Can one paragraph be about current events, information, an embroidery project, a gift idea and a travel story? Last week we in the US celebrated Veterans Day. Most holidays in the US fall on Mondays so as to provide long week-ends, but Veterans Day is always celebrated on November 11. So this got me to wondering, what is so special about Veterans Day that it falls on a specific date, like Christmas and Independence Day, instead of on the nearest Monday? I was also wondering what’s the difference between Veterans Day, Memorial Day and Armed Forces Day. As long as I was wondering, I wondered what happened to Armistice Day and Decoration Day. Have I now got y’all wondering, too? We live in the Information Age and Google is at our fingertips, so I was not long in finding the answers to all of my wonderings.
• Veterans Day always falls on November 11 because that is the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I. (Major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice.) After World War II the name was changed from Armistice Day to Veterans Day in order to honor the veterans of both wars.
• Memorial Day, contrary to popular belief, is not the day we remember our white shoes and begin wearing them again for the summer. It was called Decoration Day because it was a day to place wreaths on the graves of fallen Union soldiers of the American Civil War. After World War I it was officially proclaimed Memorial Day and was expanded to include American casualties of any war or military action.
• Originally each branch of the armed forces had individual celebrations. In 1950 President Truman proclaimed Armed Forces day to honor the members of all branches of service.
So, Veterans Day honors all military veterans who served during any war; Memorial Day honors all soldiers who died during any war and Armed Forces day honors all soldiers who are currently serving.
I have done two embroidery projects for Bill, my favorite veteran, who served in World War II and retired from the Army in 1961. I made the first one several years ago before a Memorial Day picnic. I wanted Bill to have something special to wear, so I purchased an olive drab polo shirt and embroidered all of Bill’s battle ribbons above the pocket along with a purchased design of laurel leaves that was part of a military designs collection. I copied the battle ribbons from Bill’s dress uniform and digitized them with PE-Design. It was so easy to do, just basically drawing little rectangles and filling them with the correct colors. Bill Wears his every Memorial Day, Veterans Day and Pearl Harbor Day. He gets a lot of attention and often gets to tell some war stories. If you have a military veteran in your family, this would be a wonderful gift that you could easily make.
The second project was really something so simple, but it had a lot of impact. Bill was just a 20-year-old kid, stationed in Schofield Barracks at Pearl Harbor, when World War II began on December 7, 1941. We were getting ready to visit Hawaii last March, the first time Bill was returning since the war began. As a member of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, Bill has a special hat so, of course, I insisted that he take it along so he could wear it when we visited Pearl Harbor and the Arizona Memorial but I wanted him to be easily identified as having been stationed in Schofield Barracks. I knew that many of the other survivors have the names of their ships embroidered on their caps, so I had Bill write down exactly how he wanted the name of his barracks to appear, I digitized it in Alphabet XPress, ran it by Bill for approval and very carefully embroidered it on his cap. I can tell you that from the time Bill stepped off the gangway in Honolulu until we returned to the ship he was treated like a special VIP guest. At the memorial people came up to him and asked to have their pictures taken with him and asked him to sign their tickets. Even young kids came up to shake his hand and ask him questions. Everywhere we went that day people came up to Bill to shake his hand and thank him for his service. Our last stop that day was at the Home of the Brave Museum where Bill’s picture was taken and placed on the Wall of Honor with the photos of all the other returning veterans. If I could give Bill a day like that again I would do it in a heartbeat.
Well, that wasn’t really the travel story I was planning to tell. A couple of years ago, along with out travel buddies Loes and Theo, we visited Normandy and Utah Beach where Bill’s company came ashore in August of 1944. He wasn’t part of the D-Day invasion, but followed soon after and marched all the way to the Ardennes Forest where he served in the infamous Battle of the Bulge. We followed Bill’s march all the way to Belgium and the Battle of the Bulge museum and memorial. I can only assume that, given Bill’s age and where we were traveling, people saw him for a returning veteran and came up to shake his hand, welcome him back and thank him for their freedom. Bill and Theo sat in the front seat of the car and Theo asked question after question. Bill was in heaven, having a new pair of ears for all of his war stories.
Okay, so it wasn’t just one paragraph, but I did talk about a current event, give a little history, describe two embroidery projects and tell a couple of travel stories.
So long for a while. On Tuesday Bill and I are setting out on an Amazon Adventure, leaving from Miami, island-hopping down to Brazil, sailing up the Amazon River and back and then island-hopping back to Miami. We’ve had this trip planned for nearly two years and we’re both pretty excited about it. I’ll be out of touch for about 4 weeks. I’ll have some spotty Internet access and may be able to check in from time to time. I’m leaving you in the capable hands of my staff and I’ll probably miss you all more than you’ll miss me. I’ll be taking LOTS of pictures and will have lots of stories to tell when we get home. To those who celebrate the US Thanksgiving, have a wonderful and grateful day. To everyone, be kind to each other. Keep those machines cranked up and try to get all your gifts finished BEFORE December 25. CUL8R, TTFN.