Pictures of the Week, Thanksgiving Edition

Lest you think that picture is purely gratuitous, The American Spectator tells us:

Marilyn was descended from John Alden and Priscilla Mullins — arguably the two most famous Pilgrims to step off the Mayflower — through their eldest daughter and first child, Elizabeth. Marilyn was a seven-times-great granddaughter of the Aldens. But she didn’t know it.

But I would have run it anyway! 🙂

Not the Rolling Stones

A Polish soldier

And of course

As always, mostly from PowerLine and Bookworm.

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Happy Thanksgiving

Today, in America is Thanksgiving Day. It is a day of celebration of what we have made of God’s gift to us all. Its history reaches all the way back to our Pilgrim forebearers, who felt called to thank God that they had survived the first year in the Massachusetts Bay.

Now it is a day of parades, football, serious overeating, and sleeping off that overeating by sleeping through the football on TV. But I think we all deep in our hearts do remember to thank “The Big Guy” for all we have, and the freedom to enjoy it.

President Washington certainly knew something about dark days, far darker than ours are today, and he (and Congress) thought it fit to remember the Author of our blessings. So should we.

From the Heritage Foundation

Thanksgiving Proclamation

Issued by President George Washington, at the request of Congress, on October 3, 1789

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go. Washington

That’s the reason for the day put as well as anyone has, ever.

My family’s traditional table grace is this

Now for something much lighter. You know these guys, we’ve loved them most of our lives.

 

Keep the Radio On

The other day in comments, Unit and I got to talking a bit about listening to the radio. I commented then that often I have the BBC local station in Norfolk on. I use an internet radio almost exclusively anymore, not least because I’m not all that fond of contemporary country music, which is about all that I can get here.

If I spent more time in the truck, I would likely bite the bullet and get me a Sirius radio, it’s an impressive service, but my internet one is just fine for here, and yes, I’ve been known to record a few hours of something to playback when I’m travelling. What can I say, I’m a cheap old curmudgeon.

It’s hard to describe the appeal of the BBC’s local stations because unless you are like me, you don’t really remember what local radio was like in the US. For quite a while now, it has mostly been the same wherever you go, delivered by satellite to the stations. That’s even true for AM talk radio. In a way, it’s good, I can listen to Rush at the same time that you do, wherever you are, but there’s little that’s personal about it.

Interestingly, the BBC local stations started coming on air 50 years ago, to counteract the pirate stations that were operating offshore. Some of these also ran shortwave service, and I can remember listening to Radio Caroline myself when I was a kid after it got dark and the propagation picked up. Them and the World Service, Radio Moscow, Radio Vatican, and for some reason Radio Quito. That’s how my interest in long-distance radio got started.

The other day The Spectator ran an article on the local stations that I found quite interesting. Here’s a bit.

It’s 50 years since the first local radio stations were launched by the BBC in yet another instance of the corporation working hard to stay ahead of the game, on this occasion responding to the challenge of the pirate stations, whose audiences were local and known to be very loyal. Radio Leicester was the first to go on air on 8 November 1967, launched by a very plummy-voiced postmaster-general as ‘the first hometown radio station in Britain’. (The BBC executive behind the idea, Frank Gillard, had spent time in America and been impressed by local radio there, wishing to replicate its homespun feel.) Others followed quickly, dependent on whether the local council was happy to provide part-funding (they are now solely funded by the BBC). Known for their cheesy jingles (Radio Merseyside boasted that their call-sign was composed by Gerry Marsden, of the Pacemakers), the BBC’s local stations were often treated like a poor relation of grand old 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Underfunded, understaffed, relegated to the back pages of Radio Times,they were designed for listeners like ‘Dave and Sue’ (the fictional target audience created by the Beeb’s marketing department), who were in their fifties, not interested in politics or piano concertos, shopped at Asda, wore ‘casual clothes’, and wanted to be cheered up and made to laugh by what they listened to. […]

That is a formula that still works, at least for me, and why listening to the radio has become in America, mostly something one does in the car, I think.

There is something very different about the conversation local stations have with their audiences. As Vanessa Feltz of Radio London explained on the World At One last Wednesday, it is ‘very, very intimate. You can be talking about specific houses, specific window boxes’; it’s broadcasting in the raw. Jack Thompson, one of the first presenters on Radio Sheffield, recalled how instead of phoning in, callers would turn up at the station and be put behind the mike, talking directly to other listeners. Local stations can react more quickly, the Radio Manchester presenter Allan Beswick staying on air until six in the morning after the Manchester Arena attack earlier this year.

That continuity and flexibility creates a bond with the listener that could be said to be ‘the culture of encounter’ interrogated by Douglas Alexander, the former Labour MP and cabinet minister, in his programme for Radio 4 on Tuesday morning. He wonders why so many of us now have the sense that we’re living among strangers, incredulous that anyone can have voted to leave the EU, or on the other hand to remain. […]

Yep, he’s right, I think. Several of the announcers have become welcome voices in my ears, one, whose name I shamefully have forgotten, got his start on Radio Caroline, and is as good as he was there, Some are just fun to listen to, where else will you find someone addressed as Thunderfairy, and some just ooze personality, like Georgey Spanswick, whose laugh is so infectious that I think she is now on all the local stations in England and the Channel Islands. Combine that with old music, both top 40 and country, and even the weekly gardening show, and it’s a calm and winning combination. Even Postman Pat shows up, and if that registers with you, you spend, like me, entirely too much time with Brits.

Shared activities bridge the difference, like the project in Peckham that brings young professionals together with older people, the young teaching techie skills, the older people telling stories, giving advice, Just like local radio.

And just like radio used to be here,

So often we cousins steal the absolute worst in each other’s culture, but here the Brits managed to steal something that was really good in America, and to get it right not long before we threw it away. Good on you, BBC. You do lots of stuff on on your big national stations radio, and TV, that is deplorable, but your local stuff is quite wonderful.

It’s a formula that worked so well that for a time in the mid 60s the best music came either from London – or Chicago. It still works for me, even if I have to listen to a station in Norwich, England. And every once in a while, someone gets on the station, that actually speaks with the Norfolk accent, if you hear it, you won’t forget it, although you may not understand a word they say.

But you know, I was never the complete rocker, for years my clock radio lulled me to sleep, set on WGN, listening to Jack Eigen talking to whatever show biz folks happened to be in Chicago that day. Nothing important, just chatting with them, maybe spinning a record of two, or maybe not. Things were simpler then, maybe because we simply didn’t hear all the noise we do these days.

And this week, one of my favorite Gingers celebrated her 85th birthday, so we’d best remember her, as well.

Remember, Remember, the Fifth of November; and Pictures, Too!

Tonight they’ll try to set a bonfire to burn England down. Why? Because back in 1605 Guy Fawkes was caught before he had time to light the fuse on 30 some odd barrels of gunpowder under parliament, in an attempt to destroy Parliament and the King (James I), thereby setting the stage for the restoration of the Catholic Church.

It has long since become nonsectarian although very often an effigy of Guy Fawkes is on the pyre. But mostly it’s a good excuse for a bonfire and fireworks, indeed rather like the 4th of July, where we really don’t rail much about old King George anymore.

It was celebrated here until the Revolution as well, especially in New England, where the effigy of Guy Fawkes was sometimes joined by one of the Pope. It was banned by General Washington while the Continental Army occupied Boston in the Revolution so as not to over inflame the residents, and pretty much never resumed.


Speaking of domestic terrorists

And, of course…

Most, as usual from PowerLine and Bookworm.

 

Poppies and Political Correctness

Brookwood American Cemetery

Here in America, sometime after Vietnam, the wearing of Poppies seemed to die out without even a whimper, just over a few years, something that was de rigeur became optional and then unusual. It is something I miss, but maybe it is for the best.

If you are my age, you will likely remember the ladies from the American Legion Auxiliary (or the corresponding organizations from the VFW or the DAV) coming to your school, and passing out poppies, and giving us a talk about how important those men were. And the good works their organizations were doing (yes, it was, and it is, all true). Always, their talk included this, written by Canadian Major John McCrae at Ypres in 1915.

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.

The thing is, for those ladies, who took the time to come and talk to a bunch of kids who were more interested in recess than history, it was their father’s and uncles at (well not Ypres for Americans) but at Chateau Thierry, and the Argonne. And it was their brothers and boyfriends and husbands who fought all across Europe and Asia a mere 20 years before. Even as grade school kids a good bit sunk in.

My guess is, it was much the same in Britain, but where in America, for some undocumented reason, the poppy has retreated to a much-diminished place, in Britain it has become a required marker. I’d like to think that a good thing, but I’m not sure it is. Sir Humphrey had some thoughts about this lately at A Thin Pinstriped Line. They are worth a think.

[P]oppy season is here again, that time of year when politicians, celebrities and others compete to wear the biggest and most garish poppy. The media are on tenterhooks, waiting to spot a public figure without one, or even better someone wearing a white poppy or saying how they don’t believe in poppy day. The Guardian and Independent will run articles decrying the event, which will have the effect of raising the blood pressure of people across the country who have never served but feel the need to be OUTRAGED on behalf of those who have. Frankly I think this garish spectacle is getting worse every year, and I wonder if the time has come to rethink it.

I come from humble roots. Looking back over 100 years of ‘Appleby’ family history and you will find coal miners on Tyneside and farmers in Essex, all living in relative poverty. One direct side of my family has a long history of service with the Reserves. My great grandfather was in the TA before WW1, mobilising as a Private in a TA rifle Bn in 1914, before being invalided after the Battle of Loos. My Grandfather joined the TA in 1940, serving as an anti-tank gunner  in a long series of campaigns from Africa to Western Europe in 1945. Growing up I heard his stories of the war and thought they sounded exciting and fun.  I was too young and naïve to realise the deep horrors he saw and experienced that lurked beneath the surface of his bravado about nearly being killed at Alam Halfa, entering the minefields on the first night of Alamein, or going toe to toe with Tigers at Villers Bocage. To my youthful mind he had spent his twenties having a bloody good adventure, not risking his life in circumstances he didn’t necessarily want to be in

There were no decorations or medals for my family members. A citation recommending him for the Military Medal was found after his death. The award was never gazetted, and it was likely that he was written up at least twice for a gallantry award, but family legend being that his falling out with his Platoon Commander saw the end of the matter. What was telling though was that he never spoke of the horrific and desperate circumstances that saw him being written up for the award, only the circumstances of it going no further.

The other half of my family history involves many who were conscientious objectors, and who did not serve for strong and deeply held religious beliefs. As a child I did not understand this, nor what it meant to be a conscientious objector in the UK during the war. It was only as I got older that I began to realise the strength of moral courage required to not serve, to say the unpopular thing and to not give into peer pressure and sacrifice your deeply held beliefs in order to conform. To listen to how lifelong friends would refuse to talk to you ever again over your views was humbling. I am as equally proud of my family on this side, and use their example of courage and standing up for what they felt was right in my own approach to life. The manner in which this blog is written, challenging the status quo and pushing unpopular views is in its own way a small attempt to continue this tradition.

That sounds like almost any American Family I can think of over the last century, although Conscientious Objectors were quite uncommon here, but they certainly have always existed, and we have mostly honored them, as we should.

I have no particular emotional attachment to Remembrance Day, and feel no reason to get morose or withdrawn over it. It is a time of year to pause, give thanks and look to the future. But in recent years I feel that something has gone awry with the whole process.

Growing up in the early 1980s it was about watching parades of men from both world wars come together to pay respects. There was huge and genuine admiration from the crowd and more importantly a sense of humility. It felt that the day functioned as a national coping mechanism for a nation where most of the population had in some way lived through, or been impacted by the legacy of the war.

Today very few are left who remember the war – even the youngest babe in arms in 1945 is today well into their 70s. The youngest UK veteran of WW2 will probably be about 88-90 years old, and much as with the end of the First World War veterans, their numbers will soon dwindle rapidly and then pass forever into memory.

Watching the parade in London now seems to involve an ever more eclectic combination of random organisations, people with ever more tenuous links to the military and a growing number of post war veterans who may never have seen an actual campaign, but who feel the need to vocally campaign for a medal anyway. At the same time the whole process of remembrance appears to have been caught up in a wider process of ostentatious displays of poppy memorabilia and ‘proper remembering’ (as ARRSE users call it).

I think we have lost sight of what the act of remembrance actually is – a simple pause for two minutes to reflect, give thanks and look forward, wrapped up in a simple service. The growing ‘remembrance industry’ seeking to milk every opportunity to raise funds or be outraged at some manufactured incident seems to have lost sight of this.

About that parade, Sir Humphrey is simply correct, I watched it last year (on youtube) and it had little to do with the stalwart men who kept us free, it was virtue signalling central. I wonder if the Queen agrees, there must be a reason why she has decided to pass it on to the Virtue Signaller in Chief, Charles, Prince of Wales.

Not that this is news, really. Jess and I did a comparison a few years ago. her thoughts are here, and mine here.

All that said, where will I be, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th months for the 99th time? Where I always am, at my local cemetery, remembering those I have known, in olive drab, in khaki, in pinks and greens, in tiger stripes, in woodland, in BDUs, and ACUs. That is the meaning of the day, to remember, not just for those two minutes, but in our lives and in how we live our lives, those who laid it on the line for us all. Sir Humphrey is correct, the ones from the Great War are all gone, the ranks from the second are thinning quickly, we need to learn the lessons quickly, although they are the eternal lessons that these men lived so well. Duty, Honor, Country says it all, really. But we need to try much harder to live up to them.

And then I will retire with my friends to the local Legion Hall, for lunch, and a few (usually cheap) beers. The first toast will be what it always is, just as we stole it from the Scots, long ago.

Here’s tae us;
to which the assembly replies:
wha’s like us?
to which the hosts replies:

Gey few, and they’re a’ deid.

Weekend Pictures

Time to look around before we start a fresh week of hell, not to mention Pumpkin Spice

In case you were in space last week, the news is that casting couches still exist in Hollywood, and Harvey Weinstein knows how to use them, often. But something happened and all the bribes paid to politicians contributions to the Democratic Party haven’t sufficed to keep the story out of the paper. Film at 11!

“I’ll take that one!”

As always mostly from Bookworm and PowerLine. Have a good week!

 

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