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HISTORY OF VETERANS DAY


Official recognition of the end of the first modern global conflict -- World War I - - was made in a concurrent resolution (44 Stat. 1982) enacted by Congress 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.



An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, and

the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday - - a day to be

dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and

known as "Armistice Day. "



Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World

War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest

mobilization of soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen in the Nation's

history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd

Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended

the Act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting in

lieu thereof the word "Veterans. " 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.



Later that same year, on October 8th, President Dwight D. Eisenhower

issued the first "Veterans Day Proclamation " which stated:



"In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this

anniversary, all veterans, all veterans' organizations, and the entire

citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose. Toward this

end, I am designating the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs as

Chairman of a Veterans Day National Committee, which shall include

such other persons as the Chairman may select, and which will

coordinate at the national level necessary planning for the

observance. I am also requesting the heads of all departments and

agencies of the Executive branch of the Government to assist the

National Committee in every way possible."



A letter from the President to the Honorable Harvey V. Higley,

Administrator of Veterans' Affairs, was sent on the same date designating

him to serve as Chairman. In 1958, the White House advised the VA's

General Counsel that there was no need for another letter of appointment

for each new Administrator, as the original proclamation in 1954

established the Committee with the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs as

Chairman.



The Uniforms Holiday Bill (Public Law 90-363 (82 Stat. 250)) was signed on

June 28, 1968, and was intended to insure 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. The first

Veterans Day under the new law was observed with much confusion on

October 25, 1971.







It was quite apparent that the commemoration of this day was a matter of

historic and patriotic significance to a great number of our citizens,

and so on September 20th, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed Public

Law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479), which returned the annual observance of

Veterans Day to its original date of November 11, beginning in 1978.

This action supported the express will of the overwhelming majority of

the State legislatures, all major service organizations and the American

people.



The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 not only

preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the

important purpose of Veterans Day: a celebration to honor America's veterans

for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for

the common good.







For P. M. Release October 8, 1954
Murray Snyder, Assistant Press Secretary To The President

THE WHITE HOUSE OFFICE

Lowery Air Force Base
Denver



In connection with the signing of the proclamation on Veterans

Day, the President today sent the following letter to the Honorable

Harvey V. Higley, Administrator of Veterans' Affairs:



Dear Mr. Higley:

I have today sighed a proclamation calling upon all of our citizens to

observe Thursday, November 11, 1954 as Veterans Day. It is my earnest

hope that all veterans, their organizations, and the entire citizenry

will join hands to insure proper and widespread observance of this day.

With the thought that it will be most helpful to coordinate the planning,

I am suggesting the formation of a Veterans Day National Committee. In

view of your great personal interest as well as your official

responsibilities, I have designated you to serve as Chairman. You may

include in the Committee membership such other persons as you desire to

select and I am requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of

the Executive branch to assist the Committee in its work in every way

possible.



I have every confidence that our Nation will respond wholeheartedly in

the appropriate observance of Veterans Day, 1954.



Sincerely,



DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER





Veterans Day, 1954

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

3071



Whereas it has long been our customs to commemorate November 11,

the anniversary of the ending of World War I, by paying tribute to the

heroes of that tragic struggle and by rededicating ourselves to the cause

of peace; and



Whereas in the intervening years the United States has been

involved in two other great military conflicts, which have added millions

of veterans living and dead to the honor rolls of this Nation; and



Whereas the Congress passed a concurrent resolution on June 4,

1926 (44 Stat. 1982), calling for the observance of November 11 with

appropriate ceremonies, and later provided in an act approved May 13,

1938 (52 Stat. 351) , that the eleventh of November should be a legal

holiday and should be known as Armistice Day; and



Whereas, in order to expand the significance of that

commemoration and in order that a grateful Nation might pay appropriate

homage to the veterans of all its wars who have contributed so much to

the preservation of this Nation, the Congress, by an act approved

June 1, 1954 (68 Stat. 168), changed the name of the holiday to Veterans

Day:



Now, Therefore, I, Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the

United States of America, do hereby call upon all of our citizens to

observe Thursday, November 11, 1954, as Veterans Day. On that day let

us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly,

on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage

of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting

an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.

I also direct the appropriate officials of the Government to arrange

for the display of the flag of the United States on all public buildings

on Veterans Day.



In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this

anniversary, all veterans, all veterans' organizations, and the entire

citizenry will wish to wish to join hands in the common purpose.

Toward this end, I am designating the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs

as Chairman of a Veterans Day National Committee, which shall include

such other persons as the Chairman may select, and which will coordinate

at the national level necessary planning for the observance. I am also

requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive

branch of the Government to assist the National Committee in every way

possible.



IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and cause the

al of the United States of America to be affixed.



Done at the City of Washington this eighth day of October in the

Year of our Lord nineteen

hundred and fifty-four, and

of the Independence of the

(SEAL) United States of America the

one hundred and seventy-ninth.



DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER



By the President:



JOHN FOSTER DULLES
Secretary of States.
 

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REMEMBER.......................

It is the Soldier, not the reporter
who has given us Freedom of the Press.
It is the Soldier, not the poet
who has given us Freedom of Speech.
It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.
It is the Soldier
Who Salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag.
It is the Soldier,
whose ultimate sacrifice
ensures that the protester has the right
to burn the flag.



Father Denis Edward O’Brien, USMC


All gave some, Some gave all...to those who have fallen before us and will never be forgotten.
 

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In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.



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The name of John McCrae (1872-1918) may seem out of place in the distinguished company of World War I poets, but he is remembered for what is probably the single best-known and popular poem from the war, "In Flanders Fields." He was a Canadian physician and fought on the Western Front in 1914, but was then transferred to the medical corps and assigned to a hospital in France. He died of pneumonia while on active duty in 1918. His volume of poetry, In Flanders Fields and Other Poems, was published in 1919.
 

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Hampton "Hammy" Gray

Robert Hampton Gray was born on November 2, 1916 at Trail, B.C., the son of John Balfour (JB) Gray, a Scottish immigrant. His mother was Wilhelmina Gray from Listowell, Ontario. He had an older sister, Phyllis, and a younger brother John (Jack). Later the family moved to Nelson, where his father ran a jewellery store. "Hammy" was a popular student, who had the normal interest in sports.

In the fall of 1936, he enrolled at the University of Alberta and spent two years there. During the summer of 1938, he decided to switch to medicine at the University of British Columbia. At UBC, Hammy joined the Phi Delta Theta fraternity, and was active with The Totem, the university yearbook. Hammy continued his studies during the "phoney war", but in the spring of 1940 became alarmed by the blitzkrieg attacks that conquered Europe in seven weeks.

In July, Hammy and his two friends, Peter Dewdney and Jack Diamond drove all night to Calgary to enlist at the naval reserve unit there (later HMCS Tecumseh). They enlisted as part of a program under the RCNVR to supply officer candidates to the Royal Navy. Hammy and his friends took the train to Halifax in September 1940, and sailed for England on the Duchess of Richmond. Their initial training started at HMS Raleigh. In December, they were offered a chance to join the Fleet Air Arm, and about two dozen of the Canadians transferred to HMS St Vincent at Gosport for basic training. The course took three months, and concentrated on navigation, signalling and seamanship.

In March 1941, the group was transferred to the No 24 Elementary Flying Training School at Luton near London. In June, Hammy was sent to the No. 31 Service training School in Kingston, Ontario. He was able to get a short leave to return to Nelson, before starting training in Harvard aircraft. In September, Hammy was graduated as a pilot. He was able to get a short leave before leaving for Halifax and sailing for HMS Heron, the Royal Navy Air Station at Yeovilton. Initial training was on Hurricanes.

In early February 1942, Hammy had completed his operational training and was transferred to HMS Ketral at Worthy Down near Winchester with 757 Squadron. This was a second-line squadron flying Skuas, an obsolete 1934 design fighter. In May 1942, Ham was transferred to South Africa with HMS Afrikaner with 789 Squadron which was flying a mixture of Albacore's, Sea Hurricanes, Swordfishes and Walruses. In August, he was transferred to HMS Kipanga in Kenya with 795 Squadron. It was stationed at Tanga, Tanganika, and was flying Fulmars and Martlets. In the summer he was transferred to 795 Squadron in East Africa, and in September he was appointed back to 803 Squadron in Tanga.

In December 1942, Hammy finally got to sea with HMS Illustrious, and was promoted to Lieutenant in the New Years List of January 1, 1943. He spent two months with 803 Squadron, before being reassigned to 877 Squadron in Tanga which had been equipped with Hurricanes. In July, 877 Squadron was moved near Mombassa. In February 1944, he was transferred back to England, and in March to HMCS Stadacona for 10 weeks leave. After leave, he went back to England with HMS Heron for training on Corsairs, Hellcats, and SeaFires.

On August 6, he joined No 1841 Squadron on HMS Formidable under Lt. Comdr.. Richard Bigg-Wither, flying Corsairs. On August 22, the Formidable squadrons attacked the Tirpitz, but the cloud moved in and they had to turn back. On August 24, they tried again, but the Tirpitz was covered by smoke. They went in anyway, and encountered flak from the surrounding mountains and three Corsairs were shot down. Another strike was sent in on August 29, and one bomb hit, but did not explode. One Corsair failed to return. Hammy was mentioned in dispatches for his run over a German destroyer that was throwing up high levels of flak.

In September, HMS Formidable was assigned to the British Pacific Fleet (BPF). Repairs to the main engines took several months while the ship was in Gibraltar, so Hammy took some of the pilots to Alexandria for further training and practice. The ship reached Colombo on February 8, and Sydney on March 19. It joined several units of the BPF, including HMCS Uganda, and the group sailed to Manus in the Admiralty Islands. After a brief stop at Leyte, the Formidable joined the BPF on April 14.

The BPF was designated as Task Force 57, and allocated to the Sakishima Gunto islands to the north-east of Formosa. The objective was to take the airfields out of operation so that the Japanese could not route replacement aircraft to Okinawa. This was tedious work because the Japanese could repair the airfields as fast as the British took them out.

On May 4, Adm. Rawlings detached the battleships and cruisers from the formation for bombardment work. Many of the large ship crews were bored doing little except AA work for the carriers, so this was designed to boost their morale. Unfortunately, the removal of these ships from the AA screen allowed kamikaze aircraft to break though the air defence and to hit the carriers. One kamikaze hit the Formidable's flight deck, and the 500 lb. bomb exploded, setting fires. Eight crew were killed and 47 others injured, and 11 aircraft were destroyed, but damage control soon had the ship back into operation.

The Indomitable was also hit glancing blows by two kamikazes that had been partially deflected by the AA fire. On May 9, Victorious was hit by two kamikazes, and another hit the Formidable. This time the fires started by the bombs caused greater damage, resulting in the destruction of 19 aircraft by the flames or the water used to fight them. There was only one fatality, although several were injured. Formidable was reduced to 15 operational aircraft. On May 22, the ship departed to fleet for Sydney for repairs and replacement aircraft.

The Formidable sailed from Sydney on June 28 to rejoin the BPF, which was now designated as Task Force 37, under Adm. William "Bull" Halsey. In Sydney, the Formidable had strengthened its AA capability by replacing the 20 mm Oerlikan with 40mm Bofors. In addition, it had brought the air groups up to strength of 40 Corsairs, 12 Avengers and 6 Hellcats. The Corsairs were split evenly between Squadrons 1842 and 1842. Hammy was the senior pilot in 1841 while Lt.Cdr R.L. Bigg-Wither was still the commander. There were about 200 Canadian air crew serving with the BPF at this point.

The British and U.S. naval forces were sweeping across Japan to destroy the last remnants of the Japanese navy. Many of the ships were hidden in small bays to hide them from the Allies while waiting for the invasion of the homeland that was expected in October or November. The Japanese still had some 2,000 smaller craft that were expected to be used as kamikaze ships in the invasion. The objective of the operations was to destroy as many as possible. On July 18, 1841 Squadron attacked the Niigata area on the west coast of northern Honshu. The following day they attacked the Chosi area, 50 miles east of Tokyo. Bad weather delayed operations for the next few days, but on July 24 the attacks were directed at the Shikoku Island area at the southern end of Honshu.

On July 28, Hammy attacked and sunk a Japanese destroyer at Maisuru. He was immediately recommended for the Distinguished Service Cross for this action.

On July 29, the famous typhoon that was to cause so much damage to the Allied fleets swept in. It was August 6 before weather cleared for flying. The BPF was stationed off northern Honshu where the Japanese were believed to be storing aircraft in anticipation of the invasion. Air operations were cancelled that day so the Americans could drop the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. It was obvious that this might have an impact on the end of the war, so the Commanding Officer of the Formidable advised his pilots to "not take undue risks" .

On August 9, Hammy led his wing into the attack at Onagawa Bay. This bay had several ships in it, including the 1000 ton destroyer Amakusa, Minesweeper 33, the newly completed destroyers Ohama and Soya, several other smaller subchasers, and minesweepers, and three merchant ships. The group had been warned of air attacks that had occurred at other airfields nearby and were on full alert. AA guns were mounted in the hills surrounding the bay.

At 09:20, Hammy led the flight into the attack from 10,000 feet, and came in low over the hills and levelled out over the water at about 50 feet. He aimed for the Amakusa but was hit by fire from the Amakusa, Minesweeper 33, Ohama, and Subchaser 42. One bomb was shot off and the airplane caught fire. Hammy released the second bomb which hit the Amakusa below the No. 2 gun platform and penetrated into the engine room before exploding. As Hammy's plane flew away from the ship, it suddenly burst into flame, rolled to the right and crashed into the ocean. The Amakusa quickly flooded, and listed to starboard. The bugle sounded "abandon ship" and survivors jumped into the water. The ship went down quickly, taking 71 crew with it.

The pilots saw the loss of their leader, and swung around for additional passes on the ships in the bay. The Ohama was hit and sunk, and Minesweeper 33 was hit before the aircraft left for the Formidable. The aircraft returned a few hours later, to continue the attack. On the return approach to the Formidable from this second attack, Lt. G.A. Anderson's aircraft engine faltered and the plane hit the roundown and he was killed, the last Canadian to die in WWII.
In the afternoon, an additional 40 Wildcats from the U.S. forces attacked the remaining ships in Onagawa Bay adding additional damage and sinking several more ships. While these attacks were going on, the Americans dropped a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki. On August 10, the aircraft from the Formidable returned to Onagawa Bay where the Kongo Maru, was attacked and sunk. Of the 15 ships in the bay, only the 86 ton subchaser 161 survived. That evening, the Japanese accepted the terms of surrender.

On August 31, 1945, Lt. Hampton Gray was officially awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, and on November 13, he was further awarded the Victoria Cross.

The following was the official citation:

"For great valour in leading, from the aircraft carrier Formidable, an attack on a Japanese destroyer in Onagawa Wan, in the Japanese Island of Honshu, on August 9, 1945. In the face of fire from shore batteries and a heavy concentration of fire from some five warships, Lieutenant Gray pressed home his attack, flying very low in order to ensure success. Although he was hit and his aircraft was in flames, he obtained at least one direct hit, sinking the destroyer. Lieutenant Gray has shown a brilliant fighting spirit and most inspiring leadership."


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Pilot Officer Andrew Mynarski, VC


Pilot Officer A.C. Mynarski was born in Winnipeg, Canada and joined the RCAF in 1941. During a raid on the Cambrai railway yards in France on June 12, 1944, Andrew Mynarski made a heroic effort to pry his rear gunner from the turret of his burning Lancaster even though his own parachute and clothing were on fire. Ironically, Mynarski, who was able to bail out, died in the action while the gunner, who was trapped, survived to tell the tale. For his heroism he received the Victoria Cross.

The Citation read:

"Pilot Officer Mynarski was the mid-upper gunner of a Lancaster aircraft, detailed to attack a target at Cambrai, France, on the night of 12th June 1944. The aircraft was attacked from below and astern by enemy fighter and ultimately came down in flames.

As an immediate result of the attack, both port engines failed. Fire broke out between the mid-upper turret and the rear turret, as well as in the port wing. The flames soon became fierce and the captain ordered the crew to abandon the aircraft.

Pilot Officer Mynarski left his turret and went towards the escape hatch. He then saw that the rear gunner, Flying Officer Pat Brophy, was still in his turret and apparently unable to leave it. The turret was, in fact, immovable, since the hydraulic gear had been put out of action when the port engines failed, and the manual gear had been broken by the gunner in his attempts to escape. Without hesitation, Pilot Officer Mynarski made his way through the flames in an effort to reach the rear turret and release the gunner. Whilst so doing, his parachute and clothing, up to the waist, were set on fire. All his efforts to move the turret and free the gunner were in vain. Eventually the rear gunner clearly indicated to him that there was nothing more he could do and that he should try to save his own life. Pilot Officer Mynarski reluctantly went back through the flames to the escape hatch.

There, as a last gesture to the trapped gunner, he turned towards him, stood at attention in his flaming clothing and saluted, before he jumped out of the aircraft. Pilot Officer Mynarski's descent was seen by French people on the ground. Both his parachute and clothing were on fire. He was found eventually by the French, but was so severely burned that he died from his injuries.

Pat Brophy had a miraculous escape when the aircraft crashed. He subsequently testified that, had Pilot Officer Mynarski not attempted to save his comrade's life, he could have left the aircraft in safety and would, doubtless, have escaped death. Pilot Officer Mynarski must have been fully aware that, in trying to free the rear gunner, he was almost certain to lose his own life. Despite this, with outstanding courage and complete disregard for his own safety, he went to the rescue. Willingly accepting the danger, Pilot Officer Mynarski lost his life by a most conspicuous act of heroism which called for valour of the highest order."

Years later Brophy reflected: "I'll always believe that a divine providence intervened to save me because of what I had seen, so that the world
might know of a gallant man who laid down his life for his friend".
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Remember These American Heroes

Veterans Day honors those, both living and dead, who served with the United States armed forces in wartime. This list features 11 famous (and sometimes surprising) American veterans of war.

1. Crispus Attucks (1723?-1770)
Crispus Attucks, a leader of American colonists, was the first person killed by British soldiers in the Boston Massacre.

2. Molly Pitcher (1754-1832)
Born Mary Ludwig, she became known as Molly Pitcher after carrying pitchers of water to her husband and other soldiers during the Battle of Monmouth in the American Revolution.

3. Zachary Taylor (1784-1850)
This Mexican War hero, called "Old Rough and Ready" by his men, never lost a battle and later became the 12th president of the United States.

4. Teddy Roosevelt (1858-1919)
Theodore Roosevelt pulled together his cowboy and socialite friends to form the Rough Riders, a group of horse-riding volunteer soldiers who fought in the Spanish-American War.

5. Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964)
Like father, like son. General Douglas MacArthur commanded the Allied troops during World War II; his father, General Arthur MacArthur, was a hero of the American Civil War.

6. Eddie Rickenbacker (1890-1973)
An internationally famous racecar driver who set a world record for speed driving, Eddie Rickenbacker was the leading American combat pilot during World War I.

7. Ernie Pyle (1900-1945)
Ernie Pyle, who was known for his front-line reporting during World War II, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1944. A year later, he was killed near Okinawa, Japan.

8. Jimmy Stewart (1908-1997)
American cinematic hero Jimmy Stewart served as a bomber pilot in World War II.

9. Joe Louis (1914-1981)
Boxing Hall of Famer Joe Louis served in the Army during World War II and became a symbol for democracy after beating German boxer Max Schmeling in a one-round bout.

10. Ted Williams (1918- )
Baseball great Ted Williams twice interrupted his career with the Boston Red Sox to serve as a pilot in the United States Marine Corps: once during World War II and then again during the Korean War.

11. Oliver Stone (1946- )
Academy Award-winning director Oliver Stone enlisted in the U.S. Army and was wounded during the Vietnam War. Stone later created a trilogy of films about the Vietnam War: Platoon (1986), Born on the Fourth of July (1989), and Heaven and Earth (1993).
 

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Thank You!

Thank You PrG and all of you here and near to you that have served to allow us our freedoms.
 

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You guys are the best. Thanks!
 
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