Tag Archives: Heroism

D-day Photo Montage

Just a few quick photos of the preparations for, execution of, and aftermath of the D-Day invasion (Operation Overlord) June 6, 1944.  Thank you for your sacrifice.

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“The finest example of a ballplayer, sportsman, and citizen…”

These are the words spoken by New York Yankees manager Joe McCarthy on July 4, 1939.

New York Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig had announced his retirement from baseball on June 21st.  After almost 17 years in of play, increasing fatigue and lack of coordination had led his wife Eleanor to call the famed Mayo Clinic.  Six days of extensive testing led to the devastating diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).  His rapidly increasing paralysis and difficulties with breathing and swallowing meant that the prognosis was dire.  Life expectancy was estimated at about three years.

The Yankees decided to honor the retiring player by declaring July 4, 1939 “Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day”.  Between the games of their double-header against the Washington Senators, speeches, ceremonies, and awards extolled the virtues of one of baseball’s legendary players.  After all the presentations, remarks by dignitaries, and a speech by  teammate Babe Ruth, Gehrig addressed the crowd:

Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.

Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn’t consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? Sure, I’m lucky. Who wouldn’t consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball’s greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy? Sure, I’m lucky.

When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift — that’s something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies — that’s something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter — that’s something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so that you can have an education and build your body — it’s a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed — that’s the finest I know.

So I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot to live for. Thank you.

— Lou Gehrig at Yankee Stadium, July 4, 1939  After his remarks, the crowd gave a standing ovation and chanted “We love you, Lou” to the visibly emotional Gehrig.  He left his beloved game and took a public service post; declining more lucrative speaking and appearance jobs.  On June 2, 1941, less than 2 years after his diagnosis, Henry Louis “Lou” Gehrig died at his home in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, New York.  Gehrig’s number 4 was retired by the Yankees.  It was the first time that honor had ever been bestowed on a player.

How many of us could face the devastation of a life-changing diagnosis with such aplomb?  How many of us could look past our own struggles to see where we can touch the lives of others?  We could all be a little better if we were a little more like Lou.

lou-gehrig

It’s Never Too Late To Stand Up For What You Believe In

Some will say it’s too hard or that they have no time.  Others will claim they have done their time or given enough.  A brave few – a tiny remnant of those among us – will still do what they know needs to be done.

Here is to Samuel Whittemore, aged 80.  Alone, he attacked a British relief column and killed three British soldiers on April 19, 1775 near Arlington, Massachusetts.  In the process he was shot in the face, bayoneted 13 times, and left for dead.  When found, he lay in a pool of his own blood; trying to reload his musket.  Out of what I would imagine is a pure stubborn refusal to allow the Redcoats the pleasure of his death, he recovered and lived to the ripe old age of 98.  He is rightly honored as the Official State Hero of Massachusetts.

samuel whittemore

Lost and Found – January 7th Edition

What to remember about January 7th…

  • 1718  Revolutionary War general and member of Rogers’ Rangers Israel Putnam is born in Salem village, Massachusetts (d. 1790)
  • 1785  American John Jeffries and Frenchman Jean-Pierre Blanchard are 1st to cross the English Channel by air; do it in a balloon
  • 1789  1st presidential election under the newly ratified U.S. Constitution is held; George Washington wins as expected
  • 1800  Future 13th President Millard Fillmore is born in New York (d. 1874)
  • 1953  President Truman announces in State of the Union address that the U.S. has successfully developed a hydrogen bomb
  • 1980  President Carter signs bill authorizing $1.5 billion in bail out loans for Chrysler Corporation
  • 1999  President Clinton’s impeachment trial begins in the Senate for lying under oath and obstructing justice
  • 2010  Muslim gunmen open fire on Christians leaving midnight Christmas mass in Egypt; 9 killed and 11 wounded
  • 2015  Muslim terrorists storm offices of French Satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris killing 12 and wounding 11 for the “blasphemy” of making fun of Islam and Muhammad; rampage continues for 2-more days until another 5 killed an 11 wounded in associated attacks

rogers rangers standing orders

Spirit of WWII Would Serve Us Well Today

A friend on Facebook (thanks J.R.) shares a great quote from a book by WWII B-24 bomber pilot Ralph Welsh.  We should start each day with this in our heads and hearts.

“I do not choose to be a common man. It is my right to be uncommon if I can. I seek opportunity, not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after me. I want to take the calculated risk, to dream and to build, fail and succeed. I refuse to barter incentive for a dole. I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence, the thrill of fulfillment to the stale calm of utopia. I will not trade freedom for beneficence, nor my dignity for a handout. I will never cower before any master nor bend to any threat. It is my heritage to stand erect, proud and unafraid. To think and act for myself, enjoy the benefits of my creations, and to face the world boldly and say, ” This I have done..””

 

The book is WOW!: An anthology with 149 World War II stories of bombing missions, personalities, diverse life experiences by Ralph Welsh.  Check it out at Amazon.com.

WOW! by Ralph Welsh

 

A Soldier’s Christmas Wish

Let’s never forget those whose sacrifices make us free and able to celebrate and worship as we please in this holiday season as well as the rest of the year. Published in the Magic City Morning Star December 24, 2009, this work really captures the feeling.  Transcript is posted below the video.

This poem was written by an Australian Peacekeeping stationed overseas. His request, send this to as many people as you can.  Credit is due to all of the service men and women for our being able to celebrate Christmas.  Let’s try to pay a bit of what we owe to these heroes.

Soldier’s Christmas Wish

By Unknown Original Author
 
T’was the night before Christmas, He lived all alone
In a one bedroom house, made of plaster and stone.
 
I had come down the chimney, with presents to give,
And to see just who, in this home, did live.
 
I looked all about, a strange sight I did see,
No tinsel, no presents, Not even a tree.
 
No stocking by mantle, just boots filled with sand,
On the wall hung pictures, of far distant lands.
 
With medals and badges, Awards of all kinds,
A sober thought, came through my mind.
 
For this house was different, it was dark and dreary,
I found the home of a soldier, once I could see clearly.
 
The soldier lay sleeping, Silent, alone,
Curled up on the floor, in this one bedroom home.
 
The face was so gentle, the room in disorder,
Not how I pictured, (A United States) Soldier.
 
Was this the hero, of whom I’d just read?
Curled up on a poncho, the floor for a bed?
 
I realised the families, that I saw this night,
Owed their lives to these soldiers, who were willing to fight.
 
Soon round the world, the children would play,
And grownups would celebrate, a bright Christmas day.
 
They all enjoyed freedom, Each month of the year,
Because of the soldiers, like the one lying here.
 
I couldn’t help wonder, How many lay alone,
On a cold Christmas Eve, in a land far from home.
 
The very thought brought, a tear to my eye,
I dropped to my knees, and started to cry.
 
The soldier awakened, and I heard a rough voice,
“Santa don’t cry, This life is my choice;
I fight for freedom, I don’t ask for more,
My life is my God, My country, my corps.”
 
The soldier rolled over, and drifted to sleep,
I couldn’t control it, I continued to weep.
 
I kept watch for hours, So silent and still,
And we both shivered, from the cold night’s chill.
 
I did not want to leave, on that cold, dark, night,
This guardian of honour, So willing to fight.
 
Then the soldier rolled over, With a voice soft and pure,
Whispered, “carry on Santa, It’s Christmas Day, all is secure.”
 
One look at my watch, and I knew he was right.
“Merry Christmas my friend, and to all, a good night.”
 

(Thank you Herta for sending this to me.  God bless!)

Lost and Found – December 5th Edition

What to remember about December 5th…

  • 1775  Colonial Colonel Henry Knox arrives at Ticonderoga to form expedition to bring 60 captured artillery to General Washington; 10-week journey is astounding winter feat
  • 1782  Future 8th President Martin Van Buren is born in Kinderhook, New York (d. 1862)
  • 1791  Austrian musical prodigy Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart dies of fever in Vienna (b. 1756)
  • 1831  Former President John Quincy Adams takes office as a member of the House of Representatives
  • 1901  American entrepreneur and philanthropist Walter Elias “Walt” Disney is born in Chicago, Illinois (d. 1966)
  • 1933  Prohibition ends when Utah ratifies 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified and 18th is repealed
  • 1945  27 men lost when squadron of Navy planes disappears over Bermuda Triangle; mystery of Flight 19
  • 1955  American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations merge to become AFL-CIO
  • 1964  Army Captain Roger Donlon is presented 1st Medal of Honor awarded during Vietnam War; 1st member of Special Forces to receive the award
  • 2007  19-year-old gunman opens fire at Westroads Mall in Nebraska; 8 killed and 4 wounded before shooter kills himself
  • 2008  O.J. Simpson is sentenced to 15-33 years in prison for his role in kidnapping and robbery at casino in Las Vegas, Nevada

Thanksgiving For The Troops – Part 2 (Repost)

Earlier I did a brief post on thanking our veterans this season.  I thought I’d continue the theme today with our serving soldiers.

Lost and Found – November 19th Edition

What to remember about November 19th…

    • 1794  U.S. and Great Britain sign Jay’s Treaty to resolve issues still creating tension after end of the Revolutionary War
    • 1831  Future President James A. Garfield is born near Cleveland, Ohio (d. 1881)
    • 1863  President Lincoln delivers Gettysburg Address at dedication for military cemetery in Pennsylvania
    • 1942  Soviets begin counterattack at Battle of Stalingrad; by January this battle will turn the tide in the Allies favor
    • 1967  For heroism on the battlefield this day U.S. Army Chaplain Charles Watters will receive Medal of Honor (posthumously)
    • 1977  Egyptian President Anwar Sadat is 1st Arab leader to set foot in Israel; peace process moves forward
    • 1985  President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev meet for 1st time at summit in Geneva
    • 1998  Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives begins impeachment hearings for President Clinton
    • 2002  Cameras capture King of Pop Michael Jackson dangling his infant son from a hotel balcony in Berlin
    • 2006  Nintendo releases their 7th generation gaming console the Wii

Remember Veterans Day Today

“To be a veteran one must know and determine one’s price for freedom.”

Originaly known as Armistice Day, November 11th was established as a day to remember the armistice ending the hostilities of The Great War – World War I.  President Woodrow Wilson declared  the first Armistice Day be held on November 11, 1919.  In 1938 President Calvin Coolidge signed a Congressional resolution making the 11th of November a legal holiday every year.  Then, at the suggestion of a shoe store owner in Kansas, Congress ammeded the holiday in 1954 to include all who served in the miilitary and renamed the observance to Veterans Day.

“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” – George Orwell

“A man who is good enough to shed his blood for his country is good enough to be given a square deal afterwards.” – Theodore Roosevelt

“It seems to be a law of nature, inflexible and inexorable, that those who will not risk cannot win.” John Paul Jones

“God grant me the courage not to give up what I think is right even though I think it is hopeless.” Chester W. Nimitz

“Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die.” G.K. Chesterton