Posts Tagged ‘History’

Planning a trip to Greece

Saturday, June 20th, 2015

I have been a student of Greek history for many years. When I was a medical student and later a surgery resident, I kept a copy of J.B.Bury’s “History of Greece to the Death of Alexander on my bedside table as reading material for relaxation. I have read it several times.

Another source of pleasure has been the novels of Mary Renault, the pen name of Eileen Mary Challans. Sh wrote a series of historical novels which won awards and which provided a more intimate view of Greek society in the classical era. Some of her novels provide a more sympathetic view of homosexuality than I have found anywhere else but that is not the attraction. Her history sounded like something written by one who lived it.

Another favorite novelist is Helen MacInnes who wrote novels of adventure set in and after World War II. Two of them were about places in Greece and one of those, Mykonos, is a favorite spot.

Mykonos harbor

Her novel describes this harbor and, while a new cruise ship terminal has replaced some of her story, the harbor looks just as she described it.

Mykonos square

The story, titled “The Double Image” describes a tiny square in the town that sounds exactly like this one looks.

We are looking forward to this trip with some trepidation, however. Why ? Because Greece may be heading into serious trouble.

Since December, Greeks have been preparing for a weekend such as this, pulling more than 30 billion euros out of banks. Week after week, the Bank of Greece borrowed banknotes from the rest of the continent to replenish this hoarding of the one asset Greeks still trust — cold, hard cash. Its liabilities to the rest of the euro area for the excess physical cash it has to put into circulation quadrupled between December and April, the last month for which there’s available data.

In November of 2012, there was rioting in Athens and it was about proposed austerity.

On the same day that Greece’s parliament passed harsh new austerity measures as part of a multi-billion euro rescue package, workers cleared wreckage from burned-out buildings damaged during a round of intense riots the day before.

The unpopular bailout deal requires dramatic cuts in wages, pensions and jobs, according to Reuters, and Sunday’s protests saw the worst violence in Athens in years.

Since those riots, a new radical leftist government has been elected that has vowed to defy the EU and austerity.

Greece’s new leftist government opened talks on its bailout with European partners on Friday by flatly refusing to extend the program or to cooperate with the international inspectors overseeing it.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ government also sacked the heads of the state privatization agency after halting a series of state asset sales.

The politically unpopular policy of privatization to help cut debt is one of the conditions of Greece’s 240-billion-euro bailout that has imposed years of harsh austerity on Greece.

Now, the moment of truth approaches and what will happen ?

Everything comes together on Monday [Monday June 22 !]. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, back from a visit with Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg, will spend his weekend coming up with a proposal to take to a Monday showdown with euro-area leaders.
A deal there is key. The bailout agreement that’s kept Greece from defaulting expires June 30. That’s the day Greece owes about 1.5 billion euros to the International Monetary Fund.
In an interview published Saturday in Brussels-based l’Echo newspaper, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis warned that the ruling Syriza party could be replaced by neo-Nazis if Greece ends up defaulting and leaving the euro.

This may be standard leftist scare tactics but what will happen ? We have planned the trip to anticipate potential trouble in Athens. I have been to Athens before and have been to the Acropolis and the Parthenon.

Annie in Athens

Annie much more photogenic than I am and this was taken when she was 14 and standing on the Acropolis.

The plan is to fly to Athens and then spend only two nights there. I have planned a side trip to another place described in one of Helen MacInnes’ novels, Decision at Delphi, which is set soon after World War II and describes Sicily as well as Athens and Delphi. Delphi is quite high in the mountains north of Athens and involves some climbing so we will spend most of that time in the Delphi Museum.

Important finds included sculptures from the Temple of Zeus, the Nike of Paeonius, the Hermes of Praxiteles and many bronzes. In total 14,000 objects were recorded. The finds were displayed in a museum on the site.

Today, the Museum contains treasures from those excavations.

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The museum itself.

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And the interior with the exhibits. The trip can be made in a day and I have made arrangements.

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On the way to Delphi, I want to make a short side trip to see the Lion of Chaeronea. This statue was erected over the common grave of the Sacred Band of Thebes. This was a unit of sworn lovers, probably all homosexual but in the fashion of classical Greece in which women were closely held in harem-like seclusion and men tended to adopt a pattern of an older man with a younger boy which might be merely sexual or it might be a sort of apprenticeship in arms. The Sacred Band had never been defeated in battle until that day, August 2, 338 BC. On that day, the Sacred Band was annihilated by the army of Philip II of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great. The Band was buried in common grave and the lion statue erected over their grave. It was found by British tourists around 1900 and excavated and restored. Beneath the site were found the skeletons of nearly 300 men.

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The battle,according to accounts which survived, was won when the Macedonians’ right flank conducted a sudden retreat, drawing the Athenians out of line. The Sacred Band was destroyed holding the line. I want to see their grave.

After that day trip, we plan to fly to Thessaloniki, a city east and north of Athens to visit the tomb of Philip II, the father of Alexander and winner of the battle of Chaeronea.

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The remains in the tomb have recently been confirmed as those of Philip II

The tomb, itself, is well preserved and restored. The town of Vergina is near Thessaloniki and too far from Athens to drive in a day.

From Thessaloniki, we will fly to Crete and spend a few days near the Palace of Knossos and its museum.

knossos

The museum and the palace ruins should keep us busy for five days, then we fly back to Athens for one night and catch our flight to London and home the next day.

Or so the plan goes.

Another D-Day anniversary.

Saturday, June 6th, 2015

I have posted a few photos from our trips to Normandy in years past. I haven’t been back since then but have been reading about it. Here is SLA Marshall’s description of the first wave at Normandy.

It was very nearly a disaster for the whole invasion although Utah and the British and Canadian beaches were far less dangerous for the troops. One reason was the geography.

Utah Beach was nearly flat and there was no bluff as there was at Omaha. The problem at Utah was that the country behind the beach was low and the Airborne drop was to secure the causeways that controlled access to the dry ground beyond the fields flooded by the Germans. Sante Mere-Eglise was the center of the Airborne mission.

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It is much more quiet today although the famous parachute still hangs from the church roof.

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Memorial Day

Sunday, May 24th, 2015

Another Memorial Day is coming upon us and we are sinking slowly into the morass that Barack Obama has created. I am frankly surprised that a community organizer can do this much harm.

Anyway, memories of better times beckon.

theSalute

That was 1944 and I was welcoming home my cousin Arthur G Kerrison who was home on leave. He was a bombardier with the 301st Bomb Group, 352nd Squadron in North Africa.

Here is another photo of him.

Bud, Marion and MIke

This one is with his sister, Marion, and yours truly about 1943 or early 1944 since it seems to be in front of the house we moved from in November 1944. “Bud” as he was known in the family, completed his training at Roswell, NM and went over seas to join the 15th Air Force in North Africa. His first mission was in June of 1943 over Leghorn Italy. His 50th was in January 1944. He must have been home after he completed his missions.

My own service was at home in California with the 146th Air Transport Command and I saw no combat. The worst danger was the drive to Van Nuys Airport.

I did try to teach the girls about the history of war and its cost in France in 2006.

Utah

There they are at Utah Beach.

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And at Omaha Beach

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And in the US military cemetery above Omaha Beach.

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This is me wearing the medals that were sent to me by a member of Bud’s squadron who was shot down before I received them.

Please remember them. We owe them our freedom.

Nature and Nurture.

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

I have long been a fan of Steven Pinker’s books.

I have read many of them, beginning probably with his books on speech as he is a linguist first. This was probably the first as I was intrigued by his theories about irregular verbs and how children learn language.

He points out, for example, how normal construction in archaic forms such as “Wend, went and wended” have become “Go, went, gone.”
The child makes an error he or she may not understand that “Goed” is not a used form for past tense, whereas “Wend” is an archaic form whose past tense has been substituted. The child is using language rules but they don’t account for irregular verbs. He continues with this thought in The Language Instinct, which came later. Here he makes explicit that this is how the mind works. One review on Amazon makes the point:

For the educated layperson, this book is the most fascinating and engaging introduction to linguistics I have come across. I know some college students who had received xeroxed handouts of one chapter from this book, and these were students who were just bored of reading handouts week after week… but after reading just a few paragraphs from The Language Instinct, they were hooked, fascinated, and really wanted to read the whole book (and did). I wish I had come across such a book years ago…

Now, this is interesting but Pinker has gotten into politics inadvertently by emphasizing the role of genetics in language and behavior. I read The Blank Slate when it came out ten years ago and loved it.

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The “Islamic State” or barbarians as it should be better known.

Friday, December 26th, 2014

The Washington Post is worried that the “Islamic State is failing as a state.”

Services are collapsing, prices are soaring, and medicines are scarce in towns and cities across the “caliphate” proclaimed in Iraq and Syria by the Islamic State, residents say, belying the group’s boasts that it is delivering a model form of governance for Muslims.

The Muslims have never been much at governing. In the early days after Muhammed and his nomadic warriors conquered much of the Middle East, the people pretty much governed themselves as the Arabs were better at fighting than governing.

The “Golden Age of Islam was from the rule of Harun al Rashid to the Mongol conquest, in 1260 to 1300. The Sack of Baghdad, which ended the “Golden Age, occurred in 1258.

Although the Abbasids had failed to prepare for the invasion, the Caliph believed that Baghdad could not fall to invading forces and refused to surrender. Hulagu subsequently besieged the city, which surrendered after 12 days. During the next week, the Mongols sacked Baghdad, committing numerous atrocities and destroying the Abbasids’ vast libraries, including the House of Wisdom. The Mongols executed Al-Musta’sim and massacred many residents of the city, which was left greatly depopulated.

The Golden Age of Islam had been chiefly carried out by Christians and recent converts (mostly involuntary) who translated Greek classics into Arabic. It was mostly a fiction created in the 19th century.

The metaphor of a golden age begins to be applied in 19th-century literature about Islamic history, in the context of the western cultural fashion of Orientalism. The author of a Handbook for Travelers in Syria and Palestine in 1868 observed that the most beautiful mosques of Damascus were “like Mohammedanism itself, now rapidly decaying” and relics of “the golden age of Islam”

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War Movies.

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

Veterans Day seems to be a good day to consider war movies. We saw the movie Fury last night and it was technically pretty good. A couple of folks on veteran sites complained about the haircuts but I don’t know if they would have been different in April 1945 in guys who had been fighting all the way from the Normandy beaches. I objected a bit to the tank they used as it looked like the Sherman Firefly that the British used. However, the movie web site says it was an M4 A2E8 which does look like the Firefly.

M4A

The combat scenes were intense and looked authentic to me. They even had a Tiger I from a museum in Britain. Most tanks that I see in Movies, including Patton, are not authentic Shermans.

tiger I

The tactics looked pretty good as they showed that Shermans had to get around the Tiger Tank to attack the rear where the armor was thinner. The Russians used the same tactics with their T 34 which was the best tank of the war.

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The story was about the same plot as Saving Private Ryan although some of the objectionable lines, like saving Ryan was “the only good thing that will come out of this war,” as if Hitler was not a good reason. The plot device is basically the same with the new guy as an innocent who survives and the experienced guys all get killed.

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World War 2.5

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

UPDATE: I don’t seem to be the only one worried about a 1914 situation.

China’s current coercion of Japan over the islands is but a symptom of a larger illness in the international system. China has been leveraging its naval modernization to increase its movements through the seas and choke points surrounding Japan to break out into the Pacific. Last November, for example, flotillas of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy destroyers and submarines backed by air power encircled Japan for the first time, as PLA officers bragged about splitting and demolishing the first island chain. China is changing the regional balance with little resistance from the United States. Counter to Chinese public claims of surprise at a U.S. “overreaction,” recent discussions with Chinese officials over Beijing’s December air defense identification zone announcement suggests that the United States’ response was much weaker than the response the Chinese leadership had expected.

This is worrisome.

Last month I posted an observation that another world war may be coming. I noted that this summer is the 100th anniversary of the First World War and that the present situation is similar to that which preceded the 1914 war. I may not be the only one.

I concluded last month’s post as follows: The “two Ps” are Pakistan and the Palestinians. We live in an incredibly dangerous era and we are seeing an American president who does not understand geopolitics. God help us.

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A recent column provided from someone attending the Davos Economic Forum discusses yet another potential fuse that is sputtering.

During the dinner, the hosts passed a microphone around the table and asked guests to speak briefly about something that they thought would interest the group.

One of the guests, an influential Chinese professional, talked about the simmering conflict between China and Japan over a group of tiny islands in the Pacific.

We live in an era in which the US elites are largely ignorant of history and of other peoples. In the 1930s, President Roosevelt had spent summers bicycling around Europe before he suffered the attack of Polio in 1920. President Eisenhower had, of court, commanded the armies in World War II. He knew intimately most of the people who mattered in the world. We now have a president who does not know how little he knows about the world. He thinks a few years as a child in Indonesia make him a expert in international relations. His inner circle describes him as the smartest man ever to become president.

There is little evidence to support it. Mr. Obama went to Harvard, but so did George W. Bush, who some liberals consider dumber than dirt. The president won’t release his transcripts, so we can’t judge by his grades. Mr. Obama was president of the Harvard Law Review, but when he was selected, popularity mattered more than scholarship.

Mr. Obama joined an undistinguished law firm, where he tried no cases. So no help there.

Many cite the president’s oratorical skills, but he often rambles when he speaks without a teleprompter. That’s because his brain “is moving so fast that the mouth can’t keep up,” wrote Meghan Daum of the Los Angeles Times.

Most telling is the following exchange:

Barack Obama is the smartest man with the highest IQ ever to be elected to the presidency, historian Michael Beschloss told radio talk show host Don Imus in November of 2008.

“So what is his IQ?” Mr. Imus asked. Mr. Beschloss didn’t know. He was just assuming.

We are all guessing but some of us think we know. Obama thinks we need Arabic translators in Afghanistan.

Obama posited — incorrectly — that Arabic translators deployed in Iraq are needed in Afghanistan — forgetting, momentarily, that Afghans don’t speak Arabic.
“We only have a certain number of them and if they are all in Iraq, then its harder for us to use them in Afghanistan,” Obama said.
The vast majority of military translators in both war zones are drawn from the local population.
Naturally they speak the local language. In Iraq, that’s Arabic or Kurdish. In Afghanistan, it’s any of a half dozen other languages — including Pashtu, Dari, and Farsi.

Oh well. That is over and we have new problems.

He then explained that the general sense in China is that China and Japan have never really settled their World War 2 conflict. Japan and America settled their conflict, he explained, and as a result, the fighting stopped. But China and Japan have never really put the war behind them.

The Chinese professional acknowledged that if China asserted control over the disputed islands by attacking Japan, America would have to stand with Japan. And he acknowledged that China did not want to provoke America.

But then he said that many in China believe that China can accomplish its goals — smacking down Japan, demonstrating its military superiority in the region, and establishing full control over the symbolic islands — with a surgical invasion.

Remember that Austria planned to punish Serbia for the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand who was shot by Serbian conspirators. How did that end ? One of the reasons for the appeasement of the 1930s was to avoid a war by mistake.

“Do you realize that those islands are worthless pieces of rock… and you’re seriously suggesting that they’re worth provoking a global military conflict over?”

The Chinese professional said that, yes, he realized that. But then, with conviction that further startled everyone, he said that the islands’ value was symbolic and that their symbolism was extremely important.

Challenged again, the Chinese professional distanced himself from his earlier remarks, saying that he might be “sensationalizing” the issue and that he, personally, was not in favor of a war with Japan. But he still seemed certain that one was deserved.

I wish we had a competent president instead of a narcissistic fool.

Gideon Rachman of the Financial Times tweeted the following about an interview with Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan. In case you’ve forgotten, 1914 is when World War 1 started.

Just interviewed Shinzo Abe @Davos. He said China and Japan now are in a “similar situation” to UK and Germany before 1914.

Margaret Thatcher

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

Thatchers

It is a bit presumptive for me to mention my opinion of this great lady. I have been to England many times, some of those visits were during her time as Prime Minister, though I never saw her. She was brought into government in the traditional “woman’s post” as Secretary of State for Education by Ted Heath. I have always been a fan of Heath because of his great sailing achievements but he was not a very good Prime Minister.

In 1975, she went to Heath and told him she planned to stand for the leadership post against him. He told her “You’ll lose of course,” but she didn’t. He was hostile to her for the rest of his career in Parliament. In 1979, the Conservative Party won the election over a failed Labour Party which had presided over a decline in Britain unchanged for the better in 25 years. That was “The Winter of Discontent.”

Her early life included living as a child above her father’s grocery store. She attended Oxford on scholarship and graduated in 1947 with second honours in Chemistry. Her senior work was on x-ray crystallography, under the supervision of Nobel Prize winner Dorothy Hodgkin. She worked as a research chemist and became involved in Conservative politics. At one meeting, she met Denis Thatcher whom she married in 1951. Soon after, she began studies in law and she qualified in 1953, specializing in taxation.

She stood for office twice in 1950 and 51 but was defeated as the seat was a safe Labour seat. However, she attracted a lot of interest because of her sex and her losing margin was smaller than previous candidates.

In 1959, she was elected for Finchley, a safe Conservative seat with many Jewish residents. She became active in pro-Israel organizations although she condemned (as everyone did) the Israeli bombing of Iraq’s nuclear reaction in 1981. Many of the condemning politicians were secretly pleased at the action.

In 1961, Harold MacMillen’s government moved her to the front bench. She continued to rise in the party even after the loss of the 1964 election. She voted to decriminalize homosexuality and to legalize abortion, both libertarian rather than Conservative positions. In 1967, she visited the US with a delegation of government leaders from the UK and she was later added to the shadow cabinet by Ted Heath when the Conservatives were still in opposition. In 1970, Heath and the Conservatives won the election and she became Secretary of State for Education and Science.

During her first months in office she attracted public attention as a result of the administration’s attempts to cut spending. She gave priority to academic needs in schools[45] and imposed public expenditure cuts on the state education system, resulting in the abolition of free milk for schoolchildren aged seven to eleven.[46] She held that few children would suffer if schools were charged for milk, but she agreed to provide younger children with a third of a pint daily, for nutritional purposes.[46] Her decision provoked a storm of protest from the Labour party and the press,[47] leading to the moniker “Margaret Thatcher, Milk Snatcher”.[46][48] Cabinet papers of the time reveal that Thatcher actually opposed the policy but was forced into it by the Treasury.[49] Thatcher wrote in her autobiography: “I learned a valuable lesson [from the experience]. I had incurred the maximum of political odium for the minimum of political benefit.”

She would later be forced out as PM in a similar controversy over attempts to change local taxation rules. In 1975, she defeated Heath as party leader after he lost the 1974 general election. After Labour postponed the general election to 1979, the Conservatives won a 44 seat majority in Parliament and Thatcher became the first female Prime Minister in British history.

I remember my first visit to London in 1977 and being vaguely embarrassed by the election of Jimmy Carter. I returned in 1981 and, at the time, the dollar and the pound were almost equal in value. That was the height of the Reagan-Volker squeeze of inflation in the US. Not long after, Thatcher instituted similar policies and I regretted not buying pound futures. The pound rebounded nicely and she cut taxes and began to run surpluses. Over the next few years, she paid down the British national debt until there were fears expressed that the “Gilt” bonds issued by the government might no longer be available for investment. The subsequent Labour governments solved that potential problem with wild spending.

Like Reagan, her initial economic actions led to recession and calls for a “U-turn” in 1980. She gave a memorable speech in which she said, “You turn if you want to; the lady’s not for turning.” Soon after the economy began to recover.

By 1987, unemployment was falling, the economy was stable and strong, and inflation was low. Opinion polls showed a comfortable Conservative lead, and local council election results had also been successful, prompting Thatcher to call a general election for 11 June that year, despite the deadline for an election still being 12 months away. The election saw Thatcher re-elected for a third successive term.

Her accomplishments included the Falklands War in 1982 that did a lot to reverse the British malaise and unhappiness with her reforms. The economy plus the evidence or revived British confidence was enough to determine the result of the 1983 election. Now, she began to accelerate the privatisation of nationlised industries. She sold off British Steel, and British Airways. She did not want to privatise British Rail but that was later done by John Major and was not a success.

Her downfall with Conservatives resulted from an attempt to reform local government.

Thatcher reformed local government taxes by replacing domestic rates—a tax based on the nominal rental value of a home—with the Community Charge (or poll tax) in which the same amount was charged to each adult resident.[97] The new tax was introduced in Scotland in 1989 and in England and Wales the following year,[98] and proved to be among the most unpopular policies of her premiership.[97] Public disquiet culminated in a 70,000 to 200,000-strong [99] demonstration in London on 31 March 1990; the demonstration around Trafalgar Square deteriorated into the Poll Tax Riots, leaving 113 people injured and 340 under arrest.[100] The Community Charge was abolished by her successor, John Major.[100]

This was an attempt to reform the radical left wing governance of London by Mayor “Red Ken” Livingstone, a far left Labour politician. In 2000 he was expelled from the Labour Party. His Greater London Council had been funding far left causes with increased property taxes on houses owned by opponents of his policies. In 1986, she abolished the GLC but Red Ken was subsequently elected Mayor.

After her resignation, she traveled the world until ill health and the death of her husband Denis in 2003 reduced her activities. She was heavily criticized at the time for her opposition to the Euro and European monetary union. Her recommendations were prescient and are now fully confirmed.

What is coming ?

Friday, September 14th, 2012

The attacks on American embassies across the middle east, but especially Egypt and Libya, are the harbinger of a new era in that area. With the assistance of the US, including force in Libya, we have brought forces to power that have been disguised by our leftist president and administration as peaceful democrats seeking freedom. They are not. They represent the Muslim Brotherhood and worse. These organizations are radical islamists who seek to return Muslim society to the 7th century of Muhammed in law and policy. There is no precedent in Muslim society for peaceful coexistence with Christian or other religious believers. Islam in the 7th and 8th centuries was spread by conquest. It was stopped France by Charles Martel at Tours in 732, This stopped the northward invasion of Europe from north Africa that surged into Spain and held part of that country for another five hundred years.

The Arabs regrouped and next attacked Byzantium, which fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453, This followed a period of turmoil within the world of Islam. The Arabs conquered Palestine but lost it to the Seljuk Turks in 1071. They, in turn, were defeated by the Ottomon turks after being defeated by the Christian crusaders trying to reclaim the Holy Land from the infidel. There was a Mameluke empire for a time composed of Mamelukes, soldier slaves who had been taken from often Christian families of Georgia and other smaller countries to the northwest of the Turks. The entire middle east was involved in chaos for hundreds of years as various factions maneuvered for power.

The Ottomans revived the aggressive instincts of the Muslims and attacked Vienna in 1529, beginning with a siege, the usual tactic against fortified strongholds. They had already conquered most of Hungary and the Danube Valley. They were finally defeated by inadequate logistical support and most of Europe remained Christian.

There is no period in early Islam when advancing the religion by force was not the policy, Peace with Europe after Vienna followed exhaustion of the Muslim armies. They did not stoop fighting but moved on to the Siege of Malta after Vienna. The Knights Hospitalers of Jerusalem had been expelled from the Holy Lands and settled in Rhodes. There, they were expelled by the Siege of Rhodes in 1522 and settled in Malta. Here, they faced another siege by the Turks but prevailed. The Batle of Lepanto, in 1571, ended the Turks invasion of the eastern Mediterranean.

The last attempt at Vienna ended in 1683 and the next encounter between Ottomans and Europeans came with Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt.

The present era of conflict between Islam and the west began with the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in the 1920s. The appearance of Sayyid Qutb, who spent time teaching school in 1950s America where he acquired a hatred of western values, even those of a quiet midwestern town in Greeley, Colorado. His influence on the Muslim Brotherhood has been baleful.

The present Obama/Clinton policy toward the middle east has been disastrous. Obama’s speech in Cairo in 2009 set the tone, as did Clinton’s use of the “reset button” as her approach to Russia. These people are unqualified for their positions in government and the amateurism is leading us into a very dangerous phase of history. Our best course, in my opinion, is to develop out energy sources as quickly as possible to free us from the coming turmoil, phase out aid to Islamist regimes and strengthen Israel for the coming test. We will be fortunate if this decade does not end with another Holocaust. I fear we will not be fortunate.

D Day

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Today is the 68th anniversary of the Normandy invasion. Most of the men who did it are gone now. Only a few are still here to celebrate the life that so many never had. Art Burns is a family member who was in the 101st airborne, I believe. He still lives in Long Beach, Michigan and comes into Chicago every once in a while.

I have previously posted a few photos on our trip to Normandy with the girls.

Here are a few more.

This is Omaha Beach. The cliffs are forbidding. The few breaks in them were blocked with huge concrete roadblocks but the troops got through them.

This is Omaha from above with Cindy in the foreground

This German fort is located at Omaha. Fortunately for the troops, the guns were zeroed at the high tide line and they landed at low tide. The guns could not bear on the landing craft as they came in.

Here are the girls in the American cemetery above Omaha Beach. We spent several hours there and it is very moving. Annie is the farthest from the camera.

Our British allies landed the same day and here is the site where the 6th Airborne division landed the morning of D-Day at the Pegasus Bridge. That is the memorial to Major Howard, the commander of the landing brigade. He was played in the movie, “The Longest Day” by Richard Todd, who was actually in the 6th airborne and landed with them that day although farther inland. The British only had one Airborne division but did not want the Germans to know that, hence the name.

Here is Pegasus Bridge although this bridge is a replica. The original bridge is preserved in a field across the Caen Canal near the museum.

Here is the original bridge set in a field in front of the museum.

On the morning of the landing at the bridge, the owner of the cafe located next to it was awakened by gunfire. He came out and learned of the British landing. He immediately converted his cafe into a first aid station. He even went into his garden, where he had buried a supply of wine, dug it up and served it to wounded British troops as they waited to be evacuated later in the day.

His daughter, a small child, was also awakened and watched all the excitement. She survives, at least until we were there in 2006, and she prepared our lunch. The cafe is filled with British mementoes of the landing.

If anyone remembers the movie, it shows Lord Lovat, who commanded the British commandoes on D-Day, marching them inland from the beach to relieve the airborne troops. As they marched, a bagpipe played.

Here are those bagpipes.

Finally, I took lots of photos of Ponte du Hoc where the US Rangers scaled the cliffs to silence some big guns that enfiladed the beaches on either side. The guns had been moved inland but the mission went on. In 1984, the commander of those Rangers, at the 40th anniversary of the landing, looked at the cliffs and said he could not imagine how they did it.

I can see why.