Sunday Reads: Memorial Days and One Hot Summer AheadPosted: May 27, 2012
This is a long weekend for many of you, and I hope that you all are enjoying it! Take care because it is during these weekends that bring about travel and water related fatalities.
Earlier this week, Boston Boomer mentioned something in a comment about the origin of Memorial Day. So I thought this link from the New York Times was interesting… Many Claim to Be Memorial Day Birthplace
James Rajotte for The New York Times
Like the one over in Mississippi, this Columbus was founded in the 1820s and sits just a few minutes from countryside in almost any way you drive.
They say that in the other Columbus, too.
It does not take much for the historically curious in either town — like Richard Gardiner, a professor of teacher education at Columbus State University here — to explain why theirs is the true originator of a revered American holiday and why the other is well-meaning but simply misguided.
“I’m going to blame Memphis to some degree,” Professor Gardiner said, about which more later.
Oh boy, there is nothing like a good old-fashioned squabble about something that dates back to the Civil War.
The custom of strewing flowers on the graves of fallen soldiers has innumerable founders, going back perhaps beyond the horizon of recorded history, perhaps as far as war itself. But there is the ancient practice and there is Memorial Day, the specific holiday, arising from an order for the annual decoration of graves that was delivered in 1868 by Maj. Gen. John A. Logan, the commander in chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, a group made up of Union veterans of the Civil War.
According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, roughly two dozen places claim to be the primary source of the holiday, an assertion found on plaques, on Web sites and in the dogged avowals of local historians across the country.
Yet each town seems to have different criteria: whether its ceremony was in fact the earliest to honor Civil War dead, or the first one that General Logan heard about, or the first one that conceived of a national, recurring day.
The article mentions several of the towns that claim being the first, but it focuses on two specific towns.
the claims of the two Columbuses, eyeing each other across Alabama, are among the more nuanced and possibly the most intertwined.
Columbus, Miss., was a hospital town, and in many cases a burial site, for both Union and Confederate casualties of Shiloh, brought in by the trainload. And it was in that Columbus where, at the initiation of four women who met in a 12-gabled house on North Fourth Street, a solemn procession was made to Friendship Cemetery on April 25, 1866.
As the story goes, one of the women spontaneously suggested that they decorate the graves of the Union as well as the Confederate dead, as each grave contained someone’s father, brother or son. A lawyer in Ithaca, N.Y., named Francis Miles Finch read about this reconciliatory gesture and wrote a poem about the ceremony in Columbus, “The Blue and the Gray,” which The Atlantic Monthly published in 1867.
“My view is it’s really the poem that inspired the nation,” said Rufus Ward, a retired district attorney, sitting in his basement and sipping a mint julep (his grandmother’s recipe, he said, the one she shared with Eudora Welty).
The Georgians dispute little of this. But they argue that the procession in the other Columbus was actually inspired by the events in their Columbus.
And what about Georgia’s Columbus?
…Professor Gardiner points to a local woman named Mary Ann Williams, who in the spring of 1866 wrote an open letter suggesting “a day be set apart annually” and become a “custom of the country” to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers.
That day, described as a national day, was chosen to be April 26, the anniversary of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s surrender in North Carolina to Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman of the Union Army. The letter, or a summary of it, ran in newspapers all over the South, and as far west as St. Louis and as far north as New Hampshire, leading to widespread ceremonies on that day.
It also ran in the The Memphis Daily Avalanche on March 27, 1866. But the paper had the wrong date — April 25.
“This misprint right here is the difference between what you’ll hear in Columbus, Mississippi, and here,” Professor Gardiner said, concluding that the Memphis misprint traveled to the other Columbus. The Mississippi commemoration did take place a day earlier, he admitted, but they go too far in claiming they came up with it independently. “I just can’t — I don’t buy it.”
But this day set by Mary Ann Williams was only for the Confederate dead. And still to this day the south celebrates Confederate Day, our Banjoville courthouse is closed on that day.
However, according to Professor of History David W. Blight, Yale University…the event that brought about Memorial Day is…
…a mostly forgotten — or possibly suppressed — event in Charleston, S.C., in 1865 at a racetrack turned war prison. Black workmen properly reburied the Union dead that were found there, and on May 1, a cemetery dedication was held, attended by thousands of freed blacks who marched in procession around the track.
He has called that the first Memorial Day, as it predated most of the other contenders, though he said he has no evidence that it led to General Logan’s call for a national holiday.
“I’m much more interested in the meaning that’s being conveyed in that incredible ritual than who’s first,” he said.
I agree with Blight’s assessment too. The meaning of the day is what is most important.
So with that in mind, please take a moment today and remember all the soldiers who have died in the service of their country.
More news links after the jump.
Some of you may have seen this post from David Dayen on Friday, I thought it would be good to bring it up here today…The Bush Tax Cut Fight on the Left: Americans for Tax Fairness Launches
So here’s a new development in this Nancy Pelosi/Bush tax cut situation. Last night, a new coalition called “Americans for Tax Fairness” was formed, composed of nearly 30 labor unions and progressive groups. They have a
Facebook pagehere (UPDATE: That is not a Facebook page for this iteration of Americans for Tax Fairness, but an older page for an unassociated group with the same name). The Wall Street Journal has a story about them here. And their entire reason for being is to call on Congress to let the Bush tax cuts expire beyond $250,000. This is the same figure that’s in the President’s budget. But it’s not the figure Nancy Pelosi used in her letter this week to John Boehner. She defined “middle-class tax cuts” as everything under $1 million in income. The initial press release from Americans for Tax Fairness specifically criticizes that.
“We established Americans for Tax Fairness to help make the economy work for all,” said Americans for Tax Fairness Campaign Manager Frank Clemente. “To achieve this goal, we need adequate levels of investment in critical areas like education and rebuilding infrastructure that create and sustain jobs. We also need a balanced and equitable approach to the federal budget challenges we face, which includes protecting critical services for the middle class and the most vulnerable. This requires that we all pay our fair share of taxes, especially big corporations and the richest 2 percent making more than a quarter of a million dollars a year.”
There are proposals on the table to end the Bush tax cuts for those making $1 million a year. One of the coalition members, Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ), estimates that 43 percent of the tax revenue would be lost if the threshold for extending the Bush tax breaks is set at $1 million in income rather than at $250,000 – the level President Obama has proposed. In addition, CTJ estimates that half of the breaks resulting from moving the threshold from $250,000 to $1 million would go to people with income exceeding $1 million.
Just to shed some light on how these coalitions get formed: it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not like Pelosi sent her letter on Wednesday and you have a coalition critiquing her by Thursday afternoon. When you have large organizations like the AFL-CIO, AFSCME and SEIU, pretty much every economic think tank on the left like CTJ and the Economic Policy Institute and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, along with big progressive organizations like MoveOn and the National Council of La Raza, you need a lot of lead time to confirm everything out. In other words, my working thesis is that this coalition to push for the expiration of the Bush tax cuts at the same level of the President was in the works for some time. Then Pelosi inexplicably changed the dividing line, and Americans for Tax Fairness rushed out their product to counter her.
So now we have a fight on the left over tax revenues. And it’s not even a particularly good fight. $250,000 a year isn’t exactly middle-class, either, and both approaches assume that the Clinton-era tax rates were too high for 98% of all Americans. That actually may be the case on January 1, 2013, just on the level of not wanting to pursue tax-side austerity. But over time, there’s no reason to suggest that the Clinton-era tax rates were overly burdensome. There may be a better way to structure the tax code other than the Clinton-era rates, perhaps through expanding the EITC or giving refundable tax credits at the low end and keeping the rates higher on income, so that everyone pays a bit more on their early dollars while the poor still benefit from lower taxes. The Bush tax cut structure certainly doesn’t do that, and until you unwind those tax cuts, you’re not going to get a fairer tax code.
Anyway, the point is that Pelosi’s action has really damaged the ability to come to a decent resolution on the revenue side at the end of the year. The consequences of her shift is that 50% of the foregone revenues go to millionaires. And as for how this would work with the Buffett rule, the Administration that created the Buffett rule still wanted to go with $250,000 as the dividing line, and they clearly amassed a very large progressive coalition behind that principle.
He ends his post with the observation, “What a mess.”
(Let me just put a side-note in reference to the links I have for you today. Glancing at Memeorandum just now, I do not feel like linking to any of the hot topics of the weekend.) Well, that is with the exception of the following two links:
John Waters Tries Some Desperate Living on a Cross-Country Hitchhiking Odyssey – From the New York Times
FL Official: Gov. Scott’s Voter Purge Will Remove Eligible Voters– from ThinkProgress
Okay…now, that side-note being said, here are some other interesting things for you to read about.
First, do you remember the North Carolina pastor who wants to put LGBT people in a concentration camp setting, and let them die off? Well, here is one of his churches members voicing her support. Video at the link: Church Member Defends NC Pastor: LGBT People ‘Worthy of Death’
Geneva Sims told WCNC that she had been listening to Pastor Charles Worley’s sermon’s since the 1970s and agrees with the message.
“He had every right to say what he said about putting them in a pen and giving them food,” Sims explained. “The Bible says they are worthy of death. He is preaching God’s word.”
Church member Stacey Pritchard agreed that Worley was just speaking the truth.
“Sometimes you’ve got to be scared straight,” she said. “He is trying to save those people from Hell.”
I think I have an “idea” for Ms. Sims,to set her straight…get the hell away from this intolerant state of North Carolina….why not take the road trip with John Waters and see what kind of real people are out there in the world. If you read that NYT link up top, Waters got rides from all sorts of people, and let me tell you, there is no way I would pick up a guy looking like Waters does, and I am a huge fan of his cult flicks!
But going back to Worley and his “brethren” what do you expect? No mater what you say to these people, they will still project their stupid beliefs on everyone they meet. Talking slow is not going to cut it, you won’t get your progressive point across. Check this bit of info out: Members Of Congress Speak Like High School Sophomores, Sunlight Foundation Report Says
The sophistication of federal lawmakers’ speech patterns is on the decline, with members of Congress now talking, on average, at the level of high school sophomores. According to a new report by the Sunlight Foundation, Congress has fallen by almost a full grade-level since 2005.
The members speaking at the lowest grade levels tend to be freshmen Republicans.
“Particularly among the newest members of Congress, as you move out from the center and toward either end of the political spectrum, the grade level goes down, and that pattern is particularly pronounced on the right,” said Lee Drutman, a political scientist at Sunlight.
Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) clocks in at the lowest grade-level: 7.9 in this Congress.
According to the article, before 2005 Republicans spoke on average slightly better than Dems.
Sunlight also found that members of Congress rarely use the 100 most common SAT words, which are likely very familiar to high school students.
In fact, only 10 members of Congress have used at least 20 of these words in the 112th Congress; only 92 members have used at least 10 of them. Thirty-two members did not use a single one of the SAT words.
The most commonly used SAT word was, ironically, “compromise.” It has been used 1,820 times in this Congress as of the end of April. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has used it more than anyone else.
As seen in this chart from the study:
One of the people Sims and Worley would have in their conception of “God’s little acre” would be this man, Steve Crecelius aka Stevie: Man Admitted to Hospital for Kidney Stone, Discovers He’s a Woman Stevie is now in the process of becoming a woman, what he says he has felt was his true identity was way before the hospital made the discovery.
I don’t know. Maybe one day all these batshit crazy right wing religious extremist will have to except what nature and science mean to the human race. This is linking to an AP article, so I won’t quote from it, be sure to check it out. Scientist: Evolution debate will soon be history
In other news this week, the richest woman in the world as been named…Australian Becomes World’s Richest Woman, Mag Says
The article states that American’s have lost their “world’s richest” titles lately…it is a trend.
Americans no longer hold claim to the world’s richest people.
First, Bill Gates lost the “world’s richest man” crown to Carlos Slim, the Mexican businessman. Now, according to Australia’s BRW magazine, Gina Rinehart – the Australian mining magnate – has become the world’s richest woman. She takes the crown from Wal-Mart heiress Christy Walton, who held the title of world’s richest woman for seven years.
Interesting isn’t it?
Now I will end this post with two items from Medievalists.net…one of my favorite sites on the web.
Interdisciplinarity is not solely defined by one’s familiarization with more than one discipline of academic study. It can better be defined as a lifelong process involving the integration of many dimensions present in one’s life in order to form a more progressive, inquisitive mind which is illustrated through the way in which that life is lived. Throughout history, important and powerful men and women have demonstrated a life such as this; among them are Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Mother Theresa, and Mahatma Gandhi. One other person who has most assuredly reserved a place on this list is a woman named Hildegard of Bingen.
Born in 1098, Hildegard was the tenth child to Hildebert von Bermersheim and his wife Mechtild. They were a very well‐to‐do family of the free nobility from the Bermersheim region of Germany. When she was eight years old, Hildegard’s parents dedicated her to the church as a tithe. Hildegard was placed in a Benedictine monastery in an enclosed room with an anchoress and tutor named Jutta von Sponheim. As an anchoress, Jutta (and presumably Hildegard), had been placed in the room also called a cell or a tomb, with a ceremony including funeral honors. This was a lifelong dedication of seclusion from the world, the ceremony being symbolic of one dying to the world, or rather the world dying to one’s self so that that person might live a life of purity removed from all sin of the world.
Anyone who has admired centuries-old sculptures and portraits displayed in museums and galleries around the world at some point has asked one question: Who is that?
Three University of California, Riverside scholars have launched a research project to test — for the first time — the use of facial recognition software to help identify these unknown subjects of portrait art, a project that ultimately may enrich the understanding of European political, social and religious history.
Funded by an initial grant of $25,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the research project — “FACES: Faces, Art, and Computerized Evaluation Systems” — will apply state-of-the-art facial recognition technology used in the fight against terrorism to solve old and vexing art historical problems, said Conrad Rudolph, professor of art history and project director.
“Almost every portrait painted before the 19th century was of a person of some importance,” Rudolph explained. “As families fell on hard times, many of these portraits were sold and the identities of these subjects were lost. The question we hope to answer is, can we restore these identities?”
I wonder if this is the same technology used for identifying prisoners…
Technology that “reads” human faces already must contend with variations in facial expressions, age, facial hair, angle of pose, and lighting, Rudolph said. Refining that technology to recognize human faces in two- or three-dimensional art introduces further challenges, as does portrait art generally in that the image is not a photographic likeness, but rather one that is a visual interpretation on the part of the artist.
Read more about this new computer-based research at the link above.
So, have a safe and happy Memorial Day, hopefully it is a dry one. Comment section is below, you know what to do.