Saturday, April 11, 2015

America's Story (part 17) - The Last of the Doolittle Raiders

wikipedia/Doolittle Raider RL Hite blindfolded by Japanese 1942
Ever hear of the Doolittle Raiders?

On Sunday, March 29, 2015, one of the last of the Doolittle Raiders, Robert Hite, passed away at 95.   [reference:  Robert Hite, 95, Survivor of Doolittle Raid and Japanese Imprisonment, Dies - NYTimes.com ]

And his obituary included the photo, shown above in this public domain picture.  And it can be found on wikipedia with the following description:

U.S. Army Air Force Lt. Robert L. Hite, blindfolded by his captors, is led from a Japanese transport plane after he and the other seven flyers were flown from Shanghai to Tokyo. Hite was co-pilot of crew 16 (B-25B s/n 40-2268 Bat out of Hell, 34th Bomb Squadron) of the "Doolittle Raiders". After about 45 days in Japan, all eight were taken back to China by ship and imprisoned in Shanghai. On 15 October 1942 three were executed, one died in captivity. The four others, including Hite, were liberated on 20 August 1945.

And here's some background to this story.

December 7, 1941  

The Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, caught America by surprise and the country was not prepared for war.

Below is an inspiring clip for the Pearl Harbor (2001), where FDR gathered his top advisers to come up with plan to strike back at the heart of Japan.




The Doolittle Raid

In the clip above, the scene ends with the entrance of Captain Francis S. "Frog" Low.  This submarine officer formed an ingenious strategy, launching army bombers from an aircraft carrier.  This gave birth to the Doolittle Raid.

* Spring of 1942

Those early days of the war, American moral was at its nadir.  Imperial Japanese forces in the Pacific had pushed American troops into retreat.  Many men were lost in the fall of the Philippines, culminating in the infamous Bataan Death March.

* April 18, 1942 

Meanwhile, Lt. Colonel James H. "Jimmy" Doolittle trained and lead a crew of 80 to strike back.  So on April 18, 1942, sixteen B-25s took off from the desk of the USS Hornet, 650 miles south of Japan.
    

Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo

Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo became the title of the book (1943) written by Ted Lawson and the movie (1944)  as shown in this clip below:



Those critical 30 seconds, April 18, 1942, was a great morale boost for America.  Though the war would not end for three more years, September 1945, the Doolittle Raid gave hope that we could win.

For a list of the 80 men that took part in the raid, 5 men in each of the 16 planes, check out:  Doolittle Raider 80 Brave Men

The sacrifice 

Here are the causalities of the brave men who suffered and gave their lives:

* One man, Faktor, was killed on a bail-out after the mission

* Two men, Fitzmaurice and Dieter, drown in a crash landing off the China coast

* Eight men, Hallmark, Meder, Nielsen, Farrow, Hite, Barr, Spatz, and DeShazer,
     were captured by the Japanese:
     *  Three men executed by firing squad:  Hallmark, Farrow, and Spatz
     *  One died as a POW from malnutrition, Meder
     *  The remaining four, Nielsen, Hite, Barr, and DeShazer,
          survived 40 months of prison,
          most of which was in solitary confinement
     *  And Hite lived till 95, passing away March 29, 2015

* Capt. Ted W. Lawson  survived his plane's crash off the coast of China.
    Though the underground rescued him, his injured leg had to be amputated.
     He lived to write the book, turned movie:  Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo

Now only two of the original Doolittle Raiders survive as I type (April 11, 2015):  retired Lt. Col. Richard Cole and Staff Sgt. David Thatcher.

* April 12, 1945

FDR would not live to see the allied victory over Europe or Japan, as he died on April 12, 1945.  But this Commander-in-Chief, struggling with a debilitating handicap, gave courage to the country to carry on, to take risks, to do what it takes to win, and to never give up during dark days.

And the Doolittle Raid is part of America's story.

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Other posts in this series:




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Photo from: wikipedia/Doolittle Raider RL Hite blindfolded by Japanese 1942

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Culture 101 (part 16) - 20th Century Blues

wikipedia/Chagall_IandTheVillage

December 31, 2000

That was the last day of the 20th century and it ended 15 years ago and counting.

And I lived through almost half of it. Now this really dates me.  Come to think of it, if you count the birth of our nation as 1776, next year, I will have lived through a quarter of American history!

Yikes!

Let's go back to the turn of the century.  Not 2001.  The other century.

January 1, 1901

That was the day the 20th century started.  And thirty years later they were singing the blues, literally - the Twentieth Century Blues (1931), as shown below from the Noel Coward play, Cavalcade (1931).



The story follows a quintessential British family through the times of the early 20th century, including the death of Queen Victoria (1901), the sinking of the Titanic (1912), and World War One (1914-1918).  For a plot summary of the movie version, check out:  Cavalcade (1933) - Plot Summary - IMDb

20th Century Blues?

The first few decades of this century had its dark days.  And the rest of the first half of the century was not much brighter.  The Noel Coward play, Cavalcade, ended in 1929, which was the beginning of The Great Depression (1929-1939), the worst depression in recent history.  And that only ended with the coming of  World War Two (1939-1945), the worst war of the 20th century.

The last half of the 20th century?

We baby boomers have our songs, too, which continue these blues in the form of rock music. For example in the spirit of the 20th century,  Billy Joel composed and performed  We Didn't Start the Fire (1989) from his album Storm Front.  Its lyrics are chuck full of 40 years of history:

1949 - 1989

It hits the major wars, US presidents, world leaders, world tensions, the culture, leaps in science and technology, triumphs and angst of the age.



The 20th century has been quite a ride.  And the Billy Joel song gives a quick history lesson as well as a taste of the times.  And if you didn't catch it all,

* here is a link to the lyrics:   Billy Joel - We Didn't Start The Fire Lyrics | MetroLyrics   

* and facts:  We Didn't Start the Fire (Facts) History Summary from 1949-1989 by Ron Kurtus - Lessons Learned from History: School for Champions

Ballads, songs, music of an era bridges time and space.  And it keeps the culture of a people


going on and on and on ...

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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)

Culture 101 (part 15) - Persevering and Prevailing during Dark Days (2014)

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photo from: wikipedia/Chagall_IandTheVillage

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Numbers (part 1) - The Pi Day of the Century

wikipedia.com/Pi pie
March 14, 2015 at the time of 9:26 AM and 53 seconds will be a day and a moment that will not be repeated for another century.

3.14.15  9:26:53 

And March 14, or 3/14, has been known as Pi Day, as the irrational number, Pi, is ... you guessed it:
3.141592653 ... 

Where was this holiday when I was a kid?

Pi Day celebration was founded by Larry Shaw and it was first held in 1988 at the San Francisco Exploratorium.  The staff and the public marched about the circular space, then they ate fruit pies.  It also shares the date of March 14 with Albert Einstein's birthday.  [reference:  timeanddate.com/holidays/world/pi-day]

But for this once in a century event:

*  Venders are ready for it.

Such as:  Pi Day T Shirts, Shirts & Tees | Custom Pi Day Clothing

* Teachers have a teachable moment for their students.

Such as:  How to Celebrate Pi Day in Your Classroom | Edutopia

*  Bakers are in on it, too.

Such as:  Celebrate Pi Day! March 14, 2015 | American Pie Council

And what better tribute to this irrational number than


* Calculating Pi with Pie:



And  may we have our Pi and eat it, too.  So on this delicious note, I introduce another thread -

Numbers  

And may the number of Numbers multiply in this new series.

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For a brief history of Pi: 

Pi @ Math.com


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Photo from: wikipedia/Pi pie

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Pray4America (part 17) - Washington and Providence

Wikipedia/General George Washington at Trenton 
George Washington's Birthday - President's Day

February is the month when we celebrate President's Day.  At first, Washington's Birthday was observed on February 22nd, but the holiday was consolidated to honor the US presidents.  And for 2015,  this day will be observed on February 16.   [reference:  Washington's Birthday 2015 | Presidents Day 2015]

But as for the original reason for this holiday, let's take a look at ....

George Washington - the man

George Washington  often called the Father of our Country, and the few words of this post do not do the man justice.  The History Channel page has many great resources on his biography and impact on the founding of our nation:  George Washington - U.S. Presidents - HISTORY.com

Since we're well into the third century of the founding of the United States of America, I have been troubled about at the direction we are going as a nation.  It seems there is little an average person can do.  Or is there?

Below is a clip of history changing prayers, including the preservation of George Washington:



With this story, I am heartened that prayer can change history.  But what if it had turned out differently?  What would happen if George Washington were killed before his time and the American colonist lost the war for independence?

What if America did not exist?

Below is a clip showing such a premise:


George Washington, as one of our founders, played a pivotal roll in creating the United States of America and many of the ideals that drew many to this country.  And America is more than just a country, it's still an ideal worth fighting for.

So this month of President's Day, please continue in the spirit of George Washington to ...

Pray for America 

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Previous post on President's Day:

 3 birthdays, 3 presidents, 3 centuries, 3 defining wars ...  (2011)

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Friday, January 16, 2015

AI (part 3) - Mr. Fusion

Wikipedia.com/Deuterium-tritium fusion


Remember what 2015 was supposed to look like in 1985?

The movie Back to the Future  made many predictions.  There were hits and misses.  More hits than misses.  And here are some of them:  14 Things from Back to the Future II That Actually Came True, and 5 That Haven't... Yet 

Mr. Fusion?

Back to the Future II predicted Mr. Fusion.  Shown below is mad scientist  Doc Brown getting a refuel from a renewable source - garbage.

What about this one?  Hit or miss?

Last year, 2014, an interesting announcement came out:  Lockheed says makes breakthrough on fusion energy project | Reuters   And this clip shows the rest of the story:


A compact fusion reactor which can be placed on a small truck?  Clean unlimited energy source?  Perhaps a global game changer.  Well, now we may be 20 years away.

But Science imitating Art, this is part of AI - no ... not Artificial Intelligence, but

American Ingenuity ...

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Thursday, January 8, 2015

Signs of the Times (part 6) - Fear of Missing Out

everystockphoto.com/Social Media Patterns
First World Problems?

May these be one of the Signs of the Times?

What are some of these big First World Problems?  And in this world of pain, doom, and strife, they seem rather trivial.  Here are a few of them, which you can tweet - for grins: First World Problems - Funny First World Problem Meme Images

Along with these First World Problem comes another phobia - much of it rooted in social media and the deluge of information coming at us from the ubiquitous internet:

FOMO - Fear of Missing Out

It's an understatement to say there is a lot of information out there.  How do we begin to filter what is important?  Some of this was addressed in a previous blog:   Proverbs (part 1) - Information vs. Wisdom .  And in the cyberspace, we did make many searches, so we would not miss out, such as is summarized here:  Infographic: What You Searched Google For 2014 | Digital Buzz Blog

But the video clip below explains this new First World Problem fear - FOMO - with its philosophical spin:



And King Solomon expressed some of this FOMO - the longing in the human spirit for something more, that there is an intuition that there is something greater.  He infers that the Creator made us this way:

He has made everything beautiful in its time. 
He has also set eternity in the human heart; 
yet no one can fathom what God has done
from beginning to end.
 Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV)


But to not to commit?  Really?  Not make a choice?  Is that not a choice?  Actually, there is an old saying about this phobia (from James, the Just, the half-brother of Jesus):

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
James 1:8 (KJV)

Perhaps, this restlessness, wanting it all, but not committing, refusing to choose, being double minded, unstable, is one of the

Signs of the Times? 

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Previous posts in this series:

Signs of the Times (part 1) - Camping in the Parks (2012)

Signs of the Times (part 2) - Layaway (2012)




Signs of the Times (part 5) - Staycations (2013)

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Photo from:  everystockphoto.com/Social Media Patterns

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Nostalgia (part 3) - Something Old, Something New

everystockphoto.com/Happy New Year!
New Years Eve ... New Years Day 

These are holidays in which we may look back and look ahead.   Something old ... something new.  For a sampling of each, here are a few musings from Bible verses and videos clips that emphasize the "holy" in the holidays.

First,
The Old ... 

The Good Old Days can bring feelings of nostalgia.  Even Moses gave instructions to the children of Israel to remember the past and pass on their stories to the new generation:

Remember the days of old;
consider the generations long past.
Ask your father and he will tell you,
your elders, and they will explain to you.
Deuteronomy 32:7 (NIV)

Yet, some of this remembrance can also bring a sense of sadness, such as reflected in this song that often resurfaces at the end of the year:



The sentiment behind the lyrics of this song has been around for some time.  For its history, check out:  Story of Those Were the Days

Likewise several generations after Moses, when the children of Israel were captive in Babylon, they became sad when they thought of the good old days:

By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
    when we remembered Zion.
Psalm 137:1 (NIV)

But the second chance, a fresh start, can give rise to optimism and happiness.  With the change of the calendar year, we may  look forward to

The New ...

The new is part of the vision of God's plan of the universe.  It's a time that people of faith may look forward when the old world of suffering will come to pass and all things will be new again:

See, I will create
    new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
nor will they come to mind.
Isaiah 65:17 (NIV)

And in this life, the pursuit of happiness encompasses the "new" like the wonder of a child, who continues to explore, learning, seeking ... as seen below:



And that is a cause for joy, especially for those of faith:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:
The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV) 


And this traditional song connects

The Old and the New ...

As New Years Eve turns to New Years Day, after the stroke of midnight, many sing this old song that rings in the New Year:
 :

And for a fresh start, a second chance, a new life, may we ...

Sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous things
his right hand and his holy arm
    have worked salvation for him.
Psalm 98:1 (NIV)

Happy New Year!


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Previous posts in this series:

Nostalgia (part 1) - A Father's Thanksgiving Prayer  (2014)

Nostalgia (part 2) - Christmas Past in War and Peace (2014)

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Photo from:  everystockphoto.com/Happy New Year!