• By Vanessa Seitz, Midway Correspondent

Midway News and Views


Midway News ‘The Food We Eat, the Stories We Tell’ On Friday, Nov. 15, Holly Hill Inn will host the authors of “The Food We Eat, the Stories We Tell: Contemporary Appalachian Tables.” The authors will read from their work during dinner and sign copies of the book. Author Silas House said, “This book fairly bursts with a bounty of words—and wonderful illustrations—that manage to articulate just why food is so important in the way it connects and sustains us.”

Midway Views Veterans Day – the men, women and animals of war Today, on Veterans Day – or Remembrance Day – as we call it in England, I proudly wear my poppy with pride. Both my English grandfathers fought and served in World War II. Both served in the Army. My granddad was in the Royal Fusiliers and then the Royal Engineers as a specialist in intelligence with maps and troop movements. My other grandpa was in the army in North Africa and was in artillery, also fighting in Italy after the Germans and Italian armies were defeated in Africa. Both enlisted and served for the duration of the war, to serve their country. Annually, I wear the red poppy – an English tradition – as a reminder of the men and women who fought and died for our country. The poppy symbolism dates back to World War I, which took around 8.5 million soldiers’ lives. In Northern France and Belgium, the battlefields left a sea of mud and battle-scarred land, but in the spring of 2015 a sea of red poppies grew and Lt. Col. John McCrae, a Canadian, saw them and was inspired to write the poem “In Flanders Field.” In America, Moina Michael read the poem in a magazine and was inspired to make and sell poppies to raise money to support returning veterans. Later, according to the National American Legion, they adopted the poppy as the official U.S. national emblem of remembrance. This tradition soon spread back to Europe, and by November 1921 the British Legion sold millions of silk poppies to help fund housing and employment for war veterans. Indeed, the first poppy factory in England employed disabled servicemen to make the poppies. But here on Veterans Day, it’s not just the men and women of the military that we remember for their service. It’s also the ancillary industries – the nurses, the doctors and others. For instance, The Vietnam Women’s Memorial Foundation cites that 265,000 American military and civilian women, mostly in their 20s, went to Vietnam to care for our soldiers. About 90 percent were nurses in the Army, Air Force and Navy, with the other women being doctors, physical therapists, communications and intelligence officers, news correspondents, and so on. To remember them, on Nov. 11, 1993, a memorial statue to honor American service women was erected in Washington, D.C. Some well-known servicewomen mentioned in Military.com include the late Bea Arthur from “The Golden Girls” and “Maude.” She enlisted at 21 years old as a truck driver in the Marines, was stationed in Virginia and North Carolina, and during her career was promoted from corporal to staff sergeant. After the Marines, she enrolled in a drama school in New York and became the TV actress we now know! Commodore Grace Murray Hopper’s name is well-known in the worlds of computer science and mathematics. She has a destroyer (the USS Hopper) named after her and the Cray XE6 “Hopper” supercomputer. She joined the Navy in 1943 and was a programmer on the world’s first large-scale computer, the Mark 1. Repairing the Mark 1, she found a moth stuck in a relay that had caused the glitch. She taped the moth in the logbook, and that’s where the phrase “a computer bug” comes from! And with the movie soon to be in theatres, Harriet Tubman was one of the first women in American history to lead a military expedition. She may be better known for her work freeing slaves on the Underground Railroad, but she was also a cook, nurse and a spy for the Union during the Civil War. There are also the oft-forgotten animals of war. A recent article in The Guardian newspaper in England estimated that around 16 million animals “served” in the First World War between 1914 and 1918. This includes 484,000 horses, mules, and other large animals killed in battle. Dogs from animal shelters and family dogs were “recruited” in Europe and used to kill rats in the battlefield trenches, or take supplies to wounded soldiers, or serve as companion animals. Pigeons were used to deliver messages, and dogs and other animals were used to raise the spirits of servicemen during war time. More recently – and closer to home – it was estimated that around 4,000 American dogs served in Vietnam during the war, and fewer than 200 made it back home after the war, according to The New York Times. Dogs were used to protect soldiers on patrol from mines and booby traps, and be the nose-to-the-ground (dogs have 225 million smell receptors on their nose compared to five million in humans) for danger; and also to hear and see movements – like an impending ambush – and alert soldiers. Some dogs were even captured and sent to prison camps with the captured American servicemen; these dogs became companion animals to the American troops, who often shared their rice rations with them. So, this Veterans Day, this Remembrance Day, I am remembering the servicemen, servicewomen, civilians and animals that have served our countries. Many of them volunteers. To those, I give my thanks for your service and wear my poppy with pride.

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