The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) held their monthly meeting on November 9 at the Pulaski County Public Library. In remembrance of Veterans Day on November 11, Brigadier General (Retired) Michael J. Bouchard was the special guest speaker. General Bouchard is a retired U.S. Army brigadier general and the former Commander of the Maine Army National Guard. He served 31 years in the U.S. Army and Army National Guard, and was at the Pentagon during the 9/11 attack.
General Bouchard spoke about the history of our country and the young generation serving in the military today. He opened by explaining how the U.S. military began, and how the Pilgrims established a military to protect themselves. At that time, men ages 16-60 were expected to take up arms to protect communities. In 1636, the Massachusetts Bay colonies governor wrote the charter of the colony, and had militia units, which marks the beginning of our military traditions. In honor of DAR, General Bouchard discussed the history of the American Revolution explaining how forty-five percentage of the population were considered Patriots. Patriots were those supporting the efforts of the colonists against the British. Among those, only three percent (of the forty-five percent) actually served in the American Revolution, which would be approximately 400,000. Interestingly, the first man killed in the Boston Massacre was a freed slave. General Bouchard continued by telling the history of the battles of Lexington and Concord when the British marched to seize weapons and ammunition stockpiled by the American colonists. These battles were the first military engagements of the American Revolutionary War, and the confrontation at the battle of Concord in April 1775, became synonymous with the phrase "the shot heard around the world."
General Bouchard then transitioned to speaking about today's military. His admiration for this generation of warriors was evident in his praise of those serving today. Today's young soldiers are millennials (Generation Z) with fifty-two percent between the ages of 17-25 and twenty-one percent between the ages of 25-30. This generation, in his opinion, is the greatest ever - he knows "what they do, and what they face, and how they react." Only 0.7 percent of the population are protecting us, and none have been drafted; they volunteered while we were fighting a war. These are "young kids who deserve our respect and adoration." He explained how many people think of millennials as the selfish "Me" generation, but General Bouchard says that those serving in the military are the opposite. You have to be "selfish to become selfless, and after the extensive training the military provides, these young people have become the most highly trained force we've ever had….they have confronted evil…looked it in the eyes."
A history of Veterans Day closed General Bouchard's presentation. Veterans Day began on 11/11/1919 as Armistice Day, the first anniversary of the end of WWI. It wasn't until 1938 that November 11 was recognized as a national holiday. Then, in 1954, the name was changed to Veterans Day. The U.S. is the only country in the world that celebrates Veterans. The American Legion was chartered by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization focusing on service to veterans, servicemembers, and communities. Currently, the American Legion Post 38 in Pulaski County, Kentucky, where General Bouchard is the Commander, is accepting donations to build a Memorial Wall for the 260 Pulaski Counties who have been killed in war. To learn more about the wall, please contact the American Legion Post 38 in Pulaski County.
A special Genealogy Minute, in remembrance of Thanksgiving, was also given by DAR member Kay Spillman. Her presentation was entitled "Mr. Lincoln and the Mother of Thanksgiving," and explained how Sarah Josepha Hale (1788-1879) may be the individual most responsible for making Thanksgiving a national holiday in the U.S. Thanksgiving had long been celebrated, but had been held on different days in different states. In 1846, Ms. Hale began lobbying for a national holiday, and continued to do so for the next 17 years. Five presidents later, Abraham Lincoln became convinced in 1863 to have a national day of thanksgiving. He supported legislation for the holiday because he felt it might unify the nation after the stress of the Civil War. In 1939, President Franklin Roosevelt clarified that Thanksgiving Day should always be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month to encourage earlier holiday shopping. Interestingly, Sarah Hale is most known for the often-quoted children's poem "Mary Had a Little Lamb," which was possibly inspired by actual events at the Redstone School in Sudbury, Massachusetts. Sarah Josepha Hale was a teacher, poet, editor, and author.