|T/Sgt. Wills with two K9 buddies.|
In 1995, I was part of our city's WWII Commemorative Anniversary Committee and worked with city officials, school board members, students of all grades, and WWII veterans, specifically a good friend and U.S. Army veteran, Dick "Mr. Flag" Williams, who throughout his life, donated American flags to schools and organizations, and spoke to the history of our World War II veterans, both those who served overseas and those here on the homefront.
|T/Sgt. Dick Williams|
Through him and his American Legion post, I was awarded a plaque for "Preserving History of WWII Promoting Future Peace Through Education." Definitely, one of the proudest moments of my life and a journey through history with this veteran who I was proud to call my friend.
|My daughter and Mom at Wall of Honor. 1995.|
Part of our role in the WWII Commemorative Committee was to plan a living history for the district's schoolchildren that would also become part of the curriculum. Working with teachers and district administration, as well as area veterans, and, of course, the school children, we had an assembly with invited WWII veterans who spoke of their experiences as soldiers, nurses, and my Mom was a guest speaker talking about her role as a "Rosie the Riveter" working in an arsenal to help do her part on the homefront. On display at my daughter's elementary school was a "Wall of Honor" with photos and written essays from the children about their relatives who were WWII veterans. We had displays of a Victory Garden the children put together, student performances, and also a temporary museum was erected down by our waterfront, with assistance from district students of all ages. Concerts were put on with the band students playing songs of the 40s. It was a beautiful living history lesson that brought together two generations of people that not only the students enjoyed, but was a valuable teaching tool for all. I was committed then, as I am to this day, that as both the proud daughter of WWII veteran and a "Rosie" mother, as well as being a journalist, to always share stories and remembrances of these heroic men and women so that future generations will know the foundations they stand on today.
World War II also had the incorporation of "war dogs" - including Siberian Huskies and their "cousins" the Malamutes that were used as "pack and pull dogs" to pull sleds of equipment needed into remote areas. This was the early stages of the military working dog program. The official War Dog Ambassador was a beautiful Siberian Husky "Buck," who himself not a military dog, but rather the champion of all who were. His handler was a Vietnam veteran and author of Buck's Heroes, Johnny Mayo. This beautiful book and unique tale is one of my favorites. Here is our Harley with the cover of this beautiful book featuring War Dog Ambassador "Buck."
World War II saw not only humans, both men and women, serving their country, but also courageous canines. To learn more about the United States War Dogs, please visit their website HERE.
|Dad, standing upper left.|
|Gibson and Operation Husky|
Talk about coincidences or signs...from the significance of today's date on a national and personal level, to the sudden appearance of my Dad's photo, to the connection of "Operation Husky," I'd like to believe these were all signs that my Dad is looking over my shoulder and guiding me as I bring to life a little (once) living history by putting "quill to paper," or in a more modern translation, by keystroke and print!
If you ask me, I don't really believe we need to wait for a certain "anniversary" number to reflect back on the selfless efforts both man and canines have done for our country...let's all try to make an effort to continue the history lesson now and for future generations to come, so no one will ever forget these valiant soldiers, both the two-legged and four-legged breeds.
"Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow." ~Melody Beattie