June 21-23 1864: First Battle of Weldon Railroad

Petersburg_June21-22

With the War in the East now centering on the siege of Petersburg, Lee faced the daunting problem of protecting the rail lines that kept Petersburg, Richmond and his army supplied.  It took no military genius to realize that if the Union captured those rail lines, Lee’s position would be rendered untenable.  So that is what Grant promptly commenced to do.  The II and VI Corps were tasked with seizing, and destroying as much of the Weldon Railroad as they could take.

Skirmishing occurred on June 21 as the II Corps probed toward the rail line.   On June 22 both the II and the VI corps advanced towards the railroad, with rugged terrain causing a gap to open up between the corps.  Confederate Brigadier General William Mahone concealed his division in a ravine and launched an attack on the rear of the II Corps which wreaked havoc until the lines stabilized by nightfall. (more…)

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June 20, 1985: Medal of Freedom for the Saint of the Gutters

Mother-Teresa

We are misunderstood, we are misrepresented, we are misreported. We are not nurses, we are not doctors, we are not teachers, we are not social workers. We are religious, we are religious, we are religious.

 

Mother Teresa

A third of a century ago President Reagan awarded Saint Teresa of Calcutta the Medal of Freedom:

The President. This great house receives many great visitors, but none more special or more revered than our beloved guest today. A month ago, we awarded the Medal of Freedom to 13 heroes who have done their country proud. Only one of the recipients could not attend because she had work to do — not special work, not unusual work for her, but everyday work which is both special and urgent in its own right. Mother Teresa was busy, as usual, saving the world. And I mean that quite literally. And so we rather appreciated her priorities, and we’re very happy, indeed, that she could come to America this week.

Now, a moment ago, I said we’d awarded the Medal of Freedom to heroes who’ve done our country proud. And I believe Mother Teresa might point out here that she is most certainly not an American but a daughter of Yugoslavia, and she has not spent her adult life in this country but in India. However, it simply occurred to us when we wanted to honor her that the goodness in some hearts transcends all borders and all narrow nationalistic considerations.

Some people, some very few people are, in the truest sense, citizens of the world; Mother Teresa is. And we love her so much we asked her to accept our tribute, and she graciously accepted. And I will now read the citation.

Most of us talk about kindness and compassion, but Mother Teresa, the saint of the gutters, lives it. As a teenager, she went to India to teach young girls. In time, Mother Teresa began to work among the poor and the dying of Calcutta. Her order of the Missionaries of Charity has spread throughout the world, serving the poorest of the poor.

Mother Teresa is a heroine of our times. And to the many honors she has received, including the Nobel Peace Prize, we add, with deep affection and endless respect, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

[At this point, the President presented the award to Mother Teresa.]

May I say that this is the first time I’ve given the Medal of Freedom with the intuition that the recipient might take it home, melt it down and turn it into something that can be sold to help the poor. [Laughter]

And I want to thank you for something, Mother Teresa. Your great work and your life have inspired so many Americans to become personally involved, themselves, in helping the poor. So many men and women in every area of life, in government and the private sector, have been led by the light of your love, and they have given greatly of themselves. And we thank you for your radiant example. (more…)

Published in: on June 20, 2018 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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A Chicken in Every Pot

 

Chicken has long been a favorite dish on the tables of Americans.  Republicans took advantage of this with their campaign slogan in 1928 of “A Chicken in every pot, and a car in every garage.”  The saying goes back at least to Henry IV, King of France in the early Seventeenth Century, who wished that his kingdom would be so prosperous that every peasant could have a chicken in his pot for Sunday dinner.

 

Democrat candidate for President AL Smith mocked the slogan:

 

‘Republican prosperity has reduced hours and increased earning capacity.’ And then it goes on to say, ‘Republican prosperity has put a chicken in every pot and a car in every backyard to boot’…Here’s another good one for you. ‘Republican efficiency has filled the working-mans dinner pail and his gasoline tank besides, and placed the whole nation in the Silk stocking class’…

Interesting how memory of the slogan entered the collective memory of the nation while most campaign slogans are utterly forgotten a few years after a campaign,

Published in: on June 19, 2018 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Incredibles 2: A Review

 

 

My family and I went to see Incredibles 2 on Saturday.  Most sequels I find disappointing, but this one more than lived up to my expectations.  Review below the fold and the caveat as to spoilers is in full effect: (more…)

Published in: on June 18, 2018 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Mother of Father’s Day

 

One windy March night in the late ’90s, Mr. Smart, a grief-stricken father just returned from burying his wife, sat with bowed head in the front room of this farmhouse in the rolling hills of the Big Bend, near Spokane. Knowing nothing of the finality of death, the children looked toward the door, expecting their mother’s return momentarily. Finally one lad, frantic, rushed out into the snow to seek her in the woods. His father roused himself, went out into the snow to seek the boy, and finding him, brought him back to mother him before the fire. From that moment, he became both mother and father to the six children.

Sonora Smart Dodd, 1942

 

 

 

 

Sonora Smart Dodd always admired her father.  One of six children, her mother died giving birth to her sixth, and her father, Civil War veteran, he fought on both sides, and farmer, William Jackson Smart, was left to rear the children.  Eldest child, sixteen at her mother’s death, and only daughter, Sonora helped, and the task of raising her five brothers was accomplished in grand style.  Sonora never lost her admiration for her father, and on June 19, 1910 in Spokane, Washington she held the first Father’s Day.  The observance attracted the attention of such luminaries as William Jennings Bryan and Woodrow Wilson, but the date was not officially established until 1966 by Presidential Proclamation as being held on the third Sunday in June.  Sonora Smart Dodd lived to see it, dying in 1978 at age 95.

 

 

 

Published in: on June 17, 2018 at 5:03 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Incredibles

Something for the weekend.  The theme song from The Incredibles (2004).  My bride and I saw The Incredibles with our kids back in 2004 and greatly enjoyed it.  We will be seeing Incredibles 2 this weekend with our now adult kids, and a close friend of the family who has been an unofficial “aunt” of the kids since their birth.  Time is a river and in this Vale of Tears we can simply enjoy the view.

 

 

Full review of the movie to follow later next week.

Published in: on June 16, 2018 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Quotes Suitable For Framing: Vera Brittain

 

 

One day) I was leaving quarters to go back to my ward, when I had to wait to let a large contingent of troops march past me… Though the sight of soldiers marching was now too familiar to arouse curiosity, an unusual quality of bold vigour in their swift stride caused me to stare at them with puzzled interest.

They looked larger than ordinary men; their tall straight figures were in vivid contrast to the undersized armies of pale recruits to which we were grown accustomed…Had yet another regiment been conjured out of our depleted Dominions? I wondered, watching them move with such rhythm, such dignity, such serene consciousness of self-respect. But I knew the colonial troops so well, and these were different: they were assured where the Australians were aggressive, self-possessed where the New Zealanders were turbulent.

Then I heard an excited exclamation from a group of Sisters behind me, “Look! Look! Here are the Americans!”

I pressed forward with the others to watch the United States physically entering the War, so god-like, so magnificent, so splendidly unimpaired in comparison with the tired, nerve-wracked men of the British Army. So these were our deliverers at last, marching up the road to Camiers in the spring sunshine! … The coming of relief made me realize all at once how long and how intolerable had been the tension, and with the knowledge that we were not, after all, defeated, I found myself beginning to cry.

Vera Brittain, Testament of Youth

Published in: on June 15, 2018 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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A Priest Born on Flag Day

One of the most highly decorated chaplains of World War II, Father Elmer W. Heindl used to joke that his decorations were simply due to him being in the wrong place at the right time.  Born on June 14, 1910 in Rochester, New York, the oldest of six children, Heindl decided at an early age that he was meant to be a priest and was ordained on June 6, 1936.  He said that being born on Flag Day indicated to him that during his life he would do something to honor the Stars and Stripes.

In March of 1942 he joined the Army as a chaplain.  Assigned to the 2nd Battalion of th 148th infantry attached to the 37th Division, he served on Guadalcanal, New Georgia and in the Philippines.  He quickly gained a reputation for utter fearlessness under fire, giving the last Rites, tending the wounded and rescuing wounded under fire.    In regard to the Last Rites, Father Heindl noted that he did not have time to check dog tags to see if a dying soldier was a Catholic.  “Every situation was an instant decision.  You didn’t have time to check his dog tag to see whether he was Catholic or not. I’d say, in Latin, ‘If you’re able and willing to receive this sacrament, I give it to you.’ And then leave it up to the Lord.”

He earned a Bronze Star on New Georgia when on July  19 and July 23 he conducted burial services, although in constant danger from Japanese sniper fire.  The citation noted that his cheerful demeanor and courage inspired the troops who encountered him.

During the liberation of the Philippines, Captain Heindl participated in the bitter fighting in Manila.  He earned a Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest award for valor in the United States Army, during the fighting at Bilibid prison to liberate American and Filipino POWs who had been through horrors at the hands of their Japanese captors that I truly hope the readers of this post would find literally unimaginable.  Here is the Distinguished Service Cross citation: (more…)

Published in: on June 14, 2018 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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June 1918: The High Tide

 

Looking at a map of the Western Front a hundred years ago would have been depressing for a supporter of the Allied cause.  The Germans were only 39 miles from Paris, and they had made huge gains in Flanders and Northern France since the beginning of the year.  However, the German losses in assault troops were immense and the momentum of the offensives could not be maintained long enough to prove decisive.  This week a hundred years agp the Germans would begin Operation Gneisenau and make an impressive gain of nine miles along the Matz River.  An impromptu French counter-offensive at Compiegne on June 11 under French General Charles Mangin, however, brought the German offensive to an abrupt end after two days.  The Germans had one more offensive scheduled for July 1918.  If that did not bring them victory, the fortunes of war would swing to the Allies.

 

Published in: on June 13, 2018 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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June 12, 1987: Tear Down This Wall

Ronald Reagan, champion of freedom, the greatest President of my lifetime.  That was a President, when comes another?

 

Published in: on June 12, 2018 at 5:43 pm  Leave a Comment  
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