American Elephants


Happy 100th Birthday to British Songstress Dame Vera Lynn by The Elephant's Child

Vera Lynn was the voice of home to British Soldiers wherever they served, and a great voice it was. Today she turns 100 years old, celebrated as a Dame of the British Empire.  When she was 78, she sang on the fiftieth anniversary of VE Day, the songs of the times: The White Cliffs of Dover, Land of Hope and Glory, I’ll Be Seeing You, Lili Marlene,



Why World War II Matters — Victor Davis Hanson by The Elephant's Child


Here’s a fascinating lecture by Victor Davis Hanson on why World War II matters. It ended 71 years ago, ancient history. The very last of those who served in the war are nearly all gone, and even those who really remember are passing on. How do we make those to whom it is ancient history, who may not even know who was fighting or why they were fighting or why it matters understand?

Dr. Hanson, Central Valley farmer, college professor, military historian, columnist, author and fellow at the Hoover Institution is presented here by the Hillsdale College History Department. Enjoy. It’s well worth your time.



Remember the Men of D-Day, June 6, 1944 by The Elephant's Child
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Major Werner Pluskat in his bunker overlooking Omaha Beach had heard nothing from his superiors. He was cold, tired and exasperated. He felt isolated. He couldn’t understand why there had been no reports from either regimental or division headquarters. …Once more he swung the artillery glasses over to the left, picked up the dark mass of the Cherbourg peninsula and began another slow sweep of the horizon. The same low banks of mist came into view, the same patches of shimmering moonlight, the same restless white flecked sea.Behind him in the bunker his dog Harras, was stretched out asleep. Nearby,  Captain Ludz Wilkening and Lieutenant Fritz Theen were talking quietly. Pluskat joined them. “Still nothing out there,” he told them.” I’m about to give it up. But he walked back to the aperture and stood looking out as the first streaks of light began to lighten the sky. He decided to make another routine sweep.Wearily, he swung the glasses over to the left again. Slowly he tracked across the horizon. He reached the dead center of the bay. The glasses stopped moving. Pluskat tensed, stared hard.Through the scattering thinning mist the horizon was filling with ships — ships of every size and description, ships that casually maneuvered back and forth as though they had been there for hours. There appeared to be thousands of them. Pluskat stared in frozen disbelief, speechless, moved as he had never been before in his life. At that moment the world of the good soldier Pluskat began falling apart. He says that in those first few moments he knew, calmly and surely, that “this was the end for Germany.”      Cornelius Ryan: The Longest Day


December 7, 1941: Remember Pearl Harbor. by The Elephant's Child

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Sailors and others try to get good viewing spots to witness the surrender of Japan USS Missouri
Japanese Diplomat Toshikazu Kase, who was part of the official delegation surrendering to General Douglas MacArthur, above, on the deck of the battleship Missouri, wrote about the surrender:

Here is the victor announcing the verdict to the prostrate enemy.  He can impose a humiliating penalty if he so desires.  And yet he pleads for freedom, tolerance and justice.  For me, who expected the worst humiliation, this was a complete surprise.  I was thrilled beyond words, spellbound, thunderstruck.

It took 3 years, nine months and eight days.  Pity, and sorrow, but no apologies.

The numbers of those who actually remember Pearl Harbor are declining as the greatest generation passes away. Big events loom large in the lives of those who were alive at the time, and then slip gradually into that broad category of history. But it is important to understand how those big events changed history, and changed the world. Knowledge and understanding may help us avoid mistakes and untoward reactions when something happens in our lives. The children who were barely old enough to remember 9/11 are freshmen in college now.



Seventy-Five Years Ago Today, Winston Churchill Told the House of Commons and the British People “We Shall Never Surrender” by The Elephant's Child
June 4, 2015, 10:39 pm
Filed under: History, World War II | Tags: , , ,

WinstonChuechillSeventy-five years ago today, Winston Churchill stood defiantly before Parliament and delivered a speech that roused not only Britain, but the free world. Churchill had long warned that Adolf Hitler was a threat to the free world, and that Nazi Germany represented tyranny. He was convinced that only Britain and her American cousins stood in the way.

In 1933, the Army of the United States numbered 137,000 men, the 16th in the world. The French army was 5 million strong. Roosevelt declared the United States neutral. Russia invaded Poland from the east. 1940: Chamberlain resigned and Churchill became Prime Minister. Germany invaded Norway, Denmark, Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg. The Dutch army surrendered, Belgium capitulated.

May 29 to June 3, trapped  British forces were evacuated from Dunkirk by a vast flotilla of Navy ships and brave little boats manned by British volunteers. At the outset, it was hoped that 45,000 men might be rescued, but the seas remained calm and the Royal Air Force fought to deny the enemy air supremacy. Over 338,000 allied troops reached England, including 26,000 French soldiers. That was the situation when Winston Churchill, the new Prime Minister, rose to speak to the House of Commons and the British people.

The speech is long, and to be found here in its entirety It ended with these long remembered stirring words:

…we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our Island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone. At any rate, that is what we are going to try to do. That is the resolve of His Majesty’s Government-every man of them. That is the will of Parliament and the nation. The British Empire and the French Republic, linked together in their cause and in their need, will defend to the death their native soil, aiding each other like good comrades to the utmost of their strength. Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.




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