Veterans Day

Veterans Day Salute

circa 1946

Today is Veterans Day,  a national holiday, first proclaimed as Armistice Day by President Woodrow Wilson in 1919 with the following words: To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…

Armistice Day commemorated the end of World War I – known at the time as “The Great War.” The War officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting had ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. November 11, 1918, was regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”

Family photo - 80s

circa 1985

Armistice Day became a legal holiday through congressional action on May 13, 1938. (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a). Armistice Day was a day dedicated to world peace and to honor veterans of World War I. In 1954 the 83rd Congress amended the Act of 1938 by changing the word “Armistice” to “Veterans” following World War II and the Korean Conflict. With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

The observance of Veterans Day moved to Monday, along with Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day, when the Uniform Holiday Bill (Public Law 90-363 (82 Stat. 250)) was signed on June 28, 1968. This was unpopular with many states, who continued to observe Veterans Day on November 11th, and ignored the legislation. In response to the desires of the the majority of state legislatures, all veterans service organizations, and the American people, Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479) on September 20, 1975, which returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of November 11, beginning in 1978.

Source of information, Department of Veterans Affairs
See also,

Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?

The first episode of Sesame Street aired on November 10, 1969. A second generation of kids is learning their letters, numbers, and social skills from Big Bird, Oscar, Bert ‘n Ernie, and the rest of the gang. I even saw Elmo teaching kids to wash their hands to avoid H1N1 virus.

Happy 40th Birthday, Sesame Street!

My favorite – Cookie starts with C–

Berlin Wall Anniversary

Today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. For over 25 years a city existed within the confines of a wall that encircled it, keeping its residents in and everyone else out. Travel to and from West Berlin was only permitted through applications and documents. The Wall was a symbol of the Cold War and a grim reminder of the differences in lifestyle from East to West.
Now for a short history lesson: Following World War II, the defeated country of Germany was divided into four sections and governed by the Allied Control Council or Allied Control Authority, the Alliierter Kontrollrat, a military governing authority. The members were the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union. France was later added with one vote, but no duties. As was the country divided, so too was the capitol city, Berlin. Berlin was well within the Soviet controlled section known later as East Germany.  When the Soviets and East Germans erected a wall around the portions of Berlin governed by the Americans, Brits, and French, West Berlin was isolated from West Germany. Armed guards patrolled the wall and the checkpoints going in and out of West Berlin.
Berlin was a divided city in 1983 when I moved there as a military dependent. My mother was terrified when we announced that we were taking her two young grandchildren “behind the iron curtain.” Now there’s a term I haven’t heard in a good while. In truth, while we were excited to go on the adventure, it took me several weeks after we had settled in to get up the courage to actually go look at the Wall.  Soon, going to the Wall, or even hiking the trails around it were as common as going to Como Park is now.
During our time there, the political climate was relatively calm and we traveled back and forth into East Berlin fairly often. While we lived a relatively normal lifestyle, getting “Flag Orders” every time we wanted to travel outside the city was an inconvenience. Taking a bus was much easier than getting clearance to drive our own car (not to mention the difficulties surrounding trying to park). The exchange rate was embarrassingly high, and Americans were welcomed by the shopkeepers in the East for all the money we spent. While they claimed to be Communist, capitalism wasn’t so far removed.  Bus drivers who drove through Checkpoint Charlie often played “God Bless the USA” or “Born in the USA”  as we passed through — with the windows open.
One very tragic incident in 1985 affected us personally, when Major Arthur Nicholson was killed in the line of duty. His daughter Jennifer was in my son’s class. We were also there when President Reagan cried “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” at the Brandenburg Gate.
Shortly after we moved from Berlin to Maine, I was overwhelmed with emotion as I watched throngs of East Berliners pour through the torn down wall. I feel that way yet.

Family photo
Family photo