I’ve been silent this week; but with good reason. Continue reading “Saturday Morning Coffee”
This is not an April Fools joke. Continue reading “Not An April Fools Joke”
My friend and grandfather Mr Tom passed on earlier today. He will be greatly missed as he was greatly loved.
This photo was taken at (and by) Tryon Palace on Pearl Harbor Day, where he was the guest of honor. It may be one of my favorite pictures of him.
Before you now appears the militia of Christ’s triumph.
Tom Poole: 1918-2017, USN (Ret), WWII veteran of Pearl Harbor and D-Day, the greatest man I have ever known.
My adopted grandfather, Mr. Tom (USN 1938-1957), remembers D-Day:
I was assigned to the Meredith*, an American destroyer out of Plymouth England. She was new – so new parts were still wet with paint. As at Pearl, my duty was the engine room. The Meredith wasn’t transport, she was a destroyer; we shelled the shore to soften it up for the landing. We stayed there in the [English] Channel for the entire day and the next, that’d make it June 7 when we were ordered to change position. I don’t recall where we were going; regardless, we struck a mine. That brand-new ship struck a mine and threatened to break in half. We ended up abandoning ship and I spent the night in the English Channel tied to my buddies so we wouldn’t drift. There was fuel all over, some of it ignited. One of my buddies [name redacted] was burned so badly he knew he was dying. He gave me some effects to pass on to his girl and some of the others started accusing me of robbing the dead. What was I supposed to do? What was I supposed to say? Well, we were picked up in the morning and I was shipped on to Scotland for recovery before being sent back to the States for a spell. I really can’t describe it. D-day was the worst day of my life. Worse than Pearl. Worse than the day my wife died. It was the absolute worst day of my life.
*You can read the official Commander’s Narrative here.
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Seventy years ago, this was not the case. Seventy years ago, the Allied Powers declared victory over Adolf Hitler’s Reich.
I could write about the power and significance of this moment, but the historian in me knows that only those who lived it can truly understand.
In his speech to the British people, Winston Churchill said
My dear friends, this is your hour. This is not victory of a party or of any class. It’s a victory of the great British nation as a whole. We were the first, in this ancient island, to draw the sword against tyranny. After a while we were left all alone against the most tremendous military power that has been seen. We were all alone for a whole year . . . The lights went out and the bombs came down. But every man, woman and child in the country had no thought of quitting the struggle. London can take it. So we came back after long months from the jaws of death, out of the mouth of hell, while all the world wondered. When shall the reputation and faith of this generation of English men and women fail? I say that in the long years to come not only will the people of this island but of the world, wherever the bird of freedom chirps in human hearts, look back to what we’ve done and they will say “do not despair, do not yield to violence and tyranny, march straightforward and die if need be-unconquered.”
Every year I have students ask how things like the Holocaust could have happened and explain what they would have done under similar circumstances. After kindly explaining that no-one knows what they will do in any given situation until they are in it, I share this quote from Rod Sterling’s Twilight Zone episode Deaths-Head Revisited:
All the Dachaus must remain standing. The Dachaus, the Belsens, the Buchenwalds, the Auschwitzes – all of them. They must remain standing because they are a monument to a moment in time when some men decided to turn the Earth into a graveyard. Into it they shoveled all of their reason, their logic, their knowledge, but worst of all their conscience. And the moment we forget this, the moment we cease to be haunted by its remembrance, then we become the gravediggers. Something to dwell on and to remember, not only in the Twilight Zone but wherever men walk God's Earth.