To everyone, may you enjoy a happy and blessed Thanksgiving! Remember all that there is for which to be thankful. 🙂
To everyone, may you enjoy a happy and blessed Thanksgiving! Remember all that there is for which to be thankful. 🙂
David I. Briggs, a distant cousin of mine, was a man who I never knew, but whose pain for his loss I felt through the hearts and spirits of his family – his mother, father, and sisters. David was the only son of Ivan Francis Briggs (1907-2000) and Louise (Gullo) Briggs (1915-1997) of North Collins, New York. He was 21 when he and most members of his battalion (C Company, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division) were killed in heavy gunfire in Tay Ninh, Vietnam on November 23, 1968 (Small, 2001).
It is my understanding from having read an article in the Hamburg Sun, that David’s battalion invaded an opposing forces’ base camp, but underestimated their strength (Gordon, 2012). David and his captain were the first to have sacrificed their lives in that invasion (Gordon, 2012). Thirteen men of the battalion were killed on that November day (Small, 2001).
I met my distant cousins, Ivan, Louise, and one of their twin daughters, in my early to mid-teens while visiting them in North Collins, New York. Louise was a wonderful cook, and it is said that it is one of the reasons that Ivan married her.
From what I observed, Ivan and Louise also had a love for family. Anyone who knew them could sense the pain and loss they carried with them due to the death of their son, David. I remember after having first met Louise and Ivan that I asked my parents about the sense of deep sadness in them that I felt, and discovered that they still grieved the loss of their son, David.
At that time, I was astounded to know that Ivan and Louise still grieved for David after so many years, and realized that he was very much loved by them. I believe they carried that sense of grief and sadness in themselves from the time that David was killed until their own deaths. When I met them, nearly 20 years had passed, and they were still hurting from his death. Family said that it broke Louise’s heart when David was killed; she was never the same after that.
So, while I never knew David, nor, I believe, any men who have been killed during the course of duty in war, I know that they will always be remembered for their bravery and for giving the ultimate sacrifice of their lives. May we remember and honor all those who have gone before us, who have given their lives to make this world a better place. May God bless you, David, and may you rest in peace.
Gordon, C. (July 13, 2012). Traveling Vietnam wall coming to Eden, Briggs remembered. Hamburg, NY: The Sun. Retrieved May 25, 2015. http://www.thesunnews.net/news/916-Traveling_Vietnam_Wall_coming_to_Eden,_Briggs_remembered.html
Small, L.R. (2001). David Ivan Briggs. VirturalWall.org. Retrieved May 25, 2015. http://www.virtualwall.org/db/BriggsDI01a.htm
This is to honor and remember all the innocents lost in the tragedies of 9/11, as well as to be in support of their families and friends. They are no longer with us in body, but remain ever-present in spirit. May we always remember and never forget. May they rest in peace, and may everyone strive to live in peace and harmony with each other.
My son put out the American flag today, in special remembrance of America’s military veterans and in celebration of Memorial Day 2014. Putting out the flag has become somewhat of a tradition for him throughout the past few years, particularly since it was a requirement for one of his achievements as a Cub Scout. Today, he put out the flag as a new Boy Scout. Last evening, my family also watched the Memorial Day tribute celebration on television, as broadcasted by PBS. That has also been a tradition in my family for many years. This year is the 25th anniversary of the annual Memorial Day broadcast.
In remembrance of military veterans in my family, I have authored this article, having arranged photos and/or memorabilia of all of those known family members and/or ancestors who have served in the American military. I am thankful for those who have risked their lives and/or who have given their lives for the freedoms that I enjoy.
One important issue to keep in mind, however, is that our freedoms may be our right, but should also be practiced with appropriate reason and rationalization. I stated this, particularly due to interpretations of the Second Amendment of our country’s Constitution, in regard to the right to bear arms. We should all keep in mind that while we have a right to bear arms, that does not mean that we have the right to take another’s life, unless circumstances absolutely warrant it in matters of self-protection. Let us not allow the right to bear arms, as well as monetary-backed interests to that aim, to remain more important than protecting people’s lives.
May we all strive to live together in peace and harmony. Let us all remember the sacrifices of those who serve and who have served in our military forces so that not only our freedoms are maintained, but so that the spirit of democracy may infuse those in other countries, as well. May our military forces stationed in Afghanistan soon return home, and back to our wonderful democracy!
I am also aware that one of the Tomaszewski men (formerly of Gowanda, New York, and now of Chicago, Illinois), a cousin to my mom, was a pilot in the Air Force, possibly in the Vietnam War.
These photos, information, and memorabilia represent all those known individuals within my family, and from my family ancestry, who have served in the American military. I salute you for your risks, sacrifices, and in the case of David Briggs, his ultimate sacrifice, for the freedoms and protections of others. While I have taught history, and honor and appreciate our military veterans, I am not one who has the will to risk my life in possible sacrifice in the military. You all are a credit to our country for your service, and to the preservation of democracy.
Recently, I was looking through photos of my relatives and ancestors, in order to show and explain to my son about some of his ancestral history. There are many excellent original photographs that I have of people, and groups related to schools and Girl Scouts in North Collins, New York, where my grandmother, Bernice “Bernie” Gale (Briggs) Babcock-Sprague was raised by her parents, Clarence Briggs (of North Collins) and Julia (Gale) Briggs (of Hamburg, New York). My grandmother was born in 1912 and died in 1987.
I also have many great original photos of people, and sports teams in Collins, Collins Center, and Gowanda, New York that I will provide in separate posts. For now, please enjoy viewing these photos from yesteryear. Please note that I have identified as many names of the people in the current photos as possible.
This is a photo of my grandmother when she was 11 years old.
This picture is of my grandparents after they were married.
This picture is of my grandparents with my dad when he was four years old. My grandfather would have been 37 years old in this picture, and my grandmother, 36. They waited until they were older before having a child.
Here is a picture of Main Street in North Collins from 1906. Notice the horse and buggy approaching from the far end of the road.
This is my grandmother’s second grade class in North Collins, New York from 1920. It was the end of the school year at the time this photo was taken. They had school in a one-room schoolhouse.
This is a photo of my grandmother’s Sunday School Class in North Collins, New York from 1923. She was 11 years old. Notice that all of the girls are holding rabbits. I believe they were rabbits from the teacher’s farm, where the photo was taken. The teacher is identified as Mrs. Lee Whaley.
Here is a photo of my grandmother’s first grade class with Miss Rockwell in North Collins from 1918 or 1919. My grandmother is seated at the far left row, in the third desk.
A listing of all but four of the the students in this photo includes the following: (Left to Right, Front to Back): First row: Doris Theil; Loretto Ognibene; Bernice Briggs; Naomi Heim; Joseph Diadoto. Second row: Angeline George; John Alessi; Josephine Tempio; Daniel Mecca; Bertha -; Unknown name; Myrle Long. Third row: Anthony Pelligrino; Elmer Bellanca; Joseph Musacchio; Carmella Cocca; Unknown name; Leonard Long; Harold Titus; Unknown name; Sam Agio; Charles Cocca; Sam Compisi; Ethel Valone; Dominic DeMaria. Fourth row: Anthony Veccio; Woodrow Hunter; Jacob George; Peter Compisi; Milly Long; Unknown name; – Compisi.
Here, the 6th grade class of North Collins is pictured from 1923, with my grandmother seated in the middle row, at the far right. All student in the photo are as follows: (Left to Right, Front to Back): First row: Daniel Mecca; Charles Cocca; Leander Russell; Woodrow Hunter; Jacob George; John Riefel. Second row: Leona Reith; Elton Whaley; George Butler; Louis Taravella; Charles Pelligrina; Sam Compisi; Joseph Valone; Joseph Diadoto; Loretto Ognibene; Salvator Schillace; Paul Burgio; Bernice Briggs. Third row: Wilma Mackey; Josephine Macaluso; Marie Ognibene; Nina LiVieeche; Catherine Compiere; Rose Veccio; Lee Percy; Genevieve Geiger; Anna Vara; Mary Thomas; Marion Mendola; Jennie Vara; Conqetta Savage. The teacher, in the middle, back row is Elmer Stearns.
This photo is of the North Collins High School 8th grade class from 1925. My grandmother is standing, just about in the center of the picture. She was a top honor student all throughout her education.
Students in this picture are: (Left to Right, Front to Back): First row: Jacob George; Woodrow Hunter; Charles Pelligrina; Salvator Schillace; Jacob Scheflin; Sam Compisi; Elton Blakely; Leander Russell; Frederick Teltz; Harold Rebmann; Albert Smith. Second row: Wesley Herman; Elton Whaley; John Reifel; Nina LiVeeche; Catherine Compiere; Josephine Macaluso; Marguerite Lawton; Leona Reith; Bernice Briggs; Wilma Mackey; Madeline Thiel; Genevieve Geiger; Mary Thomas; Loretto Ognibene; Charles Cocca; George Butler; Daniel Mecca. Third row: Mae Rehm (Teacher); Myrle Whaley; – Renaldo; Harlan Penharlow; John Ball; Joseph Diadoto; Louis Taravella.
And, how about this photo of the North Collins Girl Scout Troop 1 from about 1927. My grandmother is standing in the rear at the right, next to the woman holding the trophy.
Pictured are, from left to right, front to back: First row: Jean Thiel; Doris Thiel; Edith Dickman; Margaret Ball; Dorothy Twichell; Jeanette Roeller; Rosemary Hewitt; Emogene Stearns. Second row: Helen Ormsby; Delight Tice; Audrey Mitchell; Marguerite Lawton; Lillian Burnham; Marion North; Leona Reith; Pamelia Ormsby; Bernice Briggs; Jessie Walburg. Third row: Josephine Tempio; Nine LiVieeche; Alice Butler; Elizabeth Thiel; Evelyn Ames; Dorothy Geiger; Genevieve Geiger; Marjorie Tarbox.
Family photos of Bernice Gale Briggs Babcock Sprague from 1918-1948. Collins, New York. Currently the Property of Michele Babcock-Nice (2014). Snellville, Georgia.
My grandparents (now deceased) on my mother’s side were pure-blooded Poles, having left Poland and immigrating to Germany before coming to Ellis Island around 1950. My Polish-American grandmother was Władysława, or “Lottie,” and my Polish-American grandfather was Janek, or John. I never knew either of my grandfathers as they both died before I was born. Grandfather John died following a two year battle with cancer, possibly brought on by working with the many chemicals at the Tannery in Gowanda, New York, where he lived. Both of my grandparents worked very hard to put food on the table and keep a roof over the heads of four children, one being my mother. Sometimes, my grandmother worked two or three jobs at a time, such as waitressing at a local restaurant and tending plants at a local nursery.
Life was not easy for my Polish-American grandparents who left Europe after World War II. But, they left because they did not want to take the chance of experiencing another Great War, and they wanted better opportunities for their children. After all, America was the country that was flowing with “milk and honey,” as they had heard. For two people who did not have more than an elementary or middle school education, nor knew any English upon setting foot in the United States, they certainly worked hard and did the best they could. Sponsorship of their family by cousins already in America helped pave the way for a different fate for their family than occurred for the siblings of my grandparents still in Poland.
My grandfather was one of about 10 children in his family. I remember being told that his mother apparently told him when he was a young man that no woman would want to marry him because he had a glass eye. In those days in Poland, being poor and having a disability meant having fewer opportunities, as well as potentially being a societal outcast. When I think of such a statement, now, I think of how ridiculous it sounds, particularly with so many people who have disabilities making the best of their lives.
My grandmother was the middle child in a family of three daughters. Her sisters were Staca (pronounced “Stashia”) and Marianna. Many years ago, Marianna visited and stayed with my grandmother for three months in the United States on a temporary visa. And, many years following that, I had the privilege of studying at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland, and seeing her again! As a senior at the University of Buffalo in Buffalo, New York, I participated in the popular study abroad program to the Jagiellonian University in 1992.
In the midst of studying intensive Polish language at the Jagiellonian – with the intention of being able to properly communicate with my Polish relatives in Poland – I sent a postcard to Marianna. A few days later, Marianna and her family arrived at my dormitory building, surprisingly unannounced, and took me out for the day. I then made plans to visit them for a weekend, and got to meet 15 of my Polish relatives in Poland, including Marianna’s family, the Drewin’s, who lived in Kielce. It was wonderful to see and visit with them all, and to provide monies to them that I brought specifically for them from the family at home.
Studying in Poland at the Jagiellonian University was a wonderful experience. If I could have the opportunity to do it all over again (and at the same age as I was at the time), I would. Studying abroad in Poland was highly recommended to me by my fellow student colleagues who were members of the University at Buffalo Polish Club. Many of them lauded praises about the program. Because so many of them said such great things about their experiences, I decided to apply for the opportunity to go. It was very exciting to be accepted into the program, and to have taken the opportunity to go there.
While in Poland, I did much sight-seeing with my English-speaking (mostly composed of Americans) study group at the Jagiellonian University. We visited the historic Wawel Castle and Cathedral, the amazing Wieliczka Salt Mines, the religious pilgrimage destination of Jasna Góra Monastery in Częstochowa, and had regular opportunities to see Krakow’s St. Mary’s Basilica and visit Krakow’s main market square.
On my own, I also traveled to and visited Berlin, Germany during one weekend; and with a student colleague, I went to Prague in the former Czechoslovakia, for another weekend. On yet another weekend, the same student colleague and I visited Vienna. I found Berlin to be a historic city, one in which a person could still obviously observe the differences between the former West and East Germanies. And, Prague is just an amazingly beautiful and historic city, with many historic structures still standing, having not been demolished in previous wars. Vienna was an incredibly beautiful city, also being extremely modernized and commercialized.
I have many memories of my time spent studying abroad and travelling in Europe. I had such a wonderful experience in studying abroad that I returned to Europe two years later. At that time, I travelled with my mom through the British Isles, including England, Scotland, and Ireland. Following that, I went solo, traveling through many European countries.
While in Europe in 1994, I used my Brit Rail and Eurail passes to travel by train, everywhere. I traveled lightly with only a couple of bags, and remained in Europe for about one month. In all, it was a fabulous experience, and I highly recommend it. I would definitely do it all over again if I ever had the opportunity.
I am very proud of my family, my ancestors, and my Polish-American heritage. While there are additional nationalities in my make-up from which I am descended, the Polish part of me is the strongest next to that of being American. I am thankful that my Polish-American grandparents had the fortitude and courage to come to America, where they succeeded in creating a better life for their family, and their descendants to come.
The safety and security of our country became a thing of the past on September 11, 2001. Terrorists highjacked large airplanes, crashing into our beloved Twin Towers and Pentagon, as well as (supposedly) a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, taking the lives and security of 1,000s of victims with them. In the aftermath, countless families, friends, emergency responders, medical personnel, and all of America was deeply affected by the tragedies.
The terrorist attacks of 9/11 showed America the face of evil and hatred. As Americans living in our safe and cozy world of freedom and democracy, many are oblivious to the terrorism, hatred, and evil that occurs around us throughout the world – and on 9/11, in our own country.
About 27 years ago, I had a vision in a dream of the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers. Because it was a dream, I did not know that the images that I saw would actually become a reality. The instant that I heard on my vehicle’s radio of the plane crash into the first tower in New York City, I knew that the image that I had dreamed was real. I was shocked, saddened, grieving, incredulous, and without words that what I had seen in my dream really happened.
The actual image in my dream that I saw so many years ago was of both Twin Towers burning, and minutes after hearing of the first plane crash, the second occurred. I had taken the day off from work that day due to a medical appointment, and after it, was glued to the television into the night, still incredulous about the terrorism that had occurred.
It was devastating to think that I might have been able to give some warning about the event, but did not, because I had not realized that it would be real. 😦 Then, I also think back and wonder if anyone would have believed me even if I did share about such a tragedy. Would I have also come under scrutiny? Had I known better, it would have been worth the risk to inform about what I saw in my dream.
I lived in Manhattan in 1993. The Twin Towers that I fondly remember are those that stand tall and proud, high into the New York City skyline. That is the New York that I remember. And, while I prefer to remember the New York City that was in the past, we cannot escape the fact that terrorism does occur and that there are terrorists among us. I believe that Americans must take greater care and caution in protecting ourselves on a greater scale, to be aware of anything that appears suspicious or amiss, to inform authorities and/or take personal action to deter or stop potential terrorist acts from occurring.
While we have made great strides as a nation in strengthening and burgeoning our national security, the events that occurred at this year’s Boston marathon are a reminder that more needs to be done. For the greater good and for the best interests of everyone – including the terrorists who cannot see that their actions are wrong – we, as a nation, must be more aware, take more action, and be more cautious and inform about others’ actions that may seem strange or suspicious.
We must be aware when people take piloting classes, but are not interested in learning how to land a plane. To me, that would immediately raise suspicions. We must observe when people are carrying heavy backpacks into crowded events, placing and leaving them there. We must be aware of people who park vehicles in particular areas and abandon them. We might even be aware of people who wear heavy clothing on a hot day, in order to conceal a weapon.
Americans must awaken from our slumber, no longer being complacent about our safety and security. There are many people out there who hate Americans and who will do whatever possible to injure or kill as many of us as possible. We must be vigilant of our surroundings and environment, taking action, removing our apathy and complacency.
The events of 9/11 should have taught us that we should not necessarily view the world with rose-colored glasses any longer. Let us always be aware and vigilant so that such terrorist actions are not repeated on our soil.
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