Veterans Day – What does it mean to you?

“A Salute to Dad – Thomas J. Bugg, Jr.”

Veterans Day History 

In the USA, Veterans Day annually falls on November 11. On November 11, 1919, Armistice Day was commemorated for the first time. In 1919, President Wilson proclaimed the day should be “filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory”.

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Thomas J Bugg Jr.

An Act was approved on May 13, 1938, which made November 11 in each year a legal holiday, known as Armistice Day. In 1954, the veterans service organizations urged Congress to change the word “Armistice” to “Veterans”. Congress approved this change and on June 1, 1954, November 11 became a day to honor all American veterans, where ever and whenever they had served.

Since that time we have been militarily involved in over twenty different wars and incidences where our men and women have been put in “harms way” including such larger wars as:

WW1; WWII; Korean War; Vietnam War; Persian Gulf War; Afghanistan War; Iraq War and so very many others. It matters not what the size of the war was; nor the reason for being sent into any situation –

When their country called – Their sons and daughters have always answered the call”

To all of us in the United States it should be celebrated as a hallowed day of remembrance and appreciation for all of those who have served for and died for our country and for us to preserve the precious freedoms and way of life that we enjoy daily.

73 years ago we entered WWII on December 7, 1941 when the Japanese without prior warning bombed Pearl Harbor. At the time of World War II there were about 131 million citizens in the United States and over 16 million of them went to war. Over 407 thousand where killed and over 671 thousand were wounded.

Today there are less than 1 million of those WWII Veterans still alive, most of them in their 90’s and every three minutes of each day (555 daily) we are losing another of those men and women.

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To me personally it means all the above and a bit more as I can relate so specifically to my father – Thomas Jackson Bugg, Jr – being one of those in that “Greatest Generation” who fought in WWII. Here is a link of a more detailed account and pictures of his time up through WWII (http://scottsvillemuseum.com/wwii/veterans/bugginterview.html)

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Thomas Bugg’s family during WWII. (L to R): Dorothy Bugg (his wife), Thomas, Virginia and Jack Bugg (his parents), Virginia Bugg (his sister-in-law and a nurse in WWII), Waverly Bugg (enlisted in the Army during WWII), and an unidentified woman.

Dad was born just over 4 months after Armistice Day was first commemorated in March 1920 and he is currently 94 years old. Hewas born in a very rural area of Virginia on a farmlocated in central Virginia. After high school he went to college at Virginia Polytechnic Institute (VPI or Virginia Tech) where he was enrolled as a member of R.O.T.C. (Reserve Officer’s Training Corps) – Army Reserves. He married my Mom and then went into service when in April 1943 all Junior and Senior class members were inducted into the service. Dad was sent to basic training and then off to OCS (Officer Candidate School). Following graduation as 2nd Lieutenant he was then sent to various locations in the US to train troops.

In June of 1944 Dad was sent to Europe and in July he arrived on Omaha Beach in Normandy just a few weeks after D-Day. He fought through France, Belgium, Holland and then into Germany and he and his company were captured on October 6th 1944 by the SS of Germany and he was a MIA and then POW for the remainder of the war. After Dad’s first 6 weeks being held as an officer by the SS he was moved to a POW camp in Sczubin, Poland (Oflag 64 – www.oflag64.us). Oflag 64 was where the Germans were keeping all allied officers so they were not able to reenter leadership positions in the war and it had grown to over 1,500 prisoners with the ranking Allied Officer being Cornel Walters (George Patton’s son-in-law). As the Americans and British were approaching from the west and the Russians were coming from the north; on January 21st 1945 in 30 below zero weather – the Germans decided to close that camp and to march the prisoner south, on foot.

Those 1,500 officers were marched by foot during horrific circumstances for over 350 miles in the dead of winter and only 400 of that number made it to the final location in Moosburg, Germany. During that march there was one unsuccessful attempt by order of General George Patton to liberate his son-in-law and those called The Hammelburg Raid (http://www.taskforcebaum.de/).

Dad was finally liberated on April 29th 1945 and he returned my Mom and to VPI; finished his education in Animal Husbandry, bought a farm and his lived in Fluvanna County Virginia ever since then.

This is merely one of the millions of stories from our Veterans. This one happened to be from one I know so well.

Thanks Dad – and thanks to each and every Veteran out there; regardless of their situation, regardless of their time or place served! Our country is free because of their ultimate sacrifices!

That’s what Veterans Day means to me!!

Written by T.J. Bugg III – Centennial Inc

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