National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day on April 9th honors the courageous men and women who endured brutal treatment at the hands of their captors. As a result, they also suffered separation from family and displayed incredible endurance and faith during their captivity.
On this day in 1942, the largest number of U.S. Forces were captured by Japanese troops in the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines. After battling through extreme conditions and prolonged battles, the captured troops were forced to march 65 miles to the prison camp. Without medical attention, food or water thousands died. The mistreatment continued for those who survived the brutal journey. In the compounds, deep in the unfamiliar jungle, the hardships, brutality, and suffering lasted more than two years for those who could survive.
Since the Revolutionary War, over half a million service members have been captured. This number does not reflect those lost or never recovered. However, each POW endures conditions much like the ones described above. These heroes deserve a day of recognition.
In 1984, a movement led by former POWs began seeking a day recognizing for former Prisoners of War on April 9th each year. In 1988, Congress approved legislation setting April 9th to commemorate the date the tragic number of captives were taken prisoner on Bataan. President Ronald Reagan proclaimed National Former Prisoners of War Recognition Day on April 1, 1988, through Presidential Proclamation 5788. He set the observance for April 9, 1988. Since then, through legislation and Presidential Proclamations, the observance carries on. These men and women deserve our respect and profound gratitude.
The terms Gold Star family, Gold Star Spouses, and Gold Star Wives traditionally refer to the surviving loved ones of military members killed in the line of duty in combat. Gold Star Spouses Day was created to honor these loved ones.
This recognition of the sacrifices made by military spouses is a memorial for the fallen, a day of remembrance for the survivors, and an appreciation for those who are sometimes in danger of being overlooked for their support and service to the country.
The Gold Star is a tradition that began during World War One; service flags were flown by military families during this time, with blue stars for every family member serving in uniform. If one died, the blue star was replaced by a gold star. This allowed members of the community to know the price that the family had paid in the cause of freedom.
The tradition of Gold Star Spouses Day began in the early part of the 20th century as Gold Star Mother’s Day, observed on the last Sunday of September beginning in 1936. An organization known as Gold Star Wives began operating before the end of the Second World War, and the Gold Star lapel button tradition was established in the summer of 1947.
All of this set the stage for Gold Star Spouses Day, which began as Gold Star Wives Day-the first of which occurred in December 2010. Two years later a Senate resolution codified Gold Star Wives Day, observed on April 5 each year. Today the event is known as Gold Star Spouses Day, though many still use “Gold Star Wives Day” interchangeably with Gold Star Spouses Day.
If you know any surviving spouse of any person of the United States military who died while a member of the armed forces of our country, or who died after such service because of an injury or disability incurred during such service, please extend your heartfelt gratitude.
April is designated as Month of the Military Child – a time to honor the sacrifices made by military families worldwide, with an emphasis on the experience of the dependent children of military members serving at home and overseas.
Like many similar military recognition efforts, the Month of The Military Child is often celebrated “internally” with military communities and military association planning contests, parades, fairs, seminars, and special events centered around the message of the month. It is also celebrated “externally” by many communities, schools, and organizations.
Approximately 2 million military children have experienced a parental deployment since 9/11. There are currently 1.2 million military children of active-duty members worldwide. The average military family moves three times more often than their civilian counterpart. There are nearly two million “total-force dependent children” including more than 900 thousand Army dependents, 400,000 Air Force dependents, nearly 300,000 Navy and approximately 118,000 Marine dependents.
Since many of the April events are sponsored by military communities, to learn more it is best to start your search for events with the base Public Affairs office, Military Family Readiness Centers, Department of Defense Dependent School admin offices, and even on-base Child Development Centers.
Vietnam Veterans Day commemorates the sacrifices of Vietnam veterans and their families and is part of a national effort to recognize the men and women who were denied a proper welcome upon returning home more than 40 years ago.
The Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act, which was signed into law in 2017, designates March 29 of each year as National Vietnam War Veterans Day. It is not an official holiday. Most states celebrate “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day” on March 29 or 30 of each year. Though there is some debate, March 29 is generally viewed as a more appropriate date. On that day in 1973, the last combat troops were withdrawn from Vietnam and the last prisoners of war held in North Vietnam arrived on American soil.
Lasting from 1955 to 1975, the Vietnam war engulfed the Southeast Asian country of Vietnam, as well as its neighboring countries, Cambodia and Laos. It resulted in several million deaths, most of whom were Vietnamese civilians. The conflict began during the 1950s when the struggle between the country’s communist northern part and the anti-communist south escalated. The United States began its military involvement to back the South’s effort to quell the communist onslaught, which, at the height of the Cold War, was feared to promote the spread of communist ideology and influence worldwide. During the war, about 500,000 US troops were dispatched to Southeast Asia, about 58,000 of whom were killed. The conflict ended in 1975 with the fall of Saigon and the victory of North Vietnam.
More than 350 members of American Legion Post 178 are Vietnam veterans.
Congressman Michael Burgess will accept Congressional Veteran Commendation nominations from the 26th Congressional District (primarily Denton County). The submission deadline is September 17, 2020. The Congressional Veteran Commendation was created to honor distinguished veterans.
To nominate a local veteran for the 2020 Congressional Veteran Commendation, the completed nomination form, along with additional information pertaining to the veteran’s service, should be returned to 2000 S. Stemmons Frwy., Suite 200, Lake Dallas, TX 75056. Nominated veterans must currently reside in the 26th District of Texas, served the nation honorably during their military career, and subsequently demonstrated dedication to their community.
Purple Heart Day on August 7 commemorated the creation of the oldest American military decoration for military merit. The Purple Heart honors the men and women who are of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. During the American Revolutionary War, the Badge for Military Merit decorated six known soldiers.
General George Washington created the Badge of Merit in 1782. The honor was to be presented to soldiers for “any singularly meritorious action.” Its design included a purple, heart-shaped piece of silk bound with a thin edge of silver. Across the face, the word Merit was embroidered in silver. While the badge symbolized the courage and devotion of an American Patriot, no one knows who designed the award.
Until Washington’s 200th birthday, the Purple Heart persisted as a Revolutionary War footnote. Through the efforts of General Douglas MacArthur, the U.S. War Department created the Order of the Purple Heart. Today the medal bears a bust of George Washington and his coat of arms.
National Geographic recently estimated that nearly 1.9 million Purple Hearts have been awarded since its creation. It is the oldest U.S. military honor still bestowed upon service members today. Until 1944, the Purple Heart recognized service members’ commendable actions as well. Then in 1944, the requirements limited the award to only those wounded or killed in combat.
Post 178 is honored to have Purple Heart recipients in its ranks. If you know one, thank him for his sacrifice. Each unquestionably deserves it.
Submitted by Ed Reed
2nd Vice Commander
American Legion, Peter J Courcy Post 178