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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween

Halloween is one of my favorite times of year.  I love the pumpkins, ghost stories, and chill in the air.  You may be thinking how does this relate to World War II?  Well, let me tell you.

Prior to World War II, trick or treat took on a different meaning.  Tricks used to be played by children and young adults through the neighborhood as a way to celebrate the night.  With the involvement of America in World War II, many things changed very quickly on the home front.  First, sugar was rationed.  All those delicious candies that we like to get on Halloween was now a non-necessity.  They cost too much to spend the precious ration points on.

Published in the San Diego Union, 25 Oct 1942
Secondly, there was a real fear throughout the communities in the United States that with the men away, the children would take the tricks father then usual.  The year 1942 saw the United States in full war production mode - men were in uniform, women were in the factories, and everyone was doing their part.  With adults dealing with the war, children were left to their own devices (when they weren't helping with community projects).  There was a fear that with everyone focused on the war effort, children would run rampant on Halloween.  Many communities canceled the holiday altogether.

However, a few families banded together to throw a neighborhood Halloween party.  Costume parties, dances, and other activities were used to lure children into a safe, supervised environment.  The costumed Halloween and trick-or-treating that we know today is steeped in the traditions that were established during World War II.

Enjoy yourselves this Halloween!

Until next time,


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Happy Birthday, Bill Mauldin!

Bill Mauldin in 1945
A few weeks ago a few of our volunteers and I read Bill Mauldin: A Life Up Front by Todd DePastino.  No doubt that you are probably familiar with cartoonist Bill Mauldin and his two most recognizable figures Willie and Joe.  His cartoons span many generations; however, it was what he was able to accomplish with those cartoons that make him much more of a legend.

William Henry “Bill” Mauldin was born on October 29, 1921 in Mountain Park, New Mexico.  Growing up was not easy for Bill out west; however, he was viewed by his grandmother as the salvation of the family.  Both his mother and grandmother encouraged the academic advancement for young Bill, and although money was something they did not have a lot of, books were always around the small farmhouse.  He found his calling in art, painting signs for towns that he traveled to.  Supported by his grandmother, Bill eventually took one year of classes at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. 

In 1940, Bill, with persuasion by his old friend Jack Heinz, joined the Arizona National Guard.  It did not take much to convince Bill to join, he fully believed the United States should come to the aid of Great Britain and Western Europe in their struggle against Hitler.  Four days after he joined, the Arizona Guard, part of the 45th Infantry Division, was federalized.  Bill volunteered to be a truck driver for Company D, 120th Quartermaster Regiment and was shortly on his way to Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, headquarters of the 45th Infantry Division. 

Bill in his Jeep, 1944-1945
While in the 45th Infantry Division, Bill volunteered to work as a cartoonist for the division’s newspaper.  His early work focused on a number of military characters depicting daily life for enlisted men.  During his training and work for the newspaper, the United States joined in the fight in the Pacific and European theaters.  In July 1943, as a Sergeant of the 45th Infantry Division’s press corps, he landed in the invasion of Sicily. 

Although disliked by his superiors for the content of his cartoons, enlisted men loved him.  He was a hero, someone who could relate to and voice their frustrations.  He was transferred in February 1944 to work for Stars and Stripes magazine.  By March, he was given his own jeep to travel around the frontlines collecting new material for six cartoons a week.

General George Patton once summoned Bill to his office after a new cartoon made light of Patton’s demand that all soldiers, including those on the frontlines, must be clean-shaven at all times.  Patton threatened to throw Bill in jail for “spreading dissent” among the men.  General Eisenhower believed Bill’s almost daily cartoons played an important role as an outlet for the frustrations of soldiers, and told Patton to leave him alone and let him do his job.

Returning home in 1945, Bill published his wartime work in Up Front, a collection of cartoons and reminisces about the war.  He became the youngest Pulitzer Prize recipient for this work at the age of 23.  Continuing with cartoons, he shocked his fans by using his syndicated feature to protest racial discrimination and anti-communist hysteria.  In 1948, after battling the United Features Syndicate over its censorship of his work, Bill retired from cartooning. When asked what the most important issue that he tackled during his career, Bill replied “The one thing that meant the most to me and that I got involved in was the whole civil rights thing in the sixties."  
Bill used the dilapidated school house as a metaphor for the broken state of U.S. public education in this comment on the actions of Little Rock to establish private schools to circumvent the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals' November 10, 1958 order to integrate, November 11, 1958*

Reaction to Kennedy Assassination, November 23, 1963
Over the course of the next decade, he spent time writing articles and books, starring in movies, and covering Korea as a war correspondent.  In 1956, he ran an unsuccessful campaign for US Congress in New York.  In 1958, he returned to cartooning at the Chicago Sun-Times.  His syndicated cartoon now reached over 300 newspapers.  One of his most famous post-war cartoons appeared in 1963 when he depicted the Lincoln Memorial reacting to the news of President Kennedy’s assassination. 
After injuring his drawing hand in 1991, Bill once again retired.  However, in 1998, Willie and Joe appeared one last time when he and Charles Schulz, a WWII veteran himself, joined together to produce a special Veterans Day comic strip.  Charles considered Bill one of his heroes, the signature on the piece having “Schulz and my hero, Bill Mauldin.” 

Bill Mauldin died on January 20, 2003 from complications of Alzheimer’s.  In the months before he died, he received over 10,000 cards and letters from veterans across generations and their families thanking him for keeping their humanity alive during war.  These letters and tributes stand as a testament to the lasting legacy of this small town cartoonist from New Mexico.  In 2005, Bill was inducted into the Oklahoma Cartoonist Hall of Fame. 
Schulz and Mauldin celebrate Veterans Day, November 11, 1998

Until next time, 


*image courtesy of the Library of Congress  

Monday, October 21, 2013

Our D-Day Fallen: Sergeant Charlie Wilburn Grayson

Luminaries around the Memorial
As we enter the holiday season, we are reminded everyday of the sacrifices made by our servicemen and women around the world as they work to defend our country.  We are also reminded of the ultimate sacrifice paid by many of those defenders across generations and the loved ones they left behind here on the homefront.

This year from December 13th to December 15th at 6pm to 10pm, we will pay tribute to the men killed in action on June 6, 1944 by placing 4,413 luminaries around the site.  That is one light for each soldier, sailor, and airmen; one light for each father, brother, son, uncle, husband, and friend; one light for each life given in service of the Allied nations on June 6, 1944.  Four thousand, four hundred and thirteen lights for four thousand, four hundred and thirteen lives cut short on the field of battle.  

Redstone Arsenal, 1940
Lives like that of Sergeant Charlie Wilburn Grayson.  Born August 31, 1916, Charlie grew up close to Huntsville, Alabama.  During the Great Depression, Madison County led Alabama in cotton production; however all this changed with the outbreak of World War II when this quiet community, with a population of about 13,000, was selected by the U.S. Army to become the new home of the Huntsville Arsenal and the Redstone Arsenal.  Personnel at these two facilities alone approached 20,000.  

Charlie attended school through the seventh grade before leaving to help his family earn money during the Great Depression.  On the 1940s census, Charlie’s occupation was listed as a “real construction worker” in government work.  On June 7, 1940, at 23 years old, Charlie enlisted in the U.S. Army.  Like the men from Bedford, Virginia, this was his one year of active service under President Roosevelt’s Selective Service Act.  However, the attack on Pearl Harbor changed all of that.  He was now in the U.S. Army for the duration of the war.  

Charlie was part of the 8th Infantry Regiment, Antitank Company, 4th Infantry Division.  Like others preparing for this invasion, he spent months training in England.  The 4th Infantry Division, or the “Ivy” Division, was created on December 3, 1917 and reactivated on June 1, 1940 at Fort Benning, Georgia.  On January 18, 1944, the Ivy Division embarked from New York to a final training phase in England.  The Ivy Division had been added to the original invasion plans because of an enlargement of the landing area.  

8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division moving over the seawall on Utah Beach

Charlie's headstone in Hayden Cemtery
Charlie and his fellow soldiers intensified their training, including practicing amphibious landings.  The 4th Division, led by the 8th Infantry Regiment, was selected to spearhead the landings on Utah Beach.  The soldiers of the 8th Infantry Regiment landed around 0630.  Charlie was part of the first wave during the invasion.  This is the end of Charlie’s story.  He was killed in action on June 6, 1944.  He left behind his wife, Garner B. Clark, mother, and six siblings.  In 1949, his family elected to have his body returned to the states.  He was re-interred at Hayden Cemetery in New Hope, Alabama.
This holiday season help us remember the ultimate sacrifice paid by the 4,413 servicemen on June 6, 1944.  If you would like more information about the luminaries or if you would like to sponsor a luminary for a family member or friend, visit our website at 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

No Excuse Night at the National D-Day Memorial

Hello everyone!  I hope you have had a pleasant start to your week.  We had a very busy weekend at the Memorial with an Honor Flight from Tennessee bringing 22 World War II Veterans to the site on Friday and our Ike Birthday event on Sunday where we learned more about the Roosevelts!  This week we are happy to invite you to our "No Excuse Night."  Join us this Friday, October 18 from 5pm-8pm for a complimentary visit to the National D-Day Memorial.

This is a great opportunity to visit!  If you have never been to the Memorial, here's your chance to experience it for free.  Our wonderful volunteers and staff will be stationed throughout the Memorial to enhance your visit with a narrative given on different aspects of the Memorial.  For those of you who have been here before, but never witnessed it at night, this is a unique opportunity to see the Memorial from a different perspective.

No tickets or reservations are required for this event.  I hope to see you here!

Until next time,


Monday, October 7, 2013

Milestone Moment: THANK YOU

Dear Readers,

Thanks to you, we have over 10,000 views on Sentimental Journey.  I want to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU to all of you who spend time reading the short articles that we put up each week! I also want to say thank you to everyone who serves as the sounding board for new article ideas and as editors from week to week.  I hope you enjoy reading these articles as much as I enjoy writing them.  Last week, I had an educator ask why I chose to work in this field.  My response was simple – I love presenting history to the public.  This blog has been another way that I can explore the millions of different veins we have to study WWII and D-Day, and bring that history to life for the public. 

As a treat for reaching this milestone, I present Donald Duck in The Vanishing Private.  Produced by Walt Disney in 1942, this cartoon was one of many that presented a lighter side to the conflict that the United States had officially entered in December 1941.  Movie shorts like this one would have been seen prior to the feature film, and in the 1930s/1940s Donald, not Mickey, was the star of the Walt Disney Company.  Early next year, I will be doing a lecture on the many different Disney cartoons produced over the course of the war and the effect they had on the public psyche. 

Once again, I want to say THANK YOU and I hope you enjoy Donald Duck in The Vanishing Private! 

See you next week! 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Meet Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt at the National D-Day Memorial

October is finally here.  Leaves are starting to change and the days are getting colder.  On October 13, 2013 we invite you to join us at the Memorial for a special luncheon with Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.  For the 123rd celebration of General Dwight Eisenhower’s birthday, the National D-Day will play host to Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, the man and woman who served in the position of President and First Lady longer than any other couple.  Learn more about their personal and private lives as they are brought to life by William and Sue Wills, a veteran acting and writing team who for the past 17 years have performed the stories of 33 different Presidential couples. 
Guests to the Memorial for this unique fundraising event can expect to hear the couple’s favorite music, enjoy their favorite foods at lunch, listen to the performance about the lives of Franklin and Eleanor, take home recipes from the Roosevelt’s collection, and participate in a silent auction.  Advance tickets are required and seating is limited.  (Last year’s event sold out!) Tickets for lunch and the performance are $35 per person or $60 per couple.  Tickets for the performance only are $15.00 per person.  Call 540-586-3329 to purchase tickets or visit the Bedford Area Welcome Center.  Click here to learn more about this event.

As a teaser to some of the things you will learn at the event, here are a few of the fun facts that I have been able to dig up about this famous First Couple. 
  • Franklin Roosevelt was the first President to have a presidential aircraft.
  • Franklin Roosevelt was the first President to appear on TV (although it was a limited broadcast in New York). 
  • Eleanor Roosevelt was the first First Lady to hold a press conference, and from 1938-1945 held 348 press conferences.
  • Only women were invited to join the First Lady when she held a press conference. 
  • Eleanor Roosevelt and Amelia Earhart met at the White House state dinner in April 1933.  Still in formal attire, they left the White House for a quick flight to Baltimore.  Amelia offered to give Eleanor personal flying lessons; however, she disappeared before any lessons took place. 
  • Franklin Roosevelt contracted what was diagnosed as polio while on vacation in Canada in 1921.
  • On their wedding day in 1905, Eleanor was walked down the aisle by her uncle, President Theodore Roosevelt. 
  • Eleanor Roosevelt loved dancing so much that there is a dance move named after her.
Franklin and Eleanor, informal photograph 1905

Call today to get your tickets and show your support of the National D-Day Memorial by celebrating General Eisenhower’s birthday and getting the know the public and private lives of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.

We hope to see you there!


This event is sponsored by AREVA.  A world leader in low-carbon energy solutions, including nuclear energy and renewables, AREVA has been a regular supporter of the Memorial for over a decade.