Sunday, November 01, 2009

A great piece that popped up on my google alerts and thought everyone should read and keep in mind this coming week.

Tip your hats to the vets next week and remember.

November 1, 2009

By ROBERT MITCHLER For Sun-Times Media

When we start this November we return to standard time and set our clocks back one hour. However, we must also direct our attention to three important historical dates — Nov. 9, 10 and 11.

We are well acquainted with our major wars — World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Iraq and Afghanistan, but we often overlook the Cold War that continued following the end of hostilities in World War II.

It was the Cold War that continued between the Soviet Union and Germany from 1945 until Nov. 9, 1989, when the wall separating East and West Germany came down.

The Cold War in Europe involved our American GIs who held the line along freedom's frontier for 44 years. Now, 20 years later we pause to honor our gallant troops for another victory. Communism in East Germany and Eastern Europe collapsed when that Berlin Wall came tumbling down. The voice of our President Ronald Reagan in June 1987 said "Tear down that wall" and his words were heard.

V-E Day will long be remembered as the Armistice for the World War II in Europe, but the battle was yet to be won for defeat of communism and the holding in bondage East Germans and others in areas controlled by the Soviet Union. We were only 6,000 against 350,000 Soviets and 150,000 East Germans, but our troops held the line.

President Harry Truman realized that V-E Day was not the end of Communism in Europe and maintained a military force of millions in West Germany and Western Europe. Those American forces kept at the ready and proved successful in halting any major advances from the Soviets or Warsaw Pact.

History records how the East Germans fled into West Germany when that wall was torn down. It was the dawn of new life and something called freedom that they gained. The Cold War (1945-1991) was indeed a global struggle against Communism. We must again pause on Nov. 9 annually to thank those who held the line and gave freedom to East Germany and Eastern Europe.

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The U.S. Marine Corps was formed Nov. 10, 1775, by the Second Continental Congress, with the first Marines enlisting under Commandant Samuel Nicholas. But it was not until 1921 that the Corps began celebrating that historic day officially as it's birthday.

Our U.S. Marine Corps has been at the ready and participated in each and every war and conflict since its birth. They are in Iraq and Afganhistan on the front lines. They will always carry on the traditions and achievements of the U.S. Marine Corps. Once a Marine, always a Marine.

Join on Nov. 10 in a salute to our U.S. Marine Corps. Our men and women of the U.S. Marine Corps have earned and deserve our salute on their birthday. Happy Birthday, Marines.

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It was the 11th hour of the 11 day in the 11th month of 1918 that an Armistice was declared ending hostilities in World War I. Ever since that date our nation has paused to honor and thank our U.S. Expeditionary Force that left our shores to go "over there" and join France in the war against Germany.

Armistice Day was proclaimed a national holiday and for years November 11 was the day our citizens of all ages, young and old, paused at 11:00 a.m. to honor those who served in World War I, often declared "the war to end all wars." However, along came World War II and once again our men and women responded to a two-front war, one in Europe and one in the Far West Pacific. Following V-E Day and

V-J Day, Armistice Day on Nov. 11 was changed to Veterans Day and is a national holiday to honor our military veterans of all wars.

Make plans to attend the local observances of Veterans Day. There will be parades and formal ceremonies in the morning in communities across our nation. Veterans will gather in memory of their deceased comrades and celebrate with those still carrying the torch of freedom earned by their respective units that served on the land, in the air and on the seas. Speeches will be made, prayers will be offered, rifles will fire the traditional three round volley, and Taps will be sounded. Yes, our nation will remember and be thankful for our freedoms earned and preserved by our men and women in wars and conflicts past and present.

Robert Mitchler is a retired state senator and was a military and naval aide to Illinois governors. His column appears twice monthly. To submit an item for Veteran's Corner, write Mitchler c/o The Beacon-News, 495 N. Commons Drive, Suite 200, Aurora, IL 60504.