NH Veterans' Views: Freedom Day reminds of effort to end U.S. slavery | New Hampshire
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NH Veterans' Views: Freedom Day reminds of effort to end U.S. slavery

January 31. 2018 10:55PM

Happy Freedom Day! In case you were not aware of it, Feb. 1 is of significance for descendants of America’s slaves as well as those of us who are not, as this was the day — Feb. 1, 1865 — that President Abraham Lincoln approved a joint resolution of Congress that would eventually lead to the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which, in turn, ended slavery.

The anniversary, now known as National Freedom Day, is a celebration for all Americans regardless of race, creed and gender.

Those who observe the day (it is not an officially recognized public or federal holiday) do so however they choose.

I find it somewhat ironic that the amendment set many free so they could someday take up arms in defense of the nation that had once enslaved them. And thus they became veterans.

Happy 153rd holiday to all of us.

On the calendar

Feb. 2: Last year I got up, and I don’t remember if I saw my shadow or not, but I went back to bed anyway.

Feb. 4: I marked my calendar ... something about a football farther west somewhere?

Feb. 8: Happy 108th, Boy Scouts of America!

Feb. 17: A special meeting of the New Hampshire Korean War Veterans Association officers and board members will take place at 1 p.m. at Henry J. Sweeney Post quarters, 251 Maple St., Manchester. For info, call 352-5309.

Feb. 18, 1918: On the battlefield of Soissons, France — Chemin des Dames sector — an artillery shell burst and shrapnel took the life of 20-year-old Henry John Sweeney.

He was the first individual from Manchester to die in the Great War (World War I).

Young Sweeney was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Jeremiah Sweeney and the husband of Mildred (Grant) Sweeney.

Growing up on Douglas Street on Manchester’s West Side, he was a member of St. Raphael Parish, attended the parish school and was a popular and fun-loving student.

His remains were brought home and he was interred at the old St. Joseph Cemetery with full military honors.

Saluting Sweeney’s sacrifice

On Sunday, Feb. 18, it will be 100 years to the day of the passing of Henry J. Sweeney, and St. Raphael Parish will mark the occasion in conjunction with the dedication of a veterans memorial window at the church, followed by brunch in the church hall.

All American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Catholic War Veterans, Korean War Veterans Association and DAV posts are welcome and urged to participate. A special invitation is extended to all veterans and their families, as well as the general public. My personal suggestion would be for all veterans in attendance to wear items identifying their organizations.

Mass time is 9:30 a.m. with brunch immediately following.

For information, call 623-2604 on business days between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.; press 1 for Kerri.

Stay warm. Stay well.

Al Heidenreich is past commander of Henry J. Sweeney American Legion Post 2. Write to Al with your questions and comments at alanheidenreich@aol.com.


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