November brings a focus on the military and those men and women who gave their youth or their entire lives to the defense of their family, home and country. The month of November is set aside to honor American Veteran’s. Veteran’s Day was originally called Armistice Day to recognize the end of World War I at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month with the signing of an armistice in 1918. In 1938 Veteran’s Day became a federal holiday. After World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became Veteran’s Day. On this day, we honor all veteran’s both living and dead and we thank them for their selfless sacrifices. Here are some military heroes that you may not know.
Sergeant Medgar Evers, United States Army, World War II– Prior to becoming an American civil rights activist he was a soldier serving in the United States Army During World War II from 1943 to 1945. Sergeant Medgar Evers was sent to the European Theatre and fought in the Battle of Normandy in June 1944. Although he put his life on the line for freedom and equality for the United States and Europe during World War II when returning home and applying to University of Mississippi Law School he was told he could not attend because he was African American. African American’s were not allowed to attend University of Mississippi. Sergeant Evers used the skills he learned as an officer in the military to become a leader in the civil rights movement leading the NAACP in the efforts for equality and against segregation. Several attempts was made on his life by those who advocated discrimination and segregation. On June 12, 1963, Medgar Evers was assassinated in front of his home, by Byron De La Beckwith. In 1994, 30 years after the death of Medgar Evers, La Beckwith was finally brought to justice and found guilty. He spent less than three years in prison for murdering Medgar Evers, before he died at the age of 80. Sgt. Medgar Evers was buried with full honors at Arlington National Cemetery (Evers-Williams 2005)
Nurse Susie King Taylor, Union Army, Civil War– A former slave also known as Susan Ann Baker, was the first African American Army Nurse. She moved with the First South Carolina Volunteers of African Descent which was later reflagged as 33rd United States Colored Troops 8, in February 1864. For three years she served as nurse, laundress and teacher, instructing the African American soldiers in reading and writing. Nurse Taylor was never paid or honored for her service to the United States. She is the author of the book, Reminiscences of My Life in Camp with the 334d United States Colored Troops, Late 1st S.C. Volunteers. She was the only African American woman to publish a memoir of her wartime experiences (University of Georgia, 2002).
Corporal Ira Hamilton Hayes, United States Marine Corps, World War II – A Pima Native American was one of the six members of the military who raised the second United States flag on Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima. He volunteered to
Become a paramarine and fought in the Pacific Theatre of Operations including, Bougainville and Iwo Jima. Most of the flag raisers died in battle. Corporal Hayes returned home and died at the age of thirty-three. He is immortalized in pictures, movies and in song. Corporal Hayes is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
The picture of the second flag raising became a proud symbol for America. The first flag was raised on February 23, 1945 by SSgt. Louis R. Lowery, USMC. 1st Lt. Harold Schrier, Pfc. Raymond Jacobs, Sgt. Henry Hansen, Platoon Sgt. Ernest Thomas, Pvt. Phil Ward, PhM2c John Bradley, USN, Pfc. James Michels and Cpl. Charles Lindberg. Later the same day a larger flag was found and replaced the original flag by the following: Ira Hayes, Franklin Sousley, Michael Strank, John Bradley, Rene Gagnon and Harlon Block.
This month, America honors everyone who has served in and for the United States military.