FATHER’S DAY

Tomorrow, June 16, the third Sunday of June, many of us will celebrate Father’s Day. 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.

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.

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:

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.

Canada – Very similar to the UK. Popular activities would include going to the park, the zoo, or eating out in a restaurant.

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.

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.

Brazil – It is celebrated on August 2 in honor of St. Joachim, patron saint of fathers and grandfathers.

Bulgaria celebrates the day in December.

According to The Sun various countries in the Southern Hemisphere, such as Australia and New Zealand, celebrate the holiday in September.
Northern European countries, such as Norway, Sweden and Finland, celebrate the day in November.

CONCLUSION

The National Retail Federation estimates that Americans will spend slightly in excess of $100 per person on FD gifts in 2019. The estimated overall total is $16 billion, which would be a new record, just ahead of the previous record of $15.5 billion. As you might expect, according to the NRF this total pales next to the $25 billion we spent on mothers last month. What are the most popular gifts? According to the NRF #1 is a greeting card. No surprise there, but it is normally accompanied by another gift. #2 is a special outing, such as a sporting event, a trip, a movie, or a show. #3 is clothing.

Sports fans, which, let’s face it, include most dads, will have a variety of choices. In addition to the regular choices of the final round of US Open (held this year at historic Pebble Beach Golf Links) and MLB baseball many dads (and granddads) will be attending their kids’ (and grandkids’) sporting events. Some years, the NBA Finals are on tv, but not this year (congratulations to the Toronto Raptors who defeated the Golden State Warriors to win their first title). My family will be enjoying all of the above.

FD is one of the few days of the year when the wife will not complain (hopefully) when you watch “too much” sports. Dads, it is your day. Whatever you decide to do, enjoy it.

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US OPEN GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP

The Open is one of four “major” championships in golf. The others are the Masters, which is held in April, the PGA, which was just moved from August to May this year, and the British Open (July). As in tennis, the majors are considered to be so important that players’ legacies are determined, in large part, by the number they have won.

Originally, the majors were generally considered to include the US and British Opens and the US and British Amateurs. Those were the tournaments that Bobby Jones won for his Grand Slam. However, concurrent with the rise of professional golf in the US in the 1940s and 1950s the Masters and the PGA replaced the two amateur tournaments in importance. After all, it no longer made much sense to include amateur tournaments as majors when most of the best golfers could no longer qualify to compete in them.

The watershed year was 1960. That year Arnold Palmer, who was the best and most influential golfer at the time, won the Masters and the US Open. He observed that if he could add the British Open and the PGA he would have completed a “grand slam” equal to that of Mr. Jones. He failed to do so, but the notion of those four tournaments as the four majors “stuck.”

The Open is always scheduled for mid-June with the final round on Father’s Day. The Open field includes 156 players from all over the world. Golf has truly become an international sport. The Open includes four rounds of stroke play over four days. Until 2018, if a playoff were required a full 18 holes was played on Monday. If there were still a tie the winner was decided by sudden death. Beginning in 2018 the USGA instituted a new format, which guarantees that the championship will be settled on Sunday. First, there will be a two-hole playoff with the golfer with the lowest aggregate total winning. If there is still a tie, we will go to sudden death. Take one guess as to the architect of this change in format. Hint: the initials are F O X.

This year’s Open will be contested at Pebble Beach Golf Links in the Bay Area on June 13-16. This will mark the sixth time Pebble has hosted. The total purse will be $12.5 million, with the winner garnering $2.25 million. Not a bad payday. There are several interesting storylines, other than the usual. For example:

1. Brooks Koepka is going for his third consecutive title. No one has won three in a row since 1905. Do you know who did it? Probably not, unless you are a golf savant. See the answer below.

2. Tiger Woods is seeking his 16th major title. At one time, he appeared to be likely to beat Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18, but injuries cut short his prime years, and now age is also catching up to him. It is axiomatic in sports that “Father Time” is undefeated. So, time may be running out on Tiger. Still, he did win the PGA in May, and Pebble’s layout does suit his game, so who knows?

3. Sergio Garcia has missed the cut at 7 consecutive majors, hard to believe for a golfer of his caliber. Let’s see if he can make this one.

4. Does Phil have one more run in him? He’s no longer one of the best golfers, but he is one of the most popular, and I, for one, will be rooting for him. He needs the Open to complete the career grand slam, which is a rare feat that has only been achieved by five golfers. Can you name them? See below.

5. First-time winners have become routine at majors. Don’t be surprised if we see one this weekend. The following golfers are ranked in the top 15 in the world and have NOT won a major yet: Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Xander Schauffele, Rickie Fowler, Jon Rehm, Matt Kuchar, Tony Finau, and Paul Casey. Any one of them is most capable of breaking through this weekend.

Only about half of the players in the field are actually required to qualify. The remainder gain entry by one of many exemptions. Some of the exemption categories include:

1. Winners of the past ten US Opens.
2. Winner and runner-up of the previous year’s US Amateur Championship.
3. Winners of the past five Masters, British Opens or PGA Championships.
4. Winner of the previous year’s Senior Open.
5. Top 60 ranked golfers.
6. Special exemptions granted by the USGA. These are usually top-ranked players who, though past their prime, are deemed worthy.

There are other exemption categories, but I think you get the idea. Those who are required to qualify must survive two stages – Local and Sectional. There is no age requirement, so it not unusual to find a teenager in the field. The youngest qualifier ever was 14 (Andy Zhang of China).

CONCLUSION

Some interesting facts about the Open that only the most knowledgeable golf fans would know:

1. The winner of the inaugural tournament in 1895 was Horace Rawlins, an Englishman.
2. The record score is 268 by Rory McIlroy in 2011.
3. The record for most Open Championships is four and is held by four men. Three of them will be familiar to you – Jack Nicklaus, Bobby Jones and Ben Hogan. If you know the fourth, you are either a golf historian or a trivia buff, and my hat’s off to you (even though I don’t wear one). See the answer below.

The USGA rotates the site of the Open among various sites. Next year’s will be at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, NY. Do you know which site has hosted the most Opens? See below.

The inaugural Open was contested on a nine-hole course at the Newport Country Club. Only ten professionals and one amateur bothered to enter. They played 36 holes in one day. The winner received $150 out of a total purse of $335 plus a gold medal. By contrast, last year’s winner received $2.16 million out of a total purse of some $12 million. I think we can say the tournament and the sport have grown considerably.

Enjoy the Open. Let’s root for a tight, suspenseful tournament that doesn’t get decided until the last hole.

Quiz answers:

Other four-time winner – Willie Anderson. He was also the last person to win three consecutively. Anderson was an interesting and tragic story. He was born in Scotland and emigrated to the US at the age of sixteen. He was one of the outstanding golfers of his time. He won the tournament in 1901, 1903, 1904 and 1905. He was an original member of the PGA Hall of Fame and an inductee into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1975. Tragically, he died at the age of 31 from epilepsy.

Most times hosting – Oakmont Country Club – 9.

Career grand slam winners – Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.

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 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 LeSeuer, MN.

Quiz answer – “Happy Birthday”

Gertrude Bell, the Female Lawrence of Arabia

Most of you are familiar with the story of T. E. Lawrence, whose exploits in the Middle East provided the basis for the 1962 blockbuster movie “Lawrence of Arabia.” Of course, Hollywood fictionalized, altered and exaggerated certain elements of Lawrence’s exploits, but the basic premise was accurate. He was instrumental in instigating an Arab uprising against the Ottoman Empire during WWI, which was of great help to the Allies. Less known, were the exploits of Gertrude Bell. One could argue that her accomplishments were even more impressive than Lawrence’s since she was a female interacting in the highly patriarchal, tribal society of the Middle East in the early 20th century.

Gertrude Margaret Lowthian Bell was born on July 14, 1868 in County Durham, England. Her family was wealthy and influential. For example, her grandfather, Sir Isaac Lowthian Bell, was a prominent industrialist and a Member of Parliament specializing in foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East. Her father, Sir Hugh Bell, was a liberal-minded mill owner. Due to the family’s wealth and influence Gertrude was able to indulge in her passions, which were education (highly unusual for a female at that time) and a thirst for adventure.

She graduated from Queens College in London and Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University. She specialized in Modern History, which, at the time, was one of the few subjects open for women to study. In fact, she was the first woman to graduate from Oxford with a first class honors degree in Modern History.

Upon graduating, she indulged her thirst for adventure by travelling extensively throughout Europe, a highly unusual pursuit for a woman at that time. Thus, she was able to indulge in three of her major passions – mountaineering, archaeology and languages. Additionally, she traveled extensively throughout the Middle East. She became fluent in Arabic, Persian, French and German and conversant in Turkish and Italian. The first two would serve her well, prospectively. She became very knowledgeable of the customs of the many diverse tribes in the area. In particular, she spent a lot of time in Persia, where an uncle was the British minister (ambassador), Palestine and Syria.

During WWI British Intelligence, cognizant of her experience, knowledge and connections in the region recruited her to guide British soldiers through the deserts. One of her tasks was to map the area. She was very successful in this endeavor. She developed an entire network of locals to assist her. Furthermore, she was able to utilize the relationships she had developed with the various tribal leaders in the region over the years. She found that being a female was advantageous in one respect. It gave her entrée to the wives of the tribal leaders who were able to provide her with perspectives and intelligence not available to men. Bell was the only female political officer in the region and earned the title of “Liaison Officer.”

In 1915 she attended a conference in Cairo dealing with England’s Middle East policy. Here she worked with Lawrence, among others. Interestingly, they had similar backgrounds. Lawrence had also earned a first class honors degree in Modern History at Oxford, spoke Arabic, fluently, and had established relationships with tribal leaders in the region. The Arab Bureau utilized them both extensively to advise on Arab policy.

After WWI concluded Britain was tasked with reorganizing the former Ottoman Empire. It was an extremely sensitive undertaking. The Shiites, Sunni and Kurds who populated the area deeply hated and mistrusted each other. The people were loyal to their tribal leaders rather than to any central government, so the all-powerful and influential tribal leaders had to be dealt with. The Ottomans had managed to control all of these factions, at times, with brutal force. Now that they were out of the picture long-festering feuds began to surface.

Due to her knowledge and connections with tribal leaders in the area Bell was a natural choice to analyze the situation and make recommendations to the British hierarchy. Over a ten month period she compiled a thorough report titled “Self Determination in Mesopotamia.” (FYI, the name “Mesopotamia,” from the Greek meaning ‘two rivers,’ was not and is not a particular country. It refers to the region in the area of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, roughly corresponding to modern-day Iraq, Kuwait, and parts of Iran, Turkey and Syria.)

Bell strongly favored Arab self-determination, as did the Arab leaders in the region. However, the British government, adhering to a longstanding colonialist philosophy, felt just as strongly that the Arabs were not yet ready to govern themselves. They favored an Arab government under the influence and control of Britain. I believe this position was influenced by the large oil deposits in the area. Further complicating matters and adding to the turmoil was the “Balfour Declaration,” issued by Foreign Secretary, Arthur Balfour, which, essentially carved out a “national home for the Jewish people in Palestine.” This pleased the Zionists, but the Arab leaders who had understood that their support of the British against the Turks was a quid pro quo for being ceded control of the entire area, felt betrayed.

Of course, eventually, the wishes of the British government prevailed. The Brits utilized Bell as a mediator among the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds. It was a difficult and thankless task. Each of these groups was fervently pressing for its own country. It was not to be. Eventually, these disparate factions were combined into what became Iraq. It should have been obvious that this artificial country was doomed to fracture eventually, and, of course, it has. But, I can understand the Brits’ point, strategically. Firstly, there were huge oil deposits in the area that the Brits wanted to control. Secondly, Iraq would serve as a buffer and military counterpoint in the region against Iran, Turkey and Syria.

In 1921 the Brits installed Faisal Bin Hussein, the former commander of the Arab forces that had fought beside the Brits against the Turks in WWI, as the first “King of Iraq.” Faisal relied heavily on Bell as he eased into the role. She helped him interact with certain tribal leaders, and advised him on political appointees and other matters. She became known as “al-Khatun,” roughly “Lady of the Court.” He, in turn, helped her establish an archaeology museum.

CONCLUSION

One could argue that the current turmoil in Iraq can be traced directly to the partitioning in which Bell was heavily involved. But, in fairness, she did point out these potential problems to the Brits, and most historians realize that there was no easy solution at the time. In my opinion, the blame lies more on the Brits and,in particular, on Balfour and his allies.

Eventually, the stress of this job as well as years of arduous travel and heavy smoking had an adverse affect on her health, and Bell returned to Britain in 1925. She soon developed pleurisy. Not only was she plagued by ill health, but also by a decline in the family’s fortunes.

On July 26, 1926 she was discovered dead of an apparent overdose of sleeping pills. Historians are uncertain as to whether or not it was an intentional overdose as she had told her maid she was taking a nap and to wake her up. In any event, it was a sad ending to a life of great accomplishment.

Generally, British government officials held her in very high regard as illustrated by the following excerpt from her obituary penned by one of her peers, D. G. Hogarth:

“No woman in recent time has combined her qualities – her taste for arduous and dangerous adventure with her scientific interest and knowledge, her competence in archaeology and art, her distinguished literary gift, her sympathy for all sorts and condition of men, her political insight and appreciation of human values, her masculine vigour, hard common sense and practical efficiency – all tempered by a feminine charm and a most romantic spirit.”

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.

June 6 will mark the 75th 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.

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.

Since this year marks a special anniversary the American Battle Monuments Commission, which is in charge of the American Cemetery (where some 9,000 Americans are buried) and other monuments in the area, is planning some special activities. For example, Presidents Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron are expected to attend. Also, the ABMC will be rededicating the visitors’ center, which was first dedicated in 2007, and adding items such as a WWII-era jeep and aircraft. Retired Major General William Matz, head of the ABMC has disclosed he expects up 15,000 visitors, including some 100 WWII veterans.

Moreover, there will be a special ceremony involving the remains of two twins. Julius and Ludwig Pieper, age 19, were serving together on a ship, which was sunk off the coast of Normandy on June 19, 1944 by a German underwater mine. Ludwig was buried in the American Cemetery at Normandy, but Julius’ remains had been interred as an “unknown” at a cemetery in Ardennes, Belgium. The family was unaware of the location of his remains. In 2017 the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency was finally able to identify Julius’ remains. They will be re-interred beside those of his twin. Naturally, the twins’ descendants are overjoyed. As Susan Lawrence, their niece, told “USA Today” “It means a lot to our family. It’s beyond words”

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, sadly, perhaps, we never will.

IMPEACH TRUMP?

To impeach, or not to impeach. That is the question. (Apologies to William Shakespeare.)

When the long-awaited Mueller Report was issued in April he declined to answer any questions regarding it. His attitude to any questions regarding said report was that the report “speaks for itself.” Well, his recent speech that he probably hoped would clarify matters did just the opposite. In essence, he said that (a) his committee could not find enough evidence to charge Mr. Trump with a crime, but, on the other hand, (b) it did not find sufficient evidence to exonerate him either, and (c) Congress had the constitutional right (or maybe duty) to pursue the matter further if it chose to do so.

Huh? I thought that our system of jurisprudence operated on the premise that one was innocent until proven guilty. Until and unless that time, one is not guilty, not innocent, but not guilty. So, following that premise why isn’t Mr. Trump considered to be not guilty? I don’t know, except, perhaps, that his haters won’t acknowledge it under any circumstances.

It appears to me that Mueller was saying that Mr. Trump might, in fact, be guilty of some crime, but his committee just couldn’t find sufficient evidence to prove it. Put another way, according to Mueller Mr. Trump was not not guilty. Confused? Well, you’re not the only one.

The “anti-Trumpers” have interpreted Mueller’s puzzling action as license to pursue impeachment. The far left firebrands, such as Jerry Nadler, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, CA Representative Adam Schiff, news commentators such as Don Lemon, Chris Cuomo and Chris Matthews, entertainers, such as Robert De Niro and the “View Ladies,” and virtually all the declared Dem presidential candidates are virtually frothing at the mouth to pursue impeachment. TDS is running amok once again.

The only notable Dems who have thus far retained some degree of restraint and sanity regarding this issue are Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden. Pelosi, being Speaker, is trying to tread a fine line between the firebrands and the moderate Dems. She is shrewd enough to realize that impeachment is a loser, politically. If you doubt me, just research how it backfired on the GOP when they sought to impeach Bill Clinton, who actually had committed a couple of crimes. Biden, the frontrunner, realizes he is likely the one who will have to defend this action in 2020 to moderates and independents.

For the most part, the politicians who have been making the most noise are those who do not have to be concerned about political repercussions. They are either senators who are not up for re-election in 2020, governors who do not have to vote on impeachment, or representatives from “safe” districts. The newly-elected reps from purple districts that Mr. Trump won in 2016 realize that impeachment is not popular in their districts, and they definitely do not want to be forced to vote on it.

So, what is impeachment? When can it be applied? By whom? What is the process? Read on.

Article I, Section 2, Clause 5 of the Constitution grants the House of Representatives the “sole power of impeachment.” Article I, Section 3, Clause 6 grants the Senate the “sole power to try all impeachments.” An official can be impeached for crimes committed either while in office or prior to taking office. The crimes specified are “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” What the Founding Fathers meant by that last one is unclear. It is not defined in the Constitution or anywhere else.

Officials have been impeached for non-criminal as well as criminal offenses. For example, two of the articles of impeachment against President Andrew Johnson were based on “rude speech” that “reflected badly” on the office of the presidency. Conversely, not all crimes are impeachable. For example, former President Richard Nixon’s alleged tax fraud was considered to be “private conduct” and not an impeachable offense. There was, of course, plenty else to impeach him for. Confusing? Well, former President Gerald Ford cleared it right up. In 1970, as House Minority Leader, he famously opined that an impeachable offense was “whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history.” Got it?

When the president is being impeached the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is required to preside. Conviction requires a two-thirds vote of Senators present. How many presidents has the House impeached? Who were they? How many has the Senate found guilty? See answers below.

Basically, the procedure is as follows:

1. The Congress investigates. Generally, any investigations will be commenced by the House Judiciary Committee, but this is not a requirement.

2. The full House must pass, by a simple majority of those present, articles of impeachment. This would be akin to an indictment in criminal cases.

3. The full Senate tries the accused, voting on each article separately. Conviction requires a two-thirds vote of those present and results in removal from office.

CONCLUSION

Whether or not the House proceeds with the impeachment of Mr. Trump and whether or not the Senate convicts him is anybody’s guess. It does appear, however, as if momentum for it is growing. One can debate whether or not Mr. Trump’s conduct, or rather, alleged misconduct, has risen to the appropriate level. You can reach your own conclusion.

But, I feel strongly that a lengthy impeachment trial on the eve of a presidential election would not be beneficial to the country. Firstly, Congress would be distracted from addressing the serious issues afflicting the country, such as healthcare, infrastructure, border security, student debt, and income inequality, among others. That was what they were elected for and what most voters want, not impeachment.

Secondly, as much as the Trump-haters want to “get” him, history has shown it is a loser, politically. Some of you may recall that following the Clinton impeachment the voters punished the GOP severely during the next election.

Thirdly, if Mr. Trump were to be convicted and removed from office the 2016 election would not be negated. Hillary Clinton would not become president. Mike Pence would, and he would be eligible to serve for two additional terms, whereas Mr. Trump is only eligible for one more.

Fourthly, there is an election in 18 months. If the Dems want to remove Mr. Trump from office, here’s a novel idea – WIN THE ELECTION.

Quiz answers: Two presidents have been impeached – Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. Both were acquitted, although Johnson survived by only one vote. Richard Nixon resigned before he could be impeached.

TRUMP VS. BIDEN

I know it’s early. The 2020 election is more than 17 months away. History tells us that the current situation is very likely to change. Anything can happen and usually does. Some would say it’s useless to speculate at this early stage of the campaign. There are several debates yet to come, and the first primary, Iowa, will not take place until February. Nine months is a lifetime in politics. But, it’s fun to speculate. Therefore, I will do so.

In my opinion, the 2020 election will be pivotal to the country’s direction prospectively – politically, economically, and socially. Among the contenders are a Socialist, people of color, and women. Perhaps, one of them will make history as Barack Obama did in 2008. Furthermore, with Donald Trump in the picture the election will certainly be entertaining.

At the present time, there are 24 announced candidates for the Democratic nomination. 24! I don’t recall an election with even half of that amount. In my opinion only four of the 24 have any chance to win the nomination – Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris – and Warren and Harris are very long shots.

Presently, according to all the polls, Biden is the clear frontrunner. Bernie Sanders is a distant second followed by Warren and Harris. The other candidates are far behind, and some of their campaigns are on life support. According to the four most recent major polls – Monmouth University, Fox, Quinnipiac, and Morning Consult – Biden has a 2:1 lead on Sanders. Moreover, donors have been flocking to him. According to “The Hill,” he raised $6.3 million in the first 24 hours after he announced. What is his appeal? Simple. As a relative centrist with extensive experience his appeal is broad, especially among independents. Furthermore, AAs like him for his loyal support of Obama as his VP. Additionally, he is perceived to have the best chance to defeat Donald Trump. I maintain that the Dems are so desperate to defeat Mr. Trump they would even nominate Kim Jong-un if they thought he could do so.

Biden has some negatives, however, which could prove problematic:

1. His long career contains some vulnerabilities, which his opponents are sure to bring up, such as his support for the Crime Bill of 1994, his treatment of Anita Hill and his propensity for being “handsy” with women.

2. He has a propensity for verbal gaffes, such as his recent identification of “Margaret Thatcher,” instead of Theresa May, as the prime minister of the UK. Supporters will try to downplay these gaffes, but opponents will attempt to tie them to his age and infer he is not competent to serve.

3. His rallies have drawn small crowds. This is puzzlingly inconsistent with his strong showing in the polls. For example, recently he drew a small crowd to a rally in Philadelphia (some estimates put the total attendance at under 1,000), whereas Mr. Trump drew a substantial crowd in Montoursville, a small town in the middle of nowhere.

In a recent rally in Iowa he drew fewer people than Warren. His crowds have been significantly smaller than Sanders’ and Harris’ as well. This has generated some concern among supporters. For instance, recently, Aimee Allison, president of “She the People,” a national group that supports women of color, told reporters “I started to think the polls were wrong about Biden because it’s not what we’re seeing on the ground.”

I think the size and enthusiasm of crowds is a reliable indicator, but others disagree. Supporters say there is no cause for concern. They say the small crowds are a reflection of the make-up of his supporters – older and moderate. Moreover, they point out that voters “know” him already. I’m not sure I buy that argument. Time will tell.

4. So far, Biden’s campaign schedule has been light, especially compared to that of Mr. Trump. Some observers, such as FL Republican Representative Matt Getz, question whether Biden has the “energy” for an intense 18 month campaign. He characterizes Biden’s campaign schedule to date as a “French workweek campaign.”

With respect to Sanders I feel he has a small hardcore following, but his Socialist program will not engender enough broad support for him to win the nomination, much less the election. Socialism may sound good at first glance (Who doesn’t like free stuff?), but eventually people will realize most of the programs are unrealistic and unworkable. Moreover, we have no way to pay for all his programs. He will, however, likely generate enough support to influence the Dem platform, dragging Biden so far to the left that he will need a GPS to find the middle to attract the moderate support he will need to win the election.

As I said, I don’t think Warren, Harris and the rest have much of a chance. Each of them has espoused far left/Socialist programs that do not have mainstream support, which I have discussed in previous blogs, and I can’t see them generating any significant support among the electorate. I think it is more likely that they will fall back into the pack after the early primaries, if not before.

CONCLUSION

“The Hill” has cited an editorial in the “NY Times” by Yale professor Steven Rattner that predicts Mr. Trump will win handily, based on two factors – his incumbency and the surging economy. History tells that absent an unusual situation, such as a war, people almost always vote their “pocketbooks.” The question, “are you better off today than you were four years ago” really resonates with voters. Rightly or wrongly, the current president always gets the credit or blame for the state of the economy on election day.

Although one-term presidencies were not unusual during the 19th century, it should be noted that only two elected presidents have lost re-election bids since 1932. Can you name them? (See answer below.) Moody’s Analytics chief economist, Mark Zandi, agrees that incumbency is a significant advantage. He cites the combined conclusions of a dozen models. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, most of the major polls show Mr. Trump narrowly trailing Biden, Sanders and even Warren. Interesting, but keep in mind these are popular vote polls, which are probably being skewed by the Dems’ wide margin in a few large states, such as NY, IL and CA. Of course, the election will be decided by the electoral college where Mr. Trump is likely to have an edge. Like I said, this election cycle is likely to be very interesting and entertaining.

Answer to quiz question: Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush.

US HISTORY QUIZ

Some of you have requested another quiz, so here it is. Be careful what you wish for. You know the drill. No peeking at the internet, and no consulting with “Alexa.” Good luck.

1. The first president who was born in the US was (a) Andrew Jackson, (b) George Washington, (c) Millard Fillmore, (d) Martin Van Buren.

2. What city was the first capital of the US? (a) NYC, (b) Boston, (c) Philadelphia, (d) Baltimore

3. The first European settlement in North America was in which state? (a) Virginia, (b) NY, (c) Florida, (d) Massachusetts

4. In which city was Francis Scott Key when he composed the Star Spangled Banner? (a) Washington DC, (b) Baltimore, (c) NYC, (d) Philadelphia

5. Each of the following presidents was assassinated in office, EXCEPT: (a) William Henry Harrison, (b) JFK, (c) William McKinley, (d) James A. Garfield

6. During which war was the White House burned? (a) Civil War, (b) Revolutionary War, (c) War of 1812, (d) WWII

7. Who was president at the beginning of the Great Depression? (a) Calvin Coolidge, (b) FDR, (c) Warren Harding, (d) Herbert Hoover

8. Which president was known as “Old Hickory?” (a) Zachary Taylor, (b) Andrew Jackson; (c) Teddy Roosevelt; (d) US Grant

9. Which war was precipitated by the sinking of the “USS Maine?” (a) Civil War, (b) War of 1812, (c) Spanish-American War, (d) WWI

10. Each of the following presidents died in office, EXCEPT (a) James K. Polk, (b) Warren G. Harding, (c) William Henry Harrison, (d) Zachary Taylor

11. Which state was the 14th to join the Union? (a) Missouri, (b) Maine, (c) Florida, (d) Vermont

12. Who was the first black to serve as a justice on the Supreme Court? (a) Potter Stewart, (b) Thurgood Marshall, (c) Clarence Thomas, (d) Jethro Folk

13. Which was the first state to ratify the US constitution? (a) Delaware, (b) NY, (c) Virginia, (d) Maryland

14. Which state was the first to secede from the union at the start of the Civil War? (a) North Carolina, (b) Mississippi, (c) South Carolina, (d) Alabama

15. When was the Women’s Suffrage amendment ratified? (a) 1910, (b) 1918, (c) 1920, (d) 1925

16. Who was the only president to serve two terms non-consecutively? (a) Teddy Roosevelt, (b) James Monroe, (c) Grover Cleveland, (d) Lyndon Johnson

17. Which president completed the Louisiana Purchase? (a) Thomas Jefferson, (b) George Washington, (c) James Monroe, (d) Andrew Jackson

18. Which state was the 48th to join the Union? (a) Alaska, (b) Arizona, (c) Hawaii, (d) New Mexico

19. When did the California Gold Rush commence? (a) 1840, (b) 1940, (c) 1848, (d) 1901

20. Which two former US presidents died on the same day? (a) Franklyn Pierce and Millard Fillmore, (b) Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams, (c) James Monroe and Andrew Jackson, (d) John Adams and Thomas Jefferson

ANSWERS: 1. (d) (The earlier presidents were born in the colonies.); 2. (a) (Philadelphia was the capital of the colonies from 1774-1776.); 3. (c) (St. Augustine 1565; 4.(b); 5. (a); 6. (c); 7. (d); 8. (b); 9. (c); 10.(a); 11. (d); 12. (b); 13. (a); 14. (c); 15. (c); 16. (c); 17. (a); 18. (b); 19. (c); 20. (d) (7/4/1826).

Well, how did you do. Too hard? Too easy? Let me know.

MEMORIAL DAY

This weekend, millions of Americans will celebrate Memorial Day. To many of them MD is merely a day off from work, a day to gather with friends and relatives, watch sports, barbecue, or maybe go away for a mini-vacation. But, 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 27. According to the Farmer’s Almanac there will be a national moment of remembrance at 3:00 pm local time. MD has also evolved into the unofficial start of summer and Opening Day for beaches, pools and vacation homes.

According to AAA some 43 million Americans will be travelling by auto this holiday weekend, a 1.5 million increase over last year. So, if you have to be on the road, when are the best and worst times to travel? AAA advises us to avoid the late afternoons on Thursday and Friday, say 4:30 – 6:00 pm. At those times vacationers will be augmented by commuters who are merely trying to get home. When is a good time to brave the roads? I’m not sure there is one, except during the middle of the night when most people have already reached their destination. My best advice is to use a navigation system, such as Waze, to help you work around congestion and then pray there is not an unforeseen event, such as accident.

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.

2. 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 soldiers’ graves. These poppies were featured in a famous poem by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae called “In Flanders Fields.” This poem caught people’s imagination and popularized the custom.

3. Sporting Events.
No American holiday celebration would be complete without a sports connection. MD has 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.

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.

IRENA SENDLER – HOLOCAUST HERO

Every so often, we learn the story of another unheralded hero of the Holocaust. Often these people’s stories are only publicized after their death. When I become cognizant of their exploits I am continually amazed at the bravery of ordinary citizens in the face of extreme danger. It makes me wonder if, given the same circumstances, I would have the courage to put my life on the line as they did. I would hope so, but you never know until the situation arises. One such story appears below.

Irena Krzyzanowska was born on February 10, 1910 in Warsaw, Poland. Her father was a doctor, but he was also a humanitarian. Frequently, he would treat poor patients for free. Sadly, he died when Irena was very young from typhus, which he had caught from one of his patients. Following secondary school Irena attended the University of Warsaw where she studied law and literature. During the war she joined the Polish Socialist Party.

When war broke out Irena was working at the Warsaw Municipal Social Welfare Department. At first, she and several of her colleagues were assisting wounded and sick Polish soldiers to receive medical care that they otherwise could not afford. Often, this involved supplying false documents. Later, Irena also began to provide these to Jews, which, of course, was prohibited by the Germans. Irena’s job status enabled her to freely enter the Warsaw ghetto. You may recall that the Germans had crammed some 400,000 Jews into a small portion of the city and sealed it in November 1940.

The Germans were very concerned that typhus and other communicable diseases, which were rampant in the ghetto, would spread to other parts of the city. Therefore, they allowed Irena and her co-workers special access to the ghetto in order to conduct sanitary inspections. Irena also worked as a plumber/sewer specialist. This special access enabled Irena and others to surreptitiously provide food, clothing and medicines to the inhabitants. Obviously, this was strictly forbidden, and those caught were summarily imprisoned and tortured or executed. In addition, for a time Irena worked as a nurse in a field hospital, where, of course, many Jews were hidden among the patients. One day, while searching for food, she was shot by a German soldier, but she recovered.

Irena became more and more bold. In the summer of 1942, as conditions worsened, Irena and others began smuggling Jews out of the ghetto, particularly children and babies. Her methods were quite inventive. For instance, she hid babies in the bottom of a large tool box that she always carried; she hid small children in a large burlap sack that she kept in her truck; and she kept a large dog in the truck that would continually bark. This not only dissuaded the German soldiers from inspecting the truck too closely, but it also masked any noise made by the babies and small children.

To the extent possible she placed these children in convents, with sympathetic Polish families, orphanages and other charitable institutions. Moreover, she and her group utilized residences of sympathizers as temporary shelters until more permanent locations could be found. The children were given Christian names and even taught Christian prayers in case they were “tested” by the Germans.

According to historian Deborah Dwork Irena was the “inspiration and prime mover” of this network. The organizational skills necessary to maintain this massive rescue operation right under the noses of the Germans for so many years cannot be overstated. It is estimated that she and her network saved some 2,500 children.

Irena was hoping to be able to reunite these children with their families after the war. Consequently, she kept meticulous records. She made a list of the children’s names, both Jewish and Christian, and where they had been placed and buried it in a large jar in her yard. Alas, after the war she discovered that most of the families had perished in the camps.

Irena was very modest with respect to her heroism. To her, “every child saved with my help is the justification of my existence on this earth and not a title to glory.”

In 1943 Irena was caught by the Gestapo. She was beaten and tortured, but she revealed nothing. The Gestapo marked her for execution, but her German guards were bribed, and she was rescued.

CONCLUSION

Irena was married three times, twice to the same man – Mieczyslaw Sendler. They were divorced both times. In between she married and divorced Stefan Zgrzembski, by whom she had three children.

Irena was the recipient of numerous awards and citations. Poland awarded her six, including, among others, the Knight’s Cross, two Gold Crosses of Merit, and the Order of the White Eagle, the country’s highest civilian award. Yad Yeshem recognized her as one of the Polish Righteous Among the Nations. Also, in 1991 she was made an honorary citizen of Israel. In 2003 Pope John Paul II sent her a letter praising her accomplishments during the war. She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 and 2008, but, unfortunately, she was not selected either time. Finally, her story has been the subject of a play, a book and a movie.

Irena passed away on May 12, 2008 at the age of 98. She was an example of the saying that the best revenge against the Nazis is to survive and live a long productive life.