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.

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY – MAY

Below please find an outline of the significant historical events that occurred in the month of May:

May 1 – Since ancient times, a day for festivals celebrating the arrival of the Spring season. Today, many socialist countries celebrate “May Day” on May 1 as a holiday to celebrate workers.
May 1, 1707 – Scotland was combined with England and Wales to form Great Britain. The later addition of Northern Ireland formed the UK.
May 1, 1960 – An American U-2 spy plane piloted by Francis Gary Powers was shot down over Russia on the eve of a summit between President Eisenhower and Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev. The incident caused the cancellation of the summit and increased Cold War tensions between the two countries.
May 2, 2011 – US Special Forces located and killed Osama bin Laden at his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
May 4, 1494 – Christopher Columbus, still seeking the Northwest Passage, discovered the island of Jamaica.
May 4, 1970 – Ohio National Guard troops fired into a student demonstration at Kent State University killing four students.
May 5 – Mexican holiday celebrating Mexican forces’ defeat of a numerically superior French invasion force in the Battle of Puebla in 1862.
May 5, 1865 – Celebration of Decoration Day honoring soldiers killed in the Civil War. Eventually, morphed into Memorial Day.
May 5, 1961 – Astronaut Alan Shepard completed a 15 minute suborbital flight, thus becoming the first American to fly in space.
May 6, 1937 – The German blimp, Hindenburg, burst into flames killing 36 of its 97 passengers.
May 7, 1915 – The shocking sinking of the Lusitania, a British passenger ship, by a German U-boat hastened the US’s entry into WWI on the side of the Allies.
May 7, 1954 – The French surrendered at Dien Bien Phu, ending their colonial presence in Indo-China. Eventually, this event led to the US’s ill-advised involvement in Vietnam.
May 8, 1942 – The Battle of the Coral Sea, which historians consider to be the turning point of WWII in the Pacific, commenced. US naval forces defeated Japan for the first time and began their inexorable march toward the Japanese mainland.
May 10, 1869 – The Union Pacific and Central Railroads joined at Promontory Point, UT (symbolized by driving a golden spike into the roadbed), creating the Transcontinental Railroad, which linked the entire US.
May 10, 1994 – Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as president of South Africa, bringing an official end to Apartheid.
May 12, 1949 – Russia ended its blockade of West Berlin.
May 14, 1607 – The first permanent English settlement was established at Jamestown, VA.
May 14, 1804 – The Lewis and Clark expedition of the northwest, which lasted some 18 months and covered some 6,000 miles, departed St. Louis.
May 14, 1796 – English Dr. Edward Jenner developed the smallpox vaccine. He coined the term, vaccination, to describe his method of injecting a weakened version of the disease into a healthy person, who would then fight off the disease and develop an immunity.
May 14, 1948 – The State of Israel declared its independence.
May 15, 1972 – While campaigning for the presidency, George Wallace was shot and paralyzed from the waist down.
May 17, 1792 – Some two dozen brokers and merchants began meeting under a buttonwood tree on Wall Street to buy and sell stocks and bonds. Eventually, this led to the establishment of the NY Stock Exchange.
May 17, 1875 – The initial running of the Kentucky Derby took place at Churchill Downs, Louisville, KY.
May 17, 1954 – The Supreme Court, in a landmark decision, Brown vs. The Board of Education (Topeka, KS), ruled that school segregation based on race was unconstitutional.
May 20, 1927 – Aviator, Charles Lindberg took off from Roosevelt Field on Long Island for the first solo non-stop flight between NY and Europe (landing in Paris).
May 20, 1932 – Amelia Earhart became the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. In 1937, while attempting to fly across the Pacific Ocean, she was lost at sea, and her fate remains shrouded in mystery to this day.
May 21, 1881 – Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross.
May 22, 1947 – Congress approved the Truman Doctrine, which provided foreign aid to Greece and Turkey, which was necessary to prevent the spread of communism in that region.
May 24, 1844 – Samuel Morse, inventor of the telegraph, transmitted the first telegram (“What hath God wrought?”).
May 26, 1940 – Great Britain commenced the evacuation of its army trapped at Dunkirk.
May 27, 1937 – The Golden Gate Bridge opened in San Francisco.
May 30, 1783 – The Pennsylvania Evening Post became the first newspaper to be published in the US on a daily basis.
May 30, 1922 – The Lincoln Memorial, designed by architect Henry Bacon, was dedicated in Washington, D. C.
May 31, 1889 – The infamous Johnstown Flood of 1889 killed some 2,300 persons.

Birthdays – Niccolo Machiavelli – 5/3/1469; Golda Meir – 5/3/1898; Karl Marx – 5/5/1818; Sigmund Freud – 5/6/1856; Harry S. Truman (33rd President) – 5/8/1884; Israel Isidore Beilin (aka Irving Berlin – songwriter) – 5/11/1888; Florence Nightingale – 5/12/1820; Gabriel Fahrenheit (physicist) – 5/14/1686; Nguyen That Thanh (aka Ho Chi Minh – 5/19/1890; Malcolm Little (aka Malcolm X) – 5/19/1925; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes creator) – 5/22/1859; Laurence Olivier – 5/22/1907; Ralph Waldo Emerson – 5/25/1803; Al Jolson- 5/26/1886; James Butler (aka Wild Bill) Hickok – 5/27/1837; Hubert Humphrey – 5/27/1911; Jim Thorpe – 5/28/1888; Patrick Henry – 5/29/1736; John Fitzgerald Kennedy 35th President) – 5/29/1917; Walt Whitman – 5/31/1819.

MEMORIAL DAY

This weekend, millions of Americans will celebrate Memorial Day.  Traditionally, most of us have viewed MD as a day off from work, part of a three-day weekend, a day to gather with friends and relatives, watch sports, barbecue, go to the beach or pool club, or maybe go away for a mini-vacation.  This year, after more than a year of suffering through pandemic-related restrictions, most people are ready to “bust loose” and celebrate the holiday weekend in the traditional manner. In many areas of the country beaches, pools, amusement parks, picnic areas and other outdoor venues will be open and sporting events will resume, in many cases with full attendance.

Unfortunately, this year inclement weather will be a factor in many areas. In particular, rainy and record cold weather is forecast for the east and northeast for most of the weekend. This may put a damper on some holiday plans. Nevertheless, according to the Washington Post AAA is predicting that in excess of 37 million persons will be traveling by automobile this weekend. This would be a 60% increase over 2020 but some six million below the pre-pandemic average. If you are on the roads please use extra caution, particularly where the pavement is wet and/or slippery.

Normally, MD weekend is the deadliest three-day period on the roads. The National Safety Council estimates there will be some 400 traffic fatalities over the holiday weekend this year. Don’t become a statistic!

Back to the holiday, itself.   How many of us actually stop and ponder the meaning of MD?  What does it mean?  What is its derivation?  Well, I’m glad you asked.  Read on.

According to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs the purpose of MD is to honor veterans who have died in the service of their country.  (Some people confuse it with Veterans’ Day, celebrated in November, which is to honor LIVING veterans for their service.)  MD is celebrated on the final Monday in May, which this year is May 31.  It has also evolved into the unofficial start of summer and Opening Day for beaches, pools and vacation homes. Last year, due to COVID restrictions these activities were severely limited, but this year due to widespread vaccinations many states have loosened restrictions. Most areas will enjoy a return to normalcy, or at least close to it.

The original name for MD was “Decoration Day.”  The custom of decorating soldiers’ graves with flowers is centuries old.  Its origins are murky, but after the Civil War it became customary to “decorate” soldiers’ graves with flowers as a way to honor those who had died in that war.

Several cities claim to be the birthplace of MD.  Warrenton, Va. claims that the first CW soldier’s grave was decorated there in 1861.  Women began decorating soldiers’ graves in Savannah, Ga. as early as 1862.   Boalsburg, Pa. and Charleston, SC, among others, have also made claims.  NY became the first state to recognize MD as an official holiday in 1873.  In 1966 President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, NY to be the official birthplace of MD.

The basis of Waterloo’s claim is that in 1865 a group of locals, including a pharmacist, Henry Welles, General John Murray, a CW hero, and a group of other veterans, simply marched to the local cemeteries and decorated the soldiers’ graves with flowers.  What gave Waterloo an edge in the birthplace battle was that Murray was an acquaintance of General John Logan, the general who issued “Logan’s Order,” the proclamation that declared “Decoration Day” should be celebrated annually nationwide.

At first, MD was celebrated on May 30 every year.  The date seems somewhat arbitrary as it was not the anniversary of any famous battle or military event.  Perhaps, it was chosen simply because flowers with which the graves are decorated are in bloom and plentiful at that particular time of the year.  The name, “Decoration Day” was gradually replaced by MD beginning in 1882, and in 1887 MD became the official name.  In 1968 the Congress moved the holiday to the last Monday in May.  This annoyed many traditionalists, but the lure of a three-day weekend overcame any objections, and the Monday date has prevailed.

There are some MD traditions worth noting:

  1. Flying the flag at half-staff.

Most of the time one will see the flag flown at half-staff all day; however, technically, this is not proper.  The flag should be raised to the top and then lowered to half-staff.  This is intended to honor those who have died for their country.  At noon, the flag is to be raised again to full staff, where it remains for the rest of the day.  This is to recognize that the deceased veterans’ sacrifices were not in vain.

  1. Poppies.

Poppies have become the official flower of remembrance, declared as such by the American Legion in 1920.  This is derived from WWI and the Battle of Ypres (English pronunciation is “Wipers.”).  Apparently, a proliferation of poppies grew on that battlefield around the soldiers’ graves.  These poppies were featured in a famous poem by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae called “In Flanders Fields.”  This poem caught peoples’ imagination and popularized the custom.

  1. Sporting Events.

No American holiday celebration would be complete without a sports connection. MD weekend features the Indianapolis 500 and the Memorial golf tournament, among others.  Also, until recently there was the traditional Memorial Day baseball doubleheader.  Alas, due to economics, scheduled holiday baseball doubleheaders are all but extinct.  Many sports activities that were cancelled or muted last ear due to COVID restrictions have been reinstated. I suggest you research events in your area.

CONCLUSION

I hope the foregoing has increased your understanding and appreciation of MD.  As a veteran, myself, I find it most gratifying that, in recent years, most Americans have come to recognize and appreciate the service and sacrifice of our country’s veterans.  I can remember a time (the Vietnam War period) when it wasn’t so.

So, whatever you do this weekend, however you celebrate, try to pause for a moment in honor of the many veterans who have given their lives so that the rest of us could enjoy the freedoms we sometimes take for granted.

THE SCOURGE OF ANTI-SEMITISM

In the last few days we have seen disturbing incidents of anti-Semitism daily. Anti-Semitic rioters have been attacking Jews on the street, in restaurants, at business, virtually anywhere and everywhere with no provocation. People have been accosted even if they “looked” Jewish or “acted” Jewish. Some politicians and those in the media have coined a new term to describe this – “visibly Jewish.” What does that even mean?! I suppose if one dresses, acts, or looks like a bigot’s preconception of a Jewish person or lives in a certain neighborhood they are “fair game.” Talk about racial stereotypes! These incidents have been occurring not just in the US but also all over the world.

In the course of researching for this blog I came across one of several websites that track such incidents worldwide. My plan was to feature a few of them as representative examples. I was astounded by the sheer volume of incidents, which required me to revise my plan. It would take a book to discuss all of them. For instance, one of the aforementioned websites called the “Anti-Semitism Monitor” listed hundreds of examples, just in 2021. Moreover, these were not limited to the usual suspect countries, such as Germany, France, or Middle Eastern or predominantly Muslim countries. The website listed many examples in virtually every country, even the US, and not just one or two, but every few days. Most of these incidents “fly under the radar.” Only those that are sufficiently heinous or involve a famous person, such as Tlaib’s inane characterization of Israel as a “racist state,” are reported by the general media.

As we know, anti-Semitism is not new. It is virtually as old as the world, itself. It has always existed, and I believe it always will. Sometimes, it is covert; sometimes, it is overt. But, it is always there, bubbling just below the surface hidden from view, like an inactive volcano. Historically, occasionally, something, such as a war, natural disaster, plague, or economic recession, has occurred to set it off, bring it out into the open. Relatively recent examples of this include, the Spanish Inquisition, the pogroms of Russia, Poland and other Central and Eastern Europe countries, and the rise of Nazi Germany. Jews have always made a handy scapegoat. In fact, some historians have cited the need of a scapegoat as the reason why some rulers tolerated them in the first place. (A bad harvest? Don’t blame me. It’s the Jews.)

It is human nature to distrust and dislike those who are different, and Jews have always been different. Not better or worse, just different. Different religion, different God, different holidays, different customs. I recall an incident in which a woman asked a Jewish acquaintance if she could feel her hair. Why? Well, to feel her horns, of course. This is shocking, but even more so because the incident occurred, not in a third-world country, not in the Middle Ages, but in the 1960s at a college in the US.

So what is happening now to bring anti-Semitism out into the open? Glad you asked. I believe the major factors are as follows:

  1. The conflict in the Middle East between Hamas and Israel.
  2. The anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic bias in the news media.
  3. The overt anti-Semitism exhibited by prominent politicians such as Cortez, Tlaib, and others.
  4. The failure of moderates to speak out against the violence.
  5. The failure of President Biden to exhibit strong leadership. More on that below.

CONCLUSION

This is exactly the time when Biden, as President, needs to exhibit strong, forceful, unequivocal support for Israel. He needs to condemn, in the strongest possible way, anti-Israeli and anti-Semitism actions. The weak, wishy-washy actions he has taken so far have been pathetically inadequate. Hamas and Israel are not equal in this matter or in any other respect. Putting it as bluntly as I can, Hamas is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. They are not seeking to improve the lives of their supporters. They want to destroy, destroy, destroy. They are an ally of Iran, which is the nexus of all violence in the region. They are supported by Russia and China who are not our friends.

Israel is our staunchest ally in the region, the only one we can, have been and will be able to depend on for support. Hamas has been the aggressor. Israel has been defending itself. Hamas does not want peace; they have consistently denied Israel’s very right to exist. Israel is seeking peaceful co-existence. Hamas fighters launch their missiles from schools, places of worship, and other “civilian” venues in hopes that a counterattack will result in casualties that evoke sympathy. Israel tries its best to avoid civilian casualties. Let’s face it. Israel has shown great restraint. If they wanted to they could wipe out Hamas in hours.

Biden needs to exhibit strong leadership domestically by reining in the far left, anti-Semitic members of the Dem Party and his own White House staff. He needs to tell them in no uncertain words to tone down the rhetoric. His failure to do so serves no purpose except to embolden those who harbor anti-Semitic attitudes and incite violence. In my opinion, his failure to act is directly responsible for the current rash of anti-Semitic attacks we are now seeing. They will not stop until he speaks out.

All that said, I believe his failure to act decisively in this matter is wholly consistent with his other actions and non-actions as president as I described in my most recent blog. I wonder when Biden voters, particularly moderate Hispanics, Blacks and Jews, will realize they were “duped.” The moderate Joe Biden they thought they were voting for is long gone.

I hope the country we know and love can survive until 2024.

BIDEN’S TRUE COLORS COME TO THE FORE

I tried. I really, really tried. After the illogical and inexplicable results of the 2020 presidential election and the Georgia Senate run-offs I needed a break from politics for the sake of my own sanity. I just could not fathom how and why Americans would essentially vote for their own demise. I resolved to take a break from writing about politics and current events.

I held out for four months, but recent events dictate that I remain silent no longer. Thus far, in my opinion, President Biden and his advisors and allies have accomplished what seemed improbable, if not impossible. Those of us who had been paying attention and who were getting their news from Fox as opposed to the fake news channels and publications (We all know who they are.) knew what they planned to do (They brazenly told us.), but the speed and efficiency with which they have acted has been stunning. In little more than four months the Biden Administration has managed to (1) erase virtually all of President Trump’s accomplishments, (2) destroy our southern border, (3) leave us vulnerable to COVID, drugs and terrorists, (4) create and foster an unholy alliance with the drug cartels and human traffickers, (5) lay the groundwork for a deep recession, (6) severely damage our fossil fuel industry and eliminate our energy independence, which took some 75 years to achieve, (7) eliminate tens of thousands of middle class and working class jobs, (8) placate and embolden our enemies, and (8) most egregious of all, sell out Israel. That, my friends is quite a list of accomplishments, and they are not done yet.

Below please find the highlights (or rather, lowlights):

  1. On Day 1 Biden signed a flurry of Executive Orders, one of which eliminated the Keystone Pipeline. Not only was the KP providing thousands of good paying jobs for middle class and working class people it also was a key element in enabling the US to achieve its long-desired goal of energy independence. With the stroke of a pen Biden executed the double play of destroying thousands of workers’ livelihoods and returning us to dependency for oil on our enemies.
  2. Shortly thereafter, Biden halted construction of the southern border wall. I have written many blogs on the merits of the wall, so there is no need to rehash them here. Suffice to say that action has resulted in a flood of illegal migrants entering the US. Yes, some of them may be legitimately deserving of asylum, but many of them are criminals, drug mules, terrorists, and/or carriers of the COVID virus. The point is we don’t know who they are, where they are from, and their intentions. We have no control over the situation. We don’t have the foggiest idea of how many there are or where most of them are living currently. What we do know intuitively is that they are and will continue to overwhelm our economic and social resources.
  3. The COVID relief payments have been excessive and most of the funds distributed have nothing to do with COVID. Rather, their purpose has been to satisfy a far left wish list. The feds are basically just printing money. In some cases they have actually disincentivized people from returning to work. Many employers have been complaining of an inability to find workers. Anyone with a basic knowledge of economics knows that the end result will likely be dangerous inflation.
  4. However, Biden’s worst action, by far, and the major reason why I can no longer remain silent, has been his attitude toward Israel. Israel has been subjected to a sustained barrage of rocket attacks by Hamas and other terrorists. Of course, it has defended itself by repelling these attacks and launching retaliatory attacks of its own for which it has been sharply criticized by its critics, haters and most of the media. I believe that this criticism is fueled by irrational anti-Semitism, not logic, fairness or common sense. Ask yourself how you would feel if our enemies were lobbing missiles into your home town? We don’t have to guess. We know. Read up on the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. The US went “ballistic” (pun intended). How about a couple of years ago when North Korea fired test rockets near Japan?Biden’s weak, wishy-washy response is appalling. The two combatants are NOT equal. We all know that Hamas is nothing more than a terrorist organization that has sworn to kill all Jews. On the other hand, Israel has been and continues to be our staunchest ally in the region. Rather than vigorously defend Israel as President Trump and other previous presidents did, Biden has issued statements that “Israel has a right to defend itself,” and urging both sides to “tamp down.” Thanks Joe, but Israel does not need your blessing to do so. It is fully capable of doing so on its own. Even worse, it is the Biden Administration’s policy of restoring funding to Hamas, reviving the Iran nuclear deal, and lifting the sanctions against Iran that have enabled Hamas to arm itself and buy the weaponry to launch these attacks. Over the past several years Iran has been and continues to be the nexus of all instability in the region. Biden’s actions will, in my view, enable them to achieve nuclear capability sooner rather than later. When and if that happens, look out!

CONCLUSION

To me, Biden’s Middle East policy underscores the blatant anti-Semitism of his administration. I’m not sure if Biden, personally, is anti-Semitic, although he has, in the past, exhibited racist attitudes. For example, he had a close relationship with senior “Klu-Kluxer,” Senator Robert Byrd, whom he characterized as his “mentor” and whom he eulogized at his funeral. Furthermore, as a Senator he maintained a close working relationship with known white supremacist politicians, such as George Wallace, Lester Maddox, James Eastland, Strom Thurmond, and Byrd. Even VP Kamala Harris referred to him as a “racist” during the primary campaign.

However, there is no doubt that he has surrounded himself with and is being influenced by persons who have expressed anti-Semitic and racist views, such as Paul Nakasone, head of the NSA, Bernie Sanders and Representatives Tlaib, Omar, Cortez and Pressley, who have characterized the Palestinians as “victims” whereas they have been the aggressors. At the very least he has not “stood up” to these radicals and has allowed himself to be influenced by their radical beliefs.

Biden’s “America last” policy has not been friendly to Israel. It should serve as a reminder that although the US and Israel are and have been strong allies with mostly common interests the US’s support is not necessarily absolute and permanent. The history of the Jews is replete with examples of governments that were friendly and supportive for hundreds of years until, one day, they were not. Jewish voters: if you care about Israel and you should, remember this at the ballot box. The Dems have been taking Jewish voters for granted for years.

Incidentally, where are the so-called “moderate” politicians and leaders? Why haven’t they spoken out?

Finally, multiple news sources have reported that Israel and Hamas have agreed to a cease-fire. That’s a great first step, but I don’t think that is a permanent, lasting solution. Moreover, it doesn’t change my analysis of the situation. The underlying issues remain unresolved. Hamas and other Arab terrorists in the area still hate the Jews with a passion. This hatred goes back thousands of years. They still want them wiped out. Nothing less will satisfy them. They sense that Biden is weak, and the US’s support for Israel has softened and will remain so as long as he is president. Moderate Arabs are still afraid to speak out.

The question is how long will it last and how long to the next incident. History tells us it is coming. The only questions are (1) when, (2) what form will it take, and (3) will the US “step up” and defend Israel more vigorously.

MOTHER’S DAY

Yesterday, Sunday, May 9, most Americans celebrated Mother’s Day.  MD is celebrated all over the world in some form.  Different countries have their own way of celebrating the day and even celebrate it on different dates.  Some countries have replicated the US traditions – hallmark [or email (tacky)] card, flowers, chocolates, and family gatherings; others have incorporated it into other holidays honoring women or mothers; and in still others, a combination of the two has evolved.

Restauranteurs claim that MD is normally their busiest day of the year.  Due to COVID last year was an exception as most states placed restrictions on dining out. This year, restauranteurs expected a substantial boost in business. The prevailing attitude in 2021 seems to be more upbeat. In the US over 100 million people have had at least the first COVID vaccination, and infections, hospitalizations and fatalities are down substantially in most areas. Consequently, more people were planning to return to the traditional custom of giving mom a break from kitchen duties and taking her out to a nice restaurant to celebrate. And why not? Doesn’t she deserve it? (On the other hand, on Father’s Day the restaurants are relatively empty as many fathers are put to work barbecuing.) Interestingly, many florists have reported a shortage of flowers, so procrastinating husbands may have to substitute other gifts.

In the US MD was first celebrated in 1908 when a lady named Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother.  Ms. Jarvis had been campaigning for the country to recognize a day to honor mothers since 1905 when her mother had passed away.  In 1914 President Woodrow Wilson signed an official proclamation establishing the second Sunday in May as MD.  It was to be a day to honor mothers and the concept of motherhood and their contributions to society.

Eventually, Ms. Jarvis became disillusioned with the commercialization of the holiday.  By the 1920’s the greeting card, retail, candy and flower industries were marketing their products aggressively to take advantage of the holiday.  Jarvis strongly advocated that people should demonstrate their love and respect for their mothers through personalized, handwritten letters instead.  Being a person of action she organized protests and threatened boycotts of these industries.  At one point, she was arrested for disturbing the peace at a candy manufacturers’ convention.

Despite her efforts, commercialization of the day has continued to grow.  Americans, in particular, tend to demonstrate their love in tangible, material ways through the giving of gifts.  Today, MD is one of the biggest days for the sale of flowers, candy and greeting cards.  Normally, the amount of the average MD gift and the total spent increases every year.  According to the National Retailers Federation Americans will spend an average of $220 on their mothers for the holiday, a slight increase over last year. Furthermore, the NRF predicts they will spend some $28 billion in total. In addition, MD is the third-biggest day for church attendance behind Christmas Eve and Easter.

As I stated, MD is celebrated in many countries in different ways and at different dates. For example:

1. The most common date is the second Sunday in May, which was May 9 this year. Besides the US, some of the countries that celebrate it on this date are Canada, Italy the Peoples Republic of China and Turkey.

2. Some countries, such as the UK, Ireland and Nigeria, celebrate it on the fourth Sunday of Lent. The UK incorporated it into a previously existing holiday called “Mothering Sunday.”  ”Mothering Sunday” dates from the 16th Century.

3. Many Arab countries, such as Egypt, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia celebrate it on the vernal equinox (March 20 in 2020).

4. Russia used to celebrate MD on March 8 in conjunction with International Women’s Day, but in 1998 the date was changed, by law, to the last Sunday in November.

5. Bolivia celebrates it on May 27, which is the date of an historically significant battle in which women played a key role.

6. Since 1950 France has celebrated MD on the fourth Sunday in May, except when the date conflicts with Pentecost in which case it is delayed to the next Sunday.

7. Hindus celebrate MD on the new moon day in the month of Baisakh (April/May).

CONCLUSION

Some of you may have noted that I spelled MD as Mother’s Day. This was not an error. The official holiday is spelled in the singular tense. According to Ms. Jarvis the day is intended to honor “the best mother who ever lived, yours.”

As I said, MD is one of the few truly internationally-recognized holidays.  One of the charming features of the day is the variety of ways and dates on which it is celebrated.  This is derived from the differences in customs and cultures around the world.

One thing is certain now and will remain so prospectively: on this day the mother/wife is truly in charge.  Men, remember the adage “happy wife, happy life.”

Finally, men, all together now, let’s repeat the two-word mantra for a successful marriage:

“YES, DEAR!”

CINCO DE MAYO

Today, and every year on this date, we celebrate Cinco de Mayo. It is meant to be a festive occasion. In America, even non-Mexicans join in the fun. After all, who does not enjoy a party? Who does not want to eat and drink at a discount? Every year on May 5, many of us eat tacos and enchiladas and drink tequila and margaritas and dress in Mexican garb in celebration of Cinco de Mayo.  Anyone care for a “dirty taco?” In addition, many restaurants are offering special deals on this date to attract customers. For example, Chili’s is offering margaritas for $5.00, and Applebee’s, which is certainly not a Mexican restaurant, is offering specialized drinks, such as “Dal-A-Ritas” and “Tipsy Sharks” for $5.00.

Typically, most Americans have no idea of the significance of the holiday. They may assume that it is some religious festival or has something to do with Mexico’s independence from Spain. That would be wrong and wrong.

In 1861 France invaded Mexico. Napoleon III, the ruler of France at the time, correctly perceived that Mexico was “ripe for the picking.”  The Mexican-American War of 1846-48 had virtually bankrupted the country.  The US was distracted by its impending Civil War and thus, unable to oppose France in Mexico.  The other European powers, notably Spain and England, were not in the picture.

At first, the French, with their superior numbers, equipment and training, routed the Mexicans, but on May 5, 1862 the Mexicans surprisingly defeated the French decisively in a major battle near Puebla, halting their advance.  The Civil War ended in 1865, and, thereafter, the US was able to assist Mexico.  Eventually, the French needed their military assets at home to prepare to fight the Prussians [in the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71)], so they abandoned their plans to conquer Mexico and withdrew.

The battle at Puebla was significant for several reasons:

1. Though largely symbolic, this victory gave the Mexicans a much-needed infusion of patriotism and national pride.

2. Since then, no country in the Americas has been invaded successfully by a European country.

3. Most importantly for the US, many historians believe that France’s ultimate goal was to enable the South to break away from the North.  Mexico could have been used as a military base from which France could have funneled men and equipment to the Confederacy.  If they had not been defeated at Puebla, who knows how far north their army would have pushed and who knows what military and political pressure they would have brought to bear against the US.  It’s possible France could have ended up dominating the entire West Coast of present-day US.  Consequently, it can be posited that that victory helped preserve the Union.

Cinco de Mayo is celebrated not only in Mexico, but also in many other countries. Cities in the US, Canada, the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Australia, New Zealand and Japan hold festivals featuring Mexican music, food and drink and celebrating Mexican culture.

Technically, Cinco de Mayo, though recognized as a day of celebration throughout Mexico, is not a national holiday, although it is a holiday in the State of Puebla. Throughout the country, the public schools are closed and many towns hold parades or re-enactments of the battle of Puebla. It should be noted that Cinco de Mayo is NOT to be confused with Mexican Independence Day, which is September 16.

Additionally, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in many areas of the US, particularly in locales where there is a sizeable Mexican population, such as Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. Events include parades, festivals, mariachi bands, and parties. COVID fears may put a damper on celebrations in some areas but how much and to what extent remains to be seen. Many Americans are sick of being confined and may just want an excuse to “bust loose.”

CONCLUSION

Cinco de Mayo is supposed to be a joyous holiday, as it celebrates an heroic occasion. Many non-Mexicans also get into the spirit of the holiday and participate in the above celebrations. They dress in Mexican clothing, such as ponchos and sombreros, participate in parades, and patronize Mexican restaurants.  In recent years, some so-called “pc police” have objected to this, calling it mocking a culture and even racist (their favorite fallback criticism).  For example, various “woke” communities and universities have placed restrictions or outright bans on celebrations. Moreover, some colleges have gone so far as to ban using the name “Cinco de Mayo.”

Personally, I find these restrictive actions offensive and a violation of the First Amendment.  It’s not as if the celebrants are painting offensive sayings or publishing mocking cartoons. Wearing ponchos and sombreros and dancing the “Mexican Hat Dance” do not rise to the level of, say, anti-Semitic scribblings on walls, burning a cross on a lawn, or fire-bombing places of worship.  THOSE are offensive, or worse.  This merely strikes me as getting into the holiday spirit, not being mean-spirited.

Once again, the majority is being subjected to the tyranny of the vocal minority. Remember, approximately 80% of the tweets are posted by only 10% of the people, so don’t be fooled by the vocal minority. As an aside, I have to say that in my youth we would have dealt with the pc crowd differently. Rather than kowtow, we would have made it point to parade down main street wearing sombreros and ponchos, drinking tequila and dancing the Mexican hat dance. Times have sure changed, and not necessarily for the better.

As I delineated above, Cinco de Mayo is a great source of pride for people of Mexican descent, as well it should be.  It commemorates a significant military victory over a better-equipped, numerically superior force.  The victory held historical significance not only for Mexico but for the US as well and should be commemorated.