Posts Tagged ‘War’

Where Were You…When the Japanese Attacked Pearl Harbor 75 Years Ago?

December 4, 2016

Not born yet?

Most people weren’t.

But a few of us were. I was 11 years old on that “Day of Infamy” That’s what President Franklin D. Roosevelt called the day that took America into World War II.

As was said on CBS Sunday Morning, one of the best programs on TV in my view, that attack on December 7th, 1941 changed the United States from an isolationist nation to a global superpower.

It’s an interesting phenomenon that many people can remember exactly where they were when cataclysmic historical events happen. Here’s some of what I wrote about the Pearl Harbor attack in my memoir The Newsman:

  On December 7th. 1941, my father was in his usual Sunday afternoon state, asleep in his easy chair. After lunch, he would turn on the radio and listen to the live CBS broadcast of the New York Philharmonic. Actually, he didn’t listen consciously to most of it, because within minutes of turning on the radio, he would fall asleep and sleep through the entire concert. However, I learned that he was not as asleep as I thought he was. One Sunday, I decided since he wasn’t listening to the symphony, I would tune to something that would appeal more to eleven-year-old me.  As my hand reached for the dial, he said, without even opening his eyes, “Don’t touch that dial.” You better believe I did not touch that dial. He never fussed at me at all. If I did something that displeased him, he would, without uttering a word, engage in corporal punishment.

On December 7th it wasn’t I who roused him from his napping; it was interruption of the program by CBS announcer John Daley, who told the nationwide symphony orchestra audience that Japanese planes had attacked Pear Harbor. Everyone, including young me, knew that meant we would be going to war.

When I went out to play on that sunny December 7th afternoon after the news bulletin about Pearl Harbor broke, I remember telling my buddy Carlton Bussey who lived a few doors down from us,  “This means war. A lot of people are going to be killed.” He solemnly agreed. There was no whooping and hollering and rebel-yelling that we had seen in Gone with the Wind when someone came running into the plantation house with the news that Fort Sumter had been bombarded by Rebel artillery.

 

The War Substitute

January 12, 2015

Legendary Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne told a Congressional investigative committee, in effect, that football is a good substitute for war. According to the 1940 film Knute Rockne, All American, starring Pat O’Brien as Rockne and Ronald Reagan as the Gipper,  this is what he told the committee:

“Games such as football are more than merely helpful to boys. They’re an absolute necessity to the nation’s best interest,” said Rockne. “Every red-blooded young man in any country is filled with what we might call the natural spirit of combat.

“In many parts of Europe and elsewhere in the world, this spirit manifests itself in continuous wars and revolutions. But we have tried to make competitive sport serve as a safer outlet for that spirit of combat. I believe we’ve succeeded.”

No argument about that it’s a safer outlet.  Getting jingoists worldwide to switch to that outlet is the trick. In the U.S.A. football is very popular and attracts millions, but it certainly hasn’t kept us out of wars.

 

Bellicosis

September 22, 2014

Never heard of it? 

Well, bellicosis is a disease suffered by those who love war and like to see their country in one continuously. It is often fatal and has caused millions of deaths, quite often not to  those with the disease,  since many are quite happy to let other people fight those wars. 

So far, no vaccine has been successful in preventing bellicosis.

 

 

 

A Blogger’s Free and Responsible Search for Truth and Meaning

June 29, 2014

Being a UU, I know that Unitarian Universalists do not have a creed, but UU communities affirm and promote Seven Principles. The Fourth one, “a free and responsible search for truth and meaning,” is the one that concerns us for this post. I am examining how that principle applies to the body of work that I have produced for this blog, which is a Personal blog. WordPress, which hosts more than 60 million websites including this one, says Personal “is the broadest category and includes blogs about personal topics like politics, music, family, travel, health, you name it.”

Since I started this blog in 2008, there have been 690 posts. There is no way we can examine each one, so let’s take a look at the one that has gotten and continues to get the most hits. The August 19, 2009 post AN EMOTIONAL WILLIAM CALLEY SAYS HE IS SORRY not only continues to get a lot of hits, but continues to get comments from readers.

Former Army Lt. William Calley, the only person convicted of participating in the massacre of hundreds of Vietnamese civilians during the Vietnam War, including a lot of  women and children,  used the occasion of speaking to the Kiwanis Club of Greater Columbus (Georgia), to apologize for his  role in the war crime.  My report was picked up by the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, carried by all McClatchey newspapers , and fed by the L-E to the Associated Press,  causing it to be reported around the world.

I can’t speak  for others, so I’ll just concentrate on what I  see to be true in the report.  One significant truth to me is that some human beings of any nationallity are capable of unspeakable acts. Another one is that not only are some people incapaable of that, but they will actively oppose those who are.    

 What’s the meaning of the story?  For one thing, to me, it again raises the point that  war is an insane way for nations to resolve conflicts.  For another,  it shows that political leaders can get a lot of people killed unnecessarily and can be disingenuous about justifying their lethal actions.    

I realize that it may have an entirely different truth and meaning for you. Please feel  free to click on the comment button and let me know how you feel about the subject.  I do request that comments be civil, not too profane, and sans name calling. 

 

The Real Meaning of Memorial Day

May 28, 2013

I saw a sign that said, “Happy Memorial Day.”  And that’s all right.  Nothing wrong with the day being a happy one.  It should make us happy that we have brave men and women who give their all for their country. However, it should not be a frivolous happy, but a serious one.

It’s really a solemn occasion.  It’s not the same as Veteran’s Day.  Veteran’s Day is a day to honor all who have served in the American military. Memorial Day is a day to honor those who President Lincoln said “gave the last full measure of devotion.”

I heard a veteran say this morning on C-SPAN that on every Memorial Day he makes sure his grandchildren know why we celebrate Memorial Day.  No, it’s not just a day to cook out and have a beer with friends and family.  It’s a day to reflect on the costs of war and honor those who have paid the ultimate price.  

 

Why the 20th Century was the Most Violent in History

June 18, 2012

NIALL FERGUSON’S DOCUMENTARY WAR OF THE WORLD SAYS RACE, NOT IDEOLOGY, DROVE THE WARS 

The 20th Century was not the century of two World Wars and a Cold War, but the century of a single Hundred Years War.

Nationalism didn’t cause the conflicts. Empires did. It wasn’t ideologies of class or the influence of democracy or socialism that drove the century. It was race.

Though we thought the West had triumphed, the truth is that power moved towards the Eastern empires.

Those are the controversial assertions of Scottish historian Niall Ferguson in his documentary series War of the World, which is also a highly acclaimed book.  I saw three of the documentary episodes on Netflix, but there is also a website, Top Documentary Films, that offers it free.  You can check it out by clicking this link.

The Ferguson doc is not only exceptional for the creative way it is written and produced, but for a new way of understanding why the 20th Century is the most violent in history. 

One of his interesting claims is that World War III is not in the future.  It started right after World War II.  In other words, the Cold War was actually hot. The United States and the Soviet Union couldn’t fight directly because of the guaranteed mutual destruction that a nuclear exchange would engender.  They fought it through proxy countries.  A couple of good examples were Korea and Vietnam. 

The shift of empire power to the East  started in 1905 when the Japanese sank two-thirds of the Russian fleet.  Up until then the West truly dominated the world, with its empires subjugating  the East. Those empires have since been demolished.  Nations like China and India are ascending.

 And he points out that  war can cause the good guys to be bad guys as they adopt the tactics of the bad guys, using as examples the massive killing of civilians by bombardment from artillery and the air in World War II.

His findings are controversial, but he has a good case for his positions.  Watch the series and tell me what you think.   

TV is not the Wasteland that it Once Was

June 4, 2012

Television may still be a wasteland, but no longer a vast one.  Former Federal Communications Chairman Newton Minow, who was appointed to the FCC by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, coined the “vast wasteland” phrase in a speech to the National Association of Broadcasters, complaining of the endless junk on commercial TV at the time.  

Newton Minow (Photo courtesy: Newton Minow)

He told the broadcasters at the NAB convention, “When television is good, nothing – not the theater, not the magazine or newspapers – nothing is better. But when it is bad, nothing is worse.”  Then he challenged them to sit down in front of their TV sets a for a day and watch their station’ s programming and added, “I can assure you that what you will observe is a vast wasteland.”

 At the time, in most cities, there were usually only three or four channels to watch, so that gave the three major networks a lot of power to influence the public.  With the advent of cable, that changed, and now we have hundreds of channels to choose from, and there is some really fine programming available, though, it’s definitely not in the majority.

For instance, I just finished watching  the PBS The War of the World series.  It has given me a truly interesting perspective on the causes of the many wars of the 20th century, the most violent century in history.  For instance, Niall Fergurson, the Scottish historian who wrote and narrated the series, maintains that World War III is not something that could happen. It’s something that has already happened.  More on that in a future post.    

 

DATE CORRECTION ON NATIONAL CIVIL WAR NAVAL MUSEUM MUSIC PROGRAM

May 12, 2012

Dear Port Columbus Friend,

Please forgive the typos in the dates in the previous email – the corrected message is below.

Please join us Friday, May 25 for our special Membership program, Music Worth a Thousand Men.

Friday, May 25, 2012 | 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. | FREE!Abraham Lincoln once wrote a letter to George F. Root, who wrote over 30 Civil War songs, saying, “You have done more than a hundred generals and a thousand orators”. Robert E. Lee himself said, “I don’t think we could have an army without music.” Music, certainly, was a large part of life during the Civil War era, in the camps, at home and aboard ship. Not only was it a major source of entertainment, it was also a way to give voice to feelings that words alone often could not express. 

Join us at the National Civil War Naval Museum as we explore the theme of music aboard ship and in society at large during the Civil War. Normally, Members’ Programs such as this are open only to current Members; but as part of our Memorial Day Weekend Membership Drive, this program is free and open to the public. Donations will be accepted, and staff will be on hand to discuss benefits of Membership this those interested.

6:30 pm – Music of the Day: an interactive presentation demonstrating period instruments and showcasing period photos and illustrations of musicians and song sheets.

7:30 pm – Concert of period songs performed by the Columbus Brass, the brass quartet from the Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University.
 

Keep up with the latest from Port Columbus on FacebookTwitter and our Website.

Next Upcoming Event: June 2 – Cool History: Two Navies, One Ship

Port Columbus – Stories You’ll Hear Nowhere Else.


1002 Victory Drive, Columbus GA. See map.
For more info, call 706-327-9798 or visit www.portcolumbus.org.

Taking Stock Philosophically: Overcoming Primitive Group Dynamics is the Solution

December 29, 2011

Here is another outstanding, thoughtful, well-written comment on our previous posts about social evolution that I decided should run as a featured post.

By Mike Nichols

The great scientific and technological advances of the twentieth century have enabled an unprecedented quality of life for many in the more developed nations of the world. But at the same time they have provided tools of destruction and mayhem that abet and even encourage humans’ tendencies to move from zealotry to irrational nationalism to warfare to genocide.

Evolutionary psychology, a relatively new field, has done much to explain why we humans behave as we do. Concepts such as altruism, reciprocity, kin selection and group selection are theorized to be characteristics that were evolved in humans to ensure both individual and group survival.

However, the most worrisome feature of the discoveries of evolutionary psychology is that they seem to present the social traits evolved in humans as an immutable fate, something so imbedded in each of us that it is a near-futile task to sublimate them.

Standing in opposition to this Darwinian determinism are those who point to the many aspects of our primitive nature, such as the urge for men to impregnate as many women as possible, that have been largely overcome in many societies. The ability to accept another group, work peaceably with them, and even meld with them is not uncommon in modern history, though these arrangements sometimes fall apart.

And almost all of the world religions have as their foundation the belief that humans can rise above their flawed nature toward better actions and attitudes. However, the continual crimes against humanity done in the name of religion seem to make the good effects of religion doubtful to some. (I must insert here GK Chesterton’s famous statement that “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”)

The main problem, as I see it, is that humans are still trapped in the group dynamics of our forebears fifty or even one hundred thousand years ago. My group is good, righteous, upholders of Truth, superior, while the other group is radically opposite. The other group is demonized, accused of egregious acts, and made subhuman – justifying violence against them. These group dynamics are observable in everything from local government and race relations, to the current petty politics in Washington to the animosity and violence between nations and religious groups.

Whatever the final solution to the problem, it will take the universal recognition that humans have these primitive destructive tendencies working against the common good, coupled with a universal societal commitment to overcoming them. This need not and should not be imposed by government, but through our many institutions, religious groups, social groups and political groups – primarily and most importantly on the local level.

This may seem like pie-in-the-sky thinking, but it – or something like it – seems to be the only solution for breaking free of our evolutionary bonds to enjoy a world where war is unheard of and the good of all humans in all places is a primary virtue.

Taking Stock Philosophically

December 27, 2011

As I sat and marveled at the incredibly spectacular animation achieved for the Tintin movie, I had to reflect on just far advanced technically mankind has become, but also had to philosophically reflect on how humans simply can’t advance in social skills enough to end war and make the world a better place for the human race.

I’ll have more on this subject during this last week of 2011, and I welcome your thoughts on the subject.