When Veteran’s Day was Armistice Day

Contrary to current common observance, today was originally Armistice Day—celebrating the end of World War I.  The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926, with these words:

Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and
 
Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and
 

Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.

I can remember celebrating Armistice Day.  My earliest memory was standing along one of our town’s main streets with my family watching a parade of returning Korean War Veterans marching down main street accompanied by Tanks, bands and floats (tractor hauled wagons.) That changed by a proclamation by Dwight D. Eisenhower on October 8th, 1954 that designated November 11th as Veteran’s Day. 

All was well until 1968 when Public Law 90-363 (82 Stat. 250) or the Uniform Holiday Bill. That bill was intended to ensure three-day weekends for Federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays: Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. It was thought that these extended weekends would encourage travel, recreational and cultural activities and stimulate greater industrial and commercial production. Many states did not agree with this decision and continued to celebrate the holidays on their original dates.” — Department of Veteran’s Affairs.”

Under this law, Veteran’s Day was observed on October  25th causing much confusion.  President Gerald Ford moved Veteran’s Day back to November 11 by an order in 1975.

Considering all the wrangling over the holiday, one result of having Veteran’s Day on November 11th is that no one remembers that it was originally set aside to celebrate the end of the First World War.  Before the two holiday were merged, each had their own observances.  Veterans are also honored on other days such as Memorial Day, Flag Day and and even the Fourth of July. 

Personally, I think the WW1 vets have been robbed, if any are left.  My mother had a cousin who was a WW1 veteran (search the Court for Heinie Mueller.)

I would much prefer that Veterans have a holiday all our own. A day solely for us and not usurping a celebration intended for others.

Until that happens, however…Happy Veterans AND Armistice Day!  

I remember…

Update: I had intended this to appear yesterday but I entered the wrong date in the scheduler. It is a repost from a couple of years ago. I still remember Ken Tate.


 

Kenneth Tate, US Army, 1946 – 1967

Sgt_Kenneth_W_Tate

I had intended that last Friday would be my Memorial Day post. But I’ve been remembering a friend and today is a good time to record my thoughts.

I was born and grew up in Illinois, southern Illinois in Benton, IL, the Franklin County seat. I attended Benton Consolidated High School along with several hundred others. One of those in my class was Kenneth W. Tate, a very distant cousin from my mother’s side.

Ken was a tall, lanky, farm boy, who lived, if I recall correctly, to the northeast of town.  I lived on another farm in the opposite direction.  If it weren’t for the occasional family get-togethers and high school, I’d probably never have met him.  But we were distantly related and we did attend high school together.  We ran around with the same bunch.  We were geeks and band-members.  I played a trombone, Ken played the drums. 

For him, like many of us, being in the band was more of an opportunity to get out of PE class that is was for music. The school felt that being in the marching band in the fall was sufficient to meet the state’s PE requirement.  That drew many into our band clique.

Ken and I were also geeks. We took the same math and science classes. We were lab partners for Biology, Chemistry and Physics…the standard college-prep curriculum. When we graduated in 1964, I went off to Southern Illinois University. Ken started classes at a nearby Junior College but he didn’t attend long.

The draft was in force during that time.  It was a strong motivator to remain in school with a 2-S deferment. Rather than being drafted, Ken enlisted in the Army.  I lost track of him until a couple of years later when I received a letter from my Father. Inside with the letter was a clipping…Ken’s obituary.  I didn’t know the details until later.

From the Benton Evening News, September 18, 2009.

Benton, Ill. —

A trip to Northern Illinois by a U.S. Army veteran resulted in an emotional tribute to a Benton man who died in the Vietnam War.

Joe Hare of Columbia, Ky., on Tuesday honored the memory of fellow Black Lions 28th U.S. Infantry member Kenneth W. Tate, who was killed in action on Sept. 6, 1967 — two days after his 21st birthday.

Hare and his wife, Pat, were joined by some of Tate’s family members and friends at his gravesite in the Masonic & Odd Fellows Cemetery.

“It’s not easy, is it?” Hare asked, his voice trembling. “I didn’t think I would do this bad.”
Tate was the first person from Franklin County to die in Vietnam.

“I’ve forgotten how many people came to his funeral,” said Tate’s stepsister, Alana Day, “but there were 140 cars at the funeral home.”

There’s a bit more information here at the Virtual Wall.  I didn’t know Ken was a LRRP (Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol). All that we heard was that he was on a patrol and was killed. Someone, I don’t remember who now, said he was killed by a mine.  I don’t know if that’s true or not. It doesn’t really matter, now.

I don’t know why I keep thinking of Ken. We weren’t all that close. Circumstances put us together forty years ago for a period of time. I can still remember his face.

Perhaps it is, as someone once said, that as long as we remember, they aren’t really gone but live within us.  I have no doubt Ken and I will meet again…and laugh remembering when we made nitroglycerin and bombed pigeons outside the window of our 2nd floor High School Chemistry lab using an eyedropper.

Words for Wednesday

Somedays it is hard to write a post. The difficulty is caused by a number of reasons, repetitive news cycles, ignorance of the MSM and in many areas the ignorance and apathy of the public. At other times, a lack of motivation or time conflicts conspire to push me to not post.

Today is one such day.

Be that as it may, today’s lead item is about stupidity. John Boehner’s bartender—a man who has been Boehner’s bartender for over five years, is accused of plotting to poison the Representative from Ohio.

The bartender must be an astoundingly poor planner. He had opportunities to shuffle off Boehner’s mortal coil for five years…but he just couldn’t get his act together.

When I read the article, it triggered my disbelief tripwire. After a facing mutiny in the GOP ranks, Boehner and the FBI reveal this incompetent. It just seems to be a misdirection ploy to get some positive media for Boehner. I wonder how many American have trouble with this news item?

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Guns and Taxes

From WMSA.NET

From the PoliticMO Newsletter for January 14, 2015.

GUNS — ‘Gun groups vow to fight Missouri lawmaker’s bill taxing guns to pay for police body cameras,’ Raw Story: “A Missouri state legislator has drawn criticism from gun enthusiasts for introducing bills that would pay for body cameras for police officers through a tax increase on firearm and ammunition sales… House Bills 75 and 76, which were introduced by state Rep. Brandon Ellington (D), would implement a 1 percent tax raise on gun sales, with the money going to the “Peace Officer Handgun and Ammunition Sales Tax Fund,” to be used to buy the cameras. Officers would then be required to wear the cameras during any interaction with the public, and keep the footage in their records for at least 30 days. Undercover officers and detectives would be exempt from wearing the cameras. …

“The National Rifle Association (NRA) has already come out against Ellington’s proposal. ‘Forcing law-abiding Missourians to pay an additional tax on firearm and ammunition purchases is unmerited. Gun owners and purchasers should not be responsible for funding these projects,’ the group said in a release. ‘The NRA will continue to fight against such misguided encroachments on those who exercise their Second Amendment rights.’” — PoliticMO Newsletter, Jan 14, 2015

We continually hit with taxes and more taxes. A new tax to one thing or another, another hand in our pocket stealing our money under the guise of law. Every tax has some benefit, we’re told. I just don’t believe it. We don’t need a new tax to fund body cameras now, especially one that taxes guns and ammunition.

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The rank and file of our military do not like Obama. Who’da thunk it?

AMERICA’S MILITARY: A conservative institution’s uneasy cultural evolution

The force is changing — often reluctantly — alongside the civilian society it serves

In his first term, President Obama oversaw repeal of the controversial “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

Then he broke with one of the military’s most deeply rooted traditions and vowed to lift the ban on women serving in combat.

And the commander in chief has aggressively sought to change military culture by cracking down on sexual assault and sexual harassment, problems that for years were underreported or overlooked.

Obama is an unpopular president in the eyes of the men and women in uniform. Yet his two-term administration is etching a deep imprint on the culture inside the armed forces. As commander in chief, he will leave behind a legacy that will shape the Pentagon’s personnel policies and the social customs of rank-and-file troops for decades to come.

Go visit the Military Times and read the complete article. It confirms the opinions of many now serving and some fears as well.

Repost: A Remembrance on Armistice Day

Before November 11th was known as Veteran’s Day, it was known as Armistice Day, the day World War ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. We remember our veterans this day, those few from World War II, those from Korea, Viet Nam, Grenada, Panama, Gulf Wars I and II, Afghanistan and all the little ones that many have never heard of that took lives of our military.

We remember those who are gone, those who were injured, baring wounds, scars and lost limbs…and those wounded who exhibit no scars. Here is a story about one just veteran of World War I, my distant cousin, Heinie Mueller. (I’ve posted the story of Heinie Mueller in past years, usually for Thanksgiving. This year, posting his story on Armistice Day seems more fitting.)

Heinie (Henry) Mueller http://www.wegowild.com/ReinkeWWI.jpgwas Grandmother’s nephew. He served in the US Army during WW1 though most of the battles on the front lines. He was gassed twice, received two Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star plus some French medals.

Heinie was a character. He walked with a slight limp and cussed every third word. He didn’t care who he was with nor who heard him. If somebody didn’t like his language, it was just too bad. Usually, Heinie would send them on their way with a few choice words and phrases.

After the war, he married a lady named Irene and moved to Woodriver, IL. When I was small, they would drive down to visit us every few months—more often after we moved to the farm. Heinie liked to hunt squirrels, rabbits, and geese and he would frequently appear during hunting season. He, Dad and I would go hunting while the women-folk visited.

I don’t remember Heinie ever shooting much. He seemed to just like getting outdoors and walking in the woods. When we flushed some game, he would more than likely let Dad or me have the shot.

One year, Heinie and Irene came down for Thanksgiving. They arrived on Wednesday and Irene brought makings for oyster dressing. She and Grandma would fix Thanksgiving dinner the next day while Mom went to pick up my sister who was attending college. Heine, Dad and I planned to get up early Thanksgiving morning and go goose hunting.

We left the house early Thanksgiving morning, about an hour before sunup, and drove down to the Muddy River bottoms where Dad share-cropped corn on a ten-acre field. Dad built some hunting blinds along the edge of the field when Heinie called to tell us he and Irene were coming.

The hunting blinds were set up along a tree line with an open view across the corn field. The field had been picked late in the season and there was a lot of corn spillage to attract geese and an occasional deer.

It was cold. Ice had formed on the surface of the field and crunched as we walked across it towards the blind. It had been built out of salvaged two-by-fours and rusted scrap sheet-metal for the roof with a covering of corn stalks for camouflage. Across the front was a tarp that would be dropped to allow us to step forward to shoot.

For whatever reason, the wind, or low hanging gray clouds or just general cussedness, the geese didn’t appear that day. Heinie had brought a hip-flask and would take a nip every so often. Dad was a Baptist and didn’t drink, but Heinie didn’t care.

By 11 o’clock, we decided that we’d give up hunting for the day. Dad started a fire to make some coffee and to fix a quick lunch hoping to sober Heinie up a bit before we went back to the house.

Heinie had been nipping steadily since we arrived and was feeling good. While the coffee was perking in an old coffepot, Heinie started talking about when he was in the Army. He had joined the US Cavalry in 1912 at the age of 17 and had gone down into Mexico with Black Jack Pershing after Pancho Villa.

After a bit, he talked about going to France to fight the Germans. Heinie was a Corporal by that time and had transferred from the Cavalry to the Infantry. After Mexico, he said, he didn’t want to ride or see another horse for the rest of his life.

Heinie was promoted to Sargent on arriving in France and took over a rifle platoon. He fought in a few battles and managed to survive with only some minor wounds. He was lightly gassed with chlorine a couple of times when his British-made gas mask leaked.

After we had finished our coffee and the fried egg and bacon sandwiches Dad had warmed over the fire, Heinie was silent for awhile. Then he began to talk about the ‘big fight’, the Second Battle of the Marne and tears started flowing.

Heinie had been in charge of a rifle squad when they had left the US, first as a Corporal and then as a Sargent. Not long after arriving in France, he was made a Platoon Sargent and Company interpreter. Heinie had known many of the men in the platoon for several years, some from the excursion into Mexico.

Heinie’s grandparents had immigrated from Hesse, German in the early 1880s. They spoke both German and French. Heinie, born in Illinois, didn’t speak English until he entered school and retained a slight German accent the rest of his life.

Heinie’s company was in the front line trenches and preparing for battle. The Battle of the Marne had been going on for some time and the allies were preparing counter-attacks. An hour before the company was scheduled to attack, Heinie was sent back to the battalion headquarters. It had been decided that all interpreters would be held back and would not attack with their troops because they would be needed to help translate for all the prisoners that would be captured—so they assumed.

Heinie paused several times to blow his nose and wipe his eyes before continuing. The whistles blew and the troops attacked. After several hours, survivors began filtering back through the battalion headquarters area. It was later determined that out of Heinie’s company, he and seven others were the only survivors. None were from Heinie’s platoon.

Later, Dad told me that every year Heinie would get a bit liquored up and start talking and remembering. One of my uncles, Dad’s older brother, joined the Army just before WW1 but had spent the war in the Cavalry patrolling the Mexican border out of El Paso. Usually Dad wasn’t too tolerant of drunkenness but Heinie was different. Dad said it was a small thing to give Heinie an audience. It quieted his ghosts.

Heinie is long gone now. But every Armistice Day and Thanksgiving, I remember him.

The 8th of November

I don’t normally post on weekends. But his weekend and next few days are important to many veterans. November 11th is Veteran’s Day. November 10th is the Marine Corps’ birthday, and today, the 8th of November is memorable, too, for Operation Hump.

Watch the video below. Too many of you will have no idea what happened this day, forty-nine years ago. As was said for an older war, “Lest we forget.”

Seventy years

It’s been seventy years since D-Day, June 6th, 1944. Neither I nor my wife were yet born. My father was too young for WW1 and too old for WW2. He also worked in an exempt industry, coal mining.

http://inapcache.boston.com/universal/site_graphics/blogs/bigpicture/dday_06_07/d01_0p011976.jpg

U.S. troops disembark from a landing vehicle on Utah Beach on the coast of Normandy, France in June of 1944. Carcasses of destroyed vehicles litter the beach. (Regional Council of Basse-Normandie/U.S. National Archives)

My wife’s father, on the other hand, was in the Army and fought in WW2. He went ashore in France at one of the D-Day landing sites. I don’t know which one. He wasn’t in the first way, but went ashore in one of the following waves. He was captured later and escaped when the train taking allied prisoners back to Germany was strafed by allied planes. I don’t know more of his history. He never talked to me much about them. It’s also possible my memory of his comments has been corrupted over time.

Most families today had a least one family member who was in WW2. In 1945, the United States military contained 16.1 million soldiers, sailors, and marines out of a population of 139 million. That was nearly 12% of the total population in uniform.

When I was in my teens, in school and later college, nearly all the adult men, and a significant number of the adult women, were veterans. That fact was supported by one reason, the draft that continued from before WW2. The draft, while widely disliked, did have a positive result, a significant percentage of the US population were continued to be veterans.

The draft changed during my senior year in college to a lottery. It was too late for me. I had to make a choice to be drafted in the the Army or the Marines (yes, they did draft into the Marines at that time) or take advantage of my Air Force ROTC and go into the Air Force. I followed the Air Force adage, “It’s better to fly over it than to walk through it.”

A few months later, the lottery took effect. I have no idea what my lottery number was. I still don’t. I went in and did my time. A few years later, the Selective Service was suspended and the military no longer conscripted recruits. The consequence was a drastic reduction of military servicemen and the resulting veterans. today, the percentage of all veterans compared to the total population is low, only 6.5%.

Out of a population of 313.3 million (2012), there are 21.2 million living veterans, 7.6 million of those are from the Vietnam war. I’m one of the 7.6 million.

I suppose it should not be unexpected that respect for veterans has decreased over the years. While the military is still viewed with respect for much of the country, the left has disparaged the military and veterans since the 1960s. I still remember warnings from my time in the Air Force to not wear my uniform off base unless I was in transit  to or from my duty post and home, or on official business. The left has learned since then to not be as vocal and public with their abuse, but the abuse is still there. You only have to look at the state of the Veteran’s Administration to see that the liberal abuse of the military and veterans has become institutionalized.

Robert A. Heinlein once wrote a novel called Starship Troopers. In it, veterans, abandoned by their governments, revolted. After the dust died down, society was divided. Citizenship, and the resulting political power, was limited to veterans. If you wanted the vote, you had to serve. In fact, if you wanted to join, you could not be turned down. Something would be found for you to do to earn citizenship, even if, “it was counting the fuzz on caterpillars with your fingers.

Is this a good idea? It has been discussed my many over the decades. The left hates it. The right, for the most part, embraces it. However the current crop of politicians would flee in panic from any discussion on this subject. But the idea that citizenship—and the benefits thereof, should be earned is a good one and it remains a valid argument.

When you see Obama pontificating in Europe about D-Day, also remember that he, like democrat Bill Clinton, never served.

Sacrificial Scapegoat

The ‘Court has been busy.  Very busy in fact. I’ve been asked to build a new website. It’s coming along nicely but it is eating into my blogging time. I expect that to continue for the next several weeks.

This is a heads-up. Blogging may be light until the new website, WMSA, is finished.

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http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/dd/Eric_Shinseki_official_Veterans_Affairs_portrait.jpg/220px-Eric_Shinseki_official_Veterans_Affairs_portrait.jpg

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki January 2009 – May 2014

Obama and the dems in jeopardy are blaming the situation in the VA on retired General Eric  Shinseki. He’s a relative newcomer as VA Secretary. As retired military, they’ve decided to make him the whipping boy for the institutional failings of the VA.

Obama wants someone to blame for his own failings in leadership. The dems in jeopardy want someone to blame and say, “See! We fired him. All is fixed,” and then proceed with business as usual. They want a scapegoat and Shinseki is the one they have picked. Shinseki has been VA Secretary since January, 2009 and is himself a wounded combat veteran having lost part of one foot to a landmine while in combat as a Forward Artillery Controller.

As I was writing the paragraph above, this news item dropped into my Inbox.

Eric Shinseki is out! Obama sacks Veterans Affairs secretary

President Obama accepted the resignation Friday of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, amid a burgeoning scandal over delayed care for veterans at VA hospitals.

In a hastily arranged statement after meeting with Mr. Shinseki at the White House, the president said he accepted the resignation “with considerable regret.”

The president said VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson will take over on an interim basis.

Mr. Obama said Mr. Shinseki presented him with preliminary findings that showed the delayed care has affected veterans at “many” facilities across the country. The president said it was “totally unacceptable.”

The president also said Mr. Shinseki had begun to fire several VA officials deemed responsible for the problems.

Asked if he’s responsible for the problems, Mr. Obama said, “I always take responsibility for whatever happens” in his administration. But he also said the VA’s problem “predates my presidency.”

“The VA is a big organization that has had problems for a very long time,” he said.

The scandal began last month when a whistleblower revealed that veterans were being placed on a “secret wait list” at the Phoenix VA facility that almost guaranteed they would not receive timely care. The initial report caused a handful of GOP lawmakers to call for Mr. Shinseki to step down.

A preliminary investigator general report released Wednesday, however, substantiated many of the claims and opened the floodgates, with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle demanding the retired four-star general step down immediately.

The report found that 1,700 veterans at the Phoenix facility had never been placed on the official electronic wait list, meaning their wait time couldn’t be tracked and they likely would not see a doctor. This delay in care and manipulation of data was systemic, stretching across the entire VA system, according to the report. More than 40 facilities across the country are under investigation, the report said.

Prior to his resignation, almost 120 lawmakers — 38 of whom were Democrats — had called for Mr. Shinseki to step down.

While the president was initially supportive of his Cabinet chief, Mr. Obama’s faith in Mr. Shinseki appeared to wane after the report was released. In a press conference Thursday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Mr. Obama was anxiously awaiting results of an internal VA audit due early next month that will give a sense for how widespread the problems are at the embattled department.

“When he receives the internal audit, he’ll be able to evaluate those findings,” Mr. Carney told reporters at the White House, backing away from previous expressions of support. “I’m just not going to speculate more about personnel.”
Mr. Shinseki was sworn in as the secretary of veterans affairs in 2009. Prior to that, he served as the Army Chief of Staff and leader of the Army during Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom, according to his VA bio. The West Point Graduate was awarded two Purple Hearts and three Bronze Stars with valor during his almost 40-year military career.

Military veterans have a proprietary view of the VA. VA Hospitals are THEIR hospitals. Wounded veterans were, until the VA was turned into a bureaucracy, guaranteed free healthcare for the rest of their lives. They earned that guarantee with their service and bodies.

Some politicians think privatizing would help restore confidence in the VA and return it to the level of service veterans want and expect. Many veterans also oppose this idea, believing privatization is a refutation of those guarantees. The VA is not, and has not delivered those guarantees for a long time.

I’m a veteran. I’ve been fortunate to not have needed the VA, except to guarantee the mortgage on my first home in the 1970s. I have no service related documented injuries that would require using the VA. I don’t have that proprietary view that so many veterans have. I believe privatization would help and help is desperately needed.

Perhaps, like so many needed changes in the FedGov, it is time to make one more change—not a new VA Secretary, but moving the VA out of the incompetent hands of the government.