The Battle of Samar

An evening pause: For Veterans Day, a story about the men who in World War II risked their lives and died to make it possible for freedom to reign for the next three-quarters of a century.

Hat tip Mike Nelson. For a much longer and more detailed documentary describing this battle, go here.

George C. Scott’s Patton speech

An evening pause: The opening speech from the 1970 movie Patton that captured the character of one of America’s most unique and successful generals.

Patton was a difficult man with little diplomacy, but then, soldiers are not hired to be diplomats. (At least we didn’t when America was the sane country of courageous fighters, as described in this speech.) Yet, as difficult as he was, his philosophy of war was a direct descendant of the war strategy and tactics of Ulysses S. Grant. As Patton is believed to have actually said,

“Our basic plan of operation is to advance and to keep on advancing regardless of whether we have to go over, under, or through the enemy. We are going to go through him like crap through a goose!”

This was how Grant won the Civil War. It was how Americans fought every war that followed through World War II. Sadly, that philosophy was lost by the bureaucratic military that developed during the Cold War.

If only we had generals and political leaders today who understand this utterly essential approach for winning wars.

One note: The speech’s language at times violates my rules about obscenities. In the context of war and death however I think the use of such language wholly appropriate.

Hat tip Daniel Morris.

Private Snafu – Coming!!

An evening pause: This was the first of a World War II cartoon series directed by Chuck Jones, voiced by Mel Blanc, and written by Theodor Geisel aka Dr. Seuss and designed to with humor raise the work ethic of soldiers and officers.

Hat tip Lazurus Long, who adds that “it was a bit racy and [thus] popular with the servicemen.”

Today our military authorities probably consider our servicemen and women to be too fragile for such stuff. And hopefully this evening pause will air before Google’s YouTube decides it must be banned.

Werner Klemperer & John Banner – Silent Night

An evening pause: Silent Night is followed by Robert Clary singing a French carol. All three were actors from the 1960s television comedy series, Hogan’s Heroes, with Klemperer playing the Nazi prison commander, Banner the foolish guard (“I know nothing!!!”), and Clary the French prisoner.

I don’t know exactly when this aired, but it was likely in the late 1960s. It signals the good will fundamental to western civilization. The Germans had only two decades earlier put the world through a horrible war. Still, Americans were glad to hear two Germans immigrants sing this gentle song in their native language, despite the evils that nation had subjected the world to so recently.

The war was over. We are all fallible humans. Time to forgive, and move on.

Hat tip Phill Oltmann.

Pearl Harbor: The Last Word

A evening pause: On the anniversary of Japan’s unprovoked sneak attack on the United States, let’s hear what it was like to be a sailor on the U.S. battleships sunk during that attack, from interviews recorded four years ago for the 75th anniversary of the attack.

And did I mention it was an unprovoked sneak attack? The Japanese of that time brought the war upon themselves. Hiroshima and Nagasaki was their fault, not ours.

I wonder, would today’s Americans have the will to win, for freedom and the rule of law, as 1940s Americans did? Based on our response to 9/11, I think not. Based on our terror of a flu-like illness today, I know not. The tragedy of this is beyond words.

Honoring Churchill on anniversary of his funeral

On this date in 1965 the United Kingdom buried Winston Churchill in the first state funeral for a non-royal family member in thirty years, and one that lasted four days.

Below is a short video of that event, possibly the largest such funeral in the twentieth century. And it was so large for good reason, as noted by then Australian prime minister Sir Robert Menzies:

In the whole of recorded history this [the Second World War] was, I believe, the one occasion when one man, with one soaring imagination, with one fire burning in him, and with one unrivalled capacity for conveying it to others, won a crucial victory not only for the Forces (for there were many heroes in those days) but for the spirit of human freedom. And so, on this day, we thank him, and we thank God for him.

I wonder, who are our Churchills today? Who is willing to stand against tyranny, either within or without our country, and fight for freedom?

Jim Radford – The Shores of Normandy

An evening pause: I know this is late for the anniversary of D-Day, but I think it actually expresses well the same determination that made it possible for Americans to go to the Moon. Those men at Normandy, as well as in Apollo, stood for freedom, to paraphrase John Kennedy. And they were willing to die to make sure their friends, families, and nation remained free.

What do you stand for?

Hat tip commodude.

Spitfire 944

An evening pause: Somehow to me this film about an American pilot from World War II and a single moment during his tour seems fitting to me on Washington’s birthday. I can’t explain why, but it does.

Hat tip Edward Thelen.

President Roosevelt’s announcement of D-Day, June 6, 1944

An evening pause: On this anniversary of D-Day, it is worthwhile to go back in time and relive that time to understand better what our country then stood for. Below is President Roosevelt’s radio speech to the nation, announcing the D-Day invasion and its apparent initial success. What is striking is that he spends little time talking about what happened, nor does he spend any time extolling the triumph of his administration. Instead, he humbly turns his speech into his heartfelt prayer for the lives of the soldiers, the people at home, and the people in Europe who are suffering under Hitler’s rule, reminding everyone of the nation’s real goal: “A peace that will let all men to live in peace, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.” He then ends the prayer with these words, “Thy will be done, almighty God. Amen.”

This speech tells us as much about the nation that Roosevelt lived in as it does about Roosevelt himself. He knew his audience, and he knew they believed deeply in freedom, truth, human rights, and moral commitment. He also knew they would be honored to join him in this prayer, with the same humbleness as he was expressing. He knew they would not be offended, whatever their faith, because the important thing was to have good will and to strive for a just conclusion of the war.

If only such things could happen today.

Hat tip Wayne DeVette.

Marlene Dietrich – Lili Marleen

An evening pause: The song, aired initially during World War II by the Nazis for their troops, became a popular hit for soldiers on both sides of the war. Marlene Dietrich then recorded it as part of her effort to win the war for the Allies, in both English and German. She noted once that the German version is “darker”. Here is the English version.

Hat tip Engine Mike.

Roosevelt’s speech responding to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor

An evening pause: On this anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, we should listen to President Franklin Roosevelt’s entire speech to Congress on December 8, 1941. He came before Congress to ask them to declare war on Japan.

For those of us who remember President George Bush’s speech after 9/11, the differences are striking. Bush aimed his ire at one element in the Islamic world, al-Qaeda, while ignoring their numerous allies in Iran, Gaza, the West Bank, and elsewhere. He also made it clear that the military would be asked to do the work, not the entire nation. “Be ready,” he told them, while suggesting to everyone else that they need do nothing themselves to join in the battle. Bush did not demand a nationwide commitment. In essence, he asked Americans to just continue shopping.

Roosevelt instead said this: “No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people will win through to absolute victory. I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.”

The entire nation was now at war, and the goal was total victory so that Japan would never be able to do it again. For the next three and a half years that was the goal. And not just against Japan. The goal was to destroy Japan as well as all of its fascists allies. And to do it as fast as possible.

Had Bush responded to 9/11 as Roosevelt had to Pearl Harbor, the nation would have not just invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, it would have continued into Syria, Pakistan, and then Iran. In addition, there would have been no gentle treatment of Saudi Arabia. They are as complacent in the Islamic War against the west as is Iran, and must either change, or be changed wholly.

Instead, Bush gave us a weak and partial victory that accomplished nothing, and allowed more violence and terrorism to raise its ugly head again, aided and encouraged by the even weaker and wimpier leadership of Barack Obama (illustrated by his own absurdly weak speech just yesterday). The result has been the attacks in France, Benghazi, and California, and increased violence in Israel, Iraq, and Syria. And the rise of a terrorist nation called the Islamic State.

Anyway, watch and see how a real leader responds to evil:

Berlin July 1945 in color

An evening pause: For Memorial Day, on which we not only honor the war dead but we are supposed to refresh our memories about why we fought in the first place. This color footage of occupied Berlin shortly after surrender shows the devastation after World War II. Though it is tragic to see, I will be honest and admit that I feel little sorrow. The Germans brought this upon themselves by plunging the world into two world wars, and in the second used it as an excuse to commit unspeakable genocide. In order to make sure they would never do it again, and would instead become a part of the civilized world, it was necessary to hit them as hard as these images show. Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin all understood this. So did the entire populations of all three allies.

If only we had the courage today to do the same to the petty dictators and Islamic fanatics in the Middle East. They are as brutal, as violent, and as bigoted as the Nazis were, and will soon have atomic weapons at their disposal to use as they wish. To really bring them to heel they need to be given the same harsh lessons we gave the Germans.

I fear however we will not have the courage to do so until after they drop some nuclear bombs on a few cities.

“Finally, finally, finally! They had come!”

When American forces liberated Paris from Nazi occupation seventy years ago today, one Parisian schoolgirl described what happened.

An idea took hold – we needed flags; a collective idea, as if everyone had the same thought at the same time. We would make the flags and hang them at the windows. But how were we going to do it? Quick, tea towels, old sheets cut in strips. A piece of luck, there was a shop that sold dyes in the courtyard. We ran down and started boiling water in the tubs. Some red dye. Some blue dye. The red didn’t work very well, the material came out pinkish red, not the flamboyant red we had hoped for. Too bad. How many stars are there on the American flag? But never mind, we’ll have to just put some on, and that will be good enough.

Read it all. It is important to note that this has been the kind of reaction of practically every oppressed nation when American troops have arrived.

Why Japan (and Germany) really lost World War II.

Why Japan (and Germany) really lost World War II.

The article also illustrates with facts why Russia would have lost to the U.S. as well if we had fought them then, before they got the bomb.

Read it. The facts are quite astonishing. Moreover, I have read a number of histories of World War II from the perspective of the Japanese and the Germans, and in both cases their experience matches the facts laid out by this article: The depth of the U.S. manufacturing capability — created by freedom and property rights and small government — was beyond anything the Axis powers could match. As the war continued it overwhelmed them.

The story of the youngest survivor of the Buchenwald concentration camp to be liberated by the Americans.

The story of the youngest survivor of the Buchenwald concentration camp to be liberated by the Americans.

At age seven, he was separated from his mother when she thrust him over to the men’s side during deportation. “Tulek, take Lulek,” she said, entrusting him to Naftali in the hope that the men were more likely to survive. Naftali smuggled him into the Buchenwald labor camp since a child his age would have been exterminated on the spot if discovered. Rabbi Lau thus became the youngest and smallest inmate in the camp. His survival over the next year was largely due to Naftali’s constant self sacrifice and protection.

You don’t have to be Jewish or even believe in God to agree with this man that miracles do happen every day.

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