Search This Blog

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Entertainment of the 1940s: Casablanca

Honestly, I have been sitting trying to figure out what information I could bring to you my wonderful readers this week.  A recipe was my first thought, but then I ran off and left it on my desk which does not help me much since that is three hours away.  Next, I decided to research Thanksgiving during WWII.  In the midst of research I remembered that today, November 26th, is the 71st anniversary of the release of one of my favorite films of all time, Casablanca.

The initial release of the film was set for spring 1943; however, it premiered in New York City on November 26, 1942.  Timing of the release was changed to coincide with the Allied invasion into North Africa and the capture of Casablanca.  The film went into general release on January 23, 1943 (taking advantage of the Casablanca Conference).  Receiving consistently good reviews, the film became the seventh highest grossing film of 1943.  Screening of the film was prevented by the Office of War Information to troops in North Africa, believing it may cause resentment among Vichy supporters in the region.

Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote, “The Warners…have a picture which makes the spine tingle and the heart take a leap.”  If you have seen the film, you know the twists and turns the directors take you on as you meet the varied clientele of Rick’s CafĂ© AmĂ©ricain in Vichy-controlled Casablanca.  American Rick Blaine, played by Humphrey Bogart, is the bitter owner of the nightclub and gambling den in Casablanca where much of the action takes place.  Ilsa Lund, played by Ingrid Bergman, walks in searching for Rick, her former love, to help her husband Czech Resistance leader Victor Laszlo, played by Paul Henreid.  Rick is placed in the difficult position of choosing his love for Ilsa or helping Victor escape from Casablanca to continue his fight against the Nazis.  

In the end, Rick works to ensure that Victor will be successful in his mission - ending the film by walking away with Louis, a police captain in Casablanca, with the iconic words "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship."
If you have never seen this classic, you should check it out.  For the 70th Anniversary next year, we will be having a viewing of Casablanca on the evening of June 6th.  We will be putting up more details in the coming months about this event and all events planned for the 70th anniversary.  For more information, check out our 70th Anniversary event tab on our website regularly! 

Until next time,


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Native American Heritage Month: Comanche Code Talkers

This month we celebrate Native American Heritage Month by looking at code talkers of World War II, specifically the men of the Comanche Tribe.  In December 1940, seventeen Comanche were recruited by the US Army to become code talkers.  These men were assigned to the 4th Signal Company of the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Benning, Georgia.  Here they received phone, radio, Morse code, and semaphore training. 
In August 1941 these seventeen men were placed under Lt. Hugh F. Foster to develop an unbreakable Comanche-language code.  Foster provided the men with 250 specialized military terms for which they needed to develop coded equivalents.  Combined with standard Comanche, coded terms were developed.  Here are some examples of those coded terms:

Tutsahkuna’ tawo’i’     meaning “sewing machine gun” for “machine gun,”
Wakaree’e                  meaning “turtle” for “tanks,”
Po’sa taiboo’               meaning “Crazy White Man” for “Hitler.”

Comanche Code Talker completed their training on 30 October 1941, and shortly thereafter went to Louisiana to conduct field exercises.  It took a military machine up to four hours to transmit and decode a message; however, a Comanche Code Talker could decode the same message in under three minutes. 
Comanche Code Talkers, Ft. Benning, Georgia
Fourteen of the men who had trained were sent to the European Theater with the 4th Infantry Division.  On 6 June 1944, thirteen Comanche Code Talkers hit the Utah Beach with Allied Troops.  When they landed, they were five miles off their designated target.  The first message sent from the beach was sent in Comanche from PFC Larry Saupitty and translated to “We made a good landing.  We landed in the wrong place.”

Comanche Code Talkers, Ft. Benning (National Archives)
Maintaining wire telephone lines and sending secure messages via field phone and radio, the Comanche Code Talkers served in France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and Germany.  They served in important battles such as at Cherbourg, St. Lo, Paris, the Siegfried Line, the Huertgen Forest, and Bastogne.  Several men were wounded during the course of the war, but all made it home.  Their code, like that of the Navajos in the Pacific, was never broken. 

On November 3, 1989, the French government and the State of Oklahoma bestowed the Chevalier de L’Order National de Merite (Knight of the Order of National Merit), to three then-surviving members of the Comanche Code Talkers (Cpl. Charles Chibitty, Cpl. Forrest Kassanavoid, and Pfc. Roderick Red Elk) at the Oklahoma State Capitol.  To learn more, visit the website for the Comanche National Museum.

Comanche Code Talkers of World War II

·         Cpl. Charles Chibitty
·         T/4 Haddon Codynah
·         T/5 Robert Holder
·         Cpl. Forrest Kassanavoid
·         T/5 Wellington Mihecoby
·         Pvt. Albert (Edward) Nahquaddy, Jr.
·         Pvt. Perry Noyabad
·         T/5 Clifford Otitivo
·         T/5 Simmons Parker
·         Pvt. Melvin Permansu
·         Pvt. Elgin Red Elk
·         Pfc. Roderick Red Elk
·         Pfc. Larry Saupitty
·         Anthony Tabbytite
·         T/4 Morris Tabbyetchy
·         Pfc. Ralph Wahnee
·         T/5 Willis Yackeschi

Until next time, 



Comanche National Museum. 
Oklahoma's Historical Society's Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Remembering Our Founder: A Tribute to John Robert Slaughter

John R. Slaughter John Robert Slaughter Portrait Bust Campaign

The National D-Day Memorial Foundation’s campaign to honor
the legacy of the founding chairman, John Robert Slaughter.

The National D-Day Memorial Foundation has launched a campaign to honor our dear friend and founder John Robert Slaughter.  Bob Slaughter brought the same energy, tenacity, and drive to the creation of the D-Day Memorial that he displayed so many years ago on Omaha Beach, and throughout the war.  

Mr. Slaughter entered the service in 1940 at the tender age of 15 (after convincing his parents that he wanted to join the National Guard and earn extra money for household expenses).  By the age of 19, he found himself engaged in the largest amphibious assault in history on the beaches of Normandy, France.   Bob served with Company D, 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Division.  Company D was a heavy weapons company that supported rifle companies in combat.  Slaughter was wounded twice while in France and was discharged in July 1945 at which point he returned to his home in Roanoke, Virginia.  He married in 1947, and he and his wife Margaret had two children.  Over the years, however, memories of what took place on that stretch of sand in Normandy continued to haunt him.  

In 1987, Bob Slaughter declared “We have no gathering place, no meeting hall, no memorial, where our country can collect its memories and the lessons we learned from D-Day.”  Shortly thereafter, Slaughter, along with several other supporters, formed a committee to raise money and search for an appropriate location for a small memorial.  

Slaughter, far left, with President Clinton in Normandy
After visiting Normandy on several occasions, the vision for a memorial took shape and in 1989, Slaughter’s small committee introduced a seventeen-member board of directors.  The committee faced a series of challenges and a discouraged board was near disbandment when a resurgence of interest in D-Day, due to the 50th anniversary in 1994, led to increased publicity and new momentum.  

Shortly thereafter, Bedford City officials donated eleven acres of land to the D-Day Foundation for the site of the proposed memorial and an additional seventy-seven acres was purchased by the Foundation to protect the site from further development.  

Mr. Slaughter served as the Foundation’s Chairman from 1994-2001.  Congress also adopted legislation designating the site a national memorial in 1994.  The Foundation hired its first employee in 1996 and the Memorial was officially dedicated by President George W. Bush on 6 June 2001.  

Plaque outside the Youth Learning Center at the Memorial
In 2007, Bob authored Omaha Beach and Beyond, an auto-biography, chronicling his wartime experience and the creation of the Memorial.  In 2008, The John Robert Slaughter Youth Learning Center (an authentic military hands-on history tent) was dedicated at the Memorial.  That area has always been and continues to be the hub of the Foundation’s education initiatives.

Bob Slaughter was a very special man and one who was respected and admired.  In his book in 2007, Bob noted “Now that I am in my eighties, I am well aware that the long march that began so many years ago is about to come to a halt.  I am proud to say my generation helped save the world from tyranny, prevent the extinction of an entire group of people, and preserve the democratic freedoms of our wonderful American way of life.  I wouldn’t change a thing, except to wish that my dear army buddies could be here to see and touch the magnificent National D-Day Memorial that was built for us all.”
Slaughter with President Bush at the Memorial Dedication

While Bob is deeply missed, his legacy is preserved in perpetuity at the National D-Day Memorial.  We look forward to raising funds for the bust and accompanying plaque that will tell his story.
How You Can Help?  
Spread the Word!  
Make a donation or encourage others to donate.  

Lastly, I would like to say thank you to everyone who came out yesterday to honor our nation's veterans.  It was a beautiful day and a wonderful ceremony as we came together to honor the servicemen and women who defend and protect our country.
Until next time, 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Memorial Event: Veterans Day

How did Veterans Day Observances begin?  When the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, World War I, or "The Great War," officially came to an end.  However, fighting had actually ceased seven months prior when an armistice between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.  For this reason, November 11, 1918 is regarded as the end of the "war to end all wars."

A year after the armistice, in November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations."

Originally Armistice Day observances were celebrated with parades and public meetings.  Business would not begin until 11am.  Congress officially recognized the end of "The Great War" when it passed a resolution on June 4, 1926 marking November 11, 1918 as the official end of the war.  An Act, approved May 13, 1938, made this day a legal holiday each year.  November 11 would be "a day dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as 'Armistice Day'."

World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, and airmen in our nation's history; and after American forces had fought in Korea, Congress, at the urging of veteran service organizations, amended the Act establishing Armistice Day.  On June 1, 1954, the word "Armistice" was replaced with "Veterans."  November 11 was now established as the day to honor American veterans of all wars. 

So, join us at 11am on November 11, 2013 to honor all who have served in the US Armed Forces.  The program will include guest speakers, music, and recognition of all veterans.  Free admission will be offered from 10am to Noon. 

We hope to see you there.

Until next time,