Finding One Such Man

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Well, I was looking about for something to add to this, and finally came to the conclusion that there is nothing I can add or subtract from the story, except perhaps to echo Ronald Reagan. President Reagan said this in his radio address on May 15th, 1982.

I received another letter from one of our ambassadors in Europe. He wrote that a 19-year-old trooper in our armored cavalry had asked that he send me a message. It was: “Tell the President we’re proud to be here, and we ain’t scared of nothing.”

In James Michener’s book “The Bridges at Toko-Ri,” he writes of an officer waiting through the night for the return of planes to a carrier as dawn is coming on. And he asks, “Where do we find such men?” Well, we find them where we’ve always found them. They are the product of the freest society man has…

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Dolley Madison at 250

Presidential History Blog

At 250 years old, Dolley Madison has consistently “worn well.”

Happy Birthday to Dolley!

Dolley by Gilbert Stuart Dolley Madison, by Gilbert Stuart.

From the time Dolley Payne Todd Madison (May 20, 1768-1849) was in her mid-twenties, she was arguably the most famous woman in the United States. Two centuries later, according to the copious amount of written evidence, everybody had nice words for Dolley Madison!

Her good looks and ready smile attracted everyone in Philadelphia, where she lived as a teenaged girl-to-recently-widowed woman. Helping her mother run a boarding house in the new country’s temporary capital gave her proximity and won her the admiration of congressmen and other notables, including President and Mrs. George Washington.

So well known was the Widow Todd, that Congressman James Madison, seventeen years her senior, specifically wanted to meet her. He was immediately enchanted by her delightful personality, and within six months, they were married. As Mrs. Madison…

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Facts in Five

Memorial Day by the numbers:

  • The roots of Memorial Day can be traced to Athens and the Funeral Oration of Pericles–  honor those who have fallen, follow their example of citizenship
  • The commemoration was originally made by the Grand Army of the Republic as Decoration Day-  flags were to be placed on all the graves of fallen Union soldiers
  • The first Decoration Day was celebrated by 27 states in 1868
  • By 1890, every state in the Union observed the holiday in some way… it was not a Federal holiday until 1971
  • The Lincoln Memorial was dedicated on Memorial Day, 1922. 
Remeber

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Review of “Nixon: The Education of a Politician 1913-1962 (Vol 1)” by Stephen Ambrose

My Journey Through the Best Presidential Biographies

Published in 1987, “Nixon: The Education of a Politician 1913-1962” is the first volume in Stephen Ambrose’s well-regarded series on Richard Nixon. Ambrose was a historian and the author of more than two-dozen books. He remains one of the best-known biographers of Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon but numerous allegations of plagiarism and exaggeration have tarnished his reputation. Ambrose died in 2002 at the age of sixty-six.

This 674-page introductory volume covers Nixon’s life up through his unsuccessful attempt to become governor of California in 1962.  The volume is well-paced, very well-organized, and written in an extremely straightforward and comprehensible style. And where most of Nixon’s biographers seem to adopt a “love him or hate him” attitude, Ambrose approaches his subject with remarkable balance.

Although this biography provides significantly more insight into Nixon’s early life than the single-volume biographies of Nixon I’ve read, it is far less detailed…

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Johnson, Grant and the Big Parade

Presidential History Blog

Andrew Johnson, 17th President

Mid-March through Mid-May, 1865 were fraught with events

March 1865

With General Ulysses Grant squeezing the Rebel Army even tighter in Petersburg, VA, and General William Sherman marching his vast army up the eastern coast, everyone knew that the end of a terrible Civil War was close at hand. Yes, there would be more fighting and more casualties, but the end was coming.

Lincoln meets with his Generals.

And to that end, President Abraham Lincoln, newly inaugurated to his second term, paid a visit to General Grant and Admiral David Porter. General Sherman made a flying trip to join the discussions.

Lincoln obviously meant every word in his “malice toward none” Second Inaugural speech. He wanted it to be policy: “let ‘em up easy.” A generous approach would woo the vanquished far easier than brutal blame and punishment demanded by many in Congress.

April 9-15, 1865

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Owning your Words

Trump’s public admonishment of pilots held as prisoners of war… in North Vietnam is described by his campaign as “misunderstood” or “taken out of context.”   The blowhard with no military experience said this- “He’s a war hero because he was captured, I like people who weren’t captured.”  Far from an endorsement, this was a sneer at a political opponent with far more credibility on defense and foreign policy issues.  

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John McCain and his comrades were heroes for their sacrifice… enduring torture at the hands of their captors- never betraying their duty to country under the most arduous circumstances.  Trump has no concept of this kind of heroism, the selfless kind.  In Trump’s world, heroes play sports or close deals for personal gain.  He sees the medals and ribbons awarded in the military, but the motives of the recipients utterly eludes him. 

Denton

Trump would consider Jeremiah Denton a coward too… Denton was put on display in a North Vietnamese propaganda film produced for the International Red Cross.  Forced to recite a script, Denton was able to blink the word T-O-R-T-U-R-E  in Morse code to get the true message to the world.  Captain Denton had been in prison so long, his own son had grown up, served in Vietnam, and come home.  Denton was the first POW off the plane in 1973, and his words ring true to this day:

“We are honored to have had the opportunity to serve our country under difficult circumstances. We are profoundly grateful to our Commander-in-Chief and to our nation for this day. God bless America.”

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Poor Man’s Fight

Donald Trump dodged the draft during the Vietnam war... but this will have little effect on the millions who support him.  In Trump’s world, bluster passes for merit, talk is substitute for service.  Yes, student deferments were draft dodging- especially when exercised by upper-class children of privilege.

A clear difference

A clear difference

Medical exemptions were every bit as dishonest… and Trump used one when his stint in graduate school came to an end.  In July 1968 he was physically fit- three months later(as his deferment ended) he was suddenly afflicted with “heel spurs.”   Rich kids from coast to coast found sympathetic doctors to conjure up various maladies.  Poor kids and men of conscience went to war.

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Only in Trump’s world is he a hero… and John McCain a coward.  Obviously overcompensating for his cowardice, Trump disparages the real article while selling his fraudulent goods to unwitting followers.  Bill Clinton was mercilessly attacked by Conservatives for his activities during the Vietnam war….where are they now?

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