History, The Daily Feed

Smithsonian Snapshot: Parachute Wedding Dress

The parachute wedding dress (120mm ektachrome); photo courtesy Smithsonian Institution

This week, in honor of the 67th anniversary of the D-Day landings AND the onset of wedding season, the Smithsonian Snapshot brings you an interesting artifact that ties both World War II and weddings that is currently not on display. This wedding dress was made from a nylon parachute that saved Maj. Claude Hensinger during the Pacific campaign.

In August 1944, Hensinger, a B-29 pilot and his crew were returning from a bombing raid over Yowata, Japan, when their engine caught fire. The crew was forced to bail out. Suffering from only minor injuries, Hensinger used the parachute as a pillow and blanket as he waited to be rescued. He kept the parachute that had saved his life. He later proposed to his girlfriend Ruth in 1947, offering her the material for a gown.

Ruth wanted to create a dress similar to one in the movie Gone with the Wind. She hired a local seamstress, Hilda Buck, to make the bodice and veil. Ruth made the skirt herself; she pulled up the strings on the parachute so that the dress would be shorter in the front and have a train in the back. The couple married July 19, 1947. The dress was also worn by the their daughter and by their son’s bride before being gifted to the Smithsonian.

History, The Daily Feed

Navy TV Acquires 120 Rare Archive Navy Films

Photo courtesy of
‘Lone Sailor’
courtesy of ‘Kevin H.’

The U.S. Navy Memorial announced this week a partnership with Periscope Film LLC, which will allow the memorial to screen 120 rarely seen archival Naval films on the site’s Internet television network, Navy TV. The films were salvaged by Periscope Film and will be rolled out through Navy TV over the next year.

While making a documentary, Periscope Film founders Doug Weiner and Nick Spark obtained several original 16mm films from World War II, which they intended to use as stock footage for their film. Realizing the historical value of this footage, they began producing VHS and DVD collections of the films. “They proved so popular that we just kept expanding our library, acquiring rare military and aviation footage from World War I to Vietnam ,” says Spark. The Navy Memorial, after seeing excerpts of the films on YouTube, contacted Periscope Film to screen the footage.

Examples of the collection include “U.S. Navy Blasts Marshall Islands,” a 1942 newsreel that shows the first offensive action of the Pacific Campaign of WWII; “The Fathoms Deep,” a 1952 film containing early footage of French naval officer Jacques Cousteau demonstrating his revolutionary underwater breathing apparatus known as SCUBA; and “Seapower,” a 1968 film featuring Hollywood actor Glenn Ford as star and narrator that shows the fleet at the height of the Cold War.

Visitors can watch any of the films free of charge and on demand on Navy TV and can be purchased from Periscope Film.

The Features, The Mall

Giving Back: Honoring Tremendous American Heroes

Honor Flight 9/19
All photos courtesy of Karl Johnson

There was something noticeably different about Reagan National Airport on Saturday, September 19th. Outside, it was an absolutely gorgeous fall day in DC with the sun shining as brightly as it possibly could. But the sun, in all of its glory, was not the brightest part of this memorable Saturday; not even close. Inside of the “A” terminal, at gate 9, the red, white and blue balloons and streamers were hung. A three piece band, assembled behind the check-in desk, played one proud patriotic song after another, including the official song for each branch of the U.S. military. Nearly a hundred people of all walks of life gathered around the jet way, excitedly cheering and clapping, waving American flags, and anxiously awaiting their arrival.

But who were they? Who could possibly deserve such dramatic fanfare on a Saturday morning at DCA? Maybe Colin Powell and Bill Clinton decided to take a commercial flight into DC just for kicks? Nope. Way Better. These people, volunteers, airport employees, passengers and even U.S. Senators, were there to welcome a group of absolutely tremendous American heroes. They were all here to welcome almost 400 heroes to the home of their very own memorial. The one they fought for. The one their friends gave their lives for. After almost 65 years, these World War II veterans were getting the chance to see America’s ever-lasting symbol of recognition of their service, dedication and ultimate sacrifices.

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Monumental, The Features

Monumental: National Japanese American Memorial To Patriotism During World War II

Crane and Barbed Wire 2
Crane and Barbed Wire 2 by tbridge

The National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II stands on a small triangle of land just north of the Capitol between D St NW, New Jersey Ave and Louisiana Ave. The beautiful bronze crane in barbed wire rises above the low cement landscape, a 14-foot statue designed by Nina Akamu, in demonstration of the Japanese-American’s plight during the second world war. While you might be more familiar with the larger World War II Memorial on the Mall, this monument stands in admittance of the difficult situation that Japanese Americans were placed at the start of hostilities against the Empire of Japan in 1941.

By 1942, many Japanese Americans were placed in Internment camps throughout the Western United States, often in the midst of deserts and other wastelands. Their names, like Manzanar, Topaz and Jerome, are inscribed into the western retaining wall, along with the number of American citizens contained therein. Over 110,000 people, three quarters American citizens, were detained by the United States Government during World War II in these camps. The blanket actions were meant to discourage espionage by those who could be loyal to the Japanese Empire inside the United States. In 1988, President Reagan signed into law an apology on the behalf of the American Government to those who were interned in those camps, and paid out a $1.6B reparation to the families and survivors. Continue reading