Tag Archives: Pearl Harbor

Movie Wisdom – Tom Sizemore Edition

21 May

This afternoon was a good time to watch television. It was hot and rainy outside, which is not a great combination. Flipping through channels, I found Devil in a Blue Dress, a movie that I can always watch. I will not go through the story, but, as it pertains to this post, Don Cheadle shoots Tom Sizemore.

When that movie was over, I went to the guide and found Heat, a great movie starring Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. It also has Tom Sizemore, and I changed the channel in time to see him get shot.

Therefore, this has been a Tom Sizemore day. I saw him get shot in two movies, and, coincidentally, both movies were released in 1995. Tom had a killer year.

Figuring that all of this was fate, I decided to look for wisdom in the movies of Tom Sizemore.

From Born on the Fourth of July

Thou shalt not kill.

From Point Break

Fear causes hesitation, and hesitation will cause your worst fears to come true.

From Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man

Never chase buses or women. You’ll always be left behind.

The right woman can make you, and the wrong woman can break you.

From Passenger 57

Always bet on black.

Trust your instincts.

From Wyatt Earp

I think the secret old Mr. Death is holding is that it’s better for some of us on the other side.

Nothing counts so much as blood. The rest are just strangers.

From Natural Born Killers

Nobody can stop fate.

The media is like the weather, only it’s man-made weather.

You can’t hide from your shadow.

From Devil in a Blue Dress

You step out of your door in the morning, and you are already in trouble. The only question is are you on top of that trouble or not?

All you got is your friends.

From Saving Private Ryan

FUBAR

From Pearl Harbor

There’s nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer.

A brilliant man would find a way not to fight a war.

 

Dates and Jams

3 Sep

My friend over at Serendipity created a great post, and I, like any good blogger, am going to copy it. She found a site called Birthday Jams that will tell you what was at the top of the charts on the day that you were born.

On my day of birth, The Supremes had “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” hanging out in the Number One spot. However, it gets better. In the United Kingdom, Hugo Montenegro and His Orchestra hit big with the theme from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. I knew I liked that movie for some reason.

As I fiddled with the site, I started to wonder about what people were jamming to when big events happened. For example, Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon on July 20, 1969. Do you know what song was tops in the land on that day? “In the Year 2525” by Zager and Evans

On August 9, 1974, Richard Nixon became the first president to resign from office. As he flew off in his helicopter, somebody was listening to “Feel Like Makin’ Love” by Roberta Flack. Nixon also posed in one of the greatest photographs of all time with Elvis Presley.Elvis Nixon

A few years later, the nation was saddened by the death of Elvis, who had a ton of Number One hits. On August 16, 1977, the day he passed away, “Best of My Love” by The Emotions was playing on radios everywhere.

Elvis’ career began when he walked into Sun Studios. He struggled for a while but finally got into a groove on July 5, 1954 when he recorded “That’s All Right.” The nation did not know what was about to hit them. All they knew was that Kitty Kallen had a huge hit with “Little Things Mean a Lot.”

Obviously, December 7, 1941 is a huge date in American history. The Japanese attacked the island of Oahu and our base at Pearl Harbor. The nation was about to enter a war that had been raging for a couple of years. It was also the day that people were listening to “Chattanooga Choo Choo” by Glenn Miller.

On December 15, 1944, Miller’s plane disappeared somewhere over the English Channel. On that day, Ella Fitzgerald and the Ink Spots hit with “I’m Making Believe.”

On September 10 1993, a television show debuted that asked us to believe. As The X-Files started its rise to popularity, “Dreamlover” by Mariah Carey hit the peak of the charts.

Of course, that was a few years after Larry Hagman first dreamed of Jeannie. That show went on the air on September 18, 1965, which was the same time that The Beatles did not need any “Help!”

Of course, The Beatles would break up and go on to solo careers. Tragically, John Lennon’s life was cut short on December 8, 1980. On that day, “Lady” by Kenny Rogers was sitting at Number One.

Rogers used his popularity to transition into movies. None of them were very good, but Six Pack was one of the worst. It hit the screens on July 16, 1982. Listening to “Don’t You Want Me” by The Human League had to be better than watching that film.

I reckon this exercise needs to eventually come to an end, and that will happen with one more date.

I am not going to release the date of my wife’s birth, but that event turned out to be important in my life. In other words, it needs to be recognized. One way to do that is to tell you that Neil Diamond’s “Cracklin’ Rosie” was the big hit of the day. By the way, her name is not Rosie.

Movie Wisdom – Angelina Jol…Wait, Jon Voight Edition

21 Nov

Today, I read that Angelina Jolie is thinking about retiring. Certainly, she has many items on her plate. There is her new marriage to Brad Pitt along with her role as one of Hollywood’s ambassadors to the world. As soon as I read the news, I thought that there must be some wisdom within her works.

I was wrong. Well, I was not completely wrong. There was some wisdom in a few of her movies, but I could not find enough to make a decent blog post. Then, the decision was made to go with a backup plan.

We will look into the movies of her father, Jon Voight, and see what wisdom can be discovered.Jon Voight

From Midnight Cowboy

Well, if it’s free, then I ain’t stealin’.

It just ain’t right cheatin’ from a pregnant lady.

Make your old grandma proud.

The two basic items necessary to sustain life, are sunshine and coconut milk.

From Deliverance

Sometimes you have to lose yourself ‘fore you can find anything.

 From The Champ

You don’t have to live with someone to love them.

From Heat

I say what I mean, and I do what I say.

From Mission: Impossible

Anonymity is like a warm blanket.

Computers are a bitch.

From Anaconda

There’s a devil inside everyone.

From Pearl Harbor

There’s nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer.

A brilliant man would find a way not to fight a war.

From Ali

Free ain’t easy.

From National Treasure

Those who have the ability to take action have the responsibility to take action.

Cooperation only lasts as long as the status quo is unchanged.

You know the key to running a convincing bluff? Every once in a while you got to be holding all the cards.

From Glory Road

Nobody can take something away from you that you don’t give them.

From National Treasure: Book of Secrets

A man has only one life time. But history can remember you forever.

Yep, there is a bit of wisdom within the works of Jon Voight. He should speak to his daughter about doing the same thing.

A Man in Georgia Passed Away

2 Aug

A few days ago, a 93-year old man passed away in Georgia. The widower was retired from the DuPont Corporation and left behind a loving family. When the news of his death came over the Associated Press Twitter feed, I read the article and read the replies by people in the Twitterverse. I hardly ever do that. Everyone has opinions about the news of the world, and Twitter provides a platform for sharing. However, something told me that I needed to read these.

Some examples:

“Good”

“Rot in Hell”

“Mass Murderer”

What could lead to such hatred toward an elderly man who had just passed away?

Theodore “Dutch” Van Kirk was the last surviving crew member of the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and introduced the world to nuclear weapons. Tens of thousands of people died instantly and more died from the radioactive effects. In the years that followed, more destructive weapons were developed, and two Super Powers pointed them at each other during the Cold War. People lived under the shadow of the bomb, and little kids learned to “Duck and Cover” at school.Duck and Cover

It was a momentous event in history and, obviously, was not humanity’s finest hour. However, I was taken aback by the hatred aimed at “Dutch” Van Kirk, who was a 24-year old navigator following orders.

Each May, a few other teachers and I lead a field trip class to New Mexico and, as part of the trip, visit Los Alamos, the place where the atomic bombs were built. We sit outside of a museum housed in one of the original buildings and discuss the Manhattan Project. During this discussion, we talk about the bombings of Japan and their aftermath. At some point, I ask them what they would have done if they were part of the decision-making process. Undoubtedly, they say that they would not have done it.

Then, I ask them to put themselves in the places of the people involved. Take away 70 years of hindsight and make a decision. When I read the Twitter responses, I tried to put myself in the place of Van Kirk.

World War II began in 1939 when he was 18 years old. He probably heard news reports of the war in Europe where Germany was bombarding London, invading Russia and killing civilians. He may also been reading about the Japanese advances in Asia and their killing of civilians. He could not have known about the Holocaust.

In 1941, Japan attacked the Pearl Harbor, but it was not only an attack of the naval base. It was an attack of the island of Oahu, which probably killed civilians. Van Kirk was 20-years old. Did he volunteer? Did he get drafted? I do not know, but I know he was trained as a navigator for bombers.

During his time in uniform, Van Kirk flew 25 bombing missions over Europe and North Africa. Undoubtedly, these were harrowing missions. I have no idea of his targets, but I know that the Allies bombed German cities. Dresden was bombed into oblivion, and over 100,000 people were killed. That is more than were killed at Hiroshima.

What does all of this mean? By 1945, Van Kirk had spent 25% of his life with the world fighting the largest war in history. It was a war where the killing of civilians became military practice for all sides. It was a war that every side tried to win at all costs.

At some point, Van Kirk found himself training in the Pacific and being told that the mission being planned could end this war – a war that had cost millions of lives and people wanted to bring to an end. In August of 1945, the orders came through to complete the mission. The man who had given the order was President Harry Truman.Harry Truman

What was Truman thinking?

He had become president a few months before and around the same time Germany had surrendered. It was then that he learned of the Manhattan Project and the weapons that it had created. As the war in the Pacific went on, the American people were getting restless. Germany had been defeated. When is the same thing going to happen to Japan?

Allied forces were getting closer to the Japanese mainland, and Truman’s advisers were telling him that an invasion could lead to a million casualties. A man that I know said that he was training for that invasion, and he, along with everyone training with him, knew that they were training to die. He never liked Truman, but, when he heard about the bombing, he loved Truman.

Truman had a decision to make. He could ask the American people to sacrifice more men in a battle like the world had never seen, or he could use a weapon that tax dollars had been spent to build.

What would happen if he agreed to the invasion, and Americans later learned that it could have been avoided?

He chose to use the atomic bomb.

Van Kirk and the rest of the Enola Gay completed their mission by dropping an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. A few days later, another plane, Bock’s Car, dropped another bomb on Nagasaki. With that, World War II came to an end, and the Cold War began.

Did Harry Truman make the right decision? I have no idea. I am not trying to justify it. I am saying that we should put ourselves in the past before judging decisions with hindsight.

Should Theodore “Dutch” Van Kirk be vilified on Twitter for the actions of his crew? I do not believe he should. He came to age during the worst war in human history and was told that he had the chance to end it. For 69 years, he lived with the memory of that mission. I have no idea what he thought about when he looked back. He was in that place at that time and did was he was ordered to do.

Maybe the people on Twitter would have done it differently, but they do not know that for a fact.

There Is Not Much Quite Like

27 Feb

While walking on the treadmill, I started thinking about how lucky I have been. That luck has come in numerous ways, but I was specifically thinking about travel. My mind went to some of the great places I have visited and the great sights I have seen.

There is not much quite like…

drinking wine in the chateau of Inglenook Vineyards.Honeymoon 016

catching the sun set over the buttes of Monument Valley.West 2010 232

hearing the water break on the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor.

leaving an offering at the grave of Wild Bill Hickok in Deadwood, South Dakota.

watching the Potomac River flow behind George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon.

feeling the power of water rushing over Niagara Falls.

zip-lining through the trees of north Georgia.

climbing the mesa at Ghost Ranch and looking the landscape often painted by Georgia O’Keefe.SONY DSC

sitting on the porch of the Old Faithful Lodge and watching buffalo roam through the geysers.

lying in the grass of Jackson Square and eating a beignet from Cafe Du Monde.

floating down the Rhine River and looking at the castle ruins passing by.

staring at the presidential faces of Mount Rushmore.

playing Blackjack at a Las Vegas table and watching the chips come and go.

touring Graceland and seeing The Outlaw Josey Wales playing in the TV Room.

hanging out on a beach in Cancun and watching my stepdaughter play volleyball.Cancun - Volleyball

strolling through the Vatican and trying to get a glimpse of the pope.

reading a book by a pool in Costa Rica.

climbing a waterfall in Jamaica.

being mesmerized by the killer whales and bald eagles in Glacier Bay.

dancing to “Me and Mrs. Jones” in a nightclub in Chicago.

standing in silence at the bombing memorial in Oklahoma City.SONY DSC

trying to see the tops of the Giant Sequoia in California.

driving through Hereford, Texas and passing thousands of head of cattle.

betting on Jai Alai in Florida.

lounging on the couch and watching television with my wife.

A Few Days in December 1941

7 Dec

December 7, 1941 was a Sunday. It was also the day that the Japanese fleet attacked the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor.Pearl Attack

Actually, that is not accurate. It was an attack on various locations around the island of Oahu. Most people know the story and have seen the footage of the attack. However, something else was taking place thousands of miles away.

In Washington, Secretary of State Cordell Hull, who graduated from Cumberland University, was preparing to meet with the ambassador of Japan when word of the attack got to his office.Cordell Hull

Hull greeted the ambassador, who did not know the attack had already taken place, and read documents stating that negotiations between the two nations were ending. The Secretary of State exploded with angered while the ambassador quickly left. Hull uttered a few other choice words while realizing that the United States had just entered the World War.

On December 8, Franklin Roosevelt convened a joint meeting of the Senate and the House of Representatives to request a declaration of war against Japan. On that day, he said:

Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, members of the Senate and the House of Representatives:

Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation, and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.

Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And, while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese Government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday the Japanese Government also launched an attack against Malaya. Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong. Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam. Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands. Last night the Japanese attacked Wake Island. And this morning the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has therefore undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

As Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense, that always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people, in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory.

I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph. So help us God.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7th, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.

The Life and Times of Brother Baker

10 Aug

On August 3rd, our community lost one of its finest citizens. W.L. Baker, a Baptist preacher known to everyone as Brother Baker, passed away on his 105th birthday. He was truly a great man who lived by his convictions and helped everyone who he came across. In fact, he was the one pastor who inspired me each time I heard him speak.Brother Baker

Brother Baker’s specialty was reciting the Sermon on the Mount by memory. As he got older, he did it less and less. However, I was lucky enough to hear it. He was a great preacher and a greater man. Everyone who knew Brother Baker will say the same thing. A lot of people also have a favorite story about Brother Baker, but this post isn’t one of the stories.

When I heard about his passing, I thought about all of the things he saw during his lifetime. Imagine how much the world has change since 1908, and Brother Baker witnessed it all. He was born in the latter days of Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency. That means that he lived during the administrations of 19 presidents. Considering that there have been 44, that means Brother Baker was around for 43% of our nation’s leaders.

Some other things that happened during Brother Baker’s lifetime.

He was a few months old when the Chicago Cubs last won the World Series.

The United States entered World War I when Brother Baker was 8 years old.

He was 18 years old when Charles Lindbergh flew solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

Japan attacked Pearl Harbor when Brother Baker was 33 years old.

The United States dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima when he was 37 years old.

Brother Baker was 52 years old when the Berlin Wall went up and was 81 years old when it came down.

He was 55 years old when John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon when Brother Baker was 60 years old.

When Ronald Reagan was shot, Brother Baker was 72 years old.

He was 93 years old on September 11, 2001.

Brother Baker saw a lot of events and a lot of changes in the world. Through it all, he held firm to his beliefs and shared good will with everyone. That’s something that everyone should strive for.