Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

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Today is the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the United States’ entry into World War II. Now more than ever we must look to our past, to our history and make our futures better.

Today, we remember those lost on December 7th, 1941, but not just what happended today, but all those lost through wars or violence.

In just over a month we will inaugurate our forty-fifth president. Even the people who voted for Mr. Trump are finding out that it is not going to go completely as they had hoped, not to mention the rest of us.

There’s support and there’s vigilance and there are the values that this country was founded on and continues to promote and hold dear. We must stand up when we’re called on to defend our values and our country. Re-read the Constitution. President Obama is a constitutional scholar. Robert Reich is a professor of public policy. Search out reliable sources and speak out.

That is how we honor the fallen and remember their sacrifice.

Blessiings for the survivors.

History Recs

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Partial list of links posted this week:

The D-Day Memorial and Museum
Wikipedia – Normandy Landings
Wikipedia – USS Slater
USS Slater
The Washington Post article about Dutch WWII American Cemeteries
These Women Pilots During World War II Went Unrecognized for Nearly 35 Years
Henry Johnson at Arlington Cemetery
Harlem Hellfighters Visit Henry Johnson’s Grave
It Took 97 Years to Get These Soldiers the Medal of Honor
Two World War I Soldiers to Posthumously Receive Medal of Honor
Video of Medal of Honor Ceremony, June 3, 2015
Shaker Site
Mother Ann Lee
Video of Simple Gifts

Books (including Historical Fiction (HF)):

1014: Brian Boru & The Battle for Ireland – Morgan Llewellyn
4000 Years of Uppity Women: Rebellious Belles, Daring Dames, and Headstrong Heroines Through the Ages – Vicki Leon
A History of the World in Six Glasses – Tom Standage
Anything by Bernard Cornwell (HF)
Anything by Sharon Kay Penman (HF)
Castle – David Macaulay
Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawning of a New America – Gilbert King
Did Prince Madog discover America? – an investigation by Michael Senior
Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World – Matthew Goodman
History Decoded: The 10 Greatest Conspiracies of all Time – Brad Meltzer with Keith Ferrell
How the Scots Invented the Modern World – Arthur Herman
Johnny Tremain – Esther Forbes
Lies They Teach in School: Exposing the Myths Behind 250 Commonly Believed Fallacies – Herb Reich
Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer – James L. Swanson
Moon Shot – Alan Shepard & Deke Slayton with Jay Barbree
My Beloved World – Sonia Sotomayor
Summer of ’49 – David Halberstam
The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt
The Dust Bowl – also a documentary
The Jet Sex – Victoria Vantoch
The List (fictionalized) – Martin Fletcher
The Man Who Would Not Be Washington: Robert E. Lee’s Civil War and His Decision That Changed American History – Jonathan Horn
The Presidents’ War: Six Presidents and the Civil War that Divided Them – Chris DeRose
The Truth and Legend of Lily Martindale – Mary Sanders Shartle  (HF)
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration – Isabel Wilkerson
Twelve Years a Slave – Solomon Northrup
Upstairs at the White House: My Life With the First Ladies by J. B. West with Mary Lynn Kotz
While the World Watched – Carolyn Maull McKinstry

Visual Media:

The Dust Bowl
John Adams
Ken Burns’ The Civil War
Prince of Egypt

Tomorrow is the Anniversary of D-Day

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The military uses the codes, D-Day and H-Hour when the day and hour have not been decided or announced. That was the case in 1944 when the Allies were planning their invasion of the European continent. There were deception plans in place and troops were either moved or left in places to make the deception plans remain secretive and on the Nazi’s “radar”.

They were getting their plans ready for an assault of Nazi forces who were invading and taking over Europe with executions, concentration camps, and new laws forcing their sovereignty across the landscape.

That began to change with the amphibious attacks on the French coast in 1944.

Planning for the invasion began long before a date had been thought of, let alone set. So much depended on so many factors that the plans needed to be set, the logistics considered, alternatives, at what point to go ahead or abort. In the case of this preparation, the phases of the moon and tides were a major consideration as well as the time of day. This limited how many opportunities they had to make their assault. Preceding the landings were airstrikes, naval bombardments and an air assault just after midnight.

June 6, 1944. The Allied Invasion of Normandy during Operation Overlord during World War II. Now it is commonly known as D-Day. It was (and continues to be)  the largest seaborne invasion in history, landing 24,000 British, US, and Canadian forces at 6:30am.

Out of 156,000 troops, there were at least 10,000 casualties with 4414 confirmed dead.

I can’t give this decisive victory the proper justice it deserves on my own, so please, please visit the D-Day website and support the national museum.

Or begin your reading about the Normandy landings and invasion, but remember Wikipedia is a starting point.

The USS Slater is the only remaining destroyer class ship that fought Nazi U-boats during World War II that remains afloat. It is a national historic landmark and museum ship moored on the Hudson River in the port of Albany, the capital of New York State.

More than 70 years later, there continues to be a profound gratitude to the American Servicemen and Women who liberated the Dutch and who sacrificed their lives: Washington Post article: Americans Gave their LIves to Defeat the Nazis. The Dutch Have Never Forgotten.

“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”
– Winston Churchill

Recs – A Collection of Articles

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I’ve been saving these and thought this snowy week when many are snowbound was a perfect time to share them:

These 48 Trans Women and Men Changed the World

LGBTQ Children in Catholic Families: A Deacon’s View on Holy Family Sunday

8 Ways to Get Rid of Paper Clutter

9 Lists to Keep Updated, And Keep Handy

52 Things, Ideas for Writers 2015

The Playboy Conversation: Patton Oswalt and Wil Wheaton

A Writer’s Toolbox

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck

Wartime Secrets of the Female Codebreakers of Bletchley Park

Transgender Man has Private Audience with Pope Francis

Most Important Thing on TV this year is this Super Bowl PSA

Simeon, Anna, and Phil and The Many Facets of the Second of February

SCOTUS Decides Vaccine Debate (110 Years Ago)

An (Extra) Ordinary Wednesday

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I thought today’hts Mass was going to be a typical, ordinary Wednesday Mass.

I was surprised and when it began it was clear that it was going to be anything but ordinary.

There is a routine to each daily Mass. Everything follows along its familiar path, although each day brings with it a new reading, a new Gospel, and a new chance to experience a reenactment of the Resurrection through the Eucharist. (Note: I don’t participate in this yet, but I will after my baptism.) It doesn’t exactly run by clockwork, but there is a sameness that is the ritual of the Mass. However, that sameness doesn’t diminish from the traditions and the priest’s interpretations. I will often find guidance and solace as many of my morning’s questions are answered through those readings and interpretations.

Usually my mind is full, but calm as I wait to see which readings are prepared in the Missal and how much they will relate to my life.

For anyone not familiar with Catholic Mass, it begins with the Sign of the Cross, penance for our sins, opening prayer and then the readings and Gospel followed by the Homily and the Eucharist and a closing prayer and dismissal blessing.

The words change daily, the sins change, it’s all different and yet it is that sameness that we find comfortable and comforting.

Most days after the sign of the cross, there is a kind of preview. We’re told who the dead are that we are remembering at this Mass, if there are any crosses to be returned to families (on the anniversary of a family member’s death), any special visitors or what I like to call housekeeping (if there are schedule changes, an occasional weather report, etc.)

I try to fill my mind with what I’m looking for in the Mass, what I need for that day, and about whom I’ll be praying for. We pray as a community. The priest lists who we’re praying for and we ask G-d to hear our prayer. For me, I add my own, not always silently, but quietly:  for the religious community, I add L, A, and F. For the sick, I think of who is ill in my life and whisper their names. For the dead, I’ve been adding my church friend, and I always add Brittany. I don’t know when I began to add Brittany, it’s been a long time, but I think of her every day when I pray. For the military, I add C and M. Sometimes, I’ll include C’s wife and family depending on if I think they need extra prayers. During the silence of our hearts, where we pray individually, I always include A and add anyone else who seems to be going through a rough time.

This morning before we thought on our own sins and ask for G-d’s forgiveness, Father J said that we had two special men in our midst and they would receive a special blessing today. They were Sal F and Tom S and they were two of the three local people who were Marines, members of the battalion that took Iwo Jima sixty-nine years ago today.

In looking around, we found them easily enough. They appeared older than anyone else at our Mass, and that’s saying something since at forty-seven, I’m one of the youngest people there. Both were bent over, unsteady on their feet, slow, even with the help of canes, and one of the men was wearing his red Marines baseball cap. From the back, he looked a bit like Winston Churchill.

When it was time for the special blessing, we all extended our hands to be part of the blessing over them. It was moving. And when it was over, as they walked back to their seats, we all stood up and applauded.

They were swamped by parishioners when Mass was over, everyone wanting to shake their hands and say hello. One person even took a photo.

I thought I’d want to say hello, but I felt funny approaching them. I went to my car, and when I saw that they were late in leaving, I decided to go over to where they were parked. This was a big deal for me; very much out of character. I never know what to say to people, but the more I thought about it, the more I steeled myself to ignore my anxiety and do it. If I hadn’t, I would have regretted it.

I waited and when they arrived at their cars, I got out of mine, and walked over to them. It had begun to snow a little harder and we were getting pelted with a wet hard rain-like snow.

I introduced myself and put out my hand to shake theirs. I said I wanted to say hello and thank them for everything they had done. Sal, who was closest to me, asked for a hug. We hugged tightly, and he thanked me and said G-d Bless you, and then I repeated it with Tom, who also wanted to hug me.

It was one of the most moving moments I think I’ve ever experienced. I would have continued to stand there even in the snow if that was what they wanted.

They both wanted to thank me. I remember Tom’s words: “Thank you so much, dear. It was a long time ago. Thank you.”

Thank me?!

I hadn’t done anything; certainly nothing to warrant a thank you from two Marines.

It’s amazing how things happen in our lives with people we meet and how they affect our lives. People we might not have ever met if not for those circumstances. A crazy, random circumstance often initiated by someone else and it seems insignificant to us; until it’s not.

I’ve since had the opportunity to read about them. As it turned out, they were both on the cover of Our Hometowne, a local penny-saver newspaper, which was sitting on my side table. I saw it when it came, but didn’t pay it much mind, and then remembered it this afternoon.

When they enlisted, Sal was 18 and Tom was 20. They were not lifelong friends. They were part of two separate battalions that were joined at Saipan. They served together, but I don’t know if they had ever met on the island. Sal was wounded and according to the accompanying story, he was rescued by a tank driving over him and opening a trap door to pull him in. The trap door was coincidentally repaired by Tom. They both survived, received Purple Hearts among other decorations, and eventually met in the local Walmart years and years later.

Once again, my visit to Mass has given me more than I could have expected when I set out this morning.

Info on the Memorial: http://wwiimemorial.com/