FATHER’S DAY

Today, June 20, the third Sunday of June, many of us will celebrate Father’s Day.   According to the British Broadcasting Corporation FD is celebrated in some 70 countries around the world.

In the US, FD is commonly viewed as an opportunity to gather with family for barbecues, picnics, sporting activities (e.g. baseball, golf or fishing), eat at a favorite restaurant, or attend a Broadway show.  Generally, it is a fun day with family and friends. 

Last year celebrations were muted due to the restrictions imposed by state governors to combat the COVID pandemic. This year celebrations should be especially joyous since it appears that the worst is over. Many people are sick and tired of the various restrictions, which they viewed as draconian, and are ready to “let loose.” More than 52 million doses of the COVID vaccine have been administered in the US, and The Mayo Clinic has reported that more than 40% of the population has been fully vaccinated. (I have seen other estimates that were slightly higher, but I will go with the Mayo.)

Even better, we are approaching herd immunity. (Medical and epidemiology experts differ on the required percentage. I have seen estimates as low as 70% and as high as 90%. No one really knows for sure.) Moreover, many governors have relaxed restrictions. In most areas the mask mandate has been eliminated in favor of “mask optional,” and restrictions on gatherings have been relaxed. Sports are back, and Broadway shows are coming. All this augurs a return to normalcy regarding FD.

The idea of an annual day to recognize fathers was first proposed by Sonora Dodd a resident of Spokane, WA, in 1909. She wanted to honor her own father who had raised her and five siblings as a single parent.  In her opinion, mothers had their “day,” so why shouldn’t fathers.  At first, she approached her pastor about organizing a special service on her father’s birthday, June 5, but for some reason, perhaps, time constraints, the celebration was deferred to the third Sunday of June.  The initial celebration was held in 1910.

For many years the idea of a “day” for fathers did not catch on with the general public. The major reason was the fear that it would become overly commercialized like Mother’s Day and Christmas.   In addition, the media was not behind the concept.  Rather than support the idea, they attacked it with sarcastic and cynical articles and cartoons.

FD did, however, have its supporters.  Congress debated a bill as early as 1913, but it did not pass.  Presidents such as Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge supported it publicly.

Some years later, Margaret Chase Smith, a longtime influential senator from Maine, criticized the inequity of Congress’ ignoring fathers while honoring mothers.  Finally, in 1966 LBJ issued a Presidential proclamation designating the third Sunday in June as FD.  It became a permanent holiday in 1972.

According to the British Broadcasting Corporation FD is celebrated in some 70 countries around the world. The timing and characteristics of the celebrations differ depending on seasons and various traditions and cultures, as follows:

  1. United Kingdom – It is also celebrated on the third Sunday of June.  It is recognized as a day to honor not only fathers, but also other father figures, such as grandfathers and fathers-in-law.  As in the US, typically, people pay a visit and give cards and gifts.  Other activities might include male-only outings [golf, football (soccer), or cricket], or trips.  One significant difference is that the day is not considered to be a holiday, just a normal Sunday.
  2. Canada – Very similar to the UK.  Popular activities would include going to the park, the zoo, or eating out in a restaurant.
  3.  Russia – The holiday, celebrated on February 23, is called Defender of the Fatherland Day.  All men are honored, not just fathers.  It began as a military celebration and is still marked by military parades.
  4. Mexico – Celebrated on the third Sunday of June.  It is marked with parties and gifts for dads and a 21 kilometer Father’s Day race.
  5. Brazil – It is celebrated on August 2 in honor of St. Joachim, patron saint of fathers and grandfathers.
  6. Bulgaria celebrates the day in December.
  7. According to The Sun various countries in the Southern Hemisphere, such as Australia and New Zealand, celebrate the holiday in September.
  8. Northern European countries, such as Norway, Sweden and Finland, celebrate the day in November.

In the US, FD is commonly viewed as an opportunity to gather with family for barbecues, picnics, sporting activities (e.g. baseball, golf or fishing), eat at a favorite restaurant, or attend a Broadway show.  Generally, it is a fun day with family and friends.  Of course, this year FD celebrations will be somewhat restricted.  Due to the Coronavirus there will be no baseball, no Broadway shows, and limited family gatherings.

The idea of an annual day to recognize fathers was first proposed by Sonora Dodd a resident of Spokane, WA, in 1909. She wanted to honor her own father who had raised her and five siblings as a single parent.  In her opinion, mothers had their “day,” so why shouldn’t fathers.  At first, she approached her pastor about organizing a special service on her father’s birthday, June 5, but for some reason, perhaps, time constraints, the celebration was deferred to the third Sunday of June.  The initial celebration was held in 1910.

For many years the idea of a “day” for fathers did not catch on with the general public. The major reason was the fear that it would become overly commercialized like Mother’s Day and Christmas.   In addition, the media was not behind the concept.  Rather than support the idea, they attacked it with sarcastic and cynical articles and cartoons.

FD did, however, have its supporters.  Congress debated a bill as early as 1913, but it did not pass.  Presidents such as Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge spoke out in favor of it.

Some years later, Margaret Chase Smith, a longtime influential Senator from Maine, criticized the inequity of Congress’ ignoring fathers while honoring mothers.  Finally, in 1966 LBJ issued a Presidential proclamation designating the third Sunday in June as FD.  It became a permanent holiday in 1972.

FD is celebrated differently in other countries around the world depending on seasons and various traditions and cultures, as follows:

  1. United Kingdom – It is also celebrated on the third Sunday of June.  It is recognized as a day to honor not only fathers, but also other father figures, such as grandfathers and fathers-in-law.  As in the US, typically, people pay a visit and give cards and gifts.  Other activities might include male-only outings [golf, football (soccer), or cricket], or trips.  One significant difference is that the day is not considered to be a holiday, just a normal Sunday.
  2. Canada – Very similar to the UK.  Popular activities would include going to the park, the zoo, or eating out in a restaurant.
  3.  Russia – The holiday, celebrated on February 23, is called Defender of the Fatherland Day.  All men are honored, not just fathers.  It began as a military celebration and is still marked by military parades.
  4. Mexico – Celebrated on the third Sunday of June.  It is marked with parties and gifts for dads and a 21 kilometer Father’s Day race.
  5. Brazil – It is celebrated on August 2 in honor of St. Joachim, patron saint of fathers and grandfathers.
  6. Bulgaria celebrates the day in December.
  7. According to The Sun various countries in the Southern Hemisphere, such as Australia and New Zealand, celebrate the holiday in September.
  8. Northern European countries, such as Norway, Sweden and Finland, celebrate the day in November.

CONCLUSION

The National Retail Federation estimates that Americans will spend about $174 per person on FD gifts in 2021, which would be a $26 increase over 2020’s amount. The NRF estimates the overall total will be some $20.1 billion.

As you might expect, according to the NRF this total pales next to the $28 billion we spent on mothers last month.  Why do we spend so much more money on our mothers than on our fathers?  There are many theories, but no one knows for sure?

We don’t take our dads to restaurants as we do our moms. Instead, we put them work barbecuing. The National Restaurant Association reports that FD is one of the slowest days of the year whereas MD is the busiest. Not surprising.

What are the most popular FD gifts?  According to the NRF #1 is a greeting card.   #2 is a special family outing, for example, taking a trip or attending a sporting event. Other popular gifts include clothes, tools, appliances and “personal care” items.

Dads, remember it is your day.  Whatever you decide to do, enjoy it.

SUMMER SOLSICE

What is the summer solstice?  What does it mean?  When does it occur?  Good questions.  Read on for the answers.

As many of you know, the ss is the date with the longest period of daylight, and when the sun’s shadow is its shortest. Furthermore, in most of the US it is the date on which the sun appears to be at its highest point in the sky. In extreme northern locales the sun will be “out” the entire day.  In the NY area, where I live, we will get about 15 hours of sun.

The word “solstice” is derived from the Latin “sol,” meaning “sun” and “sistere,” meaning “to stand still.” As the seasons progress from winter to summer in the northern hemisphere, the sun appears to move north in the sky. On the date of the ss it has progressed as far north as it will get, and it momentarily “stands still” before it appears to begin to slide southward toward the point of its winter solstice.

Depending on the particular year, in the northern hemisphere the summer solstice can occur anytime between June 20 and June 22.  According to the Wikipedia in 2021 it will occur precisely at 11:31 pm on Sunday, June 20, which will be when the sun will be directly over the Tropic of Cancer (23.5 degrees north latitude).

In most cultures and countries the summer and winter solstices are intertwined with the seasons.  For example, in the US and many other countries the ss marks the commencement of summer.  On the other hand, in extreme northern and southern locations the solstices mark the midpoint of summer or winter.

For many ancient cultures the ss was a festive time. Most of them were sun worshippers anyway, and the longest day of the year was a reason to celebrate the renewal of life. The recurrent themes, in various forms, were life, light, femininity, marriage and fertility. (Perhaps, this concept was the derivation of the custom of having weddings in June.)

For example:

1. The pagan holiday, Litha, which is a celebration of light and life, was celebrated on that date.
2. Many archaeologists maintain that the ancient culture that constructed Stonehenge intended it to be a crude calendar used to mark the summer and winter solstices and the vernal and autumnal equinoxes. The stones do seem to have been placed to align with the sunrise on the dates of those events.
3. The ancient Chinese marked the date with celebrations of the femininity, the “Yin” forces, and the Earth, itself. This served as a counterpoint to the winter solstice, which was a celebration of the heavens, masculinity, and the “Yang” forces.
4. Typically, Native Americans held festivals featuring body paint and ritualistic dances.
5. In ancient Gaul (modern-day France) the celebration was called the Feast of Epona after a mare goddess that protected horses and personified fertility.
6. Slavic and Germanic cultures celebrated with huge bonfires.

CONCLUSION

In modern times the ss is a time to celebrate the arrival of summer.  In many extreme northern areas, where the people may not see the sun at all for certain parts of the year, such as northern Sweden, Finland and Norway, people spend the entire day outside. Many of them decorate their homes, light bonfires, and dance around Maypoles.

I have always enjoyed a warm summer day as much as the next guy.  But, truthfully, to me the day of the ss is just another day.  I will NOT be lighting any bonfires or dancing around any maypoles. (Wouldn’t that be a scary image.) Depending on the weather I will play golf, play outside with the kids (or grandkids), go to the beach, or, if it’s inclement, just stay inside.  Whatever you do, enjoy the day.

One final thought on the date, it has always seemed contradictive to me that the beginning of summer also marked the time when the days started to get shorter, and I view shorter days as a harbinger of winter.

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY – JUNE

Below please find a list of the significant historical events that have occurred during the month of June.

6/2/1937 – The Duke of Windsor, who, as Edward VII, had abdicated the throne of England, married Wallis Warfield Simpson, a commoner and a divorcee.
6/3/1972 – Sally Jan Priesand became the first female ordained rabbi in the US.
6/3/1989 – The Ayatollah Khomeini, notorious leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, died.
6/4/1989 – Chinese government troops fired on unarmed demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Upwards of 3,000 were killed; an additional 1,600 were imprisoned; and 27 were later executed.
6/5/1968 – Following a campaign speech Robert Kennedy was assassinated at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.
6/6/1944 – D-Day, one of the most significant battles in WWII. (Please see my previous blog for details.)
6/8/1874 – Cochise, one of the most notorious of Apache Indian leaders, died while living on the Chiricahua Reservation in AZ.
6/9/1898 – Great Britain signed a 99-year lease for Hong Kong. Control of the colony reverted to China at midnight, June 30, 1997.
6/12/1898 – The Philippine Islands declared their independence from Spain leading to the US’s invasion and occupation.
6/12/1963 – Civil rights leader Medgar Evers was assassinated in Jackson, MS, sparking widespread outrage and providing the impetus for comprehensive civil rights laws.
6/13/1966 – In “Miranda v. AZ,” the Supreme Court ruled that the police are required to apprise a suspect of his right to remain silent prior to being questioned.
6/14/1777 – John Adams introduced a resolution to establish an official flag for the 13 colonies. We celebrate this date as “Flag Day.”
6/15/1215 – England’s King John agreed to a charter, known as the Magna Carter, which granted certain rights and liberties to English nobles, and which has served as the basis for all democracies since.
6/17/1972 – Five GOP operatives were caught breaking into the DNC offices in the Watergate Hotel. Eventually, this precipitated a chain of events, which culminated in the resignation of President Nixon.
6/18/1812 – Congress declared war on Great Britain, commencing the War of 1812.
6/18/1815 – England and its allies defeated France decisively in the Battle of Waterloo, which effectively ended Napoleon’s reign as Emperor of France and precipitated his exile.
6/18/1983 – Dr. Sally Ride became the first American woman in space.
6/19/1953 – Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed for the crime of selling information about the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union. They were not only the first married couple to be executed together in the US, but also the first US citizens to be executed for espionage.
6/24/1948 – The Soviet Union commenced its blockade of West Berlin. Eventually, the US and its allies broke the blockade with a massive airlift.
6/25/1876 – General George Custer and all soldiers under his command were slaughtered at the Little Bighorn by thousands of Sioux in what became known as “Custer’s Last Stand.”
6/25/1950 – North Korea attacked South Korea beginning the Korean Conflict, which lasted three years.
6/26/1945 – The UN Charter was signed by 50 nations in San Francisco.
6/28/1914 – Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the Crown Price of Austria and his wife, were assassinated in Sarajevo, by a Serbian nationalist, Gavrilo Princip, which set off a chain of events that culminated in WWI.
6/28/1919 – The Treaty of Versailles was signed, which marked the official end of WWI.
6/30/1971 – The 26th Amendment to the Constitution was enacted, which extended the right to vote to all US citizens age 18 and older.

Birthdays – Brigham Young, patriarch of the Mormon church and founder of the state of Utah, 6/1/1801 in Whittingham, VT; Norma Jean Mortensen, aka Marilyn Monroe, 6/1/1926 in Los Angeles; Marquis de Sade, his name is the origin of the word, sadism, due to his penchant for extreme cruelty and violence, 6/2/1740 in Paris; Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, 6/3/1808 in Todd County, KY; King George III, ruler of England during the Revolutionary War, 6/4/1738; Adam Smith, renowned philosopher and economist, 6/5/1723 in Scotland; John Maynard Keynes, renowned British economist, 6/5/1883 in Cambridge, England; Nathan Hale, Revolutionary War patriot hung by Brits as a spy (“I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”), 6/6/1755 in Coventry, CT; Frank Lloyd Wright, renowned architect, 6/8/1867 in Richland Center, WI; Cole Porter, renowned lyricist and composer (“Kiss Me Kate,” “Can Can”), 6/9/1893 in Peru, IN; Hattie McDaniel, actress (‘Mammy’ in “Gone with the Wind”), 6/10/1889 in Wichita, KS; Frances Gumm, aka Judy Garland, renowned singer and actress (“Wizard of Oz”), 6/10/1922 in Grand Rapids, MN; Jeanette Rankin, first woman to be elected to Congress, 6/11/1880 in Missoula MT; Jacques Cousteau, undersea explorer, 6/11/1910 in France; Vince Lombardi, renowned football coach 6/11/1913 in Brooklyn, NY; George H. W. Bush, 41st president, 6/12/1924, in Milton, MA; Anne Frank, Holocaust victim, 6/12/1929 in Frankfurt, Germany; Harriet Beecher Stowe, author (“Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” origin of phrases “Uncle Tom” and “Simon Legree”),6/14/1811 in Litchfield, CT; Alois Alzheimer, psychologist and pathologist who discovered the degenerative disease named for him, 6/14/1864 in Germany; Stan Laurel, half of renowned comedy team, Laurel and Hardy, 6/16/1890 in England; Lou Gehrig, Hall of Fame baseball player, died from ALS, which is commonly called “Lou Gehrig’s disease,” 6/19/1903 in NYC; Audie Murphy, Medal of Honor WWII American war hero, 6/20/1924 in Kingston, TX; Jack Dempsey, heavyweight boxing champion, aka the “Manassa Mauler,” 6/24/1895 in Manassa, CO; Eric Arthur Blair, aka George Orwell, British satirist and author (“1984”) 6/25/1903 in India; Mildred “Babe” Didrikson, renowned female athlete, in Port Arthur TX; Mildred Hill, composed song that is sung most frequently; do you know the name? See below.), 6/27/1859 in Louisville, KY; William Mayo, surgeon (Mayo Clinic), 6/29/1861 in Le Sueur, MN.

Quiz answer – “Happy Birthday”

FLAG DAY

Monday, June 14, is National Flag Day.  In addition, the week June 13-19 has been designated as “National Flag Week.” This year the American Flag, aka “Old Glory,” is 244 years old.  The purpose of NFD is to commemorate the adoption of the flag as the official flag of the Thirteen Colonies by the Second Continental Congress by resolution on June 14, 1777.  So, the flag is several years older than the United States, itself.  NFD is not an official federal holiday. Below please find some points of information with respect to NFD and the flag, itself:

  1. The evolution of the design is murky and in dispute.  According to one account the traditional design of the flag was the brainchild of Francis Hopkinson, a Continental Congressman from New Jersey.  Hopkinson was also a consultant to the creation of the Great Seal of the US.  Popular legend has held that several of the Founding Fathers, including George Washington, commissioned Betsy Ross, a Philadelphia upholsterer and flag-maker, to design the first official flag.  This version has been defended and perpetuated throughout the years by various of her descendants.  However, currently, it is not generally supported by most historians for various reasons.   Based on my research the likelihood is that several persons had a hand in the design.  For instance, at the time of the Revolution there were well over a dozen flag-makers in Philadelphia alone.  Apparently, Ross was involved to some degree.  She is generally credited with replacing the original six-point star with the five-point star.
  2. There are various theories of the origin and meaning of the design and meaning of the stars and stripes.  The likelihood is the ideas for them were derived from a combination of other flags, such as the Sons of Liberty flag and those of various European nations.  More certain is the notion that the 13 stars and stripes represent the original 13 colonies.  As most of us know, over the years, an additional star has been added representing each additional state, for a current total of 50, and their shape on the flag has changed from a circle to columns and rows.  Other than Alaska and Hawaii, can you name the last state added and the date?  See answer below.
  3.  June 14 is also the US Army’s birthday.  It was on this date in 1775 that the Continental Congress established the “American Continental Army.”
  4.  NFD has always been a day exhibiting great patriotism and pride, although from time to time there have been some dissenters.  (See below).
  5.  Traditionally, most towns and cities have held parades to honor the flag. Last year, due to fears of the Coronavirus, there were fewer celebrations, but this year I expect a return to normalcy as people are looking to “bust out” after a year of confinement and fear.
  6.  Several locales, such as Fairfield, CT, Appleton, WI, and Quincy, MA, have claimed to have the “longest running” or “oldest continuous” NFD parades.  There is not universal agreement as to which claim is accurate.
  7.  According to Wikipedia the earliest suggestion of a FD to honor the flag was by one George Morris of CT in 1861.  The idea spread quickly.
  8. In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson was the first president to issue a proclamation designating June 14 as NFD.
  9.  As we know, it is customary to honor the flag by singing the National Anthem before sporting events.  According to UShistory.org., this custom began in the 19th century, albeit sporadically, as the Star Spangled Banner became increasingly popular.  In 1918 and then during WWII it was sung to honor our troops in combat.  Then, after WWII the tradition remained and also spread to other sporting events as we see today.
  10.  We have all observed the ceremonious folding of the flag, for example, at funerals.  The flag is folded 13 times.  Each fold has a meaning, but is not universal among the various branches of the Armed Services.
  11. In 1937 Pennsylvania became first state to designate NFD as a state holiday.
  12.  In 1942 President FDR proclaimed a “United Flag Day” or “United Nations Day” to express solidarity among the Allies fighting in WWII.
  13.  In 1949 Congress designated NFD as a National Holiday.

CONCLUSION

Unfortunately, in the last few years some holiday celebrations have been marred by protests as some groups have been using the flag as a symbol of what they believe is wrong with America.  The flag has been used as a means of protest before, most notably during the Vietnam War when some protestors burned or otherwise desecrated the flag as a means of expressing displeasure with that war.

For the most part, although by tradition most Americans show respect for the flag and what it represents by standing and removing hats when the National Anthem is played there are some who have chosen to air their grievances by kneeling.  This began in 2016 when some National Football League players chose to kneel instead of stand during the playing of the National Anthem in order to, in their words, “raise awareness of racism and police brutality” in America.   Hopefully, this show of disrespect will abate over time.

Personally, I am opposed to kneeling.  I understand the reasons for it, but, to me, the overriding factor is that it disrespects the flag and all the people who have sacrificed their lives for our freedoms.  It tends to harden positions on both sides to the point that sensible, rational discussion of the issues becomes very difficult.  I think the protesters would be well advised to find other ways to express their grievances.

According to the Department of Defense proper flag etiquette prohibits:

  1. carrying it flat or horizontally;
  2. letting it touch the ground, the floor or water,
  3. permitting it to be soiled or otherwise damaged, or
  4. flying it upside down, except to “convey a sign of distress or great danger.”

Quiz answer:  Arizona 2/10/1912, about one month after New Mexico

THE ROOT OF ANTI-SEMITISM

Disclaimer: Most of the contents of this blog are based on my opinion and experience. It is not a research document. I did not spend hours and hours poring over historical documents to support my opinions. That said, to paraphrase the late singer Lesley Gore. “It’s my blog, and I can write what I want to.”  I stand behind what I have written.

Much of what follows has been discussed in previous blogs, but in light of recent events it bears repeating .  

You may feel free to disagree. In fact. I welcome and encourage your comments. After all, despite recent events and despite what some biased, dogmatic and vociferous commentators would have you believe we still enjoy the protection of the Bill of Rights in this country.

It is often said that anti-Semitism is as old as recorded history. That is a nice, catchy sentence, but I maintain an inaccurate one. In my opinion, it PREDATES recorded history. It predates Jesus Christ; it predates Muhammad; it predates the Bible.  It is simply as old as human existence. Many people have always hated Jews and probably always will. The issues of this blog are (1) why and (2 ) what, if anything, are the remedies.

Recorded history provides a plethora of examples of persecution of Jews.  Some it has been overt.  Examples include the Egyptians the Romans, the Spanish Inquisition, the pogroms, Muslim terrorists and, of course, the Nazis.
Sometimes it has been covert, like in the US.  Examples of this would be quotas enforced by colleges, country clubs and hiring policies. Many of these practices are ongoing.

These are indisputable facts. The question is why?  What did Jews ever do to precipitate such animosity?

Historians, religious leaders and scholars have been debating this for centuries.  I believe there are many reasons but the primary one is Jews are just different. Different methods of worship, different god, different appearance, different food, often different language, etc.  Recently, anti-Semites have been citing a new standard – being “visibly Jewish.”   I could go on and on.  But you get the idea. I’m not saying Jews are better or worse, just different. And people tend to distrust and dislike people who are different.

So, what have Jews done to deserve this?  What crimes and atrocities have they committed?  Have they instigated wars?  Have they enslaved other people? Have they been intolerant of other people and their way of life?  The answers are no, no and no. Simply put, their crime is that they exist.

Even in the 21st century, when we are supposed to be so enlightened, many people who hate Jews have never even met one.  Their attitude is based on hearsay and rumor. They believe the stereotypes.  You are familiar with them. Jews are “money grubbing, unscrupulous, cheap and obnoxious.”  (Yes, some are, but so are many non-Jews.). “They killed Christ; they eat Christian babies; they have horns;” etc. Not that long ago a friend told me the story of a friend of hers, a college student, who was asked by another student if she could rub her hair to feel her horns.  Nice. At around the same time a colleague of my wife’s asked her if she could see the inside of our refrigerator.  Why? To see what she kept inside.  Huh? A Christian baby perhaps?

This is a dangerous time for Israel as well as for all Jews regardless of where they live. Very dangerous. In my opinion, the two are intertwined to a large extent. Those who criticize Israel or advocate its destruction are, in reality, referring to all Jews. Since its founding in 1948 Israel’s only reliable friend and ally has been the US, and under the Biden Administration the US’s support has been waning. It has been pursuing a more “even-handed” approach to the conflicts in the Middle East, which, as we know, is code for supporting the Arab terrorists in the region. Moreover, several of his influential advisors, such as the “Squad,” have been publishing anti-Semitic opinions and openly supporting the Arab terrorists in the region.

In addition, anti-Semitic incidents have become more commonplace in recent years. According the the Anti-Defamation League, which tracks such incidents, anti-Semitic incidents of assault, vandalism and harassment hit an all-time high in 2019, the last year for which such data was available. The ADL reported some 2,100 separate incidents, a 12% increase over the prior year. Five states – NY, NJ, PA, MA and CA – accounted for almost one-half of the total. This is not surprising since they contain the largest concentration of Jews.

CONCLUSION

So what can we do about this. How can this be resolved?   I have no magic bullet, nor, I fear, does anyone else.

However I think our leaders should set a better example.  I’m referring not only to our political leaders like President Biden, VP Harris, Speaker Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Schumer, but also influential people in sports, entertainment and business. Schumer, in particular, should be ashamed of himself. He is Jewish and represents NY, which has a heavy Jewish population. He should be a strong and unwavering supporter of Israel, but he has not been.
 

Those who maintain that Jews are living safely in the US and other countries are deceiving themselves. History is full of examples where Jews were welcome, or at least tolerated, in certain countries for hundreds of years until one day they were not. Rulers were adept at using them as convenient scapegoats. (Plague? Crop failure? Natural disaster? It’s all the Jews’ fault. )

Many American Jews are no longer staunch supporters of Israel. They are either apathetic or, even worse, hostile. They routinely and mindlessly elect politicians like the aforementioned who don’t support Israel. They don’t realize that Israel provides the only safe haven for Jews. Those who say it can’t happen here (in the US) are sadly mistaken. They are ignorant of history or, perhaps worse, delusional. The current attacks on Israel and Jews in general are not an aberration. They are a warning, a precursor.   As I said, now is a very dangerous time for Jews.

D-DAY

D-Day.  That’s all one has to say.  Most everyone knows what it was and what it meant. Just the very name conjures up remembrances and images of one of the bloodiest battles and one of the turning points of WWII.  The battle has been memorialized in books and movies, and who can forget the poignant image of countless crosses and Stars of David neatly lined up in military cemeteries in Normandy.

Sunday, June 6 marked the 77th anniversary of this epic battle.  The Allied Forces included some 156,000 troops from various countries, including the US, UK, Free France, Canada and Norway, among others, 5,000 ships and landing craft, 11,000 planes, 50,000 land vehicles, and coordinated landings over a 50 mile stretch of beaches code-named Juno, Omaha, Utah, Sword and Gold, truly a massive undertaking.  Allied and German casualties have been estimated as high as 20,000 killed, wounded, missing and captured. If you were involved in the actual landing, whether you lived or died was largely a matter of luck and happenstance – two men would be sitting side-by-side in an LST and a German bullet would kill one and not the other.  Think about that for a minute.

In addition to the German guns the soldiers had to deal with the rough surf.  Wearing their battle gear made them heavy and unwieldy, and many of them actually drowned before reaching the beach.  The movie Saving Private Ryan depicts this grisly scene quite clearly and gruesomely.

If you were lucky enough to survive the landing, you became a “sitting duck” on the beach.  Then, if you managed to fight your way off the beach you had to charge into several thousand heavily-armed German troops, which were placed strategically in fortified bunkers.  Once you fought your way past those, you were ready to commence the real battle to liberate France.  Keep in mind, many of these soldiers were just kids as young as 17 and, no doubt, scared s***less.

Planning for the operation began as early as 1943.  Russia, one of our allies at the time (“The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”), had been lobbying strongly for a second front to alleviate some of the pressure from the Russian Front.  Military leaders on both sides recognized the significance of a second front and expected the Allies to attempt to open one at some point.  The question was where and when.  The Allies were not prepared to attempt such a massive landing until early 1944, primarily because they needed time to build up levels of men and material.  Remember, the Allies were fighting in the Mediterranean and North Africa as well.  Plus, the US was involved in the Pacific War against the Japanese.  Finally, the British’s fighting capacity had been severely damaged in the debacle at Dunkirk in 1940.  Only a remarkable evacuation, aided by thousands of civilian small boats, prevented the Germans from capturing or destroying their entire army on the beach.

The Operation was code-named Operation Overlord.  The landing, itself, was code-named Operation Neptune.  General Eisenhower was in charge.  Indeed, he was in charge of the entire Atlantic Theatre.  As the story goes, when he was put in charge his orders were very simple – “Win the War.”  No confusion; no limited rules of engagement, which hampered us in Viet Nam and other future conflicts.  “Just win, baby.”

The Allies considered four possible landing sites: Brittany, Cotentin Peninsula, Pas de Calais and Normandy.  The first two were eliminated primarily because they were located on peninsulas, which would have afforded very narrow fronts that would have enabled the Germans to trap the soldiers in a counterattack.  That left Normandy and Calais.  Once the Allies decided on Normandy there were many attempts to deceive the Germans into thinking the landings would be at Calais.  Historical evidence indicates that the Germans thought Calais the most likely site anyway, possibly because it was closer to England, but both sites were heavily fortified.  Indeed, the Germans had planned to fortify the entire coast from Norway to Spain, a so-called “Atlantic Wall.”  This would have included concrete emplacements, barbed wire, booby traps, mines, the removal of ground cover, and, of course, troops and armored equipment.  Luckily for us, these fortifications were never completed.  Interestingly, although most of the German High Command viewed Calais as the most likely landing site, General Rommel, perhaps the best general on either side, surmised correctly that it would likely be at Normandy.

Accordingly, he increased fortifications in the area, but, luckily for us he was out of favor for political reasons, so some key elements of his plans for defending the area were ignored or overruled.  Most notably, some panzer divisions, which he had wanted to place in the Normandy area were, instead, retained in and around Paris.

In addition, the German Army was stretched very thinly.  Much of its manpower was committed to the Eastern Front and had been depleted by heavy casualties after five years’ of intense fighting.  Finally, it was relying, for the most part, on captured equipment, which was not of high quality.

One of the biggest unknowns, and one that the Allies could not control, was the weather. Due to the complexity of the operation conditions had to be just so, including the tides, phases of the moon and the time of day.  Only a few days of a given month satisfied all criteria.  For example, a full moon was preferred to provide maximum illumination for the pilots.  Remember, instrumentation then was primitive compared to what it is now.

Additionally, dawn, which was between low and high tide, was the preferred time of day. That way, as the high tide came in it would carry the LSTs farther in on the beach, and the men could spot obstacles, such as land mines, more easily.  High winds, heavy seas and low cloud cover were not favorable.  The planners were determined to wait for a day with ideal weather conditions so as to maximize the chances of success for a very risky and dangerous mission.  In fact, the operation was postponed several times before June 6.

As we know, the operation was a success.  Some of the major reasons for this were:

1. The aforementioned missions to deceive the Germans forced them to spread their defenses over a wide area.

2. The “Atlantic Wall” was only about 20% complete.

3. The Allies achieved air superiority quickly.

4. Much of the transportation infrastructure in France had been damaged by Allied bombings and the French resistance, which hampered the Germans’ ability to move men and material.

5. The German high command was disorganized and indecisive.

CONCLUSION

If, as many historians believe, winning WWII was one America’s greatest achievements, then it can be argued that D-Day was one of our greatest victories.  Certainly, its success shortened the war in Europe and, in the process, saved countless lives (combatants and non-combatants alike).

It’s a shame that, with the passage of time, there are so few veterans of this battle still alive.  Even the youngest ones are in their 90s. It is a shame that the historical significance of this battle is fading.

Each year, thousands of people visit the area to pay their respects to those who gave their lives. Special commemorative events are held not only in Normandy but also at other locations in the US, Canada and the UK, among others. This year, attendance was relatively sparse. Moreover, President Biden omitted references to D-Day in speeches he gave over the weekend, either because he forgot or chose to ignore the significance of the date and the battle. Such a snub to the memory of those who lost their lives is offensive, but not surprising.

In WWII we had a clear-cut goal, win the war; the nation was united in support of the war, our government and our troops; we knew who the enemy was; we knew the Axis Powers were evil (Hitler, in particular, was one of the most despicable men ever to walk the face of the earth.); and there was no holding back.  Sadly, we have never had such clarity of purpose again, and, perhaps, we never will.