World War II veteran seeks Dec. 7 holiday

December 07, 1990|By Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO -- Richard Foltynewicz, a lawnmower repairman and ex-Marine, is devoting his life to ensuring that the day that was to live in infamy doesn't die in obscurity.

His crusade began in March, after he realized that people were forgetting Pearl Harbor Day. So Mr. Foltynewicz, 65, of Illinois, re-upped in the VFW and embarked on a multistate odyssey and letter-writing campaign to persuade lawmakers, journalists, business leaders and the public that Dec. 7 should be declared a permanent national holiday.

He also began a fund-raising drive, "Pennies for Pearl," for a commemorative 50th anniversary plaque he wants placed at the USS Arizona Memorial.

The Pearl Harbor Survivors Association supports the idea behind Mr. Foltynewicz's newly created Foundation for a National Pearl Harbor Day, said the group's president, Ken Creese, but it is distancing itself from the current efforts. "We think the best time to push will be next year, when people are paying more attention," he said.

Either way, however, it will be a tough go. In the 1970s, Congress became so overwhelmed with requests for commemorative days, weeks and months that it decided to deny all future requests for perpetual observances.

In the last decade, Pearl Harbor Day officially was observed by Congress only in 1984, 1986 and 1987.

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