Page 3 =- The History
THE PRESIDENTIAL PROCLAMATION - It's History
It wasn't easy. Way back in 1995 a committee was formed consisting of Walter Ashe, Lt.SC, USN (Ret) ex-USS ASHEVILLE, and a committee of four; CaptainJack Slaugher USN (Ret) Ex- USS JOHN D. FORD, Clarence Wills ex-USS TRINITY sailor, Charles Ankerberg ex-USS JOHN PAUL JONES, Bernie Ibex our Marine representative ex-4th Marines. All former Asiatic Fleet sailors. Ibex died before we had completed our endeavors. Our goal was to organize a once in a life time reunion of all former Asiatic Fleet sailors, and to obtain a Presidential proclamation to give long overdue recognition to the Asiatic Fleet.
To obtain these goals we all met in Washington, picked March 1st as our Memorial Day and proceeded to start a tremendous letter writing campaign which resulted in literally over two thousand letters and half as many phone calls. Walter Ashe, Capt. Slaughter and Clarence Will conducted the writing campaign.
We had our Combined Forces Asiatic Fleet reunion and it was very successful, but our primary goal of obtaining a Presidential Proclamation that designated March 1st as the annual Asiatic Fleet Memorial Day was ahead of us. We wrote to each Senator and most of the congressman to gain their support. Many of our Asiatic Fleet sailors, as we appealed to all of them, also wrote letters to their Senators and Congressman. It was an unbelievable mass submission of letters and phone calls.
Finally after two years of writing, Senator John Warner (VA) and co-sponsored by Senator Jesse Helms (NC) took up the torch and proceeded to obtain the Senate approval. Senator Thurmond (SC) introduced the bill in the Senate as Congressman Walter Jones (NC) and co-sponsored by Charles Taylor (NC), and also Congressman Sherrod Brown (OH) was a co-sponsor from the House.
On November 17, 1997, two years after our first attempt, the law was passed authorizing the President to sign our Proclamation. Unfortunately, that was not the end. We repeatedly wrote to the President citing the passed law, to the Secretary of the Navy asking for their intervention, to Senator Warner, and Senator Helms. They both questioned the President's delay in acting on the passed law. Even the Secretary of Defense had approved of our expected Proclamation. We contacted the Navy Liaison Office in the White House numerous times, and the Military Office there as well. We never were able to reach the office that controlled the proclamations and only received word through the Navy Liaison Office that they did not feel that the "Asiatic Fleet was deserving of a proclamation."
In February 2000 we had a special Combined Forces reunion expecting to celebrate our proclamation. Instead, we were issued a mere "greeting" from President Clinton.
We gave up on the Clinton administration and looked forward to the new, soon to be elected, administration. Again, we started a stream of letters to Senator Warner, Senator Helms and others including the new President Bush. Clarence Wills, through retired Senator Bob Mitchler opened the doors to Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, Congressman (IL), who made personal contacts in the White House. Other Congressman supported our cause and acted accordingly. Captain Jack Slaughter was the driving force in our committee's endeavors.
Finally Senator Helms wrote a personal letter to the new President, and with the others contacting him for our authorized proclamation, we were notified that the President had finally signed the Proclamation and soon a copy was in our hands. The Original to be placed in the Asiatic Fleet Room at the Navy Memorial Center. The Proclamation was signed June 7, 2001 designating March 1, 2002 as the Asiatic Fleet Memorial Day. President Bush asks all Americans to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies. Our six years of effort has been rewarded.
(ChinaGunBoatMan pg. 12)
Walter Ashe - [email protected]
THAT DID NOT EXIST