Notes from around the Human Experience…
TEN HUT!: You know, honestly, we cannot remember Veterans Day being the big deal it is today while growing up. And we come from a family of many veterans.
9/11 changed that, of course, because since 9/11 – when first responders became heroes – the reverence for veterans grew, too. We are routinely thanked for our service now, which never used to happen before 9/11, and on Veterans Day we could scam complimentary meals left and right if moved so to do.
FunFact: We generally don’t go out of our way to do that, though. On the other hand, we don’t throw a tantrum if we find ourselves not presented with a check.
FunFact II: Like our grandfather Gaylon C Kent, whom we never met, we command our American Legion post.
What A Surprise, Dry, Technical Matter. November 11 has been an American holiday since 1938, born out of the earlier celebrations of the armistice that ended the major fighting in World War I at 11am on November 11, 1918. Originally known as Armistice Day, it became Veterans Day in 1954.
War Is Hell: Fighting continued right up until the eleventh hour, too. Some units didn’t want to make themselves vulnerable by yielding an advantage while some didn’t want to have to haul their ammo away why others wanted the best possible position should fighting start again. In all, over 2,700 men died on November 11, including a Canadian two minutes before peace took effect and an American at 10:59.
USA! USA!: Life in the service was pretty routine for most of us. Personally, we served on an old diesel submarine, the USS Blueback, the last diesel combat submarine in the United States Navy. We’re still pretty young and if we get regular exercise and watch between meal treats we one day we might well be the last diesel boat veteran in this country.
Fly In The Ointment: Some, of course, did not serve routine tours. Some died in the service of their country and some contributed exploits we are still talking about today. Some are not entirely pleased with their service and too many are homeless and each day an average of 22 vets will kill themselves, choosing to continue their service on heaven’s parade ground.
The Bottom Line: Looking back at honorable service to your country is one of life’s great prizes. We are the son, brother, grandson, cousin and nephew of veterans and we hardly have an exclusive on that. You’re welcome. It was our privilege.
ON THIS DATE! ON THIS DATE! The first governing document in what would become the United States is signed on board the Mayflower on this date in 1620. Negotiated and signed by the males on board, it sought to maintain order and establish a civil society.
Oh Yeah: The original Mayflower Compact has been lost, though some copies survive.
Great Moments In Warren G Harding: The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, also known as the Tomb of the Unknowns, is dedicated at Arlington National Cemetery on this date in 1921 with President Warren G Harding presiding over the ceremony. Congress had authorized the burial of an unknown serviceman at Arlington the previous March but, Congress being Congress, did not bother to fund the completion of the tomb until 1926.
The tomb was first guarded in 1925, by civilians and the military took it over the following year and it has been guarded continuously since 1937. Today the tomb is guarded by soldiers from the Army’s 3rd US Infantry Regiment, colloquially known as the Old Guard.
FunFact III: Tomb Guards walk their post in a uniform devoid of rank, so as not to outrank the Unknowns they are guarding.
3…2…1…Blastoff: Gemini 12, the 18th manned American spaceflight, takes off from Florida on this date in 1966. It was commanded by James Lovell and piloted by Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin.
Among other things, Lovell and Aldrin continued Gemini’s pioneering work on rendezvous and docking and space and Aldrin made three spacewalks. Gemini 12 also showed that a spacecraft could conduct and automated re-entry.
Both Lovell and Aldrin would return to space with Apollo. Lovell was part of Apollo 8, her crew the first humans to see the far side of the moon. Lovell also commanded the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission, making him the only person to fly to the moon twice and not make a landing.
Aldrin was the second human to set foot on the moon, as part of Apollo 11.
Write This Down: The importance of Project Gemini cannot be underestimated. It developed the space travel techniques that provided the foundation for the lunar landings of the Apollo program.
Quotebook: A very little luck might have carried me to the highest of all prizes or have ended the game. – Winston Churchill, letter to his mother from the Second Boer War, 1897
Answer To The Last Trivia Question: The US Africa Command is headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany.
Today’s Stumper: Who are the other two humans to fly to the moon twice? – Answer next time!