The "Patch Lady"

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I’d like to introduce you to “the Patch Lady.” In a way, she inspired my own patch bag.

We met the lovely Yolanda at a VJ Day event several years ago. The patches you see behind her were all given to her by servicemen in World war Two. A the ripe young age of 9, Yolanda old would spend her afternoons working at the local USO Canteen with her older sister, Anne, serving young GIs before they went off to war.

In the evenings she would invite them to her house for a home-cooked meal in exchange for one of their military patches. She became quite famous among the ranks, with even Generals Bradley and Montgomery mailing her their personal patches and a letter.

Looking at the board behind her, you can't help but wonder how many of the soldiers who owned one of the patches were sent overseas? How many of them came home? And was this the last home-cooked meal they were to ever have? So many patches representing so many brave fellows. Today they are remembered. Though some of their names may have been forgotten over time, the memory of them is carried on through this wonderful lady and her patches. Thank you Yolanda!


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"This Day is the Father of Great Anniversaries"

For the 70th anniversary of Victory over Japan this past weekend, here are some excerpts from a radio program that was broadcast on August 14, 1945. Written by Norman Corwin, and magnificently performed by Orson Welles. 


"This day is the father of great anniversaries. Men and saints shall picnic together on Fourteen August down more years than either you or I shall see. So say it tonight with saluting guns. Say it with roses. Say it with a handclasp, a drink, a prayer. Say it anyway you want but say it! Fourteen August... New homecoming. Now the dog-tag exchanged for the name again. They will converge from outlandish zones of time; from secret somewheres known alone to postmasters. From lanes of oceans, and from windy desert camps. The comrades will write letters to each other for a while. And then drop out of touch. The mess-halls where the meals were on the house will be forgotten soon enough between Jim's Diner and homecoming... Say it tonight with saluting guns, with champagne and with laughter. But also remember the fields beyond, and the names and faces beyond. It is worth noting and remembering that here in this August the grass is hearty, the sky friendly, the wind in windsock, birds are competitive, the hills of home are in their accustomed places. And all is accounted for. All is accounted for except the farmer's boy, and the mule-hand who lived near the canal. The young men from the city block where the gutters fry in summer. One lies with an ocean across his chest at the bottom of an arctic deep. Another sleeps with sand in his eyes where he fell on a beach at Palau. The bones of the fisherman rest in clay, far from the rocks of Maine. And the Miner's kid is under the ground of China. The cricket sings in the summer night, but the soda clerk says nothing. The fawn leaps in the wolf proof wood, but the jungle roots twine the postman's feet. The turtle is young at sixty-one, but the flyer is dead at eighteen.

"Remember them. Oh, when July comes round and the shimmer of noon excites the locust, when the pretty girls bounce as they walk in the park; and the moth is in love with a 60-watt bulb, and the tire on the road is blistered. They've given their noons to their country; they've trusted their girls to you, they are face to face with an ally's earth for a bunch of tomorrows. Remember them. Oh, in the fall of the year when frost airbrushes the withering leaf and the silo is fat as a bearing woman, and the cleats in the backfields dig up gains to the stadium. When the number one goose says it's time to go, and the flock points a V to the south. They've given their seed to 48 states, their football tickets to you. The shirt on their back is a worm-cut rag for silks and breads, bomblessness. For kids, unplanned today, who will play ghosts and Tojo every Halloween. Remember them. Oh, in the sleeting months when the sap stands cold in the vein of the tree and the bottle of milk in the frozen doorstep raises it's cap to the morning. When the skating girls eddy like snow on the rink, and the storm window hooked on the prairie farmhouse mutters in the gail out of Idaho. They've spilled their blood for the rights of men. For people the likes of me and you. And they ask that we do not fail them again in the days we are coming to."

Excerpts from "Fourteen August" by Norman Corwin, 
August 14, 1945


You can listen to Norman Corwin's live radio broadcast "Fourteen August" it in it's entirety here. It is well worth your time: You can listen to Norman Corwin's live radio broadcast "Fourteen August" it in it's entirety here. It is well worth your time: https://soundcloud.com/thewallbreakers/corw-1945-08-14-fourteen

70th Anniversary V-E Day in D.C.

Two week ago, we made a last minute trip up to the D.C. area to visit family and participate in the 70th anniversary V-E Day celebrations at the National World War Two Memorial. Last September was our first visit to the memorial, and ever since then we have been itching to get back. It was a fabulous week starting with a memorial service emceed by one of our favorite authors, Alex Kershaw, a fly over of some of the best WWII aircraft, hundreds of veterans, thousands of spectators, blistering heat, sore feet, melting lipstick, and happy hearts. (beware: lots of pictures below!)

After the celebrations on the 8th, the party continued out at the Udvar Hazy Center (National Air and Space Museum) where there was a living history camp with numerous jeeps and tents, a fly-in of a few of the planes from the previous day, live music performed by the superb United States Air Force Band, and, topping it off, we got to see our friends from DFW Honor Flight two days in a row. 

Over the following days, we had the best time greeting Honor Flights from South Carolina, Illinois, Arizona, and Puget Sound. We met a couple of these Honor Flights last year, so it was great to see some of their amazing staff again and meet their new veterans. Living down at the bottom of Texas, this is a wonderful opportunity to meet folks from so many different states. Each brings a unique element from their hometown, with lots of memories and stories to share. It is really remarkable the affect the WWII Memorial has on some of these dear folks. Seeing the wall of stars or the name of a battle they were a part of, written in stone, recalls to mind many dusty memories.

One of the veterans made a comment to us that we mentioned elsewhere but is well worth repeating. We were standing in front of the wall of gold stars (each representing 100 men and equaling a total of 4,048 gold stars), and, as we talked, he sort of turned and looked at the wall and said thoughtfully, “There is a star on that wall that was supposed to be for me. But it is for my friend instead. He took my place.” The remark was brief, and he soon moved on to another topic, but later on, when we asked him about it he said, “I don’t like to talk about the war... It was in the middle of a fight, and I moved over and my buddy was hit by a grenade right where I had been.” The brevity of his comment made it all the more impactful. In just a few words he communicated a tremendous depth of feeling such that anything more might have been too much.

It was a lovely and memorable week for us and the veterans up there. The Honor Flight staff and the wonderful people who volunteer their time at the Memorial greeting Honor Flights with smiles, hugs, motorcycles, and dancing add so much to the experience, and the veterans go home with pleasant memories of their trip to D.C.