Remembrance Day equals Veterans Day

Remembrance Day
Veterans Day is more aptly named Remembrance Day

Today is Remembrance Day in the Commonwealth of Nations (which includes Canada).

It is a solemn pause in the work week (I hesitate to call it a holiday) when the citizens of Europe, India, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland remember the fallen generation of the Great War (WW1).

Remember: On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month— All quiet on the Western Front.

Remembrance Day
Soldiers preparing for no-mans-land

The horror of that War, still unequalled in the lunacy of human history, was to be remembered for all time with the promise to do such things never again.

Forgive me if I rail about this misnaming every year on Armistice day.

The special day of remembrance and reflection was truly known as Armistice Day in the US until, as an example of the wisdom of Congress, the name was changed to Veterans Day in 1954.

Remembrance Day hurts

The young men of 19 tender years of age that were slaughtered in that war were to be remembered forever. The red poppy became a symbol of the dead in Flanders Fields. Here are the first two verses of the poem that made the red poppy synonymous with the Great War.

“In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Remembrance Day
Human remains are still being found 150 years later

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

 

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.”

 

Below is a video featuring LAST POST. A bugle call tied to Remembrance Day.

This past summer my wife and I visited memorials, cemeteries and battlefields in France and Belgium.

At the battle of the Somme, fought between 1 July and 18 November 1916, more than one million men were wounded or killed, making it one of the bloodiest battles in human history. It is that sacrifice that gave birth to Remembrance Day.

Remembrance Day
Vimy Ridge. The ground still looks like ocean swells from the pounding of shells 150 years ago.

What was lost.

As Americans, we were spared most of the carnage of that war. We entered the last year of the War and, while are casualties were terrible, they paled compared to the massacre of Europe, the British and French Empires.

Remembrance Day
Remembrance Day in London last year.

Perhaps that is why the date is still honored in Canada with its original meaning. Newfoundland, part of the Commonwealth of Nations but not yet (in 1916) part of Canada, had 100% casualties at the Somme.

Every young man from that small province was lost. An entire generation was lost and honored on Remembrance Day.

Never again.

Visit Ypres, the Somme, or Vimy Ridge and those young men who died so young 150 years ago live again. The land is still twisted and scarred.

The dead still lie inches beneath the soil and in perfectly manicured graveyards. Over 1,000 of them. I visited too many to count.

Do we lose something important in our history lesson by calling Remembrance Day (Armistice Day)? Is it Veterans Day? I think we do. We lose the main idea of the day— to reflect on the great losses and promise never again. It is the promise part we miss.

Politically ignorant generation of sheep

Are we the generation of the politically ignorant?

politically ignorantThe word ignorant gets its root from the word ignore. Someone who is ignorant is someone who ignores. Because we ignore, we are politically ignorant.

I worry about the future of my government because I live with generations of the ignorant. We have almost no sources of news today other than the slimy slanted broadcast news stations and broadcast news centers.

Things have changed and not all change is progress.

When I was a young person, the TV networks took news seriously. The vision of Walter Annenberg attempted to present the top news stories of the day in 30-minute segments every evening.

Some even adopted 60-minute formats and news anchors tried to present the facts. Editorial content was reserved for a few small moments every few weeks when the station’s editorial staff expressly present an opinion piece.

Politically ignorant was not Walter CronkiteThere were inherent reasons why this format worked. Americans, by and large, received or purchased a daily newspaper. These papers subscribed to international bureaus like the AP or UPI and the larger papers had reporters stationed all over the globe, collecting, dissecting and evaluating the validity of the world’s happenings.

The broadcast news bureaus were not designated as profit centers. They were part of the station’s charter to serve the public interest. No one confused or polluted the broadcasts or segments as entertainment. Few were politically ignorant.

When CBS, NBC, and ABC covered the political conventions, the news anchor (like Walter Cronkite or David Brinkley) watched the event and acted as a master of ceremony diverting the live cameras to the stories taking place on the convention floor.

Everyday beat reporters, like the soon to become famous Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw, asked hard hitting questions of Mayor Daley or Everett Dirkson.

What do we have today?

Drivel. Politically ignorant drivel.

Panels of talking heads replay scripted spin. The conventions themselves lack the drama of even the Academy Awards. The reason? All the outcomes and decisions are known before the convention itself. The result is ignorance.

Politically ignorantWho needs to make a considered decision when you can tune into any specific political broadcast and see and hear only from proselytizers and pundits that already agree with your pre-determined decisions?

How many Americans believe that Jon Stewart, Bill Maher and Bill O’Reilly are newsmen?

This lack of discourse makes ignorance comfortable and worse still acceptable. How many of you have heard of the Pulitzer Prize-winning web site called Politifact? It is a web site dedicated to political fact checking. It looks for misinformation on both sides of the aisle.

Today, if you are unhappy with the way government is working (or not working), I say that we get the government we deserve. And we deserve the government we get.

the results of being politically ignorantI am NOT outraged over Donald Trump’s political comments concerning Russians and emails. I AM outraged that his supporters are not providing any political incentives or consequences to stop this unfiltered crap.

Political benefits at what cost? Diplomacy works only through back doors not through bullying tactics. As a nation, we pretend to abhor bulling in our schools but we seem to have no problem rewarding it in the important geopolitical arena.

So what is the end result of political thought that is unchallenged and ignored? History tells us the unbelievable and the inconceivable happens when rational objection and forethought goes out the window.

When it is suggested that we could make ourselves safer and preserve our culture… the silent majority nods in agreement. Let’s put the Jews in camps.

Brexit succession means nobody wins

The unthinkable happened with Brexit

Brexit is racismBrexit was a bloodless civil war. We have come along way (or have we?). Time was an obscure Archduke could be assassinated in Bosnia and the whole world would be dragged into a global war later called the First World War in history books.

In 1861, the United States of America began a bloody struggle to decide the legality of succession. We called that fight the Civil War and it took four blood soaked years and millions of lives to settle. In the end, the decision was made that no state was sovereign enough to resign its place in the United States.

Shelby Foote famously said that, before the Civil War, people said the United States “Is” and after the Civil War they said The United States “Are”.

Yesterday, the United Kingdom VOTED to leave the European Union. In our Twitter world, the vote was shortened to Brexit. It is an example of how blind nationalism can cloud judgment and how people will emotionally vote for things that in the long term are not in their own best interest. I wonder if Scotland wishes it had another shot at their historic vote to remain in the United Kingdom? Scotexit never became a word.

Brexit means?

Brexit winsI think a great deal of world stability will be shaken by this vote. I can see further troubles stirring in Northern Ireland again. I believe the uncertainty in the world’s monetary systems will shake rattle and roll the financial markets for a while as the global community tries to discount this tsunami of change. Everything we have come to rely on in this global world has been challenged.

But the reason I write this is because NO ONE doubts the RIGHT of the UK to secede (not to be confused in any way with succeed).

In the US, we thought the illegality of succession was decided and written in blood 150 years ago. Americans believe we have a corner on the market when it comes to freedom and liberty. We are wrong.

Freedom of self-determination was just exercised in Europe to an extent we can’t even fathom in the US. Had this RIGHT been self evident, I would be penning this blog in the Confederate States of America because I live in North Carolina—a state that lost 1 out of every 4 casualties at Gettysburg  during the Civil War.

To me, it does not matter if you think the American Civil War was fought over state’s rights or slavery. The impetus for the temporary dissolution of the United States in the late 1800’s was due to a racist issue.

I think the same is true for Brexit.

Racist underpinnings

I don’t believe it was so much an economic issue as it was over a war on immigration. The UK did not want Europe dictating immigration policy. They just don’t want THEM settling in the UK any more.  Think about it, the UK never surrendered their currency to the Euro. The Pound  Sterling remained.

BrexitSo much for economics driving succession.

I find Brexit a sad move. Not for all the obvious reason of a common market and ease of travel. I find it sad that bigotry wins anywhere and under any circumstances.

You can have your DNA tested for just a couple of dollars (or Euros or pounds) these days. It points to your REAL ancestry.

Funny, the differences are very small. We all began in Africa and are very much the same. Only the adopted and insignificant drapery of religious preference and favorite cuisine separates us all one from another.

Pearl Harbor changed us all

On the eve of the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, President Obama addressed the American public last night on ISIS, terrorism and the world we have live in now.

As today is the 74th anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor, it’s important to remember that it was another moment in which America entered a new, more dangerous world – just as we did on September 11, 2001.

Pearl Harbor
America was never the same after the attacks on Pearl Harbor.

It may be surprising to some that American in the pre-Pearl Harbor days was much different than what it became after World War II. I’m not just talking about the realization that there are evils in the world or the technological innovations that arose from the war.

Before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, we were, in essence, isolationists. Not to the extreme of the Chinese or anything, but America was an oasis. We were separate from the problems of the rest of the world and very reluctant to enter, what was known then, as the war in Europe.

There was a whole movement, a large one, to keep us out of that war – and it was working. The attacks at Pearl Harbor changed all that. We entered the war and, fighting in tandem with our allies, the Axis powers were defeated years later.

Where the attacks of Pearl Harbor eventually led us.

But nothing was the same. We were no longer isolationists and, instead, became a superpower, surpassing the British Empire and leading to our distrust of the other emerging superpower, the Soviet Union.

We became a citizen of the world. We became the protector, looked to by some to be the side of right against wrongs of other powers.

It’s not too far of a stretch to say that Pearl Harbor, which put us into World War II and transformed us into a superpower, would eventually lead to our fighting in Korea and Vietnam to protect the world against Communism, and now to battling terrorism in Iraq, Afghanistan and, to some extent, Syria. Even when an ally, such as France is attacked, we are not isolationists.

Pearl Harbor started us on the road to where we are now, both good and bad. The attacks remain one of the most transforming events in our nation’s history.

The attacks of Pearl Harbor should not be forgotten, which is a concern because many of those who were at Pearl Harbor or fought in WWII are leaving us now. It’s the nature of history that some events eventually fade into the past.

But Pearl Harbor was more than significant. It changed all of our lives.

Paris terrorism and the brand of France

Paris terrorism and the French brand

Paris terrorismFirstly, I want to say that I am not a Francophile. I travel all over the globe on business and enjoy France no more or no less than I do the UK, Italy, Ireland, Germany, Austria and every other nation I am privileged to visit. Oddly though, France has a brand that certainly rivals the US in its values on liberty and freedom. The recent Paris terrorism attacks have upset me to no end. The troubled human beings from ISIS could have picked no better target than Paris when attacking freedom of speech and liberty. They also could not have been more mistaken in the outcome of such a tragic attack. They forgot the French promise of Liberté, égalité, fraternité.

I think France today enjoys the same world-wide sympathy that the US had after 9/11. Everyone feels for this city and country. All of us expect the French to exact retribution and never back down. Paris terrorism will not go unpunished or unresolved.

Paris Terrorism
Charles DeGaulle

We should remember that France has been a willing and exemplary symbol of freedom for immigration. Freedom has a cost and France has always been willing to fall on the sword for such deep rooted beliefs. In my lifetime, I remember the frustration that the US had for many years with Charles de Gaulle, the oft times President of France who seemed never willing to tow the line. He marched France to a different drummer and certainly represented the independent nature of the nation he represented.

Paris terrorism will leave the French undaunted

So what does the brand of France mean today?  It means that it will move heaven and earth to root out and bring to justice the perpetrators in this crime. It means it will take an active roll on the war with ISIS and it means the French will still pay strict adherence to their precept of liberté, égalité, fraternité. Count on France to lead the way in demonstrating how no bad apples will force them to give up its principles. In this, France continues to have my continual reverence. Vive la France!

For your consideration, I am including the lyrics from La Marseillaise the rousing French National Anthem. I have also included a recording form the legendary movie Casablanca when the French patrons at Rick’s Café drowned out the occupying Germans from singing about their fatherland. Even today, this clip gives me goosebumps.

 

Allons enfants de la Patrie,                      Arise, children of the Fatherland,

Le jour de gloire est arrivé !                    The day of glory has arrived!

Contre nous de la tyrannie,                     Against us tyranny’s

L’étendard sanglant est levé, (bis)         Bloody banner is raised, (repeat)

Entendez-vous dans les campagnes       Do you hear, in the countryside,

Mugir ces féroces soldats ?                       The roar of those ferocious soldiers?

Ils viennent jusque dans vos bras            They’re coming right into your arms

Égorger vos fils, vos compagnes !            To cut the throats of your sons, your women!

 

Aux armes, citoyens,                                  To arms, citizens,

Formez vos bataillons,                               Form your battalions,

Marchons, marchons !                               Let’s march, let’s march!

Qu’un sang impur                                       Let an impure blood

Abreuve nos sillons ! (bis)                         Water our furrows! (Repeat)