by Shirley Sweet
Saturday, November 11, is Veterans Day, a day to honor all veterans of military service. The date comes from 1918 when World War I ended with an armistice between the Allies and Germany at the 11th hour of the 11th day of November. The following year the day was proclaimed a national holiday. This holiday was observed until 1953 when Alvin King of Emporia, Kansas organized the town’s annual Armistice Day observance as “All Veterans Day.” The Governor of Kansas attended as did the U.S. Representative Ed Reese who introduced legislation in Congress and in 1954 President Eisenhower changed the name of the legal holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.
For many years, the fall celebration in Grenola was held on Veterans Day. Although it could be very cold, sometimes sleet or snow, it was never rained out and there were no conflicts with celebrations in other communities. The main event was a large parade with marching bands from all the surrounding schools, elaborate floats, and politicians. Led by an honor guard of veterans from the V.F.W., the parade ended with some of the finest horses and riders around.
This year we will have a quiet observance of Veterans Day in Grenola. On Friday, Pansy Franks is preparing a Chicken and Noodle Dinner at the Senior Center all veterans and spouses are invited, please make your reservation by 9:00 a.m. on Friday if you plan to attend. All are welcome.
On Saturday, you may view the avenue of flags in Greenlawn Cemetery, thanks to Donnie and Juanita Miller and Bill and Norma McNeely. You may view the World War II memorial in Freedom Park, near the Gazebo. The museum will be open on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. There are military uniforms, photos, and other artifacts relating to the veterans. There are lists of names of those who served in the wars, even a newspaper page showing all WWII inductees from Elk County. You may also get a copy of a picture of the Honor Roll from WWII that was painted on the side of a store building in Grenola.
This year I have a new appreciation for Veterans day. On our recent trip to Washington D.C. we had an opportunity to see the Korean, Viet Nam, and World War II memorial, as well as the Iwo Jima statue. The three memorials are located on the Washington Mall between the Washinton Monument and the Lincoln Memorial
The Viet Nam wall was dedicated in 1982, the design was the work of Maya Ying Lin, a student at Yale University. Most people have seen the wall or replicas of it; it is a black granite wall “In Honor of the Men and women of the armed forces of the United States who served in the Vietnam War. The names of those who gave their lives and of those who remain missing are inscribed in the order they were taken from us.”
There are two statues flanking the wall; one with three soldiers dressed in their fighting gear, the other of three women, coming to the aid of a fallen soldier.
The Korean War memorial was dedicated in 1995. Entitled, “Freedom is not Free”; a group of 19 stainless-steel statues, depicts a squad on patrol in the rough terrain of Korea, each with windblown ponchos to represent the harsh weather. On the south side is a polished black granite wall, reflecting the statues, but intermingled with faces etched into the granite. The etched faces represent all those who provided support for the ground troops. All ethnic backgrounds are portrayed in the statues and etchings.
The World War II Memorial is the most recent and was dedicated in 2004. It is truly magnificent, located exactly halfway between the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument. White granite pillars surround a reflecting pool, on each pillar is sculptured wreath representing America’s agricultrual and industrial strength. The 56 U.S. states, territories and Disctrict of Columbia are inscribed on the pillars. On the north and south part of the circle are two pavilions representing the Atlantic and Pacific theatres of war. Halfway between the two pavilions on the west side is a Freedom Wall with 4,000 gold stars to commemorate the more than 400,000 Americans who gave their life in the war. Across from the Freedom Wall is the Ceremonial Entrance, on each side 12 bas-relief sculptures recall scenes of the sacrifice made by all Americans for the cause of freedom during World War II. Inscriptions at the base of the two pavilion fountains mark the key battles. You may learn more about the memorial project and access a registry of names in WWII on this website: www.wwiimemorial.com
These three memorials were funded by donations of civic groups and private citizens throughout the country. They are part of the National Park system. Park Rangers are on duty almost continuously to help visitors. They are also there to maintain decorum; however, the memorials themselves evoke quiet reflection, respect and honor.
This was our second visit to Washington D.C., I would gladly return tomorrow if I had an opportunity. There are many visitors from all over the U.S. and from other countries, but the guides and Park Rangers make us feel that the city belongs to U.S. which means us, you and I. They are there to preserve, protect and explain the symbols of American Freedom and the basic values of our founding fathers, a nation based on trust in God and belief that all have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
I want to pay a Veterans Day tribute to a World War II Soldier from Grenola. William Homer Hudson was born in 1920, the only son of John William “Bill” and Edna Lewellen Hudson. (Edna’s family was from Lafayette Township, Chautuaqua county, Kansas.) The family lived on north main where Bob and Charlene Todd now live. Bill owned and operated the White Eagle Bulk Gas Company (later called Mobil). He had two large gas drums along the railroad track and delivered gasoline to the five or six gas stations in Grenola, as well as to the tanks that most farmers had in their barnyard. Homer graduated from Grenola High School in 1938, he attended Southwestern College for three years. At the beginning of his senior year he enlisted in the army. He was sent to Fort Leavenworth served in the U.S. Army band during his military career.
During World War II a flag or card was hung in the window of homes with a blue star to signify a son or daughter in service to their country. If there was a casualty, the blue star was replaced by a gold star. Fortunately, the Hudson’s had only a blue star.
In 1945, Corporal Hudson married to Pfc. Miriam Dawson, WAC of Providence, Rhode Island. The couple met at Marana Army Air Field, Tucson, Arizona where Miriam was stationed. After the wedding Corporal Hudson was transferred to Ft. George Meade, Maryland.
Soon after their son, William Richard was born in Rhode Island in 1946 , they returned to Kansas. Homer taught in Moline one year, in 1948 he accepted the position of music and band teacher in the Grenola Schools. He taught music classes in classes first through 12th grade in an old army barracks building near the old brick school built in 1912. Homer taught us to read music, and we all learned to play the “tonette” along about fourth or fifth grade, so that by the time we were in junior high most were ready to play an instrument for band. Our marching band was pretty impressive; funds were raised, so that the band had handsome gray wool uniforms trimmed in blue. We participated in area parades, including the Arkalahlah and music contests. Of course, the main event was the Veterans Day Parade in Grenola with Carolyn Mattocks Hill as the drum majorette and Jim Sweet playing the tuba. Homer taught us patriotic songs in Elementary School, so that we never forgot the words to the Star Spangled Banner, America the Beautiful and the Marine Hymn. We regularly played John Phillip Souza Marches in parades and music contests. In high school our glee club took many awards singing classical numbers at music festivals.
Homer and Miriam must have loved kids, because after spending all day teaching and many evenings performing, they also operated Ace Theatre, “the picture show”. Miriam always looked great in the ticket booth and high school students took tickets and operated the concession stand. Homer was in the projection booth and keeping an eye on the audience, the little kids that sometimes wanted to run around the front and the teenagers “necking” in the back of the theatre.
Along about 1956, the couple moved to Winfield. Homer passed away in 1970 at the age of 50. Miriam continued to live and work in Winfield. Miriam was always attractive and well dressed with a positive outlook on life. She was always happy to see any one from Grenola, she considered Grenola her home town and was a charter member of the Grenola Historical Society. She died in 2001 and is buried beside her husband in Greenlawn cemetery.
While they were with us, I never gave thought to what a handsome couple they were and how fortunate we were to have them as part of our lives. Homer and Miriam served their country both in the military and as leaders of young people. Teachers such as Homer Hudson helped instill the values of faith, honesty, hard work, and other values that we cherish and hope to pass on to future generations.