Image and caption from Time: A Boy Scout salutes at the foot of a grave after volunteers placed flags in preparation for Memorial Day at the Los Angeles National Cemetery on May 28, 2016. Richard Vogel—AP
Fly your flag today for Memorial Day.
On Memorial Day, flags should be flown at half-staff until noon, then raised to full staff (and retired at sunset).
U.S. flags flying at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery, for Memorial Day 2015. Photo by Ed Darrell. Please use.
Just a reminder: When posting a flag to half-staff, it should be raised with gusto to full staff, then slowly lowered to the half-staff position. On Memorial Day, when changing the flag’s position at noon, simply raise the flag briskly to full staff. At retirement, the flag should be lowered in a stately fashion.
U.S. flags flying at the Dallas Fort Worth National Cemetery, for Memorial Day 2015. You may use this photo.
President John F. Kennedy speaking to a special joint session of Congress, on May 25, 1961; in this speech, Kennedy made his famous statement asking the nation to pledge to put a man on the Moon and bring him back safely, in the next ten years.
It was an era when Congress would respond when the President challenged America to be great, and Congress would respond positively.
On May 25, 1961, President Kennedy delivered a special message to Congress, on the challenges facing the U.S. around the world, in continuing to build free market economies, and continuing to advance in science, as means of promoting America’s future. He closed with the words that have become so famous. From the Apollo 11 Channel, excerpts from the speech, via Fox Movietone news:
History from the Apollo 11 Channel:
In an address to a Joint session of the United States Congress, Kennedy announces full presidential support for the goal to “commit…before this decade is out, to landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth” and urges Congress to appropriate the necessary funds, eventually consuming the largest financial expenditure of any nation in peacetime.
Though Kennedy had initially been convinced that NASA should attempt a manned mission to Mars, NASA Associate Administrator Robert Seamans spent three days and nights working, ultimately successfully, to convince him otherwise.
Neal Augenstein at WTOP Radio in Washington, D.C. posted this photo on Twitter: @AugensteinWTOP — Richard Collins III’s graduation gown draped over front row chairs at Bowie State University ceremony. He was murdered Saturday.
Bowie State University honored a man who should have graduated today, Richard Collins III.
Another reminder that senseless violence threatens us all, and that we must oppose all violence, regardless its origin.
“How do you figure that, Hawkeye?” Father Mulcahy, screen capture from video snippet of M.A.S.H.
Our correspondents Jameses, Stanley and Kessler, alerted me months ago to this exchange in the old television show, “M.A.S.H.” In a discussion of the First Battle of Bull Run, we discussed war as hell.
Hawkeye: Exactly. There are no innocent bystanders in Hell. War is chock full of them — little kids, cripples, old ladies. In fact, except for some of the brass, almost everybody involved is an innocent bystander.
Deep thinking, maybe wisdom, from a mobile operating room filtered through sit-com writers.
New meaning to “flying the flag”: (Wikipedia caption) A pair of specially painted F-117 Nighthawks fly off from their last refueling by the Ohio National Guard’s 121st Air Refueling Wing. The F-117s were retired March 11  in a farewell ceremony at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Master Sgt. Kim Frey
Armed Forces Day is the third Saturday in May. This year it falls on May 20.
The U.S. Flag Code designates Armed Forces Day as one day for all Americans to fly their flags, in honor of those men and women presently serving in any of the Armed Forces.
Activities to honor active duty and active reserve forces occur in hundreds of communities across the nation. Check your local papers.
On August 31, 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy and Air Force Days. The single-day celebration stemmed from the unification of the Armed Forces under one department — the Department of Defense. Each of the military leagues and orders was asked to drop sponsorship of its specific service day in order to celebrate the newly announced Armed Forces Day. The Army, Navy and Air Force leagues adopted the newly formed day. The Marine Corps League declined to drop support for Marine Corps Day but supports Armed Forces Day, too.
In a speech announcing the formation of the day, President Truman “praised the work of the military services at home and across the seas” and said, “it is vital to the security of the nation and to the establishment of a desirable peace.” In an excerpt from the Presidential Proclamation of Feb. 27, 1950, Mr. Truman stated:
Armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 20, 1950, marks the first combined demonstration by America’s defense team of its progress, under the National Security Act, towards the goal of readiness for any eventuality. It is the first parade of preparedness by the unified forces of our land, sea, and air defense.
Celebrations like Armed Forces Day offer good opportunities to promote history. I suspect that the day’s coming always in the middle of May suppresses some of the teaching moment value, as teachers make a final push for end of course tests, finals, and in high schools, for graduation — and as many colleges are already out for the summer. Good materials are available that can be sprinkled throughout a course.
President Truman and other dignitaries on the reviewing stand during an Armed Forces Day parade, (left… – NARA – 200222 (Photo credit: Wikipedia) (Is that Eisenhower on the left?) (Update: Yep! From Wikimedia: Left to right, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson, President Truman, Adm. William Leahy.
The first Armed Forces Day came at a time of increased world tensions, political volatility and communist aggression. Some notable events that marked America’s first Armed Forces Week were as follows:
Bolivian police broke up “alleged” revolutionary communist-led general strike in LaPaz.
Two U. S. government buildings in Canton, China were taken over by the Chinese Communist Government. The buildings were U. S. property acquired prior to the Communist takeover.
The Burmese Army recaptured the city of Prome, a strategic communist-rebel stronghold.
Nicaraguans elect General Anastasio Somoza to a regular six-year term as president.
French and West German governments expected to talk shortly on the merger of the coal and steel industries of the two countries.
Communist China lifted the ban on daylight shipping along the Yangtze River due to the decline of Nationalist air activity.
Norway receives first US military aid in the form of two Dakota planes.
U. N. Secretary General Trygive Lie seeks West’s acceptance of Red China in the U. N.
Iran announced close range news broadcasts to the Soviet Union with $56,000 worth of Voice of America equipment.
Cuba celebrated the 48th anniversary of the establishment of its republic.
The Red Cross celebrated its 69th birthday.
Britain ended rationing of all foods except meats, butter, margarine, and cooking fat.
The U. S. Congress voted to extend the draft. “A Bill to extend registration and classification for the Draft until June 24, 1952 passed the House 216-11.”
The Allied Command announced it would “ease” the burden of occupation on Austria and would name civilian high commissioners to replace present military high commissioners.
Soviet authorities in Berlin withdrew travel passes of the U.S. and British military missions stationed at Potsdam in the Soviet zone of occupation.
The Soviets returned 23 East German industrial plants to East German authorities. The plants had been producing exclusively for the benefit of reparations to the USSR.
Twenty-eight Soviet vessels, consisting of tugs, trawlers, and supply ships remained in the English Channel as the Western Alliance prepared for air and naval maneuvers. Observers noted that many of them carried rollers at their sterns for trawling nets although no nets were visible.
Pravda denounced Armed Forces Day, calling it the militarization of the United States. “The hysterical speeches of the warmongers again show the timeliness of the appeal of the Permanent Committee of Peace Partisans that atomic weapons be forbidden.”
Western Powers renewed their promise to help Mid-Eastern states resist communism. They also announced an agreement to sell arms to Israel as well as to the Arabs.
Veterans Day honors veterans of wars, and those who served in the past; Memorial Day honors people who died defending the nation; Armed Forces Day honors those men and women serving today. Service with two wars, in an “all volunteer” military, is a rough go, especially in times of federal budget cuts. Say a good word about active duty military on Saturday, will you?
Armed Forces Day poster for 2017, from the Department of Defense
Americans celebrate Armed Forces Day on the third Saturday in May, by law as listed in the Flag Code.
Get your flag ready, if you haven’t been flying it all week to honor fallen police. Saturday is also the last day of National Police Week, during which flags are flown half-staff to honor fallen policemen. You may fly your flag half-staff on Saturday, too, if you wish; if your flag pole does not allow a half-staff position, fly it at full height.
Caption from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune: The Minnesota Capitol chandelier was illuminated May 10, 2013 in celebration of Statehood Day. It has 92 bulbs surrounded by 40,000 crystal beads strung together and was recently painstakingly cleaned and refurbished. The fixture is traditionally lit once per year on Statehood Day. Minnesota became a part of the United States as Minnesota Territory in 1849, and became the 32nd U.S. state on May 11, 1858.
At the Library of Congress’s outstanding American Memory site, a much more detailed history of Minnesota statehood is featured on “Today in History,” reproduced here in its entirety:
On May 11, 1858, Minnesota became the 32nd state admitted into the Union. Minnesota’s application for statehood was submitted to President James Buchanan in January, but became entangled with the controversial issue of Kansas statehood, delaying it for several months until it was finally approved by Congress.
Known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” or “Star of the North,” Minnesota is the northern terminus of the Mississippi River’s traffic and the westernmost point of an inland waterway which extends through the Great Lakes and, with the St. Lawrence Seaway, to the Atlantic Ocean.
The Ojibwa (Chippewa) and Dakota (Sioux) were among the tribal peoples who first made this land their home. For them state borders were non-existent, and their territory extended far beyond what is today Minnesota. The French claimed this region from the mid-1600s to the mid-1700s, developing a strong fur trade but ceding lands east of the Mississippi to Britain. The U.S. acquired the area and its rich natural resources through the Treaty of Paris (1783), and the Louisiana Purchase (1803).
From the 1820s on, protected the growth of the area now called Minnesota. During the Civil War, the fort served as a training center for thousands of young Minnesota volunteers who joined the Union Army. Twenty-four thousand soldiers who trained at the fort fought in the Union Army, serving gallantly at Gettysburg or during the Indian Outbreak. Once a military outpost at the edge of a small settlement, Fort Snelling is now located at the center of Minnesota’s “Twin Cities”—Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Until the second half of the nineteenth century, immigration into Minnesota was slow. However, as the value of the state’s woodlands and fertile prairie was realized, settlers poured into the region with New England lumbermen leading the way. Between 1850 and 1857, the state population skyrocketed from 6,077 to over 150,000. As a large state with land for homesteading, Minnesota attracted immigrants from Norway, Sweden, Finland, and those seeking to own land in the United States. An 1878 brochure published by the Minnesota State Board of Immigration, describes the many reasons for moving to the state.
19th century advertisements to get people to move to Minnesota. Library of Congress images; see description and link details below
Still a leader in farming, lumbering, milling, and medical research, Minnesota is also an important center for the printing industry and a major producer of iron ore. Its largest city, Minneapolis, is home to the University of Minnesota, numerous museums, and theaters such as the Tyrone Guthrie Theater and the Walker Arts Center, and the world’s largest cash grain market.
May 11 is the anniversary of the birth of Richard Feynman (born 1918, died 1988).
Richard Feynman. Borrowed from Luciano’s Tumblr, LikeaPhysicist
Feynman’s birthday falls on Statehood Day for Minnesota. You can fly your flag for both causes, if you wish, Minnesota’s statehood AND Feynman’s birthday. No proclamation will issue from the White House, but you can fly your flag any day.
Why Feynman Day? To celebrate invention, physics, interesting characters, and that essential, American quality of je ne sais quoi.
In addition to his winning the Nobel Prize for Quantum Electrodynamics (QED), Feynman popularized the critique of science and other enterprises with what we now call Cargo Cult science, or education, or whatever, where people follow the dance steps, but without the rhythm and music.
Those two things alone would make him a remarkable man. But, like a product offered for $19.95 as a good buy in a 2:00 a.m. infomercial, with Feynman, there’s more. With Feynman, there is always more.
I got alerted to Feynman in the first days of the old Quality Paperback Book Club, when they featured his new memoir, Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! QPBC was hot on the book, and with a title like that, how could I resist? When I got the book a week or so later, I read it within two days, while attending law school and working full time. I remember Feynman.
A New York Times bestseller—the outrageous exploits of one of this century’s greatest scientific minds and a legendary American original.
In this phenomenal national bestseller, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard P. Feynman recounts in his inimitable voice his adventures trading ideas on atomic physics with Einstein and Bohr and ideas on gambling with Nick the Greek, painting a naked female toreador, accompanying a ballet on his bongo drums and much else of an eyebrow-raising and hilarious nature.
All true, and that’s not even the half of the outrageousness, all done with great good humor, about a life lived in great good humor through what should have been a memorable age, but often was just terrifying.
I think sometimes that Feynman’s calm, alone, borne of that great good humor and insatiable curiosity, may have gotten us through the birth of the atomic age and the Cold War.
Feynman was a giant, and we don’t revere him enough. Consider:
Feynman’s high school sweetheart, Arlene, came down with tuberculosis. He married her, and took her with him to New Mexico to make the atom bombs. The stories of her confinement to a hospital, and the laborious trekking he had to make between Los Alamos and her bedside in Santa Fe, are touching, and heartbreaking. It is one of the great love stories of the 20th century, certainly, and perhaps for all time. It also provided the title for his second memoir, What Do You Care What Other People Think?
Every single, college-age man should read Feynman’s stories of how to date, and how to seduce women. His approach was unique, and endeared him to women — in legend, to many women. Feynman’s dating must have been part of the inspiration for the comedy series, “Big Bang Theory.” Feynman’s stories are better. (Heck, it’s even the subject of a popular, classic XKCD comic — probably only Feynman and Einstein among Nobel-winning physicists have made so much money for so many cartoonists.)
USPS authorized a special postal cancel (United States Postal Service) to honor the 80th birthday of Richard Feynman. This cancel was used in Lake Worth, Florida. For this special day the post office was renamed “Feynman Station.”
The Feynman Diagram used for the postal cancel on this envelope depicts what is known as a “bubble process.” It shows a high energy particle, for example, a cosmic ray (a) from a distant supernova, which emits a high energy photon, for example, a gamma ray (b). The photon, in turn, creates a particle (c) and an anti-particle (d) that exists for a brief moment and then recombines.
As Feynman liked to point out, an anti-particle is the same thing as a particle with negative energy traveling backward in time (which is why the arrow at (d) points backwards, i.e. to the left). So you could say the photon created only one particle that, at first, traveled forward in time (the bottom semi-circle) and then reversed and went back in time (the top semi-circle) and annihilated itself! By inventing diagrams like this, Richard Feynman made it much easier to understand what is going on in the interactions between sub-atomic particles without getting lost in tremendous amounts of tedious math
Working at Los Alamos on the Manhattan Project, Feynman developed a keen appreciation for bureaucracy and all its follies. His vexations for the security managers are also legendary. Here’s a quick version of one story — he asked friends and family to write to him in code, but to not include a key to the code, so he’d have to crack the code to read the letter. Feynman could do it, but the security people couldn’t. Hilarity ensued.
Feynman developed a love for the still-relatively unknown, landlocked Asian nation of Tannu Tuva. It’s just the sort of place to appeal to a character like Feynman — so obscure most atlases didn’t, and don’t, show it at all — seemingly consumed by the Soviet Union, but held in a special status. Home of throat singing — and almost impossible to get to. During the Cold War, Feynman struck up correspondence with people in Tuva, to the concern of Soviet and American intelligence agencies, who seemed not to understand someone might do such thing out of curiosity. Feynman hoped to travel there to visit new friends, but his final bouts of cancer took him before it was possible. Tuva, famous among philatelists only, perhaps, honored Feynman with postage stamps and postcards.
Just try to find a photo of Feynman not smiling. The man was a joy to be around, for most people, most of the time.
Quantum electrodynamics? No, I can’t explain it, either — but his work had a lot to do with how particles wobble. I remember that because, according to Feynman, he got the inspiration for the work for which he won the Nobel while spinning plates, like a Chinese acrobat on the Ed Sullivan Show, to the delight of students in the Cornell University cafeteria, and the shock and horror of the food service people. Who else has yet confessed to such an inspiration for a Nobel?
There’s more — a lot more. Feynman outlined our current generation of computer memory devices — in 1959. No, he didn’t patent the idea. He did patent an idea for a nuclear-powered spacecraft. Another delightful story.
Feynman was featured in print and broadcast ads for Apple — not one, but two (did anyone else get that honor from Apple?). “Think Different.” This is one of Apple Computer’s most successful advertising campaigns. The theme of the campaign is one that celebrates figures in history who changed the world by thinking differently. Richard Feynman was among the chosen figures. Image from the Feynman Group.
Feynman served on the board that approved science books for the California school system –– his stories of that work will shock some, but it will make others shake their heads as they recognize the current crop of cargo-cultists and political bullies who dominate textbook approval processes, knowing nothing at all about what they are doing, or why.
No, I didn’t forget his brilliant work on the commission that studied the Challenger disaster, for NASA. There’s so much stuff to glorify!
In history, Feynman should be remembered much as we remember Thomas Jefferson, as a renaissance man in his time, a man who put great intellect to great work for his nation and all humanity.
The second Apple ad featuring Richard Feynman. An excerpt from Apple Computer’s campaign commercial: “Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes, the ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them… about the only thing you can’t do is ignore them, because they change things, they push the human race forward; and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”
The sages say we shouldn’t have regrets, but I do have one. When the Challenger Commission was meeting in Washington, D.C., I was working on another commission up the street. I knew Feynman was ill, but our work was important, and we’d heard his disease was in remission. I didn’t goof off a day and go to any of the hearings to see him, to get an autograph, to meet the man. I though I’d have other opportunities to do that. Now I regret not having met him in person.
In print, and in film, I know him well. In our family, reading Feynman is something everybody does. Feynman’s memoir was one of the last books I read to our son, Kenny, as he was growing up, and growing into reading on his own. Even reading about Feynman, together, was an adventure. Our son, James, took us into the real physics of Feynman, and though I struggle with it more than James, we still read Feynman, for humor, and physics.
What would be appropriate ways to mark Feynman’s birth? At some future date, I hope we’ll have public readings of his books, showings of the documentaries about him, recreations of his lectures, perhaps. And then everyone can get in a circle, beating drums and singing about getting some orange juice, before sending postcards to our friends in Tuva.
Richard Feynman, we still need you, and miss you dearly.
Tuva’s capital is the delightfully-named Kyzyl. From this map, can you figure out where Tuva is, or how to get there — without Google, or Bing?
Tuva postcard, in honor of Richard Feynman — who loved to drum.
There will always be “More” about Richard Feynman, if we’re lucky:
Yes, you should be flying your flag today for Victory Europe Day (VE Day)!
Caption from Pinterest, World War Items: A huge American flag unfurled in New York’s Herald Square on VE Day on May 8, 1945. This 80×160 foot flag was hung from the eighth floor balcony of Macy’s New York department store, covering the façade from 34th and 35th Streets along Broadway. Beneath it were placed a set of British, Chinese, French and Russian flags, held by two giant mailer fists. (AP Photo)
VE Day is not one listed in the Flag Code for flying the colors, but in most years there is a proclamation from the President urging that we do fly the flag. There appears to be no proclamation in 2017 — you may fly your flag anyway.
In 2015 year President Obama noted the 70th anniversary of VE Day with his weekly message:
From Business Insider: Col. Gen. Paul Stumpff, second left, Luftwaffe commander; Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, German army commander, raising baton; and Gen. Adm. Hans von Freideburg, rear, commander of the German navy; emerge after Germany’s unconditional surrender was formally ratified in Berlin, May 9, 1945. (AP Photo/U.S. Signal Corps)
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill waves his hat to enthusiastic crowd at Whitehall, after unconditional surrender of Germany announced. (Who else is in the picture?)
Perhaps thinking of the future, Churchill put down his hat, and waved his well-known and well-loved “V for Victory” sign to the crowd at Whitehall.
Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.
Spread the word; friends don't allow friends to repeat history.
Childe Hassam, “Victory Day, May 1919,” 1919, oil on canvas, 36 x 21 3/4 inches (91.4 x 55.2 cm), American Academy of Arts and Letters, NY. There were at least twenty-three paintings in Hassam’s series of flag paintings. This Victory Day celebration no longer occurs, though there are several other May days to fly the colors.
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Retired teacher of law, economics, history, AP government, psychology and science. Former speechwriter, press guy and legislative aide in U.S. Senate. Former Department of Education. Former airline real estate, telecom towers, Big 6 (that old!) consultant. Lab and field research in air pollution control.
My blog, Millard Fillmore's Bathtub, is a continuing experiment to test how to use blogs to improve and speed up learning processes for students, perhaps by making some of the courses actually interesting. It is a blog for teachers, to see if we can use blogs. It is for people interested in social studies and social studies education, to see if we can learn to get it right. It's a blog for science fans, to promote good science and good science policy. It's a blog for people interested in good government and how to achieve it.
BS in Mass Communication, University of Utah
Graduate study in Rhetoric and Speech Communication, University of Arizona
JD from the National Law Center, George Washington University