Movie Review: The man with the golden arm

I have seen this film so many times. It is arguably the best performance Frank Sinatra ever played in his whole film career. The Man with the Golden Arm is a 1955 American drama film, based on the novel of the same name by Nelson Algren, which tells the story of a heroin addict who gets clean while in prison, but struggles to stay that way in the outside world. It stars Frank Sinatra, Eleanor Parker, Kim Novak, Arnold Stang and Darren McGavin. It was adapted for the screen by Walter Newman, Lewis Meltzer and Ben Hecht (uncredited), and directed by Otto Preminger.

It was nominated for three Academy Awards: Sinatra for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Joseph C. Wright and Darrell Silvera for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White and Elmer Bernstein for Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture. Sinatra was also nominated for best actor awards by the BAFTAs (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) and The New York Film Critics.


The film was controversial for its time; the Motion Picture Association of America refused to certify the film because it showed drug addiction. The gritty black-and-white film uniquely portrayed heroin as a serious literary topic as it rejected the standard “dope fiend” approach of the time. It was the first of its kind to tackle the marginalized issue of illicit drug use. Because it dealt with the taboo subject of “narcotics,” Hollywood’s Production Code refused to grant a seal of approval for the film, and it was released without the MPAA’s seal of approval. This sparked a change in production codes, allowing movies more freedom to more deeply explore hitherto taboo subjects such as drug abuse, kidnapping, abortion and prostitution. In the end, the film received the code number 17011.
Director Otto Preminger previously had released a film lacking the Production Code in 1953, with The Moon is Blue. He told Peter Bogdanovich why he was attracted to Algren’s novel. “I think there’s a great tragedy in any human being who gets hooked on something, whether it’s heroin or love or a woman or whatever.”

Frank Sinatra — who jumped at a chance to star in the film before reading the entire script — spent time at drug rehabilitation clinics observing addicts going cold turkey. The script was given to Marlon Brando around the same time as Sinatra, who still harbored some anger at Brando, since the latter had beaten out Sinatra for the lead role in On the Waterfront.

There is a very strong overtone of how it feels to be an addict in this film. Frank really plays the part well. The observation of cold turkey’d addicts was most likely the key to his flawless portrayal of such. You can honestly feel the pain and struggle demonstrated in Frank’s performance.

I was thinking while watching the movie about the concept of a modern remake of the film. There are so many modernizations of older films and for the most part, in my opinion they are needed as it helps bridge the gaps between generations. This brings the allure of having a father/son, mother/daughter experience of “I watched the original in theaters when I was your age”. This opens the door to sharing time with your children or parents watching each generations antecedent or post adaptations of the film. But with this film, specifically I do not think that a modern remake of this movie would be appropriate. Due to when it was made, the topic of drug use was considered to be controversial and rarely shown on screen prior to “The man with the golden arm”.  This film is arguably the first step into edgy film making, pushing the envelope, all the while captivating the audience’s attention with a very close to home real life situatuion.

When this film was made in 1955 we had men just coming back from being in the Korean conflict. We also had our nation’s greatest generation living in their GI Bill purchased homes raising their families the best that they knew how, though 10 years later still fighting the war. Fighting the war no longer on the beaches, bluffs, islands, coves, and or trenches across foreign evergreen war torn terrains, but rather here at home, in the beaches, bluffs, islands, coves, and or trenches within their own minds. My grand father was one of them. When he came home after serving 4 years in the European WWII theater, he drank like a fish. If he didn’t come home with a black eye, blood stained shirt, or bruised knuckles, you would wonder what went wrong. Although his drug of choice was the bottom of a bottle, most veterans of the last world war were not so lucky. Just like the Vietnam war that preceded WWII about 20% of all servicemen were addicted to narcotics even after coming state side. Most not by choice.

There are a few reasons why they became addicted. The main reason was medical resources, or lack their of. Soldiers who were injured and required relief for their wounds, were given morphine, meth, and other opiates. Soldiers who were on a pain management regiment once healed, were not weened off the drugs. Most were sent home or back to the front lines as addicts.

Drug use in World War II is easily the most institutionalized in recorded history. This was especially true for German military. The drug of choice for the German army was a methamphetamine designed to keep soldiers alert and functional for several hours/days. 35 million tablets of methamphetamine were shipped to the army and air force between just April and July 1940 alone. These meth-amphetamines were later banned in 1941 under the Opium Law but despite the ban a shipment of over 10 million tablets was sent to soldiers later that year.

The use of alcohol was also encouraged by the military. Alcohol became a crutch for many of the men serving at the time. This prevalent and habitual use of alcohol led to many otherwise preventable deaths and injuries. Production of bootlegged alcohol became a serious issue as many producers didn’t know the difference between consumable alcohol and methyl alcohol. Men who consumed spirits made with methyl alcohol became blind or succumbed to fatal alcohol poisoning.

Soldiers who experienced intense battle, became addicted to the acute adrenalin rush they would get in the heat of war battles. So once they returned to their lives stateside, it was pretty boring, and they craved that same rush. As a result vets who returned home without a drug addiction often resorted to street drugs to satisfy their need for a high.  Most users were closet users. Most men with addictions you would not know had one. This is because the drug of their choice would bring them to a mental level of which would allow them to act their normal selves. It would be the withdrawal of the drug that would change their personality. Much like during Frank Sinatra’s character’s episode of withdrawal where he told his girlfriend who he loved that he would kill her if she didn’t allow him to exit the room she kept him in to ride out his withdrawal symptoms.

If you have not seen this movie, it is a must see! Even though it is 57 years old it still addresses a situation that is still very real and large part of our civilization today.It is one of my favorite movies starring Sinatra. I believe that this was his best film. So please watch it and send me a comment and let me know what you think.

If you have an addiction to any substance or know someone who is and would like help, please go to www.drugabuse.gov   or www.drugabusehelp.com They have a number of resources and guides to help in your local area. Someone is there to help. Don’t try to take it on by yourself. You are not alone.

Thanks for reading,

A day of which will live in infamy

Since December 1st, I have been showcasing articles related to Pearl Harbor and WWII. Six articles of courage, honor, bravery, and historical information. If you haven’t had the chance to read these wonderful articles collected from various news websites from across the United States, here is a list of the articles showcased:

(click on the link to view the article)

1. (Posted on December 1st 2011) Titled “December 1941: The December to Remember”

2. (Posted on December 2nd 2011) Titled “The December to Remember: Last of the Wind Talkers”

3. (Posted on December 3rd 2011) Titled “The December to Remember: WWII Vet To Be Buried With Full Military Honors 67 Years After Death”

4. (Posted on December 4th 2011) Titled “The December to Remember: Pearl Harbor radar men are reunited in Allentown”

5. (Posted on December 5th 2011) Titled “The December to Remember: Ancestry.com allows users to search Military Records for free Until December 7th”

6. (Posted on December 6th 2011) Titled “The December to Remember: WWII veteran receives nation’s top civilian honor”

Now for today’s post. I wish I could have had the chance to go to Hawaii and be a part of the special memorial planned for today. I have read so many wonderful articles about veterans that are still with us that recall the events from that fateful day. I wanted to write something that would memorialize today. But in all honesty, what could I say. I wish I could have had the honor of interviewing a veteran who witnessed the attack. So instead I looked online for a few articles to only come across this wonderful group of first accounts to assist in the nationwide tribute.

This article is from the San Jose Mercury News:

From Dec. 7, 1941 until long after VJ Day and the end of World War II, Americans referred to the Japanese strike against Pearl Harbor as a “sneak attack.” In his declaration of war before a joint session of Congress the next day, President Franklin Roosevelt captured the nation’s shock and fury, promising it would be “a date which will live in infamy.”

But on this 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day, with old war wounds healed and racial sensitivities heightened, the phrase used more often to describe that day is “surprise attack.” For most Americans, the “infamy” of Dec. 7, 1941 has receded since Sept. 11, 2001.

The survivors of those doomed ships — many from the Bay Area — are mostly hard of hearing now, but the buzz and the boom of the bombs from that day still ring in the ears of John Tait of Concord, Ed Silveira of Hayward and Dempson Arellano of Antioch. Gordon Van Hauser, who lived in San Carlos until his death in 2008, often spoke of his service not in terms of fighting for his own life, but for the life of his country.

Readying for war

The Great Depression had dragged on for more than a decade by the time Tait went to the Navy’s Oakland recruiting office in 1940 and enlisted. “Times were hard, and civilian life was not working for me,” Tait says, sitting at his kitchen table in Concord, where he and his wife, Marge, settled after his 22 years in the Navy ended. The war in Europe had begun, and an appetite for more of it was in the air every time Tait’s father switched on his ham radio.

“We didn’t think they were good sailors, or that they had good ships,” said Tait, now 91 beetling his busy white eyebrows as he talked about the Japanese. “Well, they turned out to be good seamen with good ships.” During his final three years in the Navy, Tait was posted in Japan, where he and Marge taught English to Japanese self-defense forces. His students were often startled to learn where he had been on the first day of the war.

Aboard the USS Arizona

Today the ghost ship USS Arizona sits at the bottom of Pearl Harbor, the 1,102 sailors who perished seven decades ago entombed there for all time. On the evening of Dec. 6, 1941, a young Marine, Gordon Van Hauser took a liberty boat from his barracks to the Arizona, to have dinner with two friends from boot camp.

After chow Van Hauser and his buddies joined other sailors on the ship’s fantail to watch a movie, which Van Hauser disliked so much he took a boat back to the base that night.

A lazy Sunday morning

Van Hauser was about to go on duty the next day, Dec. 7, when low-flying Japanese torpedo bombers — headed for Battleship Row and the Arizona — appeared out of a clear Hawaiian sky, rattling the Marines’ rooftops and strafing the parade ground. “I took my rifle, which was a 1903 model Springfield, and we were firing .30-caliber ammunition…as the Japanese torpedo bombers came in,” Van Hauser said in a video his son recorded before his death. Firing single-shot, bolt-action rifles scarcely better than muskets, he and about 800 other Marines brought down two or three Japanese zeroes, Van Hauser recalled, and watched them burst into flames.

First licks

Even as an 86-pound boy growing up in Hayward, Silveira could raise a 100-pound feed sack over his head. He recalls this with overweening pride at 89, inviting anyone who questions his strength to punch him in the stomach. “I was a rowdy kid, no question,” Silveira says. “I fought at the drop of a hat. Size meant nothing to me. It’s the one who gets in the first hit.”

Aboard the USS West Virginia

Dempson Arellano had just suggested to his friend Gleason that they visit their girlfriends in Honolulu, when somebody burst through the door and shouted, “The Japanese hit!” Arellano had the jumper he wore on liberty pulled halfway over his head when he felt the battleship shake violently. “I finally got my head out of the blouse and said, ‘What the hell was that?'”

Just then, a second torpedo struck the ship, peeling open a hole in the hull. As brown water came rushing down the passageway, Arellano said, “Gleason, let’s get the hell out of here.” When they reached the deck, a Japanese plane was spraying the deck with machine gun fire. “We had just brought potatoes aboard and there was a stack about 8 or 10 feet tall,” says Arellano, who now lives at the Antioch Care Home, “so we ducked behind that and the Japanese plane strafed all those potatoes.”

Aboard the USS San Francisco

For three months, Ed Silveira did nothing but peel potatoes. “On Dec. 7, I was mess cooking on the second deck. On Saturdays and Sundays, you rack out, you don’t do nothing. At about five minutes to 8, I’m looking up and seeing all these airplanes. I thought they were our people practicing. They were just peppering the bay. And I was thinking, ‘Gee, what a good mock battle this is!’ About that time, I saw a plane hit the West Virginia with a torpedo bomb, and I realize this ain’t no drill.”

Aboard the USS Arizona

At 8:06 a.m. — 12 hours after Van Hauser made the fateful choice not to stay with his friends on the ship — they were dead. A 1,760-pound armor-piercing bomb flew into the Arizona’s ammunition magazine, igniting a fire so hellish it would burn for two days.

Aboard the USS West Virginia

Arellano had just started to heave himself up onto his assigned gun turret when another seaman stepped on top of his head. “It seemed like he was in a hurry to get out of there,” Arellano recalls. The sailor had just seen a bomb whistle past him, drop through the turret, and descend into the depths of the ship. Arellano found out a year later that the bomb had landed in the powder handling room, but failed to explode.

The Japanese had built a limited number of armor-piercing bombs, and the West Virginia took two of them. One disemboweled Captain Mervyn S. Bennion. “He didn’t die right away,” Arellano says, his eyes glistening. “He managed to man the loudspeaker and he said, ‘All hands, abandon ship. God bless you.'”

The West Virginia was sinking. But to prevent it from rolling over on its side as the Oklahoma had done just a few berths away, a damage control team dived into the oily water — which was on fire — and blew the ballast tanks, causing the ship to right itself before settling to the bottom. “The ship was sinking right under me,” says Arellano, who scrambled off the ship just as the second wave of Japanese bombers arrived with their deadly cargo.

Aboard the USS Tennessee

Almost as soon as he stepped onto the Tennessee, Arellano was handed a fire hose and ordered to fight a major fire on the fantail. He attacked the the fire until his breathing apparatus ran out of oxygen and he passed out. “The next thing I knew, I was looking up at the sky up on deck,” he says.

The Arizona lay in front of him. “Even on the Tennessee, there were guys with flash burns from when the Arizona blew up,” he says. “It actually cooked their eyeballs. Some of them were running blind on the deck of the Tennessee. Their flesh was hanging down off their face, and their eyeballs were burned out. A lot of them just ran a few feet and collapsed. That’s what I remember more clearly than anything.”

Aboard the USS St. Louis

By 9:30 a.m., Tait heard the command to cast off lines. The St. Louis was going to make a desperate escape through the south channel, where the sinking USS Nevada might block other ships from getting out.

The speed limit through the channel was 5 knots. “By the time we got to the mouth of the channel, we were doing 28 knots,” Tait says. The ship’s anti-aircraft guns would bring down three planes, but the light cruiser’s troubles weren’t over as it neared open waters.

“There was a two-man submarine waiting for us,” Tait says. “They fired two torpedoes at us, but the torpedoes hit a reef and exploded.” which led to the ship being dubbed the “Lucky Lou.” Tait’s crew spent Christmas at Pearl that year, and on the menu for the ship’s dinner, Capt. George Rood congratulated his men.

“The good ship has had her first test…and came through with flying colors,” he wrote. “Every officer and man took his station at once and the whole ship functioned as smoothly as though it were a drill. We…know now what we can do, and nothing can bother us in the future.”

_______________________

So that concludes the chilling but memorializing stories from first hand witnesses. Thank you to all who have served both past and present and please know that I personally appreciated what you have sacrificed for our country. We as a nation thankfully honor those who lost their lives that day. But it was the soldiers that came after them that served in WWII that secured the world’s future, which is today. If Hitler had taken over all of the countries that he had planned, the world would be a completely different place. For those who perished during the Pearl Harbor attack and or WWII, may you Rest in Peace. “Stand and ease men, you’ve done your duty well”. With this being said, I salute you just like many of our service men and women will be doing today December 7th, the 70th Anniversary of your ascent to the sky’s above.

Thanks for reading,

Published in: on December 7, 2011 at 3:43 AM  Comments (1)  
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The December to Remember: WWII veteran receives nation’s top civilian honor

Credit: Napa Valley Register

As I mentioned in the post published on December 1st, I will be posting articles that are related to WWII and or Pearl Harbor that are of current events. Today’s news article is one that I found on napavalleyregister.comwhich is a local news paper from Napa, California. I actually watched a segment on my local news TV channel about this gentleman. His story is one of intrigue and courage. But first here is a little background on how the Japanese American Citizens were treated shortly after the Pearl Harbor attack.

Being a Japanese American shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, was not easy. They were treated as possible threats to National Security. Many Japanese Americans were treated unfairly as the non-Asian citizens did not trust anyone resembling Japanese descent. The country went into a sort of campaign to motivate the young and eager willing male public 16-24 years of age to join in to fight the Japanese to obtain Justice against the attack on Pearl Harbor. Some citizens took the distrust too far by hanging racist signs and writing horrible messages on or near the Japanese American houses and businesses such as these:

Racist Sign hung in San Francisco Advertising the Sutro Baths

A Japanese family returns home to find their garage vandalized with graffiti and broken windows in Seattle, on May 10, 1945. AP Photo

We had Japanese Internment camps right here in California. Japanese-American internment was the relocation and internment by the United States government in 1942 of approximately 110,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese who lived along the Pacific coast of the United States to camps called “War Relocation Camps,” in the wake of Imperial Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. The internment of Japanese Americans was applied unequally throughout the United States. Japanese Americans who lived on the West Coast of the United States were all interned, while in Hawaii, where more than 150,000 Japanese Americans composed over one-third of the territory’s population, 1,200 to 1,800 Japanese Americans were interned. Of those interned, 62% were American citizens.

Japanese Internment Camp in California

So now you may know why this article is so significant. Now without further adieu here is the News article.

credit:Napa Valley Register

Takuma Tanada, a 92-year-old resident of west Napa, makes no claims for heroic service in World War II in the fight against Japan. “Others are the real heroes,” he said.

While vast numbers of American soldiers, sailors and pilot lost their lives or endured miserable conditions in the Pacific, Tanada was on General Douglas MacArthur’s staff as an agricultural advisor in the Military Intelligence Service.

Yet his contribution was not without significance. When the war ended and American forces ran Japan, Tanada said he was in charge of the importation and manufacture of fertilizer. This humanitarian effort, combined with American food aid, prevented millions of Japanese from starving to death after the war, he said.

Credit: Napa Valley Register

Three weeks ago, Tanada stood before the top leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate in Washington, D.C. to accept the Congressional Gold Medal for his war service.

The medal — one of the two highest civilian awards in the United States — went to Tanada and 99 other WWII veterans not only for their individual actions during the war, but to recognize the patriotism of Japanese Americans at a time of rabid prejudice at home.

The Congressional Gold Medal is part of America’s ongoing effort to atone for injustices done to Japanese Americans during WWII, said Tanada, who professes to holding no personal bitterness.

At the time of the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, Tanada, the son of Japanese who immigrated to Hawaii two decades earlier, was a biology student at the University of Hawaii.

Pearl Harbor triggered a wave of public hostility against Japanese Americans whose loyalty to America was questioned, Tanada said. “We were considered spies, a Fifth Column and so forth,” he said in an interview.

On the West Coast, the U.S. government rounded up more than 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry, including entire families, after Pearl Harbor and moved them to guarded camps.

In Hawaii, Japanese Americans, who constituted a much higher percentage of the population, were not sent to internment camps. “The authorities in Hawaii recognized our loyalty,” Tanada said.

Tanada and his brother both volunteered for the Army. His brother, Shigeo Tanada, was accepted and fought against Germany in an all-Japanese American unit that was highly decorated after the war.

Tanada said he was first rejected by the military, then drafted later. Because of his ethnicity and bilingual capabilities, he was assigned to the Military Intelligence Service where 5,000 Japanese Americans did top-secret work translating Japanese communications. He reached the rank of technical sergeant.

Credit: Napa Valley Register

Holding a master’s in biology, Tanada was assigned to MacArthur’s staff to work on agriculture and food issues.

Presiding over the award ceremony in the Capitol on Nov. 2 were Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader; Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader; House Speaker John Boehner and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.

“He was all smiles. I think this energized him,” said Juliet Tanada, his daughter who is a retired Army lieutenant colonel.

Given all that happened to Japanese Americans during World War II, “this is a kind of closure,” she said.

Tanada’s son-in-law, David Vesely, a retired Army colonel, said the Congressional medal should help to heal old wounds. “I hope when he goes to his grave,” he said of his father-in-law, “he feels there is atonement for what the government did.”

While pleased with the Congressional Gold Medal, Tanada downplays his service. “I never experienced hardship, mentally or physically. It was an easy job for me,” he said.

Japan’s decision to attack the U.S. at Pearl Harbor was a “very stupid” move, Tanada said. Japan is lucky it lost the war, he said.

“It turned out better for them,” he said. Under American leadership and with American aid, Japan was able to create a more civil society and lay the groundwork for future economic prosperity, he said.

Tanada went on to have a distinguished career as a plant researcher for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He was “rumored” to have been nominated for the Nobel Prize, but nothing came of it, he said.

Anyone who searches the Internet for “Tanada effect” will find  entries about an electrical plant phenomenon named for Tanada, the discoverer.

Tanada and his wife moved to Napa 28 years ago to retire near their daughter, Juliet Tanada, who was then teaching optometry at Berkeley.

Widowed in 1986, he tends a one-acre garden in Browns Valley where he grows fruits and vegetables and wages war against marauding deer.

“I like the climate,” he said. “Napa has a small-town atmosphere, which appeals to me. I don’t like big cities. It was the perfect place for me to settle.”

The human rights group Stop Islamization of America (SIOA) hosts a rally at Ground Zero to protest the construction of a mosque at the site of the Islamic terror attack that brought down the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001.

America is more tolerant of minorities today than it was in the 1940s, Tanada said. While there was some backlash against American Muslims after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, it was nothing like what happened to Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor, he said.

“I think we are much more open-minded than before,” he said.

You can visit the website by visiting: WWII Veteran Receives Nation’s top civilian Honor

I hope you enjoyed this article. If you know someone of Japanese ethnicity that lived in the United States during WWII, ask them about what it was like to live in a Nation that at first had promise of a better life but then as soon as Pearl Harbor was attacked became a Nation of stripping civil rights from anyone who was Japanese. Even though you were born in the US, you were still Japanese and considered a threat. Times have thankfully changed.

Thanks for reading,

Published in: on December 6, 2011 at 2:15 AM  Comments (1)  
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The December to Remember: Pearl Harbor radar men are reunited in Allentown

This is the 4th installment of articles regarding current events that are related to WWII or Pearl Harbor. Today’s article came from a Philadelphia local news paper called “The Morning Call”  Here is the wonderful article:

Army Signal Corps veterans (from left) Joe Lockard, Bob McKenney and Dick Schimmel meet on Nov. 1, 2011, at Phoebe Home in Allentown, where McKenney lives. The radar men served on Oahu, Hawaii, during the Pearl Harbor attack. (HARRY FISHER, THE MORNING CALL / November 7, 2011)

The three old Army buddies faced one another for the first time in 70 years, united by their experience in America’s darkest hour of the 20th century. One of them reflected on the time gone by since their early days in uniform.

“I’ll tell you how it is with me,” said 89-year-old Joe Lockard, a newsboy cap on his head and a cane by his side. “This is a little poem I wrote:

“I look in the mirror and what do I see? Some old man looking back at me.”

“Yeah!” 89-year-old Dick Schimmel broke in, instantly identifying with the rhyme.

“You’re a poet and don’t know it,” quipped Bob McKenney, 90 years old and in a wheelchair.

Boyish grins spread across their wrinkled faces. Their sense of camaraderie had not diminished since the day they saw smoke over Pearl Harbor.

Seven decades ago, the three called Pennsylvania their home. They had joined the Army during the Great Depression to seek adventure. Shipped out to Hawaii, they met while serving in a unit newly formed to use radar as a defense against hostile aircraft.


“I don’t think anybody realized the Japanese would attack Pearl Harbor,” said Lockard, whose name would be etched in history for what he did that day. “They were looking for them to attack the Philippines, or somewhere like that, closer to Japan.”

“The week before,” Schimmel said in a 2007 interview, “we were on the alert. We didn’t know where the hell the Japanese navy was. All of a sudden, bingo, the alert’s off.”

The next day, Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked.

McKenney’s memory is poor now, but he has said that even the aftermath was scary.

“We were expecting a landing,” he said in a 1991 interview, “and if they did land it would be pretty tough because we were not in a state of readiness.”

Lockard and Schimmel visited McKenney at Phoebe Home in Allentown last month, a reunion arranged by The Morning Call to mark the 70th anniversary of the event that thrust America into World War II.

In their youth, on the eve of disaster, they belonged to the Signal Corps Aircraft Warning Service on Oahu. Pvts. Joseph Lockard and Robert McKenney worked at the Opana mobile radar station on the northern tip of the island. Opana had gotten a radar set Thanksgiving Day 1941. Its operators could look out over the Pacific from a height of more than 500 feet.

Pfc. Richard Schimmel was about 30 miles south at Fort Shafter, which lay east of Pearl Harbor and had an information center linking the five radar sites across the island. The 19-year-old from Allentown helped build the center and worked there as a plotter and switchboard operator.

Lockard, also 19, grew up in Williamsport and had been drawn to the service by a hometown soldier’s exotic tales of the Philippines. Heading there by ship in 1940, Lockard got fed up with peeling potatoes, duty he had as one of the few passengers who didn’t get seasick. So, when the ship docked at Oahu and Signal Corps officers came aboard recruiting volunteers for the radar unit — Signal Company, Aircraft Warning, Hawaii — he signed up.

McKenney, 20, came from Philadelphia and was fond of joking and horsing around. He earlier served in the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Merchant Marine, and had made a hobby of electronics, the reason he joined the Signal Corps.

The remote Opana site had no quarters, so the soldiers who manned it camped several miles away at Kawailoa. On Saturday, Dec. 6, they got a call to operate the radar set early the next morning.

“Joe Lockard and I were the only experienced so-called crew chiefs there,” McKenney said in a 1991 video interview with the National Park Service. “I tossed a coin to see who would draw that duty, to be there to operate from 4-7 a.m …. I tossed with Lockard and he lost, so he got the job.”

Lockard and Pvt. George Elliott rode a truck to Opana that Saturday afternoon. Elliott had been with the company only two weeks and didn’t know how to use the oscilloscope, but he could plot.

“We spent the night at the site and turned on the equipment and were on line and in contact with the information center at 4 a.m.,” Lockard said. “George was at the plotting table; I was the operator at the scope.

“After the exercise, we didn’t shut down the unit at 7 a.m. because we didn’t have any transportation back to Kawailoa. The truck hadn’t arrived. So I decided to give George some training.

“I started to put him in front of the scope and there it was — this huge echo on the screen. I had never seen any kind of response on the equipment that was so large.

“At first I thought there might have been some glitch with the equipment. So I checked everything I could and everything operated OK, so it had to be real. There had to be something out there.”

The blip was 136 miles out and closing fast. It was 7:02 a.m.

Elliott tried to call the information center but couldn’t raise anyone on the plotters line because the plotters had all gone to breakfast at 7. He used the administrative line to call the switchboard, and Pvt. Joseph McDonald answered. McDonald, from Archbald, Lackawanna County, near Scranton, and Lockard were friends.

“Joe told us that everyone had left the building,” Lockard said. “We asked him to look around and see if he could find anybody, and he did. He found a young Air Corps lieutenant, Kermit Tyler, and brought him to the phone.

“I talked to Kermit Tyler and tried to convey my excitement at the fact that we had never seen anything like this on radar, and that it obviously had to be planes. … I didn’t have any idea how many. I pushed it as far as I could, but you can only argue with an officer so long.

“He just said, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ ”

Tyler believed the blip was B-17 bombers due in from the mainland.

“We continued to plot it all the way in to within about 20 miles of our station, where we lost the echoes in the interference we had in the terrain [at 7:39 a.m.],” Lockard said. “Then we closed down the unit and shortly thereafter the truck came and we started down the highway to Kawailoa.”

Back at Fort Shafter, McDonald left the information center and entered the tent he shared with the man he had relieved from duty the evening before — Schimmel. Feeling uneasy, McDonald woke his buddy. It was about 7:45 a.m.

“Hey Shim, the Japs are coming,” he said.

“I said, ‘What do you mean?’ And he started telling me about the information he got from Lockard about the radar,” Schimmel said. “We were sitting there talking for a while and all of a sudden we heard BOOM!

“Here we thought the Navy was having a sham battle. Where we were situated, on a high plateau, we could look over and see Pearl Harbor. We ran out of the tent. We’d see a plane dive, hear an explosion and see smoke. Somebody came and said they heard on the radio that Pearl Harbor was being attacked and it might be Japanese planes.”

Schimmel and McDonald got up on the mess hall roof for a better view. When antiaircraft guns opened up behind them, they ran back to their tent, got their .45s and gas masks and hurried to the information center to man the switchboard and plotting board.

At Kawailoa, McKenney and a few other radar men had put on their dress uniforms to attend Mass and were waiting for a ride when “hell broke loose,” McKenney said in 1991. “We threw a lot of stuff on the truck and went up to where Lockard was.”

The truck carrying Lockard and Elliott back to camp passed the one taking McKenney the opposite direction, to Opana.

“They were waving and shouting at us,” Lockard said, “but we couldn’t understand what they were saying. Along the way, we knew something was happening because we could see these huge billows of black smoke in the direction of the harbor.

“When we got to Kawailoa, they told us that we had been attacked. We knew immediately that what we had seen were those planes. [A lieutenant] was standing there, and we told him about it.

“Very quickly we went back up to Opana, and we stayed up there. … We now operated the radar around the clock. Two machine-gun positions were installed in defense of the radar and we continued to survey the ocean north of Oahu. We expected an invasion. None happened.”

After Pearl Harbor, Lockard, McKenney and Schimmel took separate paths.

Lockard was promoted to staff sergeant, awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and early in 1942 sent to Fort Monmouth, N.J., to attend Officer Candidate School. He was home long enough to marry the girl he rode on a seesaw with in a Williamsport park when they were both about 14.

“If you ever meet the right girl,” he wrote to McKenney, “don’t hesitate or think about it — you might lose her.”

As a second lieutenant, Lockard went to advanced radar school in Florida and then to Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. After the war, he worked for a railroad and then in the electronics industry, ultimately securing 40 patents. He testified in Pearl Harbor inquiries and was portrayed in the 1970 film “Tora! Tora! Tora!”

He lives in Lower Paxton Township, Dauphin County, near Harrisburg, and has two sons and a daughter. His wife, Pauline, died in 2009.

McKenney went on to radar duty in the South Pacific, then returned to the States to become an officer. He spent the rest of the war at the Signal Corps Inspection Agency in Philadelphia, was discharged as a first lieutenant and served in the National Guard, retiring as a colonel.

He graduated from what is now Delaware Valley College and worked for Philadelphia Electric Co. in Bucks County. In 1969, he moved from Central Bucks to Lynn Township, where he owned and ran the landmark Stines Corner Hotel for 25 years with his wife, Aileen, and their seven children. Aileen, a leader in the Lehigh Valley’s tourism industry, died in 1991.

Schimmel left Oahu to spend six months on Canton Island, near American Samoa, and returned to Hawaii. He became a staff sergeant and altogether spent 41/2 years overseas.

Back home in Allentown, he worked as a Sears appliance salesman. He has two sons. His wife, Yolanda, died last year.

Tyler, the lieutenant at the Fort Shafter information center, was not disciplined for disregarding Lockard’s report. But his role that day dogged him until his death last year at age 96.

“I wake up nights sometimes and think about it,” Tyler told the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., in 2007. “But I don’t feel guilty. I did all I could that morning.”

Elliott, Lockard’s partner at Opana, died in 2003.

McDonald died in 1994. He was long troubled that he hadn’t done more when the radar warning came in, said Schimmel, who stayed in touch with him. “He used to call me up a lot of times and say, ‘I should have gone over their heads.’ I told him he couldn’t do that.”

Lockard and Schimmel saw each other in June at the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum’s World War II Weekend near Reading. Lockard and McKenney traveled together to Hawaii in 1991 for the Pearl Harbor 50th anniversary. Schimmel was also there, but the three didn’t link up.

Asked if anything would have been different if the military authorities had heeded the radar warning, Schimmel said: “If [our] airplanes could have been sent up, we would have had more power in the air. … We still would have been attacked, and we would have been outnumbered, but I think we would have had a much better fight, and we would have saved a lot of ships.”

McKenney has said the outcome might have been different if the brass had fully embraced radar.

“There should have been serious attention from a level higher than ours into what the purpose of the equipment was. The essentials were there, [but] there was no commitment. It was just haphazard.”

According to Lockard, the damage the Japanese did might have been reduced.

“There’s no way you can fire up a battleship and get it out of the harbor in that short a time. But there would be the possibility of having more intense antiaircraft artillery firing at these attacking planes, which may have kept them farther away from the ships, [resulting in] less damage.”

During their afternoon together in Allentown, the three men remembered former comrades with names like Winterbottom, Upson, Hilton, Shoemaker. They spoke of places they had known on Oahu — Koko Head, Haleiwa, the Kolekole Pass, Schofield Barracks. They laughed about the enlisted man’s lot — pay that was so meager they couldn’t afford a taxi to Honolulu.

Lockard finished reciting his poem to Schimmel and McKenney.

Where is the youth that once was mine?

Deep on the inside lost in time.

Will I see him as before?

Quoth the mirror: Nevermore.

david.venditta@mcall.com

610-770-3784

Copyright © 2011, The Morning Call

I hope you enjoyed reading a first account of the attack on Pearl Harbor. I am so thankful that these gentlemen were able to do this interview as it is the only way that we can secure the actual facts from this sad event in history. Our history is slowly dying everyday. Every day we have veterans passing away and details and information that they can provide goes with them. This is why we need to ask and interview any veteran that is willing to speak about their tour of duty. Help preserve our national history and talk to a vet.

Thanks for reading,

Published in: on December 4, 2011 at 1:50 AM  Comments (1)  
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The December to Remember: WWII Vet To Be Buried With Full Military Honors 67 Years After Death

This is the third post that I have dedicated to all the veterans who served in WWII. As we approach December 7th I will be submitting articles that are of current events related to WWII and or Pearl Harbor. Today’s article is a great story of a veteran’s final mission, to be buried back in the states. He was laid to rest today, December 2, 2011.

I found this article at CBS4 Denver CO

Nearly 70 years after his death, the family of a World War II airman can finally give him the burial he deserves. The military’s DNA program recently identified the remains of staff sergeant John Bono. He disappeared after a mission over Germany. John was part of a crew aboard the Flying fortress B17G.  “There was a mission to bomb a synthetic oil complex over Masburg, Germany. What was to be his last mission,” said Virgil Urban, who is married to Bono’s niece, Mary Jo. Of the nine people on board, Bono was the only one who survived. “He always called me Jojo,” said Mary Jo. She was only 8 when Bono disappeared. “My grandmother, it ate her up because she always thought he’d come home and he didn’t,” said Mary Jo.

Virgil served in Korea. He never met Bono, but feels like he knew him. “I try and picture myself in that airplane at those last few minutes,” said Virgil. “How scared they were. It gets to me.” In 1991, a German was digging a grave in a cemetery when he found a set of dog tags. It took 17 years for the U.S. military to get permission to obtain the remains. Mary Jo found out that the remains of her uncle may have been found when she received a phone call asking for a sample of her DNA. “It was shocking. I really didn’t believe it,” said Mary Jo. “I thought, ‘Oh, this can’t be true. It just can’t.” After 67 years, Bono’s remains are home. Burial services are scheduled for Friday morning at Fort Logan National Cemetery. “The last piece of the puzzle to our family is now in place. Johnny is now home,” said Mary Jo. Bono’s wife passed away about 10 years ago. There are about 40 family members expected at the service. Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died. There are more than 73,000 unaccounted for.

A kind Vet commented on the website with this:

John Barnard

What was to be his last mission,” TRUER words- never spoken..Tears here.
To the family? I’m glad you can at least have some of that “closure” stuff.
“sergeant John Bono.” Thank you for your service..You’re a true member of
“America’s GREATEST” generation..You gave ALL..
Stand at ease sgt…You’ve served your time.
signed
A vet.

I happen to agree with him. Looking back in retrospect at the former generations, they undoubtedly are and forever will be known as “The Greatest Generation”.

John, thank you for your service, may you rest in peace.

Thanks for reading,

Published in: on December 3, 2011 at 12:00 AM  Leave a Comment  
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The December to Remember: Last of the Wind Talkers

So as I mentioned in my previous post published on December 1st, I will be posting articles that are related to WWII and or Pearl Harbor that are of current events. Our first article is one that I found on daily-times.com which is a local news paper from New Mexico.

There is a movie called “Wind Talkers” with Nicolas Cage. The storyline is about an American Marine named Joe Enders. Joe is a decorated Marine who is by-the-book to a fault, is just coming back on duty (by cheating on his medical tests). “Ox” Anderson, much greener, is also getting the same new task: Protect the Navajo codetalkers (Ben Yahzee and Charles Whitehorse, respectively). While Enders is initially frustrated with his assignment, his respect grows as the codetalkers prove their worth in the brutal battle to take Saipan. If you have not seen this movie, it is a MUST SEE!

Today’s article is about the last surviving member of the real Navajo Marines; Mr. Chester Nez.

Chester Nez, the only surviving member of the original 29 Navajo Marines who used their native language to devise an unbreakable code during World War II, will appear at the New Mexico Aztec Community/Senior Center on Wednesday, Dec. 7.

This is the first time Nez has visited the Four Corners area to present his story, and he is accompanied by Judith Avila, author of “Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir By One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WWII.”

The event is being sponsored by the Aztec Public Library and the New Mexico Endowment for Humanities. Nez grew up in New Mexico, and in the 1920s, along with many other Navajos, he attended a government-run boarding school which attempted to erase Indian culture and language. Nez later was recruited by the U.S. Marines to help devise a code using the same language the government earlier tried to force him to abandon.

Nez and his fellow Code Talkers faced many cultural challenges during the war, one of the most difficult being surrounded by so much death. Navajos believe that when a dead body is encountered, the dead person’s spirit stays with the living. Returning home after the war, Nez felt he was haunted by these ghosts until an “Enemy Way” cleansing ceremony freed him of the spirits.

Nez, 90, lives in Albuquerque with his son. Organizers of Wednesday’s event hope it will be a great educational opportunity for local students. Students from local schools and dormitories are being bused in, Aztec Library Director Sabrina Hood said. Veterans groups are also expected to attend. Ariana Young, Miss Indian Farmington and a student at Tibbetts Middle School, will be present, and the Aztec High School ROTC will present the colors. Avila will provide a Power Point presentation about Nez and the Code Talkers, and she will be available for questions and a book signing after the presentation. Aztec Library Program Coordinator Angela Watkins said the date for the event was chosen because the bombing of Pearl Harbor, which plunged the U.S. into World War II, occurred Dec. 7, 1941.

“December is also Native American Month, so this gives us a chance to pay homage to Native Americans who served in the war, as well as to all other veterans,” she said. Hood, who is Navajo, was particularly thrilled to find out that Nez was accompanying Avila. “I think this is such a great opportunity for our area, from both a historical and a cultural standpoint. Chester Nez is very passionate about working with youth, so as soon as he found out students were going to be coming, he agreed to come also,” she said. Like many Navajo elders, Nez fears the Navajo language is in danger of dying, and he wants to share his story so Navajo children can better understand how critical it is to learn and use their native language. “We’re expecting a huge turnout for the event,” said Watkins, adding that seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

The presentation starts at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 7. Doors will open at 6 p.m. for a flag ceremony and seating.

For more information, contact Angela Watkins at 505-334-7695, or email awatkins@aztecnm.gov.

Article written by Leigh Irvin.  lirvin@daily-times.com

Stay tuned, more articles to come.

Thanks for reading,

Published in: on December 2, 2011 at 1:00 AM  Comments (1)  
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December 1941: The December to Remember

As we are healing from the over eating and family bickering we enter into December. For myself and many others from my generation (Generation Y) born during the 1980’s, December represents the beginning of the Christmas season, countdown to Christmas gifts, and days off of school for Christmas vacation. But for a few generations before us December means so much more. For some it is a chilling reminder of the attack on Pearl Harbor Hawaii. The attack on Pearl Harbor Hawaii happened on December 7, 1941 in the early morning around 8:00AM. Sailors aboard the various ships docked in the harbor were waking and beginning to start their day in paradise. Their daily duties were abruptly disrupted by the sound of explosions and fire.

The attack was intended as a preventive action in order to keep the U.S. Pacific Fleet from interfering with military actions the Empire of Japan was planning in Southeast Asia against overseas territories of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the United States.

The base was attacked by 353 Japanese fighters, bombers and torpedo planes in two waves, launched from six aircraft carriers. All eight U.S. Navy battleships were damaged, with four being sunk. All but two of the eight were raised, repaired and returned to service later in the war. The Japanese also sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, an anti-aircraft training ship, and one minelayer. 188 U.S. aircraft were destroyed; 2,402 Americans were killed and 1,282 wounded. The power station, shipyard, maintenance, and fuel and torpedo storage facilities, as well as the submarine piers and headquarters building (also home of the intelligence section) were not attacked. Japanese losses were light: 29 aircraft and five midget submarines lost, and 65 servicemen killed or wounded. One Japanese sailor was captured.

The attack came as a profound shock to the American people and led directly to the American entry into World War II in both the Pacific and European theaters. The following day (December 8 ) the United States declared war on Japan.

In the wake of the attack, 15 Medals of Honor, 51 Navy Crosses, 53 Silver Stars, four Navy and Marine Corps Medals, one Distinguished Flying Cross, four Distinguished Service Crosses, one Distinguished Service Medal, and three Bronze Stars were awarded to the American servicemen who distinguished themselves in combat at Pearl Harbor. Additionally, a special military award, the Pearl Harbor Commemorative Medal, was later authorized for all military veterans of the attack.

The day after the attack, Roosevelt delivered his famous Infamy Speech to a Joint Session of Congress, calling for a formal declaration of war on the Empire of Japan. Congress obliged his request less than an hour later. On December 11 Germany and Italy, honoring their commitments under the Tripartite Pact, declared war on the United States. The Tripartite Pact was an earlier agreement between Germany, Italy and Japan which had the principal objective of limiting U.S. intervention in any conflicts involving the three nations. The United States Congress issued a declaration of war against Germany and Italy later that same day. Britain actually declared war on Japan nine hours before the US did, partially due to Japanese attacks on Malaya, Singapore and Hong Kong, and partially due to Winston Churchill’s promise to declare war “within the hour” of a Japanese attack on the United States.

The attack was an initial shock to all the Allies in the Pacific Theater. Further losses compounded the alarming setback. Japan attacked the Philippines hours later (because of the time difference, it was December 8 in the Philippines). Only three days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Prince of Wales and Repulse were sunk off the coast of Malaya, causing British Prime Minister Winston Churchill later to recollect “In all the war I never received a more direct shock. As I turned and twisted in bed the full horror of the news sank in upon me. There were no British or American capital ships in the Indian Ocean or the Pacific except the American survivors of Pearl Harbor who were hastening back to California. Over this vast expanse of waters Japan was supreme and we everywhere were weak and naked”.

Throughout the war, Pearl Harbor was frequently used in American propaganda.

One further consequence of the attacks on Pearl Harbor and its aftermath (notably the Niihau Incident) was that Japanese American residents and citizens were relocated to nearby Japanese-American internment camps. Within hours of the attack, hundreds of Japanese American leaders were rounded up and brought to high-security camps such as Sand Island at the mouth of Honolulu harbor and Kilauea Military Camp on the island of Hawaii. Later, over 110,000 Japanese Americans, including United States citizens, were removed from their homes and transferred to internment camps in California, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado, and Arkansas. The Japanese planners had determined that some means of rescuing fliers whose aircraft were too badly damaged to return to the carriers was required. The island of Niihau, only 30 minutes flying time from Pearl Harbor, was designated as the rescue point.

The Zero flown by Petty Officer Saikaijo of Hiryu was damaged in the attack on Wheeler, and he flew to the rescue point on Niihau. The aircraft was further damaged on landing, and Saikaijo was helped from the wreckage by one of the native Hawaiian inhabitants. The island’s residents had no telephones or radio and were completely unaware of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The pilot’s maps and other documents had been retained by his local rescuers, and when Saikaijo realized this he enlisted the support of the only two Japanese residents of the island in an attempt to recover them. During the ensuing struggles, Saikaijo was killed, one of the Japanese residents committed suicide and the other disappeared.

The ease with which the local Japanese residents apparently went to the assistance of Saikaijo was a source of concern for many, and tended to support those who believed that local Japanese could not be trusted.


Today, the USS Arizona Memorial on the island of Oahu honors the lives lost on the day of the attack. Visitors to the memorial access it via boats from the naval base at Pearl Harbor. Alfred Preis is the architect responsible for the memorial’s design. The structure has a sagging center and its ends strong and vigorous. It commemorates “initial defeat and ultimate victory” of all lives lost on December 7, 1941. Although December 7 is known as Pearl Harbor Day, it is not considered a federal holiday in the United States. The nation does however, continue to pay homage remembering the thousands injured and killed when attacked by the Japanese in 1941. Schools and other establishments across the country respectfully lower the American flag to half-staff.

Pearl Harbor was that generations 9/11. We look at 9/11 in the same way that the Americans of that era looked at Pearl Harbor. I am a huge history buff, and I can swear that I am reincarnated from someone who lived during the 30’s, 40’s, or 50’s. So on every December 7th I  will always remember and honor those who lost their lives during the attack on Pearl Harbor. I have been on the USS Arizona’s monument and that visit only solidified my overwhelming feelings towards the sad event in history. Aboard the monument it is deafening quiet. It is so amazingly quiet that it feels like another world. You are overcome with such a feeling of loss partly because the of the large list of names chiseled into the marble wall as well as the fact that there still are the remains of sailors locked inside the vessel. It is speculated that the small oily substance seeping from the wreckage is the remains of the sailors who were untimely entombed inside the Arizona during that fateful day.

As we enter December and head towards the day that will live in infamy, I have stories and articles of current events that are related to WWII and the Attack on Pearl Harbor. So as we learn together how WWII and Pearl Harbor is still affecting and touching aspects of our time, please help us keep the memory alive by doing a little research of your own to learn something new about that fateful day. Stay tuned as more articles are to come leading up to December 7th, 70 years after December 1941, The December to Remember.

Thanks for reading,

Published in: on December 1, 2011 at 3:11 AM  Comments (3)  
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Living in the past: Thanksgiving tradition

We always hear the phrase “Oh, stop living in the past” of which usually is steered towards the fact that someone can not let go of a certain issue or incident. Typically the use of that phrase and the idea of living in the past is associated with a negativity. Many “retro-ist’s” and myself live in the past in a lifestyle sense. My dream has always been to live in a 1950’s house, with an interior stuck in time, and a 50’s or 40’s vintage car leaking oil in the garage. I have a good start on that dream. I live in a house built in 1951, and I have my 1955 Chrysler parked in the garage.

So when I think of why I desire these things and I believe that it is because I was surrounded by family that lived during those times. One of those influential family members was my grand mother on my mom’s side. She started me on some of my favorite traditions.  One of those traditions from my childhood of which is a tradition for many other families throughout the United States, is to watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade.We would eat freshly baked Cinnamon rolls and watch the wonderful parade. If you don’t know much about the parade, here is a little history about the wonderful New York tradition.

Felix the cat in 1927

In the 1920s, many of Macy’s department store employees were first-generation immigrants. Proud of their new American heritage, they wanted to celebrate the United States parade of Thanksgiving with the type of festival their parents had loved in Europe.

In 1920, the isex parade (originally known as the Macy’s Christmas Parade and later the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Christmas Parade was staged by the store. Employees and professional entertainers marched from 145th Street in Harlem to Macy’s flagship store on 34th Street dressed in vibrant costumes.There were floats, professional bands and live animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo. At the end of that first parade, as has been the case with every parade since, Santa Claus was welcomed into Herald Square. At this first parade, however, the Jolly Old Elf was enthroned on the Macy’s balcony at the 34th Street store entrance, where he was then “crowned” “King of the Kiddies.” With an audience of over a quarter of a million people, the parade was such a success that Macy’s declared it would become an annual event.

Large animal-shaped balloons, produced by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in Akron, Ohio, replaced the live animals in 1927 when the Felix the Cat balloon made its debut. Felix was filled with air, but by the next year, helium was used to fill the expanding cast of balloons.

At the finale of the 1928 parade, the balloons were released into the sky where they unexpectedly burst. The following year they were redesigned with safety valves to allow them to float for a few days. Address labels were sewn into them, so that whoever found and mailed back the discarded balloon received a gift from Macy’s.

Through the 1930s, the Parade continued to grow, with crowds of over 1 million lining the parade route in 1933. The first Mickey Mouse balloon entered the parade in 1934. The annual festivities were broadcast on local New York radio from 1932 through 1941, and resumed in 1945 through 1951.

The parade was suspended 1942–1944 during World War II, owing to the need for rubber and helium in the war effort. The parade resumed in 1945 using the route that it followed until 2008. The parade became a permanent part of American culture after being prominently featured in the 1947 film, Miracle on 34th Street, which shows actual footage of the 1946 festivities. The event was first broadcast on network television in 1948 (see below). By this point the event, and Macy’s sponsorship of it, were sufficiently well-known to give rise to the colloquialism “Macy’s Day Parade”.

Since 1984, the balloons have been made by Raven Industries of Sioux Falls, SD.

Macy’s also sponsors the smaller Celebrate the Season Parade in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, held two days after the main event. Other cities in the US also have parades on Thanksgiving, but they are not run by Macy’s. The nation’s oldest Thanksgiving parade (the Gimbels parade, now known as 6abc-IKEA) was first held in Philadelphia in 1920. Other cities include the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade of Chicago, Illinois and parades in Plymouth, Massachusetts; Seattle, Washington; Houston, Texas; Detroit, Michigan; and Fountain Hills, Arizona. A parade is also held at the two U.S. Disney theme parks.

New safety measures were incorporated in 2006 to prevent accidents and balloon related injuries. One measure taken was installation of wind measurement devices to alert parade organizers to any unsafe conditions that could cause the balloons to behave erratically. Also, parade officials implemented a measure to keep the balloons closer to the ground during windy conditions. If wind speeds are forecast to be higher than 34 miles per hour, all balloons are removed from the parade.

Balloon Premiers:

2011: Sonic the Hedgehog (2nd Version), Julius (Paul Frank), Tim Burton’s “B”
2010: Greg Heffley, Po from Kung Fu Panda, Virginia O’Hanlon
2009: Pillsbury Doughboy, Sailor Mickey Mouse (4th version), Ronald McDonald (3rd version), Spider-Man (2nd version)
2008: Horton the Elephant, Buzz Lightyear, Smurf
2007: Shrek, Hello Kitty, Abby Cadabby
2006: Pikachu with Poké Ball (2nd version), Energizer Bunny, Flying Ace Snoopy (6th version)
2005: Dora the Explorer, Scooby-Doo, Healthy Mr. Potato Head, JoJo
2004: SpongeBob SquarePants (character), M&M’s, Chicken Little
2003: (Strike up the Band)Barney (2nd version), Super Grover, Garfield (2nd version)
2002: Kermit the Frog (2nd version), Little Bill, Rich Uncle Pennybags, Charlie Brown
2001: Curious George, Big Bird (2nd version), Jimmy Neutron, Pikachu, Cheesasaurus Rex,
2000: Bandleader Mickey Mouse (3rd version), Ronald McDonald (2nd version), Jeeves, Cassie Dragon Tales
1999: Millennium Snoopy (5th version), Honey Nut Cheerios Bee, Blue’s Clues, Petulia Pig
1998: Babe the Pig, Wild Thing, Dexter
1997: Arthur, Rugrats, Bumpé
1996: Rocky and Bullwinkle (2nd version), Peter Rabbit
1995: Dudley the Dragon, SkyDancer, Eben Bear
1994: Barney the Dinosaur, The Cat in the Hat.
1993: Beethoven (dog), Rex, Sonic the Hedgehog (first video game character in parade history), Izzy
1992: Santa Goofy
1991: Babar the Elephant
1990: Clifford the Big Red Dog, Bart Simpson
1989: Bugs Bunny
1988: Big Bird, Pink Panther, Snoopy (4th version) with Woodstock.
1987: Spider-Man, Ronald McDonald, Snuggle Bear, Skating Snoopy (3rd version), Ice Cream Cone Novelty Balloon
1986: Baby Shamu, Humpty Dumpty, Nestlé Quik Bunny
1985: Betty Boop, Ornament Novelty Balloons
1984: Garfield, Raggedy Ann
1983: Yogi Bear
1982: Olive Oyl with Sweetpea (first female character in parade history), Woody Woodpecker,
1980: Superman (3rd version, largest balloon to appear in parade)
1977: Kermit the Frog
1975: Weeble
1972: Smile (Happy Face), Mickey Mouse (2nd version), Astronaut Snoopy (2nd version, a tribute to Apollo 11)
1968: Aviator Snoopy
1966: Smokey Bear, Superman (2nd version)
1965: Underdog
1964: Linus the Lionhearted
1963: Sinclair Oil Dinosaur, Elsie the Cow
1962: Donald Duck
1961: Bullwinkle J. Moose
1960: Happy Dragon
1957: Popeye
1951: Lucky Pup, Mighty Mouse, Flying fish
1949: Toy soldier
1948: Harold the Fireman (4th version)
1947: Artie The Pirate, Gnome, Harold the Police Officer (3rd version)
1946: Harold the Baseball Player (2nd version)
1945: Harold the Clown (1st version)
1940: Eddie Cantor, one of only two balloons based on a living person or people, The Tin Man
1939: Superman
1938: Uncle Sam
1935: The Marx Brothers (after Zeppo Marx’s departure)
1934: Mickey Mouse
1931: Mama, Papa and Baby
1927: Felix the Cat (Pictured Above)

The Parade has always taken place in Manhattan, one of the Five Boroughs that make up New York City. Originally the parade started from 145th Street in Harlem and ended at Herald Square, a 6-mile route.

In the 1930s, the balloons were inflated in the area of 110th Street and Amsterdam Avenue near St. John the Divine Cathedral. The parade proceeded South on Amsterdam Ave. to 106th Street and turned east. At Columbus Ave. the balloons had to be lowered to go under the 9th Avenue Elevated Subway tracks. Past the tracks, the parade proceeded through 106th street to Central Park West and turned South to terminate at Macy’s Department Store.

A new route was established for the 2009 parade. From 77th Street and Central Park West, the route goes south along Central Park to Columbus Circle, then goes east along Central Park South. The parade then makes a right turn at 7th Avenue and goes south to Times Square. At 42nd Street the parade turns left and goes east, then at 6th Avenue turns right again at Bryant Park. Heading south on 6th Avenue, the parade turns right at 34th Street (Herald Square) and proceeds west to the terminating point at 7th Avenue where the floats are taken down. The 2009 route change eliminated Broadway completely, where the parade has traveled down for decades. The City of New York said that the new route will provide more space for the parade, and more viewing space for spectators. Another reason for implementing the route change is the city’s plan to turn Broadway into a pedestrian-only zone at Times Square. There are plans to eliminate Times Square altogether and reroute the parade down Sixth Avenue for 2011, a move that is being protested by the Times Square BID, Broadway theatre owners and other groups. The move is an effort to enforce some measure of exclusivity for NBC, the parade’s official broadcaster, by moving the parade away from CBS’s studios in Times Square.

It is not advised to view the parade from Columbus Circle, as balloon teams race through it due to higher winds in this flat area.

New York City officials preview the parade route and try to eliminate as many potential obstacles as possible, including rotating overhead traffic signals out of the way.

Things have not gone so smoothly through out the years. Here are a list of incidents:

In 1957, a Popeye the Sailor balloon’s hat filled with rain water during heavy rain, which caused the balloon to go off-course and pour water on the crowd.
In 1985, the Kermit the Frog balloon tore at the stomach. No one was injured.
In 1986, a Raggedy Ann balloon crashed into a lamppost and sent a lamp into the street. The same year, a Superman balloon had its hand torn off by a tree. Neither incident caused any injuries.
In 1993, the Sonic the Hedgehog balloon crashed into a lamppost at Columbus Circle and injured an off-duty police officer.
In 1994, the Barney balloon tore its side on a lamppost, but no one was injured.
In 1995, the Dudley the Dragon balloon that was leading the parade was speared and deflated on a lamppost and showered glass on the crowd below.
In 1997, high winds pushed the Cat in the Hat balloon into a lamppost. The falling debris struck a parade-goer, fracturing her skull and leaving her in a coma for a month. Size rules were implemented the next year, eliminating larger balloons like the Cat in the Hat. The same high winds also caused the New York Police to stab and stomp down the Barney balloon over crowd concerns. They also stabbed a Pink Panther balloon for the same reason. Neither balloon actually caused any injuries.
In 2005, the M&M’s chocolate candies balloon caught on a streetlight in Times Square. Two sisters were struck by falling debris, suffering minor injuries. As a result, new safety rules were introduced. Those rules came in handy for the 2006 parade, as balloons were lowered because of rain and high winds. The M&M’s balloon was retired after 2006, and replaced by a float saluting Broadway theatre and musicals.

There is also a symbolism that happens at the end of the parade. Santa arrives at the end of the parade to bring in the beginning of the Christmas season. It always made me feel festive once Santa arrived.

So every thanksgiving morning I celebrate the beginning of the Christmas season by baking cinnamon rolls and watching the parade. I also continue this tradition in remembrance of my grandma who passed a few years ago, and who though we rarely seen eye to eye, this is one activity that we both enjoyed.

If you wish to watch this year’s parade, it is typically on the local news channels and on at 9am. Here in California it is on channel’s 2 and 5 at 9am. I hope everyone has a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving.

Thanks for reading,

Published in: on November 24, 2011 at 4:30 AM  Leave a Comment  

The Covenant of Consecration

Being an American and attending school starts you off with the basics. Learning manners, telling time, basic math, basic social skills, how to appreciate both lunchtime and recess, and how to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Every morning the same routine since first grade, arrive in class, sit down, bell rings, and we recite the Pledge of Allegiance. As I look back now on the earliest days of my scholastic incarceration career, the pledge was just a bunch of words that we were forced to memorize. We were never instructed on the meaning, the history of, or the reason why we recite it every day before the start of class. If you ask any student from 1st grade to 5th grade, chances are they know very little about the Pledge other than how to recite it. A lot of phrases that we frequently say, tend to be overlooked as to what they really mean and or why they are structured the way they are. For example the phrase “if worst comes to worst” means if the worst possible situation will happen..”  but if you think about it, how can worst come to be worst? shouldn’t the phrase be “if best comes to worst”? well this is one phrase that we as english speakers say many times through out our life time but very few of us take the time to analyze it and question why it is structured and stated this way. The same is with the Pledge of Allegiance. We recite it but most of us do not pay attention to what we are saying nor know the history behind the pledge while reciting the 119 year old Covenant phrase.

44 Star Flag (1891-1896)

But the way that we recite it is not how it was written in 1892. The Pledge of Allegiance was written in August 1892 by the socialist minister Francis Bellamy (1855-1931). It was originally published in The Youth’s Companion (a children’s magazine) on September 8, 1892. Bellamy had hoped that the pledge would be used by citizens in any country.

In its original form it read:

“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

48 Star Flag (1912-1959)

In 1923, the words, “the Flag of the United States of America” were added. At this time it read:

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

In 1954, in response to the Communist nuclear threat of the times, President Eisenhower encouraged Congress to add the words “under God,” creating the 31-word pledge we say today. Bellamy’s daughter objected to this alteration.

50 Star Flag (1960-Present)

Today (2011) it reads:

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Section 4 of the Flag Code states:

The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag: “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”, should be rendered by standing at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. When not in uniform men should remove any non-religious headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should remain silent, face the flag, and render the military salute.”

The original Bellamy salute, first described in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, who authored the original Pledge, began with a military salute, and after reciting the words “to the flag,” the arm was extended toward the flag.

At a signal from the Principal the pupils, in ordered ranks, hands to the side, face the Flag. Another signal is given; every pupil gives the flag the military salute — right hand lifted, palm downward, to a line with the forehead and close to it. Standing thus, all repeat together, slowly, “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands; one Nation indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.” At the words, “to my Flag,” the right hand is extended gracefully, palm upward, toward the Flag, and remains in this gesture till the end of the affirmation; whereupon all hands immediately drop to the side.

(excerpt from The Youth’s Companion, 1892)

Shortly thereafter, the pledge was begun with the right hand over the heart, and after reciting “to the Flag,” the arm was extended toward the Flag, palm-down.

An American classroom of students saluting the Flag

Nazi members saluting the Fuhrer (Adolf Hitler)

Adolf Hitler in full salute to his people, during WWII

During World War II, it was noticed that the salute resembled the Nazi salute, so it was quickly changed to where the right hand resides over the heart throughout the articulation.

An American classroom of students saluting the flag and reciting the pledge.

So when you hear the Pledge of Allegiance you now should have a better understanding about it’s words and its meaning. It is interesting how it has evolved through out the years. Even today the passage “under god” is being questioned if it should be an integral part of the pledge as now in current times could possibly be offensive to non-believers of the man upstairs. In my opinion, this nation was founded under the belief of god so I think it should be included regardless just as the “In God we trust” should be a static part of the dollar bills. If you don’t like it, start your own country :). Hopefully this has given you some insight and some info that you may have otherwise not known about our pledge. The other item of our nation that is also overlooked is our national anthem. But that will be another story for another day. For now, I hope you enjoyed learning the history and background of our Pledge of Allegiance. I am proud to be an American and can honestly say I understand the meaning of the pledge. God Bless America!

Thanks for reading,

Published in: on August 27, 2011 at 7:30 AM  Comments (1)  
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