Archive for the 'history' Category

The more things change….

Lessons for President Obama from FDR.

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Martin Luther King’s Words for Us Today

king.jpg“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” — Dr. Martin Luther King jr, “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, April 1963 

I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive goodwill will proclaim the rule of the land…Most of these people will never make the headlines and their names will not appear in Who’s Who. Yet when years have rolled past and when the blazing light of truth is focused on this marvelous age in which we live — men and women will know and children will be taught that we have a finer land, a better people, a more noble civilization — because these humble children of God were willing to suffer for righteousness’ sake. Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech (Dec 1964)

We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and for justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.“Conscience and the Vietnam War” in The Trumpet of Conscience (1968)

Saving Thanksgivng #7

“We return thanks to the Great Spirit, in whom is embodied all goodness, and who directs all things for the good of his children.” (Iroquois Prayer)

9451124.jpgThis Saturday Evening Post cover by Norman Rockwell is from 1945.  The soldier, home from the war and celebrating Thanksgiving, tugs at my heartstrings.  What is more amazing to me is the headline in the box, “What will Bradley do for the Veterans?”  This refers to Gen. Omar Bradley, chosen by President Truman at the end of World War II to direct the Veterans Administration.  The following excerpt is from Bradley’s biography found at the Arlington National Cemetary website.

“Somewhat unwillingly, Bradley accepted the job and began to modernize and restructure that antiquated organization to meet the challenges that it would soon face. Before the end of the war the VA was responsible for some 5 million veterans, with a few pensions still going to cases arising from the War of 1812. By 1946 almost 17 million veterans were on its rolls. Bradley completely rebuilt the organization on a regional basis and insisted on basing his decisions on he needs of the veteran, rather than on the political considerations that had so often governed in the past in such matters as the location of VA hospitals. With the help of Maj. Gen. Paul R. Hawley, Eisenhower’s theater surgeon, he completely overhauled a medical care system that Hawley had described as medieval. He also revised and extended the educational benefits of the G.I. Bill, arranged for jobs and job training programs for men whose only experience had been as members of the armed forces, established a program of loans for veterans, and administered a staggering growth in veterans insurance and disability pensions. Bradley was unable to accomplish everything he had hoped to do in his two-year tenure, but in the assessment of the press, he transformed “the medical service of the Veterans Administration from a national scandal to a model establishment.”

My father was one of those World War II veterans who was lovingly cared for by the VA.  I have cousins who served in the Korean, Vietnam, and First Gulf wars.  I am thankful for their service to our nation.  So many of our military will not be home this Thanksgiving or will be spending all of their future Thanksgivings as disabled, needing the VA’s services. 

A little known news story last week was the naming of Dr. James B. Peake as President Bush’s latest director of Veterans Affairs.  Just as in 1945, we must ask the question, “What will Peake do for the Veterans?”  Bradley’s transformation of the VA from “a national scandal to a model establishment” seems to have be reversed.  Veterans’ inadequate health care, homelessness, suicide and trauma seem to be daily news stories.  I urge you to follow the confirmation process of Dr. Peake.  It is not without controversy.  We owe it to our veterans.

Saving Thanksgiving #5

 “For each new morning with its light, for rest and shelter of the night, for health and food, for love and friends,for everything Thy goodness sends.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Instead of a painting for today’s post, I’ve included some photographs I found on the American Memory section the Library of Congress website.  If you’ve never spent time browsing this site, do so; it contains digitized primary sources for every interest.  These photographs are from the late 1930’s and early 1940’s.  What a marvelous peek into our past.  I especially like the photo of the pies cooling on the sideboard with the family reflected in the mirror and the family opening their home to the military during World War II.  Just click on each thumbnail to see each photograph.  Today’s post ends with Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation.  During This time of war and unease, it is an especially meaningful message.

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Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation 

The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well as the iron and coal as of our precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the imposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purpose, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this 3d day of October, A.D. 1863, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.