April 9th Winston Churchill Day

Winston Churchill was one of the most successful politicians, and one of the least successful politicians ever to exist. He was The First Lord of the Admiralty during the horrid loss a Gallipoli during World War 1 but then came back during World War 2 as the Prime Minster of England to lead his country through those dreadful years. Today is not his birthday as one might think but the day John F. Kennedy made him an honorary citizen of the United States in 1963. His role in history will always be questioned but there is no doubt his place in history in well deserved.

How to celebrate – Read about Winston Churchill. Try and identify which of the three men in the picture is Churchill. Check out his numerous famous quotes.

December 7th Pearl Harbor Day

When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941 it drew America into the a war they had tried to avoid. Some say America knew it was coming and it is a fact they did, the problem was… I don’t think the American’s realized the strength of the attack. The American Government wanted in the war, an attack was the best way to get there. 2,400 service men and 68 civilians died, scores more were wounded. I am sure America did not welcome the loss of the Pacific Fleet. Anyway, we celebrate those killed today nearly a 100 years ago. It is a day never to be forgotten, or at least a day we should never forget.

How to celebrate – Visit Pearl Harbor. Read about the attack on Pearl Harbor. Watch one of numerous movies made about Pearl Harbor.

September 2nd VJ Day

Most people seem to think that World War 2 ended when the Germans surrender, it did not. It was not until Japan surrendered on August 14th that the actual war was over. The surrender of Japan was announced on August 15th and the official surrender came on board the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2nd, 1945. It was a long war for the US but even longer for European and Asian countries who suffered under the thumb of the Axis.

How to celebrate – Read about the war with Japan. Remember those who died trying to end the war. Visit one of the many islands retaken by the Marines during the Pacific War.

August 7th National Purple Heart Day

The “Military Order of the Purple Heart” was first awarded by George Washington in 1782, particularly for the veterans of the American Revolution who in “Any Singularly Meritorious Action” deserved one. Originally called the Military Merit Decoration, it was given to six veterans, though there may have been more that went unrecorded. It was made of purple silk cut into a heart shape with a thin edge of silver with the word merit inscribed across it.

The medal went dormant until World War 1 when 320,518 Americans were awarded the Purple Heart, now given to those who have been wounded or killed, and in some case for other special merit actions. This time the medals were awarded in the name of the President of the United States.

In 1932 a special day was set aside for those who had earned the Purple Heart but it varied from state-to-state, and city-to-city. Once again, with no wars taking place, the medal was set aside until General Douglas McArthur convinced Congress to re-designate the medal for those wounded or killed during World War 2. Another 1,076,245 were issued before the war was over. George Washington’s bust was added to the medal to give it even more meaning.

The medal has been in constant use since World War 2. 118,650 were issued during the Korean War, another 351,794 for Vietnam. Estimated numbers since then through 2010, include 607 for the Gulf War, 7,027 for Afghanistan and 35,321 in Iraq.

Since then, the Purple Heart has also been awarded to wounded animals in military service. The Purple Heart is the oldest medal in American history. The National Purple Heart Hall of Fame is in New Windsor, N.Y..

How to celebrate – Honor those who have fallen, or been wounded, in defense of America.  Visit the Hall of Fame in New Windsor. Find out if anyone in your family has ever earned a Purple Heart.

June 6th D-Day, WW II

There are somethings we should never forget and D-Day is one of them. June 6th, 1944 was the beginning of the end or World War 2 when allied troops from American, Britain and Canada landed on 5 beaches in France. The US attacked Omaha and Utah beaches, UK Gold & Sword beaches and Canada Juno beach. 156,000 men gained a foothold in Europe against Germany though it cost some 4,000 their lives. The operation was a success to some degree because the Germans were fooled, knowing the invasion was coming but thinking it would fall elsewhere. Landings had already taken place in Italy but the final blow came in France on June 6th, 1944.

How to celebrate – Remember those who paid the supreme price to retake Europe. Visit the Normandy landing areas if you go to Europe. Read and the landings and sacrifice made by the Allied soldiers.

April 29th Greenery Day

You would think that on Greenery Day we would celebrate trees or plants or maybe even Kermit the Frog but today is all about the 124th Emperor of Japan Hirohito’s birthday. Born in 1901, Hirohito served the Japanese people until his death in 1989. He lead Japan through some of it’s best, and some of it’s worst , times. His part in World War 2 will never be known for sure, though he was put on the same level as Hitler at one time he did not face the same fate that other war criminals faced. It is good he is remembered for the beautiful country Japan was before the war and after the war because the ugliness it caused during the war should never be forgotten.

How to celebrate – Visit Japan. Read about Hirohito’s involvement during World War 2 and decided his guilt or not for yourself. Spend your day gardening.

April 29th Peace Rose Day

April 29th Peace Rose Day

Somewhere between 1935 and 1939, French horticulturist Francis Meilland developed a new rose he wanted to share with the world. Knowing World War 2 was about to begin and that his work would probably be destroyed, he sent cutting of the rose to Italy, Turkey, Germany and the US. In France it was known as the “Madame A. Meilland”, in Italy the “Gioia” (Meaning joy) in Germany the Gloria Dei (Glory to God) and in the US it became known as the Peace Rose because of its association with the End of World War 2 in Europe on April 29th, 1945.

How to celebrate – Grow your own Peace Rose. Read about Francis Meilland. Plant a rose garden.

April 8th Draw A Bird Day

April 8th Draw A Bird Day

DAB Day has been around since the 1940’s in the UK. Why, well… I guess because it could be since I found no other particular reason for it. Perhaps with the war in Europe raging it gave people something to do, or maybe it gave an air of freedom or maybe it broke the tension of the bombardment.  Or maybe it’s not as obvious as we think since a woman in the UK was often called a bird. Which makes us all wonder why, only slightly more than why we celebrate Draw A Bird Day at all.

How to celebrate – Draw a bird. Visit the UK. Join the Audubon Society.

November 4th National Candy Day

Today is National Candy Day. It is every child’s dream and most parents’ nightmare! The word candy actually comes from Middle England around the 13th century. That came from Old French, “culre candi”, which came from the Persian “Qand” or “Qandi”, which means sugar cane. The first “candy” was made from honey that was used to preserve fruit and flowers. The honey coated the fruit which happened to make a nice tasting treat. It also helped the digestive track and soothed sore throats.

It is believed that the first “candy” to reach America came from either Britain or France, or perhaps both, in the form of “Rock Candy”. Rock Candy was basically nothing but crystallized sugar, all of which was clear. That would have been in the 18th century and the process to make Rock Candy was so expensive that only the very wealthiest could afford it. Over the years we have learned how to add food dyes and flavoring to Rock Candy to make it somewhat more popular.

Chocolate did not come into the picture until centuries later even though Columbus took the cocoa plant back to Europe after his first voyage to the Americas in 1492. Other milestones for the candy industry came in the 1800’s when candy was made cheaper by production lines and crude machines. This candy was known as “Penny Candy” and for the first time in history, everyone could afford a sweet, at least on special occasions. By 1847 a candy press was invented making candy as cheap as it had ever been and in quantities that made it available even in remote locations. In 1851 the steam pan became available to melt down the sugar even faster and an industry was born.

In 1928 Hershey’s introduced Reese’s peanut butter cups, the first real sign that chocolate could be mass produced as well and sold in a package to consumers. The peanut butter filling was something new for the industry but was extremely well received.

During World War 2, soldiers were given M&M’s made by Mars Inc., for a pick me up because they were coated in a hard candy shell that did not melt while they were in the field. The first real use of M&M’s was actually reported during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930’s where Ernest Hemingway noted seeing soldiers with a hard shelled candy they carried around with them for an energy burst.

How to celebrate – Whatever type of candy you like best, today is the day to enjoy a piece or two. Try to invent your own new candy! Go back to the basics with this recipe for Rock Candy and make your own!

September 2nd VJ Day WWII

There are three dates that mark the end of World War 2 with the surrender of Japan. The first is August 14th, 1945 when Japan sent a cable to the US stating their intention to surrender. August 15th, when the US accepted the surrender of Japan and then September 2nd when the formal surrender of Japan occurred on the deck of the USS Missouri on September 2nd. With the surrender of Japan World War 2 officially came to an end, Germany having surrendered earlier in the year. The world’s most horrific war had come to an end though it would, in some case, take years to get all troops to stop fighting as they had not received word of the surrender themselves.

How to celebrate – Read about World War 2. Learn why it was so difficult for Japan to surrender. Discover who was a part of the Allies, and who was a part of the Axis.