Christmas 1944: Battle of the Bulge

In 1944 at Christmas the American and German armies were fighting it out in the Battle of the Bulge, the last German offensive of the War.

Patton’s Third Army fought its way through to relieve the Americans desperately fighting to defeat the attacking German forces.  The weather was atrocious and Allied air power was useless.  Patton had a prayer written for good weather.  Patton prayed the prayer, the scene from the movie Patton depicting this may be viewed here.  The skies cleared after Patton prayed the weather prayer, and Allied air power was unleashed on the attacking Germans.

During the Battle of the Bulge, the 101rst Airborne Division made a heroic stand at Bastogne from December 20-27 which helped turn the tide of the battle.  On December 25, a packed midnight mass was held in Bastogne, with Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe, who commanded the 101rst troops at Bastogne, in attendance.  Afterwards the General listened to German POWS singing Silent Night, and wished them a Merry Christmas.

General McAuliffe issued a memorable Christmas message to his troops: (more…)

Published in: on December 20, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off  
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Well That Was Humbling

(This was originally posted over at The American Catholic.  I thought the history mavens at Almost Chosen People might like to try their hands at science!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Christian Science Monitor has a science quiz.  I found it rather rough.  I got 37 out of 50 right, and I am afraid quite a few of my correct answers were attributable to my knowledge of history, familiarity with Greek and Latin terms, and good guessing.  Go here to take it, and report back to us in the thread below with the results!

Published in: on December 19, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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Canadians in the American Civil War

A little known fact about our Civil War is how many of our neighbors to the North participated in it.  Some 33,000-55,000 Canadians came south to fight for the Union, and a few hundred Canadians went further south to fight for the Confederacy. Some 29 Canadian soldiers fighting for the Union earned the newly created Medal of Honor.  The Civil War had a major impact on Canadian history.  The confederation of Canada was created in 1867, and the fathers of the confederation, believing that too strong states had helped lead to the American Civil War, ensured the establishment of a strong federal government in Canada. (more…)

Published in: on December 18, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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We Three Kings of Orient Are

Something for the weekend.  We Three Kings Of Orient Are.  Written in 1857 for a Christmas pageant his nieces and nephews were appearing in, this hymn written by John Henry Hopkins, Jr., an Episcopalian deacon, did not see print until 1863 in the midst of the Civil War and immediately struck a chord with the American people.  Since then, year in and year out, it has remained one of the favorite American Christmas hymns. (more…)

Published in: on December 17, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off  
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Washington at Bay

Each year, as Christmas is approaching, I think of a Christmas long ago in 1776.  The year in which we declared our independence from Great Britain was a year of military disaster for the United States.  Washington and his troops had been beaten time after time, and as the end of the year approached the Revolution seemed to be dying.  The British controlled New York, the largest city in the colonies and the major port.  New Jersey had been conquered.  The Continental Congress was in flight from Philadelphia, in expectation that the British would next move on that city.  Washington’s army had been reduced to around 3,000 ill-clad and ill-fed poorly trained troops, vastly outnumbered by their British adversaries and their Hessian mercenaries, all well-trained, well equipped, well clad and well fed.  Defeat seemed all but inevitable to all but Washington.  In this hour of doom, he rallied his troops and launched the Trenton-Princeton campaign, which restored the morale of his Army, liberated much of New Jersey, and put new heart to American patriots everywhere.  Washington had worked a military miracle.

The feat is all the more impressive, in that privately Washington was well-aware of the odds against him, and feared that defeat was probably likely.  We see that in two letters he wrote on December 10 and 17, 1776, to his nephew Lund Washington, who ran Mount Vernon in his absence: (more…)

Published in: on December 16, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off  
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Ernie Pyle Remembers Clark Kent

Withywindle at Athens and Jerusalem has a spectacular reminiscence by reporter Ernie Pyle of his encounters with Clark Kent during World War II:

We were on a press plane flying from England down to North Africa just after the troops landed in forty two. The ride was bumpy and we were passing around a bottle of whiskey. I offered it to this big man in the back, and he said, “No thanks, Mr. Pyle, I’m tee-total.” But he said it in a friendly way that didn’t seem stuck up at all. I said, “You know my name, but I don’t know yours. Who are you?” Somebody else said, “You don’t know him, Ernie? That’s Clark Kent, the one who did all those Superman stories.” I whistled, because those had been good pieces, and because I could see how young Kent must have been when he wrote them. I took a longer look at him. Big man, handsome man. He looked like he could have been a football player or a movie star. Half Johnny Weissmuller, half Gregory Peck. “I liked those,” I said. “I always wondered how you got that particular interview.” “It wasn’t easy,” Kent said to me solemnly. “First I had to find out where his favorite bar was. Then I had to buy him a drink. And he wouldn’t talk to me until I put a cape on.” He looked at me so seriously that I knew this was God’s own truth—and then he grinned, that wonderful smile that lit up his face and made everyone fall in love with him, even sergeants soaked in vinegar who weren’t that fond of their own mothers. I whooped until my guts hurt and after that he was the best friend I had in the war. (more…)

Published in: on December 15, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off  
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December 14, 1861: Death of Prince Albert

Prince Albert, husband and consort of Queen Victoria, died one hundred and fifty years ago.  Only 42, he died of typhoid fever, a mass killer in the nineteenth century in crowded cities like London.  In November of 1861 he had arisen from what would become his death-bed to tone down a British ultimatum over the seizure of two Confederate diplomats, Mason and Slidell, from a British mail steamer the Trent by the USS San Jacinto, in what has come down in history as the Trent Affair: (more…)

Published in: on December 14, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off  
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Obama =Theodore Roosevelt

(We normally avoid current politics here at Almost Chosen People, but I posted this at The American Catholic and I thought our history mavens here might get a kick out of it.)

The death-knell of the Republic had rung as soon as the active power became lodged in the hands of those who sought, not to do justice to all citizens, rich and poor alike, but to stand for one special class and for its interests as opposed to the interests of others.

                                     Theodore Roosevelt

Well, I see that President Obama is seeking to emulate Theodore Roosevelt.   I have been thinking about it, and Obama is exactly the same as Roosevelt.  Let us count the ways:

1.   Theodore Roosevelt raised the Rough Riders regiment and was awarded the medal of honor for his extreme heroism in leading the charges of the Rough Riders up Kettle Hill and San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War.  He was the only man mounted in that fight and it is a miracle he survived.  All accounts testify to his complete contempt for death that day.  Obama was a community organizer in Chicago, a town noted for inclement weather.

2.   Theodore Roosevelt was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for taking the lead in the negotiations which led to the treaty ending the Russo-Japanese War.  Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for not being George Bush.

3.    Theodore Roosevelt wrote 43 books, his favorite topic being America, the land that he loved.  Obama has thus far written two books on the subject that he loves above all else, himself.

4.     Theodore Roosevelt was a highly religious man who regularly attended church.  Obama engages in regular morning worship when he looks in the mirror to shave.

5.    Theodore Roosevelt engaged in a never-ending battle against political corruption throughout his career.  Obama and his associates have helped provide work for prosecutors investigating political corruption. (more…)

Published in: on December 13, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments (5)  
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Go For Broke

My wife gave me for my birthday  last year a compilation collection of 15 World War II films.  I immediately noticed one of the titles:  Go For Broke (1951).  It had been over thirty years since I last viewed that film and I watched it and greatly enjoyed it.

Go For Broke, tells the story of the 442nd regimental combat team during World War II.  Made up of first generation Japanese-Americans, Nisei, the 442nd, along with the 100th Infantry battalion, made up of Nisei from Hawaii and which became associated with the 442nd, fought in Italy, France and Germany.   Many of the Japanese-American actors in the film were combat veterans of the 442nd which lends the film a very realistic, almost documentary feel, especially in the combat sequences.

The film opens in 1943 at Camp Shelby, Mississippi where the men of the 442nd are being trained. Van Johnson, portraying Lieutenant Michael Grayson, is a “90 day wonder”, an enlisted man commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant after completing a 90 days officer’s candidate school.  Prior to officer’s candidate school he had been a member of the 36th National Guard Division, one of several National Guard units from Texas that fought in World War II, sometimes waggishly refered to as the Texan Army.   Grayson was hoping that he would be reassigned to the 36th and is dismayed to find that he will be leading Japanese-American troops, sharing to the full the prejudice that most Americans felt against everything Japanese following Pearl Harbor.  He immediately asks Colonel Charles W. Pence, portrayed by Warner Anderson, for a transfer to the 36th.  Pence quickly realizes, despite the denials of Grayson, that he is prejudiced against the Japanese-Americans, and informs him in no uncertain terms that his men are loyal Americans, that there will no be transfer, and that he is to take up his duties as a platoon commander, a 40 man unit, immediately.  The scene shifts to the platoon, where the men are relaxing in the barracks.  Other than their ancestry, and different slang, viewers quickly realize that they are like other American soldiers, griping about the Army, wondering what is going on back home, playing craps, etc.  Grayson and his men are a poor fit initially, but he does his job and helps turn them into soldiers. (more…)

Published in: on December 12, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off  
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The True Meaning of Christmas

A Charlie Brown Christmas was first broadcast in 1965 on CBS.  I was 8 years old and I was stunned at the time by the passage of Linus quoting the Gospel of Luke in explaining the true meaning of Christmas.  Apparently CBS excutives wanted to cut this passage out, but Charles Schulz, normally a fairly non-confrontational man, was adamant that it remain in. (more…)

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