Gold Star Mothers Day, 2015

September 27, 2015

President Barack Obama hugs Gold Star mother Michelle DeFord following a roundtable with veterans and Gold Star mothers regarding the Iran nuclear agreement, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Sept. 10, 2015. Secretary of State John Kerry also participated. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama hugs Gold Star mother Michelle DeFord following a roundtable with veterans and Gold Star mothers regarding the Iran nuclear agreement, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Sept. 10, 2015. Secretary of State John Kerry also participated. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Ceremonies and gatherings mark Gold Star Mothers Day in cities across the United States. Gold Star Mothers Day officially is the last Sunday in September, September 27 in 2015.

The Tampa Tribune offers an article covering several meetings in the Tampa area, and the families honored and affected.

Photo and caption from the Tampa Tribune: Thea Kurz became a Gold Star mother on Aug. 20, 2014, when her son, Army Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Leggett, 39, was killed in Afghanistan. She says she gets helpful support from other Tampa Bay families who have lost loved ones serving in the military.

Photo and caption from the Tampa Tribune: Thea Kurz became a Gold Star mother on Aug. 20, 2014, when her son, Army Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Leggett, 39, was killed in Afghanistan. She says she gets helpful support from other Tampa Bay families who have lost loved ones serving in the military.

Photo and caption from the Emporia (Kansas) Gazette: Kendra Johnson/Gazette Maria Lane holds her son's dog tags on Tuesday. These were the dog tags David was wearing when he passed and Lane has since worn them everyday in memory of him.

Photo and caption from the Emporia (Kansas) Gazette:  Maria Lane holds her son’s dog tags on Tuesday. These were the dog tags David was wearing when he passed and Lane has since worn them everyday in memory of him. Photo: Kendra Johnson/Gazette

 


Gold Star Mothers Day 2015 – fly your flag today, September 27

September 27, 2015

Fly your U.S. flag on September 27, 2015, in honor of the Gold Star Mothers of fallen U.S. soldiers.

Gold Star mother Jennifer Owens views a photo of her daughter Spc. Ember Marie Alt at the Survivor Outreach Services Remembrance Hall in Fort Hood, Texas. Owens credits Survivor Outreach Services staff members for helping her cope with her loss of her daughter. U.S. Army photo

‘Gold Star Mothers’ become bedrocks of support for survivors of the fallen’: Gold Star mother Jennifer Owens views a photo of her daughter Spc. Ember Marie Alt at the Survivor Outreach Services Remembrance Hall in Fort Hood, Texas. Owens credits Survivor Outreach Services staff members for helping her cope with her loss of her daughter. U.S. Army photo and caption

Gold Star Mothers Day is the last Sunday in September, designated under U.S. law, 36 U.S.C. §111:

The President is requested to issue a proclamation calling on United States Government officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings, and the people of the United States to display the flag and hold appropriate meetings at homes, churches, or other suitable places, on Gold Star Mother’s Day as a public expression of the love, sorrow, and reverence of the people for Gold Star Mothers.

Gold Star Mothers grew out of the grief and charity of mothers of soldiers who died in World War I, gaining formal organization in 1928.

The American Gold Star Mothers Inc. was formed in the United States shortly after World War I to provide support for mothers who lost sons or daughters in the war. The name came from the custom of families of servicemen hanging a banner called a Service Flag in the window of their homes. The Service Flag had a star for each family member in the United States Armed Forces. Living servicemen were represented by a blue star, and those who had lost their lives were represented by a gold star. Gold Star Mothers are often socially active but are non-political. Today, membership in the Gold Star Mothers is open to any American woman who has lost a son or daughter in service to the United States. On the last Sunday in September, Gold Star Mother’s Day is observed in the U.S. in their honor.[1] The group holds a congressional charter under Title 36 of the United States Code.

Proclamation from President Obama for Gold Star Mothers Day, 2015:

Presidential Proclamation — Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day, 2015

GOLD STAR MOTHER’S AND FAMILY’S DAY, 2015

– – – – – – –

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, A PROCLAMATION

At every crossroads in the American story, courageous individuals of all backgrounds and beliefs have answered our Nation’s call to serve.  Today, the sacrifices of our fallen heroes echo in safer towns and cities, countries and continents — resonating throughout a world they forever made freer.  Their legacies are solemnly enshrined in the history of our eternally grateful Nation, as well as in the hearts of all who loved them.  Today, we honor the Gold Star Mothers and Families who carry forward the memories of those willing to lay down their lives for the United States and the liberties for which we stand.

The proud patriots of our Armed Forces never serve alone.  Standing with each service member are parents, spouses, children, siblings, and friends, providing support and love and helping uphold the ideals that bind our Nation together.  While most Americans may never fully comprehend the price paid by those who gave their last full measure of devotion, families of the fallen know it intimately and without end.  Their sleepless nights allow for our peaceful rest, and the folded flags they hold dear are what enable ours to wave.  The depth of their sorrow is immeasurable, and we are forever indebted to them for all they have given for us.

Despite their broken hearts, the families of these warriors are full of love and they continue to serve their communities and comfort our troops, veterans, and other military families. Our country is constantly inspired by their incredible resilience, and in their example we see the very best of America.  On this day of remembrance, we honor our Gold Star Mothers and Families by living fully the freedom for which they have given so much, and by rededicating ourselves to our enduring obligation to serve them as well as they have served us.

The Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 115 of June 23, 1936 (49 Stat. 1985 as amended), has designated the last Sunday in September as “Gold Star Mother’s Day.”

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 27, 2015, as Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day.  I call upon all Government officials to display the flag of the United States over Government buildings on this special day.  I also encourage the American people to display the flag and hold appropriate ceremonies as a public expression of our Nation’s gratitude and respect for our Gold Star Mothers and Families.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fourth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.

BARACK OBAMA

Here is a series of short videos on Gold Star Mothers, Gold Star Parents, and even notes on Veterans Benefits available to survivors of soldiers lost in conflict.

From Montana's Daily Interlake: Sgt. Chuck Lewis, U.S. Marine Corps, of Ronan folds the American Flag at the Gold Star Mother's Day event at Brockman Park in Ronan on Sunday, September 28 (2013). (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

From Montana’s Daily Interlake: Sgt. Chuck Lewis, U.S. Marine Corps, of Ronan [Montana] folds the American Flag at the Gold Star Mother’s Day event at Brockman Park in Ronan on Sunday, September 28 (2013). (Photo by Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

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August 6: Hiroshima atomic bomb, 69 years ago today

August 6, 2014

[Still true, from last year, with minor edits.]

A-Bomb Dome in Hiroshima, Japan

A-Bomb Dome in Hiroshima, Japan Wikipedia image

As a Utah Downwinder, I fight depressing ideas every August 6, and August 9.

The first atomic bomb used in war was dropped by my nation on August 6, 1945.  The second, on August 9.  Hiroshima, then Nagasaki, were the targets.

I know the arguments, both ways.  I feel certain my Uncle Leo B. Stewart’s life was saved by the bombs — and the lives of probably two or three million more Americans, and five or ten million Japanese.  And still I am troubled.

I’m troubled that there seems to be so little attention paid to the anniversary in the U.S.  Year by year, it gets tougher to get news out of remembrance ceremonies in Japan.  Here are some Twitter notes on the day.  I may be back with more, later.

This comes from a pseudo-Truman, but it’s an accurate reflection of the angst Truman went through; once he made the decision, he did not have doubts that it was the right one.

Fortunately, in 68 years since, no other nuclear device has ever been used in war. May we have a planet that never sees their use in war, again.

More:

This is an encore post.

This is an encore post.


Best flying of a U.S. flag in a while

September 6, 2013

You’d forgotten there’s another war going on in South Sudan?

Location of South Sudan in Africa.

Location of South Sudan in Africa (darkened area). Wikipedia image

More:

Best flying of a U.S. flag: A woman carries a bag of food in Gumuruk where @WFP is assisting IDPs uprooted by violence.

Best flying of a U.S. flag: A woman carries a bag of food in Gumuruk where @WFP is assisting IDPs uprooted by violence.


Humanitarian crisis in Syria: Refugee kids need food; here’s how you can help

August 23, 2013

Description from YouTube:

Published on Jun 27, 2013

In Syria, a humanitarian crisis has developed as millions flee conflict, facing homelessness, hunger and food shortages. The United Nations World Food Programme is working to provide emergency assistance to 2.5 million hungry people inside Syria and more than one million refugees who have fled to neighboring countries. Needs remain great and the children of Syria are particularly vulnerable. Syrian families need your support today.

At UpWorthy, Megan Kelley complains that this need for food and other aid for refugees has been eclipsed by news coverage of the civil war.  So she urges you to pass on the video, and the pleas for help:

Maybe someday the world will be peaceful and perfect and we won’t need emergency aid. In the meantime, let’s do what we can to help give Syrians one less thing to worry about.

And at 1:57, remember: Providing aid to people in need is an amazing thing to do, but we can’t forget that the real heroes are the ones who face the tragedy and strive against it every day.

More:

WFP caption: A Syrian refugee smiles as she carries food from the World Food Programme (WFP) home to her family. Thanks to @WFP for posting this photo and more on their Twitter page. - See more at: http://blogs.un.org/blog/tag/undp/#sthash.gFwbkl9a.dpuf

WFP caption: A Syrian refugee smiles as she carries food from the World Food Programme (WFP) home to her family. Thanks to @WFP for posting this photo and more on their Twitter page. – See more at: http://blogs.un.org/blog/tag/undp/#sthash.gFwbkl9a.dpuf


49 years ago: August 7, 1964, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

August 7, 2013

August 7 is the 43rd anniversary of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, the resolution which authorized President Lyndon B. Johnson to move troops into South Vietnam to defend U.S. interests.

Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, passed by Congress on August 7, 1964, as presented to President Lyndon Johnson, and signed by him on August 10.  This is the document that authorized U.S. involvement in Vietnam.  Image from the National Archives, Our Documents display.

Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, passed by Congress on August 7, 1964, as presented to President Lyndon Johnson, and signed by him on August 10. This is the document that authorized U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Image from the National Archives, Our Documents display.

The resolution passed Congress after what appeared to be attacks on two U.S. Navy ships in the Gulf of Tonkin.  At the time, and now, evidence is weak that such attacks took place.

Quick summary from the National Archives:

On August 4, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson announced that two days earlier, U.S. ships in the Gulf of Tonkin had been attacked by the North Vietnamese. Johnson dispatched U.S. planes against the attackers and asked Congress to pass a resolution to support his actions. The joint resolution “to promote the maintenance of international peace and security in southeast Asia” passed on August 7, with only two Senators (Wayne Morse and Ernest Gruening) dissenting, and became the subject of great political controversy in the course of the undeclared war that followed.

The Tonkin Gulf Resolution stated that “Congress approves and supports the determination of the President, as Commander in Chief, to take all necessary measures to repeal any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent any further aggression.” As a result, President Johnson, and later President Nixon, relied on the resolution as the legal basis for their military policies in Vietnam.

As public resistance to the war heightened, the resolution was repealed by Congress in January 1971.

Santayana’s ghost looks on in wonder.

Map of divided Vietnam, during the Vietnam War. History Place map via Mr. Roache's Place

Map of divided Vietnam, during the Vietnam War. History Place map via Mr. Roache’s Place

Considering its powerful effect on American history, the document is very, very brief.  Here’s the text [links added]:

Eighty-eighth Congress of the United States of America
AT THE SECOND SESSION

Begun and held at the City of Washington on Tuesday, the seventh day of January, one thousand nine hundred and sixty-four

Joint Resolution
To promote the maintenance of international peace and security in southeast Asia.

Whereas naval units of the Communist regime in Vietnam, in violation of the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and of international law, have deliberately and repeatedly attacked United Stated naval vessels lawfully present in international waters, and have thereby created a serious threat to international peace; and

Whereas these attackers are part of deliberate and systematic campaign of aggression that the Communist regime in North Vietnam has been waging against its neighbors and the nations joined with them in the collective defense of their freedom; and

Whereas the United States is assisting the peoples of southeast Asia to protest their freedom and has no territorial, military or political ambitions in that area, but desires only that these people should be left in peace to work out their destinies in their own way: Now, therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the Congress approves and supports the determination of the President, as Commander in Chief, to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression.

Map showing ship movements reported during the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, on August 4, 1964; reports that North Vietnamese gunboats attacked and engaged two patrolling U.S. Navy ships pushed Congress to authorize President Johnson to take extensive defensive actions.

Map showing ship movements reported during the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, on August 4, 1964; reports that North Vietnamese gunboats attacked and engaged two patrolling U.S. Navy ships pushed Congress to authorize President Johnson to take extensive defensive actions. (image from Echo Two Seven Tooter)

Section 2. The United States regards as vital to its national interest and to world peace the maintenance of international peace and security in southeast Asia. Consonant with the Constitution of the United States and the Charter of the United Nations and in accordance with its obligations under the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty, the United States is, therefore, prepared, as the President determines, to take all necessary steps, including the use of armed force, to assist any member or protocol state of the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty requesting assistance in defense of its freedom.

Section 3. This resolution shall expire when the President shall determine that the peace and security of the area is reasonably assured by international conditions created by action of the United Nations or otherwise, except that it may be terminated earlier by concurrent resolution of the Congress.

[endorsements]

And on that authority, “Congress approves and supports the determination of the President, as Commander in Chief, to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression,” the U.S. spent the next 11 years in all-out warfare in Vietnam, with up to 500,000 military troops in the conflict, and losing the lives of more than 58,000 men and women.

U.S. engagement in Vietnam continued well after the repeal of the Tonkin Gulf Resolution in 1971.  In 1973 a peace treaty was signed between the U.S., North Vietnam and South Vietnam.  The provisions of the treaty did not hold; a final North Vietnamese military push in April 1975 crumpled the South Vietnamese government and army.  The few remaining U.S. forces made an emergency withdrawal as Viet Cong and North Vietnamese troops entered Saigon.  Vietnam was reunited by force, under a communist government.

Attacks on the USS Maddox and USS Turner Joy — if they occurred — took place early on August 4.  President Johnson might be excused for having done nothing on the issue at the time.  That was the same day that the bodies of three civil rights workers were discovered by the FBI, murdered by a pro-segregation mob with clear ties to the local Ku Klux Klan.  Either event, the Gulf of Tonkin, or the Mississippi civil rights murders, could be a major event in any presidency, testing to the utmost the leadership and peace-making abilities of a president.  Johnson dealt with both events at the same time.

Three American civil rights’ workers, James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael “Mickey” Schwerner, were lynched on the night of June 21–22, 1964 by members of the Mississippi White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, the Neshoba County‘s Sheriff Office and the Philadelphia Police Department located in Philadelphia, Mississippi. The three had been working on the “Freedom Summer” campaign, attempting to register African Americans to vote.

On a commission from the Dallas Symphony, composer Stephen Stucky composed a piece during the Lyndon Johnson Centennial in 2008; Kathryn and I heard the world premiere of August 4, 1964, on September 18, 2008.  Stucky’s piece (with libretto by Gene Scheer) is the only place I know where anyone has seriously considered the nexus between these two, opposite-side-of-the-world tragedies, and how they set the stage for the rest of the 1960s decade.   The piece has been recorded by the Dallas Symphony.  I highly recommend it.

Here’s a video from the Dallas Symphony on the piece:

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August 6: Hiroshima atomic bomb, 68 years ago today

August 6, 2013

A-Bomb Dome in Hiroshima, Japan

A-Bomb Dome in Hiroshima, Japan Wikipedia image

As a Utah Downwinder, I fight depressing ideas every August 6, and August 9.

The first atomic bomb used in war was dropped by my nation on August 6, 1945.  The second, on August 9.  Hiroshima, then Nagasaki, were the targets.

I know the arguments, both ways.  I feel certain my Uncle Leo B. Stewart’s life was saved by the bombs — and the lives of probably two or three million more Americans, and five or ten million Japanese.  And still I am troubled.

I’m troubled that there seems to be so little attention paid to the anniversary in the U.S.  Year by year, it gets tougher to get news out of remembrance ceremonies in Japan.  Here are some Twitter notes on the day.  I may be back with more, later.

This comes from a pseudo-Truman, but it’s an accurate reflection of the angst Truman went through; once he made the decision, he did not have doubts that it was the right one.

Fortunately, in 68 years since, no other nuclear device has ever been used in war. May we have a planet that never sees their use in war, again.

More:


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