by Lois Bolin
Old Naples Historian
Autumn is my favorite time of the year. My first year in paradise, I did not notice the subtleties the seasons had to offer, but after 38 years of living in paradise; those understated moments are treasured. Whether it’s shifting light patterns, low humidity with gentle breezes, or the smells of jasmine across the lake; I am transported to memories of pumpkins, mums and preparations for some of November’s oldest traditions.
One of America’s most treasured holidays began with our first President, George Washington. Since Washington’s proclamation, the dates varied until President Abraham Lincoln’s Proclamation of 1863. This custom of the last Thursday of November fell prey to a marketing idea when President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving ahead one week, believing this would help encourage retail sales during the Great Depression.
The new tradition was called Franksgiving, a portmanteau of “Franklin” and “Thanksgiving,” coined by Atlantic City mayor Thomas D. Taggart, Jr. to describe the 1939-41 Thanksgiving holidays. This change caused such upheaval that after 1941; the tradition was moved to the fourth Thursday in November.
Maybe it’s not the most beloved tradition, but certainly an important one. The tradition of voting for the Presidency is held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday. In 1792, states were given the latitude to hold their elections at any time in a 34-day period before the first Wednesday of December, the day set for the meeting of the Electoral College. There was no problem with this time frame as it was ahead of the winter storms and allowed for the harvest season to be completed. What soon became a problem, due to improved communication with the telegraph and trains, was the influence of candidate’s victories on states voting later in November.
If voting is not your thing (heaven forbid), why not make a new tradition with Vote in Honor of a Veteran, a community initiative from our Supervisors of Elections to create a Virtual Honor Wall for our local veterans. Check out their website to add your favorite veteran.
Armistice Day marked the cessation of WWI, the ‘Great War’ that was to be the war to end all wars until that fateful morning on December 7, 1941. After WWII and the Korean War, the 83rd Congress, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting in its place the word “Veterans.” With the approval of this legislation and the blessing of Dwight D. Eisenhower, on June 1, 1954, November 11th became the day to honor American veterans of all wars.
This November 11th, local USAF veteran and Vietnam POW, Wayne Smith, will be the keynote speaker at the newly unveiled SWFL Vietnam Memorial Wall at Laishley Park at 11 a.m. in Port Charlotte.
This November 30th will usher in a new traditions, Thank You Across Florida. Mark Michaels, President of Rolling Thunder Chapter 5, will lead his group from Naples stopping at various military and veterans sites along Florida’s WWII Heritage Trail in remembrance of the 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Their seven-day journey around Florida gives thanks to all veterans and reminds Floridians of the extraordinary history of Florida in WWII.
SWFL Veterans Alliance’s 2nd Annual Operation Christmas Spirit will launch November 1st to raise funds to provide our local veterans with Christmas trees, wreaths, gift cards, poinsettias and baked goods. Last year’s response from the Vet Center’s counselors rendered us almost speechless as we learned how touched the veterans were to see anonymous gifts left for them and how these gifts sparked meaningful discussions about Christmas memories and the relief to know they could have a tree as many were unable to lay out the cash for such extra expenses. (Let those words sink in.)
The fee to participate in Operation Christmas Spirit is $75 in honor of the 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Participants will be invited to a post OCS party at a date and place TBD. The Alliance also invites Christmas elves to bake goodies such as breads, cakes or cookies for our local veterans. Call Lois Bolin at 239.777.2281 for details or visit www.swflveternasalliance.org.
Until next time, I hope your November is filled with many conscious moments to find your heart filled with treasures and alive with the wonders of these traditions.