Music Video

Rodger Young

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Something for the weekend.  The Ballad of Roger Young.  Born on April 28, 1918 in Tiffin, Ohio, Rodger Young had a happy childhood until in a basketball game in high school he received a head injury which affected his hearing and his eyesight.  He dropped out of high school in his sophomore year because he could not hear the teachers and could not see the blackboards.

A small man physically, along with his hearing and eyesight problems, Young would have seemed to have been totally unsuited to be a soldier.  Nevertheless, Young joined the National Guard in Ohio in 1938.  He made a good soldier and rose to the rank of Sergeant. He was assigned to Company B of the 148th Infantry Regiment.  With the coming of World War II his regiment was assigned to fight on New Georgia.

Shortly before his unit arrived in New Georgia Young took a voluntary demotion to private.  He was by now almost completely deaf and his eyesight was worse and he didn’t think under these conditions he could perform the duties of a squad leader.  With these disabilities his commanding officer wanted to send Young to the hospital.  Young pleaded his case to remain with his unit with such passion, that he was allowed to stay with Company B.

A week after his unit landed in New Georgia, Young was part of a 20 man patrol near Munda that ran into a Japanese ambush.  What he did next earned Young the Medal of Honor and cost him his life.  Here is the text of his Medal of Honor citation: Continue reading

Fanfare for the Common Soldier

Something for the weekend.  Fanfare for the Common Man by Aaron Copland.  Composed seventy years ago, it was Copland’s reaction to the US entering World War II.  Watching the video above, a salute to the soldiers of World War II, brought back memories from 36 years ago for me.

Back in the summer of 1976 I was on vacation between my freshman and sophomore years at the University of Illinois.  My father ran the steel shears at a truck body plant in Paris, Illinois.  They were hiring summer help and I got a job working on the factory floor.  Although I liked the idea of earning money, I was less than enthused by the job.  The factory floor was not air-conditioned, and the summer was hot.  Additionally I had never worked in a factory before, had no experience with heavy machinery and did not know what to expect.

I was placed under the supervision of a regular worker at the plant.  He looked like he was a thousand years old to me at the time, but I realize now that he was younger than than I am now at age 55.  I would assist him at a press in which we would manhandle heavy sheets of steel and use the press to bend them into various shapes.  Before we began he pointed to a little box and said that if I lost a finger or a part of a finger as a result of the press, I should toss it in the box and proceed with the job.  Thus I was introduced to his macabre sense of humor.

I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but he was engaged in a rough and ready form of instruction.  He had to take a completely green kid, and teach me various tasks, all the while keeping up with the jobs the press was assigned.  He did it pretty skillfully, and I learned.  I never got to like the job, but I learned how to do it.  I also learned to grudgingly respect my mentor.  He obviously wasn’t well read, but he was handy with machinery, and under his tutelage I learned how to operate the press without losing one of my digits, or costing him one of his.  He kept me out of trouble at the factory, and included me in his conversations with his fellow veteran workers.  All in all I probably learned more that summer of future value for me in life, than I learned from any of my courses in college.

One day during the half hour we had for lunch, I asked him if he had served in World War II.  I was in Army ROTC at the University, and I had a keen interest in military history.  He told me that he had been an infantryman in the Army and that he had participated in Operation Torch. Continue reading

September 22, 1862: Lincoln Issues Notice of Emancipation Proclamation

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Something for the weekend.  Give us a Flag, the unofficial anthem of the United States Colored Troops during the Civil War, written by a private serving in the 54th Massachusetts.

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Today is the 150th anniversary of the issuance of the notice by Lincoln of the Emancipation Proclamation, to take effect on January 1, 1863, Lincoln doing so after the Union victory at Antietam on September 17, 1862.  Reaction was, to say the least, mixed.  In the North the abolitionists were enraptured.  Most Northern opinion was favorable, although there was a substantial minority, embodied almost entirely in the Democrat party, that completely opposed this move.  Opinion in the Border States was resoundingly negative.  In the Confederacy the Confederate government denounced the proposed Emancipation Proclamation as a call for a race war.  Today, almost all Americans view the Emancipation Proclamation as a long overdue ending of slavery.  At the time it was very much a step into the unknown, and the consequences impossible to determine.  Lincoln had converted the War for the Union into a War for the Union and against Slavery.  It remained to be seen as to whether the War, whatever its objectives, could be won.  Here is the text of Lincoln’s announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation: Continue reading

Obama, Can You Spare a Dime?

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Something for a weekend.  A variant on the song of the First Great Depression, Buddy Can You Spare a Dime.  It seemed timely in regard to the terrible economic news that came out this week:

1.  AA- -Credit rating firm reduced the United States Credit Rating to AA-.  Here is why

Egan-Jones said it believes the Fed’s third round of quantitative easing,  which sent stock prices surging on Thursday, “will hurt the U.S. economy and, by  extension, credit quality.”

The firm said that while the program should boost equity markets, issuing  additional currency and depressing interest rates through purchasing  mortgage-backed securities will hurt the value of the U.S. dollar and cause a  painful increase in commodity prices.

“In our opinion, QE3 will be detrimental to credit quality for the U.S.,” Egan-Jones said.

At the same time, Egan-Jones warned that the cost to finance U.S. debt will “slowly rise” as the global economy rebounds and the Fed scales back on its  purchases of Treasury securities.

The ratio of U.S. debt to gross domestic product soared to 104% in recent  months from 66% in 2006 and will likely increase to 110% in a year, the firm  said. By comparison, Spain’s debt-to-GDP stands at 68.5%.

2.  Median Income-Under Obama Median income per household has fallen to $50,054.00.   When adjusted for inflation this is the lowest median income per household since 1995.

3.  Industrial Production-Down-US industrial production fell 1.2% in August pointing to a slowing economy.

4.  Unemployment-Fed analysts estimate that unemployment will not reach 7% until 2014. Continue reading

Tippecanoe and Tyler Too!

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Something for the weekend.  After a fortnight of political conventions I thought it was appropriate to have one of the more popular campaign songs in American political history featured for our weekend song, Tippecanoe and Tyler Too, written by Alexander Coffman Ross, and sung endlessly by the Whigs during the 140 presidential campaign.  Perhaps one of the more vacuous campaigns in our nation’s history, the Whig’s rode to victory on William Henry Harrison’s status as a war hero at the battle of Tippecanoe in 1811 and during the War of 1812, and the poor economy presided over by Democrat Martin Van Buren.  Ironically John Tyler, who was as much an afterthought on the ticket as he is in the song, would serve out the term of Harrison after Harrison died after only 32 days in office.  John Tyler was a Democrat who had only recently converted to the Whig party.  As president he returned to his Democrat roots and had dreadful relations with the Whigs, who would certainly have impeached him but for their losing control of the House in the 1842 elections.  Astoundingly Tyler still has two living grandchildren.

Here is a rock version of the song: Continue reading

The Girl I Left Behind Me

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Something for the weekend.  The Girl I Left Behind Me.  First seeing print in 1791, the song has always been associated with the parting of young soldiers and their sweethearts as a result of war.

Plaisir d’amour

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Something for the weekend.  Plaisir d’amour, “The Pleasure of Love”.  Written in 1780 by Jean Paul Egide Martini, it was orchestrally arranged by Hector Berlioz.  The haunting melody has always been a favorite of mine.

Plaisir d’amour ne dure qu’un moment.

 chagrin d’amour dure toute la vie.

  J’ai tout quitté pour l’ingrate Sylvie.

 Elle me quitte et prend un autre amant.

  Plaisir d’amour ne dure qu’un moment.

 chagrin d’amour dure toute la vie.

  Tant que cette eau coulera doucement

 vers ce ruisseau qui borde la prairie,

  Je t’aimerai me répétait Sylvie.

 L’eau coule encore. Elle a changé pourtant.

  Plaisir d’amour ne dure qu’un moment.

 chagrin d’amour dure toute la vie.

The pleasure of love lasts only a moment

 The pain of love lasts a lifetime.

  I gave up everything for ungrateful Sylvia,

 She is leaving me for another lover.

  The pleasure of love lasts only a moment,

 The pain of love lasts a lifetime.

  “As long as this water will run gently

 Towards this brook which borders the meadow,

  I will love you”, Sylvia told me repeatedly.

 The water still runs, but she has changed.

  The pleasure of love lasts only a moment,

 The pain of love lasts a lifetime. Continue reading

Fireworks Melody

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Something for the Weekend.  I always find the Handel composition Music For the Royal Fireworks (1749) to be stirring.  It was written to celebrate the ending of the War of the Austrian Succession and the signing of the peace of Aix-La-Chappelle in 1748.  It turned out to be merely a truce before the start of the Seven Years War, the big war of the Eighteenth Century, known as the French and Indian War in America, and initiated by a 22 year old George Washington!  Counting the fighting in America which began in 1754, it should properly be known as the Nine Years War. Continue reading

Cabin Fever

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(Guest post by Don’s wife Cathy:)

Ever feel like the extreme heat & humidity this past week (across most of the USA) was driving you nuts – not to mention being cooped up (in air-conditioned splendor, but still . . .) that whole time?  Apparently this was also a problem for the intrepid-but-becalmed ship’s crew in Muppet Treasure Island!  Thankfully, by the time you see this, the temperatures will have dropped to more reasonable levels (approx. 85 degrees Fahrenheit/30 degrees Celsius) in our part of the country – although readers of this blog on the US East Coast will still have to suffer for a day or two. Continue reading

Fortnight For Freedom Day 3: Chester

 

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Their blood flowed as freely (in proportion to their numbers) to cement the fabric of independence as that of any of their fellow-citizens: They concurred with perhaps greater unanimity than any other body of men, in recommending and promoting that government, from whose influence America anticipates all the blessings of justice, peace, plenty, good order and civil and religious liberty.

John Carroll, first American bishop, on American Catholics in the Revolution

Something for the weekend.  Chester,  America’s unofficial national anthem during the American Revolution.   This fits in well with the Fortnight of Freedom proclaimed by our Bishops in resistance to encroachments by government on our religious liberty.

Written by William Billings in 1770, he added new lyrics to the song in 1778 and transformed it into a battle hymn for the Patriots in their war for independence.  The song reveals the strong religious element that was ever-present on the American side of the conflict, with most Patriots viewing the war as a crusade. Continue reading

S.O.S.

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Something for the Weekend.  Some of the reactions to my post with the ABBA song Waterloo in it were so, I think the term I will use is “special”, that I decided that S.O.S. was warranted.  Don’t make me bring out Dancing Queen:)

They Will Shoot Me on Tuesday

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I die but God does not die!

Blessed Anacleto González Flores before his martyrdom, April 1, 1927

Something for the Weekend. El Martes Me Fusilaran.  (They will shoot me on Tuesday.)    A  song performed  by Vicente Fernández Gomez celebrating the fight for the Church and religious liberty by the Cristeros in Mexico in the twenties of the last century.  This seemed appropriate on the day when my family and I will be seeing For Greater Glory.  Go here to read my post on the film and the historical background on the Cristero War.  Here are the lyrics of the song translated into English: Continue reading

Eternal Father

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Something for the weekend.  Eternal Father seems very appropriate for a Memorial Day weekend, as we remember those who paid the ultimate price for the freedom we cherish.  Written in 1860 as a poem by William Whiting in England, the music to accompany the lyrics was composed by John B. Dykes in 1861.  The moving hymn has always been a favorite of those who serve in the military:

Eternal Father, strong to save,

Whose arm hath bound the restless wave, 

Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep  

Its own appointed limits keep;  

Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee, 

For those in peril on the sea!

O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard

And hushed their raging at Thy word,  

Who walkedst on the foaming deep,

And calm amidst its rage didst sleep;

Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,  

For those in peril on the sea!

Most Holy Spirit! Who didst brood

Upon the chaos dark and rude,

And bid its angry tumult cease,

And give, for wild confusion, peace;  

Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,  

For those in peril on the sea!

O Trinity of love and power!

Our brethren shield in danger’s hour;

From rock and tempest, fire and foe, 

Protect them wheresoe’er they go;

  Thus evermore shall rise to Thee

Glad hymns of praise from land and sea. Continue reading

O Say Can You See?

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Something for the weekend.  The Star Spangled Banner.  Often assailed by critics as unsingable, too war-like and on other grounds,  I love it and I am proud that it is our National Anthem.   It is an interesting song for a national anthem in that the first stanza, the one we all attempt to sing, has an important question at the end of it:  Oh, say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?   That particular question has to be asked by each generation of Americans, ours no less than the generations who came before us.

Here is a superb video giving the historical back ground behind the writing of The Star Spangled Banner:

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Come Cheer Up My Lads

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Something for the weekend.  Heart of Oak.  Written by actor David Garrick in 1759, with music by Dr. William Boyce, the song is a rousing tribute to the Royal Navy.  Garrick penned the song during the Annus Mirabilis of 1759 when Church bells in Great Britain and America were constantly ringing in celebration of British victories, including the taking of Quebec, on land and sea.  The song was an immediate hit both in Great Britain and its colonies.

The video clip above is taken from That Hamilton Woman (1941) starring Vivian Leigh and Laurence Olivier.  In many ways simply a historical pot boiler common for films during the period, the film also celebrates British resistance to the tyranny of Napoleon which of course strongly resonated with British audiences in 1941.  It was Churchill’s favorite movie and he would frequently show it to guests during the War.

The playing of Heart of Oak at the beginning of the clip is not a conceit of the film.  When British ships of the line were sailing into battle the bands of the ship would strike up Heart of Oak, always a favorite of the sailors on board.  Serving in miserable conditions, sometimes pressed (“compulsorily volunteered” was the phrase), the song did reflect how the sailors perceived themselves.  They were almost all ardent patriots, as they demonstrated during the fleet mutinies at Spithead and the Nore in 1797, when the mutineers turned over to the government French agents who attempted to make common cause with them.  The leaders of the mutineers told the authorities that they were entirely loyal to England, and they simply wanted redress for their grievances, which the Admiralty eventually granted.  Admiral Nelson at Trafalgar, where he smashed the combined French and Spanish fleets and established British naval supremacy for a century, understood the patriotism of the common seaman, which is why he sent the fleet the message, “England expects every man to do his duty” prior to sailing into the fight.

Nelson in the film is shown as saying of the decorations that he wore in the engagement, “I won them in battle?  Then I’ll wear them in battle.” although he of course realized that this made him a prime target for French snipers.  Nelson had previously lost a right arm and a right eye in prior engagements.  At Trafalgar his luck ran out and he was killed by a French sharpshooter.  However, his stance was not foolhardy.  To direct a fleet action in the early Nineteenth Century an admiral needed to be on deck, and Nelson understood that the attribute prized above all others by the men he led was physical courage.  Nelson was a complete cad in his personal life, but he had in abundance that quality.  The men would fight much harder if they saw their officers coolly displaying complete contempt for death in action, and therefore it was necessary for Nelson to do so.  Additionally, throughout his career he had struggled for better conditions for the men under his command, and they fought their hardest when led by him. Continue reading

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