The Pledge of Allegiance is so much a part of the fabric of our country that it is surprising to be reminded that it has only been recited for the past 122 years. Even more unexpected is the fact that the pledge exists because it was written and promoted by the very patriotic owner of a popular magazine of the 19th century.
In her book, Hidden Legacy of WWII: A Daughter’s Journey of Discovery, author Carol Schultz Vento makes the compelling point that most books about World War II veterans have left an important part of the story untold–that of combat stress. Little is said about the soldiers for whom it wasn’t a “good war.” Many came home with the same psychological demons we hear about with returning soldiers today.
The very name, Alcatraz, stirs fear and a twinge of excitement at the thought of the stories of the men incarcerated there. From 1934 to 1963 Alcatraz Island served as the first maximum security federal prison in the United States. It was hoped that the location would make it escape-proof, and therefore, a good place to put the worst-of-the-worst.
Walk west on Spring Street, through SoHo, past the enticing restaurants and the tempting clothing shops, and after you pass Varick Street, you will come to a fire house that still looks like a fire house, but this one welcomes you in to hear stories and see old fire trucks and other memorabilia from some 225 years of fire fighting in Manhattan. The museum itself is a gem that is worthy of visits from old and young.