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Ben Franklin's bifocals Saturday, May 30, 2009

Notre Dame - Statue of Joan of Arc
[1431 - Joan of Arc (age 19) is burned as a witch by English at Rouen]

Director Howard Hawks
[1896 - Howard Hawks, producer, director,
born in Goshen, Indiana]

Producer Irving Thalberg
[1899 - Irving Thalberg, producer,
director, born in Brooklyn]

Writer Cornelia Otis Skinner
[1901 - Cornelia Otis Skinner, writer,
producer, born in Chicago Illinois]

Actor Stepin Fetchit
[1902 - Stepin Fetchit (Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew
Perry), actor, comedian, born in Key West, Florida]

Man of a Thousand Voices Mel Blanc
[1908 - Mel Blanc, actor, man of a
thousand voices, born in San Francisco]

The King of Swing Benny Goodman
[1909 - Benny Goodman, clarinetist, bandleader,
born in Chicago Illinois]

Ray Harroun wins at the Brickyard in 1911
[1911 - Ray Harroun wins first Indy 500 at the Brickyard]

Academy Award-winning Director Franklin J. Schaffner at work
[1920 - Franklin Schaffner, Academy Award-winning director, born in Tokyo]

A Day to Remember

Gettysburg dead

Today is the Memorial Day that many of us grew up with. It was not until the early '70s that Congress decided that we would celebrate this day of public remembrance on the last Monday in May to increase the tally of three-day weekends so we could all go to the malls and buy more stuff that we didn't really need. A small but hardy band of individuals and organizations continue to oppose that change with some valid points.

If one traces the history of this holiday, it is hard not to sympathize with the dissenters who say we have lost the meaning and purpose of the day in a rush to commercialize it. In the period following our Civil War, with the carnage still fresh in the memory of the nation, a day in which to visit and tend the graves of the fallen began on a modest scale as Decoration Day. Over the years the concept expanded into a national holiday during which homage was to be paid to all those who had given their lives for the Country.

Listening to the rhetoric about Memorial Day 2009 one hears that, from the Commander in Chief on down, our leaders have missed its point. As a time for the nation to honor the ultimate sacrifice made by millions of citizens so that the rest of us can enjoy freedom and comfort, Memorial Day is appropriate. As a time for society to reflect on the horrors of war and the price paid for past failures to solve political disputes without bloodshed, therein lies the lesson of the day. To use the day to glorify military service, and as an excuse for another exhortation to 'support the troops,' stands the true meaning of Memorial Day on its head.

Girl places flag at military cemetary

William's Whimsical Words:

As a retired military combat veteran who lost some comrades in Vietnam, I urge you to support the troops by bringing them home so that they will not die needlessly in some foreign land defending our Country from the current Washington-perceived Bogeymen.

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