Category Archives: History

Forty-Four Years

This Thanksgiving is also the forty-fourth anniversary of the Kennedy assassination.

When we were in Dallas for a wedding a couple weeks ago, we went over to Dealey Plaza, where we’d never been, and went to the Sixth Floor Museum. I’d watched the coverage at the time it happened, and seen many photos and the Zapruder film, but you can’t really get a sense of what it is like without actually seeing the historic site of the assassination. It wasn’t what I’d imagined. I think that I’d always inflated the distances in my mind. It seemed almost mundane to look at the street that the limo had driven down, and up at the window of the repository where the sniper had lurked in wait.

Anyway, here’s an interesting article about the Zapruder film, and the mythology about it, that helps explain something that has provided fodder for the conspiracy theorists over the years.

Remember The Doughboys

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

Note that the number of WW I vets has dwindled down to a tiny few (my maternal grandfather was one, who died in the early sixties). Barring some miracle medical breakthroughs, in another decade they will all lie (at least metaphorically) in Flanders fields. Honor today the few who are still with us, and their compatriots who no longer are. And thank, silently or otherwise, those in harm’s way today overseas.

[Note: this is a repost from two years ago. I may update later if I have any further thoughts in context, but you might want to read this related post from yesterday, if you haven’t already. I’ll be keeping this post at the top of the blog all day.]

[Update a few minutes later]

Google (uncharacteristically) remembers. I don’t think they observed Memorial Day.

Glenn also has some additional related links.

[Update a few minutes later]

Even the BBC has figured out that things are going pretty well in Iraq. How long will it take the Gray Lady and the networks to figure it out?

[Evening update on Veteran’s Day]

I had a post a few days ago about overaged adolescents who want to “make a difference.” Well, here are people who want to make a difference, and really do:

All of us are volunteers. We’re in Iraq because we want to serve. We are well educated and physically fit and could have pursued a variety of other life options. But, to paraphrase Defense Secretary Robert Gates, we are driven by the romantic and optimistic ideal that we can improve the world. We are seeing real progress on the ground, and we are helping Iraq to change.

Idealism, however, does not diminish our longing for home or the pain of missing family. It does not dispel all fear and doubt, and it does not heal our wounded or fallen friends. So when we are feeling disheartened, we open the care packages and read the letters.

And I don’t see any whining about their pay or benefits.

Send them some more.

The Night Of Shattering Glass

It’s been almost seven decades since Kristallnacht. Today is the sixty-ninth anniversary. Hilda Pierce remembers:

In Paris, on Nov. 7, 1938, a 17-year-old boy, Herschel Grynszpan, distraught over the treatment of his German Jewish parents in Poland, shot and killed the German minor official Herr von Rath. That was the excuse for Kristallnacht two days later.

Thousands of people participated in this horrendous carnage, an organized massacre dictated by Berlin. Not just hoodlums, but ordinary middle-class men and women, neighbors, former friends, smashed windows, looted Jewish shops, burned synagogues, tortured and beat senseless thousands of Jews and the rest sent to concentration camps. In my Vienna, the bloodshed was even greater; hundreds of Jews committed suicide. There it happened on Nov. 9. Austrians had one great regret, that so much needless damage was inflicted on property.

Crystal Night was the beginning of the Holocaust. It sowed the seeds for the Second World War. Had Hitler been stopped at that time, the war and genocide might have been avoided. All these valuable people, Jews who had contributed so much to the world in science, art, music, mores and medicine, could have continued giving their invaluable gifts to mankind.

Sadly, though, many in modern Europe seem to have forgotten:

Take the much-abused term

I Remember It Well

It’s been forty years since the Detroit riots on Twelfth Street. We drove down from Flint afterward to look at the damage. I’d never seen a war zone before, but it looked like I imagine one might. A year later, the Tigers came back from a two-game deficit to win the World Series against the Cardinals (the first time in series history that had happened), which went a good way toward healing the city.

A Reminder

That few, if any, contemporary politicians are the equals of the statesmen who were the founders. Sadly, few are even taught such things in either the public schools, or the universities.