Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day, also known as St. Valentine’s Day, is celebrated today.  It is a tradition honored by many Americans and their families uniformed and civilian.  There is no definitive origin story to single out the one true inspiration for the holiday, but according to one legend, a priest named Valentine, who is thought to have written letters from prison signed, “From your Valentine” to a woman he befriended, who happened to be his jailer’s daughter.

Other accounts exist but the date of February 14th began its association with romantic gestures around the 14th century.  The earliest Valentine messages were sent in the 1500s.  By the 1700s printed cards were used to convey messages of love.  The United States version of cards showing up in history began in the 1800s.

February 14th is not a national holiday, but for military families, it is a day that can be bittersweet due to deployments, TDYs, and permanent change of station moves.  All those things typically signify some form of family separation and loved one’s separation, and for those still “at home” while a service member performs their duty on the 14th, it takes some creativity to celebrate and try to maintain that feeling of togetherness despite being physically distant.

When physical separation exists because of military service, one can use Zoom calls or other video conferencing to be together.  But it does not have to end there–gifts and care packages can also be sent to the servicemember to narrow the distance.

USO Birthday

USO Birthday

February 4th is the 80th birthday of the United Service Organizations or USO. The USO has been a fixture in military life since 1941.  The agency is a private, not-for-profit organization that works in cooperation with the Department of Defense.  It provides live entertainment and other programs to members of the United States Armed Forces and their families.  It is congressionally chartered, but not a government agency.  It relies heavily on private contributions and on funds, goods, and services from various corporate and individual donors.

Founded during World War II, the USO sought to be the GI’s “home away from home” and began a tradition of entertaining the troops that continues today.  In 2011, the USO was awarded the National Medal of Arts.  The USO has over 200 locations around the world in 14 countries (including the United States) and 27 states.  In 2016, It was estimated that it had served more than 35 million Americans over its history.  To donate, go to uso.org/donate.

Four Chaplains Day

Four Chaplains Day

Today marks the 78th anniversary of the sinking of the United States Army Transport Dorchester and the selfless acts of four Army chaplains aboard. The Dorchester tragically sunk on Feb. 3, 1943, while crossing the North Atlantic, transporting troops to an American base in Greenland. A German U-boat fired a torpedo that struck the Dorchester, killing 672 of the 902 officers and enlisted men, merchant seamen and civilian workers aboard. Many of those survivors owe their lives to the courage and leadership exhibited by four chaplains of different faiths, who, in sacrificing their lives, created a unique legacy of brotherhood.

As soldiers rushed to lifeboats, Reverend George Fox (Methodist), Jewish Rabbi Alexander Goode, Reverend Clark Poling (Dutch Reformed) and Father John Washington (Roman Catholic) comforted the wounded and directed others to safety. One survivor watched the chaplains distribute life jackets, and when they ran out, they removed theirs and gave them to four young men.

As the Dorchester sank, the chaplains were seen linked arm in arm, praying.  That night the four chaplains passed life’s ultimate test. In doing so, they became an enduring example of extraordinary faith, courage and selflessness.

The Distinguished Service Cross and Purple Heart were awarded posthumously December 19, 1944, to the next of kin in a ceremony at the post chapel at Fort Myer, VA. A one-time only posthumous Special Medal for Heroism was authorized by Congress and awarded by President Eisenhower on January 18, 1961. The special medal was intended to have the same weight and importance as the Medal of Honor.

American Legion posts nationwide remember Four Chaplains Day with memorial services that pay tribute to the courageous chaplains and the brave young men who lost their lives on that fateful night.  Read more about it at Chaplain Corps History: The Four Chaplains | Article | The United States Army.

Eat chicken and support the revitalization efforts of the Veteran’s Memorial at Frisco Commons Park.

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2021 AT 6 AM CST – 7:30 PM CST
Honor Our Veterans Spirit Day at Chick-Fil-A
Chick-fil-A Frisco Lakes (7979 FM 423, Frisco, TX)

Join Leadership Frisco Class XXIV in the revitalization efforts of the Veteran’s Memorial at Frisco Commons Park. Chick-fil-A at Frisco Lakes has generously offered to donate 20% of the days sales to our efforts to repair and update the Memorial honoring our men and women who have served and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service of their country.
https://fb.me/e/40zJmkJHI 

Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day

Today is Groundhog Day 2021.  It is a holiday that focuses on the folklore idea of the groundhog (also known as woodchucks) coming out of its home to “predict” the weather. Legend has it that on this morning, if a groundhog can see its shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter. If it cannot see its shadow, spring is on the way.

Historically, Groundhog Day, has its roots in the ancient Christian tradition of Candlemas Day, when clergy would bless and distribute candles needed for winter. The candles represented how long and cold the winter would be. Germans expanded on this concept by selecting an animal (the hedgehog) as a means of predicting weather. Once they came to America, German settlers in Pennsylvania continued the tradition, although they exchanged the hedgehogs to groundhogs, which were plentiful in the Keystone State. In 1887, the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club declared that Phil, the Punxsutawney groundhog, was America’s only true weather-forecasting groundhog.

Groundhog Day is a non-federal holiday and has few traditions. The most significant traditions would involve visits to Pennsylvania and the observation of Groundhogs out of hibernation.  There will not be any in-person attendance or guests on the grounds to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Punxsutawney Phil has emerged from his snowy burrow to predict six more weeks of winter.