The Simple Gesture has Deepened my Patriotism

Silver Lake, (Harrison), New York, a small town located just 20 miles north of Manhattan holds much American history. The Battle of White Plains during the American Revolution was fought there. This small hamlet was a stopping ground for the Underground Railroad, and in a small secluded area there is a well-kept cemetery for those who fought in our nation’s Civil War.

WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan veteran’s names are proudly displayed on the Honor Rolls in town. Patriotism runs deep; our families give rise to the Ninth Fold and proudly we give up our children to serve.

Just as our forefathers did on this sacred piece of American history, each generation, in their way, feels the desire to ensure the rights and responsibilities of its citizens. Some become police officers, social workers, firefighters, doctors, librarians, authors, uniformed military personnel– all called to serve.

On May 23, 2015 a young man, from zipcode 10604 graduated West Point. His name:  Stephen F. Ricciardi.

Stephen’s childhood was filled with the joys of small town living. He played sports, went to summer camp, breathed fresh air and knew the love and camaraderie of family and kin. In his early years, Stephen learned to run to keep up with his two older sisters. Beautiful and bright as both are, he rose to their sparkle.

High school was successful. He  graduated his way into West Point. Another townsman called to serve. Stephen Frederic Ricciardi was chosen to attend West Point. His mother proudly shared videos and photos of Stephen’s journey there. As a community, we rejoiced.

Stephen graduated, and as a community, we watched. Some in person; some in front of their TV sets thousands of miles away. We cheered. Stephen traveled home after his graduation to see a football game at his old alma mater, Harrison High School. I remember the day clearly. Read the rest of this entry »


History Tidbit – America’s First Veterans Benefit

Two hundred and forty years ago on August 26, 1776, roughly eight weeks after American colonists announced their “Declaration of Independence” and made known their intentions to be set free from British rule, the Second Continental Congress approved the first Veterans benefit that was national in scope—pensions for those disabled in military service.

In 1776, the Second Continental Congress was a transitional government with no recognized powers or treasury, but they faced a full-blown war with England and pensions were offered as inducements for those willing to fight for freedom.  Payment of Veterans’ pensions fell “to the assemblies or legislatures of the several states. . .on account of the United States.” In 1781 the Articles of Confederation established a weak central government with the majority of power resting with a loose confederation of sovereign states.

Disability pensions were the first Veterans benefits established in the New World by colonists of the British Empire. Since the first successful permanent colony was established in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607, individual colonies increasingly created their own laws and public benefits. Read the rest of this entry »

Nisei Service During World War II – Asian American-Pacific Islander Heritage

Celebrating Asian American-Pacific Islander Heritage!

1943_12_23_First 5 Nisei WACs_article_MorningRegister-DesMoinesIA_uiowa-edu After the Japanese military attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, looming fear of more imminent attacks on Los Angeles and the West Coast led the U.S. government to embark on a controversial program that targeted people of Japanese descent. Families and individuals of Japanese heritage were rounded up and relocated at isolated internment camps which were intentionally located far away from the American West Coast. The majority of them remained in these camps for the duration of the war. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, signed on February 19, 1942, initiated the program. Relocation efforts escalated in the fall of 1942 with more than 120,000 people of Japanese descent relocated to 10 internment camps. The majority of individuals in the camps were American-born children of Japanese parents–known as “Nisei.” Nisei is a Japanese term used for children born to Japanese (known as Issei) in a new country. The Nisei children were U.S. citizens and many of them were young adults, vocal about their loyalties, and wanted to serve in the U.S. military during the war. Read the rest of this entry »

The Museum of the American Military Family is compiling stories for a book reflecting on war…


Attention New Mexicans, who are serving in the military, are military veterans, are members of a military family, and would like to write about your experience in that capacity…

 Paul Zolbrod, Writer-in-Residence for the Albuquerque-based Museum of the American Military Family is seeking stories for its anthology “From the Front Line to the Home Front: New Mexicans Reflect on War.”

This anthology will include first-hand stories from all perspectives—service members, family members and friends who share their perspectives and experiences. Submissions can be about the recent Middle East campaigns, Vietnam, the Korean War era or World War II—and everything in between. All branches and ranks of the military should be represented.

How you can contribute:

Your story can be as long or as short as you choose. Just make it heartfelt, honest and interesting. We are looking for stories of trial and triumph and loss, stories that demonstrate the warmth and humor of military family life along with its inevitable tensions, offbeat stories that illustrate the variety that accompanies military life in war times–in other words– anything you want to tell of.

You don’t have to consider yourself an accomplished writer to participate. We will provide editorial services to sharpen your contribution.

The book will be arranged by stories of:

  • Pre-deployment,
  • Deployment
  • Post-deployment
  • Legacy & Aftermath

For more information or to submit a story, please e-mail Writer-in-Residence Paul Zolbrod at

The deadline for submissions is April 30, 2016. Tentative publication date is scheduled for the fall. All stories become part of the Museum of the American Military Family Special Collection Library.



Remembering a Brat At Pearl Harbor

By Joseph Condrill, MAMF Brat Liaison and Founder of Overseas Brats

Brat Friends,

Got three interesting bits of information to share here:

1) The story of Navy Brat, Bill Free, on December 7, 1941.

2) Why is December 7, 1941 so important to us today as Brats?

3) Ten Amazing Facts About The Bombing of Pearl Harbor?

The story of Navy Brat, Bill Free, on December 7, 1941.

Bill Free looked up to his father. As a boy, Bill enjoyed listening to his father, a sailor serving in the U.S. Navy talking about his experiences. Bill looked forward to the day he could join the Navy, and hopefully join his father onboard a ship somewhere. His dream came true, but with tragic results.

On December 7, 1941, U.S. Navy Seaman Second Class William Thomas Free was killed on board the USS Arizona when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. His father, Machinist Mate First Class Thomas Free, was also onboard the USS Arizona that morning and was also killed.

Today Bill Free is remembered on the OVERSEAS BRATS (OSB) Brats Memorial at: . He is the oldest Brat listed on the OSB Brats Memorial and the earliest date recorded of a Brat whom died while serving his country on that memorial.


Why Is December 7, 1941 so important to us today as Brats?

December 7, 1941 is so important to us today because:

*The war in Europe had stalemated. The Japanese were on the offensive in the Pacific. U.S. entry would change all that.

*English replaced French as the language of commerce and diplomacy.

*The U.S. would emerge as one of the Super Powers of The World.

*Gave birth to a new generation called The Baby Boomers.

*Would set in motion a number of things that would eventually make us all Brats. Read the rest of this entry »

Why does Memorial Day hit me so hard?

By Jim Eddy

Memorial Day, it’s always a difficult weekend for me. I sometimes don’t know why really, I wasn’t in the service; I wasn’t a member of the armed forces, so why does it hit me so hard?

I was born into the U.S. Navy in 1952; it’s the only life I knew until I was 25. My dad was a US Naval Academy 1939 graduate and a Pearl Harbor survivor.

Through those 25 years I met WWII survivors, navy pilots, admirals, navy divers, generals, sailors, marines, army personnel, Air Force personnel, Viet Nam vets, Blue Angels, and GI’s who had seen the worst battles ever. I lived in Washington, D.C. and stood solemnly at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier as a young boy. My father took me to the rusty and submerged remains of the USS Arizona prior to the existence of the memorial when I was in the first grade.

To be the son of a U.S. Navy Captain was an experience that is an honor. I visited aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers, and battleships. During those visits the members and crew of the ships treated me with dignity and respect, not to mention the ice cream in the mess hall. I will never forget those days I had as a child and teenager.

When my parents had cocktail parties, the visiting Admirals or Generals asked especially to view my ship and airplane models. They were honestly interested in my model building interests. A returning Viet Nam Marine corporal helped me to build my first car. And last, but by no means least, my father was a survivor, a skipper, and my personal navy veteran.

His passing included a 21-gun salute and military funeral. So Memorial Day to me is all of these wonderful memories and the wonderful military personnel I had the pleasure to meet in my younger years. It is so much more than one can ever imagine, military life–it’s a life of its own, and for U.S. military brats we feel it deep, even years after our folks are gone, we still feel that feeling.

Happy Memorial Day to all of the veterans and my fellow and current military BRATS, who willingly went/go where we are told to go and always keep/kept our fear at bay when our mom or dad is/was deployed.

The Civil War Ends

Shortly after noon, 150 years ago on April 13th, General Robert E. Lee, Commander for the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, and General Ulysses S. Grant, Commanding General of the Union Army, met at the home of Wilmer McLean in Appomattox Court House, Virginia. The meeting took place on Palm Sunday and lasted roughly an hour and a half, ending in Lee surrendering to Grant.


Terms of the surrender included the Union taking all the rebel officers and soldiers, their arms, artillery, and public property; but officers would retain their side-arms, private baggage and horses. Each officer and man was allowed to return to their homes, and not be disturbed.

Although General Lee surrendered, other Confederate generals and Confederate President Jefferson Davis did not. It was not until June 1865, after Jefferson Davis’ capture in May 1865, and Generals Alexander McDowell McCook and Joseph “Joe” E. Johnston had surrendered, that the war was considered over.  Jefferson Davis, General Grant, Lee, McCook, and Johnston were all graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, NY.

The Civil War transformed America in countless ways and resulted in the greatest expansion of veterans benefits in history (at that time): the first National Cemeteries and burial benefits were authorized, benefits for Regular and Volunteer forces were equalized, first benefits for African Americans who served in Union forces, government-furnished prosthetics, pensions to provide for caretakers, veterans preference in hiring, and the first National Homes which evolved into today’s federal veterans hospital system were all founded as a result of the war.

The National Park Service is commemorating the anniversary with a national bell-ringing across the land today and some VA sites are participating.


Story: VA Historian