A Tour of War and Remembrance

Wall Street Journal BY JOHN BARNES Wednesday, August 24, 2005

An American in Paris sees the sights of its liberation.

PARIS–Despite having been born as recently as 1960, I have a fascination with World War II. Judging by the best-seller lists and the recent release of such films as “The Great Raid,” it seems I am scarcely alone. In recent years, that obsession has found an outlet in a surge of war-related tourism, with caravans of air-conditioned motor coaches plying the back roads of Normandy, following in the footsteps of “Saving Private Ryan” and “Band of Brothers.” Since the youngest veterans are now in their late 70s, it seems safe to say that the tour operators can’t be catering to them exclusively.
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More on Hiroshima

Hiroshima Nuclear weapons, then and now. Friday, August 5,
Wall Street Journal Online

Today–or August 6 in Japan–is the 60th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, which killed outright an estimated 80,000 Japanese and hastened World War II to its conclusion on August 15. Those of us who belong to the postwar generations tend to regard the occasion as a somber, even shameful, one. But that’s not how the generation of Americans who actually fought the war saw it. And if we’re going to reflect seriously about the bomb, we ought first to think about it as they did.

In 1945, Paul Fussell was a 21-year-old second lieutenant who’d spent much of the previous year fighting his way through Europe. At the time of Hiroshima, he was scheduled to participate in the invasion of the Japanese mainland, for which the Truman Administration anticipated casualties of between 200,000 and one million Allied soldiers…

Mr. Fussell was writing about American lives. What about Japanese lives? The Japanese army was expected to fight to the last man, as it had during the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Since the ratio of Japanese to American combat fatalities ran about four to one, a mainland invasion could have resulted in millions of Japanese deaths–and that’s not counting civilians. The March 1945 Tokyo fire raid killed about 100,000; such raids would have intensified had the war dragged on. The collective toll from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings is estimated at between 110,000 and 200,000.


Tocqueville at 200: He’d recognize much about America today

Wall Street Opinion Journal

When Alexis de Tocqueville and his traveling companion, Gustave de Beaumont, arrived in Newport, R.I., in May 1831, the country was barely 50 years old–and Tocqueville wasn’t yet 26. Andrew Jackson was president and John C. Calhoun was vice president. Politically, the event of the year was Nat Turner’s slave revolt in Virginia. Steamships existed and a primitive rail system had just come into service, but the first of the wagon trains had yet to cross the Rockies. In faraway Illinois, Abraham Lincoln, then 22, gave his first political speech (atop a beer keg) on the subject of “the navigation of the Sangamon River.”

Tocqueville’s theme was the effect of equality on the manners of man. Of course, 1830s America was far from being an equitable place: Women couldn’t vote, and there were two million slaves out of a total population of 12 million. Yet even then democracy had taken sufficient root to make its enduring characteristics clear, at least to Tocqueville’s observant eye. And what he saw in America was the future of all mankind: “To attempt to check democracy,” he wrote, “would be . . . to resist the will of God.”

Unlike his contemporary Karl Marx, however, Tocqueville did not confuse historical inevitability with utopia. He understood that the notion of equality was as compatible with tyranny as it was with freedom, a truth made plain by the experience of communist “people’s republics” in the 20th century.


Monument to Ambiguity

Wall Street Opinion Journal TOM L. FREUDENHEIM Thursday, June 16, 2005

Berlin memorializes the Holocaust and World War II.

BERLIN–Last month, this city focused on the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, part of this year’s cultural theme: “Between War and Peace.” At the Museum of European Cultures, “Die Stunde Nul” (Zero Hour) showed Berlin in the immediate postwar period–destruction, starvation, imaginative attempts at re-creating some semblance of normality–with a special focus on the various art museums, their damage from Allied bombing raids, and how much was saved and destroyed. The German Historical Museum’s “1945: The War and Its Consequences” dealt with the politics of memory in postwar Germany, East and West. And its “Legalized Robbery: The Exchequer and the Plundering of the Jews in Hessen and Berlin, 1933-1945” was truly frightening. The booklet for “Between War and Peace” lists 38 exhibitions this year for Berlin alone.

But the highlight event seems to have been the May 10 dedication of the “Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe” near the Brandenburg Gate and across from the new American Embassy. A sotto voce refrain is that it took more time to get the memorial built (17 years) than the span of the Nazi period (12 years).

It’s not as though Berlin isn’t already filled with an array of monuments to the war. Indeed, one can hardly pass down a street without confronting signs reminding one of what took place at a given location (e.g., where a notable person lived prior to emigration or expulsion, where Jews were assembled for deportation), quite aside from the various specially designed memorials.


Q. Whose Bible is it? A. Whose isn’t it?

Jane Lampman Christian Science Monitor

Today, as in the long-ago past,the scriptures may divide but, in a wider sense, they conquer

The news is brimming with religion. People of faith are taking strong stands on both sides of political issues. Jewish settlers are proclaiming a divine right to hold onto land. Evangelicals travel to tsunami-devastated corners of the world offering their faith as the answer for life’s tribulations.
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A Question of Character

Wall Street Journal Online BY BRENDAN MINITER Thursday, May 19, 2005 12:01 a.m. EDT

History is in part a tale of grand passions and great ideas–of conflict, politics and war–but it can also be a quieter chronicle of particular people following their own sense of purpose or, to use an old-fashioned word, virtue. In “A Patriot’s History of the United States,” Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen remind us what a few good individuals can do in just a few short centuries.

The virtue of the Founding Fathers, the book suggests, was in part religious. We’ve long been told that they were deists, believing only in an uninvolved God. But nearly half the men who signed the Declaration of Independence had seminary training or a seminary degree. Their God could act providentially, and their religious beliefs helped to shape their faith in republican government and the natural law that, in their view, underlay its principles. John Adams remarked that the American Revolution “connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.”


Eureka! Extraordinary discovery unlocks secrets of the ancients

The Independent By David Keys and Nicholas Pyke 17 April 2005

Thousands of previously illegible manuscripts containing work by some of the greats of classical literature are being read for the first time using technology which experts believe will unlock the secrets of the ancient world.

Among treasures already discovered by a team from Oxford University are previously unseen writings by classical giants including Sophocles, Euripides and Hesiod. Invisible under ordinary light, the faded ink comes clearly into view when placed under infra-red light, using techniques developed from satellite imaging.


Bible may return to desert monastery

Washington Times

London, England, Apr. 12 (UPI) — An international inquiry into the history of the oldest copy of the Bible could result in its return to a monastery in the Sinai Peninsula.

The 4th century Codex Sinaiticus was taken from St. Catherine’s Monastery in the 19th century by a German scholar, Constantine Tischendorf, who took 43 pages of the book to Germany and gave 347 pages to Russia’s czar. In 1933 Russia sold its 347 pages to the British, who put them in the British Library.
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A day late, but I am posting it any way since Appamatox is one the few places I have been in America that I consider “holy ground.” I am going to write an essay on this one day, but I need to do a bit more thinking about the topic before I write it. I don’t understand it enough yet. I draw the idea of “holy ground” from my experiences in Greece, where I am convinced the term reaches into something quite real. Phillipi, for example, where Paul baptized Lydia is such an area. I don’t know if its holy because Lydia was the first person baptized there, of if the ground became consecrated because of the thousands upon thousands who were baptized in the same place in the two millenia following. I think it is the latter.
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March 1 – The Articles of Confederation

Before the U.S. Constitution was written, what was the government in the United States? It was the Articles of Confederation, ratified by the States this day, March 1st, 1781. Signed by such statesmen as Ben Franklin and Roger Sherman, it was an attempt to loosely knit the thirteen States together.

The Articles of Confederation declared:

Whereas the delegates of the United States of America in Congress assembled did on the fifteenth day of November in the Year of Our Lord 1777, and in the second year of the independence of America agree on certain Articles of Confederation and perpetual union between the States…

The said states hereby severally enter into a firm league of friendship with each other, for their common defense, the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare, binding themselves to assist each other, against all force offered to, or attacks made upon them, or any of them, on account of religion, sovereignty, trade, or any other pretense…

And whereas it has pleased the Great Governor of the World to incline the hearts of the Legislatures we respectively represent in Congress, to approve of, and to authorize us to ratify the said Articles of Confederation.”



January 20 — Inaugural Addresses

2nd President John Adams stated in his Inaugural 1797:
“I feel it to be my duty to add, if a veneration for the religion of a people who profess and call themselves Christians…to consider a decent respect for Christianity among the best recommendations for the public service”

9th President William Henry Harrison stated in his Inaugural, 1841:
“I deem the present occasion sufficiently important and solemn to justify me in expressing to my fellow citizens a profound reverence for the Christian religion.”

16th President Abraham Lincoln stated in his Inaugural, 1861:
“Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him who has never yet forsaken this favored land, are still competent to adjust in the best way all our present difficulty.”

35th President John F. Kennedy stated in his Inaugural, 1961:
“The same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe – The belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.”
Kennedy’s Address was followed with prayers by a rabbi, a Protestant minister, a Catholic cardinal, a Greek Orthodox bishop, and a poem by Robert Frost.



Boston Tea Party

December 16th

The Boston Tea Party took place this day, December 16, 1773, just three years after the Boston Massacre, where the British fired into a crowd, killing five.

The British passed unbearable taxes: 1764 Sugar Act -taxing sugar, coffee, wine; 1765 Stamp Act -taxing newspapers, contracts, letters, playing cards and all printed materials; 1767 Townshend Acts -taxing glass, paints, paper; and 1773 Tea Act.
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Dec. 8th – Lincoln’s Amnesty Plan

On this day, December 8, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln announced his plan to pardon those who had been in the Confederacy.

He wrote:

Whereas it is now desired by some persons heretofore engaged in said rebellion to resume their allegiance to the United States… Therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do proclaim, declare, and make known to all persons who have, directly or by implication, participated in the existing rebellion… that a full pardon is hereby granted to them and each of them, with restoration of all rights of property…upon the condition that every such person shall take and subscribe an oath…to wit:

“I, ____ ____, do solemnly swear, in presence of Almighty God, that I will henceforth faithfully support, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Union of the States thereunder, and that I will in like manner abide by and faithfully support all acts of Congress passed during the existing rebellion with reference to slaves… and that I will in like manner abide by and faithfully support all proclamations of the President made during the existing rebellion having reference to slaves… So help me God.”



December 7, 1941 — Pearl Harbor

“December 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” Thus spoke President Franklin D. Roosevelt, following the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor by over 100 Japanese aircraft.

Five American battleships and three destroyers were sunk, 400 planes were destroyed and over 4000 were killed or wounded. President Roosevelt concluded: “Our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger. With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph. So help us God.”