Sunday, September 7, 2014

America's Story (part 16) - Our First 9/11

Wikipedia/Star Spangled Banner Flag

June 1812 - February 1815:

More than 200 years ago, the War of 1812 began.  It has been called the Second War of American Independence.  And it started for many reasons, among them:  the British restriction of American trade, the desire of American expansion, the impressment of American sailors into the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars.

But a turning point came in late summer of 1814.

[reference: War of 1812 - Facts & Summary - HISTORY.com and timeline - Timeline | War of 1812 | PBS ]

August 24 - 25, 1814:

In retaliation for American attacks in Canada, the British took the US capital and torched it.   An interesting side note is that on the next day, the weather - a tornado - inflicted more causalities on the British than the fight. So the British cut their occupation short and limped back to their ships. 

[reference: British troops set fire to the White House — History.com This Day in History — 8/24/1814  and A Tornado Saves Washington during the War of 1812 | Historical Digression ]

Many prisoners were taken in this attack on Washington D. C.  Among them was Dr. William Beanes, a colleague of Georgetown lawyer, Francis Scott Key.

Soon it was ...

* September 11, 1814 *

This was our first 9/11 and the turning point of the war at the Battle of Plattsburgh.  The decisive victory over the British naval forces on Lake Champlain lead the British retreat into Canada.  Also it lead to the conclusion of U.S.-British peace negotiations in Belgium, which would formally end the war in 1815.

[reference:  The Battle of Plattsburgh- September 11, 1814 Victory on Lake Champlain  and Battle of Plattsburgh - Facts & Summary - HISTORY.com ]

Meanwhile, Francis Scott Key traveled to the British fleet in the Chesapeake to negotiate a release of American prisoners of war, among them Dr. William Beanes.

September 13 and 14, 1814

But after the British victory in Washington D.C. in August, their troops advanced to the vital port city of Baltimore.  They believed it to be the base of the privateers, who preyed on their shipping.   At Fort McHenry was the garrison that was key to the city's harbor defense.

[reference: War of 1812: Battle of Fort McHenry ]

In the Battle of Fort McHenry, the British gave it all that they got as they fired on the fort to get the Americans to surrender.  There ultimatum to the Americans was if the fort lowered the flag, the shelling would stop.

The rest of the story is told here in the clip below - through the eyes of Francis Scott Key:




(reference:  http://youtu.be/YaxGNQE5ZLA)
(for a transcrpt, check out:  The Star Spangled Banner)


And at dawn's early light, Francis Scott Key saw that  - the flag was still there!   

This Georgetown lawyer penned the lyrics of the song from this experience.  They can be found here:  Star Spangled Banner Lyrics - USA Flag Site

For the rest of the story:  The Story Behind the Star Spangled Banner | History | Smithsonian


The Star Spangled Banner was born in the crucible of the American Revolution and the War of 1812, in which we fought the British. Since then, the United States and the United Kingdom have become strong allies.

* September 11, 2001 *

Almost 200 years after the War of 1812, the US was attacked on native soil in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C.

[reference:  9/11 Attacks - Facts & Summary - HISTORY.com ]

And the British gave this tribute to us, playing the Star Spangled Banner at Buckingham Palace:



It's been 200 years since the lyrics were written.  As we move into the 21st century, the last line of our National Anthem still ends with this question:

Oh, say, does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

And it's a question each coming generation needs to answer.


-----------
-----------

Other posts in this series:

-----------
-----------

Photo from:  Wikipedia/Star Spangled Banner Flag

Monday, September 1, 2014

Culture (part 15) - Persevering and Prevailing during Dark Days

wikipedia.com/Daily Mail 31 December 1940

September 3, 1939 - 75 years ago - Britain and France declared war on Germany.  It was in response to Hitler's invasion of Poland two days earlier on September 1st.

So World War II began.  

And some historians say it was an extension of War World I.  [reference:  Britain and France declare war on Germany — History.com This Day in History — 9/3/1939, HowStuffWorks "World War I" ]

Six years later, World War II would prove to be the most devastating war of the 20th century.  One estimate gives close to 50 million killed.  Some go as high as over 70 million.  But no doubt about it, all corners of the planet were affected by perhaps the greatest conflict in history ... so far.

Many stories have been spun about this war, particularly those of persevering and prevailing during dark times.  And art imitates life in the ...

* Movies *
    
The King's Speech (2010), is the true story of King George VI facing a crisis in both his personal life and as a reluctant wartime monarch.  First, he persevered and prevailed in public speaking in spite of a speech problem; likewise leading his people through the most trying time in the 20th century.

"The stammering that defined him, and the courage with which he tried to beat it, came to symbolise the vulnerability of the British people as they stood alone against the Nazi tyranny that had the rest of Europe in its grip."   [reference: The King's Speech: the real story - Telegraph

And as World War II began 75 years ago, this speech, dramatized below, was given at the start of the six year marathon of persevering and prevailing over great evil.




Below are the last lines of the King's speech:

"There may be dark days ahead, and war can no longer be confined to the battlefield. But we can only do the right as we see the right, and reverently commit our cause to God.

"If one and all we keep resolutely faithful to it, ready for whatever service or sacrifice it may demand, then, with God's help, we shall prevail."

George VI - September 3, 1939

[reference:  Online Speech Bank: King George VI -- First Radio Address (transcript-audio-video)]

George VI backed up his words with actions. He stood by his people as they experienced enemy raids from the sky on native soil.  The most intense were from September 1940 to May 1941, the first attacks lasting for 57 consecutive days, known as the London Blitz.

Instead of fleeing to Canada or to the countryside, the King stayed in London, which was the target of the most intense Nazi bombings.  Buckingham Palace even took a hit from the raids.  Shown here  (bridgemanart.com) is a picture of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth walking through London during the Blitz, 1940 or 1941.

The King gave the people courage to stand up to Hitler and his "supermen."  And ultimately, Great Britain and her allies did prevail.  For a transcript of some of the King's Speeches, check out:  HISTORIC ROYAL SPEECHES AND WRITINGS

The trying times of World War II not only influenced the stories shown on the big screen like The King's Speech, but also such genres on the smaller screens like ...

* Science Fiction * 

On such is the longest running Science Fiction television series in history - Dr. Who.  In this following scene from "The Empty Child," the Doctor commends Nancy for the tenacity of her people during a time which Sir Winston Churchill had described as "their finest hour."


Below are some of Dr. Who's comments during the London Blitz:

"1941 ... the German war machine is rolling up the map of Europe ... country after country falling like dominoes .... nothing can stop it ... nothing.

"Until one tiny, damp little island says, No! No, not here.

"A mouse in front of lion  ..."

Another genre is ....

* Fantasy *

Many stories are set during great conflict of good and evil as epic as World War II.  As shown in the clip below from The Lord the Rings,  The Two Towers (2002), Sam's speech reflects perhaps the theme of the trilogy:




Great stories give hope for the future during the many dark days in our history. Heroes and heroines had lots of chances to turn back, but they did not.  As Sam put it -

"Because they were holding on to something ...

"That there's some good in this world ... and it's worth fighting for."

[reference:  The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) - Quotes - IMDb]

The King's Speech and Sam's Speech ... a little of Dr. Who - this is a sample of those stories that speak to our soul during dark days.  And during such times, there are heroes and their stories of persevering and prevailing over great evil.  And many of these stories become part of the culture and we pass them on ....

As they give us hope for the good worth fighting for!

-------
-------

Previous posts in the Culture 101 series:

Culture 101 (part 1) - Reagan's Challenge (2012)

Culture 101 (part 2) - Easter Eucatastrophe (2012)

Culture 101 (part 3) - Paul Revere's Ride (2012)

Culture 101 (part 4) - Gold Diggers and the Great Depression (2012)

Culture 101 (part 5) - Blue Bloods and 9/11 (2012)

Culture 101 (part 6) - Gilligan's Island and Breast Cancer Awareness (2012)


Culture 101 (part 7) - Band of Brothers  (2013)

Culture 101 (part 8) - Snow White (2013)


Culture 101 (part 9) - Father Knows Best (2013)

Culture 101 (part 10) - Summertime! x 3 (2013)

Culture 101 (part 11) - Native American Osmosis (2013)

Culture 101 (part 12) - Thanksgivukkah (Thanksgiving and Hanukkah) (2013)

Culture 101 (part 13) - Coventry Carol (2013)

Culture 101 (part 14) - World War I - that Golden Summer of 1914 (2014)

-------
-------

Photo from: wikipedia.com/Daily Mail 31 December 1940

Friday, August 22, 2014

H/S (part 2) - Travel Mercies

everystockphoto.com/ROAD RAGE FIST

Labor Day will upon us, marking the end of summer.  But that will not be the end of travel as the school year begins in late summer, Thanksgiving comes in late fall, and Christmas-New Years in early winter.

Whatever the season, there are many dangers while traveling.  One of these is man-made.

 Road Rage!  

Below is a great clip on how to deescalate and prevent a regretful confrontation:



The Disney's movie Frozen (2013), had it right

Let it go ...

[for video clip:  Disney's Frozen "Let It Go" Sequence Performed by Idina Menzel]

Driving is more than just reading signs.  It's about good manners and caring. For the rest of the story, check out:  The 10 Unwritten Road Commandments

Travel mercies ...

Likewise, when traveling, wearing a seat beat saves lives during those unfortunate times when there is an accident.  The public service ad reminds us of this.




Holidays ... everyday  ... keep cool 
as well as the Golden Rule


Do to others as you would have them do to you.


And as always ....

Be Safe!
------------
------------

Previous post in this series:


------------
------------

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Culture 101 (part 14) - World War I - that Golden Summer of 1914

everystockphoto.com/British WW1 soldiers

English history, anyone?

When I was visiting a Renaissance Festival, one of the players I encountered was an expert in English history.  He invited me to ask him questions about anything in English history.  And I was able to field a few of them, in which he gladly answered.  I confessed that I got most of my background in English history from watching the BBC comedy Blackadder.  He smiled and commented that was a good source.

It started back in the l980s ....

After watching a late night showing of the Blackadder series on PBS, I fell in love with this British comedy.  Later, I purchased the entire set of the four seasons, two specials, and one short movie.  
[reference:  Amazon.com: Black Adder: The Complete Collector's Set]

One of the actors, Sir Tony Robinson, is a history expert.  As one of the features of my DVD collection, Sir Tony gave min-lessons on English history and literature that was relevant to the season.  That helped me to get the jokes, as the episodes were chucked full of Shakespearean quotes as well as works of other literary greats.

Blackadder (1485 - 1917) ...

The first three seasons covered these periods.

1.  The Black Adder - the adventures of Prince Edmund, "The Black Adder," during the transition of Richard III to Henry VII.

2.  Blackadder II - the machinations of Lord Blackadder in the court of Queen Elizabeth I.

3.  Blackadder the Third - the schemes of Mr. Blackadder, the butler serving the Prince of Wales, who was the son of the mad King George III.

Each series had many deaths, including most of the main characters in the final episode.  But the murder and mayhem were somewhat farcical.

Then there was the last in the final series ...

4.  Blackadder Goes Forth - the struggles of Captain Blackadder in the trenches of World War I.

This one got to me.  I had a grandfather that I knew who fought in that war.  And this August (the month when Britain declared war on Germany) marks the centennial of the start of the Great War.
[For  reference:  Timeline of World War One]

Below shows Private Baldrick expressing his angst to General Melchett at the thought of the Big Push.




Here, Private Baldric explains to Captain Blackadder why he is carving a bullet with his name on it.




But the finale of this series was a classic:  "Blackadder Goes Forth" Goodbyeee (TV Episode 1989)

The entire episode, if you have subscribed to Hulu Plus - full episode can be found here:  Watch Blackadder Online - Goodbyeee | Hulu

Below is a sample of some of the discussion among the regulars during their last hours before going over the top, garnered from the the script:  BlackAdder Scripts: Blackadder IV, Episode 6 - Goodbyeee

*  Private Baldrick asks Captain Blackadder how did the Great War get started.  The answer is amusing, but sadly has much truth in the explanation that it was too much effort not to have war.

*  The soldiers' share their fond memories of the Christmas truce of 1914 when they heard "Silent Night" in the air over No Man's Land and clambering over the top to play football with the Germans.

*  Lt. George reminiscences about that day August 4, 1914 when he and his chums from Cambridge joined right up.  Then he realizes he was the last of his chums from that Golden summer of 1914 that is still alive.

*  As it's time to go over the top, they all admit they're scared, but carry on to meet their fate.

The clip below is the last scene as they go over the top:






According to BBC news, "The poignant finale of sitcom Blackadder has been voted the best farewell episode of a TV series."  And it makes me tear up every time I see it.

The real Captain Blackadder ...

Culture meets history as the namesakes of the characters in the Blackadder series did fight in World War One, or at least World War Two.  Fact in fiction:  Captain Blackadder Really Did Fight in World War I — War is Boring

Though all the known World War One veterans have passed away, may the sacrifices of all those who fought a century ago not be forgotten.  But it seems we are no wiser at the turn of the century, whether it be the 20th or 21st.

Rest in peace and may there be peace

--------------------
--------------------

Previous posts in the Culture 101 series:

Culture 101 (part 1) - Reagan's Challenge (2012)

Culture 101 (part 2) - Easter Eucatastrophe (2012)

Culture 101 (part 3) - Paul Revere's Ride (2012)

Culture 101 (part 4) - Gold Diggers and the Great Depression (2012)

Culture 101 (part 5) - Blue Bloods and 9/11 (2012)

Culture 101 (part 6) - Gilligan's Island and Breast Cancer Awareness (2012)


Culture 101 (part 7) - Band of Brothers  (2013)

Culture 101 (part 8) - Snow White (2013)


Culture 101 (part 9) - Father Knows Best (2013)

Culture 101 (part 10) - Summertime! x 3 (2013)

Culture 101 (part 11) - Native American Osmosis (2013)

Culture 101 (part 12) - Thanksgivukkah (Thanksgiving and Hanukkah) (2013)

Culture 101 (part 13) - Coventry Carol (2013)

--------------------
--------------------

Photo from:  everystockphoto.com/British WW1 soldiers

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

H/S (part 1) - A Moment for Mesothelioma

everystockphoto.com/Danger!

Ever hear of Nellie Kershaw?

She was an English absestos-textile worker who lived in the early 20th century.  Chances are her life would have gone unnoticed by most of the world if it weren't for the cause of her untimely demise.  She became the subject of the first published account of death due to asbestosis in 1924.  One account of her tragic story can be found here:  The Female Face of Britain's Asbestos Catastrophe

Asbestosis can lead to Mesothelioma.  (For the relationship and differences between the two, check:  Difference Between Mesothelioma and Asbestosis.)  And the short video clip below explains this most aggressive type of cancer:



More videos can be found at this youtube site:  Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance

----

In July, we celebrate military heroes with such holidays as Independence Day (July 4th) and days of note, like the Moon Landing (July 20, 1969).  As this month ends, may we also note that mesothelioma, as well as illnesses related to exposure to asbestos, has hit veterans and industrial workers very hard - like the first recorded case of Nellie Kershaw.

Concern for veterans and workers starts my new thread - Health and Safety (H/S) - with an awareness of this killer and ways to join the fight to overcome it.  In future posts, may the theme continue:

* Embrace Life
 
* Be safe


For more information about the subject of this post, please feel free to refer to this site:  Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance | The Authority on Asbestos Cancer


------------------

------------------
------------------

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Pray4America (part 15) - Communion on the Moon

Wikipedia/First Man on Moon 1969 Issue-10c 


On July 20, 1969 - 45 years ago - two men, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, were the first humans to walk on the moon. [reference:  First Man on the Moon]

Much has been recorded on this epic event. But after those first few minutes after they landed on the moon, Buzz Aldrin said, "This is the LM pilot. I'd like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way."

The clips below is the rest of the story:




Here is an account attributed to Buzz Aldrin:

"In the radio blackout, I opened the little plastic packages which contained the bread and the wine. I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon, the wine slowly curled and gracefully came up the side of the cup. Then I read the Scripture, 'I am the vine, you are the branches. Whosoever abides in me will bring forth much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing.'

"I had intended to read my communion passage back to earth, but at the last minute [they] had requested that I not do this. NASA was already embroiled in a legal battle with Madelyn Murray O'Hare [sic], the celebrated opponent of religion, over the Apollo 8 crew reading from Genesis while orbiting the moon at Christmas. I agreed reluctantly. I ate the tiny Host and swallowed the wine. I gave thanks for the intelligence and spirit that had brought two young pilots to the Sea of Tranquility . It was interesting for me to think: the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the very first food eaten there, were the communion elements."
 [reference: Commoonion]

-----------

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,

even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

 


-----------

Please check out eCard.


Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord
 Psalm 33:12  (NIV)

America is worth fighting for!
  
Keep praying for America ....

-------------
-------------



 
------------------
------------------

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Pray4America (part 14) - We are Americans

Happy 4th of July! The American Flag in Fireworks/everystockphoto.com

As the 4th of July approaches, I reflect upon the sacrifices of our patriots made for ideals liberty and freedom that our nation was built upon ...

The Spirit of 1776

But I am concerned by the wrong direction our country is going and its decline.   I wonder if the gains made during the American Revolutionary War are being reversed and will bring us full circle - back under the heel of tyranny.

What difference does it make?

Over 200 years ago we overthrew the rule of a king.  Now we are submitting to the rule a Nanny State as an ever more intrusive government continues to grow, dictating how we live our lives and curtailing our freedoms. Yet, the character of our leaders reflect us - we the people.

But I feel heartened by these words of Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, who spoke during troubling times such as today:



During this holiday, may we remember all those who have sacrificed for the freedoms that we take for granted.   And may we resolve they not be taken from us.  As Thomas Jefferson was alleged to say -

"The price of liberty is eternal vigilance." 


As mentioned in the video clip above, may we keep Pvt. Treptow's pledge he made during World War I -


''America must win this war.  
Therefore I will work, I will save, 
I will sacrifice, I will endure, 
I will fight cheerfully and do my utmost, 
as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on me alone.'' 

{reference: THE PLEDGE OF PRIVATE TREPTOW - NYTimes.com}

And we are in a war - not against flesh and blood - but a battle for the soul of our nation.  

America is worth fighting for!

-----------

Please check out eCard.


Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord
 Psalm 33:12  (NIV)

Keep praying for America ....

-------------------
-------------------



-------------------
-------------------