Archive for November, 2010

The 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

Today is Veteran’s Day in the United States. For much of the rest of the world and especially in Europe, November 11 is Armistice Day, marking the end of the great war, World War I.  On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11 month in 1918 when the armistice was signed,  over 20 million people had lost their lives. To the members of the British Commonwealth, today is Remembrance Day and is often symbolized by the red poppy immortalized in the poem,  Flanders Fields. These poppies bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War I, their brilliant red color an appropriate symbol for the blood spilt in the war.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

American Cemetery, Flanders Field, Belgium

War Memorials

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

United States Marine Corps War Memorial

Two very important memorials were unveiled on this day, November 10. In 1954, the United States Marine Corps War Memorial was dedicated in Arlington, VA.  The bronze sculpture by Felix de Weldon depicts Marines raising the flag over Iwo Jima during World War II and is based on a photograph by Joe Rosenthal.

In 1982 the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall was opened to the public.  This haunting monument contains the 58,267 names of those killed or missing in action from the conflict and along with Three Soldiers statue, the Vietnam Women’s Memorial make up the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial National Memorial.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall

Two Presidential Birthdays and Election Day All in One

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

In addition to being Election Day 2010, November 2 is also the birthday of two of our presidents, James K. Polk and Warren G. Harding.
Polk was our 11th president, a Democrat and was born on this date back in 1795 in North Carolina. However, he represented Tennessee as Governor and later as a Congressman, and served as Speaker of the House. Polk was known for his strong foreign policy, threatening war with Britain and leading the country to victory over the Mexican American War and the Mexican Cession increasing the size of the United States by nearly one third with California, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Wyoming. It was during Polk’s single term as having promised he would not run for re-election, that the US Naval Academy and the Smithsonian Institute were opened and ground was broken on the Washington Monument. Polk generally thought of as one of our best presidents for creating an agenda and accomplishing it.

Warren G. Harding was our 29th President. He was born in Corsica, Ohio in 1865. He was a newspaper publisher by trade and served as an Ohio State Senator, Lt. Governor of Ohio and later in the US Senate. Unfortunately, while Polk is always favorably rated, Harding is not, mostly due the the numerous scandals that marked his brief presidency. He was often associated with the Ohio Gang, a group of politicians and industry leaders from Ohio that were responsible for the Teapot Dome Scandal, and acts of corruption. Harding died of a heart attack two years into his term and was succeeded by Vice President Calvin Coolidge.

James K. Polk

Warren G. Harding