Monday, May 30, 2005

For The Ags on Memorial Day Posted by Hello

Saturday, May 28, 2005

"Here Rests
In Honored Glory
An American Soldier
Known But To God"
 Posted by Hello

Normandy Posted by Hello

Korean War Posted by Hello

Gettysburg National War Memorial Park Posted by Hello

Old North Church: Two if By Land, One If By Sea Posted by Hello

Vietnam war Memorial Posted by Hello

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Something With A Ring To It

I was sitting home tonight thinking about the role of technology in our modern lifestyle, and figured I right away share those thoughts on my blog for the whole world to instantly see and comment on. The irony of which is not lost on me at all.

In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell brought us the telephone. For over a hundred years it was a nice way of calling your buddy and asking if he/she wanted to do something. A means of calling for a date or a beer or just to say hi to mom across the country. It became a true piece of Americana.

Then someone got the bright idea of making a device for folks to leave message on, the answering machine. No longer would we wonder about missed calls and important info lost on failures to be home or in the office to get an important phone call, of course, in the office...if you were important enough a secretary or other staffer took a message for you. You could arrive home and check all the message you were left and call back the folks you wanted to and your friends and family learned what list they were on.

Then someone decided to allow call forwarding, a simple service that allowed a person to forward calls to one number, to another number. No longer would you have to wait till the end of the day for your messages, you could just forward one phone to another you'd be near. Brillant!

The of course came the cell phone..or car phone as the early bulky ones were known. No longer in need of worry, we are reachable 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via phone, voice mail, and text messages, with caller ID so we know who is calling...don't recognize a prob, it's probably someone you don't know...and if it is, they can leave a message.

Which brings me to my thought, where the hell did we go wrong? Why do we allow ourselves to be reachable all the time? What would happen, if just for one day, we put the phones down, turned them off and just ignored it all. Turn off the cell, turn off the call forwarding, turn off the answering machine, and just say to heck with all. A single 24 hour period, of freedom. No worry of the office calling with an emergency and when they reach us, we must go in. No more playing text message tag to meet somewhere for dinner. Just decide it and go. The only allowance I'd make is for emergency, and this is like life and death, not I'm out of beer and can't drive can you pick me up some and drop it off, or I really need to know if Payless is having a sale today. If it doesn't involve blood, mayhem, damage, or some serious's not an emergency. We've gone from having a life outside work to being tied to the office. The office has become a mother, we are the children, and the cell phone the umbilical chord which was never cut!

Stop, take a moment and think about how your cell phone factors into your own life and is it really better? Personally, I'd rather be done at the end of the day, saddle up and ride a few miles on horseback to the farm. If it's important, ring the church bells, send a rider, or even a pigeon with a note, but just let me relax!

Oh, wait...sorry, I need to stop my rant. Apparently I have some message on my phone and they need to be might be important and I can't miss it!

Thursday, May 05, 2005

This post will be duplicated on My History Blog, link to the left.

This week, whether we are aware of it or not celebrates the the 60th Anniversary of V-E Day in World War II. This date stands forever as May 8, 1945. The years have faded, the soldiers who survived are becoming fewer and fewer by the day, and a generation is coming of age that will not have the first hand accounts, spread from their grandfathers and great-grandfathers.

We often fail to see Nazi Germany as it truly was, pure unadulterated evil. Indiana Jones makes the Nazis out to be bumbling idiots, The Great Escape, The Longest Day, Patton, and a plethora of others fail to grasp the evil darkness that spread over Europe like a plague. A plague not borne of disease, but of hate and ego. A plague who used starvation, gas chambers, and cold blooded genocide as its means of death.

We can make mythic the tales of World War II from D-day through the fall of Berlin. But no myth could ever be surround the death camps of Nazis Germany, no human concept of evil or darkness could even begin to amount to the horrors that were done and that we so often tend to forget.

I offer the following timeline, a glimpse into the evil and a light shined back into the darkness:

1933 - American newspapers and magazines reported the existence of concentration camps in early 1933, when Dachau first slammed its gate shut on a group of Communists and other political enemies of the Nazis. The camps had gained reputations for harsh and sadistic treatment of prisoners.

1937 - Buchenwald was built by the Nazis as a camp for political prisoners like German Communists and Social Democrats.

Between 1937-8, Jews were added as Germany's anti-Semitic campaign was set in motion. With a population of 15,000 prisoners, the camp was one of slave labor, with German Communists at the top.

August 18, 1940 - Hans Frank, Nazi governor of occupied Poland, announces plans to make Cracow free of Jews, declaring, "the Jews must vanish from the face of the earth."

1941 - In eastern Alsace, up a winding road from the village of Natzwiller, the Nazis built a labor camp, Natzweiler-Struthof, the only concentration camp on French soil. The inmates originally were German who were to supply labor for building V-2 factories in man-made caves dug out of the Vosges Mountains. The prisoners would live in the cold, damp tunnels as they built them.

1943 - Natzweiler-Struthof was expanded by the Nazis with the installation of a gas chamber and crematory for the mass killing of Jews, Gypsies, and captured Resistance fighters from Holland, Belgium, and France.

July 24, 1944 - At Lublin in Poland, Red Army soldiers discovered the abandoned Majdanek extermination camp, the first major camp to be liberated. Despite hasty efforts of the Germans to burn the camp to hide its purpose, the Russians found the remains of gas chambers. During the next month, Soviet troops liberated the abandoned Belzec and Sobibor and Treblinka extermination camps.

August 31 1944 - The SS began the evacuation of the Natzweiler-Struthof camp as Allied troops approached; 2000 prisoners died on the death march to Dachau.

September 1944 - American reporters visited Lublin and the Majdanek camp in Poland. Stories with pictures of a warehouse bursting with 800,000 shoes that had once belonged to Nazi victims were widely published.

October 26, 1944 - Canadian forces liberated the abandoned Vught concentration camp in the Netherlands.

November 23 1944 - The French Army entered the abandoned Natzweiler-Struthof camp in Alsace.

December 5, 1944 - The New York Times's Milton Bracker toured the abandoned site of the Natzweiler-Struthof camp, explaining, "It might have been a Civilian Conservation Corps camp, from the winding road to the bald hilltop, the sturdy green barrack buildings looked exactly like those that housed forestry trainees in the United States during the early New Deal." Members of the Free French showed Bracker a small dark room with almost fifty S-shaped hooks suspended from metal rods on the ceiling. Prisoners hung from the hooks by their bound wrists before Zyklon-B gas was pumped into the room to kill them. A dissection room, with an autopsy table , and a small storage room crammed with burial urns was also discovered. Reportedly 16,000 persons had come as prisoners to Natzwiller between late 1941 and the evacuation in the summer of 1944, and 4,000 perished.

December 9, 1944 - Americans Colonel Paul Kirk and Lt. Colonel Edward J. Gully of the American Sixth Army Group arrived to inspect Natzweiler-Struthof. They duly reported their findings: a disinfestation unit, a large pile of human hair, a gas chamber, an incinerator room with equipment intended for the burning of human bodies, a cell room and an autopsy room. After their first-hand look and detailed report to war crimes investigators, they retained a certain measure of disbelief, or "double vision" as Bracker described it. The correlation between the remains of the camp and millions dead could not be grasped even on personal inspection. This "double vision" was as much a story as the discovery of the camp itself. The term came from the first Great War when false propaganda about German atrocities was widely reported. Many remembered this and thought perhaps the reports coming from Europe to the United States were false too. However, Bracker attributed the disbelief to simply the inability to conceive the magnitude and detail of the horror. "Double vision" was typical of many American officers in France, who infuriated local populations by doubting and sometimes even scoffing at stories of German inhumanity.

January 27, 1945 - Soviet Army liberated Auschwitz, the largest Nazi death camp.

April 5, 1945 - In search of secret Nazi communications along the Autobahn, units of the American Fourth Armored Division of the Third Army moved on Gotha and Ohrdruf, discovering the first of the camps containing prisoners and corpses to be uncovered by American armies. 10,000 men had lived and slaved at Ohrdruf. Near the end, the SS had marched the prisoners to other camps, known as death marches, or killed them. Ohrdruf was a minor sub-camp of Buchenwald, and on the edge of the camp was a gigantic pit, where the Nazi's had stacked bodies and wood and burned them. Ohrdruf had actually been discovered by accident. After the Americans had taken the town where part of the communications center was located, reconnoitering troops found the main gate to the camp just over the crest of a small hill. Corpses in striped uniforms were found right inside the gate. Some found were alive, others long since dead. One man greeted the first American soldiers, as he gave them a tour, a Polish prisoner came up to him, and in full sight of the Americans, hit him with a piece of lumber and stabbed him to death. The dead man had been a guard parading as a prisoner. Ohrdruf was significant as the first camp that contained both the starved, frail bodies of hundreds and the prisoners who had managed to survive. The revelation of the horror, the mutually exclusive desires to remember and to forget, would serve to mark the loss of innocence of the entire world.

April 11, 1945 - North of Ohrdruf, near the town of Nordhausen, the American Timberwolf Division came upon 3,000 corpses and more than seven hundred barely surviving inmates. Both living and dead lay in two double-decker barracks, piled three to a bunk. The rooms reeked of death and excrement. Victims of starvation and tuberculosis, the prisoners had also suffered from American bombing of the V-2 factories just one week before. Fred Bohm, an Austrian-born American soldier who helped liberate Nordhausen described that his fellow American G.I.'s "had no particular feeling for fighting the Germans. They also thought that any stories they had read in the paper, or that I had told them out of first- hand experience, were either not true or at least exaggerated. And it did not sink in, what this was all about, until we got into Nordhausen." The disbelief of Americans in general, and American soldiers specifically, exemplifies the "double vision" of the human psyche, when one man is forced to face the evidence of torture inflicted on another, only to realize his own helplessness, consequently he represses all emotion, all senses, he becomes numb. American Combat Team 9 of the 9th Armored Infantry Battalion, Sixth Armored Division, captured the town of Hottelstedt. 50 Russian prisoners emerged from the woods and said they were from Buchenwald just to the southeast. Buchenwald had 30,000 prisoners in a pyramid of power, with German Communists at the top and living in the main barracks, and Jews and Gypsies at the bottom, living on the outskirts, in Little Camp, as assortment of barns. Buchenwald barrack prisoners were reasonably healthy-looking and ready to assist in administering food. Little Camp was a nightmare with 1,000 to 1,200 prisoners in a space meant for 450. In Germany in Defeat, Percy Knauth described Little Camp's prisoners as, "emaciated beyond all imagination or description. Their legs and arms were sticks with huge bulging joints, and their loins were fouled by their own excrement. Their eyes were sunk so deep that they looked blind. If they moved at all, it was with a crawling slowness that made them look like huge, lethargic spiders. Many just lay in their bunks as if dead." The smell of Little Camp, the smell emanating from discarded, decaying flesh, burning bodies, and an open concrete ditch that serviced as the latrine, was indescribable. Even after liberation, twenty prisoners in each Little Camp block died a day. They were gnomes, sticklike figures with sunken eyes who would hobble forward to cry and yell at the sight of their liberators.

April 12, 1945 - Generals George Patton, Omar Bradley,and Dwight Eisenhower arrived in Ohrdruf. They saw more than 3,200 naked, emaciated bodies that had been flung into shallow graves. Eisenhower insisted on seeing the entire camp: a shed piled to the ceiling with bodies, various torture devices, and a butcher's block used for smashing gold fillings from the mouths of the dead. Patton became physically ill behind the barracks. Eisenhower felt that it was necessary for his troops to see for themselves, and the world to know about the conditions at Ohrdruf. The day ended with news that Roosevelt had died. Many American soldiers did not know what they were fighting for. Eisenhower realized that it was imperative for the soldiers to at least understand what they were fighting against. He wanted the world to know of the conditions at Ohrdruf. His message to Washington read: "We are constantly finding German camps in which they have placed political prisoners where unspeakable conditions exist. From my own personal observation, I can state unequivocally that all written statements up to now do not paint the full horrors."

April 29, 1945 - American forces liberated Dachau, the first concentration camp built in 1933.

Note above, the physical sickness of Genral Patton, the soldier's soldier and man's man. If he can be moved, imagine what the regular rank and file noticed.

Yet, here we are 60 years later and what has really changed in the world. Genocide is still continuing. Most notably in the Darfur region of the Sudan. We are not at war with the Sudan, we condemn them for what they do, and shake a mean finger saying "Stop it! It's wrong! Bad government." It's revolting in many ways. I am not the one though to give you a full lesson on what is occuring there, use the links to the left to check out Amanda's blog, my good friend is much more knowledgeable than I about that region. She is right though, we may all feel insignificant thinking we can make no difference in the world. Yet all it takes is a flicker of light in the darkness to drive out the shadows, a light that can grow until darkness and evil itself can not contain it's passion and heat and light of hope. What will you do? Will you shut the world out, draw the shades, and go to bed never giving thought...or will you try to help that spark take hold in the way you think you can help the most?

Monday, May 02, 2005

Traveling the Arlington Road

On Saturday, I made the journey to the green cathedral in Arlington, TX to watch the Rangers take on the defending World Champions, the Boston Red Sox. Let me say this right off the bat, Arlington is a nice park, but it's sterile and lacks any charm. I was dismayed with the modern amenties such as restraunts and playlands for the kiddos. The lack of vendors coming through the stands to peddle hot dogs and soda was a travesty, as was the idea that anyone would bay over dollars for lite beer in a plastic bottle. Outside the stadium was just as bad with not charm, no street vendors, no smells of sausage, no hawking of souveneirs. It made me appreciate the special nature of Fenway Park.
That being said, it was a great game to watch. Sitting in left field gave a great view of the game. Tek, Johnny Damon, and Trot Nixon went yard (Damon and Nixon back to back). Bronson Arroyo, Mike Timlin, and Keith Foulke combined to stifle the Ranger bats. Sox won 9-2.
With the 7:05 start, I ventured back to College Station after a meal at a local Chili's (and a few Dr. Pepper's) and arrived home at the early hour of 4 AM. So worth it!
Next up the Astros and a Roger Clemens pitched game sometime this summer. One last time to see the Rocket, for the third and final time. Once with Boston, once with Pawtucket, and one last dance with the Astros.
I'm out.

PS. RIP Chief J. Joyce
RIP Trixie