Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Your Own Time Machine

One interesting and easy way to explore history is to peruse issues of old newspapers.  This can be accomplished by visiting your local library, the Adams County Historical Society or at home by browsing the worldwide web.

In this inquiry I chose the November 16, 1918 issue of the Gettysburg Compiler to examine.  The major headline that day was "GERMANY SURRENDERS" which reports the terms of the Armistice which notably took effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918.  November 11 became the national holiday of Armistice Day but it eventually evolved into Veteran's Day which now celebrates the contributions of all military veterans, living or dead, for any service. 

The second place story was the continuing death toll of the Great Influenza Epidemic of 1918.  The paper listed twenty three deaths for the week in the general population, the vast majority of which were due to the flu and Camp Colt reported six soldiers succumbed to the deadly virus.  It was interesting to note that two of the civilian dead included two veterans of the Civil War reminding us that in 1918, the war was still a recent memory for many Americans.

A small notice told of the death of Colonel Robert Bruce Ricketts, seventy-nine years old of Lake Ganoga, Pennsylvania.  Ricketts had commanded the First Pennsylvania Light Artillery on East Cemetery Hill during the Battle of Gettysburg fifty-five years earlier. 

An advertisement relating to the flu epidemic was sponsored by The Vick Chemical Company of Greensboro, North Carolina.  The firm manufactured Vick's Vapo-Rub and the ad warned pharmacists to only order small batches of their product.  The supplies of the concoction were severely depleted due to the epidemic.  They insisted small batch orders would be filled and therefore more product would be available to more customers.

An intriguing ad by G. W. Weaver and Son of Gettysburg was found and its message was to buy union suits made by Munsingwear.  The cartoon in the ad depicts several doughboys clad only in union suits and campaign hats carrying bayoneted rifles as they advanced toward the enemy.  The caption below the sketch read, "The Battle Cry of Free "Em".  Further on, it was written, "In War Time as in Peace "the Munsingwear Line Holds."  Indeed.

An interesting border was given to that ad and two others that appeared in the newspaper that day.  The borders consisted of the repeating pattern of swastikas.  Through the centuries the swastika has been featured in many cultures in art, architecture and print.  It was a sign which meant to be good or of being higher of self.  In general usage, it was a symbol of good luck.

In 1918, the swastika symbol was used as a good luck symbol for the American troops sent overseas.  It was used in print associated with their heath and well being as well as being emblazoned across the American Bald Eagle on a good luck token.

The symbol became known as an emblem of shame and inhumanity because in 1920 the Nazi Party adopted it as their official party symbol. 

A short visit to yesteryear via old newspapers is interesting, entertaining and educational.  It also helps us to understand our past.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Proclamation 5269

October 19, 1984

By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

Photograph courtesy of the United States Government
As we remember the faith and values that made America great, we should recall that our tradition of Thanksgiving is older than our Nation itself. Indeed, the native American Thanksgivings antedated those of the new Americans. In the words of the eloquent Seneca tradition of the Iroquois, ``. . . give it your thought, that with one mind we may now give thanks to Him our Creator.''

From the first Pilgrim observance in 1621, to the nine years before and during the American Revolution when the Continental Congress declared days of Fast and Prayer and days of Thanksgiving, we have turned to Almighty God to express our gratitude for the bounty and good fortune we enjoy as individuals and as a nation. America truly has been blessed.

This year we can be especially thankful that real gratitude to God is inscribed, not in proclamations of government, but in the hearts of all our people who come from every race, culture, and creed on the face of the Earth. And as we pause to give thanks for our many gifts, let us be tempered by humility and by compassion for those in need, and let us reaffirm through prayer and action our determination to share our bounty with those less fortunate.

Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, in the spirit and tradition of the Iroquois, the Pilgrims, the Continental Congress, and past Presidents, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 22, 1984, as a day of National Thanksgiving. I call upon every citizen of this great Nation to gather together in homes and places of worship to celebrate, in the words of 1784, ``with grateful hearts . . . the mercies and praises of their all Bountiful Creator. . . .''

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this nineteenth day of October, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and ninth.

Ronald Reagan

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Proclamation 3036 - Thanksgiving Day, 1953

November 7, 1953

By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

Photograph courtesy of 

Executive Office of the President of the United States

As a nation much blessed, we feel impelled at harvest time to follow the tradition handed down by our Pilgrim Fathers of pausing from our labors for one day to render thanks to Almighty God for His bounties. Now that the year is drawing to a close, once again it is fitting that we incline our thoughts to His mercies and offer to Him our special prayers of gratitude.

For the courage and vision of our forebears who settled a wilderness and founded a Nation; for the "blessings of liberty" which the framers of our Constitution sought to secure for themselves and for their posterity, and which are so abundantly realized in our land today; for the unity of spirit which has made our country strong; and for the continuing faith under His guidance that has kept us a religious people with freedom of worship for all, we should kneel in humble thanksgiving.

Especially are we grateful this year for the truce in battle-weary Korea, which gives to anxious men and women throughout the world the hope that there may be an enduring peace:

Now, Therefore, I, Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States of America, in consonance with the joint resolution of Congress approved December 26, 1941, do hereby call upon our people to observe Thursday, the twenty-sixth day of November, 1953, as a day of national thanksgiving. On that day let all of us, in accordance with our hallowed custom, forgather in our respective places of worship and bow before God in contrition for our sins, in suppliance for wisdom in our striving for a better world, and in gratitude for the manifold blessings He has bestowed upon us and upon our fellow men.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed
DONE at the City of Washington this Seventh day of November in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and fifty-three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and seventy-eighth.