Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Flag Day - June 14
The Fourth of July was traditionally celebrated as America's birthday, but the idea of an annual day specifically celebrating the Flag is believed to have first originated in 1885. BJ Cigrand, a schoolteacher, arranged for the pupils in the Fredonia, Wisconsin Public School, District 6, to observe June 14 (the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of The Stars and Stripes) as 'Flag Birthday'. In numerous magazines and newspaper articles and public addresses over the following years, Cigrand continued to enthusiastically advocate the observance of June 14 as 'Flag Birthday', or 'Flag Day'.

On June 14, 1889, George Balch, a kindergarten teacher in New York City, planned appropriate ceremonies for the children of his school, and his idea of observing Flag Day was later adopted by the State Board of Education of New York. On June 14, 1891, the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia held a Flag Day celebration, and on June 14 of the following year, the New York Society of the Sons of the Revolution, celebrated Flag Day.

Following the suggestion of Colonel J Granville Leach (at the time historian of the Pennsylvania Society of the Sons of the Revolution), the Pennsylvania Society of Colonial Dames of America on April 25, 1893 adopted a resolution requesting the mayor of Philadelphia and all others in authority and all private citizens to display the Flag on June 14th. Leach went on to recommend that thereafter the day be known as 'Flag Day', and on that day, school children be assembled for appropriate exercises, with each child being given a small Flag.

Two weeks later on May 8th, the Board of Managers of the Pennsylvania Society of Sons of the Revolution unanimously endorsed the action of the Pennsylvania Society of Colonial Dames. As a result of the resolution, Dr. Edward Brooks, then Superintendent of Public Schools of Philadelphia, directed that Flag Day exercises be held on June 14, 1893 in Independence Square. School children were assembled, each carrying a small Flag, and patriotic songs were sung and addresses delivered.

In 1894, the governor of New York directed that on June 14 the Flag be displayed on all public buildings. With BJ Cigrand and Leroy Van Horn as the moving spirits, the Illinois organization, known as the American Flag Day Association, was organized for the purpose of promoting the holding of Flag Day exercises. On June 14th, 1894, under the auspices of this association, the first general public school children's celebration of Flag Day in Chicago was held in Douglas, Garfield, Humboldt, Lincoln, and Washington Parks, with more than 300,000 children participating.

Adults, too, participated in patriotic programs. Franklin K. Lane, Secretary of the Interior, delivered a 1914 Flag Day address in which he repeated words he said the flag had spoken to him that morning: "I am what you make me; nothing more. I swing before your eyes as a bright gleam of color, a symbol of yourself."

Inspired by these three decades of state and local celebrations, Flag Day - the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777 - was officially established by the Proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson on May 30th, 1916. While Flag Day was celebrated in various communities for years after Wilson's proclamation, it was not until August 3rd, 1949, that President Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14th of each year as National Flag Day.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Memorial Day in
Waterloo, New York

The story of Memorial Day begins in the summer of 1865, when a prominent local druggist, Henry C. Welles, mentioned to some of his friends at a social gathering that while praising the living veterans of the Civil War it would be well to remember the patriotic dead by placing flowers on their graves. Nothing resulted from this suggestion until he advanced the idea again the following spring to General John B. Murray. Murray, a civil war hero and intensely patriotic, supported the idea wholeheartedly and marshalled veterans' support. Plans were developed for a more complete celebration by a local citizens' committee headed by Welles and Murray.

On May 5, 1866, the Village was decorated with flags at half mast, draped with evergreens and mourning black. Veterans, civic societies and residents, led by General Murray, marched to the strains of martial music to the three village cemeteries. There impressive ceremonies were held and soldiers' graves decorated. One year later, on May 5, 1867, the ceremonies were repeated. In 1868, Waterloo joined with other communities in holding their observance on May 30th, in accordance with General Logan's orders. It has been held annually ever since.
Waterloo held the first formal, village wide, annual observance of a day dedicated to honoring the war dead. On March 7, 1966, the State of New York recognized Waterloo by a proclamation signed by Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller. This was followed by recognition from Congress of the United States when the House of Representatives and the Senate unanimously passed House Concurrent Resolution 587 on May 17th and May 19th, 1966 respectively. This reads in part as follows: "Resolved that the Congress of the United States, in recognition of the patriotic tradition set in motion one hundred years ago in the Village of Waterloo, NY, does hereby officially recognize Waterloo, New York as the birthplace of Memorial Day..."

On May 26, 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson, signed a Presidential Proclamation recognizing Waterloo as the Birthplace

Where Did "TAPS" Come From
During the Civil War, in July 1862 when the Army of the Potomac was in camp, Brig. Gen. Daniel Butterfield summoned Pvt. Oliver Wilcox Norton, his brigade bugler, to his tent. Butterfield, who disliked the colorless "extinguish lights" call then in use, whistled a new tune and asked the bugler to sound it for him. After repeated trials and changing the time of some notes which were scribbled on the back of an envelope, the call was finally arranged to suit Gen. Butterfield and used for the first time that night. Pvt. Norton, who on several occasions, had sounded numerous new calls composed by his commander, recalled his experience of the origin of "Taps" years later:

"One day in July 1862 when the Army of the Potomac was in camp at Harrison's Landing on the James River, Virginia, resting and recruiting from its losses in the seven days of battle before Richmond, Gen. Butterfield summoned the writer to his tent, and whistling some new tune, asked the bugler to sound it for him. This was done, not quite to his satisfaction at first, but after repeated trials, changing the time of some of the notes, which were scribbled on the back of an envelope, the call was finally arranged to suit the general.

"He then ordered that it should be substituted in his brigade for the regulation "Taps" (extinguish lights) which was printed in the Tactics and used by the whole army. This was done for the first time that night. The next day buglers from nearby brigades came over to the camp of Butterfield's brigade to ask the meaning of this new call. They liked it and, copying the music, returned to their camps, but it was not until some time later, when generals of other commands had heard its melodious notes, that orders were issued, or permission given, to substitute it throughout the Army of the Potomac for the time-honored call which came down from West Point.

In the western armies the regulation call was in use until the autumn of 1863. At that time the XI and XII Corps were detached from the Army of the Potomac and sent under command of Gen. Hooker to reinforce the Union Army at Chattanooga, Tenn. Through its use in these corps it became known in the western armies and was adopted by them. From that time, it became and remains to this day the official call for "Taps." It is printed in the present Tactics and is used throughout the U.S. Army, the National Guard, and all organizations of veteran soldiers.

Gen. Butterfield, in composing this call and directing that it be used for "Taps" in his brigade, could not have foreseen its popularity and the use for another purpose into which it would grow. Today, whenever a man is buried with military honors anywhere in the United States, the ceremony is concluded by firing three volleys of musketry over the grave, and sounding with the trumpet or bugle "Put out the lights. Go to sleep"...There is something singularly beautiful and appropriate in the music of this wonderful call. Its strains are melancholy, yet full of rest and peace. Its echoes linger in the heart long after its tones have ceased to vibrate in the air."

Day is done ....... Gone the sun .......
From the lakes ... From the hills ... From the skies .......
All is well ....... Safely rest ....... God is nigh ........
Fading light ....... Dims the sight ........
And a star ... Gems the sky ... Gleaming bright .......
From afar ....... Drawing nigh ....... Falls the night .......
Thanks and praise ....... For our days .......
Neath the sun ... Neath the stars ... Neath the sky .......
As we go ....... This we know ....... God is nigh ........

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tun Tavern-Birthplace of the Marine Corps
Continental Marines
Marines are military forces optimised for operations at sea. Historically marine forces are part of a navy. However, in some countries the marine force is under independent command.... of the
American Colonies.

Thirteen Colonies
The Thirteen Colonies were part of what became known as British America, a name that was used by Great Britain until the Treaty of Paris recognized the independence of the original thirteen United States of America in 1783.... during the American Revolutionary War.
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , also known as the American War of Independence, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and Thirteen Colonies on the North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers..... The corps was formed by the Continental Congress.

Continental CongressThe Continental Congress was a convention of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies that became the governing body of the United States during the American Revolution.... in November 10, 1775 and was disbanded in 1783. Their mission was multi-purpose, but their most important duty was to serve as on-board security forces, protecting the Captain of a ship and his officers. During naval engagements Marine sharpshooters were stationed in the fighting tops of the ships' masts, and were supposed to shoot the opponent's officers, naval gunners, and helmsmen.

In all, there were 131 Colonial Marine officers and probably no more than 2,000 enlisted Colonial Marines. Though individual Marines were enlisted for the few American naval vessels, the organization would not be re-created until 1798. Despite the gap between the disbanding of the Continental Marines and the U.S. Marine Corps, Marines worldwide celebrate 10 November 1775 as the Marine Corps Birthday.

In accordance with the Continental Marine Act of 1775, the Congress
Continental Congress.

The Continental Congress was a convention of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies that became the governing body of the United States during the American Revolution.... decreed.

These two battalions were initially intended for the planned invasion of Nova Scotia, the main British reinforcement point. In reality only one battalion was formed. Plans to form the second battalion were suspended indefinitely after several British regiments-of-foot and cavalry, supported by 3,000 Hessian mercenaries, landed in Nova Scotia, making the planned amphibious assault impossible.

The Continental Marines' first and only Commandant.

Commandant of the Marine Corps
The Commandant of the Marine Corps is the highest ranking officer in the United States Marine Corps and is a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.... was Captain Samuel Nicholas.

Samuel Nicholas was the first officer commissioned in the United States Continental Marines and by tradition is considered to be the first Commandant of the Marine Corps.... and the first Marine Barracks were located in Philadelphia. The first recruiting station was historically at meeting place called Tun Tavern.

Tun TavernTun Tavern was a tavern in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania which served as a founding or early meeting place for a number of notable groups. It is traditionally regarded as the site where the United States Marine Corps held its first recruitment drive..... Recent discoveries may prove the actual tavern was nowhere near the original Tun Tavern.

Four additional Marine Security Companies were also raised and helped
George Washington.
George Washington was the leader of the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War and served as the List of Presidents of the United States President of the United States of the United States of Americas .... defend Philadelphia.

Philadelphia is the largest city in Pennsylvania and the List of United States cities by population city in the United States. It is the fifth-largest metropolitan area and fourth-largest urban area by population in the United States, the nation's fourth-largest consumer media market as ranked by the Nielsen Media Research, and the 49th-most....

The Marines were used to conduct amphibious landings and raids during the American Revolution.

American RevolutionThe American Revolution refers to the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which the Thirteen Colonies of North America overthrew the governance of the British Empire and then rejected the British monarchy to become the sovereign United States of America..... They landed twice in Nassau.

Nassau is the Capital , largest city, and commercial centre of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. The city has a population of 260,000 , nearly 80 percent of the entire population of The Bahamas ...., in the Bahamas, to seize naval stores from the British.

Great Britain is an island lying to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the List of islands by area, and the largest in Europe. With a population of 58.9 million people it is List of islands by population..... The first landing.
The Battle of Nassau was a naval action and Amphibious warfare by American forces against Kingdom of Great Britain-occupied Nassau in the Bahamas during the American Revolutionary War...., led by Captain Samuel Nicholas, consisted of 250 Marines and sailors who landed in New Providence.

New Providence is the most populous island in The Bahamas. While the first European visitors to the Bahama Islands were Bermuda salt rakers gathering sea salt in Grand Turk Island and Inagua after 1670, the first lasting occupation was on Eleuthera and then New Providence shortly thereafter...., in the Bahamas; there they wreaked much damage and seized naval stores. The second landing, led by a Lieutenant Trevet, landed at night and captured several ships along with the naval stores.

Continental Marines landed and captured Nautilus Island and the Majabagaduce peninsula in the Penobscot Expedition. A Marine battalion also fought alongside the
Continental Army.
The American Continental Army was an army formed after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War by the colonies that became the United States. Established by a resolution of the Continental Congress on June 15, 1775, the army was created to coordinate the military efforts of the Thirteen Colonies in their struggle against the rule of Kingdom... in the Battle of Princeton.
The Battle of Princeton was a battle in which George Washington's revolutionary forces defeated Great Britain forces near Princeton, New Jersey, New Jersey..... A group under Navy Captain James Willing left Pittsburgh, traveled down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, captured a ship and in conjunction with other Continental Marines brought by ship from the Gulf of Mexico raided British Loyalists on the shore of Lake Ponchartrain.

1775, November 10th: The Continental Marines are created.

1775, December: Five companies of about 300 Marines were raised. While armed, they were not equipped with uniforms. They head South for the Caribbean where the five companies joined Commodore Esek Hopkins.

Esek Hopkins , was Commander in Chief of the Fleet throughout the American Revolutionary War.

Esek Hopkins was born in what is now Scituate, Rhode Island.... of the Continental Navy.

The Continental Navy was formed during the American Revolution in 1775. Through the efforts of the Continental Navy's apparent patron, John Adams and vigorous Congressional support in the face of stiff opposition, the fleet cumulatively became relatively substantial when considering the limitations imposed upon the Patriot supply pool....'s first squadron on its first cruise.

1776, March: Nicholas' Marines land on New Providence Island, Bahamas. In 13 days they secure 2 forts, occupy Nassau, control the Government House, seize 88 guns, 16,535 shells and other supplies. Returning from the raid, they encountered a British ship. Marines engaged the ship with muskets and assisted in manning the broadside cannon. Commodore Hopkins ignored his ambitious orders to sweep the southern seas of British ships, and instead raided the Bahamas for gunpowder for Washington's army. Nicholas' Marines made an opposed landing and marched on Nassau Town, on the island of New Providence.

New Providence is the most populous island in The Bahamas. While the first European visitors to the Bahama Islands were Bermuda salt rakers gathering sea salt in Grand Turk Island and Inagua after 1670, the first lasting occupation was on Eleuthera and then New Providence shortly thereafter...., seizing shot, shells and cannon. However, a failed attempt at a surprise attack the day before had warned the defenders, who sent off their stock of gunpowder in the night. Sailing back to Rhode Island, the squadron captured four small prize ships. The squadron finally returned on 8 April 1776, with 7 dead Marines (including Lt. John Fitzpatrick), and four wounded. Though Hopkins was disgraced for failing to obey orders, Nicholas was promoted to Major on 25 June and tasked with raising 4 new companies of Marines for 4 new frigates then under construction. Among the newly commissioned Marines was Captain Robert Mullan.

1776, December: Marines were tasked to join Washington's army at Trenton to slow the progress of British troops southward through New Jersey. Unsure what to do with the Marines, Washington added the Marines to a brigade of Philadelphia militia, also dressed in green. Captain Mullan's roster lists two black men, Issac and Orange, the first recorded black Marines. Though they were unable to arrive in time to affect the battle of Trenton, they assisted in the decisive American victory at Princeton. Later that spring, Washington incorporated some of the Marines into artillery units of his reorganized Army.1778, January: A Marine detachment sails down the Mississippi River.

The Mississippi River is the longest river in the United States, with a length of from its source in Lake Itasca in Minnesota to its mouth in the Gulf of Mexico.... and secures New Orleans to keep British traders out. Continental Marines landed and captured Nautilus Island and the Majabagaduce peninsula in the Penobscot Expedition.

The Penobscot Expedition was the largest American naval expedition of the American Revolutionary War and the United States' worst naval defeat until Attack on Pearl Harbor..... A group under Navy Captain James Willing left Pittsburgh, traveled down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, captured a ship and in conjunction with other Continental Marines brought by ship from the Gulf of Mexico.

The Gulf of Mexico is the ninth largest body of water in the world. Considered a smaller part of the Atlantic Ocean, it is an oceanic basin largely surrounded by the North American continent and the island of Cuba.... raided British Loyalists on the shore of Lake Ponchartrain1778, April: A Marine detachment nominally under the command of John Paul Jones.

John Paul Jones was United States first well-known US Navy fighter in the American Revolutionary War. Although he made enemies among the American ruling class, his actions in British waters during the Revolution earned him an international reputation which persists to this day.... makes two raids on British soil.

1783, January: Marines board and seize the British ship Baille in the West Indies.

1785, June: After the end of the American Revolutionary War (Jan, 1783), the Alliance.

The first USS Alliance of the United States Navy was a 36-gun sailing frigate of the American Revolutionary War, notable for having fired the last shot of the war.... is sold. The last official act of the Continental Marines was to escort a stash of French silver crowns on loan from Louis XVI, from Boston to Philadelphia, to enable the opening of the Bank of North America
Bank of North America.

The Bank of North America was chartered on December 31, 1781 by the Congress of the Confederation and opened on January 7, 1782, at the prodding of Finance Minister Robert Morris ..... The Continental Marines go out of existence, along with the Continental Navy.

The Continental Navy was formed during the American Revolution in 1775. Through the efforts of the Continental Navy's apparent patron, John Adams and vigorous Congressional support in the face of stiff opposition, the fleet cumulatively became relatively substantial when considering the limitations imposed upon the Patriot supply pool.....
Continental Marine uniforms
On 5 September, 1776, the Naval Committee published the Continental Marines.

The Continental Marines were the Marine corps of the Thirteen Colonies during the American Revolutionary War. The corps was formed by the Continental Congress in November 10, 1775 and was disbanded in 1783.... uniform regulations specifying green coats with white facings (lapels, cuffs, and coat lining), with a leather high collar to protect against cutlass slashes and to keep a man's head erect. Its memory is preserved by the moniker "Leatherneck", and the high collar on Marine dress uniforms. Though legend attributes the green color to the traditional color of riflemen, Colonial Marines carried muskets. More likely, green cloth was simply plentiful in Philadelphia, and it served to distinguish Marines from the red of the British or the blue of the Continental Army and Navy. Also, Sam Nicholas's hunting club wore green uniforms, hence his recommendation to the committee was for green.

Monday, May 11, 2009

My final resting place
Barrancas National Cemetery
Naval Air Station
Pensacola, Florida

The Barrancas National Cemetery, established in 1868, is located within the Pensacola Naval Air Station about eight miles southwest of Pensacola, Florida, in Escambia County. The main entrance is located at the center of the south side and is protected by a double wrought-iron gate supported by concrete piers, constructed circa 1868. A second entrance with no gate is located along Duncan Road. A pedestrian gate, constructed in 1936, is located to the east of the main en-trance, and an iron service gate supported by concrete piers and constructed in 1949, is situated near the southeastern corner of the cemetery near the service building. A portion of the original brick perimeter wall remains along the west side of the cemetery from Section 7 to Section 25. Wrought-iron fencing supported by concrete posts en-closes the south boundary. Chain link fencing surrounds the service building. An administration building is located to the east as you enter the cemetery, and the service building is situated to the east of the administration building. The flagpole is located in front of the administration building. One committal service tent is situated in Section 36 to the north of the main entrance, and a second tent is located within the circle near Sections 40 and 41. Graves are marked with upright marble headstones, except for Section 35, which is marked with flat granite markers.
The brick administration building, containing public restrooms, was constructed in 1976. The roof is asphalt shingles.
The brick and concrete service building with a galvanized tin roof was constructed in 1949. In November 1956, one of the former restrooms was converted into a fireproof paint and oil storage room.
The 1.17-acre area designated as the "Civilian Cemetery" contains burials from the early 1800’s until approximately 1934. During the early days of the navy yard, employees and their families were allowed to live on the reservation and a small community developed. Expansion of facilities from 1933-1935 necessitated the removal of those families still living there and the relocation of the graves. Relocation was completed on September 6, 1935, and no additional burials have been made since that time.
Noted Burials
A grave of interest is that of Ga-Ah, an Apache Indian who was the second wife of Apache Chief Geronimo. Geronimo was born in southern Arizona, and his Indian name was Goyathloy, meaning one who yawns. The Mexicans gave him the name Geronimo, which is Spanish for Jerome. Geronimo was perhaps the most cunning Indian fighter in American history, and rose to leadership by his extraordinary courage, determination and skill in successive raids on Mexican troops who had killed his mother, first wife, and children, in 1858. He led devastating raids in Arizona and New Mexico before the U. S. Government intervened and caused him to surrender to General George F. Crook in May 1883. Geronimo escaped and conducted further raids in both the United States and Mexico before his capture by General Nelson A. Miles in 1886. He along with his wife Ga-Ah and his followers were captured. As prisoners of war, they were removed to Fort Pickens on Santa Rosa Island and subsequently transferred to Mount Vernon Barracks, Alabama, north of the city of Mobile. Ga-Ah died of pneumonia on September 29, 1887, and is buried in Section 18, Grave 1496.
Also buried in the cemetery are the remains of 55 individuals from the Fort Myers area of Florida, who were casualties of the Second Seminole War which occurred in the early 1840’s. They were originally buried at a cemetery associated with Forts Harvie and Myers, collectively occupied during the Second and Third Seminole Wars and the Civil War, circa 1841 to 1865. Fort Harvie was the Army’s principal depot for operations in southwest Florida and was established on November 1, 1841, during the Second Seminole War, and remained active until March of 1842. Fort Myers was established in 1850 at the same location and continued to function through the Civil War years. During the Civil War, Fort Myers was manned by Union forces and became an important haven for Gulf Coast civilians who were Union sympathizers. In 1888, the 55 bodies (9 known and 46 unknown) were disinterred and reinterred in the national cemetery. All but five of the graves are located in Section 3. A native-American woman and four unknown children are buried in Section 18.
There are three Medal of Honor recipients buried in the cemetery. Their graves are marked with special markers inscribed with an enlarged gold-leafed replica of the medal of the awarding service and the words "MEDAL OF HONOR." The names and grave locations are as follows:
Stephen W. Pless - Major (then Capt.), U. S. Marine Corps, VMD-6, Mag-36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing - Section 21, Grave 929A.
Clifford Chester Sims, Staff Sergeant, U. S. Army, Company D, 2d Battalion (Airborne), 501st Infantry, 101st Airborne Division - Section 29, Grave 546.
Clyde E. Lassen, Lieutenant, United States Navy - Section 38, Grave 113.
Significant Monuments/Memorials
U. S. Marine Guard Monument- This monument was erected on March 15, 1884, by the Marine Guard, Navy Yard, Pensacola, Florida, to the memory of comrades who died of yellow fever in 1883, and bears the names of those who were victims. The monument has a square base, pyramiding to a point 12 feet from the base.
There are two monuments, located north of the main entrance, each made of an original cast-iron sea-coast artillery tube and secured by a concrete base. Both are topped by cannonballs painted white. A bronze plaque affixed to one of these monuments is inscribed as follows:
Civil War Activity in Area
During the period following the election of 1860 and the inauguration of President Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States on March 4, 1861, seven southern states approved ordinances of secession from the Government by the United States of America. On January 10, 1861, Florida became the third state to secede. Pensacola Bay provided the best harbor along the Gulf of Mexico. Its entrance was guarded by three United States Army forts—Fort McRae and Fort Barrancas on the land side and Fort Pickens on the western tip of Santa Rosa Island. On the day of Florida’s secession from the Union, Lieutenant Adam J. Slemmer, commanding Company G of the 1st United States Artillery, spiked the guns at Fort Barrancas, blew up the ammunition at Fort McRae, and occupied Fort Pickens.
Pensacola’s location on the best natural harbor on the Gulf Coast, along with her naval and civilian shipyards, made the city a valuable prize for the Confederacy. However, the Federal occupation of Fort Pickens at the western tip of Santa Rosa Island at the entrance to Pensacola Bay, nullified these advantages.
The Confederacy had been organized during the month of February 1861 in Montgomery, Alabama, and Brigadier General Braxton Bragg assumed command of the Confederate troops at Pensacola on March 11, 1861. Bragg’s plans to attack Fort Pickens were upset by the arrival of Lieutenant John Worden, who was dispatched to Fort Pickens with specific orders for the landing of troops by the Navy. Worden assured Bragg that the dispatches he was carrying were only "of a pacific nature." He was allowed to proceed to Fort Pickens. A storm delayed Worden’s oral communication of orders from Secretary of the Navy Gideon Wells directing the landing of Federal reinforcements the next day, April 12, the day the Civil War actually began at Fort Sumter, South Carolina. Other events contributed to the tense atmosphere here. On April 19, Bragg declared martial law in the Pensacola area in an unsuccessful attempt to stop traffic across the bay. Officials of the Alabama and Florida Railroad expressed fear of sabotage on the wooden trestles near the Escambia River north of Pensacola. On April 20, the impetuous attempt by Lieutenant David Porter, USN, to take the USS Powhatan into Pensacola Bay was stopped when Captain Montgomery Meigs put the USS Wyandotte directly in Porter’s path.
A number of actions took place in and around Pensacola Bay before the Confederates evacuated the area. While Confederates were moving a large floating drydock from the Navy Yard to Pensacola in May 1861, the towline broke and the dock drifted close to Fort Pickens near Batteries Lincoln and Cameron. Colonel Brown, commanding officer of Fort Pickens, suspected the dry dock would be used as a floating battery. He prepared to fire upon it. However, before Brown could take any action, the Confederates scuttled the dry dock. Because of Con-federate endeavors to refloat the dry dock during the summer, the Federals sent a small detachment from Fort Pickens during the evening of September 2 and destroyed by fire all that remained of the dry dock above the waterline.
Upon learning that Confederate naval authorities at Pensacola were attempting to outfit the Judah as a privateer, Federal naval officers readied a plan to destroy the Judah before she could be put to sea. During the night of September 14, 1861, a Federal raiding party of about 100 sailors and marines in four small boats cast off from the USS Colorado and approached the Judah about 3:30 a.m. A small but alert Confederate force greeted the raiders with a burst of musketry. After a brief encounter, the Federals boarded the ship and set her afire. Another Federal contingent spiked a ten-inch columbiad in a nearby battery. As the sun rose, the victorious naval force returned to the Colorado, having sustained three dead and 13 wounded. The Confederate forces lost three soldiers and suffered many injuries. In retaliation for the burning of the Judah, General Bragg ordered an attack upon the Federal fortifications on Santa Rosa Is-land.
General Dick Anderson, under orders from General Bragg, organized an expeditionary force of just over 1,000 men to attack Fort Pickens. The operation started during the night of October 8 but, because of transportation problems, the attacking force did not leave Pensacola until nearly midnight. The steamers Ewing, Time and Neaffie, with their flotilla of barges and flats, arrived on the island at a point four miles east of Fort Pickens. After a march of some three miles through soft sand, the Confederate forces were spotted by a Federal picket just east of Brown’s Camp occupied by the 6th Regiment of New York Volunteers. The quiet of the early morning was broken by a musket blast from the picket. He was quickly overrun and shot by the charging Confederate troops. The 6th New York withdrew, running westward to the batteries on the north side of the island near Fort Pickens. Many of the Southern militia got caught up in the excitement of burning and looting Brown’s Camp. General Anderson reassembled his troops. He abandoned his plans for any further attack and ordered his troops to march back to their original point of debarkation. As they were boarding the steamers, flats, and barges, the well-trained Union infantry showered the Confederates with large quantities of effective musketry that caused considerable death and injury. Florida’s first major land battle ended when the steamers left the island for Pensacola. The Confederates reported a loss of 18 dead, 39 wounded, and 300 missing or presumed prisoners of war. Colonel Brown stated his losses as 14 dead, 29 wounded, and 24 prisoners.
A great artillery exchange occurred during November 22 and 23, 1861, causing extensive damage to Fort McRee and the water battery close to it, as well as destruction of two thirds of the village of Warrington and many buildings about the Navy Yard, including the hospital. During the two-day bombardment, the Federals suffered very little damage to Fort Pickens or their adjacent gun batteries, but lost two men and sustained 13 wounded.
In a second brutal exchange of artillery on January 1 and 2, 1862, Federal artillery caused extensive damage to the Navy Yard and other buildings where Confederates were quartered. The powder magazine at Fort McRee exploded, making the fort totally useless.
In early 1862, Federal invasion of central and western Tennessee caused the withdrawal of about 8,000 Confederates in and near Pensacola by March 19, 1862. Colonel Thomas M. Jones protested to Richmond about abandonment of Pensacola. He was authorized by Adjutant General Samuel Cooper to use his own discretion concerning the evacuation of the city. Colonel Jones was also advised by Major General Robert E. Lee to prepare immediately to send any remaining troops to Mobile. Pensacola was not vacated at this time but, on May 7, 1862, Commander David Farragut’s Federal fleet was anchored off the mouth of Mobile Bay. Colonel Jones hurriedly removed most of the artillery and military supplies. The last Confederates to leave, late on May 9, ignited fires intended to destroy the remains of the Navy Yard and other military installations. The troops at Fort Pickens, alerted by many fires on the mainland, began a heavy bombardment lasting until the dawn of May 10.
Early on May 10, 1862, acting Mayor Dr. John Brosnaham surrendered Pensacola to Lieutenant Richard Jackson, U. S. Army. During that evening, a flag-raising ceremony was held by Federal troops in Plaza Ferdinand. Pensacola played a relatively minor role during the remainder of the Civil War. The Western Gulf Squadron used the Navy Yard as an operational base. Fort Barrancas was the starting point for a number of raids into Alabama and western Florida.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy Mother's Day 2009
The history of Mother's Day is centuries old and the earliest Mother's Day celebrations can be traced back to the spring celebrations of ancient Greece in honor of Rhea, the Mother of the Gods. During the 1600's, the early Christians in England celebrated a day to honor Mary, the mother of Christ. By a religious order the holiday was later expanded in its scope to include all mothers, and named as the Mothering Sunday. Celebrated on the 4th Sunday of Lent (the 40 day period leading up to Easter), "Mothering Sunday" honored the mothers of England.

During this time many of the England's poor worked as servants for the wealthy. As most jobs were located far from their homes, the servants would live at the houses of their employers. On Mothering Sunday, the servants would have the day off and were encouraged to return home and spend the day with their mothers. A special cake, called the mothering cake, was often brought along to provide a festive touch.

As Christianity spread throughout Europe the celebration changed to honor the "Mother Church" - the spiritual power that gave them life and protected them from harm. Over time the church festival blended with the Mothering Sunday celebration . People began honoring their mothers as well as the church.

With the passage of time, the practice of this fantastic tradition ceased slowly. The English colonists settled in America discontinued the tradition of Mothering Sunday because of lack of time.

In the United States, Mother's Day was loosely inspired by the British day and was first suggested after the American Civil War by social activist Julia Ward Howe. Howe (who wrote the words to the Battle hymn of the Republic) was horrified by the carnage of the Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War and so, in 1870, she tried to issue a manifesto for peace at international peace conferences in London and Paris (it was much like the later Mother's Day Peace Proclamation). During the Franco-Prussian war in the 1870s, Julia began a one-woman peace crusade and made an impassioned "appeal to womanhood" to rise against war. She composed in Boston a powerful plea that same year (generally considered to be the original Mothers' Day proclamation*) translated it into several languages and distributed it widely. In 1872, she went to London to promote an international Woman's Peace Congress. She began promoting the idea of a "Mother's Day for Peace" to be celebrated on June 2, honoring peace, motherhood and womanhood. In the Boston Mass, she initiated a Mothers' Peace Day observance on the second Sunday in June, a practice that was to be established as an annual event and practiced for at least 10 years. The day was, however, mainly intended as a call to unite women against war. It was due to her efforts that in 1873, women in 18 cities in America held a Mother's Day for Pace gathering. Howe rigorously championed the cause of official celebration of Mothers Day and declaration of official holiday on the day. She held meetings every year at Boston on Mother's Peace Day and took care that the day was well-observed. The celebrations died out when she turned her efforts to working for peace and women's rights in other ways. Howe failed in her attempt to get the formal recognition of a Mother's Day for Peace. Her remarkable contribution in the establishment of Mother's Day, however, remains in the fact that she organized a Mother's Day dedicated to peace. It is a landmark in the history of Mother's Day in the sense that this was to be the precursor to the modern Mother's Day celebrations. To acknowledge Howe's achievements a stamp was issued in her honor in 1988.

It should be well to remember that Howe's idea was influenced by Ann Marie Reeves Jarvis, a young Appalachian homemaker who, starting in 1858, had attempted to improve sanitation through what she called "Mothers Friendship Day". In the 1900's, at a time when most women devoted their time solely on their family and homes, Jarvis was working to assist in the healing of the nation after the Civil War. She organized women throughout the Civil War to work for better sanitary conditions for both sides and in 1868 she began work to reconcile Union and Confederate neighbors. Ann was instrumental in saving thousands of lives by teaching women in her Mothers Friendship Clubs the basics of nursing and sanitation which she had learned from her famous physician brother James Reeves, M.D. In parts of the United States it was customary to plant tomatoes outdoors after Mother's Work Days (and not before).

It was Jarvis' daughter, Anna Jarvis, who finally succeeded in introducing Mother's Day in the sense as we celebrate it today. Anna graduated from the Female Seminary in Wheeling and taught in Grafton for a while. Later she moved to Philadelphia with her family. Anna had spent many years looking after her ailing mother. This is why she preferred to remain a spinster. When her mother died in Philadelphia on May 9, 1905, Anna missed her greatly. So did her sister Elsinore whom she looked after as well. Anna felt children often neglected to appreciate their mother enough while the mother was still alive. Now, she intended to start a Mother's Day, as an honoring of the mothers. In 1907, two years after her mother's death, Anna Jarvis disclosed her intention to her friends who supported her cause wholeheartedly. So supported by her friends, Anna decided to dedicate her life to her mother's cause and to establish Mother's Day to "honor mothers, living and dead." She started the campaign to establish a national Mother's Day. With her friends, she started a letter-writing campaign to urge ministers, businessmen and congressmen in declaring a national Mother's Day holiday. She hoped Mother's Day would increase respect for parents and strengthen family bonds.

As a result of her efforts the first mother's day was observed on May 10, 1908, by a church service honoring Late Mrs. Reese Jarvis, in the Andrews Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia, where she spent 20 years taking Sunday school classes. Grafton is the home to the International Mother's Day Shrine. Another service was also conducted on the same date in Philadelphia where Mrs. Jarvis died, leaving her two daughters Anna and Elsinore. So it was more of a homage service for Mrs. Reeves Jarvis than a general one conducted in honor of motherhood. Nevertheless, this set the stage for the later Mother's Day observances held in the honor of motherhood.

Following this, it gained a widespread popularity across the nation. The Mother's Day International Association came into being on December 12, 1912, to promote and encourage meaningful observances of the event. Anna's dream came true when on May 9, 1914, the Presidential proclamation declared the 2nd Sunday of May to be observed as Mother's Day to honor the mothers.

It was here in the first observance that the carnations were introduced by Miss Jarvis. Large jars of white carnations were set about the platform where the service was conducted. At the end of the exercise one of these white carnations was given to each person present as a souvenir of Mother's Day. All this was done because the late elder Jarvis was fond of carnations.

From there, the custom caught on -- spreading eventually to 45 states. The first Mother's Day proclamation was issued by the governor of West Virginia in 1910. Oklahoma celebrated it in that same year. It stirred the same way in as far west as the state of Washington. And by 1911 there was not a state in the Union that did not have its own observances for Mother's Day. Soon it crossed the national boundary, as people in Mexico, Canada, South America, China, Japan and Africa all joined the spree to celebrate a day for mother love.

The Mother's Day International Association came into being on December 12, 1912, to promote and encourage meaningful observances of the event. Starting from 1912, Mother's day began to be officially declared a holiday by some states. Anna's dream came true when in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson declared the first national Mother's Day, as a day for American citizens to show the flag in honor of those mothers whose sons had died in war.

The House of Representatives in May 1913 unanimously adopted a resolution requesting the President, his cabinet, the members of both Houses and all officials of the federal government to wear a white carnation on Mother's Day. On May 7,1914, a resolution providing that the second Sunday in May be designated Mother's Day was introduced by Representative James T. Heflin of Alabama and Senator Morris Sheppard of Texas. It passed both Houses and on May 9, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson made the first official announcement proclaiming Mother's Day as a national holiday that was to be held each year on the 2nd Sunday of May. He asked Americans to give a public expression of reverence to mothers through the celebration of Mother's Day:

"Now, Therefore, I, Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the said Joint Resolution, do hereby direct the government officials to display the United States flag on all government buildings and do invite the people of the United States to display the flag at their homes or other suitable places on the second Sunday in May as a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country."

And issuing a Mother's day Proclamation has since then been a convention.

Nine years after the first official Mother's Day, commercialization of the U.S. holiday became so rampant that Anna Jarvis herself became a major opponent of what the holiday had become. While honored for her part in the growth of the holiday, Anna Jarvis' last life was miserable. As the observance of Mother's Day enjoyed increasing popularity, new dimensions came to be added to it. This made Anna Jarvis disillusioned with her own creation. Though the original spirit of honoring the mothers remained the same, what began as a religious service expanded quickly into a more secular observance leading to giving of flowers, cards, and gifts. And Anna Jarvis was unable to cope with this changing mode of expression.

In 1934 Postmaster General James A. Farley announced a stamp to commemorate Mother's Day. The stamp featured the famous painting "Arrangement in Grey and Black". The painting was a portrait of the mother of James Abbott McNeill Whistler, an English artist. It was brought in to the United States as part of an exhibit in the year 1934.

Mother's Day continues to this day to be one of the most commercially successful U.S. occasions. According to the National Restaurant Association, Mother's Day is now the most popular day of the year to dine out at a restaurant in the United States. The occasion is now celebrated not so much with flags as with gifts, cards, hugs, thank yous and other tokens of affection. While many countries of the world celebrate their own Mother's Day on different days and at different times throughout the year, there are some countries such as Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Australia, and Belgium which also celebrate Mother's Day on the second Sunday of May. In some countries, the appreciation lasts for two days.

Today, Mother's Day is a day honoring mothers, celebrated on various days in many places around the world. It is the day when you acknowledge your mothers contribution in your life and pay a tribute to her, often with flowers and gifts. It complements Father's Day, the celebration honoring fathers.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Military Service of African-Americans
Since the birth of America, African-Americans have been fighting and dying alongside their countrymen as the United States has struggled for freedom and peace at home and abroad.

African-American soldiers have fought in every war the United States has participated in, including the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, and the current War on Terror.

African-Americans, both free and slaves, participated in all the conflicts in the early days of America. About 5,000 African-American soldiers fought for the U.S. in the American Revolutionary War. African-Americans distinguished themselves in the Boston Massacre in 1770, the Battle of Lexington and Concord in 1775, the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775, and throughout the Revolution.

In the Civil War, 180,000 African-Americans made up 163 units of the Union Army, and many more served in the Union Navy. African-Americans were used mostly for labor by the Confederate forces, although in 1865, Confederate President Jefferson Davis signed a bill authorizing the enlistment of slaves.

African-American soldiers proved themselves early in the war, such as in 1863, when the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteers, commanded by Gen. James G. Blunt, ran into a strong Confederate force in what is now Oklahoma. After a two-hour bloody engagement, the Confederate soldiers retreated. The 1st Kansas, which had held the center of the Union line, advanced to within fifty paces of the Confederate line and exchanged fire for some 20 minutes until the Confederates broke and ran.

After the battle, Blunt wrote, "I never saw such fighting as was done by the negro regiment. The question that negroes will fight is settled; besides they make better solders in every respect than any troops I have ever had under my command.''

Fifteen African-American soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions in the Civil War, and another seven African-American sailors were honored for their heroism.

In 1866, federal legislation was passed that allowed African-Americans to enlist in the regular Army, and by 1869, the Army had four all-African-American units: the 9th and 10th Cavalry and 24th and 25th Infantry regiments. The two infantry regiments were established by consolidating four infantry regiments that had been formed earlier.

It was these African-American units that fought in the Indian Wars of 1867-1891, the Spanish-American War in 1898, the Philippines Insurrection from 1899 to 1901, and Gen. John Pershing's punitive expedition into Mexico in 1916. These units were dubbed "Buffalo Soldiers" by the Indians they fought against. It is thought that this nickname was given out of respect for the African-Americans' fierce fighting ability and naturally curly hair. The term "Buffalo Soldiers" became a generic term for all African-American soldiers for many years.

The first African-American general officer in the U.S. Army was Benjamin O. Davis, of Washington, D.C. Davis entered the military on July 13, 1898, during the Spanish-American War, as a temporary first lieutenant of the 8th United States Volunteer Infantry. He was mustered out on March 6, 1899, and on June 18, 1899, he enlisted as a private in Troop 1, 9th Cavalry, of the regular Army. He then served as corporal and squadron sergeant major, and on Feb. 2, 1901, he was commissioned a second lieutenant of cavalry in the regular Army.

Davis reached the rank of brigadier general on Oct. 25, 1940. He retired on July 31, 1941, and was recalled to active duty with the rank of brigadier general the following day. During his career, Davis served with the 9th and 10th Cavalry; was a professor of military science and tactics at Wilberforce University, Ohio, and Tuskegee, Ala.; served as a brigade commander in 2nd Cavalry Division; and served as an assistant to the inspector general in Washington, D.C.

Davis' son, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Benjamin O. Davis Jr., was the fourth African-American graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and the nation's second African-American general officer.

Although the U.S. armed forces remained segregated throughout World War I, many African-Americans volunteered and fought with U.S. forces. By the end of the war, more than 350,000 African-Americans had served in the conflict, 1,400 of whom were commissioned officers.

Many African-American units were relegated to support roles during World War I, but several units did distinguish themselves in combat. One of the most famous units was the 369th Infantry Regiment, known as the ''Harlem Hellfighters,'' which was on the front lines for six months. One hundred seventy-one members of the 396th were awarded the Legion of Merit medal. Cpl. Freddie Stowers, of 371st Infantry Regiment, was posthumously awarded a Medal of Honor in 1991, making him the only African-American to be so honored for actions in World War I. Stowers led an assault on German trenches in France and continued to lead his men even after being wounded twice.

In World War II, more than 2.5 million African-Americans registered for service, but only 1 million actually served. African-American service members served in Casablanca, Italy, the Aleutians, Northern Ireland, Liberia, New Guinea, the China-Burma-India theater, Guam, Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal, Bougainville, Saipan, Okinawa, Peleliu, Australia, France, and England.

It was during World War II that the famed Tuskegee Airmen served. Actually the 332nd Fighter Group of the U.S. Army Air Corps, the Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American military pilots. The 332ns most notable mission was escorting bombing raids into Austria, Hungary, Poland and Germany. The pilots flew more than 15,000 sorties and were awarded several Silver Stars, 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses, eight Purple Hearts, 14 Bronze Stars, and 744 Air Medals.

In 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed Executive Order 9981, integrating the armed forces and eliminating racial discrimination in federal employment. Segregation in the military officially ended in 1954, when the last all-African-American unit was abolished.

The Korean War and Vietnam War both saw many great accomplishments by African-American service members. In the Korean War, Jesse L. Brown, the first African-American U.S. Navy aviator, was killed when his plane was shot down during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. The Navy honored Brown by naming an escort ship after him -- the USS Jesse L. Brown.

During the Vietnam War, African-Americans continued to join the military in large numbers. Overall, 20 African-Americans were awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions in that conflict, including the first living African-American to receive the Medal of Honor since the Mexican-American War, the first African-American Marine to receive the medal, and the first African-American commissioned officer to receive the medal.

African-American enlistment into the U.S. military jumped with the advent of the all-volunteer force in 1973. African-Americans made up about 17 percent of the military?s enlisted force when the draft ended in 1973. By the early 1980s, African-Americans made up nearly 24 percent of the enlisted force. When the United States and its allies pushed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein?s forces out of Kuwait in 1991, the most senior officer in the U.S. military was an African-American, Army Gen. Colin L. Powell, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Powell later served as secretary of state in President George W. Bush's administration.

Today, African-Americans continue to serve the nation as members of the military during the war on terror. February is African-American History Month, which celebrates the contributions African-Americans have made in the U.S. over the years

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The quest to secure the Medal of Honor for Theodore Roosevelt ended after 103 years when President William J. Clinton presented the nation's highest military award to Theodore Roosevelt posthumously. Tweed Roosevelt received the Medal on behalf of the Roosevelt family, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Tuesday, January 16, 2001.

TR was awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery on July 1, 1898, during the Spanish-American War, in the battle to capture San Juan Heights, near Santiago, Cuba, when he led the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry (Rough Riders) and other troops in two dramatic charges against entrenched Spanish positions. Tweed Roosevelt, a great grandson of TR, was chosen to receive the Medal for the family because of his leadership in the efforts to bring about the award.

Back in 1898 Roosevelt, first Lieutenant Colonel, then Colonel of the Rough Riders, as the colorful regiment of cowboys, Indians, and Ivy League athletes was known, was recommended for the Congressional Medal of Honor by the chain of command in Cuba, Brigadier General Leonard Wood, who had won the Medal of Honor fighting the Apaches, Major General Samuel S. Sumner, an eyewitness to the San Juan Heights battle, Major General "Fighting Joe" Wheeler, and Major General William R. Shafter, the commanding general in Cuba who had himself won the Medal of Honor in the Civil War.

It was, to say the least, highly unusual for an award recommended by the entire chain of command to be rejected; and this was an award for action in combat that had been witnessed by many and widely reported in the press. But the recommendation was indeed rejected by the War Department. Why? The probable reason is that TR had sent a telegram and a letter to Secretary of War Russell A. Alger strongly urging that American troops, ravaged by tropical diseases, be immediately returned to the United States now that the fighting was over. (TR himself contracted malaria, which remained with him the rest of his life). General Shafter leaked these messages to the press, thereby embarrassing and infuriating Secretary of War Alger as well as President William McKinley.

Alger was subsequently forced to resign from the cabinet after an investigating commission exposed his incompetence at the War Department. TR, of course, became President in 1901, and that ended the matter of his Medal of Honor, or so it seemed. Then, in the "Fiscal Year 1996 National Defense Authorization Act," passed by Congress on February 10, 1996, Congress repealed the statute of limitations on military decorations. The legislation was passed primarily because of the failure of the United States to award the Medal of Honor to worthy African Americans during World War II and the Korean War, but the 1996 Congressional measure potentially opened the door for the consideration of any case from the past involving military decorations.

It was then that Congressman Paul McHale, Democrat from the 15th District in Pennsylvania, a former officer in the Marines, took up the cause of TR's Medal of Honor and began what might well be called the "second battle of San Juan Heights"! Congressman McHale, who retired from Congress in 1999, was present, along with other Congressional champions of TR's cause, at the presentation of the Medal of Honor in the White House on January 16, 2001.

The Fight to Win the Medal of Honor for the Colonel
Congressman Paul McHale introduced a bill to give the Medal of Honor to TR in 1996, and then introduced a second bill on July 25, 1997, HR 2263, entitled "A bill to authorize and request the President to award the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously to Theodore Roosevelt for his gallant and heroic actions in the attack on San Juan Heights, Cuba, during the Spanish-American War." HR 2263 had over 160 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, forming an impressive and bipartisan coalition. Congressman Rick Lazio, Republican from Brightwaters, Long Island, New York, filed the formal application and supporting evidence with the U.S. Army for the posthumous award. Congressman Steve Buyer, Republican from Indiana, Chairman of the House Military Personnel Subcommittee, greatly helped to rally support for the bill in the House of Representatives.

The bill to grant TR the Medal of Honor was endorsed by the Board of Trustees of the Theodore Roosevelt Association, and subsequently was backed by the Navy League of the United States, of which TR was a founder, and the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute as well as by a broad spectrum of Americans, ranging from members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, an organization which TR joined in 1917, to the students in Richard Siegelman's third-grade class at the Vernon School in East Norwich, Long Island, near TR's Sagamore Hill home, who sent out countless letters and messages in support of the Rough Rider's cause.

Hearings were held on September 28, 1998 by the House Military Personnel Subcommittee; and testimony was given by Dr. John A. Gable, Executive Director of the Theodore Roosevelt Association (TRA); Tweed Roosevelt, a great grandson of TR who is a member of the TRA Executive Committee; Nathan Miller, a biographer of TR; Congressman Paul McHale, a member of the House subcommittee; and Congressman Rick Lazio. Jim Wiltraut, Congressman McHale's able assistant, energetic Ken Trepeta from Congressman Lazio's office, and knowledgeable Mike Higgins of the Military Personnel Subcommittee's staff were of great help in advancing TR's case in the House and elsewhere.

Opposition to the Colonel's Cause
The opposition to awarding the Medal of Honor to TR came particularly from elements within the U.S. Army. The Army has opposed in general the repeal of the statute of limitations on military decorations and the award of what might be called historical medals. Moreover, some in the Army thought that Roosevelt simply did not deserve the Medal of Honor. While no public statement was made on the case, it is widely believed that some historians in the Army think that TR was no more outstanding than many other brave officers in the battle of July 1, 1898 in Cuba, who did not receive the Medal of Honor either. In any event, while Congressman McHale's bill was making its way through the House in 1998, TR's cause received a major setback when the Senior Army Decorations Board recommended that the Medal of Honor again be denied to TR. TR's supporters, of course, took issue with this ruling.

On Thursday, October 8, 1998, the House of Representatives passed HR 2263 unanimously by a voice vote. The bill was then introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Bob Smith, Republican of New Hampshire, with strong support from Senator Kent Conrad, Democrat from North Dakota. (Senator Conrad's state of North Dakota regards TR as an adopted favorite son because of his days as a rancher in the Dakota Badlands). Time was now short, because Congress was about to adjourn for the year. Tweed Roosevelt had helped greatly in getting the bill through the House, and he and Senator Conrad were the leaders for the cause in the Senate and later in dealings with the White House. In one day alone Tweed Roosevelt personally visited 14 senators in their offices. The bill passed the U.S. Senate unanimously by voice vote without dissent on the afternoon of Wednesday, October 21, 1998, in the closing hours of the Congressional session. There was much celebrating by TR's supporters at that time, but as it turned out the war was far from over.

The Fight For the Medal Goes On
On October 22, 1998, the day after the bill cleared the Senate, Bill Bleyer reported in Newsday: "In a compromise to placate legislators who did not want to offend the Army, a letter signed by five Senators and Congressmen involved in the issue will accompany the bill to the White House." The letter requested the President to "seek the advice of the secretary of the Army" on the matter, and to ask the Army to "prepare a full and formal record of Theodore Roosevelt's valor." The bill was signed by President Clinton in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on the afternoon of Thursday, November 12, 1998. Among those present were Tweed Roosevelt, Congressman Peter King, the New York Republican whose district includes Sagamore Hill, and Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota. The President then honored the request from those in Congress who did not want to bypass the Army, and the matter was referred back to the Army for review.

The Army set up a special Medal of Honor panel to review the evidence and then make a recommendation, and supporters of TR hoped that the issue might be resolved by the end of 1999. Much new evidence and comment was received by the Army panel.

Lawrence H. Budner, President of the TRA, sent in copies of two original letters in the noted Budner Theodore Roosevelt Collection. The letters were written in 1898 by a Rough Rider to his parents in Texas, describing TR's heroic leadership in the Cuban campaign. Two recent attacks on Roosevelt's war record were often cited by opponents of the posthumous award: a book, Teddy Roosevelt at San Juan (1997) by Harold and Peggy Samuels; and an article by Mitchell Yockelson, " 'I Am Entitled to the Medal of Honor and I Want It,' Theodore Roosevelt and His Quest for the Medal of Honor," Prologue, Spring 1998, Vol. 30, no. 1. Dr. Gable of the TRA, in a letter to the Army panel, said that Yockelson and Mr. & Mrs. Samuels cited unreliable sources in making their case while ignoring eyewitness testimony favorable to TR. "Both publications are clearly biased against Roosevelt, deficient in scholarship, and full of holes," wrote Dr. Gable.

Others in favor of TR's case noted that over 20 other American soldiers had been awarded the Medal of Honor - then the nation's only major combat decoration - for bravery in the heavy fighting near Santiago on July 1, 1898, and asked if TR's record that day was any less noteworthy. Who else led two charges that day? Who else was exposed to enemy fire on horseback in that battle?

On March 31, 1999, a group of 14 historians and experts, joined by former Senator Claiborne deB. Pell (whose father, Herbert C. Pell, was an ardent Bull Mooser), sent a letter to the President, Secretary of the Army, and Secretary of Defense urging that TR be awarded the Medal of Honor. The letter was sent in time to meet the Army's May 31, 1999 deadline for the receipt of evidence and comment. The letter read:

"We the undersigned urge the President to grant Theodore Roosevelt an award he has deserved for more than a century: the Medal of Honor for his heroism as leader of the Rough Riders in the Spanish-American War. Colonel Theodore Roosevelt displayed extraordinary valor at the Battle of San Juan. The image of Roosevelt leading his Rough Riders first up Kettle Hill and then on the famous charge up the San Juan Heights on 1 July, 1898 is etched forever in the American mind. Roosevelt was denied the Medal for political reasons in 1898. Time now to right a century-old wrong."

The letter was signed by, in addition to former Senator Pell, Stephen E. Ambrose, Douglas Brinkley, John A. Gable, Nathan Miller, Edmund and Sylvia Morris, William N. Tilchin, Edward J. Renehan, Jr., Geoffrey C. Ward, David Grubin, Colonel Herbert M. Hart, John B. Hattendorf, Colonel Paul L. Miles, Jr., and Edward M. Strauss, III.

The letter was the idea of Edward J. Renehan, Jr. of North Kingston, Rhode Island, biographer of John Burroughs and author of The Lion's Pride: Theodore Roosevelt and His Family in Peace and War. It was thought at the time by many that the Army would look foolish if it turned down Roosevelt in the face of such a distinguished group of petitioners. Earlier, on October 4, 1997, one of the signers of the Renehan appeal, Edmund Morris, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his biography of Theodore Roosevelt, had written to Congressman Lazio:

"I hereby endorse without reservation your effort to win the former Colonel Roosevelt a posthumous Congressional Medal of Honor, in recognition of his extraordinary bravery at the Battle of San Juan Heights on July 1, 1898. He led a charge against almost insuperable tactical odds (foot soldiers storming a high redoubt) and not only succeeded in dislodging the enemy, but inspired a whole generation of American youth with his example."

A long wait followed the May 31, 1999 deadline for submission of material to the Army panel. No public statement was ever made by the Army panel about its findings or conclusions, but the panel did recommend the Medal for TR in the end. Some say it was by a close vote. In any case, the recommendation then slowly made its way through the military hierarchy, including the offices of the Secretary of the Army and Secretary of Defense.

A positive recommendation finally reached the White House, it was reported, in the summer of 2000. During the summer of 2000, Congressman Rick Lazio twice attacked President Clinton for not acting immediately and awarding the Medal of Honor to TR. At that time, Congressman Lazio was a candidate in New York State for the Senate against Mrs. Clinton, and most observers thought that it was unlikely, in view of the circumstances, that the Medal would be awarded until after the election.

Just before Christmas, Tweed Roosevelt and Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota decided to make a final effort to secure the Medal before the close of the Clinton administration. To have waited to the next administration would have been to lose ground, because although the enabling legislation would have remained on the books, the award of the Medal would have had to be approved by a new Secretary of the Army and new Secretary of Defense. Tweed Roosevelt wrote a letter to the President, which was hand-delivered to the President by Senator Conrad at a bill-signing ceremony in the White House. President Clinton opened the letter, read it, and said that he would indeed award the Medal before he left office.

The Ceremony in the Roosevelt Room at the White House
On January 16, 2001, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, TR's Medal of Honor was given to the Roosevelt family, and at the same time the descendants of Andrew Jackson Smith, a slave who escaped and fought in the Union Army during the Civil War, also received the Medal of Honor for the bravery deeds of their ancestor.

The Associated Press (AP) reported: "A former President best known for his charge up San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War and a former slave whose courage during the Civil War was ignored by the Army got posthumous Medals of Honor from President Clinton."

Andrew Jackson Smith, who was about 19 when he ran away from slavery and joined the Union Army, served with the 55th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, an African American regiment. The 55th was a sister regiment to the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, celebrated in the 1989 movie "Glory." Smith was honored for his bravery in the Battle of Honey Hill, in South Carolina, on November 30, 1864. Corporal Andy Smith caught the 55th's regimental colors when the color-sergeant was killed, and carried them for the rest of the battle, constantly exposed to enemy fire. Andy Smith, who lived to the age of 89, was first nominated for the Medal of Honor in 1916, but rejected at that time, though some 80 soldiers had been given the Medal of Honor for saving colors during the Civil War. "Sometimes it takes this country a while, but we nearly always get it right in the end, President Clinton said to the Smith family at the presentation on January 16. "I am proud that we finally got the facts and that for you and your brave forebearer, we are finally making things right."

Attending the Medal presentation was Corporal Andrew Jackson Smith's daughter, Caruth Smith Washington, 93. Her father was 60 when she was born, and she is one of the last surviving children of any Civil War veteran. Corporal Smith's Medal of Honor was accepted for the Smith family by Andrew Bowman, a grandson of the Civil War hero.

Among the members of the Roosevelt family present on January 16 was Nancy Roosevelt Jackson, granddaughter of Theodore Roosevelt. When she was a little girl, her grandmother, former First Lady Edith Kermit Carow Roosevelt, told her that her grandfather had always wanted the Medal of Honor and that not receiving it was one of the great disappointments of his life. For whatever reasons, Edith Roosevelt wanted it known and remembered by at least one of her descendants that TR regretted to his dying day that he had not been awarded the Medal of Honor.

TR was honored on January 16, President Clinton said, to "correct a significant historical error." Caruth Smith Washington and Nancy Roosevelt Jackson, a daughter and a granddaughter, thus lived to see old debts paid to their families. Looked at from this perspective, the Spanish-American War and even the Civil War do not seem so remote or so entirely dead and gone. "May we continue to live up to the ideals for which both Andrew Jackson Smith and Theodore Roosevelt risked their lives," said President Clinton at the Medal presentation.

In presenting TR's Medal of Honor, President Clinton declared: "TR was a larger-than-life figure who gave our nation a larger-than-life vision of our place in the world. Part of that vision was formed on San Juan Hill." The presentation was made in front of the mantel in the Roosevelt Room. Over the mantel hangs an equestrian portrait of TR as a Rough Rider by the Polish painter Tade Styka; and on the mantel in a special case is Theodore Roosevelt's Nobel Peace Prize Medal, which was presented to the White House by the Theodore Roosevelt Association in 1982. In accepting the Medal of Honor on behalf of the Roosevelt family, Tweed Roosevelt said that the family intends to give the Medal to the White House.

"We think it will serve as a wonderful icon for future Presidents, when they take foreign dignitaries or other people into the Roosevelt Room for private luncheons, to be able to turn and point to the mantelpiece and say, 'This is what we as a country stand for: the Medal of Honor and the Nobel Peace Prize.' Peace and Honor," Tweed Roosevelt said.

Among those attending the ceremony were Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen, General Henry Shelton, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Congressman Steve Buyer, Congressman Peter King, former Congressman Rick Lazio, former Congressman Paul McHale, and Dr. John A. Gable, Executive Director of the Theodore Roosevelt Association, as well as members of the Smith and Roosevelt families. From the Roosevelt family there were representatives of the descendants of TR's five children who had children: Joanna Sturm and her daughter Alice Roosevelt Sturm; Mr. & Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt, IV and their son Theodore Roosevelt, V; Susan Roosevelt Weld; Mr. & Mrs. Kermit Roosevelt; Mark Ames; Tweed Roosevelt and his friend Leslie Dangel; former Ambassador Selwa Roosevelt; and Nancy Roosevelt Jackson and her daughter Melinda Jackson. Quentin Roosevelt, the youngest of TR's children, who was killed in World War I, had no children. Joanna Sturm is the granddaughter of Alice Roosevelt Longworth. Theodore Roosevelt, IV is the grandson of Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. Susan Roosevelt Weld is a granddaughter of Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. Mark Ames is a grandson of Ethel Roosevelt Derby. Kermit Roosevelt is a grandson of TR's son Kermit Roosevelt. Tweed Roosevelt is a grandson of Archibald B. Roosevelt. Selwa Roosevelt is the widow of Archibald B. Roosevelt, Jr. Nancy Roosevelt Jackson is the daughter of Archibald B. Roosevelt. Tweed Roosevelt, Mark Ames, Susan Roosevelt Weld, and Theodore Roosevelt, IV are Trustees of the TRA. Selwa Roosevelt is a former TRA Trustee, and Nancy Roosevelt Jackson is the widow of a TRA Trustee, William E. Jackson.

The Roosevelt Room of the White House is located near the Oval Office in the West Wing, the office wing added when TR was President, and is named for TR and Franklin D. Roosevelt. The room is decorated with items related to the two Roosevelt Chief Executives, and recently a bust of Eleanor Roosevelt has been added. Under the Carter administration, the TRA gave set number one of the Memorial Edition of the Works of Theodore Roosevelt for display in the Roosevelt Room. The Nobel Peace Prize Medal was given by the TRA to the White House during the Reagan administration.

Though TR's Medal of Honor will eventually be given to the White House, before that it will be taken on a national tour in response to public demand and interest. People in Oyster Bay, NY, Tampa, Florida, New Orleans, Portland, Oregon, and elsewhere have asked to see the Medal. In addition, there will be a further ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington sometime in the spring in connection with the award of the Medal of Honor to Roosevelt. Theodore Roosevelt is the first President of the United States to receive the Medal of Honor, just as he was the first President and first American to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He was, however, not the first Roosevelt to receive the Medal of Honor. George Washington Roosevelt (1844-1907), a distant cousin of President Theodore Roosevelt, was awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery in the Civil War. Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his role in the Normandy invasion during World War II on D-Day, June 6, 1944. He died of a heart attack on July 12, 1944 on active duty. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., who served in both world wars, received every combat medal given by the United States as well as several foreign decorations. The only other father and son to receive the Medal of Honor were General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, awarded the Medal during World War II, and his father, General Arthur MacArthur, who won the Medal in the Civil War.

After the ceremony on January 16, Corporal Andy Jackson's grandson, Andrew Bowman, who received the Medal of Honor on behalf of the Smith family, told the press: "Only in America can the sons of a slave and the daughters of a slave receive the same honor at the time that a President's sons and daughters receive theirs. We stood on that same stage and received that same Medal. It's just amazing!"

There are many amazing things about Theodore Roosevelt's Medal of Honor.