Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Greatest Example of Christmas Spirit...EVER!!!

Nowadays, people are so focused on buying that perfect gift, that it isn't until the last minute that people get swept up in the Christmas Spirit. But what is the Christmas Spirit? Is it about being selfless? Being more friendly? Perhaps being kinder? Being a nicer person? Well it is all of that and you know, "peace on earth and good will to men." Now when we look at these examples of the Christmas Spirit the last thing we could ever relate them to is war. But wait, there is one example and if you don't believe in miracles, peace, the Christmas Spirit or what have you, I'd like you to sit tight, grab a cup of eggnog and get ready to feel the Christmas Spirit rush through you: The Christmas Truce of 1914 may be the greatest example of Christmas Spirit and good will to men...ever.

The image above is what most people recognize from World War I. The image of trench warfare and the horrors of "no mans land" are what we learn and are left with. The idea of a peaceful day is not even imaginable when discussing WWI, but there is one instance when it happened during the most wonderful time of the year. Now, without going into the details, causes and effects of WWI, I will just be retelling a story worth retelling every Christmas season to all the Grinches out there. The Christmas Truce was unplanned and unexpected. By Christmas of 1914, the war had been raging for about five months, and the men in the trenches were longing for home but more importantly peace. After the Germans failed attempt to take Paris in the fall of 1914, it seemed both sides were ready to take a long winters nap. And that's exactly what they did, the war almost came to a stand still. There was no fighting but only the building of defenses, so much building the trenches ran from the North Sea to the Swiss boarder. By this time both sides were exhausted and hunkered down for the winter and holiday season.

So, how does one exactly pause the "war to end all wars?" Well it's that guy with the tree but we'll get to him later. As Christmas Day came closer there were several attempts for a cease fire during the holidays, none of which were made by the German, Austrian, Italian, French or British governments. Yet, on the battlefield there was a sense of an unofficial cease fire. So how did this infamous truce begin? Well on Christmas Eve, the German soldiers began decorating the trenches, as odd as that sounds. How does one decorate a trench? In the same way we decorate our house today. The Germans placed candles along the trenches, put up Christmas Trees and even lined their bunkers with holly and wreaths made of evergreens. During this time of peace, another type of war was stirring and that was battle of the Christmas carols. As the Germans struck first with "Oh Tannenbaum" (That's "Oh Christmas Tree" for you none German speaking folks.) The Brits fired right back with "Silent Night" (Or "Stille Nacht" for my German speaking readers.) The war then got uglier as the two sides yelled Christmas wishes and greetings to each other. Talk about the horrors of war! Then one brave German soldier rose and lifted a Christmas Tree decorated with candles above his head and ventured out into "no mans land." This would then officially begin the Christmas Truce of 1914.

After the British realized this wasn't some crazy sneak attack plan by Jerry, they too made their way out of the trenches. It was at this point that the two sides meet for the first time, in a peaceful manor, since the wars start. In Christmas tradition the soldiers exchanged gifts with each other: food, tobacco, candies, newspapers and the thing that makes the holidays great...alcohol. The troops even traded helmets, buttons, hats, guns, and other military goods as souvenirs. There was even a football (soccer) match between the two sides and the Germans won, 3-2. The celebration lasted until January 6th on some parts of the line. The time allowed men to escape the realities of the war, unwind, regain a sense of normalcy and allowed for them to bury their brothers in arms. Both sides gathered to bury the dead, enemies now morning the loss of  men fallen in battle. Yet the truce was very much seen as a bad thing by the British and German leaderships. Orders were sent out prohibiting these meetings, but they were ignored. The Christmas Truce of 1914 was something special, it happened during one of the worlds most darkest moments, and it was a glimmer of hope. One could say it was the overwhelming power of the Christmas Spirit that rest in all of us, even in the worst of times.

The Truce received some media coverage as well. In England, reports of the Truce hit the papers a week after and expressed the joy and worry soldiers had during it. The German paper criticized those troops who took part in the Truce. However, in France there was almost no reports of it. But the story of the Truce spread through each military and there was several attempts to make the Truce an annual event. However, that would never come to be. The British and German military leaders planned artillery barrages and attacks on Christmas Eve and Day for the remainder of the war. Yet, recent research has shown that one more Truce may have happened in 1916. This time German and Canadian troops revived the practice of Christmas on the battlefield. Unfortunately for historians the only record of this comes from a soldier who was killed several days after the Truce ended. So the war would then continue on as planned and the Christmas Truce would become somehow forgotten amongst battles, casualties and legends of World War I.

Now what is it we are supposed to take away from this? Well I think there is a lot we can learn here. First, I think the Christmas Truce is a reminder to us that there are much more important things in life then ourselves and our own agendas. Second, the Christmas season is not about that perfect gift or the most expensive gift. It is about the time we get to spend with loved ones. Which brings me to my third point! Christmas should be regarded as a time for family and friends, a time in which we gather in good company and spirits. We can discuss the Truce all day, but it's Christmas, you shouldn't be reading this (but thank you). The important thing to take away is that the Spirit of Christmas is something that obviously can't be stopped. Every year we all have it hit us like a 18 wheeler barreling down the highway, but it hits us all at different times and for some, it hits us too late and we miss out on the joy of the holidays. So let's try not to let it pass by, as these men who tried to hold onto it with everything they could. They faced the something worse then any of us could ever imagine, yet still kept Christmas alive in their hearts. I feel in today's world we place so much value on the materialistic that we forget what is truly important. So go enjoy Christmas, spend time with friends and family, laugh, converse, drink some eggnog, go sing some Christmas carols, light the yule log, grab someone under the mistletoe, hell do all the cliche things that make Christmas great and just remember how much those men wanted the same feeling we are enjoying today. I'd like to wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and may all your Christmas dreams come true.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree: A Brief History of the Christmas Tree.

It's the focal point of nearly everyone's Christmas celebration. It's the one item people spend the most time trying to perfect. It's the primary monument that the family gathers around to really celebrate Christmas: the Christmas Tree. But where does it come from? What made people bring a tree into their homes and decorate it? Well the Christmas Tree has a very long history and it doesn't start in Rockefeller Center. Instead, we finds its origins in 15th century Europe, and once it's popularity caught on there was no stopping these decorative trees.

Ok, so the picture above isn't the original tree but the very first tree was set up many Christmases ago in 1441. The tree in the picture sits in the same town that the very first Christmas Tree was used. The use of the tree comes from a very oddly named group, The Brotherhood of Blackheads. The Brotherhood was a collection of bachelors living and working in Latvia. Now why would a group of single guys do this? Well, the Brotherhood first set up and decorated the tree at the Brotherhood's super secret hideout for their holiday celebration. It was on Christmas Eve that the tree was then moved to the Town Hall Square. During this party, the Brotherhood "danced around the tree in celebration." It wasn't until their Christmas celebration of 1584, that the tree was truly noticed. A local pastor claimed that "the young men went with a flock of maidens and women, first sang and danced and then set the tree aflame." Basically, the Brotherhood established the use of a Christmas tree as a way to pick up chicks. Not only do we owe them thanks for the Christmas Tree but they might be the forefathers of mistletoe as well. So this was the birth of a tradition that lives worldwide today, but how did it spread from the Baltic area to the world? Well sit tight, grab some eggnog and get ready to find out how the Christmas Tree came to decorate homes all over the globe.

So who could be crafty enough to popularize the Christmas Tree? Well its the same group of people that modernize everything else they get their hands on: the Germans. The trees made their way from the Baltic area via church practices. Churches in Germany would call them "Paradise Trees". This influenced other parishioners who took the idea and put these trees everywhere else. The first, recorded personal use of a Christmas Tree comes from a Bremen Union Hall. It was decorated with "apples, nuts, pretzels and paper flowers," and it was set up for the workers children who would pick off the decorations as their presents. Imagine that today's version would have a tree decorated in Ipods, PS3s, jewelry and gift cards, it would be a chaotic free-for-all. The tradition then spread to the wealthy and upper class of German society, especially in the Protestant communities. As the 18th century rolled around the tree was then decorated with candles and garland. Eventually, the German Army used the trees in barracks and hospitals so it is no surprise that by the 19th century, the Christmas Tree was in every home in Germany. That simple tree from Latvia grew into a major Christmas practice in Germany and was about to take off like a V2 Rocket as it spread out from Das Vaterland.

So as the Christmas Tree went on a sleigh ride through German culture, the first Christmas Tree to be used outside of Germany and Latvia was in Canada in 1781. However, it wasn't set up by Canadians but by Brunswick troops stationed in Quebec. But it was from these small beginnings that the tradition reached the ruling classes. The first to set up a tree outside of Germany and German culture was by the Countess Wilhemine of Holsteinborg (it's in Denmark) in 1808. This was immortalized by Hans Christian Anderson in his 1844 piece, The Fir-Tree. In Vienna the first Christmas Tree was set up by Princess Henrietta of Nassau Weilberg in 1816. By 1840 the tradition began to branch out to France when the Duchesse D'Orleans first used one to celebrate the holidays. It wouldn't be until the Christmas Tree hit jolly ole England that it would spread world wide. Now how did it spread across the Chanel? Well by the holy matrimony of King George the III and his fraulein Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. The first documentation of Christmas at Buckingham Palace came during 1832 when then Princess Victoria wrote in her diary, "Dear diary, it's Christmas and I am so bloody excited!" Well, that isn't really a direct quote but you get the idea. It wouldn't be until Victoria married Prince Albert, a German, that the tradition of the Christmas Tree spread world wide.

After the marriage, the tradition of the Christmas Tree spread throughout the British Isles faster then anywhere else. Now how could it? Well that perfect picture of Christmas above that's how. There was an image of the Royal Family published in Illustrated London News' December of 1848 edition, which is pictured above. This image was even released in an American publication in 1850, Godey's Lady Book, however Queen Victoria's crown was edited out to portray the ideal American Christmas. The issue was so popular, Godey's republished it for the next 20 years. It is from that image of the Royal Family that the idea of centerpiece for the American Christmas tradition of not only having a tree but decorating the crap out of it. But the Christmas Tree seems to have a more hidden history in America as there are several claims to be the first Christmas Tree prior to the images published by Godey's. The first claim was in 1777 during the Revolutionary War. Windsor Lock, Conn. was home to British and Hessian POW's and the Germans being held are reported to have set up a Christmas Tree while imprisoned. There are many other claims from Easton, Pa in 1816, Lancaster, Pa in 1821, Williamsburg, Va. in 1842 and  Wooster, Ohio in 1847. Oddly enough all these claims are tied to German immigrants spending their first Christmas in America... Coincidence? I think not. However, it is Wooster, Ohio's August Imgard who is credited for establishing the Christmas Tree in America. He was reported to place a tree in his home, decorate his tree with candy canes and paper decorations and top it with a tin star. So from its humble beginnings in Ohio it became the main centerpiece for the American family Christmas. Today it is almost impossible to travel through the major cities and small towns of America and not see a Christmas Tree during the month of December.

The mother of all Christmas Trees is the Rockefeller Center Tree, but no one ever stops to wonder why we even use a tree. In every major city and small town across the globe there is some tree lighting ceremony to kick off the Holiday season. It is an amazing feat to see a tradition transcend so many generations but it is also important we remember the history of it. From modern times and the use of a tree on Christmas morning with the family gathered around. The Royal Family gathered and celebrating a new tradition. German workers gathered at their holiday parties with their families celebrating the season. And all the way back to the Brotherhood of Blackheads using the Christmas Tree to pick up chicks. We all use it and we all love being around it. The Christmas Tree is one of the great holiday traditions which should never be forgotten. It brings family's together from the minute it enters the home. It truly embodies the spirit of Christmas and has as long a history as Christmas itself. So now here it is, the week of Christmas, finish up your shopping and last minute preparations for December 25, but before the big day sit down by the tree, take in the sights of it, take a deep breath and relax, for the Christmas Tree represents all that is good and perfect during Christmas season. I'd like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Bet You Don't Know The Most Important Civil War Battle

Step aside Gettysburg you are no longer the most important battle of the Civil War. That's right, Abe Lincoln is rolling over in his grave right now, but Gettysburg has to take the backseat from now on. Now I bet your think what can top Gettysburg, it was the definitive moment that lead to the Union becoming victorious...right? Well your wrong, so prepare yourself to have your mind blown and your knowledge of the Civil War turned upside down. The battle which turned the tide of the Civil War in favor of the Union happened on a hot Maryland July day, The Battle of Monocacy.

So why and how can this little known battle be the most important battle of the Civil War? Well it is the the turning point for the Union and was the beginning of the end for the Confederates. As the Rebels were pushing North during the Valley Campaign, the Union was on their heels. The Confederates pushed closer to Washington D.C. every day and the Union lines were being spread too thin. The worst part about this for the Union was that those damn Rebels knew all about it. So they sent Lieutenant General Jubal Early of Virginia, in command of some 15,000 Rebel soldiers up to Fredrick County, Maryland. Ulysses S. Grant, hollowed be thy name, would send what he could to try to slow down the Confederate advancement, some 4,000 Union troops under the command of Brigadier General  James Ricketts. The only thing to hold back Early until the arrive of Ricketts was a few thousand "Hundred Dayers," under the command of Major General Lew Wallace or best comparable to today's weekend warrior reservists. And that is the build up to what would become the Union's key to victory, The Battle of Monocacy was about to be underway.


 Now how important is the Battle of Monocacy? Well when the dust cleared and the bullets stopped flying, the battle would be called The Battle that Saved Washington. Now why would it be called that? Well Frederick County, MD is only about an hour from the the door of the White House. The battle was preceded by several smaller skirmishes, as the Confederates tried to find the weakest points in the Union lines. But by July 9, Wallace was meet by Ricketts and his men, making a total of about 6,000 men to stop the 14,000 strong Rebel advancements. But numbers were not the only way tow in a battle and the Union leaders knew that. They had Union troops set up on higher elevated grounds, dug trenches, used fences and built breastworks, all done to give them an advantage in battle. It was at this point that the Confederates struck and they threw everything they could at the Union troops.

So the goal of the Union troops was not to win the battle and push the Rebels back to the south. However, the goal was to slow them down and allow for Ulysses S. Grant and his reinforcements to arrive and protect Washington D.C. So, knowing they were outnumbered the Union troops held their ground and stopped every Confederate advancement. They withstood artillery barrages, cavalry charges, flanking attempts, none stop waves of Rebel troops pushing forward. It was until the end of the day the Union lines began to break. At this time the signal was given to retreat back to Baltimore, the last Union stronghold before D.C. Now this battle would be the Confederates most northern victory but when reviewing it, it is truly a win for the Union. The goal was to slow the Rebel advancements, which it did, retreat successfully, which it did and protect Washington D.C., which it did. So overall the Battle of Monocacy goes in the W column for the Union both for tactical and strategical achievements.

As the next few days unwound, the Rebels sat outside D.C. but that is all they could do.  Lt. Gen. Early occupied Fort Stevens and took in the view of Washington D.C. while Grant and his Army secured the city. It was too late, Early had missed his chance. This was all in thanks to those men at Monocacy, that one day delay single handedly saved Washington D.C. and perhaps the Union. It was that 24 hour time span that allowed for D.C. to be secured and for the Rebels to see that victory was impossible. It is after the events surrounding Monocacy that signaled the end for the Confederacy. Early would lead a retreat back to Virginia which would be his biggest tactical mistake. Grant and the Union forces would push after them and force the war back into the south were it would remain until it's end.

The battle was now over and the Union pushed into the south so Monocacy was forgotten with every Union victory.  The best way to explain Monocacy would be in the words of the men who had everything to lose of gain from the battle. General Early wrote:

 "Some of the Northern papers stated that, between Saturday and Monday, I could have entered the city; but on Saturday I was fighting at Monocacy, thirty-five miles from Washington, a force which I could not leave in my rear; and after disposing of that force and moving as rapidly as it was possible for me to move, I did not arrive in front of the fortifications until after noon on Monday, and then my troops were exhausted ..."

 Notice how he conveniently left out the fact that he did not continue onto D.C. because of Grant. But wait, I also have Grants view on what happened. General Grant writes:

"If Early had been but one day earlier, he might have entered the capital before the arrival of the reinforcements I had sent .... General Wallace contributed on this occasion by the defeat of the troops under him, a greater benefit to the cause than often falls to the lot of a commander of an equal force to render by means of a victory."

So the value of Monocacy was seen by both sides yet we forget it.It was been eclipsed by Gettysburg, the Emancipation Proclamation, Vicksburg and so many other events that lead to the Union's victory. But it seems that Monocacy is too important to forget, it is the reason the tide turned on the Rebels and the reason the Union was able to win. It is important that Monocacy be remembered, for it faces the same fate as many other Civil War battlefields, and that is simply being forgotten. The events that happened on that field are too important to be lost to history, as for it was on that field that the Union was saved but more importantly ensured the survival of the United States of America.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Frank Luke: The Most Bad Ass Medal of Honor Recipient

The Medal of Honor has a long history of being awarded to great heroes. In fact the award has been given to some 3,400 men who served the United States, but there is one that I'd like to especially highlight, Frank Luke. Now why Frank Luke? I mean there are some 3,400 other brave souls that I could choose from, but Luke stands out above the rest for two reasons. First, he has been overshadowed and two he might be the biggest bad ass of World War I. As we will see Luke deserves more then just to be a Medal of Honor recipient, but a national hero and be honored for his actions.

From the very beginning Luke was destined to be a bad ass. His family immigrated from Germany to Arizona in the 1870s. Seriously, Arizona in the 1870s? It was like a baron waste land in the 1870s. Either way that is where the Luke family established their home. As Luke grew up he working in a copper mine, again, seriously a kid working in a cooper mine? Luke was also quite the athlete and was well known in the area for his bare knuckle boxing matches. These feats were all achieved before the young Luke reached the age of 18. Then in 1917 when America entered World War I there was only one  thing Luke could do and that was go over to Europe and beat back the Huns. So, Luke joined the U.S. Signal Corps and was placed in the 27th Aero Squadron. It wouldn't be long before Luke was flying high and shooting down those want to be Red Barons.

As Luke completed his training he grew a reputation for being a tough guy. During training, Luke was well known for his reckless flying and disobeying of orders. He also tended to fly alone without any support, just another sign of his arrogance and bad assness. When Luke hit Germany his squad was given the goal of taking down enemy observation balloons. These missions were seen as suicide mission by other pilots but Luke and his longtime friend Joe Wehner volunteered for every mission. In the first 2 weeks Luke was in Germany he took down 14 balloons. In his first dogfight, he shot down two German fighters. That's right, Luke fights two people at a time and still wins. By September 29, 1918 Luke had claimed 18 confirmed kills on top of the 20 some odd balloons which he had destroyed. Yet on September 29, Luke's luck would change and he would face every fighter pilots nightmare, being shot down behind enemy lines.

The day started like any other for Luke, he woke up ready to rain hell on the Jerrys and he did it in typical Luke fashion. He took off that morning unauthorized and was threatened with being arrested for going AWOL. He was on his way to continue balloon hunting and he made his way six miles behind Firtz's line... untouched. It was then when Luke was hit and forced to land in Murvaux, France but not until he took out a few German ground troops. Now this is where Luke really earns his strips as one bad ass American. Beginning hit he tried to make his way to cover, but the Germans were onto him. So being one tough s.o.b. Luke drew his Colt Model 1911 and opened fire. He was found the next day with an empty gun in his hand, surrounded by empty shells and dead from a single wound which he received during his flight. Along with his body and gun was several Heinies. That's right Luke took out targets until the second he died, why does this man not have a holiday yet? The following day Luke was buried by the Germans. After his death and confirmation of his giant balls of steel he was awarded the Medal of Honor which was presented to his father. Luke's legacy was summed up by fellow pilot Eddie Rickenbacker,

"He was the most daring aviator and greatest fighter pilot of the entire war. His life is one of the brightest glories of our Air Service. He went on a rampage and shot down fourteen enemy aircraft, including ten balloons, in eight days. No other ace, even the dreaded Richthofen (The Red Baron), had ever come close to that."

Now oddly enough the reason Luke is overlooked is because of his friend Eddie Rickenbacker. How? Well Rickenbacker took down almost 30 German planes in 4 months. He returned home a hero and wouldn't be surpassed as the greatest American pilot until Charles Lindbergh made his flight across the Atlantic. But that's the way things work for war heroes, the living get all the glory. But Luke deserves better then that. And he kind of has though, he has his Medal of Honor and two Distinguished Service Cross, however these were all issued after his heroic death. Luke does have several other honors, there is Luke Air Force Base in Phoenix, AZ, a statue at the Arizona State Capital Building, there is Lukeville, AZ and he was named Class Exemplar of the 2010 Air Force Academy's graduating class but that's it. Those are great honors, but they are localized in his home state and within the Air Force. Luke needs to be honored on a nation wide scale, perhaps a made for TV movie, or at least be brought to the national spot light for his heroics. In the end the efforts of Luke are being forgotten to time. I hope I could somehow do him some justice by shedding some light on his life, personality, achievements, death and his heroic service during a time that seemed to almost push the world to it's breaking point.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Bonus Army: The Original Occupy Wall Street

By now we have all seen or heard about Occupy Wall Street, but I am willing to bet most people don't know the OWS movement is following in someones footsteps. Let me introduce you to the Bonus Army, a movement very similar to OWS, but more importantly has left a blueprint that OWS should be following. The Bonus Army's issues are parallel to OWS, they are rooted in years of economic imbalances and political red tape that slows down what is due to the American people. Ultimately after reviewing the Bonus Army and their cause we can see that OWS is doing things all wrong. So without further delay let me present you to you, the Bonus Army.

The Bonus Army finds its origins in World War I. Men returning home from the trenches and horrors that were the WWI battlefield they were promised a bonus on top of  their guaranteed military pay. So as you can probably guess there was no bonuses paid to any of the returning veterans. Five years after the war and with all the troops home, a terrible decision was made from the White House (surprise, surprise). President Calvin Coolidge aka "Cool Cal" vetoed the bonus bill saying "patriotism... bought and paid for is not patriotism" in other words Cal didn't want to want to shell out a couple of extra bucks for the G.I.'s that just fought the "war to end all wars." However, the true red, white and blue Congress vetoed Coolidge and set up the World War Adjusted Compensation Act which created a payout system for service time. Some 3.5 million claims were filed and it would add up to 3.6 billion dollars...American. The idea was to establish a a trust fund and by 1945 the amount would have gained enough interest to pay the bonuses. Yet there was an event looming that was unforeseeable and would devastate the fund but more importantly the American economy.

"Black Tuesday" pretty much forced the United States economy into a complete stand still and collapse, and opened a new chapter in American History, the Great Depression. The Depression was brought on by the amount of money being spread around and speculation that didn't exactly pan out. The Roaring Twenties 1% basically did exactly what the 1% are doing today and this was visible to people in the 1930s as it is as visible to us today. So this economic collapse due to gambles made by those in places of power would completely fuel the fire that was behind the Bonus Army. After the crash the Army grew, it was no longer just angry veterans being stiffed out of their bonuses but they were now joined by the American public, which was now jobless and penniless in most cases. The time for action was now, and the Bonus Army led the way, but they did not sit on Wall Street and point the finger at big business, as they knew big business wouldn't care so they took the fight right to those in charge, those who called the shots in Washington D.C.

In the summer of 1932, the Bonus Army had officially started a war on Washington D.C. The Bonus Army marched into D.C. with some 17,000 pissed off veterans who were joined by another 45,000 unemployed Americans. The Army even set up a camp in Anacostia Flats better known as Hooverville, named after President Herbert Hoover for his part in let America continue to slip into the Depression. Even though Hooverville was a "shanty town" it was extremely well organized. The veterans established a grid like street system, public safety operations, a sanitation department, registration center and held parades and daily demonstrations in front of the White House and U.S. Capitol Building. However, Hoover didn't want the Army to gain anymore support so by the end of July he ordered that the Army be removed from D.C. Now this is were things got ugly and would result  in the beginning of the end for the Bonus Army.

So like any good protest the authorities are called in to break it up. At first it was up to the Washington D.C. Police Department under the orders of Attorney General William Mitchell. As the police began to clear the Army camps the veterans rushed the officers. During the altercation two veterans were killed, William Hushka and Eric Carlson. After the failed operation by the DCPD, Hoover ordered the U.S. Army to clear out the camp. He left this mission up to one of the most bad ass generals in American History, General Douglas MacArthur. MacArthur rolled into the camp with an all star line up of military leaders, Major George S. Patton commanded the tank division under MacArthur and Major Dwight D. Eisenhower as an aide to MacArthur. The U.S. Army charged into the Bonus Army camps with fixed bayonets and used an tear gas to help in clearing the camp. The Bonus Army retreated but MacArthur pushed after them fearing that they were a red commie movement. In the end about 60 veterans were injured in the attack and about 140 were arrested. Amazingly there were only one casualty, Bernard Myers was 12 week old when he died from the effects of tear gas. After this the Bonus Army's fight was over, yet their cause would lead to change.

So how could any good come from the Bonus Army after being attacked by the U.S. Army? Two words, public opinion. First and most effected was Hoover, his image went from bad to to worse. His actions in dealing with the Bonus Army and the American economy cemented him as a one-term President. Also the film Gabriel Over the White House was released. It was set in an alternate America were the Bonus Army was praised and used to rebuild America by the President, thus helping American crawl out of the Depression. Yet perhaps the most important change caused by the Bonus Army was the election of President Franklin Roosevelt and a Democrat controlled House and Senate. During his campaign Roosevelt supported the Bonus Army's second attempt by offering a campsite, meals and assistance to those in need. His wife, Eleanor, would visit the camps and promote FDR and his plans for when he became President. It was in these camps that the Civilian Conservation Corps was founded and promoted. Once FDR was in office he passed an order enrolling 25,000 veterans into the CCC, passed the Adjusted Compensation Act of 1936 and was on his way to rebuilding America through his New Deal. It can be seen that due to the protest of the Bonus Army change was possible, but when looking at them we see who and where the change has to come from.

So it is pretty clear that OWS needs to regroup and examine the Bonus Army's tactics. OWS, like the Bonus Army did, face an economic depression, unemployment and a faulted government. Soon OWS may be able to add the large amount of veterans that fueled the protest of 1932. But what OWS needs to do is not go back to Wall Street or the financial centers of America, but to Washington D.C. and local political centers. Now why? Well because big business didn't care in 1932 and they don't care now. It is quite obvious that there is a culture of greed on Wall Street which will never go away. The Bonus Army knew this and knew change would only come from pressuring the government. The same tactics were used by those in the 1960s Civil Rights Movements and again in the Anti-Vietnam War protests. OWS needs to realize this and move their protests to the capital, pressure our law makers, force the system to change. We are after all "a government for the people, by the people," and it is time that Washington is reminded of that. It is time for America to take itself back and free itself from the grips of big business, corporate greed and payed politicians. I commend OWS for their work and ideas, but set your sights on the people who can make the change, as we saw with the Bonus Army, the fight may fail but in the end things will change because of your efforts.