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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Jack, It's the G.I. Jive

For the past several weeks I have had one song on permanent loop in my head.  Whatever I do, I can't seem to get rid of it.  It comes out in a whistle as I drive to and from work, and it causes my two-year-old to constantly inquire, "Whatcha singing about?"  The song that has been haunting my dreams, invading my thoughts, and following my every move is Johnny Mercer's "G.I. Jive".  Don't get me wrong, I love the song.  It's catchy, hilarious, and nostalgic all at the same time.  And if you've never heard the tune I would encourage you to listen to by clicking on the YouTube video below. 

"And why," might you ask, "does a twenty-something, young professional have this 1940s tune stuck in her head?"  Well, allow me to explain...  Anytime someone around the office mentions the phrase  "G.I. Jive" my mind immediately plays the Mercer track.  And anytime I think of the phrase "G.I. Jive" the song starts anew.  

And "G.I. Jive" is mentioned quite frequently these days because in a little more than a week the National D-Day Memorial is hosting a unique fundraising event called (as you might have guessed) "G.I. Jive".  Our G.I. Jive will take place on Saturday, February 9th from 6:30pm-11:00pm at the Elks National Home in Bedford, VA.  The evening event promises to provide guests with a night full of food, fun, and fancy footwork.  The event includes jiving Big Band sounds, a silent auction, and a fabulous dinner - everything you need for a night of vintage, 40s-style elegance and all to benefit the National D-Day Memorial.

If you'd like to join us for our G.I. Jive 1940s Dance, tickets are on sale now, but quantities are limited.  Tickets are $65.00 each or $120.00 per couple, and they may be purchased by calling the National D-Day Memorial Foundation office at (540)586-DDAY!


*** As an aside, G.I. Jive was also the name of an armed forces radio show that played song requests from servicemen every week.  The show referred to itself as the "AEF jukebox of the air" with soldiers, sailors, and airmen sending in their requests by mail to the radio studio in Los Angeles.  The show played the likes of Glenn Miller and Joe Turner.  You can listen to several recorded broadcasts of "G.I. Jive" through the National Archives at

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Lunchbox Lecture: Troops, Trains, and Travel in World War II

Diesel Locomotive at the Virginia Museum of Transportation, Roanoke, VA
Today I write on the coldest day of the season so far, and I sit bundled up in my office under a mountain of coats and blankets with my feet practically glued to the OSHA-approved foot warmer.  Because of the frigid temperatures and since the Memorial is an outdoor facility, most of our patrons choose to visit during the warmer months - and I can't say that I blame them.  However, we think any time of year is a good time to learn about the lessons and legacy of D-Day and the Greatest Generation.  So every year around this time we offer a series of "Lunchbox Lectures" that is held indoors at the Bedford Area Welcome Center (just a short skip down the hill from the Memorial).  We use this as an opportunity to examine a variety of topics centered around WWII.  Our first lecture of the year is scheduled for next Tuesday, January 29, at Noon.  I thought I'd take a moment to give you a sneak preview now...  

This week's session focuses on one topic that often gets overlooked in WWII history, and that is the issue of wartime transportation.  Have you ever stopped to wonder how the U.S. managed to carry thousands upon thousands of tons of materials, equipment, and servicemen and women from one part of the country to another?  To be honest with you, I hadn't either until I started working on this specific blog post.  What I learned about the accomplishments of our nation's wartime transportation network was nearly beyond belief! 

For instance, the Association of American Railroad (AAR) estimated that the typical serviceman traveled by rail five times between the time of his enlistment until the time of his overseas departure.  Other figures from the AAR state that trains in WWII transported nearly twice as much personnel and equipment than in WWI - and amazingly this task was accomplished with roughly 28,000 less miles of track!  Perhaps not surprisingly, WWII provided the highest railroad ridership in United States history.

So if you're in the Bedford area, we'd love for you to join us to learn even more about the extraordinary efficiency of the railways during WWII.  Our friends from the Virginia Museum of Transportation will host the session, and admission is free (although donations are always appreciated!).

We hope to see y'all next week!


Sources: Association of American Railroads  

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Nothing Says "I'm Sorry" like a Coffee Cake

Okay.  So I know I disappeared from the blogosphere for a few months, and I am truly sorry for absence.  I took a few months away from the museum world to student teach, and silly me, I thought student teaching while maintaining a blog would be a breeze.  It was not.  So sadly, the blog was neglected... but now I'm [hypothetically] more educated and have returned with great enthusiasm!  

I'm thrilled to be back at the National D-Day Memorial, and the Memorial has a lot of great opportunities planned this year for you and others to really experience World War II history in meaningful ways.  We have new educational initiatives in place, fresh events, and revamped "oldies but goodies", and I can't wait to share them with you.  But for my first post back I thought I would say "I'm sorry!  Please forgive me!" with a tasty ration-era recipe.

In my absence from the Memorial proper, a great artifact was donated to the Foundation - a cookbook, circa 1943 titled the Victory Cookbook: Wartime EditionIt is a large volume full or interesting and resourceful recipes.  I'll be turning to this resource often on the blog, but for this week's offering I thought I'd start with something sweet and simple: a "Quick Coffee Cake" After all, nothing says "I'm Sorry" like a nice, warm, deliciously simple coffee cake. Right?
The recipe, as it promised was easy and quick to pull together and within 40 minutes from start to finish (including baking time) my family was enjoying a thick, moist, and, most importantly, delicious coffee cake.  I have to admit that I was very skeptical of the crumb topping.  I've never made one from actual stale bread crumbs before, but the topping turned out to be delightful.  It was as sweet, buttery, and crumbly as one could hope for on a coffee cake.   This could easily become a "go-to" recipe and was approved by both my husband and finicky toddler.  

So enjoy your coffee cake, and welcome back!  I hope you will continue to enjoy our "Sentimental Journey".


Warm coffee cake just out of the oven.  Yum!