The blog appeared in the first day of the shutdown, and it came to an end the following day. Feel free to send thanks for the power this blog must have. HeHe
On a more serious note, the people of Canada and the United States have enjoyed a most warm, caring and prosperous relationship since day one. The elephant in the room has rocked a few times and we have usually squeaked out, but for the best of times we have gotten along great.
This is well illustrated with the historic fact that, in both World Wars, when Canada went to battle we took along thousands of non-Canadians. Coming from many parts of the world, thousands also came from the United States.
They would all do the same training and then cross the pond to do their bit to return peace in the world. Some of the Americans would stay with the Canadians throughout the war and some would switch back to join their native brothers and sisters when the US later entered both wars.
With Canadian training under their belt, some Americans like Robert Guy Robinson, Lewis Millett, John Carey Morgan, Bellenden Hutcheson, George Coppins, William Metcalf, George Mullin, Ralph Zengel and others would teach the world what our Canadian forefathers taught them.
The incredible bravery of each would result in their being bestowed with either the Medal of Honor or the Victoria Cross and many other most prestigious medals. Hopefully you have read their stories in this space in the past. if not, it is not too late. Use the search engine in upper right of this website.
I am proud to say I have visited the Robinson grave at Arlington and actually attended the Millett funeral at Riverside California, with kind permission of family.
This is a rare medal, about only 20 were awarded. It was designed the Tiffany Company and thus, became known as the Tiffany Cross, but is just another of the various forms of the actual Medal of Honor. But due to unpopularity for several reasons, including the fact that it looked too much like the German Iron Cross, it was taken out of service. Before that happened about 20% came to those with Canadian connections.
Last week I shared with you some of the story of 94 year old Warrant Officer Hershel "Woody" Williams, of the United States Marine Corps, and last living soldier from the battle of Iwo Jima. Like most MOH recipients, he tells any that ask, that the medal belongs not to him but to those who's lives were cut short by wars around the world.
The blog also told of his incredible efforts to keep the stories of those lost, alive with his work with the the Gold Star families of the United States.
I will return to Woody later, but now turn your attention to a fellow you have probably never heard of before.
George would often write home to his parents George and Grace Darling Seibold. From these letters her compassion led her to making routine visits to the Walter Reed General Hospital there in DC to care for the wounded.
But all of a sudden the letters stopped coming in.. She'd ask the military what was going on but got no answers. He was with the British and thus the yank officials had no info to share. Soon the routine hospital visits became daily visits in the hopes that she'd be on hand if and when an injured airman arrived, without identification but proving to be her son. But such was not to be!
It would not be until 11 October 1918 that George and Grace would learn, via the mail, that their son had been killed.
The message came by way of a box of his effects arriving at her doorstep!
Official word did not arrive until 4 November 1918. He was shot down somewhere over France on 26 August.. almost 2 1/2 months earlier. No remains have ever been recovered!
Grace continued to provide care at Walter Reed. But she went beyond this by seeking out other mothers who had lost their son(s) or daughter(s) in the war. Each no doubt displaying the banner with a gold star in their windows.
Meeting others in the DC area led to more organized visits to hospitals. But it also led to the thought that rather than limiting the morning to their own loses, greater efforts ought to be extended to those who had no where locally to go to morn their losses. Many had sons and daughters buried in far away places. (By war's end over 100,000 Americans had not only lost their lives, but they laid at rest outside of the United States.)
On 4 June 1918 Grace Darling Seibold and 24 other mothers of lost military children started the national group called the American Gold Star Mothers Inc. This group would see many changes over the years, including the removal of an original membership prerequisite of being an American born, the addition of those Missing In Action, the opening of arms to the fathers and still later all families, and also those service members dying from causes other than battlefield actions.
Grace's name is one of those well recognized within the Gold Star community. And there is another!. Her name was Aletta Sullivan from Iowa. She had five sons who signed up for naval service in WW ll, but insisted that at no time would they be split up. All were assigned to the USS Juneau, named in honour of that city in Alaska.
Today's story took place near the Munro incident but involved the USS Juneau on 13 November 1942.
In a horrible naval battle that day Japanese and American planes, destroyers and subs fought it out in terrible weather, night time darkness, problems with orders and more. Soon enemy faced enemy only thousands of feet apart.
The Juneau suffered a broadside torpedo from an enemy destroyer, started to list and take on water but managed to withdraw, and limp away in hopes of finding safety and repairs close bye. But an enemy sub found her first and launched another torpedo that hit in about the same place as the first. She immediately broke in two and within 20 seconds had slipped below the surface taken almost 700 crew, including the Sullivan brothers down with her.
Forced radio silence prevented initial calls for aid. With the appearance of such massive explosions, a sub or more than one in the same area, and little hopes of survivors, rescue efforts were not launched to the area where the Juneau sank.
The horror was that there were survivors. Three of the brothers and just over 100 more struggling in frigid waters, trying to save themselves. Most succumbed to the cold and attacking sharks. It would be several days before any rescue attempts were launched. In the end about a dozen were still alive to be rescued. This was about 8 days after being adrift in open seas.
The three remaining brothers were no more!
The above stamps were made available in time for that year's Gold Star Mother's Day, held on the last Sunday of September, as ordered by President Roosevelt back in June of 1936, and proclaimed by the serving President each year since.
There is still more to this story, but I will bring that to you next Sunday,
cheers till then,