Where Have You Been? 9

Where were you on April 4, 1968? What were you doing to keep Dr King alive? Did you join in the protests and rioting? Are you a racist for not being there to defend him when you were just a scant ten miles away? How do you handle the insanity of a legitimate protest,  masking the outright thuggery of rioting?

We were there, and even though my wife and I were not in immediate danger, the whole town was shut down at night with the threat of certain arrest. I was a broadcast engineer at WMC-TV in Memphis, and had special permission to go to my night-time job keeping the station on the air. It was not uncommon to see gaggles of police and highway patrol cars at motels and restaurants, and even military personnel carriers ripping across the streets of Memphis.

I was glad the police and national guard were there. Was I being racist?

Let’s take this even further. Where were you in the late 1950’s when Memphis City bus drivers were forcing black people to move from in front of the rear bus door, to the very rear of the bus to make way for white people to sit. What if you were that white person, and you didn’t ask for that seat? What if you were that white person, and you were just a junior high student like thousands of other kids that had to ride city buses to school (At that time there were no school buses in the city.)?

I may or may not have been that one person who caused the ejection of a black person from a bus, but I was still there not knowing what to say or do.

Was I a racist because I didn’t immediately throw myself at the bus driver and city police in defense of that black person?

If I were to put you into the same situations in segregationist Jim Crow America in the 1950’s, I don’t believe you would have behaved differently. If you were defending a black kid or adult, it was not unusual to find yourself surrounded by people calling you a n**** lover and being threatened.

My point is this. I know what racism is. The United States is not a racist nation. Protesting this police killing problem by disrespecting our nation makes no sense. The whole thing was started by an NFL quarterback who was bitter about life, and is not the brightest guy around. Even though I respect his reason to protest, I think he was dumb to have chosen his method.

If you want to disagree with me, fine, but bring your facts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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July 4, 1863 4

Declaration of Independence

Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776. This was one of the most important days in the history of the United States. On this date the British colonies came together in North America to declare their separation from Britain, and to form their own country. Brave men signed the Declaration pledging their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to that union.

Four score and seven years later, the nation would experience July 4, 1863 as another important date in the history of the nation. This is the day that few people associate with the Civil War, the most vulnerable time in history for our country.

In 1863 there were two separate theaters of the Civil War being contested. In the western theater General Ulysses S Grant was occupied with trying to take the veritable fortress of Vicksburg, Mississippi. This seemingly  backwater town on the Mississippi River held the key to the control of the lower Mississippi River, and thus the ability of the Confederate government to supply its armies and populations with many foodstuffs.

In the eastern theater confederate General Robert E Lee was racing up through Maryland and Pennsylvania, terrifying the Union countryside and President Abraham Lincoln himself. This was the first incursion of a large Confederate army into the northern states. General Lee was coming off a successful year of defeating Union armies, the last battle of which had been Chancellorsville. If Lee could successfully defeat the Union army chasing him, he could possibly achieve a negotiated settlement to the war.

The western theater conflict was at Vicksburg, and in the eastern theater, the Confederate army stumbled on the Union army under Meade at Gettysburg, PA. The fight at Vicksburg had been going on for months, and the fight at Gettysburg lasted for three days. Both conflicts ended in important defeats for the Confederates.

On July 4, 1863 General Robert E Lee left the Gettysburg battlefield in defeat. This was his first major defeat, and history judges that the Confederacy reached its high water mark at that losing battle.

On July 4, 1863 General Pemberton surrendered his Confederate army at The Siege of Vicksburg to General Ulysses S Grant.

With these two momentous Union victories, the end of the Confederacy was made certain. It took two more years before General Lee surrendered to General Grant at Appomattox.

July 4 marks the beginnings of our country, and the salvation of our country.

I Told You So! 13

Barack Obama now has the distinction of having lost two wars. TWO WARS that have already been fought, and that the United States of American has won. Thousands of lives and billions of dollars were spent in these endeavors only to be thrown away by what some people call the smartest guy in the room.

To make matters worse, this whole debacle was foretold by millions of Americans when Barack Obama first took office over five years ago. In only five years Barack Obama has thrown away all this blood and treasure, all in obedience to lofty-thinking, simplistic left-wing morons. I am talking about the Democrat Party, here.

The ability to say, “I told you so!” is not helpful, at all. Barack Obama has dropped-the-ball, screwed-the-pooch, stepped-on-his-Johnson, pooped-in-the-punchbowl, farted-at-the-finish, and has made a mess of generally everything since he has been in office.

But, saying “I told you so!” reflects on me. Call it what you like, but it is all about Obama’s hubris.

You can say what you want about the necessity of fighting these wars, but at the time we thought it was the right thing to do. Those who say otherwise now are denying their own history. Plus, we all knew that there would be a time when our presence in Iraq would be a plus factor in dealing with Iran. Now, Iran is planning on entering Iraq for their own purposes with no opposition.

Oh, what a fool we have for a President. Welcome to the Obama age where everybody is a loser.

June 6, 1944 – Seventieth Anniversary Of Courage 2

Picture from D-Day landing craft Omaha Beach

Omaha Beach Landing Craft

Can you picture yourself on a landing craft, approaching Omaha Beach in Normandy on this date, seventy years ago? Remember the men who did this. They were scared, unarmored, but dedicated to make it to the beach alive. Approximately two-thousand of these men were either killed or wounded that day on Omaha Beach during that invasion.

This scene was repeated on four other beaches on D-Day. For the Americans, there were Omaha Beach and Utah Beach. For the United Kingdom there were Gold Beach and Sword Beach, and for the Canadians there was Juno Beach. In addition to the brave men assaulting these beaches there were three divisions of airborne troops who landed behind the German lines to attack from the German rear.

The table below was copied from Wikipedia.

 

Approximate Casualties of the Allied Armies by Sectors, Normandy, 6 June 1944

NATION /
SECTOR

ESTIMATED CASUALTIES

U.S. AIRBORNE 2,499
U.S. / UTAH 197
U.S. / OMAHA 2,000
U.K. / GOLD 413
CAN. / JUNO 1,204
U.K. / SWORD 630
U.K. AIRBORNE 1,500
CONSERVATIVE ESTIMATE
8,443
REASONABLE
GUESS
9,000 total (of which 3,000 may have been fatalities)

 

Note that of the approximately 9,000 Allied casualties, about 3,000 were fatalities. These are the men who gave their lives that day, and we should be particularly mindful of their sacrifice. I don’t believe that I could have gone charging off a landing craft while facing German machine gun and artillery fire. Many men didn’t survive their first view of France.

May God bless these men and let us all remember and respect the courage and love shown buy those heroes on June 6, 1944.

picture of US Memorial Graveyard in Normandy, France

Normandy American Memorial Cemetary

Remember The Old Folks And Their Music 2

My lovely niece messaged me on Facebook asking me what kind of music her Dad would prefer. His birthday is this week, and she is putting together some music for him. The problem is that I don’t know what he likes.

My brother was born in 1928, and I suppose that the music of his generation was Big Band music with all its shades, jazz, to blues, to boring. When I worked at a radio station, I played some of the music from that generation with bands like Glenn Miller, Jimmy Dorsey, and others. I found it fascinating, and much of it was really good. A lot of really good and creative music was made in that era, and there are still lots of fans of that music.

The Glenn Miller Story is a good movie that is well worth watching, and tells a lot about the the era. It is available on Amazon.com in dvd format.

One of the artists I distinctly remember is Buddy Rich, the fastest drummer in the world. That was the claim, and it may still be true. Below is a sample of Buddy Rich’s work.

The Big Band era produced a genre all its own. Enjoy.

July 4th, A Big Day In American History 2

Today in history was a fateful day for America. It is the 237th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Today is also the 150th anniversary of the surrender of Confederate forces at Vicksburg, Mississippi (July 4, 1863)to General Grant. This Union victory severed the Confederate West from the rest of the Confederacy, and opened the Mississippi River to Union gunboats and armies to move without challenge.

General Robert E. Lee withdrew his Confederate army from the Gettysburg battlefield 150 years ago, today. His proud army had been defeated, and this day is considered the turning-point in the Civil War, especially with the coincident loss of Vicksburg and the Confederate states west of the Mississippi River.

On this day in 1826, John Adams died. It is said that his last words were, “Thomas Jefferson survives.”  Strangely, Thomas Jefferson had died a few hours earlier at Monticello, his famous residence.

Indeed, this is a day to remember.

The Valley 8

Washington's HQ

Washington’s HQ at Valley Forge

All have read about George Washington’s army spending the winter of 1777-1778 at the village of Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. At long last, I got to see the famous place, and get an idea of what our ancestors had to do to survive in that environment.

Crossing the Delaware River the day before, and putting-up with the incessant commands from Mrs Garmin, our aptly named GPS unit, we wound our way across Southeastern Pennsylvania to the location just northwest of Philadelphia. The country side is beautiful, and Valley Forge National Park is a natural beauty in itself, showcasing the beautiful, green rolling hills of the rich Pennsylvania countryside.

We were transported to the late eighteenth century to a time when my North Carolina ancestors, Jeremiah and Henry, were encamped with George Washington’s army. The film at the Visitor’s Center at the Park told the story of what transpired. Most of the men didn’t have shoes or boots, and many of the approximately 12.000 encamped there were without adequate clothing. Their officers described their state as being virtually naked in the winter elements.

Over 2,000 men died that winter of sickness, and most of those were the ones sent to local hospitals to receive medical attention. It was no accident that more men died while under medical care than those who refused medical care. Such was the state of medical science in 1777.

All the units built log huts to weather the winter. It was not a particularly hard winter, but it was a wet winter with snow and lots of rain, compounding efforts to bring in food and other supplies. According to the introductory film at the Park, the best equipped soldiers were from Connecticut, where the colonial government was able to collect supplies and money for their care.

North Carolina Regiments Marker at Valley Forge

North Carolina Regiments Marker at Valley Forge

The worst supplied men were from North Carolina, the colony of my ancestors. The men were cold, hungry, naked to a good extent, and had no shoes. Their guns were not adequate, and their food was touch and go all winter.

As spring came to Pennsylvania, George Washington started training the army with a newly arrived professional Prussian soldier, Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben. von Steuban taught the men to handle rifles, bayonets, field drills, and general soldiering. With the help of interpreters, he also wrote a training manual. When the soldiers left Valley Forge in the spring, they were a new army.

Log Huts Similar To Those Built By American Continental Soldiers

Log Huts Similar To Those Built By American Continental Soldiers

The British army decided to vacate Philadelphia, and Washington pursued them into New Jersey. The Brits were not in a mood to fight, but were moving their army to New York. Washington’s army caught up with the British rear guard close to Monmouth, New Jersey, and attacked. It was a hot and deadly chase. It was also the first time an American army had fought the professional British soldiers toe-to-toe with rifles and bayonets, and did not back down. The British were the ones that left the battle field.

The Battle of Monmouth was a victory for the Americans, and I had two ancestors in that proud army.

As we celebrate another anniversary of the founding of our country, we cannot forget what George Washington and his army of men from the American back-woods managed to do. It was by the will and perseverance of those men that we became a country.

I pray it is God’s will that we can spread our message of freedom to the world for another 237 years.

In Memorium 4

ArmyPicIt was a cold January day when the doorbell rang at our little house on the dead-end of Netherwood Street. My father answered the door, and a lady presented a telegram from the War Department. There was anguish in his voice when he alerted mom, “Mother, Jimmy is dead”. My brother, Jimmy, had been killed on December 24, 1951 in Korea.

I remember these things as if it were yesterday. Everyone in the whole house went into screaming fits of crying, with my mother and father retiring to their bedroom with their grief. It was not their first son to die for his country. Their first-born, Charles, had been declared dead after missing in action in the South Pacific during World War II.

It was what every soldier’s parents fear the most. Their child will come home, no more.

Jimmy was a big guy, standing about six feet, two inches tall. He would come home from school, or delivering newspapers and throw me over his shoulder, rough-housing with me like big brothers do. He was the guy everybody liked, and he sang bass in a gospel quartet. Somewhere in our family keepsakes is a small vinyl record he and a group of soldiers cut while on leave, singing a gospel song titled, “Keep On The Firing Line”.  It was appropriate for a singer of Christian songs, and a soldier.

While in high school, Jimmy talked our parents into signing for him to join the National Guard in Memphis. This was supposed to keep him out of the war in Korea because the Guard was not expected to be called-up for active duty in that war.

The National Guard was federalized, and units from all over the country were used to bolster the fighting units having a hard time in Korea. The Memphis unit was the 196th Field Artillery. It was a battery of 155 millimeter howitzers. Those are the really big guns.

At times he would send home pictures, and one set showed a field littered with the bodies of dozens of Chinese soldiers. I don’t know how Jimmy got these pictures past the censors, but we still have them.

The 196th had been firing their howitzers for over 24 hours when it happened. Jimmy was the crew leader, and they loaded a defective round. It exploded in the gun’s breech, killing the entire gun crew. Years later as I was graduating  from college with my engineering degree, I interviewed with a unit of Sperry-Rand out of Louisiana that had manufactured ammunition for 155 mm howitzers. The interviewer told me that there had been a problem with defective ammunition they had manufactured during the Korean War.

If you remember I spoke of two brothers dying while in service to their country. I never knew the brother killed in World War II. He was also much-loved, and it was years before my father stopped going to the train station in Memphis, looking for a son who never returned from the war. I am writing about Jimmy because he is the one I knew.

Some people don’t understand why we honor our war dead. In my opinion those who don’t understand this just don’t understand honor. Honor is not something automatically given, it has to be earned. Just living a life and dying does not generate honor in and of itself. Honor is given to those who serve others.

It is this service to others we honor, and do so in memory of those who gave their lives in battle for things some people don’t understand.

July 4th In History 2

picture of American FlagJuly 4, 1776 – At the Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia, the Declaration of Independence was passed on this date. 

July 4, 1826 – Former Presidents Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on this date. Adam’s last words were, “Thomas Jefferson survives.” He did not know that Jefferson, too, was on his death bed.

July 4, 1863- The Battle of Gettysburg was fought on July 1 through July 3, and R0bert E. Lee withdrew his defeated Confederate Army on July 4 from the battlefield. 

July 4, 1863 – The Confederate Army at Vicksburg, Mississippi surrenderd to Union General Ulysses S. Grant. The entire army stacked its arms, and was furloughed, sending the Confederate soldiers home. Grant later lamented that furloughing the southern soldiers was a mistake because many of them appeared later, guns in hand, to fight him in other battles.

July 4, 1911 – 105 degrees F (41 degrees C) at Vernon, Vermont (state record)and 106 degrees F (41 degrees C) at Nashua, New Hampshire (state record). So, what makes you think that we are the only ones living through a hot summer?

Lots of things happened on this date, July 4. It was obviously a bad day for the old Confederacy, with July 4th being considered the turning point in the Civil War. Check this link for more happenings on July 4th.

Happy Fourth of July Holiday, everybody!

Georgia Politics And The American Revolution 4

picture of the three signers of the Georgia signers of The Declaration of Independence

The Georgia Signers

There were three signers of the Declaration of Independence from Georgia. These were George Walton, Lyman Hall, and Button Gwinnett.

Button Gwinnett’s signature is at the top of the first column of signatures on the bottom left of the Declaration.  His signature is one of the most sought after of all the men who were there. Gwinnett was a leader of the radical faction of the Whigs. The other Whig faction was not as enthusiastic for American independence. Those loyalists who favored British rule were called Tories.

Button Gwinnett was killed in a duel by his political enemy, Lachlan McIntosh, in May, 1777.  Both men were wounded in the duel, but McIntosh recovered and Gwinnett died three days later. His early demise less than a year after the signing has made his signature very valuable, and it may be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in today’s market.

picture of the Declaration of Independence

Declaration of Independence

Gwinnett’s second in the famous duel was my ancestor, George Wells. He was a leader of the radical Whig faction. In early 1780 as president of the executive council, Wells acted as governor when Richard Howley, Governor, and George Walton traveled to Philadelphia as representatives to the Continental Congress.

picture of Button Gwinett

Button Gwinett

George Wells was killed in a duel on February 15, 1780 by a political enemy, Major James Jackson. The politics in Georgia during the Revolution were dirty and dangerous. The leaders of the radical Whig faction, Gwinnett and Wells, although killed in duels, had a lasting effect on democratic rule in the State of Georgia.

At one time, there were three state governments in Georgia. The Tories (Loyalists) convened in Savannah, and the Whigs, of which there were two factions, convened in Augusta. It was a confusing time, and choosing the winning side could be a hazard to your health.

Gwinnett County, Georgia was named for Button Gwinnett. It is in the Atlanta metropolitan area, and is one of the fastest growing counties in the nation.