Category Archives: History

A serious political piece.

Isn’t it funny how when you’re procrastinating about doing something, you get just the right push from behind to do it.  Or maybe in this case, the push came more from the Right.  Regardless.  It’s time.

I need to do a serious political post.

Earlier today, I got a comment on an old-ish post I wrote about Trump — It’s Just Not Funny Any More.   Zen Hiker wrote:

I have been amazed at all of the people who say they would never vote for Trump (for whatever reason) still rabidly follow and will vote for Hillary. And this is after everything that she has done, beginning with demonizing the women who accused her husband of sexual improprieties. Now I know that some of you on the left will start with the “He’s a sexist” etc. nonsense, but if you are truly honest with yourselves, you will admit that Hillary is no better than Trump and to continue the attack that he is running a hate filled campaign is just intellectually dishonest. Also, to say that Trump followers are uniformed and blindly follow him, what about (some) Hillary supporters? The bottom line is this-both sides are filled with people who blindly follow their candidate. Both sides have supporters who are not truly informed. And to those of you on the left and extreme left-Please get the idea that just because people don’t agree with every word you say it doesn’t make them a sexist, homophobe, islamaphobe etc. People just disagree with you. That is the beauty of the 1st amendment. I don’t have to agree with you. BTW-I am pretty much a Libertarian these days based on the fact that both of the candidates are not worth my vote.

There are two parts to the answer.  Why I’m voting FOR Hillary, and Why I would NEVER, EVER, EVER vote for Trump.

Why I’m voting FOR Hillary

I will admit, I came about my regard for Hillary slowly.  Still, I have never truly understood the hatred so many people feel towards her.  I disagree with some of the positions she’s taken (Iraq, for example).  But she is smart, thoughtful, and she can change her mind.

She’s a Democrat, as am I.  We both believe in using government for public purposes.  That folks shouldn’t be left just on their own.  That we as a society has responsibilities to children, to the poor, to the disabled.  That a civilized society takes care of the less fortunate among us.

Hillary Clinton has spent a lifetime studying law and government, and public service has truly been her life.  She has brokered international agreements — fostered peace.  Brought different sides together across the world, and across the aisle as a Senator.  She is the type of public servant, in fact, that makes me hearken back to the old days, before Ronald Reagan created the scorn for government service with his “The Government IS the Problem” comment.  We need thoughtful, smart people to work in government as a calling.  Hillary Clinton has met that call admirably.  I have no doubt she will continue to do so.

She is imperfect.  She makes mistakes.  But she is strong, thinks problems through, makes decisions based on facts; she doesn’t shoot from the hip.  Government decisions can be made over a long process, or they can be required in an instant.  She is suited to making decisions either way — in part because she has spent a lifetime learning.

I am someone who understands government — I’ve worked with it and watched just how difficult it is to pass legislation (and how an ability to compromise is vital).  I know how complex  the regulation of the hundreds of industries that do business in the US is — regulations that keep all of us every single day of our lives whether by the standards set for food, safety standards for machinery in factories, or standards for airplanes and trains.

I want somebody as president who is smart and understands how to examine a problem, analyze it, look at options and come up with solutions based on reality.  Someone who makes decisions based on science, or engineering, or whatever is necessary for that particular problem.

I recently discovered the blog of an old friend of mine, where she was challenged to find the reasons to vote FOR Hillary, instead of just voting AGAINST Trump.  She started a blog and lists one reason she’s FOR Hillary every day.

 

As I scrolled through her blog, I realized that my old friend had made this post significantly easier, since Karen listed many of the same reasons I am supporting Hillary.

Karen has various post that illustrate and provide references for other reasons she has for voting FOR Hillary.  They include post elaborating on how Hillary Clinton has worked hard and effectively for her beliefs — particularly those geared toward children.  She has unceasingly promoted healthcare and education for children, particularly those in need due to poverty and/or disability.  She has an even temperament — it’s highly unlikely that foreign sailors flipping the bird at US sailors would result in a war, for example.  She has shown grace under pressure — whether that be sexism, political harassment (can you say Benghazi?) or what I believe is a lack of balance in comparing anything Hillary does to anything someone else does (the discrepancy in the way the Clinton and Trump Foundations are viewed makes me wonder how I have any hair left on my head).

The list of Hillary Clinton’s admirable traits is long.  It’s just that few of us bother to re-familiarize ourselves with them.  And we keep hearing nothing but the negative in the press.

I was originally against Hillary Clinton for the simple (and prescient) reason that I didn’t want to rehash the same damn scandals all over again, not because I didn’t like her or her policies.  I just had to re-look at her policies, and how she decided upon them.  I’ve been doing that for a year now.

Hillary Clinton is a flawed candidate, for sure.  But which candidate isn’t?  Certainly no one running today.

Why I would NEVER, EVER, EVER vote for Trump

In the late 1980s, the news that Trump was stiffing contractors at his NJ casinos hit the news just as my friend Elizabeth was visiting John and I.  It turned out that Elizabeth’s father was one of the cheated contractors.  He had worked at the casino nearly exclusively for more than a year.  I learned early on that “trust” was unlikely to be a word I’d use in connection with a man who would do that.

I could recite a litany of the horrible, dishonorable things that Donald Trump has done.  In fact, I’ve written dozens of posts about him.

Even if I didn’t think he was:

  • A bigot (I do think he’s a bigot),
  • A liar (I do think he’s a liar)
  • A cheat (ditto)
  • A fraud (uh huh)
  • A sexist (as sure as he breathes)
  • Willing to say anything that pops into his little head (ditto)
  • A coward and a bully (oh yeah, he is that alright)
  • A con man (no doubt in my mind)
  • A crook who feeds on people who can least afford to believe him (hey, get your degree at Trump University!
  • So thin skinned that a slight by a foreign leader or even a foreign sailor might mean a war .

Even if I liked his “ideas” (can they really be called ideas if there is no meat on the bones?), even if I agreed with everything he claims to believe, I would be against Donald Trump.

Trump hasn’t got a single iota of experience in government or public service.  Not a shred.  I don’t believe that one should get their feet wet with government experience by running the country.

Trump’s knowledge and understanding of laws and government and regulation consists entirely of circumventing it.  We are a nation of laws.  Anybody who thinks this con-man is going to follow our laws and the constitution (which I believe, like Mr. Khan that he hasn’t read or at least hasn’t understood), is a fool.

Electing Donald Trump would beg the question:  If we are not following our laws and our constitution, are we still Americans?

Moreover, Trump has no interest in learning anything.  He doesn’t think he needs to learn any more — doesn’t need to listen to the generals, for example.  Well, you know what?  Donald Trump is not an expert in anything.  If, god help us, he becomes president, he cannot do everything alone.  He needs to understand the importance and value of the experts who have spent their lives studying their specialties.

What about 3rd Party Candidates?

I voted for John Anderson in 1980.  I’m responsible for inflicting Ronald Reagan on all of us.  I will be sorry until I die, believe me.

carter-anderson-reagan

Seemed like a good idea at the time.  Sorry world.  Very sorry.  (Google Image, of course)

Ask anybody who voted for Ralph Nader in 2000.

Either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be elected President of the United States in 2016.  If you look at history, you can see that third party candidates don’t get elected.  Ever.  There is ZERO chance that Gary Johnson or Jill Stein will get elected.  Sorry, but it’s a combination of history and math and common sense.  Ain’t gonna happen, no matter how many stars you wish upon.

Maybe some day, a third party candidate will have a chance.  But this is not the election where that will happen.  More importantly, votes for either will count towards Donald Trump.

Elections Matter.  Choose wisely.

choose-wisely

If you don’t know where this image came from, you are an alien and Donald Trump will have somebody eat your intestines.

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Shout About The Clinton Foundation From the Rooftops!

From 1999 to 2002, I was saving the world.

That’s how I described my job at the World Health Organization, anyway.  And while it was modestly said tongue in cheek, I honestly did/do feel like that’s exactly what I was doing.  Saving the World.  And it made me proud.  I’m still proud, even though most of what I did was email folks who were actually saving the world.

In the early 2000s, Africa was a public health nightmare .  HIV/AIDs was spreading and with it the ancient scourge of Tuberculosis, which was hoped to be contained and ultimately was instead increasing.  That’s because about 40% of HIV patients have latent TB, which develops into full blown TB, a highly contagious airborne infection.  One that since my day has become more drug resistant.

Drugs for HIV — anti-retrovirals, were expensive.  Prohibitively so for the people who needed them most.  The infrastructure for getting the drugs where they were most needed often didn’t exist.  People were dying.  Lots of people were dying because of disease and the inability to get and/or afford medicine.

I left WHO just as the Clinton Foundation started saving that part of the world.

The Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) worked with existing groups including the WHO and the U.N.  But it brought clout to a field that was mired in bureaucracy.  It cut to the chase.  And it solved many of the problems of drug affordability and delivery.  They negotiated incredible price deals.  They worked on getting drugs to the people who needed it most, beginning with HIV-positive mothers because 90% of them transmitted HIV to their newborn babies.

The Clinton Foundation is everything American outreach should be.  It should not be shuttered.  We Americans should be shouting about the Clinton Foundation as a beacon of light.  Exactly the way we all want the US to be viewed in the world.  We Americans do good work.  Good Works.

The Clinton Foundation is saving the world.

What is President Bill Clinton’s successor doing?

 

Google Image

Google Image

 

George W Bush sure as hell ain’t saving the world.

 

 

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Relax! It’ll all work out just fine.

Really.  I just read that you don’t have to worry about the Orange Peril* having the nuclear codes!

Honest!

Long-Term Health Effects of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Atomic Bombs Not as Dire as Public Perceives

The detonation of atomic bombs over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 resulted in horrific casualties and devastation. The long-term effects of radiation exposure also increased cancer rates in the survivors. But public perception of the rates of cancer and birth defects among survivors and their children is in fact greatly exaggerated when compared to the reality revealed by comprehensive follow-up studies. The reasons for this mismatch and its implications are discussed in a Perspectives review of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki survivor studies published in the August issue of the journal GENETICS, a publication of the Genetics Society of America. [My bad and my bold.]

I mean you and I will probably die, and our surviving children and grandchildren will have high rates of cancer and birth defects, but not nearly as bad as we thought, though.

You’re welcome.

 

*Credit for the perfect Trumpian moniker goes to Barb Taub.

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(Un?)Intended Consequences

In January 1998 John, Jacob and I visited the town of Canterbury, home to Canterbury Cathedral.

Canterbury Cathedral

Image from Wikipedia because it was a damn good picture.

It is a a beautiful cathedral.  But part of the fascination with it is it’s history — the fact that it was the site of the assassination of Archbishop Thomas Beckett at the behest of King Henry II.  Sort of.

Reportedly, the King was famously infuriated with his former friend, the Archbishop for a number of transgressions, including excommunicating a bunch of English nobles.  He famously uttered:

“Who will rid me of this troublesome priest?”

Being the King, folks took it as a command.  Wikipedia names the four knights, Reginald fitzUrse, Hugh de Morville, William de Tracy and Richard le Breton, either carried out the king’s command, or misinterpreted the king’s intention.  Either way, they assassinated Archbishop Thomas Beckett on the altar of Canterbury Cathedral.

Canterbury Cathedral Altar

Google Image

In case you are hiding under your bed trying to get away from news about the election, Trump opened his trap again today, and once again said something that should disqualify him for the presidency.

Today’s vomit from Trump can be heard here:

Yeah, I know you didn’t click on the link.

He said:

“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.”

Now let’s see.  Did Donald Trump just call for the assassination of Hillary Clinton?  Or will one of his followers, you know, one of the disgruntled, racist, misogynistic white guys get out his gun(s) and do Donald’s bidding.

“Who will rid me of this troublesome priest?”/

“Who will rid me of this troublesome girl?”

Especially since, in spite of the fact that Trump’s campaign is tanking and he is hemorrhaging in the polls, and he’s claiming that the election, if he loses, will be rigged.

What could possibly go wrong.

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Generally Speaking Redux

Maybe I’ve mentioned once or twice that my brother, Fred, was a wonderful big brother.  I really don’t exaggerate.  If  you could have made up the perfect big brother, it would have been Fred.  But you probably would have given him a better name.

Fred is 3 years older than me.  And he played with me all the time.  He didn’t beat me up.  He wasn’t mean.  He let me tag along wherever he went.

He actually seemed to enjoy my company, too.  Or at least, it never occurred to me that he might not be enjoying it.  Perhaps I was late in picking up some social clues.  Anyway, I can honestly not remember Fred ever hurting me, or setting me up to fail, or doing any mean big brother things to me.

He was my hero.  When we tucked towels into our jammies and jumped off the back of the couch, I was not just pretending Fred was Superman.  He was Superman.  Of course I also thought that our dog, Tip, was SuperDog when we called him “Kripto,” tucked a dishtowel into his collar and pushed him off the back of the couch.

It was during the late 1950s and early 60s; we saw Westerns on TV and in the movies — The Lone Ranger, Branded, How the West Was Won, and more.  There were a lot of shoot outs at our house, too, because that’s what we played most of the time.   Fred invented great games for us.  Cowboys and Indians, gun fights, sheriff and posse.

Fred was always the hero.  Me?

I was the bad guy who got outgunned and had to keel over and die.

I was the outlaw brought to justice by the handsome sheriff.

I was the squaw who had to skin and cook the deer.

I always lost.

I felt good that at least I had a better part than Tip.  Tip was the deer, and Fred and I would chase him around pretending to shoot him with arrows.  Fred and his friends once caught Tip and tied him onto our broom and carried him Indian-style, to roast over our pretend fire.  Tip escaped and didn’t want to play Indian for a week or so.  We did not eat him.

Tip was much less cooperative for some reason. (Google Image)

Tip was much less cooperative for some reason. (Google Image)

Losing wasn’t a condition for Fred to play with me, but it was reality.  Fred always won.  He was always first, fastest, bravest.  He was always the hero.

Fred’s pretend horse, Thunder, was faster than my horse, Lightning, even after Fred discovered that in real life lightning comes first.  Fred showed me pictures of lightning in “the big dictionary” – a huge reference book we loved to look at.  It had the coolest pictures and lots of words we couldn’t read.  If something was in the big dictionary, it was fact.  Period.  “In real life,” Fred said, pointing to a picture of a scary bolt in a stormy sky, “Lightning is faster than thunder.  But not with horses.”

I really didn’t mind.  If Fred’s horse was slightly faster than mine, that was OK.  We were a team.

But one day when Fred wanted to play Cowboys and Indians, I’d had enough of losing.  Maybe I was growing up.

“I wanna be the cowboy,” I insisted.  “You always get to be the cowboy.  I always get shot.”

“OK,” Fred said.  He didn’t argue or try to convince me to be the Indian.  I should have been suspicious.  But I’ve always trusted Fred completely.  I knew he would never be mean to me.

“OK,” said Fred, again, thinking up a new game.  “You can be a General!  I’ll be an Indian, ummmm, I’ll be called Crazy Horse.”

“OK!” I said, excitedly.  A General!  I wasn’t just cowboy.  I was gonna be a general!

I blew my bugle, called my troops to arms.  My imaginary troops and I rode off on our stallions to fight the Injuns.

I blew my bugle again and my (pretend) troops surrounded me.  We heard Indian war whoops from Fred and his Indian braves.  Fred/Crazy Horse and his braves came at me, surrounding me and my men on all sides.  But I wasn’t worried.  I was a general.  And even at that age, I knew that the cowboys always win.

And then Fred shot me.

I did not flinch.  I did not fall.  I did not succumb to my wounds.  I screamed bloody murder:

“I’m the cowboy!  You can’t shoot me!

I’M THE GENERAL!

Fred calmed me down and took me by the hand over to the big dictionary.  He turned the pages and showed me a picture of a general in a cowboy hat with blond curls.  He looked just like me.  Except for the mustache (mine grew in many years later).

Thanks a lot, Google

Thanks a lot, Google

George Armstrong Custer.

“That’s General Custer,” Fred said.  “Crazy Horse killed him.  Or Sitting Bull did.  Some Indian killed him at the battle of Little Bighorn.  The Sioux Indians surrounded General Custer and his men and killed them.”

I didn't have a chance

I didn’t have a chance

If it was in a book, in the big dictionary, well then,  I had to die.  It was right there in black and white with a color picture.  It was my fate.

We went back over to the battlefield (the front hall) and started the battle again.  Again, I blew my bugle and rallied my troops into a circle around me.  Again, the Indians pressed forward, surrounded us.

Again, General Custer got shot.  And this time he/I was brave.  I clutched my heart, tossed my curls and fell dead.

*     *     *

I owe my devotion to the underdog and my tendency to look everything up to my big brother, who is still wonderful.  Today, I will be visiting my big brother/hero, coincidentally, so I decided to re-run this post.

Because today,  June 25th is the 140th Anniversary of the Battle of Little Bighorn.

And speaking once more as General Custer, I deserved exactly what I got.

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She Speaks for Me (Language NSFW)

Language NSFW

 

 

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Howard and Sainte-Mère-Église

This story kind of haunts me.  I change my mind about it all the time.  I try to work it out in my mind, but I can never be certain of what really happened.  So now I’ll let you think about it, too.

******

In late June 1998, John, Jacob and I took my Dad, then aged 81, to Normandy, France, to visit the D-Day landing beaches, museums, the works.  Dad was a WWII vet – he was in the U.S. Navy during the War, stationed on two different aircraft carriers in the Pacific.  He fought in some of the big battles in the Pacific, as a gunner on an SBD Dauntless, a seriously cool little plane.

Dad was always fascinated by the D-Day landings, and he’d always wanted to visit Normandy.  The planning, the strategy.  The very real possibility that it could have failed.  And he had lost friends there.  Two of Dad’s closest childhood friends died there, they’d gone ashore at Omaha Beach.  So when he came to visit us in Switzerland, we took a road trip.

The folks in Normandy, well, they love Americans.  We stayed in Sainte-Mère-Église at a lovely farmhouse on the outskirts of town.  The owner of the farm treated Dad like royalty, even though he told her he was fighting in the Pacific.  The trip was, my Dad said forever afterwards, one of the highlights of his life.

Now, you know what happened on D-Day.  The invasion began when the Allies sent paratroopers into some of the strategic areas slightly inland from the Normandy Beaches they would invade later on that day, on the morning of June 6th.  There were many problems with the drops of these paratroopers.  Some of the most dramatic stories came from survivors  who dropped into Ste. Mère-Église.

You see, that night, June 5/6, there was a fire in the town hall.  All the townspeople were out, along with the German occupiers, trying to put out the fire.  It spread to several nearby buildings.

Ste Mere Eglise on fire

Ste Mere Eglise on fire, June 6, 1944.  Photo credit:  Normandie44canalblog.com\archives

Into the midst of this chaos, American paratroopers fell.  Many of them were shot by German troops as they dropped, butchered.  Others were caught on trees, on buildings –including John Steele.  Steele had parachuted into the middle of town, and his parachute was caught on the church steeple.  Steele played dead for many hours, with the church bell ringing in his ear, watching many of his fellow paratroopers die.  Steele was memorably portrayed by Red Buttons in the movie The Longest Day.

There are still parachutes on many of the buildings commemorating the landings.

Things changed, the Allies won, the day/night.  Ste. Mère-Église was the first town liberated by the Allies on June 6, 1944.  D-Day.  It was a vital victory for the Allies, for the French, and for the world.

John Steele survived and returned to Ste. Mère-Église after the war.  He opened up a restaurant that became a huge draw for tourists, including us.  Our first night in town, we had reservations.  But we were early, and the restaurant wasn’t yet open.  So we went to a cafe/bar around the corner to get a drink while we waited for half an hour.

John, Dad, Jacob and I sat at a table, excitedly talking about our tour of the town.  Ste. Mère-Église is seriously cool for all ages.  There are still parachutes hanging in trees, on buildings.  It is still a real town, but it is also a memorial to the men who fought and died there, and a place that welcomes veterans with affection and gratitude.  Unlike much of France, the folks in Normandy remember.  They made us feel very welcome

So sitting there at the table having a drink, we enthusiastically recounted what we’d seen so far.  With two history buffs in the group, Jacob and I learned a lot from John and Dad.  Placards explain the events of the night so that it is easily followed.  We  chatted about the history, explaining more to Jacob.  We had seen so much already, and it was only our first night!  The next day, we would visit the beaches.  We were excited.

A man standing at the bar behind us was pretty excited too.  Quite animated, in fact.  But perhaps that was just because he had had three or four drinks too many.

“Damn, if I had it to do over again,” blared the drunk American at the bar.  He followed it up with a string of obscenities that made my Dad, the sailor, blush.  Then the drunk caught sight of me and 7-year-old Jacob.  He wandered over to us and offered us his apologies.  We politely accepted them.  But he didn’t seem to take “no problem” as an answer.  He introduced himself as Howard Something-or-other, and stood talking with us about how he had retired to Normandy.

Stupidly, I asked “What brought you to Normandy?”

“Well,” he said with a twinkle in his eye, “I happened to drop into town one night…”

“Oh, uhh, wow,” I said, looking skeptically between John and Dad.  They didn’t seem to believe the guy either.

But Howard proceeded to tell his story:

“Yup,” he said, “I dropped in here one night.  I landed in the cemetery over back by the Town Hall, which, as you know, was on fire.”

He continued:  “First, I crapped my pants,” he announced, looking straight at my 7-year-old son who was mortified.  I was pretty sure we didn’t need to hear that.

“Actually,” he said, “I really lucked out.  The cemetery had a tall stone wall around it.  And the Germans were occupied with the fire and then with the guys who were dropping into the middle of the town square.  Me, I hid behind some gravestones until I realized that, hell, a cemetery is no place to die.  So I made my way out, and linked up with my buddies.”

We didn’t believe a word of it.  For one thing, the guy looked way too young.  Remember, it was 1998, fifty-four years after the Normandy Invasion.  Looking at him, I could see Howard couldn’t then have been more than 60 or 65.  That put him in grammar school during the War.  Besides, there was just something about him.  None of us believed him.

Howard was meeting someone, and we had a dinner reservation.  So we didn’t pursue his story.

But the next day when we went to buy postcards to send back home, well, we saw something rather surprising:  A postcard of Howard Manoian.

Howard Manoian

Our Howard from the night before.  The drunk.  The faker.  The guy whose heroic WWII story we didn’t believe, and to which we only listened to a bit of, and then only out of politeness.

We felt really stupid at not having tackled the guy and listened to the rest of his story.  Peppered him with questions.  What a horrible lost opportunity.  Imagine, to hear a first-hand account of what happened that night.  June 6, 1944.

“Well,” said Dad sadly, “he was a bit of a weirdo.”

*   *   *

Fast forward to May/June 2009.  The Sixty-fifth Anniversary of the Normandy Landings.

A few days before the 65th Anniversary of the D-Day landings, John sent me an interesting email.  It was a link to a Boston Herald article that exposed “an American fraud.”

Yup, you guessed it.  Our Howard was revealed in the article to have not “dropped into” Ste. Mère-Église, after all.  The article claimed that military records stated that instead, Howard was part of the invasion force that landed at Utah Beach.

Even though I hadn’t believed him when he was standing next to me, I was really sad to read the story.  Imagine living a lie for all that time.  For sixty years.  Howard had lived, part-time, in Ste. Mère-Église for decades.  He had attended many D-Day ceremonies over those sixty-five years.  He had been telling his story, albeit often under the influence, for many, many years.

And so I was sad.  Yes, the guy had been “a bit of a weirdo” to quote Dad.  And yes, he had been rather inebriated.  But was he a fraud?  Could “Weird Howard” have been living a lie for all those years?  If so, how sad, how pitiful.  But how could that happen, I wondered, to tell this lie in a place where veterans of D-Day flock?  In a place where, I thought, sooner or later, someone would recognize him?

*   *   *

In traveling about, and especially visiting many battlefields with John, the history buff, I am often astonished at the images of what soldiers and sailors face in battle.  But I have never been anywhere like Normandy.

When you stand on the beaches, you crane your neck to look up the cliffs to  and look up at where the troops had to go, the price of what we often take for granted looms out of the ghosts.  The cliffs are high, ragged.  With no climbing skills at all, I can’t imagine trying to get to the top, much less with guns pointed and firing in my direction. And yet they did.  Many died.  Many were wounded.  Many are still there, buried at the top of the cliffs, overlooking Omaha Beach.  I felt an almost religious appreciation for the Greatest Generation‘s sacrifices.  There is no physical place that to me represents the ancient struggle of good versus evil.  It is awe-inspiring.

And really, it all started in and around Ste. Mère-Église.

*     *     *

In researching this post, I found conflicting information about Howard.  Some folks say Howard was a fraud.

Others, including the French Government believe his story.  And at the 65th Anniversary of D-Day, in 2009, the French Government awarded Howard their highest medal, the Legion of Honor for exemplary valor and service, even after the Boston Herald article “exposed him” as a fraud.

Howard in the center at the 65th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings (Google Image)

For the longest time, including when I originally wrote and posted this piece four years ago, I didn’t know what to think.

But today I find it hard to believe that anyone could live such a lie for over 60 years and not be exposed much, much earlier.  He told his story over and over, like Mr. Bojangles, for drinks and tips.  If he had gone ashore at Utah Beach, he would still qualify as a hero.  Was “dropping into” Ste Mere Eglise somehow more heroic?

The folks who fought at Normandy, who fought in Europe and in the Pacific, regardless of in what capacity, division or from which country, well, they are all heroes.  They all deserve our thanks. 

More practically, the likelihood that Howard would have run into someone who recognized him from that day was pretty high.  Folks return.  Folks remember.  I’m pretty sure at least some would have clear memories of who stood next to them on the landing craft or on a glider soaring silently above Ste. Mère-Église.  Of whom they linked up with on the ground.

So in the intervening years, I have thought about Howard quite a bit.  I wish we had heard more of his story.  I wish, at a minimum, that we had bought him a beer (although he didn’t really need another one).  I wish that Howard, who died in 2011, didn’t pass with a cloud over his head.

Howard Manoian obituary.

Stars and Stripes:  A jump from the truth

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