Thank You for My Freedom 11/09/12 11/09/12 1:54:00 PM
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U.S. Army artillery veteran Charles W. Bare of Frederick, Md., stands to salute a passing flag Sunday at the 2012 Brunswick (Md.) Veterans Day parade. – Photo by Tom Fedor/The Gazette
By Lorraine Boyd
‘Thank You for My Freedom’
Goal: A Million Expressions of Gratitude
The Daily Record
Each year, certain days are set aside in our country to honor those who have served in the armed forces to keep our nation strong. There are ceremonies at memorials and cemeteries, parades, speeches and prayers. In many places the American flag is flown at half-staff. Traditionally, Veterans Day is observed with a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery and community events across the nation. Although Veterans Day officially honors living veterans of wartime and peacetime service, it is often confused with Memorial Day, which exists to honor those who died serving our country.
Deploys Social Media
Do you participate, but sometimes ask what more you can do to express your thanks? Now there’s a very personal way you can share your thoughts on the occasion of Veterans Day 2012 (traditional date: November 11; this year observed as a holiday on November 12).
Aimed at garnering a million thanks for U.S. military veterans, from those who served during WWII to current day, The National WWII Museum has created “Thank You for My Freedom,” a social media campaign centered around the website www.myveteransday.org, where users can post videos, photos and messages expressing appreciation to all who have served in the armed forces.
The effort deploys dedicated YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and smart phone messages to ask Americans to express their gratitude to veterans for defending and protecting our freedom. The campaign builds on a heartfelt video last year that prompted the posting of more than 100,000 thank you messages from across the country and around the world.
This year’s effort is a lead up to the Museum’s Veterans Day celebrations on Sunday, November 11, that will include a Moment of Silence at 11 a.m. and, tomorrow, Saturday, November 10, a moving Celebration of Heroes ceremony at the Museum at 3 p.m.
“We were thrilled to see the response last year through our social media outlets,” said Dr. Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller, president and chief executive officer of The National WWII Museum in New Orleans, La.
“This year, we are building on that success and hope to reach a million ‘thank yous’ to demonstrate our gratitude to the American military, not only for those from the WWII generation, but returning vets from Iraq and Afghanistan, and all others who served their nation so bravely.”
Participants can also text THANKS to 51555, or “write,” “snap” and “shoot” thanks to the Museum’s social media outlets – including Twitter and Facebook. To upload photographs and videos, and see what others have done, visit www.myveteransday.org.
“We think of this as a digital tickertape parade to show vets how much America cares for them,” says Museum Interactive Media Director Jonah Langenbeck. “It’s so moving to see the expressions of gratitude come pouring in from all over the U.S. and even from countries like the Netherlands, France and Italy – where younger people thanked older Americans for liberating their countries from the Nazis. It gives you a sense of the support from a grassroots perspective.”
This effort represents one Museum strategy for reaching out to younger generations, using their communication tools. The Museum, now the top attraction in New Orleans, will open its newest building, the U.S. Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center, in January 2013.
The Museum staff works with a sense of urgency as WWII veterans are dying at a rate of 680 per day. “It is our mission to ensure that the values and lessons of the WWII generation are passed on to succeeding ones,” Mueller says.
The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American experience in the “war that changed the world” – why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today.
Dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and now designated by Congress as America’s National WWII Museum, it celebrates the American spirit, the teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifice of the men and women who served on the battlefront and the Home Front.
For more information, call 877-813-3329 or 504-528-1944 or visit www.nationalww2museum.org. Follow on Twitter at WWIImuseum or visit www.facebook.com/WWIIMuseum.
Veterans Day is the anniversary of the signing of the armistice, which ended the World War I hostilities between the Allied nations and Germany in 1918 and annually falls on November 11.
Veterans Day Facts
Veterans Day is intended to honor and thank all military personnel who served the United States in all wars, particularly living veterans. It will be officially observed in 2012 on November 12, when federal government offices will be closed. This is to enable more people to attend and participate in more events.
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 an armistice between Germany and the Allied nations came into effect. On November 11, 1919, Armistice Day was commemorated for the first time. In 1919, President Wilson proclaimed the day should be “filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory.” There were plans for parades, public meetings and a brief suspension of business activities at 11 a.m.
In 1926, the United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I and declared that the anniversary of the armistice should be commemorated with prayer and thanksgiving. Congress requested that the president “issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.”
An Act was approved on May 13, 1938, which made November 11 in each year a legal holiday, known as Armistice Day. This day was originally intended to honor veterans of World War I.
A few years later, World War II required the largest mobilization of service men in the history of the United States, and then American forces fought in Korea. In 1954, the veterans service organizations urged Congress to change the word “Armistice” to “Veterans.” Congress approved this change and on June 1, 1954, November 11 became a day to honor all American veterans, wherever and whenever they had served.
[In 1968 the Uniform Holiday Bill made an attempt to move Veterans Day to the fourth Monday of October. The bill took effect in 1971. However, many states disagreed with this decision and continued to hold Veterans Day activities on November 11. In 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97, stating that Veterans Day would again be observed on November 11 from 1978 onwards, a law still in effect today.]
WWI Vets All Gone Now
World War I – “the war to end all wars” – killed about 20 million people in four years of fighting between the Allied powers – including Britain, France and the United States – and Germany and its allies.
The world’s last known veteran of World War I, Florence Green, who was serving with the Women’s Royal Air Force as a waitress at an eastern England air base on Nov. 11, 1918, died in an English care home at the age of 110, on Feb. 7, 2012, two weeks before her 111th birthday.
The last known soldier to have fought in the brutal trench warfare was Britain’s Harry Patch, who died in 2009 at age 111.
The last American veteran of the conflict was Frank Buckles of Charles Town, W. Va., who drove ambulances in France for the U.S. Army. He died in February 2011.
The war’s last known combatant, Royal Navy veteran Claude Choules, died in Australia in May, 2011. There are no known French or German veterans of the war left alive.
A Few May Survive to 2036
Some 270,000 World War II vets died in 2011, an average of 740 a day, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Another 248,000 are projected to die this year.
America won’t mark the passing of its last World War II vet until well into the 2030s, or even the decade after that. Taking into consideration lengthening life expectancies, the VA expects World War II veterans to be around for a while. The agency projects that 370 will be alive on Sept. 30, 2036 – 91 years after the end of the war.
When the last surviving U.S. veterans of past wars died:
• Revolutionary War: April 5, 1869, age 109
• Civil War, Union: Aug. 2, 1956, age 109
• Civil War, Confederate: March 16, 1958, age 112
• Spanish-American War: Sept. 10, 1992, age 106
• World War I, Feb. 27, 2011, age 110
The World War II veteran population will fall below 1.5 million this year, less than one-tenth of the 16 million who served.