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June 7, 2011
When experts agreeBy Greyhawk
Watch this, children
So, the Boston Herald quotes experts saying Sarah Palin was right about Paul Revere. Will the He Man Palin Haterz Klub throw in the towel?
Of course not. I mean, was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor!?!?!? No!
So ABC TV found some experts of their own! "Experts Dispute Sarah Palin's Midnight Ride Account, Agree Paul Revere Did Not Warn the British."
"He didn't warn the British," said James Giblin, author of "The Many Rides of Paul Revere." "That's her most obvious blooper."
Okay, really he's the only expert they found willing to say Paul Revere didn't warn the British. And really, he said "He wasn't really warning the British..." I believe that interpretation/hedging hinges on the point that Revere didn't say the actual words "I'm warning you there will soon be 500 men here" - he just said there would soon be 500 men... I mean, you see the difference, right?
Yeah, me neither. I've warned people (especially my kids) about lots of things, but I don't recall saying the words "I'm warning you..." every time I did. But Revere's warning rises above mere "boasting about the capabilities" because while his numbers were an underestimate the obvious point he was making was true and he knew it. The colonists weren't improvising a response; they'd been long preparing for just this day (geesh - Americans used to know what "Minute Men" were all about... or maybe it's just because the bicentennial was part of my childhood) and the Brits were marching into a massacre. (About which, having warned them, his conscience would be clear.)
But lets turn to Giblin's book The Many Rides Of Paul Revere. Before we do, understand that ABC TeeVee doesn't mention this, but it's a children's book (recommended reading level: ages 9-12) - one of many kidlit works he's authored, like Charles A. Lindbergh: A Human Hero ("Adventurer, family man, environmentalist, Nazi apologist, Giblin gives us a sense of the complete man in this balanced portrait..."), or The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler ("It takes courage to write fairly about the person who perpetuated almost certainly the most suffering and misery in the 20th century, and Giblin accepts this mantle and bears it nobly... "), The Rise and Fall of Senator Joe McCarthy ("repeatedly cites Wikipedia"), and even The Giblin Guide to Writing Children's Books - Fourth Edition. (Palin better watch her mouth - ABC TeeVee has found a one-man expert on everybody!) I'm not sure why they left out that his The Many Rides of Paul Revere is a kiddy book, I think it's useful information for adults looking for something for their nine-year-olds to read. (This one is less than 100 pages of large type, so a sharp seven or eight year old could probably handle it, too. And if the following quotes sound a little more grown up than what you're used to hearing from television, that's why.)
This is from the chapter titled "Captured."
So Revere "told" them and "predicted" - not warned. (Even an eight year old could see that - so nah nah nah boo boo to Sarah Palin from ABC!) Then later, after they heard shots from the vicinity of Lexington, the officer realized...
He and his men would have to move more quickly if the advancing troops were to be warned in time.
...so they let Paul and the other prisoners go, so they could get to their friends and warn them about Paul's prediction.
Nice work, ABC. You get a gold star smiley face sticker for history class today.
Posted by Greyhawk / June 7, 2011 7:35 AM | Permalink
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...)
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