Sunday, November 11, 2012

Veterans Day Origin

 On November 7, 1918 Sergeant John Guess, Jr. died in Base Hospital 61, Ward 7 in Beaune, France. This was just four days before all hostilities of "The Great War" ended at 11:00 a.m. on November 11, 1918. The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month - which would be generally regarded as the end of "the war to end all wars". 

The war's official end was with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 26, 1919. President Wilson would in November of that year proclaim November 11th as the first commemoration of Armistice Day, a day for Americans to reflect "with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory..." 

Sgt. John Guess, Jr.
AEF, 91st Division, Company H, 364th Infantry
Awarded Distinguished Service Cross
No. 2588 December 14, 1918

In 1954 President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the Veterans Day Proclamation that would insure that all veterans from all wars would be honored and remembered but it would take until October 25, 1971 for the first Veterans Day to be observed. Much confusion centered from this October date and in 1978 President Gerald R. Ford signed a law that returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to the original date of November 11.

"Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. 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." ~ From the United States Department of Veterans Affairs website
F. M. Guess, Sr. World War I
F. M. Guess, Jr. World War II

 "They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We shall remember them."

From The Ode - Lawrence Binyon, 1914

Thursday, November 8, 2012

True Cost of War: Death, Wounded and Mamed

Iraq: Faces of War

1st Lt. Dustin D. Vincent could be one of the last soldiers to die in the Iraq War. He was killed by small arms fire in Kirkuk Province. Vincent was on his first deployment and you can only imagine the relief his family felt when President Obama announced that all troops would be home from Iraq by the holidays. The Mesquite, Texas 25 year old young soldier leaves behind a wife. Vincent is casualty 4484 in the Iraq War.

From DAVIDMIXNER.COM ~ February 9, 2011

~ ~ ~

In the Huffington Post today David Wood has an article on U.S. wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan and the grim milestone that on October 25, 2012 the number of American battle wounded passed the 50,000 mark. This figures doesn't include the over 253,330 servicemen and women who have suffered traumatic brain injury or the 5,225 American personnel killed in action in Afghanistan or Iraq, like 1st Lt. Dustin D. Vincent so many in their mid-twenties.

Anyone who watches the nightly news broadcast on Public Television will see the scroll of names and ages of military personnel who have recently died and I am always taken aback at the young ages of these men and women. It is a small final tribute to pay our men and women who serve and often wonder why each newscast on every network is not ended this way.

Four years ago Harvard economist Linda Bilmes estimated the lifetime cost of caring for the war wounded to be between $600 billion and $900 billion, recent data indicates that figure will rise.

The United States is a relatively young country with a long history associated with war. Going back to its founding with the American Revolutionary War that spanned a period from 1775-1783 and tallied up 25,000 casualties, almost topping that was the War of 1812 which really ended in 1815 and sustained 20,000 casualties.

So far the war the United States had with itself holds the record for casualties at 625,000 during the Civil War lasting from 1861-1865. Even adding the casualties from World War I (116,516) and World War II (405,399) both together doesn't top the Civil War statistics.

The longest period the United States went between being involved in a war was from the end of the Great Sioux War in 1877 and the beginning of the Spanish-American War in 1898. On average it seems America is most comfortable being involved is conflict somewhere in the world.

So you see just a little glance back at our history and it is easy to see why we are so obsessed with war. I put forth the argument that is has more to do with money than it has to do with principles or ideals. I wonder just how long it will take for us to evolve from this mindset to one that will truly be concerned with the betterment of mankind and creating a healthy global environment.

Source Material:

Huffingtonpost article by David Wood 11/7/2012

Congressional Research Service:American War and Military Operations Casualties: Lists and Statistics February 26, 2010

American War Deaths Through History

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

When the dust settles from the Election whirlwind...

Remember we still have many people hurting and in need from Hurricane Sandy.....don't turn your back on them, but run to them with your help.

Dear Friend,

Although we have all seen extensive media coverage of Hurricane Sandy, I believe that the devastation is too massive to be conveyed through these usual sources of information.  As happened after Hurricane Katrina, there are many in the region who feel forgotten and abandoned. For that reason, we are determined to make sure that for a small number of victims, HCZ will be a clear sign that they have not been forgotten.

This weekend, we were joined by Stan Druckenmiller and his wife, Fiona, and we saw destruction as far as the eye could see. Residents are without power and without a way to get the most-basic necessities.
We now have a team of our full-time staff who are volunteering in the Rockaways, delivering supplies and assisting the residents there, particularly in the large public-housing buildings. Thanks to the generosity of a few donors, the HCZ staff has been able to distribute blankets, water, food and flashlights. These trips also have a symbolic purpose. We want our presence to be a reminder to the residents there that they have not been forgotten by this great city. 

This is not a fundraising appeal – nor a request for volunteers. This is dangerous work, particularly because of the elevated possibility of crime due to the chaos and desperation there.  That said, I feel we are an organization that is one of the best suited to tackle the job.  I am writing to keep you updated about our work and to let you know that you are part of a team that is actively making a difference in the wake of this unprecedented disaster in the region.

Thanks for your continued support and I hope that the storm has left you and your loved ones safe and warm.