Celebrating Veterans Day 2016

November 11, 2016

A teacher asked on Twitter yesterday for sources of information to set up a curriculum for Veterans Day, and I sent a few suggestions (and got thanked!).

Teachers watching through the day probably saw several sources pop up on the internet that they wished they’d had last week, to plan for this week.

For one, I didn’t post the Veterans Administration’s annual Veterans Day poster, and it’s a very nice one this year:

Veterans Day poster for 2016. Look carefully, you'll see the names of past military engagements in which veterans may have fought, in the background behind the very sharp photo of the head of a bald eagle, our national symbol.

Veterans Day poster for 2016. Look carefully, you’ll see the names of past military engagements in which veterans may have fought, in the background behind the very sharp photo of the head of a bald eagle, our national symbol.

In world history or U.S. history, I usually stop for the day to talk about the origins of Veterans Day in Armistice Day, the day the guns stopped blazing to effectively end fighting in World War I. For several reasons, including mnemonic, the treaty called for an end to hostilities on the “11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month” of 1918. Your state’s history standards probably has that phrase somewhere, but the history behind it is what students really find interesting.

Original documents and good history can be found at the Library of Congress online collections.

The Allied powers signed a ceasefire agreement with Germany at Rethondes, France, at 11:00 a.m. on November 11, 1918, bringing the war later known as World War I to a close.

President Wilson proclaimed the first Armistice Day the following year on November 11, 1919, with the these 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…” Originally, the celebration included parades and public meetings following a two-minute suspension of business at 11:00 a.m.


Co. E, 102nd U.S.A. Curtiss Studio, photographers, c1917. Panoramic Photographs. Prints & Photographs Division

Between the world wars, November 11 was commemorated as Armistice Day in the United States, Great Britain, and France. After World War II, the holiday was recognized as a day of tribute to veterans of both wars. Beginning in 1954, the United States designated November 11 as Veterans Day to honor veterans of all U.S. wars. British Commonwealth countries now call the holiday Remembrance Day.

Online holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) provide rich sources of information on America’s military, and on veteran’s day. NARA leans to original documents a bit more than the Library of Congress. For Veterans Day 2016, NARA featured an historic photo form 1961:

 President John F. Kennedy Lays a Wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as part of Veterans Day Remembrances, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, 11/11/1961 Series: Robert Knudsen White House Photographs, 1/20/1961 - 12/19/1963. Collection: White House Photographs, 12/19/1960 - 3/11/1964 (Holdings of the @jfklibrary)

NARA caption: President John F. Kennedy Lays a Wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as part of Veterans Day Remembrances, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, 11/11/1961 Series: Robert Knudsen White House Photographs, 1/20/1961 – 12/19/1963. Collection: White House Photographs, 12/19/1960 – 3/11/1964 (Holdings of the @jfklibrary)

For teachers, that page also features this:

For Veterans Day, explore the many resources in the National Archives about veterans and military service.

(Well, actually it’s for everyone. But teachers love those kinds of links, especially AP history teachers who need documents for “Document-Based Questions” (DBQs).

On one page, the Veterans Administration makes it easy for teachers to plan activities; of course, you need to start some of these weeks before the actual day:

For Teachers & Students

Hope your Veterans Day 2016 went well (remember to bring in your flag at home!).

Get ready for Veterans Day 2017 — the 11th day of the 11th month.

 

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2016’s Dakota statehood days – fly your flags

November 2, 2016

North Dakota's commemorative quarter depicts the American bison, perhaps the quintessential prairie symbol.

North Dakota’s commemorative quarter depicts the American bison, perhaps the quintessential prairie symbol.

South Dakota's commemorative quarter interestingly focuses on human alterations to the area -- the carved presidential busts on Mt. Rushmore, wheat introduced by immigrant farmers, and the Chinese pheasant, an exotic species introduced for hunting.

South Dakota’s commemorative quarter interestingly focuses on human alterations to the area — the carved presidential busts on Mt. Rushmore, wheat introduced by immigrant farmers, and the Chinese pheasant, an exotic species introduced for hunting.

Residents of North Dakota and South Dakota should fly their U.S. flags today in honor of your states’ being admitted to the union, on November 2, 1889.

Most sites note simply that both states were admitted on the same day; some sites, especially those that lean toward North Dakota, claim that state is Number 39, because President Harrison signed their papers first, after shuffling to avoid playing favorites.

Does anyone really care?

How much do you really know about the Dakotas?

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November 2016 dates to fly the flag

November 1, 2016

An election day in Philadelphia, 1815. Display of the national flag runs to the earliest days of the U.S. republic.

An election day in Philadelphia, 1815. Display of the national flag runs to the earliest days of the U.S. republic. “John Lewis Krimmel, ELECTION DAY AT THE STATE HOUSE, (1815). Courtesy the Historical Society of Pennsylvania”

Eight events spread over six different days come with urgings to fly the U.S. flag in November: Six states celebrate statehood, Veterans Day falls as always on November 11, and Thanksgiving Day on November 24.

Did I say eight? 2016 is a federal election year; we fly flags at polling places on election day, so that makes nine events — but election day falls on Montana’s statehood day, so it’s still just six days. You may fly your flag at home on election day, too.

Two states, North Dakota and South Dakota, celebrate their statehood on the same date. Washington’s statehood day falls on Veterans Day, November 11 — so there are only six days covering eight events.

In calendar order for 2015, these are the seven days:

  • North Dakota statehood day, November 2 (1889, 39th or 40th state)
  • South Dakota statehood day, November 2 (1889, 39th or 40th state) (shared with North Dakota)
  • Election day, November 8 (nationwide)
  • Montana statehood day, November 8 (1889, 41st state)
  • Veterans Day, November 11
  • Washington statehood day, November 11 (1889, 42nd state) (shared with Veterans Day)
  • Oklahoma statehood day, November 16 (1907, 46th state)
  • North Carolina statehood day, November 21 (1789, 12th state)
  • Thanksgiving Day, fourth Thursday in November (November 24 in 2016)

Most Americans will concern themselves only with Veterans Day and Thanksgiving Day. Is flying the U.S. flag for statehood day a dying tradition?

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Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.

Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.

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October 2016 dates to fly U.S. colors

October 4, 2016

Roosevelt look-alike Pietro Casini, an Italian merchant. Casini stands outside his Magazzino Roosevelt shop in Florence, Italy, holding a U.S. flag and a photo of Roosevelt. Oct. 26, 1915. George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. via Pinterest

Roosevelt look-alike Pietro Casini, an Italian merchant. Casini stands outside his Magazzino Roosevelt shop in Florence, Italy, holding a U.S. flag and a photo of Roosevelt. Oct. 26, 1915. George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. via Pinterest

October is not a big month for dates to fly the U.S. flag.  Only one state joined the union in October, and only two other dates have merited Congress’s designation for flag-flying.

Here are October’s three flag-flying days, in chronological order:

  • Columbus Day, October 12 —  tradition puts Columbus Day on October 12, but in law it is designated as the second Monday in October (to make a three-day weekend for workers who get a holiday); in 2016, October 10 is the second Monday of the month.
  • Navy Day, October 27
  • Nevada Statehood Day, October 31; Nevada joined the union during the Civil War, in 1864, the 36th state.

Federal law also designates October 9 as Leif Erickson Day, a concession to Scandanavian-descended Americans who argue Erickson beat Columbus to the Americas by a few hundred years. Congress’s recognition does not include an urging to fly the flag, though the President may issue such a proclamation.

Other notable stuff:

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Patriot Day 2016: Fly your flag at half staff today, September 11

September 11, 2016

In Washington, D.C., three American flags fly at half-staff on Columbus Circle (outside of Union Station) on Patriot Day 2013.

Wikipedia image. In Washington, D.C., three American flags fly at half-staff on Columbus Circle (outside of Union Station) on Patriot Day 2013. The flags of several US states and territories can be seen also flying at half-staff in the background. “Union Station 2013-09-11 A” by T. H. Kelly. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Union_Station_2013-09-11_A.JPG#/media/File:Union_Station_2013-09-11_A.JPG

To honor those who died on September 11, 2001, flags in the U.S. fly at half-staff on September 11.  Known as Patriot Day, the date is not in the Flag Code, but is listed in a separate law.

In the United States, Patriot Day, observed as the National Day of Service and Remembrance, occurs on September 11 of each year in memory of the 2,977 killed in the 2001 September 11 attacks.

Fly your flag today, at half-staff. Remember when flying a flag at half-staff, it is first raised to full staff, then slowly lowered to the half-staff position. When the flag is retired at the end of the day, it should again be crisply raised to the full-staff position before being lowered.

A flag attached to a pole that does not allow a half-staff position should be posted as usual.

To further honor the dead, and survivors, many people participate in a day of service to others.

President Barack Obama issued a proclamation on September 9, 2016, ordering all federal facilities to fly flags at half-staff:

Presidential Proclamation — Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance, 2016

PATRIOT DAY AND NATIONAL DAY OF SERVICE AND REMEMBRANCE, 2016

– – – – – – –

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

Fifteen years ago, nearly 3,000 innocent lives men, women, and children who had been going about their normal routines were taken from us, depriving families and loved ones of a lifetime of precious moments. But the acts of terror of September 11, 2001, sought to do more than hurt our people and bring down buildings: They sought to break our spirit and destroy the enduring values that unite us as Americans. In the years that followed, our capacity to love and to hope has guided us forward as we worked to rebuild, more sound and resilient than ever before. With the hearts of those we lost held faithfully in our memories, we reaffirm the unwavering optimism and everlasting strength that brought us together in our darkest hour, and we resolve to give of ourselves in service to others in that same spirit.

The pain inflicted on our Nation on September 11 was felt by people of every race, background, and faith. Though many young Americans have grown up without knowing firsthand the horrors of that day, their lives have been shaped by it. They hear of the many acts of service that occurred coworkers who led others to safety, passengers who stormed a cockpit, and first responders who charged directly into the fire. Many Americans did everything they could to help survivors, from volunteering their time to donating food, clothing, and blood. And many signed up to don our Nation’s uniform to prove to the world that no act of terror could eclipse the strength or character of our country.

United by a common creed, a commitment to lifting up our neighbors, and a belief that we are stronger when we stand by one another, we must find the courage to carry forward the legacy of those who stepped up in our time of need. By devoting ourselves to each other and recognizing that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves just as heroic patriots did on September 11 we are paying tribute to their sacrifices. On this National Day of Service and Remembrance, we must ensure that darkness is no match for the light we shine by engaging in acts of service and charity. I invite all Americans to observe this day with compassionate and selfless deeds that embody the values that define our people, and to visit http://www.Serve.gov to find opportunities to give back to their communities.

America endures in the tenacity of our survivors, and in the dedication of those who keep us safe. Today, we honor all who lost their lives in the heartbreaking attacks of September 11, and all who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country in the years that followed. In memory of these beautiful souls, we vow to keep moving forward. Let us have confidence in the values that make us American, the liberties that make us a beacon to the world, and the unity we sustain every year on this anniversary. Above all, let us stand as strong as ever before and recognize that together, there is nothing we cannot overcome.

By a joint resolution approved December 18, 2001 (Public Law 107-89), the Congress has designated September 11 of each year as “Patriot Day,” and by Public Law 111-13, approved April 21, 2009, the Congress has requested the observance of September 11 as an annually recognized “National Day of Service and Remembrance.”

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim September 11, 2016, as Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance. I call upon all departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the United States to display the flag of the United States at half-staff on Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance in honor of the individuals who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. I invite the Governors of the United States and its Territories and interested organizations and individuals to join in this observance. I call upon the people of the United States to participate in community service in honor of those our Nation lost, to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities, including remembrance services, and to observe a moment of silence beginning at 8:46 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time to honor the innocent victims who perished as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this ninth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand sixteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-first.

BARACK OBAMA

Do you plan any special service today?

From a photo release from the U.S. Navy in 2007: WASHINGTON (Sept. 11, 2007) - A memorial flag is illuminated near the spot where American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is scheduled to host the Pentagon Sept. 11 Memorial observance for family members of those who were killed in the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brandan W. Schulze (RELEASED)

From a photo release from the U.S. Navy in 2007: WASHINGTON (Sept. 11, 2007) – A memorial flag is illuminated near the spot where American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is scheduled to host the Pentagon Sept. 11 Memorial observance for family members of those who were killed in the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brandan W. Schulze (RELEASED)

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Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.

Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.

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September 2016 calendar for flying Old Glory

September 11, 2016

Flag patched up with pieces from many flags, including the flag from Ft. McHenry; displayed at the National 9-11 Memorial Museum in New York City. Photo by Ed Darrel, use with attribution encouraged.

National 9-11 Flag patched up with pieces from many flags, including the flag from Ft. McHenry; displayed at the National 9-11 Memorial Museum in New York City. Photo by Ed Darrel, use with attribution encouraged.

Five days designated by law to fly the U.S. flag in September — only one statehood day, though, for California. In chronological order:

  • Labor Day, the first Monday in September — September 5, in 2016 (yep; passed)
  • California Statehood, September 9 (1850, the 31st state)
  • Patriot Day, September 11
  • Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, September 17; September 17-23 is also designated Constitution Week, though flag flying is not mentioned as a recommended activity (you may feel free to fly your flag anyway)
  • Gold Star Mothers Day, last Sunday in September — September 25 in 2016

Gold Star Mothers Day will probably get extra attention in this election year.

An American battle flag flew for the first time in battle on September 3, 1777, but this date is usually not commemorated.

This occurred during a Revolutionary War skirmish at Cooch’s Bridge, Delaware. Gen. William Maxwell, commanding a Patriot force of infantry and cavalry, ordered the new flag raised in a clash with an advance guard of British and Hessian troops.

The rebels were defeated and forced to retreat to the encampment housing Gen. George Washington’s main force near Brandywine Creek in Pennsylvania.

Three months beforehand, on June 14, the Continental Congress resolved that “the flag of the United States be 13 alternate stripes red and white” and that “the Union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”

The new national flag, which quickly became known as the “Stars and Stripes,” was based on the “Grand Union” flag – a banner carried by the Continental Army in 1776 that consisted of 13 red and white stripes.

Ten dates to fly the U.S. flag in September; eleven if you’re in California.

September features several other commemorations that usually involve no flag flying (these are declarations for 2015):

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September 9, 2016 California Statehood Day

September 9, 2016

California residents fly their U.S. flags today in honor of California’s entering the union this day in 1850.

U.S. Flag Code guidelines list specific days Americans should fly U.S. flags, and generically, urges people in states to fly flags on their state’s day of achieving statehood.

It’s fun to read through the list of statehood dates and ponder just how such a date is calculated (consider the first 13 colonies and their becoming states); but however it was calculated, September 9 is California’s day.

U.S. and California flags flying from the same flagpole.

U.S. and California flags flying from the same flagpole.

Fly your flags, California.

3-cent stamp honoring California's statehood centennial, in 1950. Image from Rockhounds.com

3-cent stamp honoring California’s statehood centennial, in 1950. Image from Rockhounds.com

California was the 31st state admitted; 31-star flags were in use until Minnesota’s statehood in 1858.  Here’s a unique design on the 31-star motif:

31-start flag with stars arranged in

31-star flag with stars arranged in “Great Star” constellation suggested by War of 1812 Navy hero Samuel Reid, a wearer of the Congressional Medal of Honor. Reid urged 13 stripes instead of 15, which Congress accepted; but he also urged the Great Star design, which was not accepted. Placement of stars in the field remained unencumbered by rules until the Eisenhower administration. Photo from Jeff R. Bridgman Antiques.

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Tony Bennett left his heart in San Francisco, one of the 15 California songs listed at Today Past.

Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.

Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience, and in the case of history tied to specific dates, repetition.

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