Dec. 21st National Kiwi Day

December 21st National Kiwi Day

Here is a fruit that is native to China and had a certain popularity in the Far East prior to World War 2 but never really caught on until soldiers fighting in New Zealand tried the fruit, liked it and brought it back to the west with them. Originally known as “Yang Tao”, the Chinese gooseberry, it eventually was named Kiwi. Sounds Hawaiian! It is often mixed with strawberries as they seem to compliment each other. Interesting, at least to me, is the fact that though it is native to China, the number one producing country for Kiwi today is Italy.

How to celebrate – Have some Kiwi today. Visit China and see Kiwi in the wild. Make your own recipe using Kiwi.  

December 7th Pearl Harbor Day

In 1941 the pride of the American Pacific fleet lay mostly in Pearl Harbor. People were getting ready for the holidays and while the threat from Japan was widely known, the target apparently was not. Over 2,400 American service men were killed, along with 68 civilians, when Japan launched it’s surprise attack. It was a Sunday and only skeleton crews were on watch. 5 of the 8 battleships in port were sunk, practically every ship there was damaged. By luck, the carriers were out at sea leaving some strength for the future. In Roosevelt’s words “… a day that will live in infamy.” has. It is celebrated by remembering those who gave all today, in 1941, to keep America free. Japan’s formal declaration of war arrived after the attack, because of the lack of a typist. Whether it would have made any difference or not can only be imagined.

How to celebrate – Visit Pearl Harbor. Remember those who gave their all for the country. Be proud to be an American.

August 14th & 15th V-J Day

Today marks the final end of World War 2 as Japan sends a cable to the United States that it surrendered. It was released to the news the next day, August 15th, and the official end came on September 2nd in Tokyo Bay as the surrender papers were signed. As nearly a decade of war, finally came to an end, or sort of anyway, there was the occupation which lasted another 10 years, or more. No matter how you feel about the way the war ended, at least it ended. VJ stands for Victory over Japan.

How to celebrate – Honor those who gave all to end the war. Read about World War 2. Visit Japan.

June 6th D-Day

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156,000 soldiers landed on Omaha, Utah, Gold, Sword and Juno beaches to reclaim Europe from Nazi Germany on June 6th, 1944. Thousands would give their all on this day, Canadians, British, French and Americans. It was the one day in the early part of June that had clear enough weather the Allies could actually attempt the landing, and an attempt it was. The Germans had built up the beach defenses to an extreme and though the Allies were fairly sure they could hold some of the beaches it really was done on a hope and a prayer. The landings were preceded by parachute drops and the resistance causing as much havoc as they could. The landing, requested by the Russian, did succeed however and it was the beginning of the end for the Third Reich.

How to celebrate – Remember all those who served in World War 2 (there aren’t many left). Visit the beaches where many of the wrecks have been left reminding us of the day. Read a book written from those who survived the day.

December 7th Pearl Harbor Day

Today was a dark day in American history. It marks the day Japan attacked Hawaii, nearly destroying our Pacific fleet. 2,400 servicemen and 68 civilians died today, in 1941. It isn’t the worst tragedy in America’s history but it was one of the most consequential, it started America’s active participation in World War 2.

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Caught totally off guard, 5 of the 8 battleships in the port were sunk, nearly every ship was damaged, the only saving grace was that America’s aircraft carriers were out at sea at the time. The funny thing about it is, the Japanese knew even with the blow to the American fleet, they could not win the war.

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As Admiral Yamamoto said, “We have awoken a sleeping giant”. He was right. American’s built more fleets, more planes and ended not only war in the Pacific but the war in Europe too. It was “… a day that will live in infamy” by those who died… and those who lived.

How to celebrate – Remember Pearl Harbor. Read about the causes of World War 2. Realize no one is innocent in war.

August 14th VJ Day

Today marks the end of World War 2, 1945. Though the world learned of the surrender on August 15th and the surrender papers were signed on September 2, 1945… the Emperor of Japan called the U.S. and surrendered on the 14th of August.

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This came after the controversial bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with atomic bombs. The fact here is, the Japanese people would never have surrendered, they would have fought to the death for their Emperor, it took convincing the Emperor that a continued fight would be futile. Hirihito realized that while his people could fight, they could not beat the atomic bomb.

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The surrender was signed on September 2nd aboard the U.S.S. Missouri, a ship named for Truman’s home state. It is estimated that a million American lives, and untold numbers of Japanese were saved by the utter destruction of two Japanese cities as a warning of what was to come. Loses millions or loses thousands, it seems to me the right choice was made.

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World War 2 was the costliest in world history. Thousands upon thousands of soilders were killed, millions of civilians were killed. Did we learn anything from it? Only time will tell. It seems war is unavoidable, how we handle war is a little easier.

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Those who fight for freedom always pay a high price. At times it seems like the losers of war end up being the biggest winners. Germany was rebuilt and has become an economic powerhouse as has Japan. So on this VJ day (Victory over Japan) we need to think of where the world was, and is, and just how we move forward from here.

How to celebrate – Thank any veteran you see no matter what the war was they fought in. Consider what the world might be like if the atomic bombs had not been dropped. Never forget what has happened to get us where we are today.

June 6th D-Day

On June 6th, 1944 World War 2 changed course, eventually ending up with an Allied victory. The day had been anticipated for month and the date was kept as quiet without even the soldiers knowing when the real launch date was.

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A huge force was assembled in England with disguised units, blow-up equipment and secret coded message sent that the allies knew the Germans had broken. The original date had been missed, several times because of weather. A brief clearing came on the 6th and the invasion began. The night before paratroopers were dropped behind the lines to capture key German strongholds and prevent easy re-enforcement after the invasion began.

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The Canadians landed on Juno Beach, the British on Gold and Sword, the Americans drew Omaha and Utah. Omaha turned out to be a nightmare with many of the troops being landed in the wrong location. The invasion was successful, though it had it’s moments of doubt. If the Germans had defended it as  they could have it might easily have gone the other way. As it was, the losses were still high.

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Some 4,000 men died, not including all the resistance people working behind the scenes. Of that, 2,000 were Americans. It was the largest armada ever formed and it still had a chance of not reaching it’s goal. The World might well be a different place today if it had gone the other way.

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Most of those who were there are gone now. It is us to remember it, the good and the bad. If we don’t, it’s likely to happen again.

How to celebrate – Celebrate those who gave their lives on June 6th, 1944. Watch “The Longest Day” or “Saving Private Ryan”. Visit the graves in Europe of the fallen during D-Day.