Today Should Be a Federal Holiday

And it really upsets me that it isn’t. For those who have no idea why I think today should be a holiday in America, on this date in 1941 Pearl Harbor was attacked.

I’ve written about World War II before on this blog. I’ve previously said that I think June 6 (D-Day) should be a holiday. But no. In the decades since the end of the worst conflict in history, I’ve never even heard of Congress trying to recognize December 7 as a holiday. And September 11, another day I believe should be a federal holiday, has only been discussed in small numbers.

I obviously wasn’t alive on December 7, 1941, but I imagine that it felt much the same as September 11, 2001. I remember exactly where I was (Ms. Niezgoda’s 4th grade class at Meadows Elementary.) I remember not being able to go outside for recess that day. I remember my dad picking me up from school early. And I remember the news coverage. Technology of the 40s was not what it was in 2001, but whether it was over the radio or in the newspaper or from your neighbor, everyone eventually found out what happened. And I’m sure you’ve all heard the FDR speech at least once.

There have been many events and conflicts in the history of the United States. But how many really bring you back to that specific day? I would say December 7, 1941. June 6, 1944. November 22, 1963 (Kennedy Assassination.) And September 11, 2001.

There won’t be any parades and you may not see anything about Pearl Harbor on the news today, but that doesn’t change how important it is in the history of this country.

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What’s Veterans Day Mean to you?

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I wasn’t planning on writing this today. Partly because it has nothing to do with books and also because I wasn’t sure of what I wanted to say. But I don’t think there is a wrong answer to my question. Also, I think Veterans Day is known as Remembrance Day in other parts of the world? I think. Just so you know what I’m talking about. And I think it’s celebrated on November 11 in most places to coincide with the end of World War I.

Let me see if I can answer this without thinking too much about it and giving some calculated response. To me, Veterans Day reminds me that during the 365 days a year I spend going through my day-to-day routine, whatever it may be, there are American soldiers deployed somewhere else in the world. Some are in combat zones and others aren’t, but so many are away from their families and friends. And that these soldiers are tasked with a job that I could never do. They are protecting the freedom and interests of the United States. And every one of us should be grateful for every one of them. That’s what Veterans Day means to me.

See, I don’t have any close friends or family members currently in the military. I think one of my grandpas served during World War II? But I’m not sure. All I know is that military personnel were present at his funeral and someone was presented with an American flag. But that doesn’t diminish the meaning of this day to me. My university was extremely military friendly and I had classes with veterans every single semester. I never asked about their service and I didn’t become close friends with any of them. But those classes taught me something I hadn’t realized before then, they’re just regular people like you and me. I guess I used to have this thought that anyone in the Army or in the Marines had to have a certain look about them that gave off some aura that told you not to mess with them, but no. It put a face to our military. At least it did for me.

There are always going to be some really bad things going on in the world, and the United States military will always be there. At the ready. For whatever arises. To serve the country and protect all of us. They don’t care who we voted for or if we’re White or Black or rich or poor, we’re Americans and that’s all that matters.

So if you’re reading this and you’re a United States veteran, I thank you for your service and also for your sacrifice. I know you won’t agree, but you ARE a hero. And I’m not the only one who believes so.

ESPN did a great video a little while back on veterans returning home. It’s got a sports theme to it, but these are real families and it shows how the entire families of these men and women are affected by their service. Just look at their reactions. Here’s the video. I’ve watched it maybe a dozen times and I cry every single time.

If you know any veterans, then thank them. Today and every day that you can. And don’t forget about the countless others who never made it home.

I wrote this poem a couple days ago for today.

What’s Veterans Day mean to you?

Publishers Giving Away Books?

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Photo Credit: Flickr/Missouri State Archives

That’s right. Publishers are giving away books. Over a hundred million of them. Just kidding. This is not something I can imagine ever happening again. I’m sure the major publishers have some kind of charity or school program that offers books for cheap or for free, but I highly doubt that it’s on the level of what I’m about to tell you.

Remember that thing called World War II? Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Russia and Churchill and FDR. I’m sure you’ve read about it in the history books, but there’s a part of the story you likely haven’t heard. Before I get into what happened during the war as related to books, you should know that they were not quite as available as they are now. Bookstores may be closing, but you still can get your hands on just about any book you want by way of Amazon or Abebooks or another retailer near you. With that being said, publishers took a chance in 1943. They began selling paperbacks for just six cents to the Army. These cheaply made books were manufactured using magazine presses.

You might be thinking so what. What’s it matter if publishers were selling books cheaply to the Army and soldiers stationed around the world. Well it matters because these books soon became wildly popular during the war. You can imagine the living conditions and the thoughts of never returning home of some of the soldiers. But then these books start arriving from America. I won”t exaggerate the role these books played during the war, but the Army eventually could not order these books fast enough to meet the demand of the soldiers and the publishers could not ship out a new batch of books soon enough. The books were often read until they were no longer a book, until they fell apart. Suffice it to say that a single book could be read by dozens of soldiers in lesser war torn areas.

Publishers gave away a grand total of 122,951,031 of these cheap paperbacks over the next four years. Read that number again. 122 million! Guess what the result of all their efforts was? Though paperbacks were sold prior to the start of the program with the Army, the titles weren’t the same as their hardcover counterparts and all books were hard to find because of how few bookstores existed at the time. During and after the war this changed. Rather than pay $2 for a hardcover, paperbacks were just a quarter. The everyday person could afford them and soon millions of Americans were reading.

So again, what was the result of all the work of the publishers during those few years? They helped create an America that wanted to read.

You can read a great article about all of this here.