Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Soldiers' Angels: Walking, Talking History

On April 7, 2007, Soldiers' Angels in Kansas City met with the American Legion Riders of Post 370 to finalize details for Operation Aces High: Poker Run for Our Wounded Troops (see updates to information including one of the prizes).

After the meeting was adjourned, Angel Julie O. and I had an opportunity to talk to two veterans and members of the American Legion about their service and some unique history.

On my previous visit to Post 370, I met Rosie the Riveter. Saturday, Julie and I were fortunate to meet Jerry Raymond, Yeoman, United States Navy (ret) and Bob Warner, Petty Officer, United States Navy (ret). Both of these gentlemen are former commanders of Post 370 in Overland Park, Kansas and Mr. Warner is the chairman of the House Committee that approves projects and programs for this American Legion post.

I hope you enjoy this Audio/Photo presentation: Walking, Talking History.

Ronda G provided Soldiers' Angel's Pins and Soldiers' Angel's Coins in appreciation for Mr. Raymond and Mr. Warner's time given for the interview and excellent service to our country.

Someday, our serving men and women will have stories of their own to tell about their time serving our nation in these days of peril. Please help us make Soldiers' Angels and the unwavering support of our nation a part of that story.

Soldier's Angels provides support through letters, care packages, First Response Back Packs for the wounded, Blankets of Hope, Project VALOUR IT and many other great programs for our men and women in the military as well as their families.

Adopt a soldier, sailor, airman or marine today or make a donation so our heroes know that their sacrifices have not gone unnoticed and we support them.

To learn more about the history Jerry and Bob shared with us, please visit these sites:

Korean War
USS Coral Sea
USS Coral Sea Association
SB2C Helldiver: Last of the Dive Bombers
World War II
USS DuPage
Battle of Okinawa
World War I: Best Websites
The 40 and 8

History of the Gratitude (Merci) Train
History of the "Merci" Box Car
Holly City, Florida Boxcar Memorial Park (Highly Recommended)

Writing from a Paris hospital, Louis Brunel, a 24 year old veteran, paralyzed by wounds, spoke for his countryman: "I feel the need to tell you what the French people want to express to your great country by this symbolic train."

To you Americans who have done so much, given so much to our children, the aged and the people of France, it is affectionate thanks, the sincere gratitude of my country. This train, made up of cars that your GI's know well, is a token of our affection, of our friendship to all of your 48 states. Each one of these cars.. will tell those of you who know us, that we do not forget. And to those of you who never come to our land, may it bring a message from the people of France to all the people of the U.S.A. In dawn of 1949, I see in this gesture of friendship more than an omen, more than a message, in it I see a pledge that men can love and understand each other when they silence their self interest and only listen to their hearts."

Boxcars Full of Gratitude
Oregan Train Restored and Relocated
Nevada Merci Boxcar Saved
Rhode Island Boxcar Restoration and History Project
Volunteers have added several other interactive exhibits to educate them about the wartime experience. One kiosk will include interviews with veterans from southern New England.

One, an Army man named Julien Mitchell, described what it was to ride in the "40 & 8" boxcar, so named because each could fit either 40 servicemen on a straw floor, or eight horses.

"The only way to sleep was head to foot in two lines across the car," he related. "Often, a heavy boot would be in your face."

Worse was when the soldiers rode in cars that had carried the horses. "The odor of their waste was still present, ground into the floor and walls," Mitchell recalled. "I always tried to be near a door or over a crack for fresh air."

Cross referenced at the Castle

- May no soldier go unloved