Last week's tribute to those who have served is deeply touching and so very apropos. I would, however, like to add my somewhat different, albeit very personal view of Veteran's Day. Since Dad was 52 year old when I was born, and I was an only child, I have come to realize that I grew up with “grandparents”. I simply don’t share the same type memories as my peers who grew up with much younger parents.
I grew up knowing November 11 as Armistice Day. You see, my father (Alva S. Simms) was a veteran of World War I, or the Great War as I learned to know it. He was born in 1896. From my earliest memories, November 11 was a day we decorated the table for supper in red, white and blue. Mother would play the piano and we’d sing “Over There” and “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” The fact that Armistice Day was changed by the 83rd Congress to Veterans’ Day in 1954 never changed that routine.
I would listen to Daddy tell about marching 30 miles on having eaten nothing but a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich and how he was in the first group of “conscripted” soldiers to arrive in England. He was so very proud of his Service and the fact that both he and Alvin York were from Tennessee : York from Fentress County; Daddy from Lincoln County. Both fought in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. York was infantry; Dad in the Engineering Corps. York, as we know, became famous for leading an attack on a German machine gun nest, taking 32 machine guns, killing 28 German soldiers, and capturing 132 others and later was awarded the Medal of Honor. Gary Cooper didn’t do too bad a job portraying him later in the movie, Sergeant York!
Dad’s lifetime dedication as an educator came as a direct involvement in that Great War and his interface with the YMCA. You see, the YMCA did about 80% of the social/recreational work for the soldiers during this time. Dad went to Bryson College (Fayetteville, Tennessee) thanks to a YMCA scholarship and later served as president of the student YMCA there. Bryson was in existence about 15 years, then merged with Erskine College in South Carolina. The YMCA has continued to work, uninterrupted, with the military since 1861 (FDR asked the YMCA to take the lead in forming the USO in 1941) and I am very proud of my 30+ years with an organization that has such a proud heritage. 2014 marks the 100th Anniversary of the US entry into that Great War
PS: Would you believe me if I told you my grandmother (paternal) was born before the start of the Civil War? (Excuse me, War Between the States! ) Yep . . . she was born in 1856. She died 7 years before I was born!
LHS '65 This is a photo taken by Ann Cooper, my Significant Other, this morning at The Tower of London. In honor of those British military who died in World I, a ceramic red poppy for each one is placed in the moat surrounding the tower. There are almost 900,000 poppies. The solemn annual ceremony is attended by Queen Elizabeth on November 11 each year. This story was featured on NBC National News last evening; quite an awe-inspiring event, especially on the 100th anniversary of the beginning of what was then called The Great War.
Memphis, TN - This week we follow up with some great stories submitted by two of our classmates relating to the recent Veteran's Day issue. We welcome similar contribution by any of our readers, any school - any graduating class.
I normally do not have a special Thanksgiving issue but I hope each and every one of you has a safe holiday season and enjoy whatever Thanksgiving traditions you have come to experience.
I think back on some of my previous Thanksgiving activities and the one which stands out the most in my memories happened back in the Seventies when I was pulling nuclear alert with my B-52 bomber squadron. We spent a week every three weeks sitting in a controlled building prepared to launch our aircraft and head toward our targets to deliver four nuclear weapons should we be attacked by a foreign power. One year we were sent to a satellite facility and because of the lack of communication equipment we could not leave the facility. There was only one small community room which had only one television for about 50 people to watch, so the program was selected by majority vote.
At the time I was not a football fan, but the majority of the other crewmembers were, so from about 11am on Thanksgiving morning until about 10 pm on the following Sunday, the TV was filled with constant, back-to-back, football games. Today, I watch the same thing, by choice, but back then it made for a miserable holiday season.
TV Shows of the Fifties and Sixties
"The Rat Patrol"
The Rat Patrol is an American television program starring Christopher George that aired on ABC during the 1966–1968 seasons. The show follows the exploits of four Allied soldiers — three Americans and one Englishman — who are part of a long-range desert patrol group in the North African campaign during World War II. Their mission: "to attack, harass and wreak havoc on Field Marshal Rommel's vaunted Afrika Korps".
A total of fifty-eight 30-minute episodes were produced by Mirisch-Rich Television Productions, a subsidiary of United Artists Television, in association with Tom Gries Productions Inc.. Just as The Man From U.N.C.L.E. episode titles included the word "Affair", all Rat Patrol episodes titles had "Raid" e.g. "The Do or Die Raid", "The Lighthouse Raid" or "Mask-A-Raid".
Part of the show's first season was filmed in Almería, Spain, with the rest in the United States