9 things you didn’t know about Inauguration - We Are The Mighty
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9 things you didn’t know about Inauguration

Ready or not America, Inauguration Day is here. With nothing better to do in 2020, more Americans than ever became engrossed in the most heated election of our time. What’s sure to mend hearts and minds together in unity? How about a not-at-all ostentatious celebration costing on average over 175 million dollars. Here’s everything you want to know.

We “go Dutch” on the bill

If the hundred million plus tab had you gagging on your 2020 tuna sandwich rations, fear not middle-class citizens—taxpayers and private donors split the ticket. Basically, you pay for the stage and bulletproof glass, not Beyonce’s performance or the bubbly served by the caseload.  

Security, please 

It should be no surprise that the event racks up a security bill of epic proportions. Think traffic control, building sweeps, snipers on rooftops, entry point checks, motorcades, minding angry protestors, and more.

A casual stroll 

The stroll down Pennsylvania Avenue made famous by President Carter in 1977, varies in length throughout the years. President Obama walked for roughly eight minutes compared to President Bush’s short three-block stroll during his second parade. The entire route driven by motorcade is approximately 1.5 miles.

President Obama's Inauguration

Every 3-letter agency is involved 

Technically designated as a national security event, this federally funded operation led by the Secret Service gathers intel from partner agencies like the FBI and ATF. This year especially, the CDC will be joining the inauguration party as well.   

Give them lobster

Lobster made the cut for the Inaugural Luncheons of President Trump, Obama, and George W. Bush. The multi-course luncheon hosted by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC) is a longstanding tradition dating back to 1897.

Take the stage 

The temporary stage is constructed to hold over 1,600 important members of the American Government. Being temporary in nature, it consists of plywood, lumber, and cinderblock and is made to compliment the architecture of the capitol building according to the JICC. This year will look a little different due to COVID protocols with only a couple hundred people on the stage.

Party like it’s 1997 

President Clinton’s 1997 inauguration holds the record for most “official” inaugural balls—14 in total. Countless unofficial parties exist on the day of, however, only events sponsored by the Presidential Inaugural Committee are listed as official and are guaranteed as an official POTUS destination. This year, in lieu of inaugural balls, the President and First Lady will have a ceremonial first dance.

Clinton on inauguration day

Poppin inauguration bottles isn’t cheap

Planning arguably the most important party of the quadrennial is a big deal requiring an even bigger budget. The opulent celebrations funded by the PIC are so “yuge” they hold Guinness World Records. President Trump’s PIC currently holds the record for raising over $90 million followed not-so-closely by President Obama’s 2009 total of $55 million.

What about the tickets? 

inauguration day at the white house

How much does it cost to attend an inauguration? That depends. While tickets to the swearing-in portion of the day are free, they are limited and can only be obtained upon request to your local Congress member’s office. Invitations to balls and other celebratory events average a few hundred dollars, well into the thousands.

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Until 1989 turkeys came to the White House to be eaten, not pardoned

Since before the days of Harry Truman, it was a Presidential Thanksgiving tradition: a plump bird was presented to the President himself at the White House every year. Every year, the President happily accepted. From 1873 through 1913, these turkeys even came from the same Rhode Island farm. It became a national tradition in Truman’s days. Since then, each President, spanning more than 50 years, delighted at the annual photo op along with fans of the traditions of the nation’s highest office.

Until 1989, that is, when President George H.W. Bush decided Tom Turkey looked a little nervous.


9 things you didn’t know about Inauguration

It was an honor for a Turkey farm to be the one to provide the White House with its annual turkey dinner. In the 1920s, the turkey presented to President Warren G. Harding traveled the country in a specially-constructed battleship turkey crate. Subsequent Presidents were sent turkeys from farms and civic groups from across the country. Places like the Minnesota Arrowhead Association, the Poultry and Egg National Board, and the National Turkey Federation were only too eager to send the Presidential mansion their best champion turkeys.

Only sporadically did Presidents pardon their turkeys before President Bush did in 1989, and it never became the tradition as we know it today. As the President received the annual gift, shouts from picketing animal rights activists could be heard nearby. Bush, acknowledging the turkey looked a little nervous gave a pardon so complete it is echoed every year since:

“Let me assure you, and this fine tom turkey, that he will not end up on anyone’s dinner table, not this guy. He’s granted a presidential pardon as of right now.”

Other Presidents have spared their turkeys. On Nov. 18, 1963, President Kennedy was the first to spare a turkey’s life. It was a spontaneous act. Nixon spared a few of his. Rosalyn Carter had all the Carter’s turkeys sent to a petting zoo, as did Ronald Reagan. But it was Reagan who first used the term “pardon” to spare the life of the turkey. At the time, the media was speculating over whether or not the President would issue a pardon for Col. Oliver North for his role in the Iran-Contra Affair. Reagan, with his trademark wit, used the term to deflect questions about the incident.

The turkeys set for President Trump to pardon in 2019 are named Bread and Butter. Fast-forward to 43:00 to watch the 2018 Presidential pardon.

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Apollo 11 astronaut and Air Force General Michael Collins passes away at 90

American hero Michael Collins passed away on April 28, 2021 at the age of 90 after a battle with cancer. Along with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, Collins was one of the Apollo 11 astronauts who made the legendary trip to the moon in 1969. He also served as an Air Force test pilot and reached the rank of Major General in the Air Force Reserves.

Collins was born on October 31, 1930 in Rome, Italy. He was the son of a U.S. Army officer serving as the U.S. military attaché. As a military child, Collins spent his youth in a number of locations including New York, Texas and Puerto Rico. It was in Puerto Rico that Collins first flew a plane. During a flight aboard a Grumman Widgeon, the pilot allowed Collins to take the controls. Though this ignited Collins’ passion for flight, the start of WWII prevented him from pursuing it.

9 things you didn’t know about Inauguration
West Point Cadet Michael Collins (U.S. Army)

When the U.S. entered WWII, Collins’ family moved to Washington, D.C. where he attended St. Albans School and graduated in 1948. He decided to follow his father and older brother into the service and received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point. His father and brother were also West Point graduates. Collins graduated in 1952. In his graduating class was fellow future astronaut Ed White who tragically perished in the Apollo 1 disaster.

Collins’ family was famous in the Army. His older brother was already a Colonel, his father had reached the rank of Major General, and his uncle was the Chief of Staff of the Army. To avoid accusations of nepotism, he opted to commission into the newly formed Air Force instead.

9 things you didn’t know about Inauguration
Michael Collins as an Air Force pilot (U.S. Air Force)

Collins received flight training in Mississippi and Texas and learned to fly jets. He was a natural pilot with little fear of failure. After earning his wings in 1953, he was selected for day-fighter training at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada where he learned to fly the F-86 Sabre. Although 11 pilots were killed in accidents during the 22-week course, Collins was unfazed.

After training, Collins was stationed at George Air Force Base, California until 1954. He moved to Chambley-Bussières Air Base in France where he won first place in a 1956 gunnery competition. He met his future wife, Patricia Mary Finnegan, in an officer’s club. A trained social worker, Finnegan joined the Air Force service club to see more of the world. Their wedding was delayed by Collins’ redeployment to West Germany during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. However, they were married the next year in 1957. Their first daughter, future All My Children actress Kate Collins, was born in 1959. The Collins’ had a second daughter, Ann, in 1961 and a son, Michael, in 1963.

In 1957, Collins returned to the states to attend the aircraft maintenance officer course at Chanute Air Force Base, Illinois. In his autobiography, Collins described the course as “dismal” and boring. He preferred to fly planes rather than maintain them. Afterward, he commanded a Mobile Training Detachment and a Field Training Detachment training mechanics on servicing new aircraft and teaching students to fly them.

9 things you didn’t know about Inauguration
ARPS Class III graduates (L-R) Front row: Ed Givens, Tommie Benefield, Charlie Bassett, Greg Neubeck & Mike Collins. Back row: Al Atwell, Neil Garland, Jim Roman, Al Uhalt and Joe Engle. Missing: Ernst Volgenau (U.S. Air Force)

Eager to get back into the cockpit, Collins applied to the Air Force Experimental Flight Test Pilot School. He was accepted to Class 60C in 1960. His classmates included fellow future Apollo astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Irwinn and Tom Stafford. The test pilot school put Collins at the controls of the T-28 Trojan, F-86 Sabre, B-57 Canberra, T-33 Shooting Star and F-104 Starfighter. Notably, Collins quit smoking in 1962 after a suffering bad hangover. The next day, he flew four hours as the co-pilot of a B-52 Stratofortess. Going through the initial stages of nicotine withdrawal, Collins described the flight as the worst four hours of his life.

Following the historic Mercury Atlas 6 flight of John Glenn in 1962, Collins was inspired to become an astronaut. However, NASA rejected his first application. Undeterred, Collins flew for the Air Force Aerospace Research Pilot School. He later applied and was accepted to the Air Force’s postgraduate course on the basics of spaceflight. He was joined by future astronauts Charles Bassett, Edward Givens, and Joe Engle.

In June 1963, Collins applied to the astronaut program again and was accepted. After basic training, Collins received his first choice in specialization: pressure suits and extravehicular activities. In June 1965, he was received his first crew assignment as the backup pilot on Gemini 7. Following the system of NASA crew rotation, this slated Collins as the primary pilot for Gemini 10.

9 things you didn’t know about Inauguration
Gemini 10 prime crew portrait (NASA)

Along with John Young, Collins lifted off from Cape Canaveral at 0520 on July 18, 1966. Gemini 10 took them to a new altitude record of 475 miles above the Earth. Collins later said that he felt like a Roman god riding the skies in his chariot. On Gemini 10, Collins also became the first person to perform two spacewalks on the same mission. At 0406 on July 21, Young and Collins splashed into the Atlantic and were safely recovered by the USS Guadalcanal.

After Gemini 10, Collins was reassigned to the Apollo program. He was slated as the backup pilot on Apollo 2 along with Frank Borman and Tom Stafford. However, Collins’ future in Apollo was put on hold when he began experiencing leg problems in 1968. He was diagnosed with cervical disc herniation and had to have two vertebrae surgically fused. Originally slotted as the primary pilot for Apollo 9, Collins was replaced by Jim Lovell while he recovered.

Following the success of Apollo 8, Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins were announced as the crew of Apollo 11. While training for the mission, Collins compiled a book of different scenarios and schemes during the lunar module rendezvous. The book ended up being 117 pages.

9 things you didn’t know about Inauguration
Collins goes through the checklist in the command module simulator (NASA)

Collins also created the mission patch for Apollo 11. Backup commander Jim Lovell mentioned the idea of eagles which inspired Collins. He found a painting in a National Geographic book, traced it, and added the lunar surface and the Earth. The idea of the olive branch was pitched by a computer expert at the simulators.

At 0932 on July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 lifted off. Collins docked the Command Module Columbia with the Lunar Module Eagle without issue and the combined spacecraft continued on to the Moon. Apollo 11 orbited the Moon thirty times before Aldrin and Armstrong entered the Eagle and prepared for their descent to the lunar surface. At 1744 UTC, Eagle separated from Columbia, leaving Collins alone in the command module.

While Aldrin and Armstrong performed their mission on the Moon, Collins orbited solo. During each orbit, he was out of radio contact with the Earth for 48 minutes. During that time, he became the most solitary human being alive. Despite that, Collins did not feel scared or alone. He later recalled that he felt, “awareness, anticipation, satisfaction, confidence, almost exultation.”

9 things you didn’t know about Inauguration
The Apollo 11 mission patch designed by Collins (NASA)

Collins orbited the Moon a further 30 times in the command module. After spending so much time in the spacecraft, he decided to leave his mark in the lower equipment bay. There, he wrote, “Spacecraft 107 – alias Apollo 11 – alias Columbia. The best ship to come down the line. God Bless Her. Michael Collins, CMP.”

At 1754 UTC on July 21, Eagle lifted off from the Moon and rejoined Columbia for the trip back to Earth. Columbia splashed into the Pacific at 1650 UTC on July 24. The crew was safely recovered by USS Hornet. As the first humans to go to the Moon, Collins, Aldrin, and Armstrong became worldwide celebrities. They embarked on a 38-day world tour of 22 foreign countries.

Satisfied with his legendary space flight, Collins retired from NASA after Apollo 11. He was urged by President Nixon to serve as the Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs. However, the Vietnam War, the invasion of Cambodia, and the Kent State shootings, sent waves of protests and unrest across the country. Collins did not enjoy the job and requested to become the Director of the National Air and Space Museum. Nixon approved and Collins changed jobs in 1971.

9 things you didn’t know about Inauguration
The Apollo 11 crew (L-R) Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin (NASA)

Along with Senator and former Air Force Major General Barry Goldwater, Collins lobbied Congress to fund the building of the National Air and Space Museum. In 1972, Congress approved a budget of $40 million. With a smaller budget than what Collins had hoped for, he also had a short suspense to meet. The museum was scheduled to open on July 4, 1976 for the country’s bicentennial. Not one to back away from a challenge, Collins got to work hiring staff, overseeing the creation of exhibits, and monitoring construction. Not only was the museum completed under budget, but it opened three days ahead of schedule on July 1, 1976.

Still a member of the Air Force Reserve, Collins reached the rank of Major General in 1976 and retired in 1982. He served as the museum’s director until 1978 when he became undersecretary of the Smithsonian Institution. In 1985, he started his own consulting firm. He has also wrote books on spaceflight, including a children’s book on his experiences. Collins enjoyed painting watercolors of the Florida Evergreens or aircraft that he flew. He lived with his wife in Marco Island, Florida and Avon, North Carolina until her death in April 2014.

9 things you didn’t know about Inauguration
Collins’ Command Module Columbia at the National Air and Space Museum (Smithsonian Institute)

Following Collins’ passing, NASA released a statement. “NASA mourns the loss of this accomplished pilot and astronaut, a friend of all who seek to push the envelope of human potential,” the release said. “Whether his work was behind the scenes or on full view, his legacy will always be as one of the leaders who took America’s first steps into the cosmos. And his spirit will go with us as we venture toward farther horizons.” Michael Collins will forever be remembered as an American hero and a champion for humanity on its quest into space.

9 things you didn’t know about Inauguration
Collins meets with President Trump in 2019 for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing (The White House)
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Disney honored this 92-year-old Navy vet cast member for Armed Forces Appreciation Day

Walt Disney and the Disney Company have always been a strong supporter of the military, especially the Navy. In fact, much of Disney’s construction in the first few decades was overseen by a former Navy Admiral. In 2021, another former Naval officer was honored by Disney for Armed Forces Appreciation Day.

Alex Stromski enlisted in the Navy at the age of 17. Although WWII was coming to an end, he felt a calling to serve his country. Stromski served honorably and earned a commission as a Naval Aviator. He attended flight school at NAS Pensacola where he was classmates with future astronaut Neil Armstrong. After earning his wings of gold, Stromski served in maritime patrol squadrons at bases around the world. Following the signing of the Korean War armistice, Stromski was part of the team responsible for keeping the peace in the newly designated demilitarized zone. He even worked on experimental naval aircraft like dirigibles.

9 things you didn’t know about Inauguration
Stroski retires as a Lieutenant Commander in 1967 (Disney)

In 1967, Stromski retired from the Navy as a Lieutenant Commander. Four years later, Walt Disney World in Florida opened its doors. Stromski became a regular annual passholder and often visited the resort with his family. His love for all things Disney grew to the point where he applied for a job in the parks. “I loved how Walt had great respect for the military,” Stronski said. “I realized that this was something I wanted to be a part of, so I applied and got a full-time job at Pinocchio’s Village Haus in 2013.”

Now working as a cast member in the happiest place on earth, Stromski brings his military experience with him to enhance guest experiences. “I love helping create the experiences that families will remember for years,” he said. “I especially enjoy meeting the military families and veterans who visit us.”

9 things you didn’t know about Inauguration
Stromski joins the Disney flag detail as the color bearer (Disney)

At the Magic Kingdom, the flags that line Main Street, U.S.A. only have 49 stars. Technically not American flags, they don’t have to be raised and lowered daily or illuminated at night. The only official American flag in the park flies proudly in the Town Square at the entrance. In observation of U.S. code, the flag is ceremoniously raised and lowered daily. In recognition of Armed Forces Appreciation Day, Stromski joined the flag detail and proudly carried the stars and stripes during the sunrise flag-raising ceremony. As the flag was raised, the 92-year-old Navy vet rendered a salute. “I’m honored and humbled,” Stromski said holding a shadowbox of the flag flown over the park the previous day in his honor. “This is something I never would have expected.”

9 things you didn’t know about Inauguration
Stromski holds a shadowbox of the flag flown over the park in his honor (Disney)

Stromski is one of thousands of military veterans working for the Walt Disney Company. To encourage veteran hiring in other companies, the Disney Institute is holding the 2021 Veterans Institute Summit from September 13-14 at Walt Disney World. The complimentary event is geared towards helping companies who want to build or enhance their own hiring, training, and support of veterans and their spouses.

Featured image: Alex Stromski, a Disney World cast member and U.S. Navy veteran, holds a 1950 photo of himself in uniform. (Disney)

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This Memorial Day, honor through action. Here’s how.

There’s a reverence that surrounds Memorial Day in the military community. A day that’s typically associated with summer barbecues and mattress sales has a very different meaning to those of us who understand that “the fallen” we’re all asked to honor are our brothers and sisters in arms, husbands, wives, mommies, daddies, friends.

It’s a day that feels heavy, weighted with nostalgia and fraught, wanting to honor their sacrifice by living, but wanting the rest of the world to pause alongside us, to bear some of the burden of the grief and to mourn our collective, irreplaceable loss.

This year, we’re asking you not just to pause, but to act.


In 2018, USAA, in partnership with The American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, created the USAA Poppy Wall of Honor to ensure the sacrifice of our military men and women is always remembered, never forgotten. The wall contains more than 645,000 artificial poppies – one for each life lost in the line of duty since World War I. Red flowers fill one side while historic facts about U.S. conflicts cover the opposite.

The exhibit was installed on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., over the Memorial Day weekend in 2018 and again in 2019. This year, USAA is making it available to more people by presenting the educational panels of the wall digitally. We encourage you to take the time to look at the wall, to teach your children and grandchildren about service and sacrifice. But more than that, we’re asking you to dedicate a poppy.

9 things you didn’t know about Inauguration

WATM had the opportunity to sit down with Wes Laird, Chief Marketing Officer at USAA, to talk about why this event matters, not just to the company, but to him.

“I tell people I grew up in a Ranger Battalion,” Laird said. “A long, long time ago in a land far, far away. Just eight and a half months after I enlisted, I was in combat on a tiny island called Grenada. I lost five people from my company, including a young man named Marlin Maynard, who was a PFC. When I got back, I was asked to eulogize PFC Maynard. I just turned 19 and I had to talk about the sacrifice he’d given. It was a very formative, impactful moment in my life.

9 things you didn’t know about Inauguration

Wes Laird in his Army days. Photo courtesy of Wes Laird.

“Every Memorial Day since, every 4th of July, every time I hear the National Anthem, I think about PFC Marlin Maynard. I think about how I went to college with my veteran benefits. I think about how I went on to have a family, to raise two boys — one who is in the Air Force — how I had a career and a whole life, and how he, and 645,000 other soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen, Coast Guardsman, how they didn’t. But that’s why this – why Memorial Day, and what we’re doing at USAA – is so important. I want Marlin’s family to know that he is remembered and honored. That his sacrifice, all these years later, has never been forgotten.

9 things you didn’t know about Inauguration

PFC Marlin Maynard, Grenada Company A, 1st Battalion (Ranger)

75th Infantry, kia October 25, 1983. Photo via Sua Sponte Foundation.

“This Memorial Day and every Memorial Day, I dedicate a poppy to him and the four others we lost in Grenada that day. What we’re doing at USAA with the USAA Poppy Wall is giving others an opportunity not just to honor, but to act. This year especially, with the COVID crisis, we are providing people the ability to come together, to unify around something we can all agree on — the importance of remembering the ultimate sacrifices of so many men and women.

“We are proud to partner with the incredible team at the Tragedy Assistance Survivors Program (TAPS) to provide meaningful opportunities for Gold Star families. You see these kids come in who have lost a parent, and the fact that we’re able to assist in their journey is so humbling. These kids need to know that their moms and dads are remembered and honored by all of us. Yes, it’s the right thing to do, but it’s also part of our DNA. We were formed by the military for the military. We say we know what it means to serve and we do know what it means to serve. It’s part of who we are, why we exist — to honor the great sacrifices of so many thousands of men and women who have served before us, alongside us and will continue to serve after us. Memorial Day is the most important day of the year for us. We hope you’ll join us this year by honoring through action.”

For more information about the USAA Poppy Wall, click here.

Today in Military History

Today in military history: Battle of Alamance preludes Revolutionary War

On May 16, 1771, the Battle of Alamance ended the War of the Regulation, a colonial war that some say was the start of the American Revolution.

By 1771, tensions were boiling in the colonies. A group of North Carolinian rebels calling themselves “the Regulators” began to openly fight against Crown officials they believed were corrupt. For decades, farmers had protested excessive fees and high taxes they were required to pay to local sheriffs and the colonial government. They demanded changes to the laws and began resisting and harassing local officials they deemed to be taking advantage of them.

On May 16, 1771, 2,000 Regulators met Royal Governor William Tyron and his 1,000-strong colonial militia at Alamance, in the western part of the colony. The Regulators demanded an audience with the Governor to discuss their differences; Tyron refused unless the Regulators agreed to disarm themselves. 

Governor Tyron’s goal was to end what he saw as open rebellion and a refusal to obey local laws. After sending two warnings to the Regulator army to surrender, Tyron marched his force forward. 

9 things you didn’t know about Inauguration
Only known likeness of Gov. William Tryon. (Public Domain)

The Regulators had zero training, little ammunition, and no cannons. Their best hope was to fight as they’d seen Native Americans fighting: avoiding lines and formations and shooting from behind tree lines. 

The battle lasted two hours. Tyron and the militia answered the Regulators’ bullets with cannon fire. The militia were organized while some of the Regulators were reported to have simply left the field of battle when they ran out of munition. Nonetheless, both sides suffered. 

9 things you didn’t know about Inauguration
Painting of the Battle of Alamance (YouTube)

The casualty count for the Regulators is unknown but nine militiamen died on the field of battle and over sixty more were wounded. In the immediate aftermath, leaders amongst the Regulators were given ad hoc trials. Fourteen were tried, twelve were convicted, and seven were hanged for treason.

The rest were promised amnesty on the condition that they took an oath of allegiance. In the next two weeks, 6,409 complied.

But many say that this was the beginning of the Jeffersonian-thinking that “a government that exercises the least control over its people governs best,” hinting at the earth-changing war to come.

Featured Image: Image From North Carolina Museum of History; “Battle of Alamance” Postcard Circa 1905-1915, by artist, J. Steeple Davis

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Why America has always had a silly history with turkeys

Every Tuesday before Thanksgiving, there’s a ceremony held in which the President of the United States gives an official proclamation before a large crowd, pardoning a turkey for all the crimes they may have committed.

The turkey pardon is a fun — albeit goofy — ceremony that helps the country get into the holiday spirit, even if it began in ’87 as a means of distracting people from the Iran-Contra Affair. Since then, every president has kept the tradition going because, well, America seems to love turkeys this time of year.

As strange as this tradition might seem, it’s really not all that out of place. The relationship between Americans and turkeys has been weird since the beginning.


9 things you didn’t know about Inauguration

In those days, the meal was “scraping together what they had.” By today’s standards, a feast of venison, lobster, and duck is far more fancy than a deep-fried turkey.

(“The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth.” 1914. Painting. Jennie A. Brownscombe)

Long before the Europeans arrived in the Americas, indigenous peoples had sort of domesticated the turkey and started breeding them, making them plumper so that they’d make for a better meal. And it made good sense to do so. Turkeys are simple creatures that, when nourished, develop into large birds with plenty of delicious meat and they’re covered in large feathers that are great for crafting.

Furthermore, wild turkeys can survive in a range of environments. They were found all across the New World, from the Cree peoples’ lands near the Hudson Bay in Canada to the lands of the Aztecs in Mexico. Columbus himself even once remarked on how great the birds tasted. Eventually, turkey became a staple in most settlers’ diets… which makes it all the more odd that there wasn’t any turkey served for dinner at the first Thanksgiving.

The Wampanoag people were well known for their hunting skills and brought venison because it was showcased their talents as hunters. The pilgrims brought lobster and water fowl because they were much more common. Since the settlers didn’t really leave Plymouth, turkey was of off the menu unless they ventured into native territory.

9 things you didn’t know about Inauguration

Not going to lie, that’s kind of badass.

(U.S. Diplomacy Center)

When everyone’s gathered around the table eating turkey this Thanksgiving, you’re bound to overhear that one uncle say, “Did you know the US almost made the turkey its national bird?” in an attempt to look smart. Unfortunately for your uncle, no. That never happened. Not even close. That’s fake news. Yes, all of these links go to a different source disproving your uncle. But it’s not your uncle’s fault — this myth has been perpetuated for hundreds of years.

This myth got its start just two years after the creation of the Great Seal of the United States when Benjamin Franklin wrote a letter to his daughter about the design choices. He jokingly said that bald eagles had “bad moral character.” He also said the bird of prey was more of a scavenger (they’re not). He went on to praise the seal of the Order of the Cincinnati, a fraternity of military officers, that had a turkey on it.

In case you were wondering, Franklin’s actual recommendation for the Great Seal was of Moses parting the Red Sea with fire raining everywhere and the motto of, “Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God.”

9 things you didn’t know about Inauguration

These loud, slow-moving, flightless birds will wreak havoc on farms in the spring time when the seeds are sewn. That’s why turkey season falls around then… in most states, anyway. Some states hold it in fall so that citizens can hunt down their own Thanksgiving dinner. Happy Thanksgiving!

(U.S. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr.)

Soon after the United States became the United States, Americans quickly started hunting down and eating wild turkeys. They hunted them so thoroughly that pioneers would almost drive them to extinction wherever they went. The turkeys survived westward expansion and steadily climbed — then, the Great Depression hit and, for obvious reasons, they almost went extinct again in the 1930s.

After World War II, some troops returning from war went on to become game wardens, and began relocating turkeys en masse to avoid their being hunted into extinction. But how did these military veterans manage to catch large quantities of elusive turkeys in the wild? With modified howitzers shells that launched nets, of course!

No, seriously. These turkey-net cannons actually worked. The turkey populations went from just under 500,000 across the entire U.S. in 1959 to the roughly seven million that are fair game for hunting each and every year.

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The Captain of the Roosevelt was fired. Watch how his crew responded.

The USS Roosevelt has dominated headlines lately after news broke that a few sailors had contracted COVID-19 while the carrier was at sea. First, the count of sick sailors was only two. Then, as this virus tends to go, the number grew exponentially. As of Wednesday, there were 93 crew members with the virus. Roosevelt Captain Brett Crozier requested help and after he thought enough was not being done, he was suspected of leaking the letter to the press, as it was published in the San Francisco Chronicle, Capt. Crozier’s hometown paper.


In the four-page letter to senior military leadership, Crozier asked for additional support, stating that only a small number of those infected had disembarked from the deployed carrier, in port in Guam. A majority of the crew remained onboard, where, as anyone who has spent time on a ship knows, social distancing isn’t just difficult; it is impossible. “Due to a warship’s inherent limitations of space, we are not doing this,” Crozier wrote in the letter. “The spread of the disease is ongoing and accelerating.”

9 things you didn’t know about Inauguration

Crozier asked that the majority of his crew be removed, asking for compliant quarantine rooms on Guam as soon as possible. “Removing the majority of personnel from a deployed U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier and isolating them for two weeks may seem like an extraordinary measure. … This is a necessary risk,” Crozier wrote. “Keeping over 4,000 young men and women on board the TR is an unnecessary risk and breaks faith with those Sailors entrusted to our care. …This will require a political solution but it is the right thing to do,” he continued in the letter. “We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our Sailors.”

While the letter ultimately had the outcome Capt. Crozier intended — many of the crew were quarantined on Guam, it came at a high cost: Capt. Crozier was relieved of command.

In a press conference Thursday evening, Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said Crozier was removed because he didn’t follow chain of command protocol in how he handled the situation.

While Modly praised Capt. Crozier, he ultimately relieved him because the captain “allowed the complexity of the challenge of the COVID breakout on the ship to overwhelm his ability to act professionally.” You can read the full text of Modly’s statement, here.

“The responsibility for this decision rests with me,” Modly stated. “I expect no congratulations for it. Captain Crozier is an incredible man. … I have no doubt in my mind that Captain Crozier did what he thought was in the best interest of the safety and well-being of his crew. Unfortunately, it did the opposite. It unnecessarily raised the alarm of the families of our sailors and Marines with no plans to address those concerns.”

The crew cheered the Captain off of the ship. We wish all of the sailors on the Roosevelt a speedy recovery.

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Exclusive with Joe Cardona: Super Bowl Champion and Navy LT on Memorial Day, Patriots and of course – Army/Navy football

Joe Cardona is no stranger to being a leader both in the fleet and on the field. Joe is a two-time Super Bowl Champion who plays for the New England Patriots. He was drafted as a long snapper, which doesn’t happen often and established himself as one of the most consistent snappers in the NFL. He also has set an example as a leader in the Pats’ locker room. How was he able to do that? A lot had to do with his college experience: Joe is a Naval Academy graduate. 

Cardona played for the Midshipmen and had a perfect career as a snapper which drew the eyes of plenty of NFL scouts. Playing in the NFL is tough, but Cardona also serves as a Lieutenant in the Navy. 

Joe is partnering with USAA, during this Memorial Day to bring awareness to USAA’s digital tribute PoppyInMemory.com where people can pay homage to a lost service member.  We got a chance to sit down with Cardona and talk about honoring those who lost their lives, his career and a little football. 

Tell me about this partnership with USAA and what it means to you?

It’s an honor to work with USAA to do a lot for service members. I am a member myself and it’s funny how that comes full circle. Poppyinmemory.com is pretty cool because it really highlights this history of remembrance with the red poppy that dates back to WWI. But now, as we enter the digital age, they have an opportunity to dedicate a poppy to a service member who made the ultimate sacrifice. 

It’s an opportunity to highlight a loved one, whether it is a family member or friend, who made the sacrifice for our freedom. 

The website itself is a great resource to honor members from every conflict back to WWI. Its pretty awesome and I am glad to be a part of it. 

Memorial Day means a lot to many of us veterans. Is there something specific about Memorial Day, like a person or part of history that really symbolized what Memorial Day means?

Most of us have someone close to us who has passed.  Whether it’s a teammate, mentor or friend we all lost someone. I had a buddy who died in an aviation accident, Lt Caleb King. I just reflect about him and his family and how much he and them sacrificed so much for all of us. And for others who have died in conflicts, even if it’s not in the forefront of our mind all the time. 

9 things you didn’t know about Inauguration
LT Caleb King/Naval Academy

I hope people will take time before you kick off a celebratory weekend to go to that veteran’s memorial or park. Stop by the memorial you walk by every single day, read the names on the memorial and reflect about them on a day like this. 

Let’s talk about you a little bit. You’re a Naval Academy Grad, you were drafted right into the NFL as a long snapper. That doesn’t happen quite often. The USNA prepares you for military service and going into battle. Is there anything the academy did to prepare you for life in the NFL? 

They are really good at preparing people to be excellent and every graduate wants to carry that tradition as an officer in the Navy or Marines. 

They answer the call to serve but we all do it differently; in different paths both in and out of the service. 

For me, having this opportunity that I never thought I would get, playing in the NFL provides that. I know I have to come every day and prove myself. But I also know I have to earn the privilege of leadership. 

You have to earn it at the Academy, and you have to earn it with your teammates, and it comes into play in high pressure moments. There are a lot of parallels between football and military service when it comes to that. 

You were promoted on the 75th anniversary of D-Day and got your Super Bowl ring the same day. How surreal was that? That has to be one heck of an experience!

Being promoted to LT is something I will never forget. I got to do it in front of my teammates and coaches who invest a lot of time in me and with peers who I served with, were there as well.  For me it was awesome because it was both of my worlds coming together.  The celebration that followed was pretty great, getting presented a Super Bowl ring and all, so I can’t complain about that. But it was a good moment to bring together my two worlds of football and service.  

Last question.  We asked this of David Robinson who went to the Naval Academy and Steve Cannon of the Falcons organization who went to West Point, so we have to ask you too. Who wins next year, Army or Navy and what does Navy need to do to get back into this fight?

I think Army-Navy this year, we are going to see a completely different set of circumstances. Navy had a down year, but they are hungry right now. They had a good spring camp. It reminds me of after my freshman year at the Academy and we were excited to go hit people so hopefully it’s the same for them.  

This past year, Army got us on their home turf. But it will be a neutral site this year, so I hope we can go kick their ass. 

In observance of Memorial Day this year, USAA is leading an effort to encourage Americans to offer a digital tribute to fallen military members by visiting PoppyInMemory.com.

  • Visitors to the site can: 
    1. Learn about lives lost in military conflicts since World War I
    2. See how to dedicate a digital poppy to a fallen military member and learn about the significance of the red poppy flower
    3. Get involved with the conversation on social media using #HonorThroughAction

On Memorial Day, America remembers those who gave their lives in military conflicts to protect the freedoms we enjoy. Since World War I, the red poppy flower has been a symbol of remembrance for the ultimate sacrifice made by more than 645,000 heroic men and women. 

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Quarantine can’t stop this 97-year-old WWII pilot from dancing to Justin Timberlake outside in socks

A video has gone viral of 97-year-old World War II veteran Chuck Franzke stepping outside on his front porch to do a little quarantine dance to none other than Justin Timberlake’s Can’t Stop the Feeling.


Franzke, more affectionately known as “Dancing Chuck,” has been dancing for years. In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal in 2017, he said, “Some music starts playing and I just start bouncing around. When the music stops, I go back and sit down. I’m just an average guy. I figure I’ve got a soft floor to land on and I just go where I go.”

His video has inspired countless people to get out and move and praise for him poured in from across the world. But no tribute was more touching than the words from the one and only, Justin Timberlake.

Timberlake shared that he actually got really choked up watching it. “I’ve had so many different friends of mine that texted me about Chuck, and so Chuck.. he’s a certified badass already because of his vet status, but 97? I hope I’m like that when I’m 57.”

Justin Timberlake is Blown Away by Viral Dances to His Songs

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Justin Timberlake is Blown Away by Viral Dances to His Songs

Timberlake reacts to Doja Cat and WWII Veteran Chuck Franzk sharing videos dancing to his music.

Franzke was a Navy pilot in World War II and married his high school sweetheart. The couple was recently interviewed by WTVR about celebrating their 80th anniversary together. In that interview, wife Beverly said, “I would marry him all over again.”

“Well I would ask you,” Chuck replied.

“She’s a good girl and a good woman,” Chuck said.

Franzke served as a U.S. Navy pilot from 1943-1945, flying Avenger torpedo bombers off of the USS Saginaw Bay in the Pacific Theater.

Keep dancing, Chuck. What a bright spot in quarantine!

Featured

New video shows Kim Jong Un in South Dakota

In this brand new video created by the very talented and quarantined folks here at We Are The Mighty, we showcase our exclusive footage of North Korea’s Supreme Leader all over the world. From atop the Taj Mahal to smooching the Big Buddha, we’re wondering if he was just on a vacation this whole time, not dead like this senior executive in China stated for her 15 million fans to hear. After making an appearance on Monday, no one really knows where Kim has been.


Where is Kim Jong Un? It’s kind of like a game of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? Or Where’s Waldo? Except it’s not fiction. Or a suitable game for children. Also, why doesn’t anyone know?

The only thing we really ever know about North Korea is that we can’t ever be sure about what’s happening there, but rumors about Kim’s grave health and possible passing were circulating for weeks before he allegedly made an appearance at a ribbon cutting on Monday.

When Kim failed to make an appearance on April 15 for the country’s most important holiday which honors the founder of the country (Kim’s late grandfather Kim II Sung), suspicion started building that Kim was sick. April 25 was another major holiday – the 88th anniversary of their armed forces, the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army and again, Kim was noticeably absent. People across the world started saying he was, indeed, dead.

But then, plot twist: According to Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), Mr Kim was accompanied by several senior North Korean officials, including his sister Kim Yo-jong at a ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday.

The North Korean leader cut a ribbon at a ceremony at the plant, in a region north of Pyongyang, and people who were attending the event “burst into thunderous cheers of ‘hurrah!’ for the Supreme Leader who is commanding the all-people general march for accomplishing the great cause of prosperity,” KCNA said.

In the absence of any information about where Kim’s been the last month, we drew our own conclusions. And made our own video.

Where in the World is Kim Jong Un?

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Where in the World is Kim Jong Un?

New video surfaces showing that Kim Jong Un was just on a worldwide vacation this entire time.

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The USO has done so much for our troops. It’s our turn to give back.

We Are The Mighty is proud to support the United Services Organization in the 125th Boston Marathon, just as the USO has been supporting troops, veterans and military families since the non-profit began in 1941. We Are The Mighty is hoping to raise $30,000 to support various USO programs. All money raised will go directly to the USO through the GivenGain charity partner program of the Boston Marathon.

Running for Team We Are The Mighty will be WATM President Mark Harper and WATM Digital Production Director Ryan Curtis.

9 things you didn’t know about Inauguration
Mark Harper, top; Ryan Curtis, bottom

Mark, an Air Force veteran, spent seven years on active duty as a Commander of Combat Video before bringing his passion for compelling visual storytelling to WATM. In the Air Force, Mark led teams of highly trained visual information professionals who deployed globally to provide documentation of DoD wartime and peacetime activities. With his love of entertainment, Mark is honored to raise money for the USO – an organization bringing joy to our troops at home and abroad through performance and the arts since WWII. 

Ryan served as a Staff Sergeant in the United States Army for eight years, enlisting just 12 days before 9/11. During this time, he deployed throughout the Middle East, Africa and Europe. Following his service, Ryan chased his dreams of storytelling to Los Angeles to become a director. Running has always been a part of Ryan’s life — the oldest of seven children in a split home, no matter what was going on inside his house, he could always count on the pavement outside to keep him grounded. Incidentally, those childhood sidewalks are the very site of the Boston Marathon. 

Mark and Ryan are humbled to run for the USO and hope to raise a combined total of $30,000. Click here to donate on GivenGain, the official fundraising platform of the USO & Boston Marathon.

9 things you didn’t know about Inauguration
Toby Keith plays to a full audience of nearly 2,000 service men and women at Camp Taji, Iraq, April 26, 2011. USO Photo by Dave Gatley

About the USO:

The USO strengthens America’s military service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country, throughout their service to the nation.

Since 1941, the USO has been the nation’s leading organization to serve the men and women in the U.S. military, and their families, throughout their time in uniform. From the moment they join, through their assignments and deployments, and as they transition back to their communities, the USO is always by their side.

9 things you didn’t know about Inauguration
Comedian Robin Williams greets troops during a USO Chairman’s Holiday Tour stop at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, on Dec. 17, 2007. Photo by Chad J. McNeeley/Courtesy of the Department of Defense

Today’s USO continuously adapts to the needs of our men and women in uniform and their families, so they can focus on their very important mission. We operate USO centers at or near military installations across the United States and throughout the world, including in combat zones, and even un-staffed USO service sites in places too dangerous for anyone but combat troops to occupy.

USO airport centers throughout the country offer around-the clock hospitality for traveling service members and their families. Our trademark USO tours bring America and its celebrities to service members who are assigned far from home, to entertain them and convey the support of the nation. And our many specialized programs offer a continuum of support to service members throughout their journey of service, from the first time they don the uniform until the last time they take it off.

The USO is not part of the federal government. A congressionally chartered, private organization, the USO relies on the generosity of individuals, organizations and corporations to support its activities, and is powered by a family of volunteers to accomplish our mission of connection.

9 things you didn’t know about Inauguration
Kids watch the 2012 Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. USO photo by Fred Greaves

History

Just prior to the onset of America’s involvement in World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt sought to unite several service associations into one organization to lift the morale of our military and nourish support on the home front. Those entities – the Salvation Army, Young Men’s Christian Association, Young Women’s Christian Association, National Catholic Community Services, National Travelers Aid Association and the National Jewish Welfare Board – became the United Service Organizations or, the USO.

Today, the USO has continued to support our nation’s military and their families for over seven decades as they defend our country and its freedoms. By providing support to our servicemen and women as they perform their most challenging duties around the world, our credo is to be always by their side.

The reach of the USO’s more than 250 centers extends to countries on every continent, operated by thousands of staff and volunteers whose goals are to match our service members’ vigilance and provide best-in-class service to those who sacrifice so much for America.

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Watch an unmanned aerial tanker refuel an F/A-18 Super Hornet

First flown on September 19, 2019, the Boeing MQ-25A Stingray is an unmanned aerial refueling drone. On June 4, 2021, the Stingray conducted its first successful refueling test.

The Navy began developing a carrier-based UAV in 2006. Called the Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike program, the Navy wanted a stealthy strike aircraft for penetrating enemy air defenses. However, delays in the UCLASS program redirected the Navy’s efforts to other roles. Under the Carrier-Based Aerial-Refueling System, the Navy sought to bring a Super Hornet-sized carrier-based aerial refueling tanker drone to the fleet. In July 2016, the concept was officially given the name MQ-25A Stingray.

In October 2017, the Navy requested proposals from Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and General Atomics for the Stingray. On August 30, 2018, Boeing was announced the winner of the competition. An $805 million contract was issued for four MQ-25As to be produced by August 2024. Three more aircraft were ordered in 2020.

The successful midair refueling between the Stingray and Super Hornet on June 4 was the first major milestone in the future of unmanned carrier-based aircraft. “During the flight, the receiver Navy F/A-18 [Super] Hornet approached the Boeing-owned MQ-25 T1 test asset, conducted a formation evaluation, wake survey, drogue tracking and then plugged with the unmanned aircraft. T1 then successfully transferred fuel from its Aerial Refueling Store (ARS) to the F/A-18,” said Naval Air Systems Command.

Designated T1, the first Stingray is scheduled to test basic deck handling aboard an in-port aircraft carrier in Norfolk later this year. The Navy is now set to buy 76 MQ-25As at a cost of $1.3 billion. Initial operating capability for the MQ-25A is set for 2025.

Featured photo: MQ-25A T1 refuels an F/A-18 Super Hornet (Boeing)

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