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December 6, 2010
Remembering Pearl HarbourBy Greyhawk
(That's not a spelling error in the title - that's how some remember it...)
Chuckle if you wish, but the key word is foreign. American wars are another thing entirely.
Jump forward a decade from the days of that campaign promise. Were you a shopper on that day, the cover of the February 27, 1950 issue of Life magazine might have caught your eye. If you weren't already a subscriber and had the 20 cents to spare (just two thin dimes, bearing - since 1946 - an image of former President Roosevelt) you might even have purchased it.
Thumbing through it later you'd find something for everyone. Attention, ladies: the little red dress may prove the 50's first fashion classic. Couldn't care less? Well, for those more interested in fancy gadgets, a brief piece on the color television controversy:
Next week Washington's federal Communications Commission will resume the stormy hearings which it began last fall and will decide whether color TV is ripe for the U.S. public. As a traffic cop, assigning "channels" for nation-wide civilian and military radio communications, the FCC has to set engineering standards for all television including color. Until these related problems of channeling and engineering can be licked, the FCC has declared a freeze on TV and is withholding permits on new stations.
"Upon the FCC hearings depends not only the immediate future of color TV," the reader was cautioned, "but the progress of television itself." There were three competing technologies for delivering color TV into American homes, and the government had to pick a winner. It was eventually all sorted out - and twenty years later (at about the same time Life magazine sales began their death plunge) color sets were becoming common household fixtures. (While none were color, in 1950 there were six million televisions in the United States!)
Between the ads promoting consumption of various alcoholic beverages you'd also find a brief article - complete with diagrams - explaining the results of an atomic bomb attack on a U.S. city. (Short version: Bad.) Longer, more in-depth features explained the development of that world-ending weapon, examined the threat the Reds posed to American security, and speculated on how big and well-equipped our post-war military (North Korea's surprise invasion of South Korea was still a couple of months away...) should be.
Along with all that, an exclusive pre-publication excerpt from volume three of Winston Churchill's World War Two memoirs...
...opening with events of December 7, 1941, the day that - for Americans - the foreign war became foreign no more. That Sunday evening, in one of those coincidences that fuels the conspiracy theorist's fires, Mr. Churchill was at Chequers - the official country residence of British Prime Ministers - enjoying the company of Averell Harriman, at that time President Roosevelt's special envoy to Europe, and U.S. Ambassador to Britain John Gilbert Winant (who had replaced Joe Kennedy in that position when the father of the American political dynasty found himself - in the company of many notable British politicians - on the wrong side of history in the earlier days of the war).
"It was Sunday evening, December 7, 1941." Churchill recalled...
Of course, most who read that issue of Life when it was new had their own personal recollections of that day. You can read the entire copy of that issue of Life here, free of charge. (Pat yourself twice on the back if you saved your two shiny new dimes back then - they are now worth almost 13 times their face value to collectors.)
Not long after that December Sunday Mr. Churchill was off to America, where - on the day after Christmas, 1941 - he explained to Congress that now we are masters of our fate. Had there been television at the time, the viewer might have tuned in to something like this:
Posted by Greyhawk / December 6, 2010 2:30 PM | Permalink
"...an uncomfortable alliance of isolationists, pacifists, enemies of England, opponents of Roosevelt and friends of Germany."The Committee itself had been created by two Yale students. (One, Robert Douglas Stuart Jr., a 24 year old Princeton graduate... Read More
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
Furthermore, I will occasionally use satire or parody herein. The bottom line: it's my house.
I like having visitors to my house. I hope you are entertained. I fight for your right to free speech, and am thrilled when you exercise said rights here. Comments and e-mails are welcome, but all such communication is to be assumed to be 1)the original work of any who initiate said communication and 2)the property of the Mudville Gazette, with free use granted thereto for publication in electronic or written form. If you do NOT wish to have your message posted, write "CONFIDENTIAL" in the subject line of your email.
Original content copyright © 2003 - 2011 by Greyhawk. Fair, not-for-profit use of said material by others is encouraged, as long as acknowledgement and credit is given, to include the url of the original source post. Other arrangements can be made as needed.
Contact: greyhawk at mudvillegazette dot com