Archive for the ‘History’ Category

These heroes saved the Union 150 years ago today

July 2, 2013

little round top summitAn important responsibility of citizenship it to understand our history and acknowledge our debts to the people who came before us. My friend, Jack Marshall  (ethicsalarms.com) reminds us that today, July 2, is the 150th anniversary of the second day of the battle of Gettysburg.

We Americans are taught that Abraham Lincoln saved the Union. Yes, he did, but it was about to be lost on July 2, 1863, until the Twentieth Maine Volunteers, commanded by Col. Joshua Chamberlain, defeated a major Confederate attempt to turn the Union’s flank at Little Round Top. Many historians believe the desperate counterattack by the Maine unit is what really saved the Union. Read about Little Round Top here.

 

In today’s Ethics Alarms column Jack Marshall describes how the credit really needs to be shared with the heroic First Minnesota. Read and marvel at what we owe to the unquestioning valor and sacrifice of these American citizen soldiers.

America at our best: John McCain. America at our worst: Michele Bachmann and her four Congressional lap dogs

July 18, 2012

Americans welcome people who are different. They enrich our culture. They bring new energy to our society. They do us proud as a melting pot of cultures.

Americans shun people who are different. They debase our culture. They take our jobs. They seduce our children. They talk like foreigners.

So it was with Germans and Irish in the early 1800s. So it was with Jews and Chinese in the late 1800s. Italians in the early 1900s. Africans forever. And so it is with Muslims today.

At our best we befriend the stranger and his children, we treat them kindly, we hire them, and we defend them. At our worst we demean them, discriminate against them, exploit them, and attack them.

America at our worst is five House Republicans, led by Michele Bachmann (R-MN), who have accused countless American Muslims who work for the U.S. government of being secret agents (more…)

The supreme significance of Jackie Robinson

April 16, 2012

 

Jackie Robinson played his first Major League baseball game 65 years ago today. We’ve long become inured to stories of “firsts,” since our society has come so far on the road to judging each person by the content of his character, but in a century of firsts, Jackie Robinson was extra special. Nobody has explained his significance as well as Jack Marshall in his Ethics Alarms blog. Read it here.

 

Reflections on Martin Luther King, Jr., and on heroism

January 15, 2012

 

Tomorrow is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It’s been a holiday in all fifty states only since 2000, when Utah finally adopted it. MLK was a hero, and the holiday dedicated to him is a good time to reflect on his life and on the meaning—and especially the limits—of being a hero.

If we venerate some of our Presidents for their accomplishments, then we surely should venerate King. He arguably did more to make America a better nation than anyone since Lincoln. He dreamt that “my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

America is not that nation yet—not quite—but we’ve progressed awfully close to it since King’s 1963 speech at the Lincoln Memorial. And the progress has been largely inspired by King. His insistence on non-violence sealed the commitment of African-Americans to it, and his description of what justice meant captured the conscience and then the heart of much of white America.

Yet when his birthday was first proposed as a national holiday in 1979—just eleven years after his death—it was so controversial that it failed to win a majority vote in the House of Representatives, and it took another twenty-one years for the fiftieth state to recognize it. Many reasons have been cited for the resistance, but surely a major reason (more…)

“The Submission” and “Washington: A Life” head my list of favorite books in 2011

December 21, 2011

Fiction

The Submission: A Novel by Amy Waldman. My favorite, about a design competition for the 9/11 memorial, won by a Muslim and leading to chaotic controversy.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (Vintage) by Stieg Larsson. Much more than just a crime novel.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. An American searches for a colleague in the deepest Amazon

Non-Fiction

Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow. A magisterial page-turner of a biography of the greatest American.

Then They Came for Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity, and Survival by Maziar Bahari and Aimee Molloy. An Iranian-British reporter is seized and tortured by the Islamic Republic.

Millennial Momentum: How a New Generation Is Remaking America by Morley Winograd and Michael Hais. Learn who will be running America in a few years.

Reset: Iran, Turkey, and America’s Future by Stephen Kinzer. The former New York Times Istanbul chief proposes new relationships with Turkey and Iran.

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson. The American Ambassador to newly Nazified Germany and his adventurous daughter

Here If You Need Me: A True Story, by Kate Braestrup: A memoir by a middle-aged mother who was suddenly widowed11 years ago, then became a Unitarian-Universalist minister, and now works as chaplain to game wardens in Maine

1861: The Civil War Awakening, by Adam Goodheart. The beginnings of the Civil War


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