Patriotism Endures

Van T. Barfoot
Second Lieutenant, US Army


A Good Man to Remember
Author Unknown

Van T. Barfoot Died…

Remember the guy who wouldn’t take the flagpole down on his Virginia property?  You might remember the news story several months ago about a crotchety old man in Virginia who defied his local Homeowners Association in refusing to remove the flag pole and large American flag he flew.


Now we learn that old man’s identity

On June 15, 1919, Van T. Barfoot was born in Edinburg, Texas. That probably didn’t make the news back then. Twenty-five years later, however, he would.  On May 23, 1944 near Carano, Italy, that same Barfoot, who enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1940, set out alone to flank German machine-gun positions and their gunfire raining down on fellow soldiers. Although his advance took him through a minefield, he proceeded to single-handedly take out three enemy machine-gun positions and return with 17 prisoners of war.

If that wasn’t enough for a day’s work,
he later took on and destroyed three German tanks
sent to retake their machine gun positions.



That probably didn’t make much news either,
given the scope of the war, but did earn Van T. Barfoot, later
a retired Colonel who also served in Korea and Vietnam,
a well-deserved Congressional Medal of Honor.



What did make news…
was his Neighborhood Association’s quibble
with how the 90-year-old veteran chose to fly the
American flag outside his suburban Virginia home.

Seems the HOA rules indicated it was acceptable
to fly a flag on a house-mounted bracket, but, for decorum,
items such as Barfoot’s  21-foot flagpole were “unsuitable.”



Van Barfoot was denied a permit for the pole
but chose to erect it anyway and faced court action,
unless he agreed to take it down.



Then the HOA story made national TV
and the Neighborhood Association rethought its position,
agreeing to indulge this aging hero
who dwelt among them.



“In the time I have left,” he said to the Associated Press,
“I plan to continue to fly the
American flag without interference.”

As well he should.

If any of his neighbors had taken a notion
to contest him further, they might have done well
to read his Medal of Honor citation first.
Seems it indicates Mr. Van Barfoot
wasn’t particularly good at backing down.


Van T. Barfoot – MOH



God Bless the Enduring Allegiance of our Veterans
for their Country and its Flag

Veterans Day

In Gratitude for their Service


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Japan Surrenders – Sept 2, 1945

The Japanese delegation approaches the USS Missouri for the formal surrender ceremony
2 September, 1945

Although the surrender of Imperial Japan was announced on August 15, 1945, the hostilities of World War II ended with the formal signing aboard the USS Missouri on September 2nd.

Representatives of the Empire of Japan stand aboard the USS Missouri prior to signing the Instrument of Surrender
2 September, 1945

Japanese representatives present for the surrender ceremonies included Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu (wearing top hat) and General Yoshijiro Umezu, Chief of the Army General Staff.   Behind them were three representatives each of the Foreign Ministry, the Army, and the Navy.

General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Allied Commander,
on board the USS Missouri for the surrender ceremony
Tokyo Bay, 2 September 1945

General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Allied Commander, opened the surrender ceremonies with his speech.  Representatives of the Allied Powers in attendance included the United Kingdom, Soviet Union, Australia, Canada, France, The Netherlands, New Zealand, China, and other U.S. representatives.  The framed flag in upper left was flown by Commodore Matthew C. Perry’s flagship when she entered Tokyo Bay in 1853.

Among General MacArthur’s remarks:

“It is my earnest hope and indeed the hope of all mankind that from this solemn occasion a better world shall emerge out of the blood and carnage of the past—a world founded upon faith and understanding—a world dedicated to the dignity of man and the fulfillment of his most cherished wish—for freedom, tolerance and justice.

The terms and conditions upon which the surrender of the Japanese Imperial Forces is here to be given and accepted are contained in the Instrument of Surrender now before you.

As Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, I announce my firm purpose, in the tradition of the countries I represent, to proceed in the discharge of my responsibilities with justice and tolerance, while taking all necessary dispositions to insure that the terms of surrender are fully, promptly and faithfully complied with.”

When the assembled representatives of the Allied Powers and of Japan had finished signing the agreements, General MacArthur stated:

“Let us pray that peace be now restored to the world and that God will preserve it always.”

Japanese Foreign Affairs Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signs the Japanese Instrument of Surrender on board the USS Missouri, assisted by Foreign Ministry representative Toshikazu Kase. as General Richard K. Sutherland watches.
2 September, 1945

With the conclusion of the surrender ceremony, 450 carrier planes from the Third Fleet flew in massed formation over the USS Missouri and minutes later were followed by Army Air Force B-29 bombers.   This massive and impressive display reflected the power which led Japan and the Allies to this point in history.

With the jubilation of V-E Day and Germany’s unconditional surrender on May 8, 1945, followed by Japan’s on August 15th and the formal Instrument of Surrender on September 2nd, the United States and its Allies celebrated the end of World War II.

American military personnel celebrate in Paris with news of the Japanese surrender
15 August, 1945

A crowd in New York City’s Times Square celebrates the unconditional surrender of Japan
15 August, 1945
National Archives Image

The British celebrate the end of WWII in Montreal, Canada
8 May, 1945

Winston Churchill Waves to Crowd After V-E Day and End of War in Europe
8 May, 1945

Parisians march through the Arc de Triomphe jubilantly waving flags of the Allied Nations
as they celebrate the end of World War II
8 May, 1945

General Dwight D. Eisenhower waves to cheering crowds in New York City Times Square
19 June, 1945

Decades later, a WWII soldier salutes a WWII general

WWII soldier Sgt. Major Robert Blaknit salutes gravesite marker of General George S. Patton, Jr.
Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial
Hamm , Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

Sgt. Major Blaknit, who landed with 900 men on D-Day, had only 400 remaining under his command the next morning.   Decades later when revisiting that site, as he knelt where he had landed,  he prayed for the souls of the men who did not survive.


 “In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger.  I do not shrink from this responsibility.  I welcome it.”                                                                                                                                                                       John F. Kennedy


 The Greatest Generation defended that freedom with great valor

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One Nation Indivisible

Let us remember the true meaning of this day and our country’s principles

United States Declaration of Independence
Signed by the Continental Congress
July 4, 1776

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”


 A Beacon of Hope for Immigrants

Statue of Liberty
Liberty Island
New York City, New York
Dedicated October 28, 1886.
A gift to the United States from the people of France.

  “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me…”

Sonnet by Emma Lazarus – 1883

Inscribed in the base of the Statue of Liberty

Immigrants on an Atlantic liner bound for New York and the United States
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

A Defender of  Democracy

United States Military Joint Services

The Old Guard transports a flag-draped casket in full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery

Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool
The National Mall, Washington, D.C.

America the Beautiful

A poem penned by poet Katharine Lee Bates, a professor at Wellesley, during a trip to Pike’s Peak in 1893 and inspired by the beautiful expanse she viewed.  Later printed in a weekly newspaper, The Congregationalist, on July 4, 1895, Bates’ patriotic words were soon set to music composed by church organist and choirmaster Samuel A. Ward at Grace Episcopal Church in Newark, New Jersey.   First published in 1910, it remains today as one of America’s most beloved patriotic songs.

Pike’s Peak
The highest summit of the southern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains in North America. The ultra-prominent 14,115-foot mountain located in Pike National Forest near Colorado Springs, Colorado

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America!  America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!
America!  America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America!  America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!


Plaque commemorating Katharine Lee Bates’ inspirational poem
“America the Beautiful”
Placed at the summit of Pike’s Peak

Grace Church in Newark, New Jersey
Historical marker noting location where Samuel Ward, organist and choirmaster, wrote and perfected his tune “Materna” for Katherine Lee Bates’ poem, “America the Beautiful.”
Image by Max Woolley

4th of July fireworks Washington D.C.

 God Bless America

One Nation under God, Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All

Independence Day

July 4, 2017


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A Family Hero – 17 February 1945


We commemorate family members with pride, love, and sorrow for their ultimate sacrifice in service.

Lt. Rufus Newton Wilson, U.S. Army Air Corps, B-26 Marauder Pilot
456th Bomb Squadron, 323rd Bomb Group

Entering the Air Corps in 1940, Rufus Wilson served in England, Ireland, France and Germany.

LT Rufus Newton Wilson (1st on Left) and Crew Members
12 June 1944

Wounded in action on a B-26 mission in the Battle of Remagen during the Allied invasion of Germany, his aircraft burst into flames from heavy flak on February 14, 1945.  Lt Wilson would survive the crash and later die of his injuries in a German hospital at Krefeld on February 17.

WWII American Medium Bomber B-26 Marauder

Recipient of the Air Medal and Purple Heart, Lt. Wilson was additionally awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, presented for heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight.


  To Family Veterans in All the Joint Services

Eternal Reverence and Gratitude

 For Your Sacrifice on Behalf of Freedom


…For Your Tomorrow,
We Gave Our Today

Kohima Epitaph

Rufus Newton Wilson

Your Family has Missed your Presence in our Lives


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Remembering Pearl Harbor

December 7, 1941

Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor was a defining moment for our country and  propelled the United States into World War II.   Millions of Americans prepared to  enlist and serve for the devastation and losses suffered.

Americans enlist following the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 Time & Life Pictures / Getty Image

Americans enlist following the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941
Time & Life Pictures / Getty Image

With twenty-one American naval vessels and over three hundred aircraft damaged or destroyed,  Japanese  bombardment  killed 2,403 military personnel and civilians and shattered the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Following an afternoon of monitoring the crisis, President Roosevelt would begin  preparing  a message for Congress.  Though drafted in haste, FDR’s words galvanized the nation with his historic speech.

“December 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy

With confidence in our armed forces—with the unbounding determination of our people—we will gain the inevitable triumph- so help us God.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum 
President Franklin D. Roosevelt Delivering his "Day of Infamy" speech to Congress for a declaration of war December 8, 1941 (U.S. Government - U.S. Archives)

President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Addresses Congress for a Declaration of War
December 8, 1941
(U.S. Government – U.S. Archives)

Roosevelt’s “Day of Infamy” Speech

President Roosevelt signing the declaration of war against Japan on December 8, 1941 in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor. (National Archives and Records Administration - Abbie Rowe) (National Archives and Records Administration

President Roosevelt signs the Declaration of War against Japan
in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
December 8, 1941
(National Archives and Records Administration)

In Service and Sacrifice

16,100,000 Americans served during World War II

  American military casualties totaled 407,316


The very soul of a nation is its heroes”

USN Pearl Harbor Survivor, Bill Johnson (January 20, 2004) Wall of Casualties – USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. "To the memory of the gallant men here entombed and their shipmates who gave their lives in action on December 7, 1941 on the USS Arizona" (U.S. Navy Photo)

USN Pearl Harbor Survivor, Bill Johnson (January 20, 2004)
Wall of Casualties – USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
To the memory of gallant men here entombed and their shipmates
who gave their lives in action on December 7, 1941.
(U.S. Navy Photo)

In Eternal Remembrance


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Letters from War and Home

In honoring Veterans Day, we also recognize the human toll on separated families and those who serve.  Our soldiers, and those cherished by them, express their current existence, their love and dearest thoughts, and perhaps final expressions of hope and regret in letters from war and home.


The Revolutionary War

Revolutionary Soldier

Revolutionary Soldier


A patriot’s letter to his loyalist father, 1778

Letter from Timothy Pickering Jr. to Timothy Pickering Sr., February 23, 1778. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

Letter from Timothy Pickering Jr. to Timothy Pickering Sr.,
February 23, 1778. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)


In February 1778, Timothy Pickering Jr. received word from Massachusetts that his father was dying. An adjutant general in George Washington’s Continental Army, Pickering wrote his father this moving letter of farewell on February 23, 1778 from his post in Yorktown, Virginia. Born and raised in Salem, Massachusetts, a graduate of Harvard, and a successful lawyer, Timothy Pickering Jr. revered his father but disagreed with him on one critical issue: colonial independence from Great Britain. Timothy Jr. supported resistance to British rule, while Timothy Sr. remained a staunch Tory.

They and later generations carefully preserved their Revolutionary War letters, which remain remarkable windows today to the transformations the conflict brought to all aspects of eighteenth-century life.


York Town Feb. 23. 1778.

My Honoured Father,

With much grief I received the account of your indisposition; but at the same time was happy to find you rather growing better, & that there was a prospect of your recovery.  Not that I deemed you anxious to live; I supposed the contrary: —but whether to live or die, I know you are perfectly resigned to the will of Heaven….

When I look back on past time, I regret our difference of sentiment in great as well as (sometimes) in little politics; as it was a deduction from the happiness otherwise to have been enjoyed.  Yet you had always too much regard to freedom in thinking & the rights of conscience, to lay upon me any injunctions which could interfere with my own opinion of what was my duty….Often have I thanked my Maker for the greatest blessing of my life—your example & instructions in all the duties I owe to God, and my neighbour.  They have not been lost upon me; tho’ I am aware that in many things I have offended, & come short of my duty.  For these things I am grieved; but not as those who have no hope.

I am deeply indebted too for your care in my education; I only regret that I improved my time no better.

But altho’ the line of action I pursued has not always been such as you would have chosen, I hope you have never repented that I was your son.  By God’s grace I will in my future life aim at higher attainments in those all-essential points; not only from a sense of duty to my Creator—from a regard to my own happiness here and beyond the grave—but that I may never wound the breast of a parent to whom I am under so many and so great obligations.

My love and duty to you and my mother,
conclude me your obedient son,

Tim. Pickering junr:

To Mr. Timo. Pickering

 The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History


The War of 1812

A War of 1812 Soldier

A War of 1812 Soldier


ROYAL PRISON, Dartmore Oct. 12th 1814 / Yankee privateersman captured in the War of 1812

Dear Sally –

It is with regret that I have to inform you of my unhappy situation that is, confined heir in a loathsom prison where I have wourn out almost 9 months of my Days; and god knows how long it will be before I shall get my Liberty again. . . . I cheer my drooping spirits by thinking of the happy Day when we shall have the pleasure of seeing you and my friends. . .

This same place is one of the most retched in this habbited world. . . neither wind nor water tight, it is situated on the top of a high hill and is so high that it either rains, hails or snows almost the year round for further partickulars of my preasant unhappy situation, of my strong house, and my creeping friends which are without number. . . .

. . .my best wishes are that when these few lines come to you they will find you, the little Girl [his daughter] my parents Brothers sisters all in good helth. I have wrote you a number of letters since my inprisenment here and I shall still trouble you with them every oppertunity that affords me till I have the pleasure of receiving one from you which I hope will be soon. . . .

I am compeled to smugle this out of prison for they will not allow us to write to our friends if they can help it. . . . So I must conclude with telling you that I am not alone for there is almost 5,000 of us heir, and creepers a 1000 to one. . .

Give my Brothers my advice that is to beware of coming to this retched place for no tongue can tell what the sufferings are heir till they have a trial of it. So I must conclude with wishing you all well so God bless you all. This is from your even [ever] derr and beloved Husband.



The Civil War

Unknown Confederate Soldier Company E, "Lynchburg Rifles," 11th Virginia Infantry Volunteers, 1861

Unknown Confederate Soldier
Company E, “Lynchburg Rifles,” 11th Virginia Infantry Volunteers, 1861


Unknown Union Soldier of the Civil War Circa 1860 and 1870 - Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Unknown Union Soldier of the Civil War
Circa 1860 and 1870 – Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division


Civil War Envelopes Are Works of Art—And Propaganda

Envelopes were relatively new for American mail in the 1860’s and printers used them to take sides.

                                                          Veronique GreenwoodNational Geographic

Image Courtesy: Benjamin Wishnietsky, Confederate Patriotic covers and their usages


1861-1865 american civil war envelope with postmark and postage stamp

1861-1865 American Civil War envelope with postmark and postage stamp
Public Domain

1861-1865 american civil war envelope with postmark and postage stamp

1861-1865 American Civil War envelope with postmark and postage stamp
Public Domain

1861-1865 American Civil War envelope with postmark and stamp

1861-1865 American Civil War envelope with postmark and stamp
Public Domain

I went to camp this afternoon. I got kind of lonesome so I trudged down through the snow to see the boys. While there I recd two letters one from Father & Mother so I thought I would write a letter to you & send in this. I was very glad to hear from you. I have thought of you often to day and wondered if you have had such a snow storm there as we have here. It reminded me of many such that I have seen at home. I did not suppose that they had so much winter here. I guess they seldom do…. The snow must be 6 or 8 in deep now.

We can make ourselves quite comfortable here. To be sure it is not like being in a house but compared with some soldiers to the front we are comfortable.

Dear parents I will try and do my duty and I know the good seed you have sown in my youth and watered with your prayers can never be lost. May it spring up and bear fruit a hundred fold and you will receive your reward.

I feel that there has been a change in my heart although it may not be so great as some experience. Yet with your prayers and an ernest effort on my part I shall conquer the evils which surround me. This will be a consolation to you & I know you will be more willing to give me up should I be called to sacrifice my life for my country’s sake. May your health be preserved and if it is the Lord’s will I hope I may come home to live with you in peace once more. These are my feelings. Take good care of yourselves and don’t work to hard and have everything for your comfort. For what is a few dollars or even a few hundred dollars at the end of a persons life compared to many other things. I hope Jay & Julia and all will be good to you & do all they can to make you happy as no doubt they will.

I hear Henry’s mother & sister are going to move in the village to live. Do what you think best with my colt. How much did Mr Minor offer

I must stop. With much love to all I remain your affectionate son.

Henry R. Hoyt

Confederate Letter

Soldier: Blain, David Allegiance: Confederate Unit/Service, Branch: Artillery, Home State: Virginia, Date Written: Sunday, January 1st, 1860, Location: Virginia (

My Precious Loulie

Your sweet and welcome letter of the 22nd came on Friday.  I was highly amused at your flirtations with the widower or rather at the combination of it…I hope he will not allow himself to get too much involved tho.  How he can associate with you without loving you, I don’t know.  Still, he has been kind to you + enabled you to pass some pleasant hours, so that I would not like for him to suffer anything from the association. But I know you will be gentle with him, my darling + if he does address you he will love you more after you have rejected him than he did before..

I am going this evening to call on three young ladies – Misses Lynch’s, who live on the farm on which we are camped.  I do not want to go at all, as I still have as great a repugnance as ever to visiting, but their mother has been kind to me + I knew a brother of theirs at the Seminary, who has died since the war begun + I am made obligatious to call on them.  I know I shall be thinking all the time “if it was just my darling Loulie how different it wd be.” T his is the day for the great Chicago Convention. I do pray that God may so order their counsels as to bring about peace, but I am very doubtful as to the result of their labors & very much afraid that we are all of us expecting too much of them.

The shelling of Petersburg has commenced again more vigorously than ever.  I suppose Grant has found that he has gained nothing by his occupation of the Weldon RR. We still use the road, but have to wagon our supplies further than we did before.

I am more than ever anxious to see you darling, but still undecided about when I shall come.  Look for me when you see me, is as near as I can come to it.  Love to Miss M, Kate, Miss Lila + the Dr.  I trust your neuralgia is better.  May God ever bless you my precious one prays

yr own loving + devoted

World War I

WWI American soldier, Le Mans, France

WWI American soldier, Le Mans, France

My dear Mother,

Have just come through a particularly nasty period. We went into the trenches on Wednesday night and on Sunday morning at 5am our Artillery commenced bombarding the German trenches and after 20 minutes had elapsed we went over the parapet.  My goodness what a reception the Huns had in store for us, they simply swept the ground with machine gun fire and shrapnel.  Poor old ‘C’ coy. caught it hot and Neuve Chapelle seemed to be a fleabite compared with this.  It was found impossible to make any advance in our quarter, so I dug myself in and awaited events. It was horrible suspense, as I seemed to be the only man untouched, all around me, and being personally acquainted with each man made matters worse, in fact, it’s all wrong to call them men, as they were mostly mere boys.

 About early afternoon I was hailed from the trench as to whether it was possible for me to get back. I replied in the affirmative and decided to run the risk of getting potted on the way. So I commenced crawling on my stomach until about a few yards from the parapet, then made a spring and rushed headlong over the top, nearly spoiling the features of a few who happened to be in the trench and were not expecting me. We were relieved that afternoon, but some of the fellows did not get in until nightfall and these experienced another bombardment… Billy Hastings is quite fit and the only pal left. We have been resting since and getting information but by all reports we shall be up again soon. No rest for the wicked it is said, and if true we must surely be a bad lot.

What a terrible thing about the Lusitania, and with so many Americans aboard. Should imagine there will be more trouble. Have received box and letter dated 6th and am most thankful for everything you are all doing for me. (censored)

As regards the pads, (masks of cotton pads which served as gas masks), all we were served out with were made ‘on the spot’ and consisted of a piece of gauze and tape and were steeped in a solution of bicarbonate of soda, prior to this charge. I lost all my belongings except the Gillette (razor) so should be glad of a few toilet requisites when next you are sending a parcel. Do not trouble about towel and perhaps Frank would get me a shaving brush. Must now close. Much love to all. From your affectionate son,


World War II

American Soldier in 1940s WWII uniform

American Soldier in 1940s WWII uniform


Letters From the Front

Because letters from home were often censored, families and friends of soldiers were often unaware of their loved-ones’ locations and duties. Nevertheless, soldiers’ words relay the many emotions experienced by the men who fought on D-Day.  Many of the details of the landing were only learned by friends and relatives long after the battle ended.


France, July 22, 1944


…Yesterday I had to visit all the units again, to get statements for my report.  The regiment is in contact with the enemy, so such trips always have their skin-prickling moments. I got back pretty tired about 7 o’clock, just in time to get a phone call from the CO of one of Sirrine’s battalions, also in the line, requesting me to come up to discuss personal problems of his body-guard, a fine young fellow who had simultaneously received word that his sister, an army nurse, and a brother, a flyer, had both been killed in the So. Pacific, and that his remaining brother had been critically wounded with another division here in France.

While up there, I hit the favorite hours for Jerry’s activities, and, frankly, pretty nearly had the pants scared off me, with samples of shelling, mortar-fire, and strafing.  I got back at midnight, having driven the jeep myself all day (my driver being on guard) slipping and slewing through mud axle deep whenever I got off the surfaced roads, which was frequently. I hate to admit it, but after a day like that, I feel my years.  Yeah, man! War is a young man’s game!…

News on 90th has been released.  Maybe you know something now of what the boys have gone through: constant contact with the enemy since D-Day. They’ve taken their losses, too. Somebody says “Old Bill got it today.” “No!” you say. “Son-of-a-bitch!” And you go on about your business, with a little more emptiness inside, a little more tiredness, a little more hatred of everything concerning war.

There is a certain cemetery where some of my closest friends in the division lie. I saw it grow — shattered bodies lying there waiting for graves to be dug.  Now it is filled.  The graves are neat and trim, each with its cross.  Occasionally I visit it when passing by.  Always there are flowers on the graves: Sometimes a potted geranium has been newly brought in; sometimes there is a handful of daisies.  The French people, especially the children, seem to have charged themselves with this little attention. Our bombers are roaring overhead just now, in the hazy afterglow of sunset. In a few seconds I’ll hear the crunch of bombs — a good-night kiss for the Nazis. There they go!

The war news is good; but we’re fighting over optimism. I suppose people at home are elated; the boys up front are still in their fox-holes.

I’ll try to write at least a note every day or so. Take care of yourself.  I’m fine.


American Experience,

Korean War

Korean War Soldier

Korean War Soldier


Andrew Jiang Hong, 12, in a thank-you letter sent to Korean War veteran Ralph Heck
Michael Sears, Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel



Ralph Heck holds a photo of himself and a young Korean boy he befriended when in the U.S. Army in Korea. The boy, 12 to 14  years old, made coffee, shined shoes, and made sure the soldiers were up on time for their work shifts. Heck never saw the boy again after leaving Korea. – Michael Sears


Vietnam War

Pvt R Jones of the 2nd battalion, 7th marines takes a standing break during operation Pitt 12 miles north of Da Nang

Pvt R Jones of the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines takes a standing break during operation Pitt 12 miles north of Da Nang



Dear Maxie,

…. Being in DaNang was quite an experience. It is a place of distinct contrasts. There are great big PXs there and the most horrible slums you’ve ever seen within half a mile of each other. The whole place is much busier than here, and they even have traffic jams. The place has much more to offer as far as entertainment and food goes, but I think I like the quiet here a little better.  It’s a little easier to live without a few things than be constantly reminded that you are living well while someone else is starving. It hurts to see something like that. Paved streets, ice cream, and poverty in the same breath; it’s hard to take.

(It was good to get back, to see the quiet countryside again. That quiet countryside was Quang Tri, closer to where the war was going on. But I was more comfortable there than in the relative comfort of DaNang).


Dear Maxie,

…. No mail came at all today – the second day in a row without any mail. I sure hope the mail comes tomorrow – I need to hear from you to perk me up. Guess the people in DaNang take weekends off, they don’t know that there’s a war going on….


The Gulf War

Gulf War Soldier

Gulf War Soldier

Dec. 20, 1990

I sometimes am afraid that we just won’t be coming back. I know it’s silly, it’s just how I feel sometimes. I just wanted to let you know how appreciative I am of the care package for Christmas that you sent…. It is very nice to know that there are people out there, besides our families, that are so thoughtful, and care so much about our cause.  It’s difficult to be over here believing that all the backing we have is from our families, but with caring people like yourself, it gives us more of an incentive, to go on, and it helps us believe that there truly is a reason for us all being here, not only to defend our families, but all Americans.  Again, thank you. Support is everything.


War on Terror

Pakistan-Afghanistan border. GI standing in the Khyber Pass at the Torkham border crossing.

Pakistan-Afghanistan border. GI standing in the Khyber Pass at the Torkham border crossing.


Letter to the Next President on Fighting the War on Terror

November 8, 2016

Dear Mr./ Mrs. President,

War is a terrible event. Death and destruction almost always follow. The war on terror is a global battle between religion and freedom. One of the main questions that is often brought up is: should we be fighting in this war or not? Some say it has turned into our battle ever since the attack on 9/11. Others say it is costing too much money and not worth the life toll. I think America should be sending troops over to help fight and defend the world from ISIS because it would ensure our safety and help redeem those that died on September 11, 2001….After Pearl Harbor, the U.S. joined WW2 to protect the American Dream and defend our country. So, why is now any different?

America has always been the Country of Freedom, but what about safety? We felt safe before 9/11, but now we have become more and more unsure.  

America is the land of the free and the home of the brave. Ensuring our freedom and safety are only two of the reasons we should fight. War is terrible, but….our freedom and safety must be preserved.  


Emma T.

Excerpt from



In Grateful Appreciation For Those Who Have Served Our Nation

November 11, 2016


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Birth of an Anthem

Francis Scott Key

Francis Scott Key (August 1, 1779 – January 11, 1843) Portrait by Joseph Wood Circa 1825

Francis Scott Key
(August 1, 1779 – January 11, 1843)
Portrait by Joseph Wood
Circa 1825

An American lawyer, author, and amateur poet from Georgetown and Washington D.C., Francis Scott Key penned the lyrics to the United States’ national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

During the War of 1812, Key, accompanied by British Prisoner Exchange Agent Colonel John Stuart Skinner, dined aboard the British ship HMS Tonnant as guests of three British officers: Vice Admiral Alexander Cochrane, Rear Admiral George Cockburn, and Major General Robert Ross.  Skinner and Key, there to negotiate release of American prisoners, would learn the strength and position of British units and their plan to attack.  Prevented from returning to their own sloop, Key was forced to watch bombarding of the American forces at Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore on the nights of September 13–14, 1814.

At dawn, able to see an American flag still waving, Key informed the prisoners below deck.  Inspired, he would compose a poem of his experience, “Defence of Fort M’Henry,” which was quickly published on September 21, 1814.  Adapted to music, it became known as the “The Star Spangled Banner.”  More than a century later, the song was adopted as the American national anthem, first by Executive Order from President Woodrow Wilson in 1916 and later by Congressional resolution in 1931, signed by President Herbert Hoover.

Plaque commemorating the death of Francis Scott Keyplaced by the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) in Baltimore, Maryland

Plaque commemorating the death of Francis Scott Key
by the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) in Baltimore, Maryland

 Fort McHenry

Bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British September 13, 1814

Bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British
September 13, 1814

“A VIEW of the BOMBARDMENT of Fort McHenry near Baltimore by the British fleet, taken from the Observatory under Command of British Admirals Cochrane & Cockburn on the morning of the 13th of September.  Lasting 24 hours, 1500 to 1800 shells were thrown in the Night while the British, attempting to land by forcing passage up the ferry branch, were repulsed with great loss.”


The flag that flew over Fort McHenry during its bombardment in 1814 would remain in possession of the family of Major Armistead, Commander of the fort, until its donation to the Smithsonian in 1912.

Flag flown over Fort McHenry during 1814 Bombardment by the British. September 13-14, 1814

Flag flown over Fort McHenry during Bombardment by the British on September 13-14, 1814

Replica of the Fort McHenry Flag, Flown in the 1814 Bombardment by the British, currently flying over Fort McHenry

Replica of the Fort McHenry flag,
flown in the British Bombardment of 1814, remains flying over the fort

In a beautiful rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” over 1,000 high-school choir students sing the U.S. national anthem during their annual Kentucky conference. Filmed in 2015, they gather on balconies in the lobby of their high-rise hotel as an appreciative audience listens enthralled. The students repeat their touching performance every year.

God Bless America

4th of July fireworks Washington D.C.

4th of July fireworks Washington D.C.

Land of the Free and Home of the Brave

Statue of Liberty Liberty Island New York City, New York

Statue of Liberty
Liberty Island
New York City, New York

The Birth of a Nation

240 Years

1776 – 2016

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