Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Hardest Day

Battle of Britain Movie Poster                                                                                                  Source

I'm straying into Sarge's territory here, WWII aviation history in Europe, but here goes.  I'm not sure how I missed this, but just over a month ago was the 76th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain.  However, a year before that, a great event was held commemorating the 75th. A little more than a year ago to be exact- August 18th, a day known as “The Hardest Day”  That's the name given to a WWII air battle fought during the Battle of Britain in 1940 between the Nazi German Luftwaffe and British Royal Air Force (RAF).                                                                                

While this event was probably documented in some sort of print media or online in the UK, I only heard about it the other day via an email from a friend of mine. He’s not a reader of The Chant, but he is a great American and aviation fan himself, being an employee of Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA) until it merged with US Air in 1987.  4F during Viet Nam due to medical issues, he’s served vicariously through his two sons- one in the Marine Corps, and one in the Army.  A history buff himself, I get things like this from him fairly often. Maybe I should share more. I’ll start with this one for now.

Aircraft partcipating in the flyover parked on Biggin Hill Airfield south of London             Source

Reenactors race to their planes
Actual photo from WWII the battle                                                                 Source
Pilots during the Battle of Britain had to race to their planes, sometimes several times a day, in order to get airborne in time to counter the Luftwaffe aircraft attacking Britain.

More Spitfires over southern England                                                            Source


These special two-seat Spitfires were among the veteran aircraft to take part in the commemoration 

This was part of a plan by the Germans to invade Britain, Codenamed Operation Sealion, but air supremacy had to be achieved first.  Hermann Goering predicted that the could destroy the RAF within four day, assuming the weather cooperated and he started pounding air strips across the south of England.
Goering in 1936                                       Source

So during the summer of 1940, the skies over the south of England became a battle ground as the Luftwaffe, led by Goering, launched a war of attrition with the RAF.  The Luftwaffe started by attacking coastal shipping and dive-bombing ports, but by August, they had switched their tactics to directly targeting the RAF.


Messerschmitt Bf-109

According to the caption on Pinterest, this is an actual photo of a Bf-109 as it flew over the English Channel during the Battle of Britain.
From August 13, the Germans sent a mixture of light, medium and dive bombers protected by fighters to attack the RAF. Fighter command responded by sending their force of Hurricanes after the bombers, while the Spitfires were ordered to patrol higher and engage the Luftwaffe's fighters.

Everyone loves the Spitfire, but apparently it was the Hurricane that was the more influential fighter during the battle.  It was cheaper to build and an easier fighter to fly, but wasn't as aerobatic as it's more popular hangar-mate.


On The Hardest Day, the Luftwaffe had assembled 2,200 aircrew and launched 850 missions against targets in the south of England, launching three major strikes, looking to destroy the airfields at Kenley, Biggen Hill, Gosport, Ford, Thorney Island, Hornchurch and North Weald.  The RAF launched 900 missions involving 600 aircrew to stop them.  Earlier in the Battle of Britain, the Luftwaffe launched attacks from Norway targeting northeast England, trying to divide the RAF's resources.  

Following the raids that day however, the RAF and Fleet Air Arm had lost 68 aircraft with the Germans losing 69, but over the entire battle which lasted most of the summer and half of the fall, the RAF had lost 1012 aircraft and 537 crew, compared to 1918 Aircraft and more than 2600 aircrew for the Luftwaffe.  The act of defiance, while incredibly costly to the RAF, was not the decisive blow intended by Hitler, which would have allowed him to launch Operation Sealion, plans for which were cancelled shortly thereafter. The Hardest Day was not only the turning point of the Battle of Britain, it was the turning point of the whole war.
 There's a very good summary of the battle here if you're interested.

The commemoration was made up of 18 Spitfires and six Hurricanes - each with their wonderfully sounding Rolls-Royce Merlin engines - as they took to the sky watched by thousands of supporters and veterans.  As in the first pictures, the pilots of the 24 aircraft scrambled before forming up into three flights, with one flying west over Surrey, West Sussex, Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight, a second flying east over the former RAF bases in Kent and the third going south east over Seven oaks and Ashford to make a special salute over the Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel-Le-Ferne on the white cliffs of Dover.

They then returned to Biggin Hill for several fly pasts, before a lone Spitfire performed a victory roll over the crowd and runway.  

Veterans gather by a Spitfire at the commemoration day of the Battle of Britain, at Biggin Hill airport in Kent. It was the airborne fight that saved Britain from falling to the Nazis.

Mustang in RAF livery

I'm not sure to what extent this Mustang participated in the commemoration, but it was apparently a popular display. 

HAWKER                HURRICANE
1030hp                Rolls-Royce Merlin engine
1,030hp                Rolls-Royce Merlin engine
36ft                11
29ft                11
31ft                4
TOP                SPEED
Eight                - .303 Browning machine guns
Eight                - .303 Browing machine            guns

Most of the info came from my friend's email which appears to be from a post in The Daily Mail Online, I only added some writing to help the transitions and a few pictures as sourced, via Fair Use.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Yesterday Was Monday, Or So I'm Told


The following post may contain opinions, commentary, and semi-witty remarks which may or may not have accurately reflected my mood at the time the post was written. The post was prepared on machinery which may or may not have been in contact with nuts, gluten, polyunsaturated fats, corn oil, refined sugar, coffee, cheese, cheese food, and cheesy remarks. Some words may not be suitable for small children or progressives. Contains small parts which may pose a problem for those with an oral fixation. May or may not contain material suitable for framing. All content is the intellectual property of some guy named Thad (who, fortunately, doesn't know any lawyers, barristers, or solicitors. No, not that Thad, a different one). Any photos used by the writer of the post unless otherwise marked belong to the person who took the photo. Said person may (or may not) be me. If a photo has a "source" in the caption, go look thither, as you may (or may not) be closer to the actual photographer. All items herein are marked "Fair Use" and are solely educational in nature. (If I could make money doing this do you think I'd still be doing the old "nine to five"?) So on and so forth, the party of the first part makes no claim of accuracy in regards to the party of the tenth part, but may do so when pigs fly.

Alrighty then. Can you tell I wrote this on a Monday night. No?

Okay, I'll be explicit. I wrote this on a Monday night. In fact, that last sentence was typed into my computer on or about the 28th of November in the Year of Our Lord Two-Thousand and Sixteen at approximately 1904 Eastern Standard Time. In other words, Mickey's big hand  was on the four and Mickey's little hand was on the seven. As it was dark and in this latitude the sun is above the horizon when Mickey's hands are positioned as in the aforementioned position, it was postmeridian, or afternoon. Actually it was evening, okay? Monday evening to be precise.

Further proof (if such is required) that the 28th of November was a Monday.
Man, I am being long-winded and...

Ahem, alrighty then.

Monday, the day I wrote this, was the first day back at work after the Thanksgiving holiday, which for me was five days long. Not to get into a discussion of relativity but Monday and Tuesday of last week lasted approximately a century, whereas Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday lasted approximately five minutes. Roughly.

So I'm a bit crotchety (not cranky though, don't want to incur Joe's wrath) and out of sorts. I have every confidence that I will soon be over it.

On that note...

The Communists portrayed in the previous sketch have all expired, assumed room temperature, or otherwise departed this vale of tears... Yes, that's right boys and girls, Fidel, much like Francisco Franco, is still dead. And that's all I've got to say about that. (And yes, I know, Fidel Castro wasn't actually in that sketch. I claim artistic license. Or something.)

In summary, that was all rather a long way to say, "I've got nothing..."

Now, I'm off to get some sleep, I think I need it.

Monday, November 28, 2016


Had a great Thanksgiving weekend, thanks for asking.

Spent a bit of time since Wednesday on my Daughter in Law's Christmas present.  The expectation is that it might even be finished by Christmas.  One hopes it will be ready, but when the guy talks about a "bit of Sanding", he's the master of the understatement.

Wednesday, Mrs Juvat and I took a road trip to Copperas Cove, Home of Fort Hood and the 1st Cavalry Division.  No, I'm not enlisting in the Army, or even visiting the base.  Our mission is to rescue the Daughter's car which had smote a large deer back in early October.  3 weeks to repair, it took (Stop with the Yoda, Juvat!).  The Daughter and I arranged a 3 sided rendezvous whereby she brought Little Juvat's jeep over here, we went to Copperas Cove to pick up the car, and then would go our separate ways.  Not to be.

The electronic ignition got a little banged up so the car wouldn't start when we got there.  They insisted it had worked before they called us.  So, I completed the circuit dropping my daughter in College Station where she would be attending the A&M football game with my Daughter in Law.  She would then ride with the Daughter in Law home where she would pick up the jeep again and use it until her car is fixed.

So, Mrs Juvat and I drove to Copperas Cove on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving to pick up the car.  Coming home was traveling "with traffic".  Took us an hour and a half to traverse Marble Falls, a town of about 6900 and less than 5 miles wide.  (2.21 to be exact, or as exact as Google Earth is.)
An hour and a half to travel down that black line til it crosses the Colorado River?  YGBSM!  Nope!

Fortunately, I have a classical music playlist on my phone and my truck has blue tooth.

I've flown Red Flag missions that weren't as involved as the rescue and recovery of the Daughter's Tiguan.

Thanksgiving itself was spent in the People's Republic of Austin visiting my niece, their brand new daughter, her husband and his family.  Arrived about 2, and the Grand Niece was a tad cranky.  She's 13 weeks old, so all the people was causing sensory overload.  Mrs Juvat immediately launched into Mom mode, took charge of the Grand Niece and a few minutes later, the baby is racked out in her lap.  Course, that meant to maintain the nap, sustenance must be conveyed to the nap inducer.  Proud to serve I was.
And we hadn't even had the roasted triptophan yet.

In between calls for more wine, I watched the Lions play Minnesota, only because the TV was on out back where the guys were hanging out talking.  First Pro Game I've watched in easily 10 years.  Yawn!  WHOGAS?  Buncha overpaid thugs.

The dinner was a fairly standard menu, with a few twists thrown in.  The turkey was tasty.  Smoked Balogna was .....Interesting.  The corn pudding was excellent as was the cranberry dressing.  Salads and pies were abundant.  I tried the former and passed on the latter.  The Blood Sugar was taking a hit as it was.  

My Green Chili Mac and Cheese was a big hit.  I thought it a bit bland, but not knowing the audience, I decided to leave out the Hot Pepper Flakes.  Just a dash, really, but kicks up the flavor profile.

The drive back over to Rancho Juvat was uneventful.  None of the deer spotted along the road decided to play chicken with me.  Given that I have yet to make the first payment on my truck (officially known as "My Truck"), I was grateful.

Friday it was back to sanding. Discretion being the much better part of valor, I avoided Black Friday by staying home....and sanding. 

Saturday, my most beautiful Daughter, my Daughter in Law and I needed to venture out to Lowes.  I needed more sandpaper, but I actually believe that light up ahead is the end of the sanding tunnel (train whistle be dammed), so I bought the stain and finish.

Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent, was early Church.  I do like this time of year with the Christmas Hymns.  Gets a little dusty in the church at times for me.  It's a Trade Days Weekend, so the Wife is out there selling, and my Sister is manning her store against the Black Friday Hordes.  The Daughter has gone back to Austin to prepare for her workweek.  The Daughter in Law decided to head to San Antonio to do some holiday shopping and contribute to what Instapundit has described as the best Black Friday in 10 years.  I wonder how that can be?


I sanded.....Took a nap......Sanded.......and wrote this.  Because....I got nothin' else.

Now, if I can just find my table saw.

Sunday, November 27, 2016


I am weary to death of politics, of current affairs, and all of the trappings of the modern world. I don't care that some aging old Commie has died. I don't care who Trump intends to appoint to his Cabinet. I do care that the progressives won't just fire truck off and die. Their day is over and done. They have done serious damage to the Nation and they've been sent off.

Just go already.

The world seethes with forces determined to destroy freedom and force us to think as they demand that we think.

While waiting for everyone to get ready on Thanksgiving morning, I turned on the television, thinking perhaps to catch a bit of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. Within moments I was treated to political correctness and a lifestyle which is increasingly being shoved down our throats with demands that we "accept" this behavior as "normal."

It it not normal, it has never been normal, and it will never be normal. I don't care who you sleep with, I don't care how you feel about yourself and how you "identify." Truly I don't, but I will never accept such behavior nor will the majority of the planet. It's just the way things are and no amount of safe spaces or cry ins will change that.

I am nearly done with koobecaF. I enjoy the news of a friend getting engaged. Another friend celebrating the birth of a first grandchild. Friends telling the tale of their child taking their first steps, that is what interests me. Not some nonsense about politics or what windmills Colin freaking Kaepernick is tilting with. Only a pampered nitwit would think to defend a Communist monster.

KoobecaF might go by the wayside soon. It troubles me to see friends insulting each other over something as filthy as politics.

Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the season I enjoy the most is here. I look forward, as I always do, to time spent with family and friends, celebrating the birth of our Savior. I do not plan to waste time commenting on politics. It could happen, but don't expect it.

I dare say I look forward to The Second Coming.

This old world has perhaps seen enough of human grief and indifference to what truly matters.


It's time for a new age to begin. I'm tired of the old one.

Peace be with you.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Going Home (Again)

The Missus Herself and I returned on Friday from our trip north to celebrate Thanksgiving at my brother's house. The house I grew up in, though it has been modified rather a lot since I lived there, 'lo those many years ago.

For The Olde Vermonter is a carpenter by trade, though that is rather too simple a term to describe his many skills. Sure, he knows to "measure twice, cut once," he can swing a hammer with the best of them and he's a handy fellow to have around the house. He's also a roofer, a landscaper, a cabinet maker, a painter (interior and exterior, think Sherwin-Williams, not Picasso), and general jack-of-all-trades and master of quite a few.

So in the years since I left the ancestral home he's added a mother-in-law suite, his mother-in-law having passed some time ago, that area of the house is now a den/sitting room/TV room. He's added a deck out back, with a roof and panels around the lower part to give the whole a rather porch-like feel, a shed or two (might be one big one with an alcove sort of add-on, I didn't get a closer look as the weather was rather nippy on Thanksgiving Day), an outdoor fire pit, and he's enclosed the entire backyard as a play area for their three dogs, Cooper, Isaac, and Daisy.

Now Mrs Olde Vermonter has decorated extensively throughout the manse, giving it an almost museum cum Yankee Magazine photo-shoot feel. All sorts of old photos, small treasures, and various objets d'art give their home a comfy, lived in look. (The museum part is that, like a museum, there is much that is old and just plain pretty cool looking.) I love visiting the old homestead to see what my brother and his bride have done with the place.

It was rather a whirlwind trip, we left Wednesday morning...

No, the feline staff were not amused.


We left Wednesday morning on a beautiful late November day, moderate temperatures, no wind, and a clear blue sky and arrived at my mother's place in the early afternoon. Spent a while chatting then went out to eat at a local fine dining establishment, then to the Elks Club for a nightcap, then back to Mom's for more conversation then an early bedtime. (Mom firmly believes in the adage "early to bed, early to rise" etc., etc. Whereas I'm more of a "carouse all night and my word, is the sun coming up already" sort of fellow.)

The Musician, that is, my youngest brother who lives in the Boston area, came up Thanksgiving morning and we were due at the ancestral home around 1300 local. Food was scheduled to be consumed from 1400 to 1530 and football was also to be watched in that time frame and afterwards. So I broke my NFL boycott on Thursday. Yes, I've been doing that. Actually it goes well with my "I hate commercials so I'm not watching television" boycott. Really it's just an anti-commercial thing but it goes hand-in-hand with my I detest Roger Goodell protest movement.

And you all thought I was a simple man.

Anyhoo (redux).

There was The Missus Herself, Your Humble Scribe, The Olde Vermonter, Mrs Olde Vermonter, The Young Vermonter, Madame Mère, The Musician, City Girl and her beau whom I shall dub "The Lumberjack" as he rather looks like one and is from a place so far north in Maine that, as he puts it, there are only two towns between where he grew up and Canada. The French speaking part. You know, Quebec.

Also in attendance were the three canines of my brother and somewhere upstairs two felines hid and plotted their hideous vengeance on those who would invade their territory, make merry, and generally sully the atmosphere of the feline domain.

Yeah, the dogs don't really go along with that whole "feline domain" thing.

We ate, we drank, we laughed, my niece groused that her mother had purchased a a 20-pound pan for a 30-pound bird, from which drippings emanated and splattered and caused alarming amounts of turkey "fog" to fill the kitchen and the adjoining dining room. Which said "fog" led to windows and doors being thrown open to air out the house, said air being around freezing in temperature. Which led to my niece proclaiming the whole affair to be "ten pounds of monkey shite in a five pound bag." No, she didn't use the word "shite." Not exactly. The phrase she claims was one she learned from The Lumberjack, who, of course, proclaimed his innocence.

I shouted out that my niece had "ruined Thanksgiving" and she, demonstrating that she is truly of my tribe, yelled back "GOOD!"

Much hilarity ensued.

All in all, it was a wonderful time, returning to Little Rhody early Friday afternoon it all felt rather dreamlike. Like I said, a whirlwind tour. Oh wait, I forgot, we saw this on the way north -

Yup, snow.

Thanksgiving Day started with snow, went to sleet, then to drizzle. The drive back south saw low cloud and lots and lots of drizzle. Rather unappealing and a pure joy to drive in. Not.

But the holiday was fun. We plan on going back for Christmas. Which is less than a month away.

Can you believe it?

Hope you all had a good Thanksgiving. And no, the Sarge does not partake of Black Friday, nor does The Missus Herself. The progeny though have been known to dive right into the melee, er, shopping. Well, whatever floats your boat.

Bring on the Christmas decorations and the carols. I think I'm ready...

Friday, November 25, 2016

"Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names."

In the Enemy's Country
Charles Marion Russell

As I was casting about for supporting material for Tuesday's post about my memories of the assassination of JFK, I happened upon that quote which serves as today's title. Kind of surprised me that the quote was attributed to the late President. It also kind of surprised me that I could not find the context of that quote. Odd that.

At any rate, I like the quote. To forgive is indeed divine, to forget those you count among your enemies is just plain dumb. What that quote really did was inspire to go find other quotes about enemies.

“Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.”
― Oscar Wilde

“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”
― Abraham Lincoln

“The man of knowledge must be able not only to love his enemies but also to hate his friends.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

“Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”
― Napoléon Bonaparte

“I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their good intellects.”
― Oscar Wilde

“Whenever you are confronted with an opponent. Conquer him with love.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

“The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people.”
― G.K. Chesterton

“Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, "Love your enemies." It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. Just keep being friendly to that person. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long. Oh, they react in many ways in the beginning. They react with guilt feelings, and sometimes they’ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep loving them. And by the power of your love they will break down under the load. That’s love, you see. It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love. There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.

“It is easy enough to be friendly to one's friends. But to befriend the one who regards himself as your enemy is the quintessence of true religion. The other is mere business.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

“I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.”
― Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Alcohol may be man's worst enemy, but the Bible says love your enemy.”
― Frank Sinatra

“Now, now my good man, this is no time to be making enemies."
(Voltaire on his deathbed in response to a priest asking him that he renounce Satan.)”
― Voltaire

“A wise man gets more use from his enemies than a fool from his friends.”
― Baltasar Gracián

“Never explain―your friends do not need it and your enemies will not believe you anyway.”
― Elbert Hubbard

“Your Worst Enemy Could Be Your Best Friend && Your Best Friend Your Worst Enemy”
― Bob Marley

“We do not merely destroy our enemies; we change them.”
― George Orwell, 1984

“Want to keep Christ in Christmas? Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you.”
― Steve Maraboli

“Don't flatter yourself that friendship authorizes you to say disagreeable things to your intimates. The nearer you come into relation with a person, the more necessary do tact and courtesy become. Except in cases of necessity, which are rare, leave your friend to learn unpleasant things from his enemies; they are ready enough to tell them.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

“If you have enemies, good
that means you stood up for something.”
― Eminem

“Staying silent is like a slow growing cancer to the soul and a trait of a true coward. There is nothing intelligent about not standing up for yourself. You may not win every battle. However, everyone will at least know what you stood for—YOU.”
― Shannon L. Alder

“A man with no enemies is a man with no character.”
― Paul Newman

“There is nothing more admirable than when two people who see eye to eye keep house as man and wife, confounding their enemies and delighting their friends.”
― Homer

“The truth may not set you free, but used carefully, it can confuse the hell out of your enemies.”
― Laurell K. Hamilton

“Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. At the end all his disciples deserted him. On the Cross he was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers. For this cause he had come, to bring peace to the enemies of God. So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of foes. There is his commission, his work. 'The kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies. And he who will not suffer this does not want to be of the Kingdom of Christ; he wants to be among friends, to sit among roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the devout people. O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing who would ever have been spared' (Luther).”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“To be successful you need friends and to be very successful you need enemies.”
― Sidney Sheldon

“It's not about going around trying to stir up trouble. As long as you're honest and you articulate what you believe to be true, somebody somewhere will become your enemy whether you like it or not.”
― Criss Jami

“I can be on guard against my enemies, but God deliver me from my friends!”
― Charlotte Brontë

“I like to have powerful enemies. Makes me feel important.”
― Leigh Bardugo

And my own favorite, from the mini-series Shaka Zulu:
"Never leave and enemy behind." ― Shaka

If you have a favorite, share it. I won't tell your enemies...

Source for the most of those quotes above is here.

Thursday, November 24, 2016


The First Thanksgiving
Jennie Augusta Brownscombe
There is much in my life that I am thankful for.

My God.

My Savior.

My wife.

My children. (And their significant others.)

My grandchildren.

My extended family. (Mom, brothers and brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, cousins, nephews, nieces.)

My feline friends.

My human friends.

My church.

My co-workers.

My readers. (Stand up, take a bow. Yes, you all are very important to me.)

I am also thankful for my memories, even the bad ones, for the events which became my memories molded me, shaped me, and led me to be the person I am. For better or worse.

We all have an angel and a demon inside of us. It's controlling our baser urges which is what matters.

I pray you all have much to be thankful for, may your Thanksgiving be peaceful, and Blessed.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Peace be with you...

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving and Freedom

I remember a film clip a few years back billed as the "most honest three minutes in television history." I watched it, thought it was three minutes (actually it's longer) of unadulterated horse shit. (Pardon my French.) I lost a great deal of respect for the actor who pronounced (what was to me) the offensive lie that America is "not the greatest country in the world."

Opinion? Yes. True? Absolutely not. A friend of mine sent me a link to that video, praising it, I lost a lot of respect for him as well. He should know better, especially given the advantages he's had in life, simply by being born here.

But hey, freedom of speech. It's important, even if what is said is out and out poppycock. It's the first of what FDR called "The Four Freedoms" in his speech to Congress on the 6th of January, 1941. Here's the excerpt from which the speech drew its name:
In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. 
The first is freedom of speech and expression -- everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way -- everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want, which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants -- everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear, which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor -- anywhere in the world. (Source)
While I am not the biggest fan of FDR, he did get us through WWII, a war which he didn't survive. And the man could give a mighty fine speech. Note his use of "everywhere in the world" for the first three freedoms. This isn't something which only Americans should enjoy. (Though even now there are some Americans who want to restrict free speech to only that which is agreeable. Screw them. Once you restrict some speech, you are not far from restricting all speech. Let "political correctness" die a slow and lonely death. It is un-American in the extreme.)

For the fourth freedom, FDR says "anywhere in the world" with regards to freedom from fear and the ability of one nation to make war upon another. (Though truth be told, arms reduction is a chimera, unattainable in practical terms. Someone is always going to cheat. Eternal vigilance is the answer in my book. Si vis pacem, para bellum. A sad truth.)

As we enter this season of Thanksgiving, these four freedoms should be something we should be thankful for, if we have them. There are still Americans who lack some of these freedoms and as long as that is the case, those of us who enjoy all four freedoms need to strive to make sure our fellow citizens have the same advantage. Regardless of race, creed, religion, or national origin.

So enjoy the holiday weekend, play nice with those around you. Leave politics at the front door. (I know, I know, it is hard.) I shall be out and about with my kinfolk, observing the holiday, being with people I don't spend nearly enough time with.

I hope your holiday is joyous, filled with love (and pie, yes, lots of pie), and filled with thanks for what we have. So many have little or nothing. Even here at home...

Don't worry, I haven't forgotten or neglected you. I've scheduled a couple of posts for my time away from the keyboard so you don't have to go "cold turkey." (Though that does make a wondrous sandwich!) As Mom lives in an Internet-free zone, by choice, I'll be checking comments via the "smart" phone. Don't know if I will have the bandwidth to respond to comments, as the cell phone reception at Mom's ain't all that grand either, but I'll try.

Stay safe, enjoy! See you on the flip side.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

I Was Ten

It was one of those watershed events, those things that you will remember until you draw your last breath. You remember where you were and the circumstances, even 53 years on.

Like the title says, I was 10, 10 years old and in the fourth grade. Though for many a year I recalled being in the third grade when the President was assassinated. Perhaps because I found third grade to be the most traumatic grade* of my childhood, I conflated the two. At that time I have to say that there had been very little in the way of traumatic experiences in my young life.

No pets had passed away yet, often a child's first experience with death, all four grandparents were still alive and well. All my other relations were still alive and no friends had yet to meet the Grim Reaper. I was spared that experience as a child, thank God. (I am all too familiar with Death these days.)

I remember being in class, there was some sort of commotion in the hallway, our teacher left the room (a lady whose name escapes me, and yes, that bothers me), only to return moments later with that sad, serious look which grown-ups get when something has gone very wrong. At that point she announced that school was cancelled for the rest of the day and that the buses would be there soon and that those that walked to school (uphill, both ways) could proceed home at that time.

Our natural joy at being dismissed from school was immediately quelled when someone, probably one of the girls, asked why school was being dismissed so early. (Someone always has to ask why.) Well, the teacher obviously was very distraught but managed to tell us, in a very serious grown-up voice, "Someone has shot the President." (He might have still been alive when we were told, I don't remember anyone saying that he was dead.)

While we weren't all that attuned to world affairs and the like, we did know who and what the President was. We also knew that he was a very young man (or so a grandfather or two had said) and no doubt too young to be dead. We also figured that "the bad guys" had killed him. In those days the only bad guys were the Communists. Of the Russian and Chinese varieties. Yes, there were other Communists but those were the big two. Every other Commie rat bastard in the world answered to them. Or so our Dads told us.

So we headed home. I remember walking home with a couple of other kids but can't remember exactly which other kids those were. Maybe it was the traumatic, scary nature of that day or perhaps my memories have faded. At any rate I do have one crystal clear memory of that day. We found a light bulb next to the road. An odd place for a light bulb indeed, but there it was. I decided that it would be a good thing to throw onto the sidewalk. Why? I dunno, it's one of those XY chromosome things no doubt.

Well, throw it I did, not surprisingly it broke, with a rather loud pop, which for just a moment sounded like a gunshot. (C'mon, this was Vermont in the old days, we knew what gunfire sounded like.) But still, that loud pop on that particular day made us feel that we were being perhaps a bit too flippant. So we marched the rest of the way in silence.

The rest of that time was a blur. I remember seeing Lee Harvey Oswald being shot by Jack Ruby, though not live, the event occurred a few moments before I came into the room. My parents were so shocked that no one thought to shoo my brothers and I out of the room.

I remember a solemn parade with a very young John Jr. saluting his father's casket. I remember the skirl of the pipes and the muffled drums. The marching footsteps, the jingle of the horses' harness.

I remember a horse with no rider, empty boots reversed in the stirrups. That horse being led by a ramrod straight soldier.

While we had experienced the Cuban Missile Crisis not quite a year earlier, war was something abstract, I remember my parents being frightened but this event, this murder of a President of the United States frightened them even more. Was this the first move in an attack on the United States? Those were the sort of rumors we heard back then.

Another thing I learned that day, though neither of my parents cared much for President Kennedy and neither had voted for him, they were still shocked and saddened at his death, Though they disagreed with him politically, he was still the President. The President of all we Americans.

Fifty-three years ago. Parts of that day and the subsequent days are as clear as if it was yesterday. Much is now shrouded in the mists of time. Still and all, it was a watershed event, much like Pearl Harbor was for my parents, much as 9-11 is for my generation and my kids' generation.

To think that my parents experienced all three. Mind boggling.

America changed on that day. For better or worse I cannot be the judge. Personally, I think it was the former. That may have been because of my youth. But I do know that JFK's successor dragged us into Vietnam. I also know that one of LBJ's closest advisers in that war was a fellow named McNamara, who had been appointed by JFK.

Still and all, the nation changed. Those were grim times for the generation ahead of mine.

Fifty-three years ago.

When I was ten.

* My third grade teacher, Miss McClain, was about a billion years old. She would fill the 15 foot wide blackboard with arithmetic expressions, which had to be finished that very day. Even if one had to stay after school. Though I grew to somewhat enjoy arithmetic, I have ever since disliked blackboards and the smell of chalk. Traumatic to a nine year old, though in hindsight, not very. Of course, Miss McClain was probably only in her sixties. So now I myself am a billion years old. Yes, I do remember the dinosaurs. Vaguely.