Memorial Day Reads

Today is Memorial Day Holiday where we remember those who died in service to our country during a time of War. Memorial Day began as Decoration Day when families and survivors of Civil War Dead took time to picnic and decorate their family cemeteries with special attention to those who fell in battle. It is thought to have been originated by slaves directly after the Civil War to celebrate emancipation and to remember those who had died fighting for it.

It’s the day when I remember learning that states like Mississippi still refuse to fully honor its intent. That is one of the reasons why I’ve been paying close attention to the goings on today and wondering why it is that the current Potted Plant in the White House is always out of the country instead of laying wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown solider which tends to be what actual Presidents do instead of searching for reasons for more ways to get the members of our Armed Forces killed in action.

The veterans’ group known as the Grand Army of the Republic issued the call to honor those who had made the ultimate sacrifice in the recently concluded Civil War, “Let us at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flower of Spring time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor” and pledge to assist their widows and orphans. Since it came from the GAR, a disciplined organization of Union veterans with many local posts, the suggestion for May 30, 1868 was widely observed.

This ancient practice of floral decoration of burial places seemed to take hold spontaneously as the Civil War battlefields and prison camps yielded their massive casualties in many areas of the United States. Communities in Carbondale, Illinois, Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, Columbus, Mississippi, Columbus, Georgia, Belle Isle in Richmond, Virginia, and Waterloo, New York all make legitimate claims to have begun the tradition a few years before 1868. We don’t attempt to weigh the various claims of origin here, but common in many of the early observances was the role of women in taking the initiative, gathering the flowers, and honoring both the Confederate and Federal war dead in their graveside tributes. Most recent research by Richard Gardiner and Daniel Bellware credibly trace the holiday’s origins to the “Confederate Memorial Day” observed in Columbus, Georgia beginning in April 1866. It is a suitable practice, the New York Telegram remarked in April 1869, “though it did originate in the South during the late war, and is one of the few of the rebel ideas that engrafted itself upon our blunted affections.”

The reporters present at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia that day in May 1868 reminded us that the graves occupied the grounds of Confederate general Robert E. Lee’s manor. Several Union generals attended to hear one of their own, future President James A. Garfield, give the featured address. Ulysses Grant was there with his daughter, the newspapers noted, but, in keeping with the avoidance of partisanship, no mention was made that he had been nominated for president some ten days earlier. Unity was stressed, as the New York Tribune stated, “so Protestant and Catholic, Jew and Gentile, joined hand and hand [sic] above the mounds, and laid sweet offerings upon a common altar. All over the land from Maine to Florida, tears and flowers fell on the graves of heroes and martyrs.”

Meanwhile, we get this kind of leadership on Memorial Day Weekend. I’m old enough to remember over 54,000 Americans died during something called the Korean War and that North Korea is still a rogue state under murderous and cruel Dictatorship.

Only KKKremlin Caligula good make me feel some sympathy for Joe Biden. I’m sure it will pass quickly. I also remember a time when we all agreed that Fascists were bad.

But, now we see they walk among us …

“An Indiana Man Who Vandalized A Synagogue With Nazi Symbols Admitted How Far-Right Figures Radicalized Him

Nolan Brewer, 21, said he and his wife were in contact with a white nationalist over Discord, read Breitbart and Nazi propaganda site Stormfront, and became members of Identity Evropa.’

In July 2018, Brewer and his then-17-year-old wife, Kiyomi Brewer, drove 50 miles from their home to the synagogue, spray painted a Nazi flag and iron crosses on a Dumpster enclosure, and lit a fire on the ground. Prosecutors said they originally planned to break into the synagogue and destroy it with homemade bombs and napalm they brought along, but they got scared.

In an interview with FBI agents, Brewer said they wanted to send a message to Jews as a race. He cited bogus statistics, aiming to back up the racist conspiracy theory that Jews have undue political influence.

“I guess it’s just …. back down or something like that,” Brewer told the FBI, describing the message of the vandalism. He also said he wanted to make news headlines, and was proud word of the attack reached Vice President Mike Pence, who condemned it.

Brewer told FBI agents he wanted to “scare the hell out of them,” prosecutors said, and send “a message of like, get out I guess.”

His defense attorneys acknowledged that Brewer had latched onto pseudointellectual arguments for white supremacy. Evidence submitted to the court included racist memes he had shared and selfies in which he wore the iron cross associated with Nazi Germany. His phone wallpaper was an image of a swastika.

“It is clear that he has adopted beliefs based on ‘alt-right’ or white nationalist propaganda,” the defense attorneys said.

The details were first reported by data scientist Emily Gorcenski, who does extensive research on the far-right.

As his attorneys sought a lighter sentence, they outlined how a young man from a small town, who’d recently graduated from community college, and had no history of criminal or behavioral issues became radicalized.

They blamed his teenage wife, who they said had a troubled upbringing and would spend hours chatting on Discord, an app that had become popular among white supremacists. She then shared articles with her husband.

“According to Nolan, she began with rightwing yet mainstream views such as those presented on Fox News. She then moved on to writing by Ben Shapiro and articles on Breitbart News which bridged the gap to the notorious white supremacist and anti-Semititc propaganda site Stormfront.”

It sounds like they should be blaming Fox News and not a gullible young woman. And, btw, where is Steve Bannon today?

I’d like to share this article from The Atlantic about the Memorial Day Speech of 2017 given by then Mayor Mitch Landrieu down here in New Orleans during the year we dismantled Lee Circle and our Lost Cause Confederate statues. It’s called “The Battle for Memorial Day in New Orleans. A century and a half after the Civil War, Mayor Mitch Landrieu asked his city to reexamine its past—and to wrestle with hard truths.”
Mayor Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans has revived the genre of Memorial Day orations. In his widely read and re-played speech of May 19, 2017, defending his leadership of the removal of four prominent public monuments, one to Reconstruction era white supremacist violence, and the other three to Confederate leaders, Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and P. G. T. Beauregard, Landrieu eloquently tried to pull the Confederacy once and for all – at least in New Orleans – down from its pedestals. He beautifully labeled his city “a bubbling cauldron of many cultures,” expressing its ancient roots in many Native American peoples; in at least two European empires; in African, Irish, Italian, French, and many other ethnic lineages; and of course in cuisine, jazz and “second lines.” New Orleans, he said, is a city made by all the nations of the world, but one great “gumbo” made from many.
The speech was as deeply patriotic as it was also deeply political—“e pluribus unum” carries a weight right now in Trump’s America that makes most politicians shy from such fulsome embraces of pluralism and brutally honest historical consciousness. Indeed, any historical consciousness, save for toxic forms of nostalgia, is out of style among Trump’s supporters as well as his cowed, silent enablers in the Republican Party.
Delivered a week and a half before Memorial Day, but during the stunning dismantling of the huge Lee monument in the heart of the city, Landrieu’s speech should be read against the grain of the 152 years of Decoration Day rhetoric. Wittingly or not, the mayor gave the whole country a serious lesson in how Americans should contemplate their war dead, indeed their broader past, in this divided and quarrelsome nation.
He suggested they learn some good history first, face its most troubling parts however painful, and separate “remembrance of history and reverence for it.” It is an extraordinary act for a Southern white politician to ask his fellow citizens to seriously separate heritage from history, to look down the dark tunnel of slavery and New Orleans’s infamous “slave markets,” and the “misery, rape, and torture” that followed for so many unnamed individual Africans, Creoles, and African Americans sold as property into the Mississippi River valley. Landrieu argued that ignorance or denial of this past for so long had been collective “historical malfeasance, a lie by omission.” He called New Orleanians, and thereby all Americans, to an alternative kind of remembrance for this Memorial Day. He asked his auditors to learn a more complex past and to grow some historical and moral backbone as they think about memorialization.

Today, our city has a woman of color–LaToya Cantrell–as its mayor.

I turn to the words of Frederick Douglass who reminded folks then of what is actually being remembered on Memorial Day. He spoke as the roots of that Lost Cause were being firmly planted. These roots are the ones that we try to dig up today and the ones that should remind us today of what our values should represent in the Age of Trumpism.
But in 1894, when Douglass spoke at Rochester, New York’s Decoration Day ceremonies, the Jim Crow era had taken root. 1 It had been over twenty years since racist conservative legislatures had been re-established all across the South – complete with former Confederates taking back their former seats of power. It had been over a decade since the Supreme Court had overturned the Civil Rights Act of 1875, deeming it unconstitutional.
Mississippi, in 1890, had rewritten its own constitution, legally disfranchising black voters, and many other states were about to follow suit. By 1894, lynchings of black Americans were skyrocketing – there would be 134 the year Douglass spoke in Rochester. 2
The Lost Cause had been firmly implanted in the South for a full generation. Its mythos was now seeping northward, infecting and changing the memory of the war and its causes. This naturally led to a false reconciliation, with Blue & Gray gatherings happening more frequently. The focus shifted from the reasons the Civil War was fought to simply leaving the past in the past. The shared experience between soldiers of both sides was the bonding agent, and while this is understandable, the black soldiers were largely left out. 3
He saw, of course, the importance of holidays such as Decoration Days, and wished for it to not become a “heartless unthinking custom.” This was why he thought it of utmost importance to remember not only the soldiers who fought in the Civil War, but also the causes for which they fought. After all, he warned, “What has happened once may happen again.”
Douglass allowed that this Decoration Day “shall share the fate of other great days,” and be slowly forgotten, replaced by “some other day more nearly allied with the wants and events” of some uncertain future. However, he was certain that the sentiments that brought them together annually “will live, flourish and bear similar fruit, forever.”
He noted the two opposing views on how the war should be remembered. The first, he said, was to treat the Southern people as if they were “always loyal and true to the government.” They had, in the estimation of many honorable men, “repented their folly, and have accepted in good faith the results of the war, and that now we should forget and forgive the past, and turn our attention entirely to the future.”

I think today it’s important we that we look at the states that are blocking the votes of People of Color and limiting the rights of women as well as finding obscene ways to cage the children of asylum seekers and deport people whose only crime is to come to a country with extremely broken immigration laws to become part of its economy and future.

Did we fight these wars against slavery and fascism sacrificing the lives of so many to go turn the clock back to oppression?

Today is the day we honor the people that fought to make us a more perfect union. Our fallen include folks of all faiths, colors, birthplaces, and gender identifications. I want a country that truly honors their supreme sacrifice by recognizing that civil and constitutional rights are everyone’s heritage. I want us to stay on the path to the more Perfect Union by respecting our rule of law and its inclusiveness.

Let us truly remember the reason for this day.

“I am not indifferent to the claims of a generous forgetfulness, but whatever else I may forget, I shall never forget the difference between those who fought for liberty and those who fought for slavery; between those who fought to save the Republic and those who fought to destroy it.”

Douglass’ entire speech can be read here.


Memorial Day Reads

It’s the Memorial Day Holiday!

Sewell Chan writes for the NYT about the ‘unofficial’ history of Memorial Day. It is something we discovered and shared before but it bears repeating because it explains why the holiday still gets short shrift in here in the Deep South. It also explains why some Southern States still have a separate Confederate Memorial Day.  I still remain shocked that Mississippi refused to recognize it as a holiday until recently.

David W. Blight, a historian at Yale, has a different account. He traces the holiday to a series of commemorations that freed black Americans held in the spring of 1865, after Union soldiers, including members of the 21st United States Colored Infantry, liberated the port city of Charleston, S.C.

Digging through an archive at Harvard, Dr. Blight found that the largest of these commemorations took place on May 1, 1865, at an old racecourse and jockey club where hundreds of captive Union prisoners had died of disease and been buried in a mass grave. The black residents exhumed the bodies and gave them proper burials, erected a fence around the cemetery, and built an archway over it with the words, “Martyrs of the Race Course.”

Some 10,000 black people then staged a procession of mourning, led by thousands of schoolchildren carrying roses and singing the Union anthem “John Brown’s Body.” Hundreds of black women followed with baskets of flowers, wreaths and crosses. Black men, including Union infantrymen, also marched. A children’s choir sang spirituals and patriotic songs, including “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

“The war was over, and Memorial Day had been founded by African-Americans in a ritual of remembrance and consecration,” Dr. Blight wrotein a 2011 essay for The New York Times. “The war, they had boldly announced, had been about the triumph of their emancipation over a slaveholders’ republic. They were themselves the true patriots.”

The African-American origins of the holiday were later suppressed, Dr. Blight found, by white Southerners who reclaimed power after the end of Reconstruction and interpreted Memorial Day as a holiday of reconciliation, marking sacrifices — by white Americans — on both sides. Black Americans were largely marginalized in this narrative.

“In the struggle over memory and meaning in any society, some stories just get lost while others attain mainstream recognition,” Dr. Blight wrote.

His claim is not universally accepted; the fact-checking website Snopes says of the 1865 remembrance: “Whether it was truly the first such ceremony, and what influence (if any) it might have had on later observances, are still matters of contention.”

Here is BostonBoomer’s blog from 2014 and Mink’s from 2012.  We remember the role of slaves freed by the sacrifice of Union Soldiers in our Civil War in celebrating that sacrifice.

I always remember Decoration Day because when I was very young we would do what my parents did as children.  We went to small cemeteries in Kansas and Missouri to make certain the family grave sites were attended and clean. We picnicked  and trimmed bushes then put peonies in jars on the graves of greats and cousins who died in war. For some reason, all of our family grave plots were resplendent with huge peony bushes.  My mother always beat them back and would announce loudly how much she hated them. Peony bushes were not allowed any where near home. They were left to the dead in my family and they bloomed profusely each Memorial Day.

In Caney Kansas, where my own grandparents are now buried, lays my Great Uncle Jack along side his mother, my Great Grandmother Anna.  He didn’t die in the battlefields of Europe during World War 1 but came home with complications from Mustard Gas. He died quite young on the family farm but it was of his wounds brought home as a dough boy fighting in a trench.  Many soldiers come home with wounds seen and unseen that eventually catch up to them. I never understood why I was told Dad’s Uncle Jack wasn’t quite included in the same way as those whose graves got the peonies properly but we gave him peonies because my Dad and Nana adored him and it felt right to me.  Some times our country has a short memory with a narrow focus. It doesn’t really remember all of the sacrifices of those who came before us including every single slave who died unfree.

Today, we also remember the sacrifice of every gold star family too. I hope Cadet Bonespurs plays golf and that his selfish, hateful face stays away from the one holiday he can truly sully with just his presence. Unfortunately, he left long enough to give a lofty speech at Arlington that should have been given by any better person.  But, take heart, he still had a way of making it all about him!

I read this article last night and even reviewed the variables and methodology of the original study.  It’s amazing to actually review the panel data and see which attributes are significant to the question at hand but the findings are not surprising. NBC shares “The Trump effect: New study connects white American intolerance and support for authoritarianism.”

A new study, however, suggests that the main threat to our democracy may not be the hardening of political ideology, but rather the hardening of one particular political ideology. Political scientists Steven V. Miller of Clemson and Nicholas T. Davis of Texas A&M have released a working paper titled “White Outgroup Intolerance and Declining Support for American Democracy.” Their study finds a correlation between white American’s intolerance, and support for authoritarian rule. In other words, when intolerant white people fear democracy may benefit marginalized people, they abandon their commitment to democracy.

Miller and Davis used information from the World Values Survey, a research project organized by a worldwide network of social scientists which polls individuals in numerous countries on a wide range of beliefs and values. Based on surveys from the United States, the authors found that white people who did not want to have immigrants or people of different races living next door to them were more likely to be supportive of authoritarianism. For instance, people who said they did not want to live next door to immigrants or to people of another race were more supportive Iof the idea of military rule, or of a strongman-type leader who could ignore legislatures and election results.

The World Values Survey data used is from the period 1995 to 2011 — well before Donald Trump’s 2016 run for president. It suggests, though, that Trump’s bigotry and his authoritarianism are not separate problems, but are intertwined. When Trump calls Mexicans “rapists,” and when he praises authoritarian leaders, he is appealing to the same voters.

The Chinese Trade Wars are showing winners and losers already. Winners include Trump himself–and now, Ivanka– plus Chinese Companies including ones that threaten US National Security. The losers are US companies.  We seem completely unable to stop this.

Ivanka Trump’s brand continues to win foreign trademarks in China and the Philippines, adding to questions about conflicts of interest at the White House, The Associated Press has found.

On Sunday, China granted the first daughter’s company final approval for its 13th trademark in the last three months, trademark office records show. Over the same period, the Chinese government has granted Ivanka Trump’s company provisional approval for another eight trademark s, which can be finalized if no objections are raised during a three-month comment period.

Taken together, the trademarks could allow her brand to market a lifetime’s worth of products in China, from baby blankets to coffins, and a host of things in between, including perfume, make-up, bowls, mirrors, furniture, books, coffee, chocolate and honey. Ivanka Trump stepped back from management of her brand and placed its assets in a family-run trust, but she continues to profit from the business.

“Ivanka Trump’s refusal to divest from her business is especially troubling as the Ivanka brand continues to expand its business in foreign countries,” Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said in an email Monday. “It raises significant questions about corruption, as it invites the possibility that she could be benefiting financially from her position and her father’s presidency or that she could be influenced in her policy work by countries’ treatment of her business.”

As Ivanka Trump and her father have built their global brands, largely through licensing deals, they have pursued trademarks in dozens of countries. Those global trademarks have drawn the attention of ethics lawyers because they are granted by foreign governments and can confer enormous value. Concerns about political influence have been especially sharp in China, where the courts and bureaucracy are designed to reflect the will of the ruling Communist Party.

Chinese officials have emphasized that all trademark applications are handled in accordance with the law.

More approvals are likely to come. Online records from China’s trademark office indicate that Ivanka Trump’s company last applied for trademarks — 17 of them — on March 28, 2017, the day before she took on a formal role at the White House. Those records on Monday showed at least 25 Ivanka Trump trademarks pending review, 36 active marks and eight with provisional approval.

Don’t forget!  Trump’s Indonesia project has been financial enhanced by the Chinese Government after he announced he would help with ZTE.   China is definitely on the winning side with the Trumps.  However, what about US Businesses?  

As Washington and Beijing try to resolve their trade disputes, several big companies are caught in the middle.

One is Qualcomm (QCOM), an American chipmaker whose $44 billion purchase of NXP Semiconductors (NXPI), a Dutch company, has been waiting for Chinese regulators’ approval.

Far more controversial is the case of ZTE (ZTCOF), the Chinese phone and telecom equipment maker that was crippled by a US export ban issued last monthin punishment for what the US said were violations of its sanctions against North Korea and Iran.

Easing penalties on ZTE is a key priority for Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Trump has indicated he’s willing to yield in order to move ahead with further trade discussions.

But members of Congress from both parties, many increasingly wary of China’s trade practices, believe such leniency would be a mistake. A growing number of senatorshave drawn a red line on ZTE, and have been vocal in recent days about their opposition to restoring the company.

Are we winning yet?

Meanwhile, TrumpsterFires continue to break out as white men go after our national “enemies” like young men from China attending school  here.  This must be an additional feature to calling the police because black people are going about their lives in clear view!

California police say they thwarted a vigilante deportation attempt last week – in which a pilot allegedly kidnapped a foreign student, took him to an airport and tried to send him “back to China.”

Jonathan McConkey, a pilot and certified flight instructor, is accused of orchestrating the kidnapping with his assistant, Kelsi Hoser, a ground instructor. Both reportedly worked at the IASCO flight training school in Redding, California.

Among IASCO’s students were dozens of Chinese nationals with student visas, according to court records. KRCR News 7 reported that the school contracted with China’s civil aviation authority to train its new pilots, one of whom was apparently Tianshu Shi.

Shi told reporters that he had been in the United States for about seven months – living with several other IASCO trainees at an apartment in Redding. It was there, police said, that McConkey and Hoser came for the student.

Some interesting stats from Axios you can review.  Which part of our country has lost the most on the battlefield since 9/11?

Today is the 17th Memorial Day since 9/11. Since then, 6,940 U.S. military service members have died for America.

Why it matters: Every part of the country has lost soldiers to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. All were Americans — someone’s neighbor, child, parent, mentor, buddy. Their average age was between 26 and 27 years old.

Have a great day and be safe if you’re in the path of all that weather on the East coast and the panhandle of Florida!.

 


Memorial Day Reads

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!!

Today used  to be known as Decoration Day.  It originally commemorated Civil War dead but now–as Memorial Day–it honors all who have fallen in service to our country as members of our armed forces. It became a federal holiday in 1971.  I think I write on this each year, but much to my chagrin, the state of Mississippi just recognized the federal holiday recently. It was a highly controversial move.

On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance later that month. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed.

The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.

On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.

Many Northern states held similar commemorative events and reprised the tradition in subsequent years; by 1890 each one had made Decoration Day an official state holiday. Southern states, on the other hand, continued to honor their dead on separate days until after World War I.

There are states in the South that still celebrate the Confederate version of Memorial Day.

In Georgia the day has been called “State Holiday” since 2015, when Confederate Memorial Day and Robert E. Lee’s birthday were struck from the state calendar. The state holiday list says the official holiday is April 26 but will be observed this year on Monday, April 24.

New Orleans opened the still deep and contentious wounds of the Confederacy by deciding  what to do with some of our Confederate symbols this month.  Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the city tore down four of the most visible monuments built by Lost Causers years after the surrender of the South. He commemorated the occasion with this speech. This is an interview from NPR he gave shortly after the speech.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MITCH LANDRIEU: These statues are not just stone and metal. They’re not just innocent remembrances of a benign history. These monuments celebrate a fictional sanitized Confederacy, ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, ignoring the terror that it actually stood for.

CORNISH: New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu spoke last Friday after the city took down the last of four Confederate monuments. General Robert E. Lee was the final one to go. It was an address about the decision, about the history of slavery in the city. It was an address about race. A week later, people are still talking about it, dissecting sections of the speech.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LANDRIEU: This is not about a naive quest to solve all of our problems at once. This is, however, about showing the whole world that we as a city, that we as a people are able to acknowledge, to understand, to reconcile and, more importantly, choose a better future for ourselves, making straight what has been crooked and making right what was wrong.

He was interviewed by Chuck Todd for MTP.

I’d like to continue quoting the interview from NPR.

CORNISH: I want to quote a letter to the editors of the Times-Picayune, a writer, a citizen named Charles Foy of Madisonville. He says you single-handedly managed to turn innocuous city landmarks into battlegrounds and that these monuments have stood in place for many years. He goes on to say, I can guarantee you that very few people, black or white, gave them a second thought. This is not an uncommon opinion.

LANDRIEU: Well, it’s a silly opinion. I mean that’s the argument that says it all. Mayor, we don’t know anybody that cares about these monuments. That’s because we live a block away and a world apart. And you know, this story that we told was not just about the monuments. You know, the context is that New Orleans got destroyed after Katrina. We’ve been rebuilding our whole city. And as we built back all of our schools and all of our health clinics and all of our hospitals and all of our businesses, we began to think about our public spaces and whether those public spaces really represented who we were as a people. And those monuments stuck out on public spaces like a sore thumb.

And so I asked the people of New Orleans just to think about that, and that speech was really to the people of New Orleans. It wasn’t a speech to the rest of the nation. So it’s quite a surprise that the speech has gotten so much attention across the country. But this is – the issue of race is a complicated issue for the country that we have to walk through. You can’t go around it. You can’t go over it. You can’t go under it. You have to go right through it, and it’s painful.

CORNISH: Is there a particular moment when you started to think about actually taking the monuments down?

LANDRIEU: Yeah, there was a specific moment. (Laughter) I was having breakfast with Wynton Marsalis about three years ago, and he and I were thinking about what the 300th anniversary of the city would look like, which is, by the way, next year.

And I was trying to prepare the city about how to develop itself and get ready for the future. And he said, you ought to think about those monuments. And I said, you’re crazy. I’ve walked by those monuments every day. And he said, no, I want you to really think about it. And I told him I would.

The removal of the statues came at odd times with the jobbers wearing masks and bullet proof vests.  There was heavy police presence due to a huge contingent of protesters that settled in for awhile.   It was the usual suspects.

It seems like many generations after the Civil War we still have white people trying to make a last stand on a wound that does not heal for any one.  Just as I cannot understand supporting “heritage” of a group of enslavers, I cannot fully understand the struggles of those descended from slaves. Even though I descended from old slave-owing families, all of my family fought on the Union side and was solidly against slavery so the narrative with which I grew up did not include a celebration of the confederacy.

Supporters and opponents of removing New Orleans’ Confederate monuments met Sunday afternoon (May 7) at Lee Circle, in a tense and angry confrontation that included some scuffles during a day of demonstrations.

Police quickly broke up a couple of fights, and the dueling protests appeared mostly peaceful. But heated words, slurs and profanities were exchanged, as demonstrators on opposite sides held Confederate flags and protest signs.

A march led by Take ‘Em Down NOLA, which supports the removal of the Confederate monuments, brought hundreds of people from Congo Square to Lee Circle, where they came face-to-face with groups of monument supporters who had been there since the morning. Police said more than 700 people were involved in the demonstrations.

Those advocating the removal of the statues chanted slogans like “Go home racists,” and “Hey hey, ho ho, white supremacy’s got to go.”

On the other side, a monument supporter shouted over a megaphone: “We built this country. If you don’t like it, there are plenty of other non-white countries you can go to!”

I’ve actually seen friendships end and family feuds heat up over the removal of the statues. I’m a preservationist and historian at heart and have been more active and focused on preserving, restoring, and showing our civil rights sites. I’m still waiting for the statue to appear of little Ruby Bridges and the promised memorial at the site where Homer Plessey sat down in a white part of a train. Both of these are within blocks of my home.  I also was probably one of the few people fuming when this same mayor and city council voted to destroy the Woolworth’s building with its historical lunch counter.  I’m still waiting for the statues in memorial of the victims of lynchings too. But, right now, that’s no one’s focus.

The Smithsonian Magazine had a piece on Richmond’s dealings with Confederate History. The city’s monuments became a place of protest when they added a statue of Arthur Ashe in the 90s. Their struggle has been different.

In the past couple of weeks, how we remember and commemorate the Civil War has undergone seismic shifts. The city of New Orleans is in the process of removing four monuments that celebrate Confederate leaders and an 1874 attempt by white supremacists to topple Louisiana’s biracial Reconstruction government. In Charlottesville, Virginia, a court injunction temporarily halted the city’s plans to sell its Robert E. Lee monument while alt-right leader Richard Spencer led a torchlight protest this past weekend reminiscent of Klan rallies of the past. White supremacist support for the Lee statue will likely strengthen and broaden the call to remove this and other Confederate monuments throughout the city. Curiously, however, the former capital of the Confederacy, Richmond, Virginia, has not seen a similar outcry. Why?

The city boasts some of the most significant sites of Confederate commemoration. Its famed Monument Avenue is studded with massive statues of Generals Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and J.E.B. Stuart along with the president of the confederacy, Jefferson Davis. Thousands of Confederate soldiers and officers, and Davis himself, are buried in the city’s Hollywood Cemetery—a sacred space for white Southerners grappling with defeat. Veterans’ reunions, battlefields, monument dedications, parades and the opening of the Confederate Museum in 1896 helped solidify the city itself as a shrine to Confederate memory by the beginning of the 20th century. If ever a city was ripe for calls to remove Confederate monuments, it is Richmond.

But beyond scattered acts of vandalism, locals have remained largely quiet. Part of the reason why is that over the years, the city has recognized changing perceptions of the Confederacy—and officials have addressed concerns that public spaces devoted to the city’s past do not sufficiently reflect Richmond’s diversity.

In the past few decades, Richmond has dedicated new monuments that have greatly expanded its commemorative landscape. A statue of homegrown tennis star Arthur Ashe joined Monument Avenue in 1996—arguably one of its most high-profile and controversial additions. While some Richmonders welcomed the statue, others argued that it would “disrupt the theme of the avenue,” and both its supporters and detractors mocked the statue itself.

In 2003, the city dedicated a monument of Abraham Lincoln and his son to mark the president’s April 1865 visit following the abandonment of Richmond by the Confederate government. The dedication helped re-interpret Lincoln’s visit as a symbol of slavery’s end as opposed to the entrance of a conquering tyrant. While in Richmond just 11 days before his assassination, Lincoln famously corrected newly freed slaves who knelt at his feet: “Don’t kneel to me,” Lincoln responded. “That is not right. You must kneel to God only, and thank Him for the liberty you will afterward enjoy.” Four years after the Lincoln statue was erected, the city installed the Richmond Slavery Reconciliation Statue, a 15-foot bronze sculpture depicting two enslaved individuals embracing not far from the center of Richmond’s former slave market.

So, now the city of Baltimore and its mayor Catherine Pugh will try to find a path for a city with a history of racial divides and strife.  Maryland wasn’t even a Confederate state yet still has signs of the Lost Cause.

New Orleans recently took down its Confederate monuments. Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh says she is considering doing the same thing in the city.

“The city does want to remove these,” Pugh told The Baltimore Sun. “We will take a closer look at how we go about following in the footsteps of New Orleans.”

Before former Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake left office last year, she added signs in front of four Confederate monuments in Baltimore. The signs said, in part, that the monuments were “part of a propaganda campaign of national pro-Confederate organizations to perpetuate the beliefs of white supremacy, falsify history and support segregation and racial intimidation.”

But Rawlings-Blake stopped short of removing the monuments. She cited costs and logistical concerns, and left the decision to Pugh, who took office in December.

The City Commission has recommended the removal of two specific monuments.

University of Maryland law professor Larry S. Gibson, a commission member, proposed the plan to remove the Roger B. Taney Monument on Mount Vernon Place and the Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson Monument in the Wyman Park Dell.

Gibson said Taney’s statute should be dismantled because his authorship of the Dred Scott Supreme Court decision was “pure racism.” The decision held that African-Americans could not be American citizens.

“In my view, he deserves a place in infamy,” Gibson said of the fifth chief justice of the United States.

Gibson also argued that Baltimore has a disproportionate number of monuments to the Confederacy on its public property. He said that more than twice as many Marylanders fought for the Union as the Confederacy during the Civil War, but the city has only one public monument to the Union.

“Three monuments to the Confederacy is out of proportion,” Gibson said. “Probably a majority of Baltimoreans think there should be none to the Confederacy.”

The commissioners recommended that the statute of Lee and Jackson be offered to the U.S. Park Service to place in Chancellorsville, Va. The two Confederate generals last met in person shortly before the Battle of Chancellorsville in 1863.

The commission voted to keep the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Mount Royal Avenue and the Confederate Women’s Monument on West University Parkway, but to add context. Members said they needed to meet again to decide exactly what context they wanted to add.

So, there’s the past.  Axios has the numbers we should know for Memorial Day Present.

Good Monday morning, and wishing a peaceful, restful Memorial Day to you and yours. Pausing to remember a part of the beating heart of America that too often eludes us — the fallen, and the serving:

  •  U.S. military casualties from Operation Iraqi Freedom: 4,411.
  • U.S. military casualties in Afghanistan, from Operation Enduring Freedom: 2,216.
  • U.S. military personnel: 2.1 million (active duty: 1.3 million; Reserves and National Guard: 800,000).
  • Deployed overseas: 200,000.
  • About 20 veterans a day commit suicide, per the Veterans Administration: In 2014, the latest year available, more than 7,400 veterans took their own lives, accounting for 18% of all suicides in America. Veterans make up less than 9% of the U.S. population.”
  • “The Pentagon reported [last year] that 265 active-duty service members killed themselves last year, continuing a trend of unusually high suicide rates that have plagued the U.S. military for at least seven years.”
  • The takeaway, from AP: “Veterans groups say a growing military-civilian disconnect contributes to a feeling that Memorial Day has been overshadowed. More than 12% of the U.S. population served in the armed forces during World War II. That’s down to less than one-half of a percent today, guaranteeing more Americans aren’t personally acquainted with a soldier, sailor, airman or Marine.”

There were very few civil war veterans alive when I was born.  The last few of them died when I was still in diapers.  Even as a child I was confused by the number of white people that just seemed to regale the entire Confederacy, its treason, its stain of enslaving human beings, and the entire mess created necessitating the civil rights movements that were chronicled daily on my black and white TV.  As a woman now on the verge of getting her first Social Security check, the fact we still seem to be fighting this war perplexes me to no end.    But then, we now have a President that probably would have happily palled around with Jeff Davis and then entered the South as a Carpetbagger with equal ease.

May-20-1899-Diasies-gathered-for-Decoration-dayThis is President Lincoln’s last address and it was on the reconstruction.  I thought I’d share parts of it with you.

I have been shown a letter on this subject, supposed to be an able one, in which the writer expresses regret that my mind has not seemed to be definitely fixed on the question whether the seceding States, so called, are in the Union or out of it. It would perhaps, add astonishment to his regret, were he to learn that since I have found professed Union men endeavoring to make that question, I have purposely forborne any public expression upon it. As appears to me that question has not been, nor yet is, a practically material one, and that any discussion of it, while it thus remains practically immaterial, could have no effect other than the mischievous one of dividing our friends. As yet, whatever it may hereafter become, that question is bad, as the basis of a controversy, and good for nothing at all–a merely pernicious abstraction.

We all agree that the seceded States, so called, are out of their proper relation with the Union; and that the sole object of the government, civil and military, in regard to those States is to again get them into that proper practical relation. I believe it is not only possible, but in fact, easier to do this, without deciding, or even considering, whether these States have ever been out of the Union, than with it. Finding themselves safely at home, it would be utterly immaterial whether they had ever been abroad. Let us all join in doing the acts necessary to restoring the proper practical relations between these States and the Union; and each forever after, innocently indulge his own opinion whether, in doing the acts, he brought the States from without, into the Union, or only gave them proper assistance, they never having been out of it.

The amount of constituency, so to speak, on which the new Louisiana government rests, would be more satisfactory to all, if it contained fifty, thirty, or even twenty thousand, instead of only about twelve thousand, as it does. It is also unsatisfactory to some that the elective franchise is not given to the colored man. I would myself prefer that it were now conferred on the very intelligent, and on those who serve our cause as soldiers. Still the question is not whether the Louisiana government, as it stands, is quite all that is desirable. The question is, “Will it be wiser to take it as it is, and help to improve it; or to reject, and disperse it?” “Can Louisiana be brought into proper practical relation with the Union sooner by sustaining, or by discarding her new State government?”

Some twelve thousand voters in the heretofore slave-state of Louisiana have sworn allegiance to the Union, assumed to be the rightful political power of the State, held elections, organized a State government, adopted a free-state constitution, giving the benefit of public schools equally to black and white, and empowering the Legislature to confer the elective franchise upon the colored man. Their Legislature has already voted to ratify the constitutional amendment recently passed by Congress, abolishing slavery throughout the nation. These twelve thousand persons are thus fully committed to the Union, and to perpetual freedom in the state–committed to the very things, and nearly all the things the nation wants–and they ask the nations recognition and it’s assistance to make good their committal. Now, if we reject, and spurn them, we do our utmost to disorganize and disperse them. We in effect say to the white men “You are worthless, or worse–we will neither help you, nor be helped by you.” To the blacks we say “This cup of liberty which these, your old masters, hold to your lips, we will dash from you, and leave you to the chances of gathering the spilled and scattered contents in some vague and undefined when, where, and how.” If this course, discouraging and paralyzing both white and black, has any tendency to bring Louisiana into proper practical relations with the Union, I have, so far, been unable to perceive it. If, on the contrary, we recognize, and sustain the new government of Louisiana the converse of all this is made true. We encourage the hearts, and nerve the arms of the twelve thousand to adhere to their work, and argue for it, and proselyte for it, and fight for it, and feed it, and grow it, and ripen it to a complete success. The colored man too, in seeing all united for him, is inspired with vigilance, and energy, and daring, to the same end. Grant that he desires the elective franchise, will he not attain it sooner by saving the already advanced steps toward it, than by running backward over them? Concede that the new government of Louisiana is only to what it should be as the egg is to the fowl, we shall sooner have the fowl by hatching the egg than by smashing it? Again, if we reject Louisiana, we also reject one vote in favor of the proposed amendment to the national Constitution. To meet this proposition, it has been argued that no more than three fourths of those States which have not attempted secession are necessary to validly ratify the amendment. I do not commit myself against this, further than to say that such a ratification would be questionable, and sure to be persistently questioned; while a ratification by three-fourths of all the States would be unquestioned and unquestionable.

I repeat the question, “Can Louisiana be brought into proper practical relation with the Union sooner by sustaining or by discarding her new State Government?

What has been said of Louisiana will apply generally to other States. And yet so great peculiarities pertain to each state, and such important and sudden changes occur in the same state; and withal, so new and unprecedented is the whole case, that no exclusive, and inflexible plan can be safely prescribed as to details and colatterals [sic]. Such exclusive, and inflexible plan, would surely become a new entanglement. Important principles may, and must, be inflexible.

This brings me to one of the removed monuments.  The vile one was undoubtedly the Liberty Place Monument.  It celebrates the bloody undoing of what Lincoln said of Louisiana and her government.

The Battle of Liberty Place Monument is a 35-foot stone obelisk that was erected in 1891 in the middle of Canal Street in honor of the “Battle of Liberty Place,” an 1874 insurrection of the Crescent City White League, a group of all white, mostly Confederate veterans, who battled against the racially integrated New Orleans Metropolitan Police and state militia.

The monument was meant to honor the members of the White League who died during the battle. In 1932, the City of New Orleans added a plaque to the monument, explicitly outlining its white supremacist sympathies, which explained that the battle was fought for the “overthrow of carpetbag government, ousting the usurpers” and that “the national election of November 1876 recognized white supremacy in the South and gave us our state.”

This was a monument to the White League. It was an attempt to overthrow the government of Louisiana and many police officers were killed.Take time to think about that inscription on its base.  You may also find the link to a video interview of descendant of one of those participating in that riot.  Listen to him say that the civil war was about states rights and never about slavery and that there was election fraud like today. It’s the one up there next to the photo of the inscription. This narrative is the narrative of the Lost Cause. It is the narrative of men like David Duke.

On Sept. 14, 1874, the White League stormed the New Orleans police station in an attempted coup d’état to remove the governor of New Orleans, Republican William Kellogg, and replace him with John McEnery, who had been his unsuccessful Democratic challenger in the 1872 election. The White League defeated the city’s integrated police department, and took control of the city for a couple of days before President Ulysses S. Grant sent down federal troops to reclaim the city. The White League quickly surrendered the city upon the arrival of federal troops, and the Battle of Liberty Place monument exists to remember the 100 White League members who died in the battle. That is to say, it exists to celebrate those who died in a failed coup with the explicit purpose of returning Louisiana to a white dominated society.

The White League, formed in 1874, was one of the last white terrorist groups that sprang up during Reconstruction. The Ku Klux Klan started in 1865 upon the completion of the war. The White League was founded by Christopher Columbus Nash, a former Confederate soldier who was a prisoner of war during the Civil War. On April 13, 1873, Nash led a white militia in the Colfax Massacre that killed approximately 150 freed blacks. The massacre erupted following white fury at the election of Kellogg to the governorship in 1872. This battle is one of the single biggest massacres of Reconstruction. Soon thereafter Nash formed the White League.

“Having solely in view the maintenance of our hereditary civilization and Christianity menaced by a stupid Africanization, we appeal to men of our race, of whatever language or nationality, to unite with us against that supreme danger,” read the platform of the White League.

Despite their clear racist and terroristic foundations, they represented a more palatable form of terror than the KKK. The White League was more mainstream than the KKK. This brand of terror had become normalized over the previous decade. The White League openly collaborated with the KKK, Southern Democratic politicians, and white business owners who facilitated the Redeemers movement to terrorize freed blacks and Union sympathizers to swing elections in favor of the Democratic Party.

President Grant was so alarmed by the threat to democracy that the White League posed that he wrote about them in his 1874 State of the Union Address: “White Leagues and other societies were formed; large quantities of arms and ammunition were imported and distributed to these organizations; military drills, with menacing demonstrations, were held, and with all these murders enough were committed to spread terror among those whose political action was to be suppressed, if possible, by these intolerant and criminal proceedings.”

d6369de50b69253980e7506ca02fd87dWhat gets me thinking when I read about all of these deaths is that the morality of our Commander-in-Chief and his/her level headed, informed life-and-death decisions create the basis of what constitutes how we sacrifice our public servants and protectors. Lincoln and Grant knew what it was like to send men to certain death and you can see that gravity in their actions, speeches and lives.  You can feel it when you read about their mistakes and their weaknesses.  You can see it in Lincoln’s depression and in Grant’s heaving drinking.  As Americans, we have always tried to use the lives of our armed forces fully knowing that we’re creating Gold Star Families and fresh graves in Arlington.

Who will be sacrificed by this administration and for what cause will we memorialize them?


Memorial Day Reads

Good Afternoon!1024px-DecorationDayMcCutcheon

Today is Memorial Day in the United States.  It’s the day we set aside to honor those who died in service to our country.  The day was originally known as Decoration Day.  It was recognized in 1868 when a organization of Union veterans established the day as a day to decorate the graves of Union Soldiers. It is believed that former slaves were the first to actually have a Memorial Day type event in 1865 which inspired Northerners to do similar things. 

This occurred in Charleston, SC to honor 257 dead Union Soldiers who had been buried in a mass grave in a Confederate prison camp. They dug up the bodies and worked for 2 weeks to give them a proper burial as gratitude for fighting for their freedom. Together with teachers and missionaries, Black residents of Charleston organized a May Day ceremony that year which was covered by the New York Tribune and other national papers.

The freedmen cleaned up and landscaped the burial ground, building an enclosure and an arch labeled, “Martyrs of the Race Course.” Nearly ten thousand people, mostly freedmen, gathered on May 1 to commemorate the war dead. Involved were about 3,000 Black school children newly enrolled in Freedmen’s schools, mutual aid societies, Union troops, Black ministers, and White northern missionaries. Most brought flowers to be placed on the burial field. Years later, the celebration would come to be called the “First Decoration Day” in the North.

I still find it intriguing that states like Mississippi don’t recognize the day as a holiday–other than Federal Agencies that follow Federal Holiday Schedules–since it’s considered a “Yankee” Holiday. There was a competing Confederate holiday but the two were eventually merged  for all but neoconfederates like those in Mississippi. Our family used to use the day to picnic at family cemetery plots to do general all purpose gardening and clean up.    I can remember mother’s personal fight to keep the peonies off the grave stones in Kansas City and various small towns in Kansas and Missouri.

A lot of people confuse Veteran’s Day with Memorial Day which in a way is a bit sad.  Memorial Day is specifically a remembrance to those who died while in the military in either battle or in support of those in battle.  They used to sell little red poppies to honor the World War 1 dead.  We always got one in remembrance of my Dad’s Uncle Jack for whom he was named. Uncle Jack made it home but died within a few years from the effects of mustard gas. I’m not sure that we do much of anything like that any more but given we still lose many active service members to war and military excursions, we should remember their sacrifice uniquely. Veteran’s Day for those who lived through their service. Armed Forces Day for those serving now.  Memorial Day for those who died while in service to our country.

Of course, what week could go by without another crazed mass shooting?   Here’s the local headline from Houston: “TWO DEAD, 6 INJURED AFTER TERRIFYING MASS SHOOTING IN WEST HOUSTON.”

A man came into a west Houston auto detail shop and began shooting, killing a man known to be a customer and putting a neighborhood on lockdown Sunday before being killed by a SWAT officer, police said.

You can read the details but I’m beginning to think that we’ve got civilians in our country that are dying in battlefields too.  Unfortunately, the battlefields are shopping centers, movie theatres, and all kinds of places in American Cities.  13335583_10208200078733154_5331554108338175467_n

I hesitate to bring this story up because I find it super upsetting but I know we have folks here that love our furry relations as much as I do.  A child fell into a zoo enclosure last week which resulted in the shooting of a rare lowland gorilla.  There are a number of videos out that I don’t have the heart to watch.  Grief is turning to outrage over the gorilla’s death. Here’s a story on that.

The killing of an endangered gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo to rescue a boy who fell into a dangerous enclosure unleashed an outpouring of grief on over the holiday weekend.

Within hours, that grief had turned to fury as critics questioned the zoo’s decision to kill the endangered 17-year-old gorilla, named Harambe, and called for the boy’s parents to be punished for not adequately supervising their child.

A Facebook page called “Justice for Harambe” received more than 41,000 “likes” within hours of its creation. The page’s description says it was created to “raise awareness of Harambe’s murder” and includes YouTube tributes and memes celebrating the western lowland gorilla and admonishing zoo officials.

“Shooting an endangered animal is worse than murder,” a commenter from Denmark named Per Serensen wrote on the page. “Soooo angry.”

Lt. Steve Saunders, a spokesman for the Cincinnati Police Department, told the Cincinnati Enquirer that they have no plans to charge the child’s parents.

That news didn’t stop tens of thousands from signing multiple online petitions calling for Cincinnati Child Protective Services to investigate the boy’s parents — who have not been identified — for negligence.

“I’m signing because a beautiful critically endangered animal was killed as a direct result of her failure to supervise her child,” one signee wrote. “I don’t blame the zoo staff for the decision they made, I’m sure they’re heartbroken.”

“If she’d watched her child he wouldn’t have been in the gorilla enclosure in the first place,” the commenter added.

A petition on Change.org asks for legislation to be passed that creates “legal consequences when an endangered animal is harmed or killed due to the negligence of visitors.” The petition has amassed more than 40,000 signatures.


39103127EHere’s another take on the situation including the videos.  Witnesses say the boy wanted to go into the water inside the enclosure. They also indicated that entering the enclosure was not an easy task.

The incident drew widespread attention as dramatic video spread across the Internet showing Harambe dragging the boy like a rag doll through the water across the habitat.
The boy climbed through a barrier and fell some 15 feet to a shallow moat in Harambe’s enclosure, Maynard said.
Kimberley Ann Perkins O’Connor, who captured some of the incident on her phone, told CNN she overheard the boy joking to his mother about going into the water.
Suddenly, a splash drew the crowd’s attention to the boy in the water. The crowd started screaming, drawing Harambe’s attention to the boy, O’Connor said.
At first, it looked like Harambe was trying to help the boy, O’Connor said. He stood him up and pulled up his pants.
As the crowd’s clamors grew, Harambe tossed the boy into a corner of the moat, O’Connor said, which is when she started filming. Harambe went over to the corner and shielded the boy with his body as the boy’s mother yelled “Mommy’s right here.”
The crowd’s cries appeared to agitate Harambe anew, O’Connor said, and the video shows him grabbing the boy by the foot. He dragged him through the water and out of the moat atop the habitat, O’Connor said.
By that point, “It was not a good scene,” she said. When the boy tried to back away the gorilla “aggressively” pulled him back into his body “and really wasn’t going to let him get away,” she said.
O’Connor left before the shooting. When asked if the the barrier could be easily penetrated by a child, she said it would take some effort.

The Supreme Court is being asked to take up a bankruptcy dispute involving the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City and to decide whether to restore the health and pension benefits of more than 1,000 casino workers.

At issue is a conflict between labor laws that call for preserving collective bargaining agreements and bankruptcy laws that allow a judge to reorganize a business to keep it in operation.

“This is about how a bankruptcy was used to transfer value from working people to the super-rich,” said Richard G. McCracken, general counsel for Unite Here, the hotel and casino workers’ union that appealed to the high court.

Billionaire Carl Icahn stepped in to buy the casino – founded by Donald Trump – after it filed for bankruptcy in 2014.

As the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals said in January, Trump’s “plan of reorganization was contingent on the rejection of the collective bargaining agreement,” also known as the CBA, with the union. Icahn promised a “capital infusion of $100 million” to keep the casino in operation, but “only if the CBA and tax relief contingencies are achieved.”

With that understanding, the Philadelphia-based appeals court upheld a bankruptcy judge’s order that canceled the health insurance and pension contributions called for in the union’s contract. “It is preferable to preserve jobs through a rejection of a CBA, as opposed to losing the positions permanently,” wrote Judge Jane Roth.

The union is urging the Supreme Court to review and reverse that ruling, arguing the labor laws call for preserving collective bargaining agreements, even if they expire during a bankruptcy. The National Labor Relations Board agreed and filed a brief in the support of the casino workers union when the case was before the 3rd Circuit.

920x920So much for Trump and the working person.

Anyway, I’m going to make this short today because most of the stories I’m reading aren’t exactly pleasant.  Seems we have a streak of violence going around the country and the headlines reflect that.   Chicago is having an extremely violent few days.  I was thinking that the violence here might be isolated but it doesn’t appear to be. 

June 2nd is “Wear Orange Day” which is a day to commit to ending gun violence.  The day started in 2013 when some Chicago kids asked every one to wear orange in remembrance of a friend killed by gun fire.  Maybe this holiday will become the Memorial Day for those civilians killed in the battle in our streets.

So, what’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 

 


Memorial Day Open Thread

There are all kinds of veterans to remember today!

Don’t forget our furry heroes!

This an open thread.

I thought I’d post this picture of my mom and dad.  My dad is a veteran of World War 2. He was a bombardier for the 8th Air Force–although it was the Army Air Corps when he joined– and was stationed in Northern England.  He once flew under the command of Jimmy Stewart.  He said he sounded just like he did in the movies. He flew missions over Northern Europea in B-17s.  Anyway, he’s nearly 90 and will finally share his war stories with us after years of not wanting to talk about it.  I took him to the WW2 Museum here in New Orleans on his last visit.  He really liked that.  There’s very few of his crew left but they all remained in contact with each other until the day they died. He’s a young lieutenant in this photo.  I’m going to have to get him to remember exactly when it was taken but that’s by the front porch of my grandparent’s house.  I’m posting this in remembrance of all his buddies that are no longer able to reminisce with Dad.  I keep asking him to give me all his stuff–including their pictures and logs–so I can put them in the WW2 museum documents library.  We all will never forget their service.

So, if you have any one you’d like to remember, please post their picture or a remembrance!

UPDATE by Boston Boomer: Here’s a photo of my Dad in his National Guard uniform. I couldn’t figure out how to put it in a comment, so I took the liberty of putting it here. I hope Dak won’t mind. The little girl is my cousin. He was really young. He lied about his age to get into the Guard so he could use the money for college. Dad didn’t meet my mom till after the war and returned to school.

This must have been taken before Dad left for Louisiana for training. His National Guard regiment, the 164th, was the first army regiment to be shipped out after Pearl Harbor. They went right to Guadalcanal to support the Marines who were stranded there with diminishing supplies. They were down to one meal a day by the time Dad’s unit got there. I think Ralph’s father was one of those marines.

When the bombs were dropped my Dad was on the way to Japan. Ironically, I might never have been born except for the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

I miss my dad so much. He died on March 11, 2010. He was almost 88.


Sunday Reads: Memorial Days and One Hot Summer Ahead

Memorial Day 1909, click image to see more vintage postcards.

Morning all!

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

WATERLOO, N.Y.: OFFICIAL RECOGNITION Col. Lars Braun, who had just returned from 14 months in Iraq, in a Memorial Day parade in 2008 with his daughter, Rachel. In 1966, a presidential proclamation designated the town, in the Finger Lakes area, the official birthplace of Memorial Day.

Right on either side of Alabama, there are two places with the same name.

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.

Residents say it was here, in the years after the Civil War, that Memorial Day was born.

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.

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SDB Evening News Reads for 053011 Memorial Day Edition

Well, for Memorial Day we are going to make this an Open Thread.  The news is so depressing…so just for today check out these fun links. Since we have a music thread going on here, I thought we would have a movie thread this evening.

So be sure to post some of you favorite War and Summer movies!

I am going to post some funny ones, cause I just don’t feel like bringing the post down…

My first choice,  No Time for Sergeants (1958) – IMDb

Will Stockdale is a country bumpkin drafted into the Air Force and too dumb to realize he’s driving everyone around him crazy — no one more than Sgt. King.

This next one is my son’s favorite movie…he is 13 so go figure.

Stalag 17 (1953) – IMDb

When two escaping American World War II prisoners are killed, the German POW camp barracks black marketeer, J.J. Sefton, is suspected of being an informer

Billy Wilder directed this great movie…and what a cast.  William Holden, Otto Preminger, Peter Graves and Robert Strauss.

And this next one…Kelly’s Heroes (1970) – IMDb

It is full of anti-war sentiment and a whole lot of hippie references.

For my Summer choices…one of the best movies that kick off summer:  Jaws (1975) – IMDb

When a gigantic great white shark begins to menace the small island community of Amity, a police chief, a marine scientist and grizzled fisherman set out to stop it.

Anyway, lets have your favorite War and Summer flicks…

And if you want to get caught up on the news…Google News

I’ll be sure to go back to our regular format tomorrow. Happy Memorial Day!