Thursday, April 29, 2010

Victory in Europe Day

Victory in Europe Day (V-E Day or VE Day) was on 8 May 1945, the date when the World War II Allies formally accepted the unconditional surrender of the armed forces of Nazi Germany and the end of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich. On 30 April Hitler committed suicide during the Battle of Berlin, and so the surrender of Germany was authorized by his replacement, President of Germany Karl Dönitz. The administration headed up by Dönitz was known as the Flensburg government. The act of military surrender was signed on 7 May in Reims, France, and ratified on 8 May in Berlin, Germany.

More than one million people celebrated in the streets to mark the end of the European part of the war. Many hardships remained, however, including continued rationing of food and clothing, which lasted even longer in peacetime than it had during the war. In London, crowds massed in Trafalgar Square and up The Mall to Buckingham Palace, where King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, accompanied by Prime Minister Winston Churchill, appeared on the balcony of the Palace before cheering crowds. Princess Elizabeth (the future Queen Elizabeth II) and her sister Princess Margaret were allowed to wander anonymously among the crowds and take part in the celebrations.

In the United States, President Harry Truman, who turned 61 that day, dedicated the victory to the memory of his predecessor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had died of a cerebral hemorrhage less than a month earlier, on 12 April. Flags remained at half-staff for the remainder of the 30-day mourning period, which ended on May 12. Massive celebrations also took place in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, and especially in New York City's Times Square.

Soviet Victory Day
Victory Day (May 9)
As the Soviet Union was to the east of Germany it was May 9 Moscow Time when German military surrender became effective, which is why Russia and many other European countries east of Germany commemorate Victory Day on May 9 instead of Western European May 8.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

World War II veterans

This was sent to Richard A. Schneider, Executive Editor/Director, Pensacola Florida News Journal. I received a short note from Taris Savell, Pensacola News Journal, informing me that an effort will be made to contact World War II veterans, living in the Pensacola, Florida area. If you care to give your World War II personal story to be published in the News Journal, contact Taris Savell at

After reading U.S. Marine Sgt. Clarence Rae World War II story, Bitter tale takes a happy twist; click on
Read More... I have a suggestion that might be good for the World War II veterans living in the Pensacola area, and it would also attract more readers to the Pensacola News Journal.

We have hundreds of World War II veterans who would enjoy telling their personal war story to a reporter for publication. Life expectedly for them is short since they are in their mid-80s or older. Hundreds are dying daily. I think Troy Moon would be the perfect reporter to write the veterans stories.

If space is available, I think it would be beneficial to run a veteran World War II war story each Sunday, with photo. It would make the veteran happy and it would also reflect the sacrifice and hardship they made. It was a war we had to win and we were successful. It was also the last major war we can say; “Mission Accomplished.”

The veterans of World War II also survived the Great Depression. In my personal experience, surviving the Great Depression in the hills of Tennessee helped me survive World War II on the infantry battlefields. We knew how to hurt and make do with what we had. Most of us knew how to hunt because we had to shoot wild game for food.

Most of my World War II stories have already be told for the world to read on my Web site I can only add that I first started fighting the Japanese at age 17, and continued until I was 20, when the war ended. After three year in war and training for war, I was not old enough to buy a beer when I returned stateside in San Diego.

When I retired from the Marine Corps at age 36, I found jobs and make a lot of money in Real Estate and as a motion picture filmmaker. I retired for the final time at age 55. And I was able to earn a college degree with a 3.7 GPA, when I was in my 40s without ever attending one day in high school.

I hope you will accept my suggestion. I am sure the World War II veterans would have a smile on their faces reading their own story.

I have lived the best enjoyable part of my life. With Gods help, I returned home when the war ended, but not like I was when I first went to war. Many war heroes were not as lucky as I was and they gave it all. I now have a VA service-connected disability of 100 percent.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Presley Neville O'Bannon
Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps

Sep. 12, 1850

He's most remembered for being the first man to plant the American Flag on a foreign soil, which was done on April 27, 1805 during the Barbary Wars.

Born in Fauquier County, Virginia, he was named for his cousin, who had been an American officer in the Revolutionary War, served as the aide-de-camp to General Marquis de Lafayette and married to the daughter of General Daniel Morgan.

In 1805, Tripoli (now Libya) and the Barbary Coast "pirates" had raided shipping in the Mediterranean Seas for years, exacting tribute in return for not attacking ships of a given nation, or seizing ships and sailors and selling them into slavery.

Before American Independence, American ships had enjoyed the protection of the British Navy, but after independence, America was forced to pay tribute to avoid pirates (it was determined that it was less costly to pay the tribute then to respond with military action).

In 1801, the Pasha of Tripoli, Yusat Karamanli, demanded additional tribute, and when refused, he declared war against the United States.

The United States proposed to depose of Yusat, replacing him with his brother, Hamet.

Lieutenant Presley O'Bannon, Marine officer assigned to the "USS Argus", took seven marines and marched with Hamet and 500 of his men from Alexandria, Egypt to Derna, Tripoli, a distance of over 600 miles, arriving on April 25, 1805.

When O'Bannon demanded Yusat to surrender, Yusat replied "My head or yours." O'Bannon led a daring frontal assault on the harbor fort, raising the American Flag over the fort after two hours of hard fighting.

This was the first time the Stars and Stripes had been raised on foreign soil.

The fall of the fort disenchanted Yusat's soldiers and they fled Derna, only to return in a fierce counter-attack, which O'Bannon and his men successfully fought off.

He continued to serve in the Marine Corps, being promoted to Captain, until March 6, 1807, when he resigned and moved to Kentucky, where he later served in the Kentucky State Legislature.

Today, he is remembered by the words "to the shores of Tripoli" being a part of the Marine Corps Official Song, and his Mameluke sword, presented to him by Hamet, has become a standard for Marine Officers since 1825.

In addition, the United States Navy has named in its history three destroyers after him (DD-177, DD-450, and DD-987).

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Marine Corps Trained
War Dogs
In the late summer of 1942, the Marine Corps decided to experiment with the use of dogs in war, which may have been a new departure for the Corps, but not a new idea in warfare. Since ancient times, dogs have served fighting men in various ways. The Romans, for instance, used heavy mastiffs with armored collars to attack the legs of their enemies, thus forcing them to lower their shields.

On Guam, First Lieutenant William R. Putney commanded the 1st Dog Platoon and was the veterinarian for all war dogs on Guam. First Lieutenant William T. Taylor commanded the 2d Platoon. Both landed on the Asan-Adelup beach on Guam, while the 1st Platoon under Gunnery Sergeant L. C. Christmore landed with the 1st Provisional Brigade at Agat.

Sixty dogs, 90 handlers, 10 NCO assistants, two war dog corpsmen, and three kennelmen were distributed among the regimental and division headquarters of the 3d Marine Division. Lieutenant Putney commanded the 36 handlers and 24 dogs out of division headquarters. Overall, some 350 war dogs served in the Guam operation.

Handlers were trained dog specialists and skilled scouts as well. Man and dog searched out the enemy, awaited his coming, and caught him by surprise around the Marine perimeter or while on patrol. In addition, they found snipers, routed stragglers, searched out caves and pillboxes, ran messages, and protected the Marines' foxholes as they would private homes. The dogs ate, slept, walked, and otherwise lived with their masters.

The presence of dogs on the line could promise the Marines there a night's sleep, for they alerted their handlers when the enemy came near.

Early on in the Guam operations, some dogs were wounded or killed by machine gun and rifle fire, and incoming mortars were as devastating to the dogs as they were to the Marines. When the dogs were wounded, the Marines made a point of getting them to the rear, to the veterinarian, as quickly as possible. In the liberation of Guam, 20 dogs were wounded and 25 killed.

From the end of the campaign to the end of the war in the Pacific, Guam served as a staging area for war dogs, of which 465 served in combat operations. Of the Marine Corps war dogs, 85 percent were Doberman Pinschers, and the rest mainly German Shepherds.

At the end of the Pacific War, the Marine Corps had 510 war dogs. Of this number, 491 were deprogrammed, a process that could take a year, and returned to their owners, given to their handlers, or returned to the Army, which had provided 41 to the Corps. Only four dogs could not be returned to their masters because, even after extensive retraining, they proved "incorrigible" and were considered to be unsafe for civilian life.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Hattie Wyatt Caraway
First woman elected as US Senator
Hattie Ophelia Wyatt Caraway (February 1, 1878 - December 21, 1950) was the first woman elected to serve as a United States Senator. Senator Caraway represented Arkansas.

Hattie Wyatt was born near Bakerville, Tennessee, in Humphreys County, the daughter of William Carroll Wyatt, a farmer and shopkeeper, and Lucy Mildred Burch. At the age of four she moved with her family to Hustburg, Tennessee. After briefly attending Ebenezer College in Hustburg, she transferred to Dickson (Tenn.) Normal College, where she received her B.A. degree in 1896. She taught school for a time before marrying in 1902 Thaddeus Horatius Caraway, whom she had met in college; they had three children, Paul, Forrest, and Robert. The couple moved with to Jonesboro, Arkansas where she cared for their children and home and her husband practiced law and started a political career.

The Caraways settled in Jonesboro, Arkansas, where he established a legal practice while she cared for the children, tended the household and kitchen garden, and helped to oversee the family's cotton farm. The family eventually established a second home in Riverdale, Maryland. Her husband, Thaddeus Caraway, was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1912, and he served in that office until 1921 when he was elected to the United States Senate where he served until he died in office in 1931. Following the precedent of appointing widows to temporarily take their husbands' places, Arkansas governor Harvey Parnell appointed Hattie Caraway to the vacant seat, and she was sworn into office on December 9. With the Arkansas Democratic party's backing, she easily won a special election in January 1932 for the remaining months of the term, becoming the first woman elected to the Senate. Although she took an interest in her husband's political career, Hattie Caraway avoided the capital's social and political life as well as the campaign for woman suffrage. She recalled that "after equal suffrage I just added voting to cooking and sewing and other household duties."

U.S. Senator
In May 1932 Caraway surprised Arkansas politicians by announcing that she would run for a full term in the upcoming election, joining a field already crowded with prominent candidates who had assumed she would step aside. She told reporters, "The time has passed when a woman should be placed in a position and kept there only while someone else is being groomed for the job." When she was invited by Vice President Charles Curtis to preside over the Senate she took advantage of the situation to announce that she would run for reelection. Populist Louisiana politician Huey Long travelled to Arkansas on a 9-day campaign swing to campaign for her. She was the first female Senator to preside over this body as well as the first to chair a Committee (Senate Committee on Enrolled Bills). Lacking any significant political backing, Caraway accepted the offer of help from Long, whose efforts to limit incomes and increase aid to the poor she had supported. Long was also motivated by sympathy for the widow as well as by his ambition to extend his influence into the home state of his rival, Senator Joseph Robinson. Bringing his colorful and flamboyant campaign style to Arkansas, Long stumped the state with Caraway for a week just before the Democratic primary, helping her amass nearly twice as many votes as her closest opponent. She went on to win the general election in November.

Caraway's Senate committee assignments included Agriculture and Forestry, Commerce, and Enrolled Bills and Library, which she chaired. She sustained a special interest in relief for farmers, flood control, and veterans' benefits, all of direct concern to her constituents, and cast her votes for nearly every New Deal measure. Her loyalty to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, however, did not extend to racial issues, and in 1938 she joined fellow southerners in a filibuster against the administration's antilynching bill. Although she carefully prepared herself for Senate work, Caraway spoke infrequently and rarely made speeches on the floor of the Senate but built a reputation as an honest and sincere Senator. She was sometimes portrayed by patronizing reporters as "Silent Hattie" or "the quiet grandmother who never said anything or did anything." She explained her reticence as unwillingness "to take a minute away from the men. The poor dears love it so."

In 1938 Caraway entered a tough fight for reelection, challenged by Representative John L. McClellan, who argued that a man could more effectively promote the state's interests. With backing from government employees, women's groups, and unions, Caraway won a narrow victory in the primary and took the general election by a large margin. During her tenure in the Senate, three other women - Rose McConnell Long, Dixie Bibb Graves, and Gladys Pyle - held brief tenures of two years or less in the Senate, but none of them overlapped, and so there were never more than two women in the body. She supported Roosevelt's foreign policy, arguing for his lend-lease bill from her perspective as a mother with two sons in the army. While encouraging women to contribute to the war effort, Caraway insisted that caring for the home and family was a woman's primary task. Yet her consciousness of women's disadvantages was evident as early as 1931, when, upon being assigned the same Senate desk that had been briefly occupied by the first widow ever appointed to take her husband's place, she commented privately, "I guess they wanted as few of them contaminated as possible." Moreover, in 1943, Caraway became the first woman legislator to cosponsor the Equal Rights Amendment.

In her bid for reelection in 1944, Caraway placed a poor fourth in the Democratic primary, losing her Senate seat to freshman congressman J. William Fulbright, the young, dynamic former president of the University of Arkansas who had already gained a national reputation. Roosevelt then appointed her to the Employees' Compensation Commission, and in 1946 President Harry Truman gave her a post on the Employees' Compensation Appeals Board, where she served until suffering a stroke in January 1950. She died in Falls Church, Virginia, and was buried in West Lawn Cemetery in Jonesboro, Arkansas

Caraway was a prohibitionist and voted against anti-lynching legislation along with many other southern Senators. She was generally a supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt's economic recovery legislation. Caraway's defiance of the Arkansas establishment in insisting that she was more than a temporary stand-in for her husband enabled her to set a valuable precedent for women in politics. Although she remained at the margins of power, Caraway's diligent and capable attention to Senate responsibilities won the respect of her colleagues, encouraged advocates of wider public roles for women, and demonstrated that political skills were not the exclusive property of men. Her gravesite was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 20, 2007.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The US Navy and the Slave Trade
With Great Britain, France, Portugal, Spain, and the United States all having outlawed the Slave Trade by 1820, military efforts were begun by all these nations to enforce the ban. Five US Navy vessels left for patrol along the West African coast in 1820-21 to arrest American slavers, and help to establish settlers at Liberia. With the War of 1812 still fresh, US government officials were adamant about British interference with American shipping. Similarly, Spain and France were sensitive to American seizures of their vessels. With difficult physical conditions along the African Coast, and diplomatic or political resolutions on the right of mutual search, which was essential for any success, US Naval forces were withdrawn in 1824.

With no way of stopping them, vessels flying the US flag were virtually immune from prosecution, and American ships entered a golden period of slave trading. Traffic to both Cuba and Brazil increased. Tensions escalated once again though as British cruisers began to “visit” (their distinction) American ships suspected of slaving. After negotiations, the 1842 Webster-Ashburton Treaty called for renewed US patrols along the African coast, and cooperation with the British. In reality the first and foremost objective of the American patrols was to protect US shipping interests.

For the next twenty years, ensuring the ability of US ships to sail unimpeded by others was the main object of the African Squadron. Those officers who were zealous in their efforts to restrict the slave trade found little support in lackadaisical administrations and courts at home. The American effort to patrol the 3,000 miles of African coast was never fully realized as it was conceived. If more than five patrol vessels were on station at any one time, it was rare.

In 1859, under pressure from President Buchanan, the African Squadron began to finally show its ability. This was a response to resurgence in the trade that began in 1857, and a corresponding increase in captures by the British. In 1858, the size of the navy was increased, and four steamers purchased in the expansion were stationed around Cuba in late 1859 – their object to intercept American slave ships. Between 1838 and 1859, only two slavers laden with people were captured by US Naval forces. In 1859 and 1860, seven were seized, resulting in the liberation of nearly 4,300 Africans.

Abraham Lincoln’s election as President put into power a leader even more committed to the end of the slave trade, but the Civil War forced the African and Cuban patrols into other duties. It was hoped that the vigorous criminal prosecution of any slavers who were caught would suffice as a deterrent, but it didn’t. In 1862, swallowing all national pride, Lincoln, and Secretary of State Seward, quietly forged a treaty with the British, allowing them to search and seize American vessels. This served to dampen an already fading American interest in slaving. The imminent end of slavery in the United States was helping to bring a close to the trade elsewhere. The US Navy no longer had to focus efforts on its eradication.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Bear Flag Republic In California
Most Europeans expected the United States to lose the Mexican War. The Mexican army was about four times the size of the U.S. Army, and the last time the United States had attempted an invasion of a foreign country-Canada in 1812-it had failed miserably. The Mexicans, however, fought poorly for the most part. General Taylor, a 62-year-old veteran of the War of 1812, easily defeated the Mexicans at Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma north of the Rio Grande. He then crossed into Mexico, defeated the Mexican army at Matamoras, and seized the capital of Nuevo Leon, Monterrey, in September.

In support of Taylors campaign, the Navy blockaded the Mexican coast and launched a series of amphibious assaults on Mexico itself. Vice Commodore Matthew Perry, commander of the Gulf Coast Squadron, led an expedition including a 200-man unit of Marines under the command of Captain Alvin Edson, the Marine commander at Kuala Batu. The force captured Frontera and San Juan Bautista in October 1846, although it occupied neither city, and on November 14, it occupied Tampico unopposed.

The Mexican government knew that concession would almost certainly lead to revolution and refused to give in. Taylor's Army was unprepared to pursue the Mexican army across 400 miles of barren terrain to Mexico City, and the general agreed to a temporary armistice in which he pledged not to pursue the Mexicans. Polk then adopted a new strategy, proposed by General Winfield Scott, to conduct an amphibious assault on the port of Vera Cruz, which was only 200 miles east of Mexico City.

In the meantime, the declaration of the Bear Flag Republic in California and the formation of the California Battalion in July 1846 had acted as a catalyst for further hostilities. Commodore John Sloat, commander of the Pacific Squadron, had received reports that Mexicans and Americans were fighting in Texas. Fremont's obvious support of the Bear Flag revolt convinced him that it was time to invade California.

During the month between July 7 and August 6, 1846, the U.S. Navy peacefully occupied the cities of Monterey, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, and San Pedro. Leaving small Marine garrisons at each of these cities, the Pacific Squadron also delivered Fremont's California Battalion to San Diego, and on August 8, leaving Gillespie in San Diego with 50 men, Fremont marched at the head of a column of 120 men bound for Los Angeles, the provincial capital. On August 11, Commodore Stockton, having replaced the aging Sloat as commander of the pacific Squadron, led a column of 360 sailors and Marines from San Pedro also bound for Los Angeles. Fremont and Stockton both entered Los Angeles on August 13 completely unopposed, and the remaining Mexican troops surrendered the next day. California had been conquered in just six weeks.

But it didn't last. Stockton, as ranking officer, decided to divide California into three military districts and appointed Gillespie as commander of the southern district, headquartered at Los Angeles. But the regulations and curfew Gillespie instituted and the arrests he made soon antagonized the Californians.

On September 23, several hundred Californians surrounded Gillespie and his men at their headquarters in Los Angeles and Gillespie was forced to evacuate his men from the city under the promise to leave California from the port city of San Pedro. During the siege in Los Angeles, however, one of Gillespie's men had managed to sneak through the lines and deliver a message to Captain William Mervine in Monterey. Mervine arrived in San Pedro aboard the Savannah on October 6, and on the following day he set out for Los Angeles at the head of 225 sailors and Marines with Gillespie and his Bear Flaggers.

On October 8, Mervine encountered 130 mounted Californians protecting a single cannon. Although the U.S. forces had no artillery of their own, Mervine attempted to seize the Californians' gun. The Californians, however, prudently withdrew the cannon upon each time the Americans charged. After three attempts, Mervine finally decided that the operation was a failure and called for a retreat, with Gillespie's men offering covering fire for the retiring sailors and Marines. Mervine's unit retired to San Diego.

Commodore Stockton had begun to lay plans for a renewed assault on Los Angeles involving the Pacific Squadron and Fremont's California Battalion when he received amazing news: Brigadier General Stephen Kearny, commander of the Army of the West, which had only recently occupied New Mexico, had marched into California with a small escort of 100 dragoons and four cannons under the impression that the province was at peace. Gillespie set out immediately with 39 men to meet Kearny and direct him to San Diego.

Gillespie reached Kearny's column on December 5 and learned that a Californian cavalry unit was camped nearby. Kearny decided to attack the next morning. The Californians were outnumbered by two to one, but the American assault was confused, and the Californians proved to be better fighters than expected. Armed with cavalry lances, the Californians charged into the melee and tore apart the American troops, who were armed with swords.

Gillespie was struck from behind and unhorsed. He was struck twice more before he was finally able to drag himself to his feet and struggle out of the combat. He scrambled to the cannon and was able to fire one of them, after which the Californians retired. Nineteen Americans were killed and 15 were wounded at the Battle of San Pascual. Only one Californian had been captured, and perhaps another dozen were wounded. Kearny sent a messenger to San Diego requesting aid, and a relief column found the struggling unit on December 10.

In San Diego, Kearny and Stockton assembled a rag-tag force of some 600 sailors, Marines, dragoons, California Battalion members, and other volunteers. The force was organized into four divisions, one of which was commanded by Gillespie, still recovering from the wounds he had sustained in battle with the Californians on December 5. On December 28, the force set out and on January 8, 1847, it encountered a mounted Californian army at the San Gabriel River.

The Americans organized themselves into a square formation, with each of the four units facing outward from one of the sides of the square-a standard formation for infantry facing cavalry in the early nineteenth century, allowing the infantry to guard against an attack from any direction and began to ford the river. They immediately came under fire from two California cannon, and a unit of lancers began a charge at the left face of the American square.

The Americans struggled forward, and just beyond the river, set up their own cannon and returned fire. The more powerful American artillery stopped the lancers' charge, forcing the Californians to pull their own cannons back, and the American square resumed its advance. Most of the Californians pulled back with their guns, but the lancers made a wide circuit of the American square and attacked its rear face, where Gillespie's division was assigned. Gillespie's muskets stopped the lancers' second charge.

The Californians rallied their forces approximately one-half mile from their original position and brought their guns to bear upon the Americans once more. Again, however, the Americans' superior artillery forced the Californians to withdraw.

The next morning, the Americans resumed their march and soon encountered the remnant of the Californian army, which had suffered only about a dozen casualties during the engagement of the day before but which had been reduced to about 300 men by desertion. The Californians had deployed across La Mesa, a broad plain south of Los Angeles, in order to block the American advance.

The ensuing battle was to a large extent a replay of the previous encounters between the two armies: The lancers' charge was repulsed by musket fire, and the superior firepower of the American cannon forced the dwindling Californian army to retreat.

The American Army marched into Los Angeles on January 10, where Archibald Gillespie again raised the flag he had been forced to take down the previous September. Fremont arrived in Los Angeles four days later, having stopped to negotiate the surrender of the Californian army.

Sailors and Marines landed at San Jose del Cabo, San Lucas, and Loreto in Baja, and at Guaymas, San Blas, and Manzanillo in Mexico proper. Unopposed, each landing took just long enough to conclude conventions acknowledging American authority in those cities. In July, however, two companies of New York volunteers landed at and seized La Paz, the capital of the Baja province, and in November, the Navy seized Mazatlan, and two dozen Marines under the command of First Lieutenant Charles Heywood went ashore at San Jose. Although the Californians counterattacked three times at La Paz and twice at San Jose, the New Yorkers and Heywood's Marines were able to hold them off. Guaymas was assaulted four times between November 1847 and March 1848, but to no avail.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Easter Bunny
The Easter Bunny or Easter Hare (sometimes Spring Bunny in the U.S.) is a character depicted as rabbit bringing Easter eggs, who sometimes is depicted in an anthropomorphic way (e.g. with clothes). In legend, the creature brings baskets filled with colored eggs, candy and sometimes also toys to the homes of children on the night before Easter. The Easter Bunny will either put the baskets in a designated place or hide them somewhere in the house or garden for the children to find when they wake up in the morning.

The Easter Bunny is very similar in trait to its Christmas holiday counterpart, Santa Claus, as they both bring gifts to good children on the night before their respective holiday. It was first mentioned in Georg Franck von Frankenau's De ovis paschalibus (About the Easter Egg) referring to an Alsace tradition of an Easter Hare bringing Easter Eggs (and the negative impact of too much egg consumption).

The Easter Bunny as an Easter symbol bringing Easter eggs seems to have its origins in Alsace and the Upper Rhineland, both then in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, and southwestern Germany, where it was first recorded in a German publication in the early 1600s. The first edible Easter Bunnies were made in Germany during the early 1800s and were made of pastry and sugar.

The Easter Bunny was introduced to America by the German settlers who arrived in the Pennsylvania Dutch country during the 1700s. The arrival of the "O_ster Haws_e" (a phonetic transcription of a dialectal pronunciation of the German Osterhase) was considered one of "childhood's greatest pleasures," similar to the arrival of Kriist Kindle (from the German Christkindl) on Christmas Eve.

According to the tradition, children would build brightly colored nests, often out of caps and bonnets, in secluded areas of their homes. The "O_ster Haws_e" would, if the children had been good, lay brightly colored eggs in the nest. As the tradition spread, the nest has become the manufactured, modern Easter basket, and the placing of the nest in a secluded area has become the tradition of hiding baskets.


Rabbits and hares
Eggs, like rabbits and hares, are fertility symbols of extreme antiquity. Since birds lay eggs and rabbits and hares give birth to large litters in the early spring, these became symbols of the rising fertility of the earth at the Vernal Equinox.

The saying "mad as a March hare" refers to the wild caperings of hares as the males fight over the females in the early spring, then attempt to mate with them. Since the females often rebuff the males' advances before finally submitting, the mating behavior often looks like a crazy dance; these fights led early observers to believe that the advent of spring made the hares "mad." This bold behavior makes the hares, normally timid and retiring animals, much more conspicuous to human observation in the spring.

Rabbits and hares are both prolific breeders. The females can conceive a second litter of offspring while still pregnant with the first. This phenomenon is known as superfetation. Lagomorphs mature sexually at an early age and can give birth to several litters a year (hence the sayings, "to breed like bunnies" or "multiply like rabbits"). It is therefore not surprising that rabbits and hares should become fertility symbols, or that their springtime mating antics should enter into Easter folklore.

The precise origin of the ancient custom of coloring eggs is not known, although evidently the blooming of many flowers in spring coincides with the use of the fertility symbol of eggs - and eggs boiled with some flowers change their color, bringing the spring into the homes. Many Christians of the Eastern Orthodox Church to this day typically dye their Easter eggs red, the color of blood, in recognition of the blood of the sacrificed Christ (and, of the renewal of life in springtime). Some also use the color green, in honor of the new foliage emerging after the long dead time of winter.

German Protestants wanted to retain the Catholic custom of eating colored eggs for Easter, but did not want to introduce their children to the Catholic rite of fasting. Eggs were forbidden to Catholics during the fast of Lent, which was the reason for the abundance of eggs at Easter time.

The idea of an egg-laying bunny came to the United States in the 18th century. German immigrants in the Pennsylvania Dutch area told their children about the "Osterhas," sometimes spelled "Oschter Haws." "Hase" means "hare," not rabbit, and in Northwest European folklore the "Easter Bunny" indeed is a hare, not a rabbit. According to the legend, only good children received gifts of colored eggs in the nests that they made in their caps and bonnets before Easter. In 1835, Jakob Grimm wrote of long-standing similar myths in Germany itself. Grimm suggested that these derived from legends of a goddess called Ostara, but as a romanticist, he tried to connect contemporary customs to pre-Christian traditions, knowing that no written sources of that time existed. Additionally, a goddess of that name is only mentioned in a single ancient source giving an ambiguous statement about an Ostara month.

Easter has become a commercially celebrated event, with shops and media advertising Easter around Spring. The Easter Bunny is usually a big part of Easter for younger children, so, it often appears on Easter commercials. The Easter Bunny is also featured a lot on Easter TV specials, and in Easter themed films, such as Here Comes Peter Cottontail: The Movie.