10 U.S Memorial Day Facts you might not know

This is from War History OnLine.

For Gold Star families every day is Memorial Day.

I am a Gold Star family member.


The Memorial Day in United States commemorates all those men and women who lost their lives while protecting the nation. Following are some important facts about the American Memorial Day.

  1. Since its very humble beginning on May 5, 1866, the Memorial Day was celebrated on 30th May every year. However in 1971 US congress established a new date for the day, and announced the last Monday of May as official Memorial Day.
  2. Initially the memorial day only commemorated U.S. personnel died during a deadly civil war from 1861 to 1865, but later it took under its wing all those who died for the country.
  3. A total of 620,000 Americans perished in the civil war, while 644,000 Americans lost their lives in all the other conflicts since then. American Civil War is still the single most deadly conflict of the American history.
  4. The ‘national moment of remembrance’ was set at 3 pm on Memorial Day. This was made possible by ‘the national moment of remembrance act’ in 2000 signed by President Clinton on Dec. 28.
  5. The Memorial Day had varying standings in past, one of which was a different name for the day. It used to be called the Democratic day. It was believed that soldiers died upholding the democratic values of the young nation.
  6. Red poppies have always been associated with the remembrance of the dead soldiers. People wear poppies to pay respect and tribute to those who made sacrifices for the nation.
  7. The most interesting fact about the memorial day is that although Federation celebrates the memorial day along with most of states remembering the union soldiers, however many states still celebrate the memorial days for confederate dead soldiers.
  8. About 5,000 people attended the first ever Memorial Day ceremony held at Arlington National Cemetery, the Democrat and Chronicle reports.
  9. Most of the deaths that took place during the American Civil War from 1861 to 1865 were as a result of a small pox outbreak. The total number of deaths is estimated to be around 620,000 – 365,000 Union while 260,000 confederate soldiers.
  10. Following is the estimate of the total number of American causalities since the Civil War.
  • In the Civil War 620,000 Americans died
  • WWI, 116,516 U.S soldiers died
  • In the Second World War 405,399 Americans died
  • Korean War killed 36,574 Americans.
  • 58,220 American soldiers were killed in Vietnam War
  • In Operation Desert Storm a total of 148 Americans died in the battlefield while another 145 died elsewhere during the operation.
  • 4,422 Americans died in the Operation Iraqi Freedom.
  • In Operation New Dawn 66 U.S Army personnel were killed
  • 2,318 Americans perished in the Operation Enduring Freedom.


The Korean War MOH Recipient Who Didn’t Want His Medal But Eisenhower Gave it to Him

H/T War History OnLine.

You can call Private 1st Class Ernest E. West a reluctant hero.

United States Army Medal of Honor recipient Ernest West at a Veterans’ Day ceremony at Fort Knox, Kentucky
Once more, he was able to take out three of them with his rifle, but a grenade exploded in front of him which sent shrapnel flying into his left eye and arms.


A hero of the Korean War, Private 1st Class Ernest E. West, was awarded the Medal of Honor for bravely risking his own life to save an American officer and two American troopers who had been injured as well as single-handedly fighting off multiple attackers and losing an eye in the process.

Despite being awarded America’s highest honor for his valor, the modest West initially didn’t want the medal, saying that he wasn’t special and was only doing his duty.

Ernest West knew what brotherhood meant long before he joined the military. As an orphan, he was raised alongside 125 other orphan boys at the Methodist Children’s Home in Versailles, Kentucky. While these boys weren’t his blood relatives, West developed a strong bond with them and referred to them as his brothers.

In 1952, he had turned 20 and was drafted into the United States Army. After six weeks of intense basic training, he was shipped off to Korea to fight.

Fighting with the 14th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, Private 1st Class West saw action almost as soon as he arrived on the peninsula at the Battle of Heartbreak Ridge.

U.S. Army infantrymen of the 27th Infantry Regiment, near Heartbreak Ridge, take advantage of cover and concealment in tunnel positions, 40 yards from the KPA PVA on 10 August 1952

The constant attacks from enemy troops at Heartbreak Ridge weren’t the only thing West and the other American infantrymen had to worry about while stationed in the trenches and bunkers there. The Korean winter was beginning to settle in, and with it came bitter cold. The temperature sometimes dropped as low as -4°F (-20°C).

West accompanied night patrols and raids on enemy trenches, and it was after one of these that he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Heartbreak Ridge in Korea as seen from the north.

On October 12, 1952, his commanding officer asked for volunteers to accompany him on a mission to locate and destroy an enemy outpost on a hill near Sataeri. West volunteered for the mission along with eight other men.

West was on point for the mission. When they neared the objective, he noticed a group of North Korean soldiers waiting on the top of the hill to attack them. He signaled to his commanding officer that they were walking into an ambush, but by then it was too late; hand grenades were already tumbling down the hillside toward them.

Map of the Punchbowl, Heartbreak Ridge and Bloody Ridge

A grenade rolled through the gap between West’s feet, only to explode a few yards behind him, severely injuring the lieutenant in charge of the patrol. The element of surprise was gone, and the North Korean troops opened fire at them.

Since the lieutenant had been knocked unconscious by the grenade, West took control of the group. Realizing that they were outnumbered and outgunned, he ordered the men to fall back.

A 4.2-inch mortar crew, 45th U.S. Infantry Division, fires on Communist positions, Korea.

When they got back to a position of safety, West realized that a few men hadn’t made it back. He told the others to wait where they were and headed straight back out to find the missing troops. First, he reached the lieutenant who was unable to walk, so West picked him up and carried him over his shoulder.

As he transported the officer back to safety, they were ambushed by three North Korean troops. West didn’t hesitate and shot all three in quick succession with his rifle as they charged at him. He then continued his rescue mission back to the other men, despite being under heavy fire.


After reaching the safe zone he realized that more men were still missing, so without any thought for his own safety, he headed straight back out again to rescue them.

He retrieved another two injured soldiers and was again ambushed by three North Korean soldiers with rifles and grenades. Once more, he was able to take out three of them with his rifle, but a grenade exploded in front of him which sent shrapnel flying into his left eye and arms.

Even with such grievous injuries, West fought off the attackers and got his comrades back to safety. In fact, it was only after he left the battle zone that he noticed how badly injured he was.

Ernest E. West, US Army, Korean War MOH recipient.

He was evacuated to Japan where a doctor examined him and sent him back to the US. The eye was then removed on discovering that it was too badly damaged to save. After his wounds healed, he continued serving in the US Army.

He was discharged in 1953 and returned to Kentucky to work for the C & O Railroad–despite them initially refusing to re-employ him on the basis of his missing eye. The Veteran’s Association managed to convince the railroad company to rehire West.

At that point, nobody (least of all West) knew that he would be awarded the highest medal the US had to offer.

United States Army Medal of Honor recipient Ernest West at a Veterans’ Day ceremony at Fort Knox, Kentucky

In 1954, it was announced that he would receive the Medal of Honor. West initially couldn’t believe it, saying that he didn’t want the medal and had only done his duty. He believed that every man who had served alongside him deserved a medal since he regarded them all as his brothers and thought they would have done the same for him.

US President Eisenhower awarded the Medal of Honor to West in 1954. Afterward, the veteran continued to pursue a simple life and never felt he was disabled by the loss of his left eye.

He also felt no bitterness toward the North Koreans and Chinese troops that he had fought against during the Korean War, believing that every soldier simply did their duty.

Ernest E. West now lives in Russell, Kentucky and enjoys attending veterans’ parades. He is one of five living Medal of Honor recipients of the Korean War.

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Irish Troops & The Medal of Honor

H/T War History OnLine.

 An estimated 2,021 of those Medals of Honor have gone to Irish American recipients.           

McCloughan was awarded the Medal of Honor for distinguished actions as a combat medic assigned to Company C, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 196th Infantry Brigade, Americal Division, during the Vietnam War near Don Que, Vietnam, from May 13 to 15, 1969. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Alicia Brand)

19 men have so far been awarded the medal twice, and of these, five were born in Ireland.

On July 31, 2017, during a concise but poignant White House ceremony, President Donald Trump hosted the first Medal of Honor presentation of his administration. It was in this event that the most recent Irish American to receive America’s most prestigious military decoration emerged.

“I know I speak for everyone here when I say we are in awe of your actions and your bravery,” the President said, referring to the recipient, who stood stoically just a few feet from him

James C. McCloughan, aged 73 and a retired high school teacher, received the Medal of Honor for “acts of gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty” as an Army medic 48 years earlier near Tam Ky and Nui Yon Hill during the Vietnam War.

During the 48 hour period of close combat, then-23 year old McCloughan repeatedly jumped into the rain of gunfire to save his comrades, getting injured on numerous occasions, and ignoring direct orders to stop going into the Kill Zone.

McCloughan in front of the 22nd Replacement Bn Snack Bar in 1969

With his recognition and award, McCloughan did not become simply the latest Irish American to receive the Medal. His award also drew attention to one of the fascinating facts about the Medal of Honor: a disproportionate number of its recipients have Irish roots.

The most distinguished military honor of the United States of America, created during the Civil War and first awarded in 1863, the Medal of Honor has been awarded 3,525 times to date. Indeed, this is a rather minute percentage of the millions of people that have served the US in combat, and it illustrates how sparingly the Medal of Honor gets awarded.

Acting Secretary of the U.S. Army Robert M. Speer presents a citation to former Spc. 5 James C. McCloughan during the Medal of Honor Induction Ceremony at the Pentagon, in Arlington, Va., Aug. 1, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Alicia Brand)

Out of this pint-sized percentage, an estimated 2,021 of those Medals of Honor have gone to Irish American recipients.

That’s a staggering 57 percent.

Although the award is only meant for personnel of the US Armed Forces, US citizenship is not always a prerequisite to serving in the US military. As a result, thirty-three countries are represented in over 500 foreign-born recipients of the Medal of Honor. This may not come so much as a surprise, but out of these foreign-born recipients, 257 are Irish-born, representing about half of the people in this category.

Even better, 19 men have so far won the medal twice, and of these, five were born in Ireland: Henry Hogan, John Laverty, John Cooper, John King, and Patrick Mullen. Also among these 19 double medal recipients are three Irish Americans: Daniel Daly, John McCloy, and John Joseph Kelly.

McCloughan receiving the Medal of Honor from President Donald Trump on 31 July 2017

The first Irish American to receive the Medal of Honor was Private Michael Madden for his heroism during the Civil War. He swam with a wounded comrade, while under heavy enemy fire, to successfully take the injured soldier across to a branch of the Potomac to the safety of the Union lines.

Undoubtedly, one of the most remarkable Irish recipients of the Medal of Honor is Michael Dougherty of Falcarragh in County Donegal, Ireland, who fought in the 13th Pennsylvania Cavalry of the Union Army during the Civil War. 

He received the Medal of Honor for leading a charge against a hidden Confederate detachment at Jefferson, Virginia, foiling what would have led to the flanking of the Union forces, and preventing a potential loss of about 2,500 lives.

President Donald J. Trump presents the Medal of Honor to Specialist Five James C. McCloughan.July 31, 2017 (Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)

Dougherty was captured along with 126 others from his unit. He spent 23 months in prison, ultimately arriving at the dreaded Andersonville POW camp in Georgia. Dougherty was the sole survivor from his unit, but he was reduced to a mere skeleton, “more dead than alive.”

He managed to get aboard the steamship Sultana which had over 2,000 people aboard, six times its acceptable capacity. As the ship dragged on across the Mississippi, its boilers exploded and the ship was ripped apart, with its passengers getting flung into the river. Only 900 managed to survive the incident, and among these was Dougherty, who somehow managed to swim to a small island before help came.

James C. McCloughan, the recipient of the Medal of Honor, poses for a portrait with the medal in the Army portrait studio at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., Aug. 1, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Monica King)

Amazed by his impeccable story of bravery and survival, John J. Concannon referred to him as “Super Survivor” Michael Dougherty in his article for the website The Wild Geese.

Whether it is inherently Irish traits or just coincidence that explains why the Medal of Honor list is dominated by Irish blood, this fact has become something in which the Irish can’t help but revel. In a bid to explain why the Irish have dominated the Medal of Honor list, James McCloughan made reference to Irish history and culture.

A plaque bears former U.S. Army Spc. 5 James C. McCloughan’s name during his Medal of Honor Induction Ceremony at the Pentagon, in Arlington, Va., Aug. 1, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Alicia Brand)

“If you go back to the culture of the Irish you know we’ve been fighting each other and fighting the Scottish and so on and so forth for years and years and years,” he said.

According to him, his own family has a military history that dates all the way back to the Picts, who lived in Scotland in the early medieval period.

“You learn to stick up for your rights and the rights of others,” said the Vietnam War veteran. “When you go into the service, maybe you are thinking about serving your country but I’m going to tell you what once you get there you [are] just worried about surviving and then helping as many of your brothers survive as possible.”

12 Sweet-and-Chewy Facts About Tootsie Rolls

H/T Mental Floss.

Some Tootsie Rolls Trivia.


No Halloween candy haul is complete without them. Invented in 1896 by a Brooklyn food tinkerer, Tootsie Rolls have become one of the most ubiquitous sweet treats in the world, with tens of millions produced every day. Here, we unwrap a few choice facts about the storied brand.


The official story goes that the inventor of Tootsie Rolls, Leo Hirschfield, sold them out of his Brooklyn candy shop before signing over his creation to (and taking a job with) candy manufacturer Stern & Saalberg Co. There’s evidencethat shows the candy store story may have been just that—a story—and that Hirschfield was actually an employee of Stern & Saalberg all along. In any case, Hirschfield named his individually wrapped treats in honor of his 5-year-old daughter Clara, whose nickname was “Tootsie.”


Hirschfield is also credited with inventing Bromangelon, the first commercially successful gelatin dessert. Boxes of the powder sold for around 10 cents, and came in flavors like raspberry, cherry and orange.


The U.S. military valued them a source of “quick energy,” and because they wouldn’t melt in hot weather or go bad over time. In at least one instance they proved to be life-saving: A pilot whose plane was shot down over the Sahara sustained himself on Tootsie Rolls for three days.


Shortly after the invention of the Tootsie Pop in 1931, a rumor began to spread that wrappers featuring a drawing of an Indian shooting an arrow at a star could be redeemed for a free Tootsie Pop. Apparently some stores honored the giveaway, allowing the notion to persist for decades despite the fact Tootsie Roll Industries never sanctioned it. The company, which says that roughly one out of every five wrappers has the drawing, has refuted the rumor, and even came up with a “Legend of the Indian Wrapper” story to entertain customers. And yet the company still receives letters every week from people demanding free Tootsie Pops.


Surrounded by Chinese and North Korean forces at the Chosin Reservoirin 1950, the 15,000-man First Marine Division radioed for an airdrop of “Tootsie Rolls”—the Marine codename for mortar shells. What they got instead were boxes of the real thing. Turns out, though, that the candy boosted morale and kept the Marines going through the subzero temperatures. It also provided one other critical function: Soldiers discovered that chewed-up Tootsie Rolls could patch the holes in their vehicles’ fuel lines, allowing the division to leave their vulnerable position.


According to dead-celebrity expert Alan Petrucelli, Ol’ Blue Eyes is buried with them along with a few other choice effects, including cigarettes, a lighter, and a bottle of Jack Daniels.


Ellen Gordon, 83, who now runs the company after her husband, Melvin, passed away earlier this year, was featured inLife magazine ad when she was 18. Her father, William Rubin, was CEO of the company at the time.


Truly one of the more cringe-worthy superheroes of American comics, Captain Tootsie was a buff blonde lad who undertook odd adventures with kids (like killing bears and punching out bank-robbing cavemen), all while toting around a yellow man-bag full of Tootsie Rolls. First published in 1943, the comics ran as standalone issues and in newspapers for nearly a decade.


Tootsie Roll Industry’s iconic ad, which first ran in 1970, asked, “How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?” For years, fans have responded with their own assessments, typically in the high hundreds. Researchers at Purdue University and the University of Michigan, meanwhile, took a more scientific approach. Using special licking machines modeled after the human tongue, both teams entered into a Big 10 showdown. The Purdue bunch came up with 364, while Michigan put up 411. So is the true answer somewhere between those numbers? The world may never know.


That’s more than 44,440 per minute, or roughly 740 per second.


Under Melvin Gordon’s leadership beginning in 1962, Tootsie Roll Industries gobbled up a slew of competitors like Dots, Crows, Charms, Sugar Daddy, Junior Mints and Charleston Chew. In 2000, they bought Andes Mints, and in 2004 Tootsie bought Concord Confections, makers of Dubble Bubble.


Tootsie Roll Industries saw tremendous growth throughout most of Gordon’s tenure. But sales have slid in recent years as the candy industry has evolved, and lately the company has been acting a bit too old fashioned for investors’ liking. This has prompted many investors and analysts to wonder how many more licks it can take before selling.