20th Century, History, Men, Minnesota, Uncategorized, World War II

Minnesota Enters World War II

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December 7, 1941
On the morning of December 7, 1941, members of a Minnesota Naval Reserve Division on the U.S.S. Ward are patrolling the entrance to Pearl Harbor. The crew spots and sinks a midget submarine—the first shots fired by the United States in World War II. An hour later the air attack begins that will draw the U.S. into the war. Private Milburn Henke of Hutchinson, serving with the American Expeditionary Force, will become the first enlisted man deployed to the European theater. *

Carl and Louise Henke had a son August 24, 1918, and they named him Milburn. He grew up in Hutchinson, Minnesota, and partook of the pastimes of boys then: hunting, fishing, working for his father, and playing baseball. Soon, he enlisted voluntarily, and was assigned to “B” Company, 135th Infantry Regiment of the 34th “Red Bull” Division which was merged with Iowa National Guard’s “B” Company, 133rd Regiment during training. **

The Red Bulls landed in Belfast on January 26, 1942, approximately one month after Pearl Harbor. Henke was promptly asked to meet with General Russell Hartle. The General inquired if he was willing to speak with reporters. “Well, if I have to, I think I can,” Henke replied. **

A publicity event welcomed him: a cheering crowd, photographers, and reporters. He had to walk down the gangplank six times so that the press could get a perfect shot of the first American soldier to set foot in Europe?! The newspapers and magazines had a feeding frenzy with Henke, but the climax was meeting the Queen and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Though highly publicized, Private Henke served like any G.I. and did his duty. In North Africa, he earned a Silver Star by saving his wounded Lieutenant by dragging him to safety under heavy fire. After liberating Tunisia, Milburn was wounded during preparations for the invasion of Italy. His back was broken when his weapons carrier rolled over onto him. **,***

Such were the sacrifices of these brave Minnesotans and Iowans! Please read this well-researched excerpt from the article “Private First Class Milburn Henke Lands In Belfast, Ireland” by Jason McDonald.
“The 34th Division fought in North Africa and Italy for the entire war, the longest serving unit in the United States Army. Very few of the 4,058 men who landed with Henke were left in the unit in 1945; only seven men who landed in Northern Ireland remained in 1st battalion in 1945.” ***

Lord, I’m so humbled and honored by this recollection of Milburn Henke and his 4,000 brothers that I can barely write. I thank You for the character given to these young men by their upbringing. I thank You for their obedience to do their duty in the face of suffering and death.

It reminds me of Your sacrifice, Father. You let Your son be torn in two by the Roman Empire, the accusations of the Sanhedrin, and the collective blindness of humanity?! Too few can recount the parental sacrifice of Your only Son, and too many are indifferent to Your pain. I include myself, shamefully, to the list.

I do not know if I possess the character to let my children die so the children of strangers can live. If I did, I would want to force my neighbor to remember this sacrifice. Likely, I would driven to rage by irreverence or indifference of the community to my pain.

Will You forgive my irreverence and indifference to the humiliation and public execution of Christ? Will You forgive Minnesota the irreverence and indifference to the humiliations and deaths of these elders from the 34th? Will You give us their strong portion of vigilance so that future generations will have the privilege to experience liberty?

Give us a heart like Henke. When and where conflict arises, let us volunteer to oppose it. Will You bless us to humbly do our duty today? We remember the existential threat World War II presented our State and Nation. We ask that You enable present and future generations to have the same resolve whether given heroic praise or no recognition for their efforts; “Well, if have to, I think I can.”

In parting, we are grateful that You acknowledge our efforts to serve. Like Henke’s story, we give You honor that You can do so much with a single choice! May we choose Your way; grace and truth, resolve and mettle.

“Little Is Much When God Is in It”

Little is much when God is in it!
Labor not for wealth or fame;
There’s a crown, and you can win it,
If you go in Jesus’ name.
Kittie L. Suffield, 1924 ****
* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
** https://www.mnmilitarymuseum.org/exhibits/veterans-page/sgt-milburn-h-henke/?ccm_paging_p_b3480=2
*** http://worldwar2database.com/gallery/wwii0193
**** https://library.timelesstruths.org/music/Little_Is_Much_When_God_Is_in_It/

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20th Century, Boys, Catholic, Christian, Civics, Culture, Environment, Exploration, Faith, Gender, Girls, History, Intercession, Jesus, Jews, Men, Minnesota

Minnesota Boy Scouts Organization Forms

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1910
A growing fear of “boys in trouble” leads to the founding of Minnesota’s first Boy Scout troop, only eight months after the organization arrives in the United States from England.*

What can I say about the Scouts? For openers, thanks that its’ founders sought a way to connect boys with each other. Each Scout is an important part of his troop. For many, this is a first affirmation of their maleness. He learns that he can do his part and become worthy of trust.

Even in failure, like forgetting key food items for a camping trip, the troop may rib him, but ultimately close ranks and support him. That Scout learns, “ I can make do if I’m in need, and overcome temporary discomfort.” What an important lifelong lesson!

Next, the Boy Scouts will get a child or teen out of his home environment. A city kid will see places that are truly wild and untamed. He will get to know nature, and learn a proper respect for living things. He may explore the deserts, make camp in the snow, or learn wilderness survival. The Scouts exist to both invite and instill a sense of adventure in young men.

Finally, a Scout becomes aware that he can learn expertise. A simple item, like a rope, becomes the means to teach him knots and lashings, but also symbolically recognizes his work by earning a merit badge. Why do the Scouts collect merit badges? Maybe, because its a symbol of honor given by significant males, and told “Well done!”

Lord, thanks for this important event in 1910. Thanks for, thereby, giving thousands of boys a place to belong, share adventures, learn life skills, and to receive honor. Will You help them thrive in helping Minnesota boys become men?

Further, will You forgive us our failures and rejections of of our youth? We simply fail to relate. We simply fail to intersect, spend time, and show interest in their dreams. We stumble because we do not know how a simple kind word, demonstration, or listening can pivot a kid’s life path.

For example, when I was a boy, my dad was very handy and could build just about anything. He wanted me to watch him work, but he never let hold the tools. It was a perfect day for this 9 year old Cub Scout when the leader gave me a box of nails, a wood block, and a hammer. He just let us pound a design of our choice into the block, and give the results to our mothers. I’m sure it wasn’t a perfect flour de lis, but it was a symbol of the day adults trusted me with real tools.

Will You give us inspiration as a society to create more pathways, like the Scouts, that call our boys and girls out of complacency and into a life of purpose, expertise, relationship, and adventure? Will You help us get out of the way and not rescue them right away? Will You help us put tools in their hands and let them try? May they “Be prepared” for life!

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

**More on the character traits taught by the Scouts. http://www.boyscouttrail.com/content/content/scout_law-1760.asp

 

 

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19th Century, 20th Century, Environment, History, Intercession, Jesus, Logging, Men, Minnesota

Lumbering Maximum 1900

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At the height of the lumbering era, 40,000 lumberjacks are cutting timber in the north woods. Minneapolis is the sawmill capital of the world, cutting enough lumber to fill 65,000 freight cars. But Minnesota is running out of pine; within twenty years the lumber industry will be dead in Minneapolis.*

This interesting oral history by Jim and Bernard Pearson describes the day-to-day lives of the men logging in Northern Minnesota during this era.

“The Pearsons showed their audience old tools of the logging camps.  There was the pickaroon the camp blacksmith made from a worn-out ax which was used to pull logs by hand.  There was also a grub hoe for removing brush by hand, a broad as to square up logs for building log structures, a cant hook for turning logs, and a come-a-long for lifting logs by hand.

The cutting of the logs was done in the winter when sleds could be used to pull the logs from the woods to a river to float them downstream to a sawmill in the spring when the water ran fast.

Loggers didn’t rely just on the frozen ground to sled out the logs, according to the Pearsons, but constructed troughs of ice for the runners.  The troughs were made by hooking a plow to the side of a sled to make troughs in the snow in which water was poured to form ice.  These troughs had to be continuously built up throughout the winter, the Pearsons said.
The Pearsons also talked about the care of horses, which were vital to the logging.  Jim told how some of the loggers would carry a ballpeen hammer to tap snow out of horseshoes.

“My uncle especially loved animals, and his horses were very big,” Jim recalled.  “If any teamster (driver) mistreated his horses, they went down the road (were fired) so fast they didn’t now what happened.”

(Jim) described the lumberjacks as hard working and very honest individuals, who had always given their best.

But Bernard, during the interview last week, also portrayed some of the lumberjacks and logging camp operators as not so honest.

Bernard said, for example, that in the worst camps, the operator would hire someone to gather up workers for the winter season that included dropping a knock-out pill into a man’s drink in a saloon.  “The next thing the man would know he was in a logging camp way up north,” said Bernard.  “There were rascals on both sides.” “

Stottrup, Joel. “Logging White Pine.” Princeton Union-Eagle, May 1993. Web. 20 June 2013. <http://www.baldwintownship.govoffice.com/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC%7BB61F42FB-82B1-4356-B678-16C2642C1ED2%7D&gt;

Father, a lot of time and thought has gone into recording the history of the wealthy and powerful “lumber barons”, but it seems not much is known about the men who actually did the work. Will You guide the author into the stream of Your thoughts on the subject? Will You give us a new frame of reference for these Minnesota loggers, and the effect of this massive harvest of trees?

As for the workers, the physicality of their respective jobs inspires awe: cutting huge trees down by saw or axe, squaring logs by hand, loading them on sleds, and moving them to the river. Once at the river, prepped logs were managed on their journey south by the “river pigs”. These were crews of men men who were responsible to float the logs to their proper destination at a plethora of sawmills.

As with many things, logging seems simple in principle, but requires incredible endurance, skill, and risk in practice. Eternal Father, will You honor those who poured their soul into this labor? Will You remember their broken blisters, and aching backs? Will You remember those who took joy in working outside, all day, in the numbing cold?
Will You bless them and their inheritance from this era, to the present, and on to the future?

Another thought, men often feel validated in their masculinity by performing an epic task together. They sail into the unknown, each man privately harboring reservations, but going beyond those self-imposed limitations by the strength that comes when men are part of a team. Lord, thank You for past loggers’ example of this teamwork. Will You strengthen the bonds of men, and forgive us for emasculating our brothers? In the present, we may sit in judgement of these people for their contribution to exhausting magnificent forests through clear-cutting. “What were they thinking? Didn’t they know they were acting like shock troops executing millions of innocents? Why would you kill mother earth over a job?” However, we have the historical vantage point of witnessing that natural resources can be used up, and that human interaction with the environment may yield unseen and unintended consequences.

As a witness to such present attitudes, the author wishes to address with You our use of the term “exploitation” as it applies to past Minnesota logging. Will You forgive us the casual use of this label? Will You forgive us if we unfairly apply present environmental and economic standards on our forbearers? Will You forgive our common humanity in Minnesota of viewing Your forests, that You graciously allow us rights of temporary stewardship, as “our forests” or “our property”? We do not often think of property rights as a continuum of which we are a temporary subset.

Truly, we all are parties in “exploiting” Your forests! We breathe air daily! We live in houses of wood. We write with pencils of wood on paper of cellulose. We use toilet paper, and simultaneously write graffiti on the walls criticizing the “exploiters” of the environment! We apply standards to others that we do not apply to ourselves! We fail to see the log in our own eye, and browbeat others about the speck of sawdust in theirs!

Furthermore, contemporary history does not often enter the mindset of these predecessors. Perhaps in their age, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, people exercised a different logic than ours. They had a much stronger sense of agriculture than those who buy 2×4’s at the lumberyard, or food from a grocery store. If they wanted food, they had to plant it, tend it, and harvest it.

When their corn reached fruition, they harvested it, and took everything. When they saw forests full of mature trees, they brought in the harvest. Is it possible that they trusted that such a generous yield would surely supply their generation?

In the life experience of most of these workmen, most commodities gathered locally were used locally. Is it possible that such workmen did not conceive of the national or international cravings for the White Pine of Minnesota? Were the men working in these logging camps aware that they tree they just felled was to become a floor joist in an English factory? If they were aware, did that make their labor change from “sustainable” to “exploitive”? Hear my questions, Lord, and forgive us all our attempted harvests without Sabbaths of Your forests!

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org , is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

 

 

 

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