Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Holidays for August 14th 2013

V-J Day

Victory Day, or Victory over Japan Day, commemorates the anniversary of Japan’s surrender to the Allies in 1945, ending World War II. The atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima on August 6 and Nagasaki on August 9, and the Soviet Union’s invasion of Manchuria in the previous week made the surrender inevitable.  President Harry S Truman’s announcement of the surrender set off street celebrations from coast to coast in the United States. The official end of the war did not occur until September 2, 1945, when General Douglas MacArthur accepted the Japanese surrender from General Yoshijiro Umezu aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

President Truman declared September 2 as the official VJ Day in 1945. In the newspapers across world that day, there were hundreds of photos of soldiers and civilians rejoicing together. VJ Day is a legal state holiday only in the state of Rhode Island. Rhode Island has celebrated this day since 1948.

One of the most famous photographs in the 20th century symbolizes the joyous atmosphere of street celebrations throughout the United States when President Truman announced Japan’s surrender in 1945.  The candid photo was taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt and published in LIFE magazine. It features a sailor presumably returning home from the war and kissing a woman at Times Square on August 14, 1945. Since then, about 11 men and three women have all claimed to be one of the two the people in that photo.

Creamsicle Day

Slurp! Can anything beat a frosty creamsicle on a hot summer day? August 14th is Creamsicle Day, so calories don't count - as long as you finish your creamsicle before it melts right down your arm.

What is a creamsicle? Originally produced as a brand-name frozen dessert on a stick, a creamsicle is an ice cream popsicle. The inside of a creamsicle usually contains vanilla ice cream, which is coated with a fruit-flavored ice (most often orange). The fudgsicle, a related item, is a solid frozen pop made of chocolate ice cream (or chocolate-flavored ice).

Financial Awareness Day

How well do you know your money? August 14th is Financial Awareness Day. Accounting groups and economic advisors present financial planning classes and cash management seminars on this fiscally responsible holiday each summer.

Even online gaming sites get into the act on Financial Awareness Day, highlighting activities that raise public awareness of money matters.

Husbands in Love Day

August 14th is Husbands in Love Day, celebrating masculine spouses who still bring the magic to marriage. Are you a husband in love with your wife? Are you a wife who still feels loved by your husband? If you are, then August 14th is for you.

Modern romantic novelist Nicholas Sparks (Dear John, The Last Song, Message in a Bottle, Nights in Rodanthe, The Notebook and A Walk to Remember) said this about husbands in love: "I think that men know how to romance a woman and most do it well, at least for a time, otherwise women wouldn't marry them. The problem is that most of them begin to rest on their laurels."

Would you agree or disagree with Nicholas Sparks on this point?

Perhaps coincidentally, August 14th is also Romance Day (see below).

Summer Romance Day

Summer romance is the stuff of paperback novels and fairy tales, but this elusive enchantment may come to life on August 14th. It's Summer Romance Day. Fictional fantasies of flirtations and flings, liaisons and love stories and affairs of the heart are celebrated on this occasion.

Why not sweeten (or spice) things up a bit with the one you love on August 14th? After all, it's Summer Romance Day.

World Lizard Day

Globally, geckos and other reptilian wonders are feted on August 14th. It's World Lizard Day. Libraries create special displays of reptile-related books. Toy stores showcase dinosaurs and lizard toys in their front windows. Science museums offer lizard lectures, exhibits, grand gila events and tours to mark World Lizard Day on August 14th. Many museums even promote discounted admission prices to celebrate World Lizard Day on August 14th.

Don't be dragon your feet on August 14th. Iguana have a great time on World Lizard Day ... don't you? Chameleon along for reptilian fun.

National Navajo Code Talkers Day

It is a great American story that is still largely unknown—the story of a group of young Navajo men who answered the call of duty, who performed a service no one else could, and in the process became great warriors and patriots. Their unbreakable code saved thousands of lives and helped end WWII.

During the early months of WWII, Japanese intelligence experts broke every code the US forces devised. They were able to anticipate American actions at an alarming rate. With plenty of fluent English speakers at their disposal, they sabotaged messages and issued false commands to ambush Allied troops. To combat this, increasingly complex codes were initiated. At Guadalcanal, military leaders finally complained that sending and receiving these codes required hours of encryption and decryption—up to two and a half hours for a single message. They rightly argued the military needed a better way to communicate.

When Phillip Johnston, a civilian living in California learned of the crisis, he had the answer. As the son of a Protestant missionary, Johnston had grown up on the Navajo reservation and was one of less than 30 outsiders fluent in their difficult language. He realized that since it had no alphabet and was almost impossible to master without early exposure, the Navajo language had great potential as an indecipherable code. After an impressive demonstration to top commanders, he was given permission to begin a Navajo Code Talker test program.

Their elite unit was formed in early 1942 when the first 29 Navajo Code Talkers were recruited by Johnston. Although the code was modified and expanded throughout the war, this first group was the one to conceive it. Accordingly, they are often referred to reverently as the "original 29". Many of these enlistees were just boys; most had never been away from home before. Often lacking birth certificates, it was impossible to verify ages. After the war it was discovered that recruits as young as 15 and as old as 35 had enlisted. Age notwithstanding, they easily bore the rigors of basic training, thanks to their upbringing in the southwestern desert.

The code they created at camp Pendleton was as ingenious as it was effective. It originated as approximately 200 terms—growing to over 600 by war's end—and could communicate in 20 seconds what took coding machines of the time 30 minutes to do. It consisted of native terms that were associated with the respective military terms they resembled. For example, the Navajo word for turtle meant "tank," and a dive-bomber was a "chicken hawk." To supplement those terms, words could be spelled out using Navajo terms assigned to individual letters of the alphabet—the selection of the Navajo term being based on the first letter of the Navajo word's English meaning. For instance, "Wo-La-Chee" means "ant," and would represent the letter "A". In this way the Navajo Code Talkers could quickly and concisely communicate with each other in a manner even uninitiated Navajos could not understand.

Once trained, the Navajo Code Talkers were sent to Marine divisions in the Pacific theater of WWII. Despite some initial skepticism by commanding officers, they quickly gained a distinguished reputation for their remarkable abilities. In the field, they were not allowed to write any part of the code down as a reference. They became living codes, and even under harried battle conditions, had to rapidly recall every word with utmost precision or risk hundreds or thousands of lives. In the battle for Iwo Jima, in the first 48 hours alone, they coded over 800 transmissions with perfect accuracy. Their heroism is widely acknowledged as the lynchpin of victory in the pivotal conflict.

After the war, the Navajo code talkers returned home as heroes without a heroes' welcome. Their code had been so successful, it was considered a military secret too important to divulge. They remained silent heroes until more than two decades later. Even after declassification of the code in 1968, it took many years before any official recognition was given. In 2001, nearly 60 years after they created their legendary code, the Navajo Code Talkers finally received well-deserved Congressional Medals of Honor.

Now, in their 80's and 90's, only a few of these silent heroes remain. Many of their stories have yet to be documented for posterity. At the Navajo Code Talker Association, we are working to create a lasting record of the Navajo Code Talker legacy. Help us preserve the greatest stories never told.