Sunday, March 24, 2024

Your Attention, Please


Thursday, March 21, 2024 
The Capitol, Washington, D.C.

Our family and several hundred others arrived in the morning at The Capitol for a once-in-a-lifetime experience,  to witness the award ceremony for survivors and family members of The Ghost Army of World War II.  This day would be the culmination of years of work to lobby congress and get a bi-partisan bill to the desk of President Joe Biden for his signature. After the bill was signed it would still take many months of work to get the  time and place for the award ceremony, and on Thursday, March 21st we were on the guest list, ready to take our place and witness history being made.

Groups assemble on the Capitol Steps

It is a perfect day in Washington, D.C. - the cherry blossoms are in full bloom with a cloudless horizon while we walked and waited to secure our spot in the Visitor Center.  We are escorted down stairs overlooking a vast hall with hundreds of chairs and many statues of historical figures.  I have never seen such a gathering before - how lucky we are today!

Take in the scene, the ceremony will begin shortly....

The battalion of the Ghost Army, a little over a thousand men, conducted top secret maneuvers in Europe during World War II.  Their mission was to create deceptions on the battlefield using camouflage, sound systems, and decoys to distract the enemy - and it worked!  My father, Arthur Singer ( 1917-1990 ) was conscripted into this group based on his talents as a visual artist!  Arthur was not alone - there were theatre people, fashion designers, sound engineers, advertisers all working to deceive the enemy during the later part of the war effort.

Statue of Freedom
at The Capitol

My father, Arthur Singer, never spoke openly about what his role was during  World War II but he did leave many letters he wrote home when he was off duty.  He also found time to paint portraits of his fellow soldiers when he was not on duty.  My mom, sent him paper, paints, and brushes during the war and Arthur came home when the war ended with a visual record of what he had seen and where he had been - even if he wouldn't speak about it!

Statue of Frederick Douglass
in The Capitol

We took our seat opposite a statue of Frederick Douglass, which we felt was appropriate since we had just driven down from Rochester for this ceremony.  Frederick Douglass was known as a resident of Rochester too, back in the later 19th Century, and we so admire his contributions to our nation!

The ceremony was about to begin and soldiers marched in carrying our flag and that got everyone's attention.  A brass band played our national anthem, and we all stood up!

"Oh say can you see..."

We noticed Senator Chuck Grassley from Iowa sitting nearby and we also noticed loads of seats set out for members of congress who ultimately did not show.  Nancy Pelosi smiled at us as she walked by decked out all in purple!  The ceremony began with a benediction and an introduction with Louisiana Representative, and Speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, who welcomed us all and gave a big round of applause for the three soldiers here in the Capitol, who are still alive today, and who admirably served in the Ghost Army during World War II.

Soldiers and family would receive the Gold Medal
awarded by Congressional approval and signed by President Joe Biden.
The medal is produced by the Treasury Department and is about the size of a silver dollar.

The list of speakers including Mike Johnson, was impressive... I liked to hear from Senator Susan Collins of Maine, and also Representative Hakeem Jeffries.  We  felt proud to be in such company, and also that our friend Rick Beyer who wrote the book on the Ghost Army got a round of well-deserved applause.  We also were so moved by the fact that living members of the Ghost Army were present to receive their awards, and even had a chance to speak.  Here is Bernard Bluestein being interviewed by the news media...

Mr. Bluestein one of three surviving members of The Ghost Army
at the award ceremony
Washington, D.C.
March 21, 2024

We are so proud of our Armed Service Members, THANK YOU!

Here is a short video posted on Spectrum News that I recorded with reporter Seth Voorhees last week: