Welcome to Awakenings

Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

USO 73rd Birthday

This Day in History: February 4, 1941


History can be acknowledged and celebrated on any given day. What is most important is for events to be remembered, not forgotten. Yesterday marks a memorable birthday relative to support for our military that warrants undivided attention: The USO...United Services Organizations.

Essential to the moral of our military troops are missions designed to maintain and boost moral by providing programs, services and live entertainment to United States troops and their families. The USO has worked in partnership with the Department of Defense (DOD), relying heavily on private contributions and on funds, goods, and services from various corporate and individual donors. Although congressionally chartered, it is not a government agency. The USO operates 160 centers worldwide.

When and how did it all begin?


Bob Hope USO show, 1944
Image Source: en.wikipedia.org
In 1941, it was clear America was destined to enter into World War II. This was not the first encounter of war for our American troops, so knowledge of the Hell about to take place was already in the hearts and minds of those pledging life and loyalty to their homeland, America. It was at the request of Franklin D. Roosevelt that the USO was formed...

Photo: USO in WWII. Courtesy of WWII 60th Anniversary Committee
...a culmination of 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 who pooled their resources.

Irving Berlin singing aboard USS Arkansas, 1944
As a result of the founding of the USO, countless entertainers have traversed over land and sea fulfilling opportunities to perform for our troops. Theirs is a task to entertain, elicit smiles and laughter, bring a 'touch of home' to foreign shores. It is not an easy task and often brings demands of performances under most unusual circumstances...certainly not the glitz and glamour normally experienced on stage.

Marilyn Monroe performing in Korea, 1954
A glimpse into a couple of experiences...
One female entertainer wrote about conditions while performing:
"We've played to audiences, many of them ankle deep in mud, huddled under the ponchos in the pouring rain (it breaks your heart the first two or three times to see men so hungry for entertainment.) We've played on uncovered stages, when we, as well as the audience, got rain-soaked. We've played with huge tropical bugs flying in our hair and faces; we've played to audiences of thousands of men, audiences spreading from our very feet to far up a hillside and many sitting in the trees. . . . We've played to audiences in small units of 500 or so, and much oftener to audiences of 8 to 10,000. Every night we play a different place."
Singer and dancer Ann Miller described performing for badly wounded soldiers. She did forty-eight shows for "broken soldiers," who were mostly lying on stretchers in the lobbies of hotels, watching as she entertained them. Yellin writes, "During her last show she collapsed and had to be taken home on an Army airplane." Afterwards, Miller described the experience:
"We went from ward to ward to ward, singing and dancing and trying to boost the morale of these men. It was just hell. . . . I just fell apart and I think the shock of seeing those men with their arms and legs blown off - it was just frightening. But when you do it, you do it. You try to help them, try to sing and dance. You try to keep their spirits up. It's heartbreaking." 
Ann Miller in her red, white, & blue.

Think about the sacrifices being made everyday and...


Related Articles:

History of USO
USO Tours
A Look at USO on its 73rd Birthday
USO History
Celebrities Who Visited the Troops More Than Once

 



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 - See more at: http://www.uso.org/uso-73rd-birthday-2014/#sthash.wijgfIOx.dpuf
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 - See more at: http://www.uso.org/uso-73rd-birthday-2014/#sthash.wijgfIOx.dpuf
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 - See more at: http://www.uso.org/uso-73rd-birthday-2014/#sthash.wijgfIOx.dpuf
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 - See more at: http://www.uso.org/uso-73rd-birthday-2014/#sthash.wijgfIOx.dpuf
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 - See more at: http://www.uso.org/uso-73rd-birthday-2014/#sthash.wijgfIOx.dpuf
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 - See more at: http://www.uso.org/uso-73rd-birthday-2014/#sthash.wijgfIOx.dpuf
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 - See more at: http://www.uso.org/uso-73rd-birthday-2014/#sthash.wijgfIOx.dpuf
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 - See more at: http://www.uso.org/uso-73rd-birthday-2014/#sthash.wijgfIOx.dpuf