This post was written by Chris Cottrill, head of the National Air and Space Museum Library. November 11, 2013. Today is Veteran’s Day and a federal holiday. For some of us that can mean a chance to sleep-in, run some errands, or have an extended weekend away. But it’s also the one day we should recall those we know or knew that put on the uniform (enlisted or draftee) and served their more »
During World War II, the U.S. Army Air Corps heavy bomber fleets of B-17’s, B-24’s, and B-29’s were examples of some of the most advanced technology of the period. These four-engine aircraft were designed and built to deliver tons of bombs to a target, defend themselves against enemy fighter attacks, and get their 10- or 11-man crews back to base, if possible. According to a postwar study of bombardier training, the first bombardiers in the Air Corps were pilots interested in bombing or enlisted personnel who had shown some interest and skill in bombing. Eighteen men graduated from the first class of bombardier training in February 1941. By September 1945, 47,000 bombardiers had been trained by the Army Air Force Training Command.
Mail service to any forces in combat zones was a challenge. This was no different for the Americans in Siberia. Letters to and from soldiers were censored, and addresses to Siberia were ambiguous to preserve secrecy in troop location and movement. Correspondence to soldiers would be addressed simply to “A.E.F. Siberia”.
The nation’s second federal holiday instituted to honor those serving in the armed forces is Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day. President Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) proclaimed Armistice Day to be November 11, the date of the cessation of battles between the Allied nations and Germany in 1918. In European countries this day has been known as Remembrance Day, Armistice Day or Poppy Day.
In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations . . . " An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday—a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as "Armistice Day." Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the more »