American Elephants


Memorial Day in the Villiage of Margraten, in the Netherlands.

In November, 1944 the bodies of American soldiers who had been killed in nearby battles arrived in the village of Margraten, in the Netherlands. The war wasn’t over, and booby-traps and heavy artillery fire killed thousands of American soldiers trying to pierce the German defense lines during the ill-fated Operation Market Garden. The U.S military needed a place to bury its fallen. The Americans ultimately picked a fruit orchard just outside Margraten.

Right from the start the people of Margraten took the Americans to their hearts. The company commanders stayed in the Mayor’s home and the enlisted men slept in the schools.

“After four dark years of occupation, suddenly [the Dutch] people were free from the Nazis, and they could go back to their normal lives and enjoy all the freedoms they were used to,” explained Frenk Lahaye, an associate at the cemetery. “They knew they had to thank the American allies for that.”…

Between late 1944 and spring 1945, up to 500 bodies arrived each day, so many that the mayor went door to door asking villagers for help with the digging.

Over the next two years, about 17,740 American soldiers would be buried here, though the number of graves would shrink as thousands of families asked for their loved ones’ remains to be sent home.

On May 29, 1945, 20 trucks from the 611th collected flowers from 60 different Dutch villages. Nearly 200 Dutch men, women and children spent all night arranging flowers and wreaths by the dirt-covered graves and their makeshift wooden crosses and Stars of David.

The adoption program was the brainchild of the town clerk and a local pastor. Every grave has a volunteer caretaker, and a waiting list.

For 70 years the Dutch have come to a verdant cemetery outside this small village to care for the graves of Americans killed in World War II. Today they came again bearing Memorial Day bouquets for men and women they never met, passing the responsibility from one generation to another.

Here is a film of that first Memorial Day in Margraten, in the Netherlands in 1945,   No color, no sound, but it’s not needed. Very moving.



The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
May 25, 2015, 6:10 am
Filed under: Politics

May 30, 2011, 6:27 am | Edit this   Reprinted from 2011

tomb

seal

1. How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the Tomb of the Unknowns and why?
21 steps. It alludes to the twenty-one gun salute, which is the highest honor given any military or foreign dignitary.

2. How long does he hesitate after his about face to begin his return walk and why?
21 seconds for the same reason as answer number one.

3. Why are his gloves wet?
His gloves are moistened to prevent his losing his grip on the rifle.

4. Does he carry his rifle on the same shoulder all the time and if not, why not?
He carries the rifle on the shoulder away from the tomb.  After his march across the path, he executes an about face and moves the rifle to the outside shoulder.

5.  How often are the guards changed?
Guards are changed every thirty minutes, twenty-four hours a day, and 365 days a year.

6. What are the physical traits of the guard limited to?
A person who applies for guard duty at the tomb must be between 5′ 10″ and 6′ 2″ tall and his waist size cannot exceed 30″.

Other requirements of the Guard: they must commit 2 years of life to guard the tomb, live in a barracks under the tomb, and cannot drink any alcohol on or off duty for the rest of their lives. They cannot swear in public for the rest of their lives and cannot disgrace the uniform (by fighting) or the tomb in any way.  After two years, the guard is given a wreath pin that is worn on their lapel signifying they served as guard of the tomb.  There are only 400 presently worn.

The guard must obey these rules for the rest of their lives or give up the wreath pin.

The shoes are specially made with very thick soles to keep the heat and cold from their feet.  There are metal heel plates that extend to the top of the shoe in order to make the loud click as they come to a halt.  There are no wrinkles, folds or lint on the uniform.  Guards dress for duty in front of a full-length mirror.

During the first six months of duty a guard may not talk to anyone, nor watch TV. Off duty time is spent studying the 175 notable people laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.  A guard must memorize who they are and where they are interred.  Among the notables are: President Taft, Joe E. Lewis (the boxer) and Medal of Honor winner Audie Murphy, (the most decorated soldier of WWII) of Hollywood fame.  Every guard spends five hours a day getting his uniforms ready for guard duty.

ETERNAL REST GRANT THEM O LORD,
AND LET PERPETUAL LIGHT SHINE UPON THEM.

In 2003 as Hurricane Isabelle was approaching Washington D.C., our U.S. Senate and House took 2 days off in anticipation of the storm.  On the ABC evening news, it was reported that because of the dangers from the hurricane, the military members assigned the duty of guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were given permission to suspend their assignment.   They respectfully declined the offer, “No way, Sir!”  Soaked to the skin, marching in the pelting rain of a tropical storm, they said that guarding the Tomb was not just an assignment; it was the highest honor that can be afforded to a service person.

The tomb has been patrolled continuously, 24/7, since 1930.

One tomb is empty: the Vietnam Tomb. It was later discovered who was in the tomb.  The family had the remains removed and buried with military honors. Congress decided to leave the tomb empty. Fox News carried the full live service at the tombs. The other channels passed it by. All who have served understand the bond. Freedom is never free.

R. Harper



You Can’t Fool Mother Nature With Your Cries Of “Sustainable” and “Renewable.” She Has Her Own Natural Cycles.

If you are seeing a few more articles about wind energy, it’s because there was a big Windpower 2015 Conference last week. We know, from Obama’s graduation speech to the Coast Guard Cadets, that our greatest national security threat is the dangers of global warming climate change. ISIS, Iran’s Nukes, Russia’s growing expansionist interests, China’s domination of the South China Sea all pale into insignificance when compared to the threat of a warming climate. “Renewable energy” is a major part of Obama’s defense posture.

It has long been observed that wind farms and solar arrays exist because there are government subsidies which support the risks of a new business. Remove the subsidies and wind and solar stop. So the question seems to be more about whose pocket is getting lined, rather than about saving the country.

The Obama administration’s solution for expanding wind power nationwide — is to construct taller, more technologically advanced wind turbines that will be more expensive and difficult to build. This is the 21st Century, and whatever isn’t working — technology will fix. The trouble is the nature of wind itself. Even in the windiest spots, wind is intermittent. It blows in occasional gusts, stops, wafts, gentle breezes. What a turbine needs is a consistent stream of wind at a consistent power. That doesn’t happen in nature. We solve that problem with a 24/7 backup power plant switching on whenever the wind fails. Please explain how it makes sense to shut down all coal-fired power plants to get our energy from the wind, which has to have a conventional power plant running all the time to make your belief in wind energy work? Consistency is not a hallmark of the Left.

The American Wind Energy Association says scaling up wind from conventional 80 meter towers to bigger 100-130 meter towers enables something or other that couldn’t be achieved with standard towers. A 130 meter tower is about 426 feet or 120 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty.

The Energy Department reports that the cost of wind turbine towers increases rapidly with increasing height creating a trade-off between tower cost and the value of added energy production. There are “wildlife considerations” about the “interaction” between taller turbines and eagles. The American Bird Conservancy issued new research showing how wind turbines are threatening many species.

vortex-1024x576A Spanish Company is proposing a radical new way to  generate wind energy with a bladeless wind turbine called a Vortex that looks like a giant rolled joint shooting into the sky. It takes advantage of what’s known as vorticity, an aerodynamic effect that produces a patter of spinning vortices. With enough wind, vorticity can lead to an oscillating motion in structures — which, to bring it closer to home — caused the spectacular collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

The Germans had converted almost 30 percent of their electric grid to solar and wind energy in 15 years from near zero. Tom Friedman gushed that “it has been a great contribution to the stability of our planet and its climate… a world-saving achievement.” One that has come at the expense of sky-high electricity rates and  a yearly bill of $1,700 per person for a median household income of $33,000.  For the poor, a brutal cost to stay warm in a cooling world. Fearful of Fukushima, Germans are shutting down their 20 GW capacity of nuclear power. And to avoid energy blackmail from Russia, they are turning back to coal. Climate change is not caused by too much CO² in the atmosphere.

We have had over 18 years of no warming at all — a fact that escapes those deeply, emotionally invested in “natural” and “free” and “renewable.” Winters are getting colder. And cold kills.



Is It Possible to Make Sense of this Bizzare World?

From Weasel Zippers:
“US Assistant Secretary of State Pressing Israel to Lose Its Nukes
And Make the Middle East a Nuke Free Zone…”

Assistant US Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation, Thomas Countryman, recently visited Israel and held talks with senior Foreign Ministry officials, about the possibility of making the Middle East nuclear-free.

Washington seeks to advance the idea after reaching agreement with Russia about the matter.

The State Department confirmed Countryman’s visit and sources in the US Administration said that Israeli agreement to the idea would be a catalyst for bringing additional countries into discussions on the matter.

The Americans have been attempting to convene an international conference on the subject for some time, without success. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke about the idea with pessimism, and said it was “a very tough challenge.”

From Washington Free Beacon:
“Obama Warns Clinton Foundation Donor Not to Get Nukes”

President Obama told Saudi Arabia on Friday that if it chooses to covertly work to build up a nuclear program, it would “greatly strain the relationship they’ve got with the United States.”

“They understand that ultimately their own security and defense is much better served by working with us,” Obama said in an interview with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg. “Their covert—presumably—pursuit of a nuclear program would greatly strain the relationship they’ve got with the United States.”

The remark came in response to a question from Goldberg regarding the fear that others in the Middle East would attempt to match the nuclear infrastructure that Obama’s deal with Iran would allow it to keep.

“The protection that we provide as [Saudi Arabia’s] partner is a far greater deterrent than they could ever hope to achieve by developing their own nuclear stockpile or trying to achieve breakout capacity when it comes to nuclear weapons, and they understand that,” said Obama.

Hard to comment seriously on that one.



Catching Up With Victor Davis Hanson

Time to relax a bit on a three-day weekend and catch up with what you missed this past busy week?

Victor Davis Hanson: “Were we right to Take Out Saddam?

Probable Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush got himself into trouble by sort of, sort of not, answering the question whether he would have supported going into Iraq in 2003 — had he known then what we know now.

Republican candidates vied in attacking Bush’s initial confusion about answering the question. Most reiterated that they most certainly would not have invaded Iraq, regardless of what they know now or thought they knew then. Politically, it appears to be wiser to damn the decision to invade Iraq and to forget the circumstances that prompted the war — and the later political environment that ended the American presence.

Unfortunately, our country seems to be suffering from collective amnesia.We apparently have forgotten a number of crucial points: …

Victor Davis Hanson: “Obama and Hillary are all Too Happy to Coerce Acceptance of their Agendas”

What happens when the public does not wish to live out the utopian dreams of its elite leaders? Usually, the answer for those leaders is to seek more coercion and less liberty to force people to think progressively. Here at home, President Barack Obama came into power in 2009 with a Democratic Congress, a sympathetic press, and allies in Hollywood, academia, unions, and philanthropic and activist foundations. Yet all that support was not sufficient to ensure “correct” public attitudes about Obama’s agenda on health care, entitlements, taxes, guns, abortion, and cultural issues. …

Victor Davis Hanson: “No Law, No Civilization”
Why did Rome and Byzantium fall apart after centuries of success? What causes civilizations to collapse, from a dysfunctional fourth-century-B.C. Athens to contemporary bankrupt Greece?

The answer is usually not enemies at the gates, but the pathologies inside them.

What ruins societies is well known: too much consumption and not enough production, a debased currency, and endemic corruption.

Americans currently deal with all those symptoms. But two more fundamental causes for decline are even more frightening: an unwillingness to pay taxes and the end of the rule of law. …



General David Petraeus Speaks to Us From Northern Iraq:
May 23, 2015, 8:10 pm
Filed under: A General's View, History, Opportunities Lost | Tags: , , ,

The Washington Post on Wednesday carried answers to written questions from reporter Liz Sly while he was attending the annual Sulaimani Forum, a get- together of Iraqi leaders, thinkers and academics, at the American University of Iraq in Sulaimani in northern Iraq’s Kurdistan region.

He spoke of mistakes the Americans have made and mistakes the Iraqis themselves have made, the squandering of so much of what we had achieved, and the exploitation of those failures by extremists on both sides.

Having said that, my sense is that the situation in Iraq today is, to repeat a phrase I used on the eve of the surge, hard but not hopeless. I believe that a reasonable outcome here is still achievable, although it will be up to all of us — Iraqis, Americans, leaders in the region and leaders of the coalition countries — to work together to achieve it.

What has happened in Iraq is a tragedy — for the Iraqi people, for the region and for the entire world. It is tragic foremost because it didn’t have to turn out this way. The hard-earned progress of the Surge was sustained for over three years.  What transpired after that, starting in late 2011, came about as a result of mistakes and misjudgments whose consequences were predictable. And there is plenty of blame to go around for that.

Yet despite that history and the legacy it has left, I think Iraq and the coalition forces are making considerable progress against the Islamic State. In fact, I would argue that the foremost threat to Iraq’s long-term stability and the broader regional equilibrium is not the Islamic State; rather, it is Shiite militias, many backed by — and some guided by — Iran.

The whole piece is to be found here. Do read the whole thing, it’s not long.



Yoo Hoo, Mr. President! About Climate Change Being Our Biggest Threat?
May 23, 2015, 6:41 pm
Filed under: Climate, Climate Cooling, Energy | Tags: , ,

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Memorial Day Weekend, May 23, 2015 — A weekend of barbecues, and a time for remembrance, the start of Summer. This is Portage Lake, Maine today.

https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/05/20/remarks-president-united-states-coast-guard-academy-commencement




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