World War I doesn’t get its props

above-the-dreamless-dead-1I was reading about World War I trench poetry remembered in comics anthology, and it hit me how relatively little most Americans know about the first World War (1914-1918), the “War to end all wars,” as someone put it, terribly incorrectly.

And it’s not its remoteness in time Continue reading

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Memorial Day: revisionist history

Almost a year ago, Demeur sent me an article about the history of Memorial Day.

[Historian David] Blight’s award-winning Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (2001) explained how three “overall visions of Civil War memory collided” in the decades after the war.

The first was the emancipationist vision, embodied in African Americans’ remembrances and the politics of Radical Reconstruction, in which the Civil War was understood principally as a war for the destruction of slavery and the liberation of African Americans to achieve full citizenship.

The second was the reconciliationist vision, ostensibly less political, which focused on honoring the dead on both sides, respecting their sacrifice, and the reunion of the country.

The third was Continue reading

‘What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?’ by Frederick Douglass

This year, in addition to reading the Declaration of Independence – I’m sure you’ll find it somewhere, consider reading Frederick Douglass’ July 4, 1852 address, only a portion of which has been included here. And if you’re in Albany, NY area, check out a speaker on this very subject this morning:

This, for the purpose of this celebration, is the 4th of July. It is the birthday of your National Independence, and of your political freedom. This, to you, is what the Passover was to the emancipated people of God. It carries your minds back to the day, and to the act of your great deliverance; and to the signs, and to the wonders, associated with that act, and that day. This celebration also marks the beginning of another year of your national life; and reminds you that the Republic of America is now 76 years old. I am glad, fellow-citizens, that your nation is so young. Seventy-six years, though a good old age for a man, is but a mere speck in the life of a nation…. There is hope in the thought, and hope is much needed, under the dark clouds which lower above the horizon. The eye of the reformer is met with angry flashes, portending disastrous times; but his heart may well beat lighter at the thought that America is young, and that she is still in the impressible stage of her existence… Were the nation older, the patriot’s heart might be sadder, and the reformer’s brow heavier…
Continue reading

Burn that flag

One of the things I loved as a kid were flags. I decided that the US flag was one of the best, design-wise. You have your red, white and blue, the colors of both England, with whom we fought for independence, and France, who helped us achieve it. (Thanks, Lafayette.) After adding a star and a stripe for each state entering the union, someone figured out that we’d better stick to the 13 stripes and merely alter the number of stars.

But it is clear that not many folks have read Title 4, Chapter 1 of the United States Code Continue reading

Love, Actually

Yeah, yeah, we should always tell people we love them, and we shouldn’t need to a day to do so. Blah, blah, blah. Just like Thanksgiving should be the only day we should give thanks. Except we DON’T always give thanks, or show love. We get too busy, or take each other for granted.

I have a very small family. My parents are deceased. My wife and each of my two sisters have but one daughter each. I feel as though it is necessary Continue reading

Reacting badly to “door busters”

Apparently, I have an almost irrational loathing to the phrase “door busters.” I’ve heard it before, but this season, it is so pervasive, even though I rarely watch live TV. Just talking about it with someone at work, I’m told I spoke of the word VERY LOUDLY.

It’s the idea that, in order to be a good consumer, one needs to aggressively bash in the store’s entryway. Having to fight the crowd to buy “stuff” that may be on sale seems, well, unseemly.

I have gone to Black Friday sales but once Continue reading

Memorial Day History

Mostly from here, because people seem to have no idea of the genesis of Memorial Day:

Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country. The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.

A long weekend!

The ceremonies centered around the mourning-draped veranda of the Arlington mansion Continue reading

Kegs and Eggs Riot, plus one year

Apparently, for years, there had been these “kegs and eggs” parties, although I had been blissfully unaware of them until 2011. I gather the “point” of the activity was to drink beer all night, have some eggs for breakfast, then continue to “party” through that day’s St. Patrick’s day parades and other celebrations.

Except that, in the “student ghetto” a half dozen blocks from my house, the morning marauding after breakfast turned into a riot; check out some pictures here.

Interestingly, some students objected to the term “riot” for their behavior. Let’s look at the dictionary Continue reading

Presidents Day – coins and candidates

They blew it. The US Mint is dropping the $1 US Presidential coin. Well, not entirely. Those entities that sell them to collectors will receive some, but I can’t, in good conscience, BUY a $1 coin for $3 or more. Lost history, plus a chance to drop the dollar bill missed. Plus they ended the public run with an assassinated President, James Garfield, and dissed poor Chester A. Arthur, who would have been released this month. Hey, if you happen across any of them, post-Garfield, please let me know.
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I was looking at the 2012 Republican field for President and realized that I should be supporting Ron Paul! Continue reading