Sunday, December 30, 2007

History of New Year's Resolution
The tradition of the New Year's Resolutions goes all the way back to 153 B.C. Janus, a mythical king of early Rome was placed at the head of the calendar.

Noah's New Year's Resolutions: I have always made resolutions before the old year ends, but on Jan. 2, I have never been able to remember what they were. This year, I will try to help others by saying,
"To Whom It May Concern."
What I suggest may save your life. Many people die from self body abuse.
1. Think Diet and eat the right food. Lose Weight.
2. Increase Exercise.
3. Quit Smoking.
4. Quit Drinking.
More people die from these four bad habits than die in war. If you drink alcohol during the New Year party, don't drive your motor vehicle.
With two faces, Janus could look back on past events and forward to the future. Janus became the ancient symbol for resolutions and many Romans looked for forgiveness from their enemies and also exchanged gifts before the beginning of each year.
The New Year has not always begun on January 1, and it doesn't begin on that date everywhere today. It begins on that date only for cultures that use a 365-day solar calendar. January 1 became the beginning of the New Year in 46 B.C., when Julius Caesar developed a calendar that would more accurately reflect the seasons than previous calendars had.

The Romans named the first month of the year after Janus, the god of beginnings and the guardian of doors and entrances. He was always depicted with two faces, one on the front of his head and one on the back. Thus he could look backward and forward at the same time. At midnight on December 31, the Romans imagined Janus looking back at the old year and forward to the new. The Romans began a tradition of exchanging gifts on New Year's Eve by giving one another branches from sacred trees for good fortune. Later, nuts or coins imprinted with the god Janus became more common New Year's gifts.

In the Middle Ages, Christians changed New Year's Day to December 25, the birth of Jesus. Then they changed it to March 25, a holiday called the Annunciation. In the sixteenth century, Pope Gregory XIII revised the Julian calendar, and the celebration of the New Year was returned to January 1.

The Julian and Gregorian calendars are solar calendars. Some cultures have lunar calendars, however. A year in a lunar calendar is less than 365 days because the months are based on the phases of the moon. The Chinese use a lunar calendar. Their new year begins at the time of the first full moon (over the Far East) after the sun enters Aquarius- sometime between January 19 and February 21.

Although the date for New Year's Day is not the same in every culture, it is always a time for celebration and for customs to ensure good luck in the coming year.

Ancient New Years
The celebration of the New Year is the oldest of all holidays. It was first observed in ancient Babylon about 4000 years ago. In the years around 2000 BC, Babylonians celebrated the beginning of a new year on what is now March 23, although they themselves had no written calendar.

Late March actually is a logical choice for the beginning of a new year. It is the time of year that spring begins and new crops are planted. January 1, on the other hand, has no astronomical nor agricultural significance. It is purely arbitrary.

The Babylonian New Year celebration lasted for eleven days. Each day had its own particular mode of celebration, but it is safe to say that modern New Year's Eve festivities pale in comparison.

The Romans continued to observe the New Year on March 25, but their calendar was continually tampered with by various emperors so that the calendar soon became out of synchronization with the sun. In order to set the calendar right, the Roman senate, in 153 BC, declared January 1 to be the beginning of the New Year. But tampering continued until Julius Caesar, in 46 BC, established what has come to be known as the Julian Calendar. It again established January 1 as the New Year. But in order to synchronize the calendar with the sun, Caesar had to let the previous year drag on for 445 days.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Benazir Bhutto Biography
Former Prime Minister of Pakistan

Benazir Bhutto Date of birth: June 21, 1953
Date of death: December 27, 2007
Click on below
Print Biography

Happy New Year

"Happy New Year!" That greeting will be said and heard for at least the first couple of weeks as a new year gets under way. But the day celebrated as New Year's Day in modern America was not always January 1.

The celebration of the new year is the oldest of all holidays. It was first observed in ancient Babylon about 4000 years ago. In the years around 2000 BC, the Babylonian New Year began with the first New Moon (actually the first visible cresent) after the Vernal Equinox (first day of spring).

The beginning of spring is a logical time to start a new year. After all, it is the season of rebirth, of planting new crops, and of blossoming. January 1, on the other hand, has no astronomical nor agricultural significance. It is purely arbitrary.

The Babylonian new year celebration lasted for eleven days. Each day had its own particular mode of celebration, but it is safe to say that modern New Year's Eve festivities pale in comparison.

The Romans continued to observe the new year in late March, but their calendar was continually tampered with by various emperors so that the calendar soon became out of synchronization with the sun.

In order to set the calendar right, the Roman senate, in 153 BC, declared January 1 to be the beginning of the new year. But tampering continued until Julius Caesar, in 46 BC, established what has come to be known as the Julian Calendar. It again established January 1 as the new year. But in order to synchronize the calendar with the sun, Caesar had to let the previous year drag on for 445 days.

Although in the first centuries AD the Romans continued celebrating the new year, the early Catholic Church condemned the festivities as paganism. But as Christianity became more widespread, the early church began having its own religious observances concurrently with many of the pagan celebrations, and New Year's Day was no different. New Years is still observed as the Feast of Christ's Circumcision by some denominations.

During the Middle Ages, the Church remained opposed to celebrating New Years. January 1 has been celebrated as a holiday by Western nations for only about the past 400 years.

Other traditions of the season include the making of New Year's resolutions. That tradition also dates back to the early Babylonians. Popular modern resolutions might include the promise to lose weight or quit smoking. The early Babylonian's most popular resolution was to return borrowed farm equipment.

The Tournament of Roses Parade dates back to 1886. In that year, members of the Valley Hunt Club decorated their carriages with flowers. It celebrated the ripening of the orange crop in California.

Although the Rose Bowl football game was first played as a part of the Tournament of Roses in 1902, it was replaced by Roman chariot races the following year. In 1916, the football game returned as the sports centerpiece of the festival.

The tradition of using a baby to signify the new year was begun in Greece around 600 BC. It was their tradition at that time to celebrate their god of wine, Dionysus, by parading a baby in a basket, representing the annual rebirth of that god as the spirit of fertility. Early Egyptians also used a baby as a symbol of rebirth.

Although the early Christians denounced the practice as pagan, the popularity of the baby as a symbol of rebirth forced the Church to reevaluate its position. The Church finally allowed its members to celebrate the new year with a baby, which was to symbolize the birth of the baby Jesus.

The use of an image of a baby with a New Years banner as a symbolic representation of the new year was brought to early America by the Germans. They had used the effigy since the fourteenth century.

Traditionally, it was thought that one could affect the luck they would have throughout the coming year by what they did or ate on the first day of the year. For that reason, it has become common for folks to celebrate the first few minutes of a brand new year in the company of family and friends. Parties often last into the middle of the night after the ringing in of a new year. It was once believed that the first visitor on New Year's Day would bring either good luck or bad luck the rest of the year. It was particularly lucky if that visitor happened to be a tall dark-haired man.

Traditional New Year foods are also thought to bring luck. Many cultures believe that anything in the shape of a ring is good luck, because it symbolizes "coming full circle," completing a year's cycle. For that reason, the Dutch believe that eating donuts on New Year's Day will bring good fortune.

Many parts of the U.S. celebrate the new year by consuming black-eyed peas. These legumes are typically accompanied by either hog jowls or ham. Black-eyed peas and other legumes have been considered good luck in many cultures. The hog, and thus its meat, is considered lucky because it symbolizes prosperity. Cabbage is another "good luck" vegetable that is consumed on New Year's Day by many. Cabbage leaves are also considered a sign of prosperity, being representative of paper currency. In some regions, rice is a lucky food that is eaten on New Year's Day.

The song, "Auld Lang Syne," playing in the background, is sung at the stroke of midnight in almost every English-speaking country in the world to bring in the new year. At least partially written by Robert Burns in the 1700's, it was first published in 1796 after Burns' death. Early variations of the song were sung prior to 1700 and inspired Burns to produce the modern rendition. An old Scotch tune, "Auld Lang Syne" literally means "old long ago," or simply, "the good old days."

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Birth of Jesus
Matthew 1-2, Luke 1-2

An Angel Visits Mary
The angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and said, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High." (TNIV) One day about 2,000 years ago an angel named Gabriel appeared to a young Jewish woman named Mary. Gabriel told Mary she would have a son, Jesus, who would be the Son of God! Mary was confused and worried about this sudden news, but she had faith in God and said, "I am the Lord's servant; let it be as you say."

Journey to Bethlehem
Mary and her husband-to-be, Joseph, lived in a town called Nazareth. But they had to travel to the city of Bethlehem to register for a census ordered by the Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus. Both Nazareth and Bethlehem are in the country now called Israel. It is about 65 miles (105 km) from Nazareth to Bethlehem, and the trip probably took them several days.

When Joseph and Mary got to Bethlehem, there was no place for them to stay because the inn was already full. They ended up spending the night in a stable, a place where animals were kept. There was probably fresh hay on the floor that they used for beds.

That night, Jesus was born. There was no crib, so they laid baby Jesus in a manger, a feeding trough for animals. The manger probably had fresh hay in it and made a nice bed for the baby.

Shepherds Visit Jesus
Jesus was born in a stable and laid to sleep in a manger. The shepherds came to see firsthand the things the angel had told them. That night, some shepherds were in the fields near Bethlehem, keeping watch over their flocks of sheep. An angel appeared to them and gave them the good news that a Savior, the Messiah, had been born. The angel told the shepherds they could find Jesus lying in a manger. Suddenly a whole group of angels appeared saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"

The shepherds hurried into Bethlehem and found Jesus in the manger, just as the angel had told them. After they had seen Jesus, they spread the news, and everyone who heard was in awe.

Wise Men Visit Jesus
Wise men from the East came to worship Jesus, bringing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Some time later, wise men, or magi, from eastern countries saw a star in the sky that signaled the birth of a new king. They came to Judea, the region around Jerusalem and Bethlehem, to worship Jesus, the new king.
A man named Herod was the king of Judea. He called the wise men to a meeting and told them to find the new king so he could go and worship him, too.
The wise men continued on to Bethlehem and followed the star until it was directly above the house where Jesus was. They found Mary and Jesus in the house and knelt down to worship Him. They brought Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, some of the finest things in the ancient world. Frankincense was burned to make a sweet smell, and myrrh was an expensive perfume.
After visiting Jesus, the wise men had a dream that warned them not to go back to King Herod, so they took a different route home.

Journey to Egypt
King Herod lied when he told the wise men he wanted to worship Jesus. He was afraid this new "king" would replace him as king of Judea. He did not understand that Jesus would grow up to be king of God's spiritual kingdom, not king of Judea.

What Herod really wanted was to find Jesus and kill Him! Herod was furious when he realized the wise men had not come back to tell him where to find Jesus. He sent his soldiers to Bethlehem to kill all the children under two years old, thinking Jesus would certainly be one of the ones killed.

But God had told Joseph in a dream to flee to Egypt. Joseph took Mary and Jesus to live in Egypt where they would be safe from Herod. Joseph, Mary and Jesus stayed in Egypt until Herod had died, and then they returned to Nazareth.

Was Jesus born on Christmas day? We celebrate Jesus' birth on Christmas, but no one really knows what day Jesus was born, or even exactly what year. In 336 A.D., the Western Church, based in Rome, chose December 25 to celebrate as Christmas, meaning "Christ's Mass." The Eastern Church chose January 6. The day was named Epiphany, meaning "appearance." Eventually the period from December 25 to January 6 became known as the Twelve Days of Christmas.

The stories of Jesus' birth link to both the past and the future. The circumstances of Jesus' birth show He fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies of a Messiah (Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23). He was born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2, Matthew 2:5-6). He was called out of Egypt (Hosea 11:1, Matthew 2:15).

Jesus was born in a stable - the most humble of circumstances. Similarly, Jesus showed us how God's favor rests with the poor and downtrodden. The Gentile wise men came to worship Jesus. Later, the Gentiles would make up most of the Christian world. Herod's attempt to kill Jesus foreshadows His crucifixion about 33 years later.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The History of the Christmas Tree!
Christmas wasn't always celebrated the way it is today. In fact, the Puritans of Massachusetts banned any observance of Christmas, and anyone caught observing the holiday had to pay a fine. Connecticut had a law forbidding the celebration of Christmas and the baking of mincemeat pies! A few of the earliest settlers did celebrate Christmas, but it was far from a common holiday in the colonial era. here's a brief but interesting history of the Christmas Tree!

Roman times
The Christmas tree actually predates Christianity by centuries! Ancient Romans decorated trees with small pieces of metal during Saturnalia, their winter festival in honor of Saturnus, the god of agriculture. There is much evidence to suggest that December 25th was chosen as the day to celebrate Christ's birth in order to take over the holiday from the pagans. (Most historians place the birth of Christ as in the spring or summer; shepherds don't watch over their flocks in the fields in the dead of winter! Historians believe the Emporer Constantine did this around the year 390 to combine Christmas with the Saturn and Mithras celebrations and also with the cult of Sol Invictus, a form of Sunday worship that had come to Rome from Syria a century before).

Middle Ages
During the middle ages, an evergreen was decorated with apples and called the Paradise tree, as a symbol of the feast of Adam and Eve and was held on December 24th each year.

The modern Christmas trees appeared in the middle 1500's. The trees were sold at local markets and set up in homes without any ornaments in the Strassbourg area of Alsace in 1531, which was then a part of Germany.

The oldest record of a decorated Christmas tree came from a 1605 diary found in Strasburg. The tree was decorated with paper roses, apples and candies.

In Austria & Germany during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the tops of evergreens were cut and hung upside down in a living room corner. They were decorated with apples, nuts and strips of red paper.
Tinsel was invented in Germany around 1610. Real silver was used at that time, and special machines were invented to pull the silver out into wafer thin strips for tinsel. Silver was durable, but tarnished quickly, especially with candlelight which was used at that time. Attempts were made to use a mixture of lead and tin, but this was heavy and tended to break under its own weight so was not so practical. So silver was used for tinsel right up to the mid-20th century when plastics took its place.

The first record of Christmas trees in America was for children in the German Moravian Church's settlement in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Christmas 1747. Actual trees were not decorated, but wooden pyramids covered with evergreen branches were decorated with candles.

The custom of the Christmas tree was introduced in the United States during the War of Independence by Hessian troops. An early account tells of a Christmas tree set up by American soldiers at Fort Dearborn, Illinois, the site of Chicago, in 1804. Most other early accounts in the United States were among the German settlers in eastern Pennsylvania. Just as the first trees introduced into Britain did not immediately take off, the early trees introduced into America by the Hessian soldiers were not recorded in any particular quantity. Even so, it is known that the Pennsylvanian German settlements had community trees as early as 1747.

Decorations were still of a 'home-made' variety. Young Ladies spent hours at Christmas Crafts, quilling snowflakes and stars, sewing little pouches for secret gifts and paper baskets with sugared almonds in them. Small bead decorations, fine drawn out silver tinsel came from Germany together with beautiful Angels to sit at the top of the tree. Candles were often placed into wooden hoops for safety.

The tree really catches on in the English speaking countries Charles Minnegrode introduced the custom of decorating trees in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1842.

Somewhere around 1846 - 48, Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, was credited with bringing the first Christmas tree to Windsor Castle for the Royal Family. Some historians state that in actuality Queen Charlotte, Victoria's grandmother, recalled that a Christmas tree was in the Queen's lodge at Windsor on Christmas Day in 1800. It is certain that in the Illustrated London News in 1846, an illustration of Queen Victoria, Prince, Albert and their children around a Christmas tree appeared. Unlike the previous Royal family, Victoria was very popular with her subjects, and what was done at Court immediately became fashionable - not only in Britain, but with fashion-conscious East Coast American Society.

The decorations were tinsels, silver wire ornaments, candles and small beads. All these had been manufactured in Germany and East Europe since the 17th century. The custom was to have several small trees on tables, one for each member of the family, with that persons gifts stacked on the table under the tree.

In America, until this time, Christmas trees were considered a quaint foreign custom. America was so geographically large, that it tended to have 'pockets' of customs relating to the immigrants who had settled in a particular area. It was not until the telegraph communications really got going in the 19th century, that such customs began to spread. Thus references to decorated trees in America before about the middle of the 19th century are very rare. But by 1850, the Christmas tree had become fashionable in the eastern states.

Meanwhile, in Germany, companies, like Lauscha, began to produce fancy shaped glass bead garlands for the trees, and short garlands made from necklace 'bugles' and beads. These were readily available in Germany but not produced in sufficient quantities to export to Britain or America. The Rauschgoldengel was a common sight. Literally, 'Tingled-angel', bought from the Thuringian Christmas markets, and dressed in pure gilded tin.

Mark Carr brought trees from the Catskills to the streets of New York in 1851, and opened the first retail Christmas tree lot in the United States. Franklin Pierce was the first president to introduce the Christmas tree to the White House in 1856 for a group of Washington Sunday School children.

By the 1870's, Glass ornaments were being imported into Britain from Lauscha, in Thuringia (Germany). It became a status symbol to have glass ornaments on the tree, the more one had, the better ones status! Still many home-made things were seen. The British Empire was growing, and the most popular tree topper was the Union Jack (the nation's flag). Sometimes there were flags of the Empire and flags of the allied countries. Trees became very patriotic.

The glass ornaments started being imported into America around 1880, where they were sold through stores such as FW Woolworth. They were quickly followed by American patents for electric lights (1882), (until this time candles were attached to tree branches - which resulted in a lot of fires!) and metal hooks for safer hanging of decorations onto the trees (1892). You can still find candle clips and tree candles in German department stores. The artificial Christmas tree was invented in the 1880's in Germany, to combat some of the damage being done by so many native Fir trees being chopped for Christmas.

The main meal in England on Christmas day was goose (if they were wealthy), ham or roast beef. Turkey is a relatively recent addition, as turkeys are native to America and don’t do well in the English climate. Christmas pudding, Figgy pudding and plum pudding are English fruitcakes, saturated in brandy, that date back to the Middle Ages. Suet, flour, sugar, raisins, nuts, and spices are tied loosely in cloth and boiled until the ingredients are "plum," meaning they have enlarged enough to fill the cloth. Brandy is poured over it daily for weeks until it is well pickled! It is then unwrapped, sliced, and topped with cream or custard. You can feel your arteries hardening just looking at it; but it still tastes better than a fruitcake. For some reason those Claxton fruitcakes caught on around the beginning of the 1900's in America. (Personally, I think people are still passing around the same ones manufacture red at the turn of the 1900 century, as no one I know would want to eat one!)

The Christmas tree popularity died down somewhat in the UK after the death of Queen Victoria. but in the 1930's (in Britain) there was a revival of Dickensian nostalgia, particularly in Britain. Christmas cards all sported Crinoline ladies with muffs and bonnets popular in the 1840's. Christmas Trees became large, and real again, and were decorated with many bells, balls and tinsels, and with a beautiful golden haired angel at the top.

But wartime England put a stop to many of these trees. It was forbidden to cut trees down for decoration, and with so many raids, many people preferred to keep their most precious heirloom Christmas tree decorations carefully stored away in metal boxes, and decorated only a small tabletop tree with home-made decorations, which could be taken down into the shelters for a little Christmas cheer, when the air-raid sirens went.

The first national American Christmas Tree was lighted in the year 1923 on the White House lawn by President Calvin Coolidge. A tree from the National Christmas Tree Association has been displayed in the Blue Room of the White House since 1966.

After World War II, the Christmas tree again became popular!

The mid-1960's saw another change. Sammy Davis Jr, and the Mod 60's were booming, and plastic was everywhere. Silver aluminum trees became popular. The 'Silver Pine' tree, patented in the 1950's, was designed to have a revolving light source under it, with coloured gelatine 'windows, which allowed the light to shine in different shades as it revolved under the tree. No decorations were needed for this tree. Very "hip"!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Santa Claus hasn't always looked like the jolly old fellow we know today. Like so many other American traditions, he's a product of the great American melting pot - a blend of many different cultures and customs. His earliest ancestors date back to pre-Christian days, when sky-riding gods ruled the earth. The mythological characters Odin, Thor, and Saturn gave us the basis for many of Santa's distinctive characteristics.

But the most influential figure in the shaping of today's generous as loving Santa Claus was a real man. St. Nicholas of Myra (now Turkey), a fourth century bishop. As a champion of children and the needy, he was legendary for his kindness and generosity.

In a well known story illustrating St, Nicholas' benevolence, we find two of the basic principles of the holiday spirit - giving to others and helping the less fortunate - as well as the tradition of hanging stockings by the fireplace.

According to this legend, there were three Italian maidens whose families had fallen on hard times. Because their father could not afford the dowries necessary for them to marry, he was considering selling one of his daughters into slavery to get dowries for the other two. When the good saint heard of the family's plight, he went to their home late one night and anonymously tossed three bags of gold down the chimney. Miraculously, a bag fell into each of the sisters stockings, were hanging by the fire to dry. His kindhearted gift made it possible for all three sisters to marry.

A variation of this story is that as each girl was ready to wed, St. Nicholas came in the middle of the night when no one could see him and tossed a bag of gold through an open window into her stocking. The idea of gifts being delivered through an open window may have begun as a way to explain how Santa enters homes that have no chimney.

Because of his wisdom and sensitivity, many groups claimed St. Nicholas as their patron saint. Children, orphans, sailors, and even thieves often prayed to the compassionate saint for guidance and protection. Entire countries, including Russia and Greece, also adopted him as their patron saint, as well as students and pawnbrokers.

Throughout his life, St. Nicholas tried to help others while inspiring the to imitate his virtues. Legends of his unselfish giving spread all over Northern Europe, and accounts of his heroic deeds blended with regional folklore. Eventually, the image of the stately saint was transformed onto an almost mystical being, one known for rewarding the good and punishing the bad.

The date of his death, December 6th, was commemorated with an annual feast, which gradually came to mark the beginning of the medieval Christmas season. On St. Nicholas' Eve, youngsters would set out food for the saint, straw for his horses and schnapps for his attendant. The next morning, obedient children awoke to find their gifts replaced with sweets and toys, found their offering untouched , along with a rod or a bundle of switched. St. Nicholas' Day is still observed in many countries, and gifts are exchanged in honor of the spirit of brotherhood and charity that he embodied.

After the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century, the feasting and veneration of Catholic saints were banned. But people had become accustomed to the annual visit from their gift-giving saint and didn't want to forget the purpose of the holiday. So in some countries, the festivities of St. Nicholas' Day were merged with Christmas celebrations, and although the gift-bearer took on new, non-religious forms, he still reflected the saints generous spirit.

In Germany, he appeared as Weihnachtsmann, in England as Father Christmas, and in France, as Pèrè Noël, who left small gifts in the children's shoes.

In the areas where St. Nicholas was still portrayed as the gift-bearer, a host of other characters developed to be his assistants. Two of his most well-known helpers were Knecht Ruprecht and the Belsnickle. Depending on the local tradition, they were either attendants to St. Nicholas or gift-bears themselves, but in all cases, both were fearsome characters, brandishing rods and switches. It was not only their dusty to reward good children but also to reprove children who were naughty and couldn't recite their prayers.

Knecht Ruprecht (meaning Servant Rupert) was also by other names such as Black Peter (so called because he delivered the presents down the chimney for St. Nicholas and became blackened with soot).

In some places, the images, of Knecht Ruprecht and St. Nicholas merged to form Ru Klaus (meaning Rough Nicholas - so named because of his rugged appearance), Aschen Klaus (meaning Ash Nicholas - because he carried a sack of ashes as well as a bundle of switches), and Pelznickle (meaning Furry Nicholas - referring to his fur clad appearance).

Not all of St. Nicholas' companions were frightening. In fact, the Christkindl (meaning Christ Child) was thought to accompany him in many countries. Often portrayed by a fair-haired young girl, this angelic figure was sometimes the gift-bearer too.

Immigrants to the New World brought along their various beliefs when they crossed the Atlantic. The Scandinavians introduced gift-giving elves, the Germans brought not only their Belsnickle and Chistkindle but also their decorated trees and the Irish contributed the ancient Gaelic custom of placing a lighted candle in the window.

In the 1600's, the Dutch presented Sinterklaas (meaning St. Nicholas) to the colonies. In their excitement, many English-speaking children uttered the name so quickly that Sinterklaas sounded like Santy Claus. After years of mispronunciation, the name evolved into Santa Claus.

In 1808, American author Washington Irving created a new version of old St. Nick. This one rode over the treetops in a horse drawn wagon "dropping gifts down the chimneys of his favorites." In his satire, Diedrich Knickerbocker's History of New York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty, Irving described Santa as a jolly Dutchman who smoked a long stemmed clay pipe and wore baggy breeches and a broad brimmed hat. Also, the familiar phrase, "...laying his finger beside his nose...," first appeared in Irving's story.

That phrase was used again in 1822 in the now-classic poem by Dr. Clement Clarke Moore, "A Visit from St. Nicholas," more commonly know as "The Night Before Christmas." His verse gave an Arctic flavor to Santa's image when he substituted eight tiny reindeer and a sleigh for Irving's horse and wagon. It is Moore's description of Santa that we most often think of today: "He had a broad face, and a little round belly, that shook, when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly."

Up to this point, Santa's physical appearance and the color of his suit were open to individual interpretation. Then in 1863, Thomas Nast, a German immigrant, gave us a visual image of the cheerful giver that was to later become widely accepted.

When Nast was asked to illustrate Moore's charming verse for a book of children's poems, he gave us a softer, kinder Santa who was still old but appeared less stern than the ecclesiastical St. Nicholas. He dressed his elfin figure in red and endowed him with human characteristics. Most important of all, Nast gave Santa a home at the North Pole. For twenty-three years, his annual drawings in Harpers Weekly magazine allowed Americans to peek into the magical world of Santa Claus and set the stage for the shaping of today's merry gentleman.

Artist Haddon Sundblom added the final touches to Santa's modern image. Beginning in 1931, his billboard and other advertisements for Coca Cola-Cola featured a portly, grandfatherly Santa with human proportions and a ruddy complexion. Sunblom's exuberant, twinkle-eyed Santa firmly fixed the gift-giver's image in the public mind.

St. Nicholas' evolution into today's happy, larger-than-life Santa Claus is a wonderful example of the blending of countless beliefs and practices from around the world. This benevolent figure encompasses all the goodness and innocence of childhood. And because goodness is his very essence, in every kindness we do, Santa will always be remembered.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps
The United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps -- the Marine "D&B" -- performs martial and popular music for hundreds of thousands of spectators each year. The Corps of more than 80 Marine musicians, dressed in ceremonial red and white uniforms, is known world-wide as a premier musical marching unit.

Throughout the summer months the unit performs in the traditional Friday Evening Parades held at the Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C., and in Sunset Parades at the U.S. Marine Corps War Memoral (Iwo Jima Monument) near Arlington, Virginia, every Tuesday evening. These "Parades" are not street parades but are dramatic military ceremonies which are a symbol of the professionalism, discipline, and Esprit de Corps of the United States Marines. The Drum and Bugle Corps travels more than 50,000 miles annually, performing in excess of 400 events across the nation and abroad.

The history of the unit can be traced to the early days of the United States Marine Corps. In the 18th and 19th centuries military musicians, or "field musics," provided a means of passing commands to Marines in battle formations. The sound of various drum beats and bugle calls could be easily heard over the noise of the battlefield and signaled Marines to attack the enemy or retire for the evening. Through the 1930s, Marine Corps posts still authorized a number of buglers and drummers to play the traditional calls and to ring a ship's bell to signal the time.

The United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps was formed in 1934, at historic Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C., to augment the United States Marine Band. The unit provided musical support to ceremonies around the nation's capital and, during World War II, was additionally tasked with Presidential support duties. For this additional role, they were awarded the scarlet and gold breastcord by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which they now proudly display on their uniform.

When the war ended, the Drum and Bugle Corps resumed performing at various military and public ceremonies. In the early 1950s the unit gained considerable acclaim performing for an increasing number of civilian audiences. Originally their instrumentation was similar to the other drum and bugle corps of the era. It has evolved along with civilian corps, although usually adapting trends after they have become established by civilian corps. Music composed specifically for their unique selection of instruments helped establish their reputation for excellence during this period. These factors also led to the unit's formal designation as "The Commandant's Own"—a title noting their special status as musicians for the Commandant of the Marine Corps.

In 1968, Truman Crawford, formerly of the US Air Force Drum Corps, became musical arranger and instructor for the Commandant's Own. During his 30 year career with them he created a unique and popular image. It would be difficult to overstate the tremendous influence he had on the development of the organization. He has been called the John Phillip Sousa of Drum Corps. In his honor, the new rehearsal facility of the Commandant's Own at Marine Barracks Washington, 8th and I, will be named the Truman Crawford Hall.

In the tradition of their "field music" predecessors, the musicians in "The Commandant's Own" are Marines in the truest sense of the word. Every member is a graduate of Marine Corps recruit training and is trained in basic infantry skills. Prior to enlisting, each Marine must pass a demanding audition for service in the Drum and Bugle Corps. These Marines are selected so that following Recruit Training and Marine Combat Training, they proceed directly to "The Commandant's Own." without requiring further training. An interesting but little known fact about the United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps is that it does not march in parades of state but instead is held back in reserve by the commandant of the Marine Corps who may order it anywhere as it serves under the commandant's immediate command. Two striking physical features which distinguish the unique Marine musical unit from the United States Marine Band, "The President's Own," are that field musicians of the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps wear white gauntlets which cover the wrists and bear and play silver color brass section instruments as compared to field musicians of the Marine Band whose wrists are not covered and who bear and play gold-colored brass section instruments. The brass played by the "Commandant's Own" are, in fact, drum corps bugles pitched in the key of G (as all drum corps brass was prior to 2000). Additionally, their bugles are 2 valved models similar to those used by drum corps in the US and Canada prior to 1990. Their current inventory of brass instrumentation was manufactured by the Kanstul company in 2006. Features of the uniforms and batons of the drum majors of the two Marine musical field units exhibit different characteristics also.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

History of Navy Seabees
The Seabees have never received credit for what they do so well. The US Marines could not have done without them during World War II. They could build and they were trained to fight on the battlefield, if needed. The Navy Corpsmen were also there to help in the medical field and many of us would not be living today had it not been for the very brave heroes.

The Seabees of the United States Navy were born in the dark days following Pearl Harbor when the task of building victory from defeat seemed almost insurmountable. The Seabees were created in answer to a crucial demand for builders who could fight.
Using sailors to build shore-based facilities; however, was not a new idea. Ancient Egyptians, Phoenicians, Greeks, and Romans did it. In more recent times, from the earliest days of the United States Navy, sailors who were handy with tools occasionally did minor construction chores at land bases.
American seamen were first employed in large numbers for major shore construction during the War of 1812. Early in 1813, the USS ESSEX, under the Command of Captain David Porter, USN, rounded Cape Horn and became the first Navy ship to carry the American flag into the Pacific Ocean. The ESSEX began operating in Pacific waters and captured a British commerce raider, several British merchantmen, and several large British whaling ships. While sailing near the Galapagos Islands in October, 1813, Captain Porter learned that a British naval squadron had entered the Pacific and was searching for him. Because he had been away from his home base for well over a year, Porter decided to prepare his small squadron for the expected battle. To do this, he needed a safe harbor in which to repair and re-equip the ESSEX and some of his prizes that had been converted into fighting ships. In the absence of secure facilities on South America's west coast, he decided to take his ships to the Marquesas Islands. After sailing through the Marquesas for a few days, he selected the shore of a bay on Nukuhiva Island as the best site for constructing the United States Navy's first advanced base.
Under Captain Porter's direction, nearly 300 skilled artisans from his ships undertook the building of the base. Approximately 4,000 friendly natives obtained the materials and worked side-by-side with the Navy builders. As a protection against unfriendly tribes, the men built a fort, which was duly christened Fort Madison with the ceremonious raising of the American flag. Other construction included a house for Porter, a house for the other officers, a cooper's shop, a sail loft, a bake shop, a guard house, a simple medical dispensary, a stores building, an open-shed shelter for the Marine sentries, a rudimentary dock, and ramps to haul the ships high onto the beach. While this construction was underway, some unfriendly natives occasionally attacked, and the Americans had to lay down their tools, take up their weapons, and defend what they were building.
Captain Porter's foster son, David Glasgow Farragut, a twelve year-old midshipman assigned to the ESSEX, was an interested observer and a participant in the construction of the base. When the Typee natives began to attack the base, young Farragut was ashore. Alarmed at the possible early demise of his foster son, Porter hustled him back aboard the ESSEX for safekeeping.
During lulls in the fighting and while construction was underway, Farragut was allowed to go ashore and participate in the operations. However, at the first signs of trouble with the unfriendly tribes, back to the ESSEX or the SIR ANDREW HAMMOND he went. Even after he became the United States Navy's first admiral some forty years later, Farragut was still bemoaning his ill luck in not being allowed to engage in active battle at Nukuhiva.
Upon its completion, the Navy's first base was named "Madison's Ville," and Nukuhiva Island was named "Madison Island," and the adjoining waters were named "Massachusetts Bay." Porter went so far as to claim the island as a United States possession. In the entire proceedings, he conveniently ignored Spanish and British claims going back respectively to the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries.
Even before construction of the base was completed, the ESSEX and ESSEX JUNIOR were hauled up the improvised ramps to the top of the beach. The site selected for rehabilitating the ships was a small plain covered with shade-producing coconut trees. Re-outfitting and repair operations started toward the end of October 1813 and continued until the work was completed early in December. Meanwhile, the other ships were serviced while at anchor in the harbor. During the entire period, hostile natives frequently attacked the workers, who, although sometimes hard pressed, always managed to repel them.
Upon completion of the project in December 1813, Captain Porter immediately sailed with the ESSEX and ESSEX JUNIOR and eventually met the British squadron. His two ships were bottled up in Valparaiso Harbor, Chile, and attempts to break the blockade led to the capture of the American ships in March 1814. Porter and his men thus became prisoners of the British.
In the meantime, Lieutenant John M. Gamble of the U.S. Marine Corps was left behind at Nukuhiva Island to defend the advanced base and the remaining three prize ships. For this task, he had but 22 American officers and men and some sullen British prisoners. Gamble's assignment proved to be beyond the capabilities of his force. Several thousand native Typees began a series of attacks against Fort Madison and Madison's Ville, the British prisoners mutinied, and even four Americans deserted for the sake of native sweethearts. The gallant Marine officer and his men were about to be overwhelmed, and they knew it. Consequently, all hands were shifted to the most seaworthy prize, the SIR ANDREW HAMMOND. A final native attack was repelled with further casualties, and the ship got underway in May 1814, with no charts and a seven-man crew almost too feeble to sail. The United States Navy's first advanced base was thus abandoned through necessity, and certainly not because of the "construction force's" lack of fortitude and valor.
After a voyage of nearly 2,500 miles, Lieutenant Gamble and his surviving crew of three seamen and three Marines arrived in the Sandwich Islands. They landed and immediately discovered that their tribulations were not yet ended. HMS CHERUB was in the harbor, and the Americans fell into the hands of the British. Ironically, this was the same ship which had earlier captured Captain Porter and his men at Valparaiso.
Although they may seem remote from the Seabees of today, the Navy's operations in the Marquesas Islands really are pertinent because precedents were set. First, a requirement was established for an overseas naval construction force. Then skilled craftsmen of the fleet were selected in large numbers to man the force. The men built a U.S. Navy advanced base. Finally, the builders were attacked by hostile natives, and had to lay down their tools and take up arms to defend what they had built. Essentially, these same functions characterize today's Seabee builder-fighters.
Skilled Navy craftsmen were not again employed in large numbers for naval shore construction activities until the period of the First World War. In 1917 the Twelfth Regiment (Public Works) was organized at the Naval Training Station, Great Lakes, Illinois. The development of the regiment was an evolutionary process under the direction of three successive Public Works Officers.
With the entry of the United States into the First World War in April 1917, an immediate requirement was established at Great Lakes for facilities to house, process, and train 20,000 naval recruits. By the end of 1917, the expansion of the war had increased the requirement, and facilities were needed to handle 50,000 recruits.
The naval officer responsible administrative and training operations at Great Lakes was the commandant of the station, Captain William Moffet, USN. When the initial requirement was levied, Captain Moffet did not have sufficient funds at hand to construct the facilities. He therefore went to Washington, D.C., and conferred with the Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels, and with the Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks, Rear Admiral Frederic Harris, CEC, USN. These two officials, controllers of the immediate purse strings for naval construction activity, quickly agreed to release sufficient funds for the initial increment of construction. Admiral Harris, however, pointed out to Captain Moffet that a young officer of the line was in charge of the Public Works Department, and he suggested that a Navy Civil Engineer Corps officer should be appointed to manage the department. Captain Moffet readily agreed to this proposal.
Accordingly, Lieutenant Norman M. Smith, CEC, USN, a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and a one-time officer of the line who had transferred to the Civil Engineer Corps, was appointed Public Works Officer at Great Lakes. He assumed the post on 18 June 1917. At this time, about 100 enlisted men already were assigned to the Public Works Department.
Although most of the major construction work was to be accomplished by civilian contractors, Lieutenant Smith foresaw that the department would have to be expanded. Skilled craftsmen, architects, draftsmen, designers, and other professional and technical people were needed. Because civilians with the requisite skills were difficult to find, he decided to screen incoming recruits to obtain skilled craftsmen. He found many, but not enough.
Lieutenant Smith then began recruiting among civilians outside of the installation, but because of commuting problems, qualified local craftsmen were unwilling to become civilian employees. As a patriotic duty, however, many were willing to join the Navy as petty officers with the understanding that qualified men could apply later for commissions. Captain Moffett approved this proviso, and it greatly facilitated recruiting.
As a result of recruit screening and civilian recruiting, nearly 600 men were obtained for the Public Works Department by July 1917. These men were organized into the Twelfth Regiment (Public Works). Essentially, the Public Works Regiment was the Public Works Department. Because in those days staff officers could not exercise military command, a young officer of the line, Lieutenant William C. Davis, USN, was appointed commanding officer of the regiment, and he served in that capacity throughout its existence. He exercised military control, but the Public Works Officers exercised technical control. Since Lieutenant Davis was, in fact, a subordinate of the respective Public Works Officers, there was never any real conflict between military and technical control.
The regiment was a training as well as a working organization. The purpose of the training was not necessarily to teach the artificer trades to "green" men. Rather it was to assemble artificers, discover the abilities of each, select the natural leaders, and teach them military drill and discipline. The intent was to have these men ready at all times for transfer to other naval stations or naval bases in the United States and abroad, and to fighting ships. The average time the men were retained at Great Lakes was from three to four months, during which period they were used effectively to perform public works functions.
Briefly, the Twelfth Regiment (Public Works) drew the plans for the Great Lakes wartime expansion, down to the minutest detail; and supervised all construction, whether done by civilian contractors or by enlisted men. It saw to the maintenance of buildings, grounds, roads, and railway; and operated the power house, heating systems, water supply, and sewage disposal. It also operated carpenter, machine, and paint shops. To accomplish the maintenance and minor construction, detachments from the regiment were assigned to all the camps at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station.
The construction of the numerous recruit training camps at Great Lakes was mainly done by contractors and their employees. Camp Paul Jones was, however, assigned to the Public Works Regiment, and the men of the regiment turned a temporary tent camp into a semipermanent facility. The major work at this regimental camp began in October 1917, and it was substantially completed by the end of the year.
On 30 December 1917 the regiment became "fully operational" at Camp Paul Jones with 1,500 men, organized into three battalions.
Meanwhile, in the summer of 1917, Commander George A. McKay, CEC, USN, became Public Works Officer at Great Lakes. Lieutenant Smith remained as his deputy for a few months, and upon being promoted to lieutenant commander, departed for an assignment as Public Works Officer at the Charleston Navy Yard in South Carolina.
On 30 January 1918 Commander McKay, in turn, was succeeded by Commander Walter Allen, CEC, USN. The new Public Works Officer surveyed and analyzed his department and decided that the organization was too cumbersome. He, therefore, reorganized both the department and the Public Works Regiment, which by April 1918 consisted of 2,400 men in five battalions.
Throughout the latter part of 1917 and all of 1918, men were withdrawn from the regiment for assignment in the United States and abroad. In the spring of 1918, 100 men were given special training in mechanics and ordnance, and then sent to St. Nazaire in France to assemble the famous Naval Railway Batteries. They joined the operational gun-crews and performed combat duties along the railway lines in proximity to the German lines.
Another 350 skilled men from the Public Works Regiment were selected and sent to France. Landing at the ports of Le Havre and Cherbourg, they were retained in those areas to build and rehabilitate docks and wharves, lay railroad tracks, and build communication facilities. On one occasion, a team of men from this group went into Paris and converted the Eiffel Tower into an antenna for a "Marconi wireless transmitting station."
In the summer of 1918, Captain Allen selected another complement of 200 men, who went to France and constructed air bases along the coast.
During the autumn of 1918, training operations at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station reached a peak to satisfy the requirements of ships and bases in the United States and abroad. By the end of October more than 125,000 recruits had undergone training since the U.S. Navy build up began in March and April of 1917. This expansion of training and facilities, in turn, required a similar expansion in the strength of the Public Works Department and the Twelfth Regiment. The peak strength of the regiment was reached on 5 November 1918. Its comprised 55 officers and 6,211 enlisted men, formed into 11 battalions.
When the First World War ended on 11 November 1918, training and construction operations at Great Lakes ceased. The regiment gradually faded away by the end of 1918. The war was over but not the memories.
An important aspect of the Twelfth Regiment (Public Works) was its unofficial status. At no time was it considered an official U.S. Navy unit. It was merely the creature of the commandant of the Great Lakes Naval Training Station. It was organized and developed by three successive Public Works Officers, and owed its existence solely to the administrative, operational, and training needs of the Public Works Department. Efficiency was the keynote of its existence.
Although the Twelfth Regiment (Public Works) was dissolved in the general demobilization that followed the end of the First World War, the germ of the pioneering idea remained in the minds of many Navy Civil Engineers. Sometime during the early 1930s, for example, the planners of the Bureau of Yards and Docks began providing for "Navy Construction Battalions" in the bureau's contingency war plans. Unfortunately, the identity of the creator of the term went unrecorded. During the decade the successive heads of the bureau's War Plans Office were Captain George McKay, CEC, USN; Captain Carl Carlson, CEC, USN; and Captain Walter Allen, CEC, USN.
In 1934 Captain Carlson's version of the plans was circulated to the Navy Yards, and later the Chief of Naval Operations tentatively approved the concept of "Navy Construction Battalions". In 1935 Rear Admiral Norman Smith, CEC, USN, Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks, selected Captain Walter Allen, his War Plans Officer, to represent the bureau on the War Plans Board, the supreme agency for all aspects of national war planning. Captain Allen ably presented the bureau's concept of "Naval Construction Battalions" to the War Plans Board. The concept was subsequently adopted for inclusion in the national Rainbow war plans that were developed during the last half of the 1930s.
All this may sound more imposing than it really was. From the practical point of view, the plans actually contained only an idea and a name. Implementing details and procedures were inadequate and unworkable. The great weakness of the "Navy Construction Battalions" concept, indeed the fatal flaw, was the provision for dual control of the battalions: military control to be exercised by Navy officers of the line, and construction control to be exercised by Navy Civil Engineer Corps officers. There were no provisions for good military organization and military training for the battalions, which were requisites necessary to create high morale, discipline, and cooperation among the men. Moreover, the original plans contemplated the formation of battalions to construct training stations throughout the United States, an obvious throwback to the Twelfth Regiment (Public Works). On completion of the training stations, the battalions would move to forward areas.
Moreover, the war plans provided only for construction battalions with limited operational duties; no other types of units or expanded duties were included. This oversight narrowed the scope of possible activities. Finally, no provisions were provided for recruiting, enlisting, training and developing training facilities for the enlisted personnel of the construction battalions.
When war finally came, most of the provisions of these plans would have to be shelved. Workable and more pertinent and practical procedures were developed in their place.
Meanwhile, Rear Admiral Ben Moreell, CEC, USN, became Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks in December 1937. It was a time of international crisis and rivalry in both Europe and Asia. In the late 1930s the tense international situation brought quick authorization from the United States Congress to expand naval shore activities. The new construction, started in the Caribbean and Central Pacific in 1939, followed the customary peacetime pattern: contracts were awarded to private construction firms that performed the work with civilian personnel, under the administrative direction of Navy Officers in Charge of Construction.
By the summer of 1941, large naval bases were under construction at Guam, Midway, Wake, Pearl Harbor, Iceland, Newfoundland, Bermuda, Trinidad, and at many other places. To facilitate the work, the Bureau of Yards and Docks decided to organize military Headquarters Construction Companies. Under the immediate control of the Officers in Charge of Construction at the bases, the men of the companies were to be utilized as draftsmen and engineering aids and for administrative duties as inspectors and supervisors to oversee the work of the civilian construction contractors. The companies, each consisting of two officers and 99 enlisted men, were not to do any actual construction work.
On 31 October 1941 the Chief of the Bureau of Navigation, Rear Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, authorized the establishment of the first Headquarters Construction Company and the enlistment of its men. The men were recruited in November. By the beginning of December 1941, the company was formed and the men were undergoing boot training at the Newport Naval Station in Rhode Island. On 16 December 1941, four additional companies were authorized. By then, however, events had outstripped planning, and all the men recruited under this authority would be used for loftier purposes.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Franklin D. Roosevelt asks Congress for a Declaration of War with Japan

On December 8, 1941, the day after Japanese forces attacked the American military base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Franklin Roosevelt addressed Congress and asked for a Declaration of War with Japan. The Senate and House of Representatives approved the war declaration unanimously with the exception of one vote - Congresswoman Jeannette Rankin became the first member of Congress to vote "no" on both the declaration of war on Germany during World War I and the declaration of war on Japan in 1941 - and FDR signed the resolution that day.

Franklin Roosevelt gave one of his most famous speeches to Congress on December 8, 1941 when he asked Congress to declare war on Japan. After the first draft of the speech was written, FDR made handwritten changes and used that text as his final speech. Compare the first page of FDR's original draft and handwritten corrections to his final speech:

Address to Congress Requesting a Declaration of War with Japan December 8, 1941

Mr. Vice President, and Mr. Speaker, and Members of the Senate and House of Representatives:

Yesterday, December 7, 1941 -- a date which will live in infamy -- the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that Nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its Government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American Island of Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese Government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday the Japanese Government also launched an attack against Malaya. Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong. Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam. Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands. Last night the Japanese attacked Wake Island. And this morning the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our Nation.

As Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense.

But always will our whole Nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory. I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger.

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

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

A report on the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941

Major R. H. "Harry" Lodge, USA, tells his story.

R.H. "Harry" Lodge, Division Overseer of Oahu Sugar Company, tells his story of December 7, 1941. Lodge was also a brilliant photographer.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor came as a sudden shock to all of us. How the military could have been so unprepared is one of the puzzling aspects that has not yet been solved. Months prior to the attack, the F.B.I., Army and Navy Intelligence had made studies and census of the plantation workers living on the perimeter of Pearl Harbor which was part of the Waipio Peninsula under my supervision. A few of these workers were Japanese, the balance Filipinos. It appeared obvious that the reason for the study was to plan the evacuation of these people in case of attack. Yet the military, particularly the Navy was caught totally unprepared...

My wife, daughter, and I were having breakfast a few minutes before 8 o'clock when the sound of explosions and the roar of airplanes broke the peace and quiet of that Sunday morning. At the time we were not greatly concerned because there had been many realistic war games prior to this. However we soon realized this was something different. We went outside for a better look. A lone plane buzzed the area and strafed the sugar mill. It had the rising sun on the fuselage. My wife dashed in the house and turned on the radio in time to hear the announcer repeat several times that we were under attack. About this time there were several explosions in the cane field in front of our house which later proved to be exploding shells from our own guns. A sudden blast shook the house as shell blew a hole in the paved road back of us, (in front of Fleener's) and showered our house with gravel. Our dog was hit by a piece of shrapnel.

The phone rang and I was told to evacuate all the employees living in the Pearl Harbor area. After locating a couple of truck drivers, we took the old bus used by the Oahu Sugar Co. athletic teams, and a labor truck and hurried to the Waipio peninsula with me leading the parade in my car. The plantation road follows the shore line and Japanese planes were coming in waves, crossing directly over us and blasting away at shipping and installations on Ford Island and Pearl Harbor. Several bursts of machine gun bullets sprayed the road just ahead of my car. The air was thick with shrapnel but by some miracle nobody was hit although all three vehicles had a few dents. With the help of my water luna, E.M. Faye, we rounded up the men with some difficulty as many had taken cover in the cane fields.

Once the men were evacuated I took shelter under one of the many old keawe trees that leaned out over the shore line. By this time it appeared that every battleship, cruiser and destroyer was either afire, exploding or already on the bottom with their superstructure leaning at a crazy angle above water. Great columns of black smoke belched upwards from both warships and shore installations, and a row of planes parked on Ford Island blazed in a holocaust of flaming gasoline as the attacking planes caught them like sitting ducks. The noise of exploding bombs and gunfire was deafening.

The battleship Nevada which was still afloat passed a few hundred yards in front of me heading for the Harbor mouth. When almost opposite, it was hit by a torpedo carried under the fuselage of one of the attacking planes. There was a terrific blast which blew a hole in the bow of the ship big enough to drive a car through. Simultaneously several bombs appeared to hit the deck, and the great battleship began to sink.

To show how unprepared the navy was, there was not one commissioned officer aboard. The ranking sailor on the Nevada was a chief Petty Officer who immediately beached the ship in comparatively shallow water. She settled on the bottom with the decks awash. This was the first ship to be salvaged in the weeks following the attack.

Shortly after this incident, a Japanese plane was hit by gunfire and came crashing through a gnarled old keawe tree not far from where I crouched. The pilot was literally torn to fragments. This was the only plane I saw shot down in this area.

The men returned to work on December 11th. and we gradually resumed normal operations. There was no great damage to my section of the plantation but for a long time we were locating unexploded shells in the cane fields. Some time after the attack I found an unexploded bomb on the edge of the cane field bordering Pearl Harbor. I called one of my irrigators and told him to guard it until I returned with a naval officer from a nearby installation. He was not to handle it and under no circumstances allow anyone else to touch it. I was about ten minutes getting back with the officer. As we rounded the corner of the cane field, my irrigator was hefting the weight of the bomb in his two hands. When he saw us, he hurriedly dropped it. Fortunately this was one of those times when the bomb did not explode.

In conclusion it should be stated that there was no act of sabotage by the local Japanese.

(signed) R.H. Lodge