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WebMaster's Corner December 2017

December 2017 Webmaster

December is the twelfth and last month of the year according to the Gregorian calendar. This is used in almost all the world today. What began as the tenth month in the early Roman calendar became the twelfth month in a later Roman calendar. Until 46 B.C., December only had 29 days. But the Roman statesman Julius Caesar added two days to December, which made it one of the seven months which "hath 31" days.

In the northern half of the world, Winter begins in December, usually between December 21 or 22. Most of December is usually warmer than other winter months. The latter part of December has long been a holiday season, capped by the Christian celebration of Christmas Day, as the birthday of Jesus Christ.

In the Northern Hemisphere, most birds have gone to warmer climates, but many animals are active. Mink, ermine, beavers, and foxes grow beautiful coats of fur. Nature finishes preparing for the long winter ahead. Many people make feeding places for birds and squirrels.

the December gemstone is Turquoise

The gemstone for December is
the Turquoise

the December flower is Poinsettia

The flower for December is
the Poinsettia.

Now, About December in History:

2 Dec 1942

Chicago Pile-1 (CP-1) was the world's first man-made nuclear reactor. The first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction was initiated in CP-1 on December 2, 1942, following the initiation of the Manhattan Project by Roosevelt in 1939. CP-1 was built on a converted squash court, under the abandoned west stands of the original Alonzo Stagg Field stadium, at the University of Chicago. The site was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965 and was added to the newly created National Register of Historic Places a little over a year later. The site was named a Chicago Landmark in 1971. It is one of the four Chicago Registered Historic Places from the original October 15, 1966, National Register of Historic Places list. Less than three years later, the result of this breakthrough contributed to bringing World War II to an end (Hiroshima and Nagasaki).

4 Dec - St Barbara's Day

December 4 is St Barbara's day. Barbara was an early Christian saint and martyr. Accounts place her in the 3rd century. There is no reference to her in the authentic early Christian writings, nor in the original recension of Saint Jerome's martyrology. Her name can be traced to the 7th century, and veneration of her was common, especially in the East, from the 9th century. Because of doubts about the historicity of her legend, she was removed from the liturgical calendar of the Roman rite in 1969.

Barbara continues to be a popular saint in modern times, perhaps best known as the patron saint of artillerymen, military engineers, miners and others who work with explosives because of her old legend's association with lightning, and also of mathematicians.

Many of us started out our Army careers as Field Artillery Officers, for whom their patron saint is Saint Barbara. Many tales are told of the magical (and sometimes evil) powers of "St Barbara's Artillery Punch".

Fortunately for US Artillerymen, Dec 5 marks the day that the 21st Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified, ensuring that Artillery punch could retain its "punch".

7 Dec 1941, 76 years ago - "A Day That Will Live in Infamy"

Just before 8AM on December 7, 1941, hundreds of Japanese fighter planes attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbor near Honolulu, Hawaii. The barrage lasted just two hours, but it was devastating: The Japanese managed to destroy nearly 20 American naval vessels, including eight enormous battleships, and almost 200 airplanes. More than 2,000 Americans soldiers and sailors died in the attack, and another 1,000 were wounded. The day after the assault, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan; Congress approved his declaration with just one dissenting vote. Three days later, Japanese allies Germany and Italy also declared war on the United States, and again Congress reciprocated. More than two years into the conflict, America had finally joined World War II.

16 Dec 1773 - The Boston Tea Party

The Boston Tea Party was a direct action by colonists in Boston, a town in the British colony of Massachusetts, against the British government and the monopolistic East India Company that controlled all the tea imported into the colonies. On December 16, 1773, after officials in Boston refused to return three shiploads of taxed tea to Britain, a group of colonists boarded the ships and destroyed the tea by throwing it into Boston Harbor. The incident remains an iconic event of American history, and other political protests - especially those dealing with issues of taxation - often refer to it.

The Tea Party was the culmination of a resistance movement throughout British America against the Tea Act, which had been passed by the British Parliament in 1773. Colonists objected to the Tea Act for a variety of reasons, especially because they believed that it violated their right to be taxed only by their own elected representatives.

19 Dec 1777 - Gen Washington Sets Up Winter Camp at Valley Forge

The Continental Army arrived at Valley Forge on December 19, 1777, after a tough campaign of battles with the British. Since early fall, the General had problems with getting supplies to his troops. As winter approached, the problems became worse. Soldiers received irregular supplies of meat and bread. Shortages forced the men to forage for food in the forests and farm fields that they passed.

Conditions were so severe at times that General Washington wrote, "that unless some great and capital change suddenly takes place... this Army must inevitably... starve, dissolve, or disperse, in order to obtain subsistence in the best manner they can." Feeding the 12,000+ men at the encampment was only one of the problems facing the Commander-in-Chief.

General Washington also was having a tough time getting support from Congress. There were threats to his leadership. His officers were unhappy and he needed to better prepare the troops to meet the enemy in the coming campaign.

12 - 20 Dec 2017 - Hanukkah

Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the re-dedication of the Holy Temple (the Second Temple) in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BC. Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar.

The festival is observed by the kindling of the lights of a unique candelabrum, the nine-branched Menorah or Hanukiah, one additional light on each night of the holiday, progressing to eight on the final night. The typical Menorah consists of eight branches with an additional raised branch. The extra light is called a shamash and is given a distinct location, usually above or below the rest. The purpose of the shamash is to have a light available for use, as using the Hanukkah lights themselves is forbidden.

dreidel Every community has its unique Hanukkah traditions, but there are some traditions that are almost universally practiced. They are: lighting the hanukkiyah (Menorah), eating fried foods (chicken fried steak, anyone?), and spinning the dreidel. The dreidel, or sevivon in Hebrew, is a four-sided spinning top that children play with on Hanukkah. Each side is imprinted with a Hebrew letter. These letters are an acronym for the Hebrew words (Nes Gadol Haya Sham, "A great miracle happened there"), referring to the miracle of the oil that took place in the temple.

21 Dec 2017 - Winter Solstice (formally known as "The End of the World!")

The Winter solstice marks the beginning of Winter and, at least here in the Central Time Zone, it occurs on Monday, 21 December 2017 at 0444 hrs CST. You can refer to this Seasons Calculator to ascertain the exact time of winter's start in your own time zone.

The December solstice occurs when the sun reaches its most southerly declination of -23.5 degrees. In other words, it is when the North Pole is tilted 23.5 degrees away from the sun. Depending on the Gregorian calendar, the December solstice occurs annually on a day between December 20 and December 23. On this date, all places above a latitude of 66.5 degrees north are now in darkness, while locations below a latitude of 66.5 degrees south receive 24 hours of daylight.

The sun is directly overhead on the Tropic of Capricorn in the southern hemisphere during the December solstice. It also marks the longest day of the year in terms of daylight hours for those living south of the Tropic of Capricorn. Those living or traveling south from the Antarctic Circle towards the South Pole will see the midnight sun during this time of the year.

On the contrary, for an observer in the northern hemisphere, the December solstice marks the day of the year with the least hours of daylight for those living north of the Tropic of Cancer. Those living or traveling north of the Arctic Circle towards the North Pole will not be able to see the sun during this time of the year.

Monday 25 Dec 2017 - The Feast of Christmas

Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus. The holiday's connection to Christ is obvious through its Old English root of "Cristes maesse" or Christ's Mass. For Christians, it is the time to renew one's faith, give generously and consider the past. But Christmas is also a secular celebration of family--one that many non-practicing Christians and people of other religions are comfortable accepting as their own.

Christmas is a time where we are asked to pause and remember “the reason for the season.” More and more people are taking this to mean many things, even though that phrase is closely associated with birth of Jesus Christ. For many, Christmas now means the return of distant family members, the carrying out of traditions that some may think they are too old for but do anyway because it’s fun or just part of what the family does. Christmas tree Some just enjoy listening to Christmas carols with their loved ones while they open their presents and sharing a special meal on Christmas Day. For many, it’s the joy of watching children open up their presents from Santa Claus, another figure that has his origins in the roots of Europe and its rich traditions. Whatever Christmas means to you, be sure to spend it with those you love.

The secular nature of Christmas was officially acknowledged in 1870 when the United States Congress made it a federal holiday. Federal and state employees and most private businesses observe Dec. 25 by not working. Check out this interesting history of Christmas in America . See also the various Christmas traditions around the world .

Sunday, 31 Dec 2017 - New Year's Eve

Every year as the clock nears midnight on December 31st, the eyes of the world turn once more to the dazzling lights and bustling energy of Times Square. Anticipation runs high. New Year's Eve at the symbolic center of New York City has become more than just a celebration - it's a global tradition.

The world holds its breath...and cheers as the clocks strike twelve.

As the famous New Year's Eve Ball descends from the flagpole atop One Times Square, an estimated one million people in Times Square, millions nationwide and over a billion watching throughout the world are united in bidding a collective farewell to 2017, and expressing our joy and hope for 2018.

Statehood Dates

The following states achieved statehood in December:

  • Indiana (19), December 11, 1816
  • Mississippi (20), December 10, 1817
  • Illinois (21), December 3, 1818

  • Alabama (22), December 14, 1819
  • Texas (28), December 29, 1845
  • Iowa (29), December 28, 1846

Recap of Last Month's Bulletin Board entries

11/29/2017 TAPS Ms. Joan Ellen Johnson to TAPS Bulletin
11/29/2017 TAPS Patsy Carter to TAPS Bulletin
11/29/2017 Finance Family Goetz Award to COL Wallace Bulletin
11/26/2017 TAPS LTC ALAN W. SPANG To TAPS Bulletin
11/23/2017 Member Data Change STEVEN F. JONES (data change) Bulletin
11/21/2017 New Member New Member - MSG JAMES L (James) CURREN Bulletin
11/17/2017 Member Data Change Yoshie C Brown (data change) Bulletin
11/17/2017 What's Hot Reunion 2018 Guide Hot
11/17/2017 GeneralNotice Future Reunions Bulletin
11/16/2017 Member Data Change JIMMY L. BROWN (data change) Bulletin
11/16/2017 Member Data Change HENRY F. CUSHING (data change) Bulletin
11/16/2017 Member Data Change JANET HANNAM (data change) Bulletin
11/12/2017 What's New Frustrate the Scammers Bulletin
11/8/2017 New Member New Member - SGM PEDRO D (Deli) DELA MAR, Sr Bulletin

December TAPS

Let us take this opportunity to remember any members of our Finance Family whose passing was a year-ago December passing.

ROSS, LOU (Wife of LTC ROBERT)12/9/2016

And, Finally, ...

We wish you and yours a very merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.

Reunion 2018

Things are moving nicely in the planning for the 2018 Reunion in Albuquerque next October. You can always get the latest developments from the Reunion 2018 web page. And don't miss the exciting brochure that Bruce and Harold put together, chock full of information on the event. We plan to open up on-line registration for the reunion on 8 JAN 2018. Because the Reunion coincides with the ever-popular international balloon festival, we strongly advise our members to lock in transportation and accommodation reservations early.

If you Are not already a Life Member ...

To determine your eligibility for a Lifetime Membership, check out the calculator here.

Date of Birth Required for Lifetime Membership Application

The new Lifetime membership option requires that we have your date of birth available on your member record so that we can correctly determine the age-based membership fee. On the member roster, you can now review your record and update your date of birth (if you have not already done so, please do) and tell us what your current position/job title/other is (please do this, as well).

And, remember, this Web Site belongs to you the members of RAFINO. Your Webmaster just has the pleasure of making it do what you want it to do. Have a great month, review and correct your data on the web roster, and let us know what you would like to see on your web site.

Robby Robson, RAFINO Webmaster

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