Today’s Challenges Influenced by Sacrifices of Past

By Mary Fox

“It is important to remember sacrifices of the past. Challenges of the past often determine how the challenges of today are met,” said Paul Carmichael at his annual Dec. 7, WWII remembrance gathering of members of the military past and present and their families

While the focus is on WWII, all military members during wars past were represented as they shared stories of their experiences.

Two veterans of WWII attending were Lou Venezia and Haas Hargrave. Haas was a pilot in the Army Air Force. He trained on P-51s and flew B-17s during the war as a bomber pilot. Haas and his wife, both 91, have been very active pilots until this March when Haas gave up his license.

“There is nothing romantic about war,” said Venezia, who trained on horses at Fort Riley in Kansas.

There he met Oleg Cassini, Dan Dailey, Mickey Rooney and other stars. Venezia spent the war at Atkinson Field in British Guiana where troops stopped overnight while being transported home.

“The Green Project made it possible for them to get home faster by airplane rather than by troop ships,” said Venezia.

On Dec. 7, 1941, all the important islands of the Pacific including Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, were secretly attacked by the Japanese, setting in motion challenges and changes to the American way of life.

President Roosevelt said in his speech to the Congress on Dec. 8, “We will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.”

This challenge was met by the people of the United States as they sent men to war, provided military weaponry and gave up their comforts so our troops could have the materials they needed for defense. These challenges and how they were met have helped determine how challenges of the future have been met.

Major Larry Barr of Cattaraugus, retired US Air Force, spent one year in Korea and then 20 years flying for MATS (Military Air Transport Service).

“When I joined, there were six out of 70 or 80 men who met the physical requirements. I was one of them. Somebody has to do it. The guys that couldn’t would of enjoyed it,” he said. “By the time the Vietnam War came around, I had three kids and opted out. It wasn’t easy. I wanted to go. I felt it was what I should do.”

A story written by John McCain about his year as a POW was read. A member of a group of POWS, Michael Christian, stitched an American flag on the inside of his shirt with a bamboo “needle.” Each day, the men would hang it on the wall and pledge allegiance to the flag. He was severely beaten for making the flag and returned to the cell after two hours of beating. The other men cleaned him up as well as they could. Later, they saw him sitting in a corner of the cell, head bowed, sewing another flag.

“What do you think about when you say the pledge to the flag?” asked Carmichael. “Remember that the challenges of today are influenced by the sacrifices of the past.”

Steve Appleby, curator of the Eldred, Pa., WWII Museum, announced an opportunity to experience the canteens of WWII and the great performers who entertained the troops in the U.S. and abroad.

Along with the McKean County Historical Society, they will present “70 Years of the Red, White, and Blue for World War II” on Saturday, May 30, 2015, at Bromley Theatre on the campus of the Pitt- Bradford Campus in Bradford, Pa., “by the gratitude of dedicated, humble, patriotic benefactors of the Greatest Generation who sacrificed for our future.” The themed show will feature a Vintage 1940s USO Canteen.