 1743.

In the House of Burgesses in Williamsburg, Virginia Patrick Henry declared in 1775:

Patrick Henry Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death

The first Otis passenger elevator was installed in a public building in New York City byotis elevator Elisha Otis in 1857.

battle of kernstownIn 1862, near Winchester at the north end of the Shenandoah Valley, at the Battle of Kernstown VA, Confederate general Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson suffered his only defeat.  He was defeated by Union forces under James Shields.

 

In 1903, the Wright brothers obtained an airplane patent.  The first flight took place in Kitty Hawk,  NC on December 17, 1903.

wright brother plane

Female spies of WW2

Women served behind the lines as well as the men. Read about these amazing female spies from WWII.

Back On The Rock

The Special Operations Executive (SOE) was set up in 1940 by the Ministry of Defence. Its purpose was simple – to conduct espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance in Occupied Europe. Of necessity, it was a shadowy organisation.

But, after the War, tales emerged of the heroic deeds of those involved. And many of them were women. Here are the brief stories of two of them.

VIRGINIA HALL, the ‘Limping Spy’, was probably the most famous of the SOE women. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Hall was aged 34 at the outbreak of war. A gifted student, she followed up her US college life by continuing her studies in Europe. She became fluent in the French, Italian and German languages whilst obtaining a diploma in economics and international law.

Following a shooting accident in 1932 her left leg was amputated below the knee. Thereafter she wore a wooden leg. Thus thwarted in…

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