Today in the United States it is Martin Luther King Day. I have a trivial confession to make, I opposed its establishment as a federal holiday, not so much because of what he symbolized, as a simple prejudice against even more holidays, and the combining of Lincoln’s and Washington’s Birthdays. In some way, I still feel that way.
But as I look out on America fifty-five years later, I’m glad it is a holiday. Why? Because the civil rights movement that he spearheaded, as late as it was, was, and is, important. The sad part is that the left, who attempts to take credit for what was mostly conservatives in the government accomplished then, have betrayed that dream, while conservatives have come to embrace it ever more fully. Have you ever read the I have a Dream speech? There is nothing in it that the most conservative person in the world…
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Nichols Field bombing, 6 Feb. 1945
The 6th and 8th Armies on Luzon were repeatedly in close and brutal combat with the Japanese. By dawn on 4 February the paratroopers ran into increasingly heavy and harassing fire from Japanese riflemen and machine gunners. At the Paranaque River, just south of the Manila city limits, the battalion halted at a badly damaged bridge only to be battered by Japanese artillery fire from Nichols Field. The 11th Airborne Division had reached the main Japanese defenses south of the capital and could go no further.
US Army on Luzon, February 1945
Regarding Manila as indefensible, General Yamashita had originally ordered the commander of Shimbu Group, General Yokoyama Shizuo, to destroy all bridges and other vital installations and evacuate the city as soon as strong American forces made their appearance. However, Rear Adm. Iwabachi Sanji, the naval commander for the Manila area, vowed to…
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Martin Luther King’s words ring as true today as they did in 1963… justice is relevant and must never be taken for granted.
Battling the “tranquilizing drug of gradualism”
“We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that justice too long delayed is justice denied.”
The grieving optimist- Jefferson lost nearly everyone dear to him…. so he could relate grief to his dear friend, John Adams upon hearing of the death of Abigail. Relating grief is not the same as understanding it, however…..
“Tried myself in the school of affliction, by the loss of every form of connection which can rive the human heart, I know well, and feel what you have lost, what you have suffered, are suffering, and have yet to endure. The same trials have taught me that for ills so immeasurable, time and silence are the only medicine….although mingling sincerely my tears with yours, will I say a word more where words are vain, but that it is of some comfort to us both, that the term is not very distant, at which we are to deposit in the same cerement, our sorrows and suffering bodies, and to ascend in essence to an ecstatic meeting with the friends we have loved and lost, and whom we shall still love and never lose again.”
” I have often wondered for what good end the sensations of Grief could be intended.”
To the chagrin of revisionists… Thomas Jefferson is part of the national fabric of America. He gave us our creed, the words that define what it means to be an American. No other country on earth has such a luxury. A simple look at our landscape will provide a clear picture of Jefferson’s impact on posterity:
Named after Thomas Jefferson–
- 45 High schools
- 5 Colleges or Universities (including the University of Virginia)
- 9 cities (larger than 10,000 residents)
- Counties in 16 states
- 13 mountains
- Thomas Jefferson Building, Library of Congress
- Jefferson National Expansion Site (includes the Great Gateway Arch)
- Jefferson Alberta, Canada
Named for Thomas Jefferson–
- Thomas Jefferson Randolph– Jefferson’s eldest grandchild and executor of his estate. (1792-1875)
- Thomas Jefferson Truitt– 2nd Lt. in the 62nd Penna. Volunteers from Kellersburg, PA. Enlisted for three years service in July of 1861. Killed in action near Bethesda Church, Va June 3, 1864. (1837-1864)
- Thomas Jefferson Sheaffer— Youngest child of Alissa Hegge and Gordon Sheaffer. Born in peaceful sleep, January 11, 2008.
Even the eternal optimist within… Thomas Jefferson was dragged down to earth by loss. Behind the iconic image was a man who loved deeply and lost nearly everyone dear to him. Despite the pain, Jefferson remained optimistic, immersing himself in books and his correspondence. He told his friend John Adams;
“You ask if I would agree to live my 70. or rather 73. years over again? To which I say Yea. I think with you that it is a good world on the whole, that it has been framed on a principle of benevolence, and more pleasure than pain dealt out to us.”
Tugging at his enlightened nature… was the depression that followed the loss of his loved ones. Jefferson pondered the concept of grief to Adams;
“I have often wondered for what good end the sensations of Grief could be intended. All our other passions, within proper bounds, have a useful object.”
Jefferson outlived his wife and all but one… of their children. The thought of living out his days alone terrified him;
“This morning between 8 & 9. a clock my dear daughter Maria Eppes died…. My evening prospects now hang on the slender thread of a single life. Perhaps I may be destined to see even this last chord of parental affection broken!”
Sadness and reflections….
My Journey Through the Best Presidential Biographies
“Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream” is Doris Kearns Goodwin’s life of Lyndon Johnson. Published in 1976 (just three years after LBJ’s death), this was Goodwin’s first biographical work. She is now a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and presidential historian who has also written about John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt and William Taft.
Context is critical to understanding any author’s perspective in writing a presidential biography, and Goodwin certainly brings a unique frame of reference to her coverage of LBJ. Having met President Johnson as a White House Fellow in 1967, she maintained a close professional relationship with LBJ until his death in 1973. And her husband (Richard Goodwin) worked in both the JFK and LBJ administrations.
This ostensibly comprehensive 400-page biography memorializes Goodwin’s discussions with Johnson during the decade-long friendship they maintained and attempts to extract from them the true…
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