Pathfinders of D-Day


Pathfinder arm patch.

Tuesday marked the 79th anniversary of the Allied amphibious assault in northwest Europe. The first men on the ground were the pathfinders. They were organized in teams of 14-18 paratroopers and jumped an hour ahead of the main body of parachute infantry.

Portland’s 4449 to Bend and Back


Enjoy a cup of coffee on a Sunday morning and some railroad history. Take a trip through the Columbia River Gorge and the Deschutes River Canyon.

The Southern Pacific 4449 is a “GS-4” class of 4-8-4 “Northern” type steam locomotive. There are only two GS type locomotives that exist today. The SP 4449 is the only GS-4 locomotive left that has survived a scrap yard.

Marvelous Adventure Story Recounts Forgotten 1919 Transcontinental Air Race


In 1903, America led the world in aviation. By 1919, the United States aviation industry lagged behind other nations. Europe began commercial airlines. In the much larger United States, aviation was seemingly limited to aerial entertainment. Americans appeared to be losing interest in it.

“The Great Air Race: Death, Glory, and the Dawn of American Aviation” by John Lancaster recounts an almost forgotten 1919 transcontinental air race. Hosted by the Army Air Service and limited to military pilots, it was billed as a demonstration of capability, not a race. It attempted to revive America’s aviation industry.

The 1919 Aircraft Reliability Race was the brainchild of Brigadier General William “Billy” Mitchell, then America’s foremost air power advocate. He was at the height of his influence. A war hero and Director of Military Aeronautics, Mitchell organized it as a readiness demonstration. Army pilots starting in New York City and San Francisco, would cross the continent to the other city and then fly back to their origin. Half would start in each city. It was not a “race,” although the competitive instincts of the participants made it one. The pilot completing the journey first would have bragging rights.

Memorial Day Weekend: Civil War Dispatches from Arizona


Picacho Peak is located on the west side of Interstate 10 about 45 miles north of Tucson. Drivers making the trip between Phoenix and Tucson, unless they visit Picacho Peak State Park, may not realize that Union and Confederate forces fought the westernmost skirmish of the Civil War in what was then the location of an isolated Butterfield stagecoach station.

Our loneliness … [was] indescribable. We were cut off from all communication with the civilized world, in a desert and inhospitable country. Ahead of us was an enemy of whose numbers we knew little, and behind a forbidding desert … To add still more to our loneliness, as the sound of the pick and shovel were heard, was the dismal howl of the wild coyote … The graves being dug, without a word or a prayer we rolled the bodies in their blankets and laid them to rest.”

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Outstanding essay. Just had to share it. “In 1828, a former slave named Isabella van Wagenen took her owner to court on the charge that he had illegally sold her five-year-old son out of state. Isabella herself had only been legally free for two years at this point, since New York State was still in […]

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Maybe I’m being too hard on myself; maybe the very concept of “Mexican higher education” is faulty or ludicrous; maybe it really is exactly what it sounds like on UNAM radio, drab transmission of doctrine. I listen to the weekday morning show, and the academics and activists who appear on it are a trial. At […]

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Questions about the nature of the American founding undergird our fraught political discourse: was the American Revolution justified? How religious were the Founding Fathers? How should we deal with the fact that they owned slaves? What is Christian Nationalism? Mark David Hall, current Garwood Visiting Fellow with us at the James Madison Program and Herbert Hoover Distinguished Professor of Politics at George Fox University, addresses these questions and more in his latest book, Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land: How Christianity Has Advanced Freedom and Equality for All Americans (Fidelis Books, 2023). In this conversation, Mark and Annika have a lively back and forth about the debates surrounding the American founding and its repercussions today.

In addition to his book, you can find more on Mark’s views on Christian Nationalism in this essay for Providence Magazine.

The Fleetwood Mac Era


In the 1970 and 1980s, radio airways were dominated by the group Fleetwood Mac. It seemed everyone had a copy of their Rumors album. Today, those that first listened to Fleetwood Mac when it first came out, when they were in their teens and twenties are now grandparents. Yet even today it cannot be dismissed as “your grandparents’ music.

“Playing in the Rain: Lindsey Buckingham and Fleetwood Mac,” by Tyler Martin Sehnal, is a history of the group. It follows Fleetwood Mac from its original inception to the present.

Opening with the group’s origins as a blues band in England, Sehnal follows it to the United States. The band started in 1967, founded by Peter Green, and two other musicians. Guitarist John McVie joined shortly after its debut performance. It was named Fleetwood Mac (for Mick Fleetwood and John McVie). John McVie’s then-wife, Christie McVie provided vocals.

Quote of the Day: The Real Cinco de Mayo


“Today, you are going to fight for a sacred objective; you are going to fight for the fatherland, and I promise that this day we shall triumph in a day of eternal renown. I see victory in your faces.” —  Mexican Brigadier General Ignacio Zaragoza, May 5, 1862

Ever wonder why Latin America is called Latin America? Blame the French.

After years of revolutions, counter-revolutions, and counter-counter-revolutions, Napoleon III seized power. He was the nephew of his great namesake, but not nearly as clever. Three years after being elected France’s leader, he declared himself Emperor.

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I did not return The Bolivia Reader to the library summarily. Although my first impressions proved accurate, I did flip through it some more. I suppose I was hoping for chapters with titles like “Indigenating: It’s What Indigenes Do” or “These Derbies That All Of Us Wear, Even The Women, Really Are A Bad Look” […]

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Quote of the Day: Francis Parkman


“If any pale student, glued to his desk, here seeks an apology for a way of life whose natural fruits is that pallid and emasculate scholarship of which New England has had too many examples, it will be far better that this sketch had not been written. For the student there is, in its season, no better place than the saddle, and no better companion than the rifle or the oar.”
American historian Francis Parkman (1823-1893)

My favorite era of American history is the first. Europeans arriving on the shores of a primeval wilderness, wondering if it’s a second Eden or a green hell. Native Americans stumbling upon pale creatures in bizarre clothes rowing to shore from floating wooden islands.

The earliest historian to fully document these encounters is Francis Parkman, a Harvard-educated Boston scion who set aside Yankee comforts to tramp over snowcapped mountains and muddy battlefields.

To Own the Sea at Night


Nighttime is the right time for a naval battle; at least during the 20th century. Eighty percent of the surface actions were fought at night then. Before that, during the age of fighting sail, only ten percent of battles occurred at night.

“Fighting in the Dark: Naval Combat at Night: 1904-1944,” edited by Vincent P. O’Hara and Trent Hone, explores the reason for that change. It looks at nighttime naval actions fought over a 40-year period.

It contains seven essays by eight noted naval historians. Each examines the naval night-fighting doctrine of different navies in different conflicts: The Russo-Japanese War, World War I, and World War II. These examine the Imperial Japanese Navy in the Russo-Japanese War and between 1922 and 1942, The German Kaiserliche Marine during World War I, the Royal Navy between 1916 and 1939 and in 1943-44, and the United States Navy from 1942 through 1944.

‘They Have No Grave but the Cruel Sea’


The 81-year search for the Montevideo Maru has ended. On July 1, 1942, the American submarine Sturgeon fired four torpedoes from its stern tubes. Two of those torpedoes hit their target and 11 minutes later, the Montevideo Maru slipped below the surface and came to rest 13,000 feet below the water’s surface.

An estimated 1,080 persons from 14 countries lost their lives in the early morning hours off the coast of Luzon, in the Philippines. Approximately 900 Australian POWs and civilians were lost that day.

Join Jim and Greg as they serve up three good martinis to close out the week! First, they cheer CNN contributor Scott Jennings for calmly but firmly confronting American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten over her absurd lies that she was pushing harder than anyone to reopen schools in the midst of the pandemic when she was loudly persistent in keeping them closed. They also welcome the news that West Virginia GOP Gov. Jim Justice is running for U.S. Senate in 2024, giving Republicans their best chance yet to knock off Sen. Joe Manchin or maybe even convince him not to run for re-election. Finally, they welcome the news that Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel is planning to sit out the 2024 cycle after backing and bankrolling multiple weak candidates in the midterms.

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