It’s important to remember why we have a day off

Like most of you, I will enjoy a “family day” and eat too much.  We have a grandson now and this is also the first holiday that I won’t have my parents around.  My mom died in mid-May and my father back in 2015.   Our routine is to turn on the grill and eat some burgers.  Often, I watch those military documentaries or a good war movie.  A few years ago, we watched the series “John Adams.”

My parents always told us family stories.  They would say something in Spanish that loosely translates to remember where you came from and who you are.   We heard about our ancestors and how they got to Cuba.  

On this Memorial Day holiday, the U.S. could use a lesson from my parents because there are too many people around who want us to forget our history or devalue its importance.  Sadly, they want us to hate the country rather than love its unique history. So let’s remember why we take a day off today.  

My guess is that all countries have one day to remember those who have paid the ultimate price, as President Lincoln said.  In the U.S., we call it Memorial Day and it has a long history. 

Let’s start with the Civil War (1861-65) and “Decoration Day“:    

On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance later that month. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed.

The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.

On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.

Later, it became Memorial Day after World War I and World War II:    

For decades, Memorial Day continued to be observed on May 30, the date Logan had selected for the first Decoration Day. But in 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees; the change went into effect in 1971. The same law also declared Memorial Day a federal holiday.

Looking back today and reading about Decoration Day, I am amazed how our ancestors were willing to decorate the graves of northern and southern soldiers.  It’s a good lesson for those who want to remove statues.  Sometimes the best way to heal is to honor the dead rather than selectively remove them from history.

Remember what Memorial Day is about.  It’s the best way to honor their sacrifice.

P.S.  You can listen to my show (Canto Talk). 

Looking up to the moon on Christmas Eve 1968 and hearing Anders, Lovell, and Borman

A few days ago, I was sharing this story with two of my sons.  After all, they are part of a generation that does not listen to the car radio and certainly never the AM signal.

1968 was actually a very tough year for everyone. There were riots all over the world, from Paris to Detroit. It was a tough summer. Yet, 1968 ended with a bit of good news. Apollo 8 went around the moon and gave us the most memorable moment of that rowdy year.

It’s hard to beat this one.  This is what we heard from three men a quarter-million miles away:

Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the Moon, entered lunar orbit on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1968. That evening, the astronauts; Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot Jim Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders did a live television broadcast from lunar orbit, in which they showed pictures of the Earth and Moon seen from Apollo 8. Lovell said, “The vast loneliness is awe-inspiring and it makes you realize just what you have back there on Earth.” They ended the broadcast with the crew taking turns reading from the book of Genesis.

William Anders:

“For all the people on Earth the crew of Apollo 8 has a message we would like to send you”.

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.

And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.”

Jim Lovell:

“And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.

And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.”

Frank Borman:

“And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.

And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.”

Borman then added, “And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you – all of you on the good Earth.”

James Lovell was on this mission and would also be part of Apollo 13 a couple of years later.  Frank Borman became president of an airline and made a ton of TV commercials. I’m not sure what happened to Anders.

I can still remember Christmas 1968 and listening to the three astronauts read from Genesis somewhere around the moon. It was one of those moments that will live with me forever.    

Feliz Navidad!

P.S.  You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

We remember Professor Walter E. Williams (1936-2020)

We just learned that Professor Walter E. Williams passed away.  He was 84 and born in 1936.    

Dr. Williams was a national treasure.  He was on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and the author of “More Liberty Means Less Government: Our Founders Knew This Well.”  

By the way, Dr. Williams’ life was an example to all.  His books would make a wonderful present for a young person for Christmas.      

P.S.  You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter

From ‘Decoration Day’ to Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a special American holiday.  My guess is that all countries have one day to remember those who have paid the ultimate price, as President Lincoln said.  In the US we call it Memorial Day and it has a long history. 

Let’s start with the war between the states or The Civil War (1861-65) and “Decoration Day“:    

On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance later that month. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed.

The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.

On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.

Later, it became Memorial Day after World War I and World War II:    

For decades, Memorial Day continued to be observed on May 30, the date Logan had selected for the first Decoration Day. But in 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees; the change went into effect in 1971. The same law also declared Memorial Day a federal holiday.

Looking back today and reading about Decoration Day, I am amazed how our ancestors were willing to decorate the graves of northern and southern soldiers.  It’s a good lesson for those who want to remove statues.  Sometimes the best way to heal is to honor the dead rather than selectively remove them from history.

Remember their sacrifice on Memorial Day.

P.S.  You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.   

1941 and the day before Pearl Harbor

We will celebrate another anniversary of Pearl Harbor tomorrow. I found this note very interesting. This is from the day before the Japanese bombed the US:   

On this day, President Roosevelt—convinced on the basis of intelligence reports that the Japanese fleet is headed for Thailand, not the United States—telegrams Emperor Hirohito with the request that “for the sake of humanity,” the emperor intervene “to prevent further death and destruction in the world.”The Royal Australian Air Force had sighted Japanese escorts, cruisers, and destroyers on patrol near the Malayan coast, south of Cape Cambodia.

An Aussie pilot managed to radio that it looked as if the Japanese warships were headed for Thailand—just before he was shot down by the Japanese.  

This is a remarkable note. In other words, we suspected that the Japanese fleet was moving to Thailand. We learned the next day that it had been moving to Hawaii all along. 

P.S.  You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.   

1963: “Mataron al que mato a Kennedy” said my mother

A few days ago, I shared my memories of the day that President Kennedy was assasinated.     “Mataron a Kennedy” said my mother!

Today, I bring another of my mother’s reactions:   “Mataron al que mato a Kennedy” said my mother of the crazy events of that day.

On this day in 1963, millions of people watched Jack Ruby, a Dallas businessman, shoot Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged killer of President Kennedy.    Oswald died shortly after.

It happened as the authorities were taking Oswald to another jail.   It also occurred about 48 hours after the assassination of the president.

To say the least, the shooting shocked the world.  It also opened the door to a ton of conspiracy theories about the president’s assassination.  

For the record, I believe that Oswald shot President Kennedy on his own.  I came to that conclusion after reading Gerald Posner’s “Case closed” in the 1990’s.   

Ruby died of cancer in 1967.  Ruby never changed his story about why he killed Oswald.     Apparently, Ruby did not want Jackie Kennedy to come to a trial.   He took that explanation to his grave.

PS: You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

Gettysburg and my late great Uncle Joaquin

It’s Gettysburg Address Day and another time to remember my late great “Tio Joaquin Ramos”. He was my grandmother’s brother and another distinguished citizen of Sagua La Grande. Before 1959, Tio Joaquin was a judge, law college professor, an attorney and a big fan of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.  

Here it is. I can still hear my great uncle reciting it and telling me that it was the greatest speech ever delivered:

“Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.   

Now we are engaged in a great Civil War, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. 

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. 

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

To say the least, I can see my late great uncle giving me “thumbs up” from heaven for this post about his favorite speech. He loved it and I’ve grown to love it, too.

P.S.  You can hear Frank Burke read the speech here & follow me on Twitter @ scantojr.

Veterans Day and General Patton (1885-1945)

Image result for general patton images

Am I the only one who finds this historical fact interesting? There is something very interesting about this story.

We remember George Patton, one of the great military men in US history.   He was born in San Gabriel, California on this day in 1885. Coincidentally, we remember this day as Veterans Day, or the day to recall those who served.

During WWII, Patton led the Allies to victory in the invasion of Sicily, and was instrumental to the liberation of Germany from the Nazis. 

He died on December 21, 1945 in Heidelberg, Germany.

In 1970, a great movie came out about ‘Patton”. Just recently, Bill O’Reilly wrote about “Killing Patton“.

PS: You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

Everything about President Lincoln reminds me of my great uncle in Cuba

Image result for president lincoln shot images

We grew up listening to stories about President Lincoln. My father’s uncle, or Tio Joaquin, loved to talk about the 16th president. He’d impress my brother and I by reciting The Gettysburg Address in English.

Tio Joaquin never left Cuba and died in the 1980’s. I will always remember him for all of those Lincoln stories that he used to tell us.

One of those stories was the assasination of President Lincoln on this day in 1865.

On Friday, April 14, 1865, President and Mrs. Lincoln, accompanied by Clara Harris and Major Henry R. Rathbone, entered Ford’s Theatre for the performance of “Our American Cousin” featuring Laura Keene.   It was a popular comedy of its time.   By all accounts, the President was in good spirits and ready for a night of relaxation.

Otto Eisenschiml wrote that the shots were fired at around 10:15 pm.  (In the Shadow of Lincoln’s Death (New York: Funk, 1940),

Shortly after, the wounded President was moved across the street to the house of William Petersen at 453 10th St. NW.    He was placed in a small room at the rear of hall on the first floor.

Mrs. Lincoln and the surgeons stayed with the President all night.    VP  Johnson dropped in for a visit around 2 am.

Dr. Charles S. Taft observed that the President stopped breathing “at 7:21 and 55 seconds in the morning of April 15th, and 7:22 and 10 seconds his pulse ceased to beat.”  (Eisenschiml)

After some silence, Secretary .Stanton said:   “Now he belongs to the ages“.

PS: You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

It was a pro-Castro communist who killed President Kennedy

As a kid in our last year in Cuba, I watched with my dad Fidel Castro on TV  talk about the Kennedy assassination.  I don’t remember what he said but my dad told me later that Castro was nervous.  I guess that he felt that President Johnson would use the assassination to correct the mistake at The Bay of Pigs.

Over time, I’ve heard all of the conspiracy theories, watched a few documentaries and even that idiotic Oliver Stone JFK movie that came out 20 years ago.

Can we finally call it?  President JFK was killed by a crazy guy who was hanging around with communists and supporting the Castro dictatorship in Cuba.

Yes, there were angry right-wingers in Dallas.  Some of them behaved poorly.  However, do you think that one of these groups would have “contracted” a head case like Oswald to kill anybody?.  My guess is that most of these right wing groups would have given Oswald a bloody lip if they ever had a chance to run into him.

This week, James Piereson put the nail in all of the conspiracies, especially the nonsense that right wingers in Dallas or the “let’s get into Vietnam” military industrial complex.

Mr Piereson tells us about Oswald, the communist who killed the president of the US:

“The facts are that President Kennedy was a martyr in the Cold War struggle against communism. The assassin was a communist and not a bigot or a right-winger. Oswald defected from the U.S. to the Soviet Union in 1959, vowing when he did so that he could no longer live under a capitalist system. He returned to the U.S. with his Russian wife in 1962, disappointed with life under Soviet communism but without giving up his Marxist beliefs or his hatred of the U.S. By 1963, Oswald had transferred his political allegiance to Castro’s communist regime in Cuba.

In April 1963, Oswald attempted to shoot Edwin Walker, a retired U.S. Army general, as he sat at a desk in his dining room. Walker was the head of the Dallas chapter of the John Birch Society and a figure then in the news because of his opposition to school integration and his demand that the Castro regime be overthrown. The rifle Oswald used in the attempt at Walker’s life was the one he used to shoot Kennedy.

Dallas police would not identify Oswald as Walker’s would-be assassin until after the assassination of Kennedy, but Oswald, fearful that he would be identified for the Walker shooting, fled Dallas for New Orleans. In June 1963 he established a local chapter of Fair Play for Cuba, a national organization dedicated to gaining diplomatic recognition for Castro’s regime. Oswald was filmed by a local television station in New Orleans circulating leaflets on behalf of the Castro government and was jailed briefly following a street altercation with anti-Castro Cubans. Soon thereafter he appeared on a local television program to debate U.S. policy toward Cuba.

In late September, Oswald left New Orleans to travel to Mexico City in pursuit of a visa that would permit him to travel to Cuba and then to the Soviet Union. As documented in the Warren Commission Report, he took along a dossier of news clippings on his pro-Castro activities to establish his revolutionary bona fides with personnel at the Cuban and Soviet embassies in the city.

Oswald returned to Dallas empty-handed after being told that his application would take months to process. He was still waiting on his application six weeks later when he read that President Kennedy’s forthcoming visit to Texas would include a motorcade through downtown Dallas and past the building where he worked.

The assassin’s motives for shooting Kennedy were undoubtedly linked to a wish to interfere with the president’s campaign to overthrow Castro’s government. After the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy pledged to abandon efforts to overthrow Castro’s regime by force. But the war of words between the two governments continued, and so did clandestine plots by the Kennedy administration to eliminate Castro by assassination.”

Last, but not least, I have spoken to Cubans living in New Orleans in 1962-63 who got into heated arguments with Oswald over Cuba.  They will attest to the fact that Oswald was a “Castro loving communist,” or exactly the kind of jerk who would kill the president of the US.

So leave Dallas alone.  We did not kill JFK.  The bloody communist did it!

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.