Friday, December 15, 2017

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From 1969 to 1977, my Christmases belonged to Uncle Samuel and all but one of them were spent on duty at either a rock top radar site or in a blockhouse, watching the radar scopes or computer displays for airborne potential threats to our airspace. The first was as an OTS cadet at Medina Annex to Lackland AFB, where displaying Christmas decorations, religious or secular cost the offender at least an hour on the drill pad. Second was on the island of Cheju-do, Korea, where the frozen turkey dinner was supplemented by local pheasants we hunted. The USAF policy was to invite any American citizens near our radar site to join us for holiday dinners. We welcomed the Peace Corps contingent, who approved of the free meal but not those of us who had been in Viet Nam. The next three were at McChord AFB, where we followed Santa and the reindeer from the North Pole, providing live updates to local TV stations. From Washington to Hawaii, where for three years, Santa tracking had a lower priority than lost private jets.

Our last Christmas in the Air Force was the best of them all, because my new spouse opened our home to my Controller School students who could not get Christmas leave (the needs of the Air Force come first) for a holiday meal, spirits and fellowhip. My personal expeirience is the reason for the historical account on how tracking Santa became a NORAD tradition with a link to how it all started with a wrong number and a link that will take kids of any age to the NORAD Santa Tracking site.

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How NORAD's Santa Tracker started

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NORAD Santa Tracker

Occasionally, events not related to special sales happen on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Christmas 2014 is very special to me because of the two events below - one 200 years and the other 100 years ago. The politicians were responsible for the first one and much blood was shed after the documents were signed because messages were carried by sailing ships or animals pulling carts or coaches. The second event was spontaneous on the part of the front line troops and lasted about 24 hours and caused some of the officers on both sides in that war to worry that the troops would lose their "fighting spirit". The links below take you to details of both events.

World War I Christmas Truce

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100 years ago on Christmas Eve in northern France, British and German soldiers spontaneously declared informal truces in small groups along the muddy trenches of the Western Front.

Treaty of Ghent Site

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200 years ago in Ghent, Belgium, representatives of Great Britain and the United States signed a treaty that ended the War of 1812, but no one in the United States (including the British troops) was aware of it until about two months later - just after the Battle of New Orleans, which was one of the major battle victories for the US, even though it happened after the war was over.

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Treaty of Ghent Web Article 

Nebraska immigrants were primarily European, so early Christmas celebrations in our state were what they had practiced in the Old World. The link below is to an Extension Circular written by Elsie DeLunger in 1958 containing customs, quotes, decorations, church services and foods of the season. She was an Area Home Extension Agent.

Christmas customs in Nebraska

As a lead in to our town's 125th birthday, the link below takes  you to a Nebraska Historical Society article about Nebraska home menus in the 1890s. This includes information about what native Nebraskans ate and how it was prepared.

Nebraska Historical Society 1890's menu

The link below connects you the the Nebraska Historical Society web site.

Nebraska Historical Society

"When the soldiers came home from Viet Nam, there were no parades, no celebrations. So they built the Viet Nam Memorial for themselves." - William Westmoreland, General (retired)

"The dropping of bombs on people - isn't that terrorism?" - Alice Walker

 

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