Tag: History

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Member Post

 

But it is a species of moral arrogance, not to mention a profound failure of historical imagination, to pass a breathtakingly severe judgment on your forebears, whether near or distant, especially having made no attempt whatsoever to historicize them. And only that same arrogance can then fail to imagine that your descendants, even more bereft […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Peanut Butter Crackers, Gunsmoke, and His Rubix Cube: In Search of My Grandfather

 

Growing up, I only had one grandparent. My mom’s mother, who, for a variety of reasons, my dad wished to largely keep my sister and I away from, and who died when I was 7. I’m never quite sure of how much this difference from others my age affected me; on the one hand, there was little point in pining after something I had never had, but that didn’t always mean that seeing my peers bring grandparents to every significant school occasion, and excitedly report on all of the neat adventures they got to go on with them, didn’t sometimes rankle. That vague feeling of a missed connection has waned over the years, as I was lucky enough to be kind of informally ‘adopted’ by one of my best friend’s maternal grandfather, and to have been given a second family in a community of (mostly 50 and over) Benedectine monks. Still, questions linger, questions that I didn’t really feel comfortable posing to my parents past a certain age. 

Most of them centered around my paternal grandfather, Charlie. My dad was always full of stories about his mother, who he compared to me (when I maybe wasn’t meant to be there) in terms of devotion and bullheadedness to his siblings, and the little aquatinace that I had with my maternal grandmother didn’t really leave me wanting more. My mom’s dad, meanwhile, had passed in the late ‘70s, and seemed a distant, somewhat painful memory even to her. Charlie, though, existed as a kind of aura around my dad’s stories, a cheerful and mischievous but indistinct presence who bore 7 kids and 50 something years of marriage with equanimity and good humor. The most I concretely knew about him was that he drove my grandmother crazy playing with a Rubix cube at the dinner table, ate peanut butter crackers by the thousands, and died a few months before I was born.

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A survey for the under-40 crowd here: Which of the following did you hear about growing up or learn about in school (not university): The Hard Hat Riot, the Prague Spring, the Bader-Meinhof Gang, the Kidnapping of Patty Hearst, the Engel vs. Vitale Case, the disentigration of Skylab and the Arab Oil Embargo. Yes, this […]

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This Tuesday, June 23, 2020, Joe Biden held a virtual fundraiser which featured former President Barack Obama. The event included a discussion or conversation between Biden and Obama and, in that conversation, Obama made an assertion that stunned me. Let me post a video which includes the assertion in question. The video is about 2 […]

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I’ve chosen not to speak out very much about the removal of Confederate statues. Even though, as I’ve noted previously, I enjoy learning from the history that most statues represent, and attempt to lead us to – even of people I find reprehensible, such as Vladimir Lenin and others More

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. What Will the Mob Do with Woodrow Wilson?

 

I’m fascinated by the defacing and destruction of statues and monuments around the world, but especially in the US. The mob seems focused largely (but obviously not exclusively) on those who served for the Confederacy during our “Great Unpleasantness.” After all, they are targets of our modern-day “Presentism,” that is, applying modern “morals” or “standards” to people and events from decades if not centuries ago. The complications and nuances of history don’t seem to matter.

But a few particular monuments seem exempt from the current “unpleasantness,” and that baffles me. Especially one particular former Governor of New Jersey, President of Princeton University, and President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: History and Leaves

 

History is important. And keeping ourselves anchored to the lessons learned from history will enable us to emulate the best of what it means to be human.

The late novelist Michael Crichton is reported to have said, ‘If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree.’ 

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. About Those US Capitol Statues Nancy Wants to Dispose Of

 

One of my privileges as a former Secretary of the United States Senate is the ability to conduct guided tours of the US Capitol. One of the offices I supervised was the US Senate Historical Office. One of the Secretary’s responsibilities is to promote the history and significance of the US Senate, a responsibility that I continue to relish. During my tours, I frequently stop to point out certain statues, especially in Statuary Hall (the former House Chamber until about 1857, when the current Chamber was completed).

So when the latest brouhaha over statues began, especially given the “presentism” gripping our political discourse, I knew right away it would find its way to many of those statues. Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not disappoint, calling for the removal of 11 statues of historical figures she finds especially objectionable.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Let’s Gas Up at the Gas-a-Teria!

 
Gilmore Gas-a-Teria at night 1948

In 1948, the first self-serve gas station was opened in the United States. The station was in Los Angeles, the car capital of the country, on Beverly Boulevard just past Fairfax Avenue and was operated by Gilmore Oil. Gilmore Oil was a large, local oil and gas company well known in southern California. Gilmore called these self-service stations “Gas-a-Teria’s”. The Gas-a-Teria was a massive station for the time featuring eight islands with three pumps per island. The self-serve gas saved the customer five cents per gallon and the attendants at the station were young women.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Black Community and Our Culture Has Lost Its First Love

 

I grew up in Pittsburgh. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream”, and other speeches were part of my high school curriculum. I married a Southerner in 1987. I was shocked to hear that Martin Luther King, Jr. was not a part of his high school curriculum. I entered a different world, a world where in his growing up years, hired help was mainly black, maids, landscapers, and hardscape contractors. I began to see and hear of a South that was not part of my upbringing, but only depicted in movies like “Gone With the Wind.” However, I experienced more racism in the North than I ever did in the South.

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Our Chief Historian Sam Jacobs had the fortunate opportunity to speak with author and former ATF agent, Vincent Cefalu. For those of you that might not know — Vincent Cefalu is best known as the primary whistleblower who exposed Operation Fast and Furious and Project Gunrunner to the American public. More

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. 75th Anniversary: Victory in Europe Day

 

May 8, 2020, marks the 75th anniversary of the formal declaration of victory in Europe. The surviving German military leaders had surrendered in the earliest hours of May 7, with a ceasefire holding through the day until the national leaders of the British Empire, Russia, and the United States could make the formal announcement on the morning of May 8, 1945.

Sadly, this year there will be no great outdoor public ceremonies. Yet, there are other sorts of public commemorations. The British television schedule is filled with commemorative events, culminating in a speech by the Queen, to be broadcast at the same time as her father’s speech 75 years ago. President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump joined a small group of World War II veterans, who flew to Washington D.C. to honor their fallen comrades at the World War II Memorial. In Arizona, the three largest airplanes in the Commemorative Air Force flew in formation around the Valley of the Sun.

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Are you a fan of Dan Carlin, George Friedman, Stephen Kotkin, and Victor Davis Hanson? More

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Andrew Cuomo, in combination with the governors of Connecticut and New Jersey, is hiring consulting firms McKinsey and Deloitt to develop a “Trump-proof” plan for reopening the three states. (The phrase “Trump-proof” apparently comes from NJ governor Murphy.) These three governors, in putting this plan-for-a-plan together, seem focused on their hostility to the Trump administration […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. National Former POW Recognition Day

 

Today, April 9, 2020, is National Former POW Recognition Day. President Trump issued the annual proclamation yesterday. This may seem like an odd day, disconnected from familiar weekends or events, but it is a very specific date, fraught with terrible significance.

March 28, 1988, President Reagan signed Public Law 100-269, “A joint resolution designating April 9, 1988, and April 9, 1989, as ‘National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day.’

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. History and the Vector of Shame

 

Perhaps you have seen the meme that shows WWII soldiers and says something along the lines of “they stormed the beaches for us, we’re just being asked to stay on our couches.” As far as exhortations to stay home go, I suppose it is one of the less annoying and more anodyne ones, but it’s still full of a smug, pompous, and scornful shame directed at us today, extolling the virtues of our honored ancestors over and against the alleged sins of our current generation.

It absolutely reeks of the sort of derision that says “not only are you no better than them, but you’re actually likely a great deal worse since we have to nanny you into staying in your own home.” It is an appeal to heroic nostalgia for a sepia-toned and non-existent past, where somehow the people were “more real,” more manly (or womanly) than today. Putting aside my general annoyance with such nannyism, as a perpetual student of history, I also have to cry foul over the comparison and call it what it is: bilge.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. A Dream of a Sunday Afternoon

 

We’d planned to have an early dinner at a fairly decent Mexican food restaurant, part of a chain called Abuelo’s. In addition to learning that “abuelo” means grandfather, I learned about a mural in the restaurant that I’d seen a dozen times but had never really looked at. And the entire experience was delightful. (The picture below is the original.)

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Tom Tobin: ‘He Could Track a Grasshopper Through Sagebrush’

 

In October of 1863, southwestern Colorado Territory was months into a murder spree that would put any modern serial killer to shame. But Lieutenant Colonel Samuel F. Tappan thought he might well be looking at a chance to end it for good.

Leander Philbrook had stumbled into Fort Garland with word that he had escaped the murderers after they had shot the mules he was driving. He had been traveling by wagon between Trinidad and Costilla with Maria Dolores Sanches when attacked. The man and woman had fled on foot but soon Maria had hidden in some rocks so as not to slow down Philbrook while he searched for help.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Military Service Records of Our Presidents

 
General Washington Crossing the Delaware.

This post is inspired by a bit of presidential trivia I came upon the other day. When John F. Kennedy was elected president, he became the first to have served in the US Navy. That made me wonder about how many other presidents had served in the military in some capacity prior to their winning the White House, what branches they had served in, and whether or not they’d experienced combat.

In general, I think it’s agreed that prior military service is to the credit of anyone seeking political office, especially so for the presidency and that also having combat experience only enhances that benefit. With that in mind, does the record bear out the assumption that prior military service makes for a better president? Whether that’s been the case for our presidents is, I think, an open question; although I would still prefer, everything else being equal, that the presidential candidate I support have military service on their résumé.

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