Posts Tagged ‘anniversary’
Pearl Harbor survivor Stan Swartz bows his head after the national anthem at the 71st anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor at the WW II Valor in the Pacific National Monument in Honolulu, Hawaii December 7, 2012.
Let us remember absent friends.
This summer marks the anniversary of an extraordinary moment in U.S. history: the 1972 match in which the American genius Bobby Fischer defeated the Soviet wizard Boris Spassky for the chess championship of the world.
The battle probably should have been just one more headline in an eventful three months that saw the Watergate burglary, the expulsion of the Soviet military from Egypt and the humiliating dismissal of vice presidential nominee Thomas Eagleton from the Democratic ticket. Somehow the story of Fischer and Spassky and their epic match, which ended 40 years ago this month, captured our attention in a way that no struggle of intellect has since.
The two best players in the world were playing 24 games in Iceland, and everyone paid attention. Strangers who had never picked up a chess piece discussed the match on subway trains. Newspapers put out special editions announcing the results of the games, and vendors hawked them from the corners, shouting out the name of the winner. Book publishers were signing up chess writers by the dozens.
Chess is a very hard game, and what is most remarkable about that summer is that people wanted to play anyway. They wanted their minds stretched, and were willing to work for that reward. The brief period of Fischer’s ascendancy — he quit chess three years later — was perhaps the last era in our nation’s history when this could be said.
Nowadays, we like things easier. We seem more interested in the doings of the “Real Housewives” than in the great intellectual challenges (except of course those intellectual challenges that yield a great deal of money, such as those on Wall Street or in Silicon Valley). Those who deploy their extraordinary mental gifts to do a difficult thing extremely well for a modest reward somehow cannot hold our attention…
…The great Ray Bradbury, who died this year, used to say that simplicity was the great enemy against which we should be doing battle — that theme is the subtext of “Fahrenheit 451” — but we are a long way from heeding the call to arms…
When Fischer died in 2008, his passing went scarcely noticed. He was never an admirable man, but he performed an admirable service. By his brilliance and his antics he focused our attention, in that shining summer 40 years ago, on the life of the mind. He made an enormously difficult intellectual pursuit so alluring that, for a brief moment, everybody wanted to be a part of it.
We could use another moment like that. Bradbury was right: Simplicity is the enemy of democracy. Yet our images and arguments get simpler, and sillier, by the day. Unless we can become freshly excited about stretching our minds, the rest of the world — much of which still values complexity — may leave us in its dust.
Bobby Fischer’s personal politics were easily as contemptible as, say, Sheriff Joe Arpaio or Todd Akins – both of whom hold elective office in the United States. Less fashionable, though.
His erratic behavior and egregious self-concern never eclipsed his brilliance – most of the time – at the chessboard. I doubt Americans have the attention span anymore to grow that kind of focus.
Anti-Nazi demonstrators in Germany prevented far-right groups from marking the 67th-anniversary of the RAF bombing of Dresden by forming a human chain in the city centre. An estimated 13,000 people from across Germany’s political spectrum took part in the stance against the far right despite freezing conditions.
The anniversary of the Dresden raid has been a high point in Germany’s neo-Nazi calendar with thousands rallying in the eastern German city each year despite passionate, and at times violent, opposition from critics, who accused the far right of exploiting the bombing for political purposes.
An estimated 25,000 people died in the raid that started when RAF bombers struck on the night of February 13, 1945 and finished with an attack by US aircraft on February 15.
The colossal loss of life and tremendous destruction wrought by the bombing of a city famed for its culture and architecture has been portrayed by the German far right as an Allied war crime and an example of Germany’s apparent victimhood.
Some 1,600 neo-Nazis travelled to Dresden to mark the raid this year but were met at the station by a police presence of over 5,000, and some 2,000 counter-demonstrators who banged drums and shouted “Nazis out”.
The far right started a torch-light procession but were soon told by police they would have to abandon it because the human chain had blocked their route…
“I’m happy that it remained peaceful,” said Markus Ulbig, interior minister for state of Saxony. “Democrats have come together to show that Nazis are not welcome in the city.” After the far-right threat had passed, people lit candles in memory of the victims of the raid and attended a memorial service. At 21:45, the time RAF bombers first appeared over Dresden, church bells rang out across the city.
“Our city stands together for courage, respect and tolerance,” said the Dirk Hilbert, Dresden’s acting mayor, in an address to the anti-Nazi demonstrators.
I find it very hard to express my hatred of war and those who glorify it. I am blinded by tears of anger and pain – I cannot hold back my rage.
I lived through that war – fortunate enough to be this side of the pond in an American city that never suffered bombing or incendiary raids. Many of my relatives – on both sides – in a couple of countries weren’t so likely. Many of my close kin were killed or terribly wounded on the battlefields.
My closest friend just died a few years ago – spent 16 months in VA hospital recovering from his wounds from the Battle of the Bulge and at the liberation of Buchenwald. Because he was our home state’s most decorated soldier, he was asked to run for Governor in 1948. He said that wouldn’t be a problem at all. As long as they made the first plank in the platform an absolute ban on profits made from war.
They changed their mind, withdrew the offer.
Leading Charles Dickens biographer Claire Tomalin has said children are not being taught to read with the attention span necessary to appreciate the novelist’s works.
Tomalin said Dickens’s depiction of an unequal society was still “amazingly relevant”, ahead of nationwide celebrations to mark the 200th anniversary of his birth.
Children were now unable to appreciate this due to “being reared on dreadful television programmes”, she said in an interview with the Press Association. “Children are not being educated to have prolonged attention spans and you have to be prepared to read steadily for a Dickens novel and I think that’s a pity.”
A Global Dickens Read-a-thon will also take place in 24 countries from Albania to Zimbabwe, beginning in Australia with a reading from Dombey and Son.
Tomalin…said Dickens was “after Shakespeare, the greatest creator of characters in English. “He has gone on entertaining people since the 1830s and his characters’ names are known all over the world. And because of the way he wrote, he adapts very well for theatre and even people who do not read him know about him from films, the TV and musicals.
“You only have to look around our society and everything he wrote about in the 1840s is still relevant – the great gulf between the rich and poor, corrupt financiers, corrupt MPs, how the country is run by old Etonians, you name it, he said it.”
She feels Basil Fawlty is the best example of a modern character representative of those created by Dickens. Of curse, much of what was constructed by that merry band inside Monty Python qualified.
Often, when setting off on extended cycling vacations I would bring along a collections of works by a single author. Immersing myself thus really grew an understanding of someone’s writing career. One of the best of those took me up the west coast of Scotland – through the Inner Hebrides – along the North Sea to Tongue and back down to Greenock. With Dickens.
It is the violence of Gandhi’s death, this complete and contemptuous negation of everything he lived for, which is the shocking thing. Yet paradoxically, this is the aesthetic end to a life of non-violence, the end which, one imagines, the old man would have chosen for himself.
I remember, in the very middle of the war, I went as a war correspondent to interview him in Delhi. It was an excessively hot afternoon and I sat cross-legged on the floor sweating through my army uniform. Gandhi leaned back on a white bolster, wearing nothing but a loincloth, and he said amiably: “What is the good of our talking? You and the people you represent are committed to violence. I am interested only in non-violence. We have nothing to say to one another.”
I asked him if he was prepared to see the Japanese invade India (they were then very close in Burma) “Why not?” he said. “They can’t kill us all.” He went on to propound his famous doctrine: never oppose violence with violence. “Non-violence,” he said, “requires an even higher kind of courage than violence. You must be just as prepared to lay down your life – even more so.” I remember how cheerful he was that afternoon, how healthy with his great brown barrel of a chest, and how wittily he talked.
Nor was he much changed when I went to one or two of his prayer meetings in Delhi this winter. He was still getting up at four in the morning to exercise, he was still the nimblest (and I think the gayest) good brain in India, and he was still talking in parables on precisely the same theme.
Of course he becomes a martyr now; more than that – a mystical legend and a god. It is probably a waste of time trying to assess him in western terms. Inevitably, the mysticism and the fatalism intervene, blocking out all logic. I do not think Jawaharlal Nehru and the others ever expected practical politics from Gandhi, but they were inspired by him just the same. They loved him passionately.
I never met anyone in India who came away from a meeting with the old man without being captivated and in a slightly elevated condition of mind. He had an overpowering charm under that humility. He talked hard common sense as a rule and the mysticism ran between the lines.
What happens now? It seems almost impossible to be optimistic. The country has lost its figurehead, its living public conscience. Who is to speak against racial hatred now with that authority? The British kept the peace with police and prestige and Gandhi did it with love. Now, within six short months, both police and love have vanished together. Perhaps enough of his followers will obey his creed of non-violence. Whatever the immediate effect may be, at least his influence in the long run can only be for the good.
He has been missed in so many ways.
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission
Egyptians gathered in Tahrir Square, the crucible of their revolution, on Wednesday in a mixture of celebration and agitation to mark the first anniversary of the protests that forced out Hosni Mubarak, the former president.
By midmorning, tens of thousands of people had packed the square here, smiling, cheering and waving Egyptian flags, but it was already evident that the spirit that unified last year’s uprising had been replaced by new tensions between Egyptian political factions over their view of the military rulers who took power when Mr. Mubarak was ousted.
The Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist movement that won nearly half the seats in the newly elected Parliament, sent many of its followers to the square. The Brotherhood’s leaders have endorsed the military’s timetable for a handover to an elected president by the end of June, and they sent thousands of their members out to ensure that a spirit of celebration prevailed, erecting soundstages and setting up security checks at each entrance to the square. An abundance of Brotherhood flags, buttons and disposable plastic hats filled the crowd…
Groups of ultraconservative Islamists known as Salafis, political rivals to the Brotherhood who won about a quarter of the seats in the new Parliament, said they would also turn out to help secure the square and keep the day peaceful, and there were plenty of men with the Salafis’ trademark long beards mingling in the crowd.
The crowd in the square on Wednesday morning was overwhelmingly male, with very few women in sight.
Youth groups and other activists — including many of the leaders of the original uprising — were determined to make the day a huge demonstration calling for an immediate end to military rule, urging Egyptians to gather at mosques, churches and other strategic locations around the city for marches to the square that would arrive by midafternoon…
Superficial decisions continue to be a mistake. They provide, at best, fodder for the news-as-entertainment drones.
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords with her husband, Mark Kelly, led the pledge of allegiance
Photo: Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times
The sun had fallen and a crowd had gathered on a chilly Sunday night on the mall at the University of Arizona at the start of the last event marking the first anniversary of the mass shooting here a year ago. The event started with a leading of the Pledge of Allegiance.
And the person leading it was Representative Gabrielle Giffords.
The crowd responded with cheers and gasps as Ms. Giffords, wearing a bright red scarf, walked slowly across the stage, helped at times by Ron Barber, her chief of staff who was also shot that day and who was leading the vigil on Sunday. And with no apparent difficulty, Ms. Giffords led the crowd through the pledge, holding her right arm with her left hand. She finished with a clear, broad smile to the audience and slowly walked off the stage.
It was a dramatic footnote to the end of two days of ceremony here that were remarkable for how understated they were. A year ago, after the shooting spree that left 6 dead and 13 wounded, including Ms. Giffords, residents of this city gathered in an expression of grief and shock that lasted for weeks. There were a blur of funerals, a crush of flowers, candles and well-wishers on the expanse of lawn at the hospital where victims were taken, and a visit by President Obama that drew thousands.
On this anniversary, there was the candlelight vigil, an interdenominational prayer service and a ringing of bells at 10:11 a.m., marking the moment of the attack, and the reading of the names of the victims. There was Ms. Giffords herself visiting places that have become landmarks of the attack: the Safeway supermarket at the parking lot where the shootings took place and the Internsive Care Unit at the University of Arizona Medical Center where those injured in the shootings were treated…
For Tucson, this is a turning point as it searches for a way to mark the tragedy — to give it meaning beyond the day itself — without the images from the Safeway parking lot becoming the first thing people think of at the mention of Tucson.
“We refuse to let this tragic day define us,” Patricia Maisch, one of the women who wrested the gun from the shooter, said at a service memorializing the victims at a hall at the University of Arizona.
There will be no aid from the Governor of Arizona, her Republican counterparts in the state legislature or those Republicans elected to represent the people of Arizona in Congress. They will blithely trot out their “understanding” of the murders in terms hackneyed enough to be two centuries away from reality.
Republicans and teabaggers alike will give thanks to a Democrat Party so cowed by the political clout and lobbying dollars of the NRA and the gun industry’s predominant cartel, the Freedom Group, they wouldn’t say “boo” to a 12-year-old carrying an Uzi.
The survivors of the murders will carry on alone – except for the millions of Americans of good will and courage who care about freedom for those who defend Free Speech without needing concealed weapons.
Dutch Ambassador Tjeerd de Zwaan throws petals over graves at the Rawagede Hero Cemetery
The Dutch government formally apologised Friday for a 1947 massacre on Indonesia’s Java island, in an emotional ceremony on the anniversary of the executions by its colonial army.
Dutch troops swooped into a village in the town of Rawagede during Indonesia’s fight for independence and executed men and boys as their families and neighbours looked on. Dutch officials say 150 people were killed, but a support group and the local community say the death toll was 431.
“In this context and on behalf of the Dutch government, I apologise for the tragedy that took place in Rawagede on the 9th of December, 1947,” the Netherlands ambassador to Indonesia Tjeerd de Zwaan said.
He then repeated the apology in the Indonesian language, to the applause of hundreds of people attending the ceremony, some of whom broke down in tears as they listened in front of a marble monument commemorating the dead.
In a landmark ruling, a Hague-based civil court in September found the Dutch state responsible for the executions and ruled in favour of eight widows and a survivor of the massacre who lodged the case. Two of the widows have since died, and so has the survivor, Saih Bin Sakam, who passed away in May at the age of 88…
One of the widows, 93-year-old Anti Rukiyah, said she was relieved to finally receive an apology, and would use the compensation money to help her children buy a home…
I live in a land where fools in one political party condemn members of the other as unpatriotic cowards for “apologizing for America”. Slavery and genocide never happened in this Land of Liberty – if you listen jaw agape to the pronouncements of Republicans, Kool Aid Partygoers and the Blue Dog flavor of spineless Democrat.
Someday, no doubt when I will have shuffled off this mortal coil for a century or two, American education will have progressed sufficiently to produce a generation or two of adults who embrace an ethical view of history.
The display case at the National Museum of American History holds a section of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, a tactile reminder of the individual lives lost to the virus.
It also serves as entry into two exhibits that mark the 30th anniversary of the first report on AIDS by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The first exhibit is part of the museum’s “Science in American Life” section and focuses on the early phases of AIDS, from 1981 to 1987, as well as its impact on public health policy and politics. In the second exhibit, display cases in the museum’s Archives Center showcase oral histories and artifacts that attempt to bring attention to AIDS and its human toll.
The images in both exhibits immediately bring to mind the passions and anxieties of the 1980s, as the gay and medical communities grappled with the unknown illness. The government acknowledged the beginnings of the epidemic in June and July 1981, when the CDC reported five cases of pneumocystis carinii pneumonia in Los Angeles and 26 cases of Kaposi’s sarcoma in Los Angeles and New York…
The museum’s Archives Center has collected such totems of the crisis as the Hub Cutter, the mailboxlike receptacle for needles that is now commonplace, education panels that Planned Parenthood used for lectures in schools and anti-gay articles that called AIDS a “gay plague…”
The display includes posters from the movies “Long Time Companion” (1990) and “Philadelphia” (1993), and a videotaped discussion with basketball star Magic Johnson and television host Arsenio Hall.
“We wanted to answer the question: How does popular culture reflect the moment?” said Franklin A. Robinson Jr., a curator with the Archives Center.
Bob Witeck, an activist and co-founder of a communications firm specializing in gay issues, said the Smithsonian observation is timely. “Right now 9/11 has to be explained to younger people — HIV and AIDS far more so.”
My cousin died in 1984. Before the US military “realized” they shouldn’t be so helpful to those dying of this disease. The Navy provided superb care – as well as they were able. They transferred him so he might die with his parents in their home.