Category Archives: History

Woefully Ignorant

By lex, on September 3rd, 2009

Glenn Greewald (et al.) may or may not be an exceptional constitutional lawyer – I’m ill equipped to judge – but he really ought to steer clear of military history. The leading sentence to his most recent jeremiad * really says it all:

There was a time, not all that long ago, when the U.S. pretended that it viewed war only as a “last resort,” something to be used only when absolutely necessary to defend the country against imminent threats.

I’m trying to imagine what era Greenwald is thinking of: Our revolution was a war of choice, with one-third of the country in arms against tyranny, one-third supporting the ancien regime, and the remainder more or less on the sidelines as interested observers.

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Connecting The Dots

FallSaigon

Image by © Francoise de Mulder/CORBIS

H/T for ORPO1 for reminding me but it was another April in 1975 when the North Vietnamese invaded the South, violating the 1973 Paris Peace Accords of which they were a signatory.

It would certainly take more than 1 blog post to detail what when wrong in South Vietnam, but certainly at the top of it would be the micromanaging of the bombing in the North by Lyndon Johnson, who bragged that “Those boys can’t hit an outhouse without my permission” . That and the fact that there was no military strategy to winning other than “containing communism”

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A Different Hollywood

Dietrich-Hayworth-Hollywood-Canteen-1942-930x740

Marlene Dietrich and Rita Hayworth serving meals to the servicemen

I have been watching the excellent Netflix series on the 5 Hollywood directors who went to war – a post could be written on how the war changed their outlook on moviemaking – Maybe I’ll write a post on how George Stevens was affected by the war when he made the western classic Shane.

Anyway, they mentioned the Hollywood Canteen.

Imagine that you are an Army or Marine Private ready to go overseas and dancing with Marlene Dietrich or Rita Hayworth. Or getting a meal served by Frank Sinatra. Any U.S. or allied Serviceman in uniform had free admission.

Take a look at the volunteers and stars who donated their time there.

[update]

Here’s a YouTube video with Frank Sinatra singing there in August 1945.

Bob Hope said something I always remembered while entertaining Marines on a Pacific Island prior to a battle. He looked at that sea of young men, laughing and smiling and he knew that for some of them this would be the last good memory they had on earth.

I would imagine that for some the Hollywood Canteen  was their last good memory.

It wasn’t that long ago….

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Grace

By lex, on September 29th, 2007

A bit more than 50 years ago the governor of Arkansas called out his national guard to prevent nine black students from attending Central High in Little Rock. Shortly thereafter, President Dwight Eisenhower sent the 101st Airborne to ensure that they could attend.

In between the world bore witness to the ugliest of emotions: Raw, insensate hatred.

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Midway

By lex, on June 4th, 2006

The Brits have a small island and a thousand year navy. They’ve got Camperdown and the Nile and Trafalgar and Jutland.

Us? We’ve got Midway.

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The Bridges of Toko-ri

By lex, on December 5th, 2005

I don’t know if you ever saw the movie, but one of its closing lines still holds a place in naval aviation culture: “Where do we get such men?”

Of course, it’s quite often used ironically these days, and followed up by, “and where shall we put them,” but never mind – occasional correspondent B2 sends along the excellent read on the real story behind this Korean War-era strike you’ll find appended below:

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The Morning Commute

Thu – April 14, 2005

I get up pretty early on a work day – 0604. It’s a strange number, I know, but the Hobbit has determined that getting up at 0704 gives her exactly the right ratio of sleep to prep time for the coming day. When the alarm goes off, I’ve only got to make one adjustment, and she’s taken care of.

I’m usually out of the house by 0630 – the morning traffic is a little lighter then, joining the knife fight that is Hwy 5 South is a little less nerve wracking. That gives me enough time for a power bar and a cup of coffee before I get on the bike, and wend my way to work.

Getting there by 0700 or so gives me time to go for a morning run before the workday really cranks over. It’s good to get it done, since otherwise you never know what might come up during the course of the day. The phone might ring, or some all-important email flash on screen just as you’re lacing up.

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