Always Remember And Honor D-Day

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Today is the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Invasion by the Allied troops in which, on June 6, 1944, over 150,000 troops launched the largest sea, air, and land invasion in history against the Fascist powers led by Nazi Germany. The invasion itself saw these troops land in Nazi-occupied France, and it marked the beginning of the end of Nazi control of France and of the European war.

This landing was part of Operation Overlord, the code name for the overall plan to invade and retake France and move into Germany. During this battle, approximately 210,000 Allied casualties, including about 37,000 killed were suffered.

Most of the soldiers who attacked that beach and faced horrific gunfire from the occupying Nazi forces were around 18-20 years old, and they were among the most honorable and brave forces the Unites States ever produced. They were, indeed, among America’s Greatest Generation.

Please remember their courage and sacrifice.

Please remember that their actions helped to create the postwar American-European alliances that are currently at risk.

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Honor Veterans Day

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November 11 is Veterans Day, and I simply wanted to offer my thank you to all the men and women who have served or are serving our country in the Armed Forces.

This day began with Armistice Day, November 11, 1918, which ended the First World War. Congress formalized Armistice Day as a national holiday in 1938. After World War II and The Korean War, the day was renamed Veterans Day, and it serves as a time to honor all of those who have served or are serving.

Please let it be a day of honor and thanks, not one of special sales deals. It is a day to recognize the commitment, duty, sacrifice, and service of the men and women who have served or are serving in the Armed Forces.

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I Stand With The Jewish Community

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Today we have seen the commission of a horrible act of terrorism and murder committed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A shooter opened fire inside a synagogue and killed 11 and injured 6 others. I am not sure if those horrific numbers will increase–I hope they do not.

It must be said without any doubt that this was an anti-Semitic, racist, bigoted, and fascist act, that also is chillingly reminiscent of acts in Germany during the 1930s. In our current political climate, in which hatred is growing, and in which guns are easily available to anyone, including some people who have no business having them, such horrors occur far too frequently. This was an act of hatred by a racist, an extreme right winger.

People of all political views, at least those who are sane, must oppose these increases in hate. There are no excuses, no justifications, and no political spins that can reduce the culpability of a political culture that has lead to the massive increase of both shootings and attacks on places of worship, especially of people in the minority in the United States. These actions indicate a growing and disturbing trend towards fascism, and it must be opposed. My parents were of the generation that fought against totalitarianism by Japan and Germany and Italy. They did not sacrifice so much so that our country can slide into fascist attitudes. We must never forget the lessons of the horrors of the 20th Century, especially the Holocaust and World War Two.

Freedom and democracy demand that reasonable people, who can certainly disagree with how to fix problems in the United States of America, unite to oppose this disturbing trend.

Again, I am horrified by this shooting, and I feel great sadness for the Jewish people who suffered from this attack–the dead, the wounded, and their families and friends.

It is not enough to offer thoughts and prayers.

This must never happen again.

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Favorite Horror Films: The Horror of Dracula: Revisited

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I am returning to my series of examinations of horror movies through various decades.  After the great horror  cycle of movies from Universal Studios in the 1930s and 1940s culminating in the Abbott and Costello spoofs, serious horror movies vanished for a period. They were replaced by the spate of giant critter movies spawned by the fears of nuclear fallout post World War Two and the ominous threat of nuclear armageddon of the Cold War.

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In 1957, Hammer Studios, a British film company initiated a new cycle of horror films with the release of The Curse of Frankenstein. Following on the success of that film, Hammer then produced its new version of a filmic adaptation of Dracula by Bram Stoker: Horror of Dracula (the American title) or Dracula (the British title).  This film not only allowed this film studio to emerge as a major force in horror films, but also it, along with The Curse of Frankenstein, spawned a new cycle in horror that would span nearly two decades. The film starred Sir Christopher Lee as Dracula, Peter Cushing as Dr. Van Helsing, and Michael Gough as  Arthur Holmwood and was directed by Terence Fisher.

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This film dramatically changed the course of horror films.  Prior to Horror Of Dracula, most horror movies, especially  the classic Universal films were shot in black and white; this film was in vivid color. Also changed noticeably from the 1931 Dracula with Bela Lugosi was the pacing and the level of over sexuality and violence. This movie moved at a very rapid pace with condensed action and compression of characters from the book.  A very lively film score added to the tension and feeling of almost constant movement.

 

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Christopher Lee brought an imposing physicality to the role and played the count with a noble British accent. He showed great strength and mobility in his performance. And this film introduced  the vampire with fangs and blood.  When he emerges in full fury after the vampire girl has attacked Jonathan Harker, he is a demonic image.  This was a representation of the vampire that was entirely new and very powerful.

In Britain, this movie received an X rating because of its, what was for the time, overt sexuality and violence. The women sometimes wore low cut gowns, and Dracula’s attacks carried a not too subtle sexuality, although by today’s standards, this shocking sensuality certainly would be tame or almost quaint.

Horror Of Dracula was a success both financially and critically. Hammer studios would make numerous sequels to this film and would also base the release of other movies, principally on Dr. Frankenstein , on their good fortune. If you enjoy horror films and have not seen this particular movie, I recommend it.

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Quotations on Patriotism

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It seems appropriate in these times of turmoil, in which terms like patriotism are thrown around easily, to put up some quotations about it. After reading Trump’s so-called joke about hoping for a President for life in the United States, I am compelled to point out that when he took the oath of office, among what he promised was, “. . . I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”  (The emphasis is mine.) This is a sacred duty, and it must never been made a butt of jokes, nor must any President make claims to want to be “President for life.” Anyone who does that is not patriotic, and any American who is patriotic should be offended. My parents’ generation fought a horrific world war to protect freedom. We must not let it go by, and we should not ignore threats to our freedom.

I will let more eloquent than I speak to this:

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“Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else.”

                                                                     Theodore Roosevelt

 

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“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time and your government when it deserves it.”

                                                                      Mark Twain

 

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“Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.”

                                                                      George Washington

It Can Happen Here: A Lesson from Charlottesville, Virginia

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This will not be a post about my normal subjects.

In 1935 Sinclair Lewis’ book It Can’t Happen Here spoke to the issue that many Americans held that fascism could not occur in the United States of America. His book is satirical, frightening, and, unfortunately, still applicable.

Erik Larson’s nonfiction history book In The Garden of Beasts, 2011, detailed the experience of Ambassador Dodd in Berlin in the 1930s, during the rise and solidification of Hitler’s power, and it is a terrifying read.

We must always remember that it can happen here, that bigotry and hatred can lead to terrible results. That white nationalists and neo-nazis brought their horror and bigotry to Charlottesville, VA yesterday, resulting in violence and death should make all Americans, regardless of political party, Democrat, Republican, or Independent, aware of what can happen.

We should all be frightened of the possibilities of such hatred. We should also speak to the singular lack of condemnation by President Trump of the neo-nazis and white power groups. As President, he should not have said “on many sides.” This is an issue of hatred, brought by those who worship hatred and the defeated, in World War II, obscenities of Hitler. The President should have, without equivocation, stated his condemnation of their actions and beliefs.

We must always remember that fascism, bigotry, hatred, and dictatorship can occur here as it can anywhere. As Americans, whose freedom was paid for in blood, by those who fought in World War Two, we must speak out against such injustice and horror.

There should be no place for neo-nazis, white nationialists, and bigotry in the United States of America.

 

Please Remember the D-Day Invasion

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Please let us all take a moment and remember the sacrifices of those men, often little more than boys, who took part in the largest military invasion in the history of humanity: Operation Overlord. Thanks to their courage, they were able to begin the end of Hitler’s reign of terror in Europe. The invasion began on June 6, 1944 and lasted until the middle of July in 1944.

Many soldiers from a variety of countries lost their lives during this campaign, and today several cemeteries exist to honor those who fell. One such sacred place is the Normandy American Cemetery.

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To all who fought to defeat Fascism, I give my thanks.