Tom O'Connor Group

Economic and management consulting firm

National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

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National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, which is observed annually in the United States on December 7, is to remember and honor the 2,403 victims who were killed in the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

On August 23, 1994, United States Congress, by Pub.L. 103–308, designated December 7 of each year as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day is also referred to as Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day or Pearl Harbor Day. It is a tradition to fly the Flag of the United States at half-staff until sunset in honor of dead patriots.

On Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service attacked Naval Station Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii, without warning and without a declaration of war, killing 2,403 American non-combatants, and injuring 1,178 others. The attack sank two U.S. Navy battleships and damaged five others. It also damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, and one minelayer. Aircraft losses were 188 destroyed and 159 damaged.

 

Philadelphia turning railroad ruins into elevated Rail Park

In this Monday, Nov. 14, 2016 photo, shown is the Reading Railroad viaduct in Philadelphia. After over a decade of planning, Philadelphia is scheduled to start construction on the Viaduct Rail Park, transforming the rusting, overgrown and abandoned rail line into an elevated park. It will join the likes of New York City's High Line, and officials say it will transform the way Philadelphians move through the city. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

In this Monday, Nov. 14, 2016 photo, shown is the Reading Railroad viaduct in Philadelphia. After over a decade of planning, Philadelphia is scheduled to start construction on the Viaduct Rail Park, transforming the rusting, overgrown and abandoned rail line into an elevated park. It will join the likes of New York City’s High Line, and officials say it will transform the way Philadelphians move through the city. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

 

After more than 10 years of planning, Philadelphia is taking the first steps in transforming an abandoned, overgrown rail line that cuts through the heart of the city into a lush and lively public park.

Officials broke ground last month on the first phase of the Rail Park, the City of Brotherly Love’s answer to New York City’s High Line.

The first section starts in the gritty, post-industrial neighborhood called Callowhill, where a quarter-mile ruin of the former Reading Viaduct will become a walkable, elevated oasis.

“It’s going to completely change this area, if it actually happens,” said Alex George, 33, who rents an apartment one street away. He said the park has been talked about for so long, it’s developed the air of myth.

“The locals around here see it as a legend, something put in our faces as a way to raise rents,” he said.

This time, it’s real. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf announced a $3.5 million grant for the viaduct section of the Rail Park in September, allowing construction to begin before the end of the year. Other funding for the $10.3 million project comes from the city, foundations and donations.

Plans call for the Rail Park to eventually span 3 miles, traversing the center of Philadelphia via former Reading Railroad tunnels, rail cuts below street level and elevated platforms. The park would be steps from major cultural institutions like the Philadelphia Museum of Art and pass through the Community College of Philadelphia’s campus in a seamless link of 10 distinct neighborhoods. But only the quarter-mile stretch of the viaduct has funding so far.

New York City’s High Line – a 22-block elevated park – has helped transform neighborhoods on Manhattan’s West Side. Luxury condos, galleries, restaurants and boutiques have all but pushed out the industrial grime around the old freight route.

Proponents of Philadelphia’s plan envision a similar – if less glitzy – effect.

“The High Line is a Mercedes-Benz of a park, and we don’t have people here with that deep of pockets,” said Paul Levy, of the Center City District, a business improvement organization managing the first phase. The first two sections of the High Line cost about $150 million; the third section costs about $35 million.

Bustling Chinatown is a few blocks south of the viaduct, and some community leaders say they feel left out of the planning process.

The Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation had previously called for tearing down the viaduct to make way for affordable housing, said Sarah Yeung, the organization’s director of planning. Chinatown desperately needs public space, she said, but residents also need affordable housing options, something that will be harder to come by if the park succeeds and rents rise.

“It’s important that the city and Center City District realize it’s not just a park – it has a wide-ranging impact on the local community here,” she said.

Levy said his group supports the creation of affordable housing surrounding the park.

A number of U.S. cities have turned obsolete infrastructure into amenities in recent years.

In Chicago, there’s the Bloomingdale Trail – referred to as “the 606” by locals – an abandoned railway line transformed into an undulating park. Dallas built a deck over a freeway to create Klyde Warren Park. Virginia Beach, Va., turned a landfill into an expanse of lakes, hills, playgrounds and a skate park that it playfully calls Mount Trashmore.

From http://www.concordmonitor.com/Philadelphia-turning-railroad-ruins-into-elevated-Rail-Park-6272387

 

Honoring Our Veterans

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The observance of Veterans Day, Nov. 11, began almost a century ago.

In the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the Allied nations and Germany declared an armistice – a temporary cessation of hostilities – in World War I. Commemorated as Armistice Day the next year, Nov. 11 became a legal federal holiday in the United States in 1938.

After World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, a holiday dedicated to U.S. veterans of all wars.

Columbus Day

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Columbus Day is a United States observance held each year on the second Monday in October. The day signifies Christopher Columbus’ arrival to America on October 12, 1492.

Colorado first observed Columbus Day in 1906 as it became an official state holiday. More and more people and states began to recognize Columbus Day.

In 1937, Columbus Day became a federal holiday in the United States. There are many instances of people observing Columbus’ voyage since the colonial period.

In 1792, there were celebrations in New York City and other US cities, celebrating the 300th anniversary of his landing in the New World. President Benjamin Harrison called upon the people of the United States to join together in celebration of Columbus Day on the 400th anniversary of the event.

During the anniversary in 1892, teachers, preachers, poets and politicians used Columbus Day rituals to teach ideals of patriotism. These patriotic teachings were framed around themes of support for war, citizenship boundaries, the importance of loyalty to the nation and celebrating social progress.

In 1970, Columbus Day was changed to the current observation on the second Monday in October.

 

9/11 – We Remember

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My wife, Mary, originally wrote this on 9/11/01…

I, too, was stunned to hear the news this morning and continuing throughout the day.

It was just something unbelievable.  My husband and I were on a Land Rover 4X4 tour of the off-road areas of Barbados when we first got the news.

At first, when we got the very first news, around 9:30 am, I thought that it was some tale that the driver was weaving…and that there would be a punchline.  As the day wore on, more interest was on the radio than on the tour.  Some of the people in our Land Rover were from New York City and they were terrified for friends and family.

What an awful day in history this is, one of those that we’ll always remember where we were when we got the news.

Like the rest of you, I am stunned, absolutely shocked that this could happen, using our own planes, no less.  I cannot imagine the terror of the people on those planes, or in the World Trade Center…or the Pentagon.

The rest of the story:

The year of 911 my mom and my son had been with us for the first week. My son had to be back at college so on Sunday he shepherded my mom through the airport, customs and all and got her back home before he headed back to UMass/Amherst on Monday. Thank goodness they got back before the mayhem started!

On Tuesday we were out on a 4X4 from Island Safari with our favorite guide, Zario. Zario is a fun guy and and very knowledgeable about Barbados and world events. We were very happy to have him again because it was the “luck of the draw” which driver/guide we got.

I remember that morning being kind of stressed already – I was having trouble with one of my contacts and I was just grumpy.

Zario picked us up first, one of the benefits of staying at The Crane – everyone picks us first for everything and drops us off last. Then he picked up another couple from New York City who were staying at Bougainvillea.

The tour started off through the fields, down cliffs as usual. Zario had the radio on in the background. When we got to the first stop he told us that there was a “problem” in New York. That it seemed that a plane had hit a building. We thought that there was going to be a punch line somewhere. There wasn’t.

As the tour went on, the news got worse. The couple from NYC was very worried about relatives.

By the time we got to lunch and met up with the other 4x4s everyone had heard. We were in a little chattal house restaurant, the TV was on CNN and everyone was just watching in silence and horror. Usually this lunch is very festive and fun. Not a care in the world. Not today.

We left the New York people off at their hotel and went “home”. The TV was full of New York news, then Pentagon news. We know people who work at the Pentagon. The news just got worse as we went along.

We were basically stuck in Barbados.  Phones to the US didn’t work well, email was slow to non-existent, all we knew was what we got on CNN, incessantly.  My mother and son had been with us the week before and had just flown back the Saturday before.  I was so glad that they had gotten back home ok, then my son off to college.

We were supposed to fly home on the next Saturday, but if was iffy if that would happen since the airports were closed for the longest time.  We were flying into the DC area. The phone lines to the Barbados airport and to American Airlines were always busy.

Finally, we decided to give it a shot, packed up and went to the airport to see if we could fly out or not.  They could only guarantee the flight as far as Puerto Rico.

The San Juan airport was crowded with Americans trying to get home, flights being canceled due to closed airports, people sleeping all around the airport, using backpacks for pillows.  It was a very difficult time.

We did finally leave for home later that night.  This is what I wrote the next day…

I flew on American Airlines last night (9/14/2001).  We left Barbados on time but the connecting flight, originating out of Aruba was very late, and we waited for a long time in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

After that flight had arrived though, we were all sitting around, hoping they’d board the plane soon.  All of a sudden, there was cheering in the hallway.  We turned to look – our pilot and crew were marching up the hallway with a huge American flag.  He stopped and talked to us.  He explained that the copilot would hang that flag outside his window as we taxied out of Puerto Rico and into Dulles.  The flag was making the rounds of American flights all over the country and that the yellow streamers hanging down were being signed by all the American crew members.  He posed for lots of pictures (I have some I’ll post later, when my eyes are less bleary!), then, as they were going to get the plane ready, he asked us in a loud voice if we were ready to fly to Washington and everyone cheered.

Along the way, he thanked us so much for having faith and flying (like we had any choice!).  The headphones for the movie and the drinks were all free on this flight!  He also told us that there were a lot of fighter planes in the Washington to NY corridor and not to be surprised if we were intercepted by one, who would just be making sure that we were “who we said we were”.  I thought that would be kind of neat to see, but I didn’t see them.  We arrived in Dulles (Washington, DC) with a jet fighter escort.  At the time, that sounded so comforting, but it turned out that they had been there to shoot us down, if we’d made any funny moves.

Then, when we arrived at the terminal, the captain said that we were back in “the land of the free, and the home of the brave” and got some more cheers.

It was a memorable flight for someone like me, who is terrified of flying under the best of circumstances.

Us, on 9/10/01. Who knew?

9/14, San Juan Puerto Rico:
After the crew marched down the hallway.

The captain, letting others have a chance to fly the flag.

This young woman lead us onto the plane.

MaryOUSAheart

Labor Day, Always the First Monday in September

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Labor Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the first Monday in September celebrating the economic and social contributions of workers.

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883.

In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a “workingmen’s holiday” on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.

It was first nationally recognized in 1894 to placate unionists following the Pullman Strike. With the decline in union membership, the holiday is generally viewed as a time for barbecues and the end of summer vacations – and time to go back to school in Fairfax County.

 

Independence Day, 2016

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Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from Great Britain.

Independence Day fireworks are often accompanied by patriotic songs such as the national anthem “The Star-Spangled Banner”, “God Bless America”, “America the Beautiful”, “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee”, “This Land Is Your Land”, “Stars and Stripes Forever”, and, regionally, “Yankee Doodle” in northeastern states and “Dixie” in southern states. Some of the lyrics recall images of the Revolutionary War or the War of 1812.

A bit of audio for your listening pleasure, as played by Vladimir Horowitz…

National Flag Day

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On June 14th, 1885, Bernard J. Cigrand, a 19 year old teacher at Stony Hill School, placed a 10 inch, 38- star flag in a bottle on his desk then assigned essays on the flag and its significance.

He chose this date because Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as the flag of the United States on June 14, 1777. This observance was also the beginning of Cigrand’s long years of fervent and devoted effort to bring about national recognition and observance of Flag Day.

The crowning achievement of his life came at age fifty when President Wilson, on May 30, 1916, issued a proclamation calling for a nation wide observance of Flag Day.

Then in 1949, President Truman signed an Act Of Congress designating the 14th day of June every year as National Flag Day. On June 14th, 2004, the 108th U.S. Congress voted unanimously on H.R. 662 that Flag Day originated in Ozaukee County, Waubeka Wisconsin.

National Moment of Remembrance

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The National Moment of Remembrance, established by Congress, asks Americans, wherever they are at 3 p.m., local time, on Memorial Day, to pause in an act of national unity for a duration of one minute. The time 3 p.m. was chosen because it is the time when most Americans are enjoying their freedoms on the national holiday. The Moment does not replace traditional Memorial Day events; rather, it is an act of national unity in which all Americans, alone or with family and friends, honor those who died in service to the United States.

As laid out in Public Law 106-579, the National Moment of Remembrance is to be practiced by all Americans throughout the nation at 3pm local time. At the same time, a number of organizations throughout the country also observe the Moment: all Major League Baseball games halt, Amtrak train whistles sound across the country, and hundreds of other nationwide participants remind Americans to pause for the Memorial Day National Moment of Remembrance.

Memorial Day 2016

Memorial-Day

Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces.

The holiday, which is observed every year on the last Monday of May, was formerly known as Decoration Day and originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the war. By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who died while in the military service.

Many people visit cemeteries and memorials, particularly to honor those who have died in military service. Many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries.

A tribute to the men and women who fearlessly defend the freedoms we all enjoy. God bless them.

 

A quick reference:

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