Celebrate Our 98th Veteran’s Day

This year we will celebrate the 98th Veteran’s Day. Let’s take a moment to remember our Veterans, both male and female, and thank them for their continuing sacrifices and service so that we can live our lives in freedom.

Veterans Day marks the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice in a railway car in a forest (Compiegne) north of Paris in 1918 which ended the First World War. The armistice was signed and took effect at the 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month in the year 1918 ending what was termed “The Great War.” Initially proclaimed on Nov. 11, 1919 by President Woodrow Wilson as “Armistice Day” and also “Remembrance Day,” the date of November 11th was set in the United States to commemorate the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany for the cessation of hostilities. In 1954, a bill was passed through Congress designating November 11th as “Veterans Day” to honor all Veterans and was signed into law by President Dwight Eisenhower.

The traditional pause for a minute’s silence at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month is to commemorate the signing of the armistice.

Sometimes we forget about the role that women played in the Second World War. They stepped up and were able to make a significant contribution to the war effort both at home and in the military. These American women showed courage in helping the fighting men, sharing in the disappointments of the soldiers, celebrating their successes and finally, the complete victory. They responded to the challenge and achieved their mission. They also served. With fewer and fewer of these female veterans still alive, this is a story that has its place in the history of women in the military.

Here are reflections and observations of one female veteran, my mother, Mollie Weinstein Schaffer, who served during World War ll. You can read all about her service in our book, “Mollie’s War: The Letters of a World War II WAC in Europe” and see more information at our website: www.mollieswar.com.

Letter from Mollie from her service in London

This letter is from her service in London, England and sets the tone for the book. It is now after D-Day (June 6, 1944) and the Allies have made great strides into occupied France. In retaliation, Hitler’s scientists have developed unmanned fantastic flying machines called buzz bombs or doodlebugs that were launched by the Germans from somewhere in France with just enough fuel to reach London and then randomly crash land somewhere in the city. London is constantly under attack. My mother felt that the people back home have no idea of what it is like in Europe. Here is the letter that she wrote home after Winston Churchill’s speech telling the world of the German attacks by the buzz bombs.

PFC Mollie Weinstein, A611550
Office of the Chief Surgeon
HQ ETOUSA
APO 887, ℅PM
NY, NY
26 July 1944
London, England

Dear Beck,

By the way, I wasn’t going to write to say I was in London (that is where I am stationed) because I knew you would all worry—and if you promise not to say anything to Mom and Pop, I will reveal a few interesting items. Restrictions on the Doodlebug situation as far as our mail is concerned have been lifted somewhat since Churchill’s speech. In fact, I could have written a few weeks ago about it but held off. But now I have gotten to a point where I feel a lot of those people back home, who sit back complacently, ought to know that there is a real war going on, and Beck, I see it every day. The air raid sirens are a frequent sound to us during the day as well as the night. And, it means the real thing over here—those damn buzz bombs come a floating round. They have been our unwelcome visitors both day and night since approximately one week after D-Day.

(You can read the full letter from London here by clicking here.)

Letter from Mollie from newly liberated Paris

Here are a few paragraphs from Mollie’s letter home.

Paris, France, 12 Nov.1944

Dear Beck,

…Must tell you about the Armistice Day Parade here in Paris. I still recall the ones we used to go to—you, Jackie & myself—but this was really the “cat’s meow.” It started about 6 AM—maybe not actually but there were gendarmes (or draculas as we call them with their all-enveloping capes) & G.I.’s, too, directing crowds that early, lining up the streets near the Arc de Triomphe, along with the great numbers of people who probably ran back to get sandwiches & hustled back to regain choice spots from where they would have an advantageous view of the celebration. And, Beck, I think the parading or celebrating was still going on this morning.

Florence (another WAC) & myself left the office at 10:30 AM & we made a “bee line” for Champs Elysees (one of the main streets in Paris that runs into the Arc de Triomphe). Honestly the people were packed like sardines (trite but true). Florence & I were standing on tip toes but couldn’t see very much. All of a sudden I felt my feet leave the ground & I had a most wonderful view of marching soldiers. I turned around as I felt myself being put gently back to earth—it was the captain! I thanked him & both Florence & I laughed. We walked farther on & we decided to stand back near the buildings away from the crowds along the streets. We did have a better view. We saw Churchill go by in a car but weren’t quite sure. However, when we heard the people shouting “Vive Churchill,” that confined it. Besides I had said to Florence “I know we have a long range view of the parade, but no one but Churchill’s cheeks are puffed out like that!”

The one minute’s silence at 11 AM brought to mind the folks back home—wonder when we’ll be coming home. I know, Beck, it won’t be too soon. …

(You can read the full letter from Paris by clicking here.)

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