The Great War 1914 – 1919 – Centennial

January 2, 2014

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The year 2014 marks 100 years since The Great War, better known as World War I began. The war to end all wars in fact spawned the even more destructive Second World War. This year will mark 75 years since its violent forces swept the world.

As a genealogist and historian I have long been fascinated by the cause and events of these two conflicts. Both these wars changed the world forever in many ways.

What caused this war of 1914? Europe at the time consisted of many ambitious countries who were allied through treaty with many other nations. All these nations had dreams of grandeur through expansion and imperialism. The British, French, Germans, Russians, Italians, and Ottoman empires were all competing economically and militarily. When the Archduke was assassinated one blamed the other. Foolish pride and inflexibility carried the day. Military forces were massed on borders, ultimatums were issued, and finally attacks took place. The domino effect resulted in a world war. Kings, dictators and politicians had their war into which young men were the fodder to fuel the fires.

My grandfather like most Canadians enlisted in the Canadian Army when war was declared in 1914. Young men rushed to serve King and country and to do their duty. To many it was a great adventure. When they discovered the terrible reality of modern warfare the adventure turned to survival. These young men did their duty and served valiantly, but at a horrible cost.

Has mankind learned its lesson? Much as I’d like to believe so it has not. Wars constantly rage throughout our world today. Fortunately none have escalated into a worldwide conflict, but we have had our near misses, Korea, The Cuban Missile Crisis and the Cold War to name a few examples.

We must understand our history and learn from it, otherwise we are sure to repeat our mistakes. Nations like human beings are driven by foolish pride, nationalist goals, racism, jealousies and ambitions of domination.

The major difference in this world of the 21st century is that mankind possesses the means to make itself extinct, nuclear weapons and weaponized diseases being two major methods of mass destruction.

This centennial year should be a challenge to all of us to learn more about our human history and to open our eyes to the mistakes of the past.

More posts to follow on World War I.

 


11/22/63: End of Innocence

November 22, 2013

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Fifty years ago today President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was gunned down on the streets of Dallas, Texas. He and his wife Jackie rode in a open-topped Lincoln. Spirits soared as the crowds cheered the young president and his beautiful wife as the presidential motorcade moved through the streets of the city. The morning of November 22, 1963 started out overcast and rainy, but when they arrived in Dallas the sun came out and it was a bright, sunny day.

Kennedy was the youngest man ever elected president at age 43. He exuded energy, hope and new ideas. In October 1962 he saved the world from nuclear holocoust by defusing the Cuban Missile Crisis. He was the first president to speak publicly on the issue of civil rights, and in fact gave a televised speech on the subject, something no American president dared do to that point.

The Cold War between the two superpowers, the U.S.A. and the Soviet Union, dominated the world in 1963. Both countries had enough nuclear warheads and missiles to destroy mankind several times over. After the crisis of 1962 Kennedy and the Soviets had made progress to begin to reduce tensions. The first treaty of any kind related to nuclear weapons, The Nuclear Test Ban Treaty abolishing atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons, was signed by Kennedy and the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. There was hope.

Then the Lincoln entered Dealey Plaza and shots rang out. The president was mortally wounded. Hope died. The world went into shock.

The weekend was spent entranced by television images, the assassination, the capture of a suspect, the body lying in state in Washington, the murder of the suspect, the funeral, and the burial in Arlington National Cemetery. Especially poignant were the images of Jackie and Caroline kneeling at his casket in the Capitol saying their goodbyes, his young son John saluting his father’s casket as it rolled by, and the lighting of the eternal flame at his grave. Even now these images tear at my heart.

It all seemed so surreal. It was unbelievable back then and still is today 50 years later. John Kennedy was only 46 years of age. He had been President of the United States and leader of the Free World for just over a thousand days.

As of today over 150 million people have visited his gravesite in Arlington. Most I am sure like me reflecting on the what-ifs.

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The eternal flame on President Kennedy’s grave in Arlington.


“Near Miss: The Attempted Assassination of JFK” – Smithsonian Documentary

September 20, 2013

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Smithsonian Channel, part of the Smithsonian Museum, just announced they will air a documentary November 17, 2013 on the Kennedy assassination attempt. It is called “Kennedy’s Suicide Bomber” and was produced by Raw Cut TV a UK company. I provided much of the information to one of Raw Cut’s researchers many months ago. This movie is based at least partly on my book referenced in the title of this blog posting.

The problem is they never notified me of the final production and I’m not sure if they will be crediting me with my contribution. I realize that they almost certainly did additional research but I put them on to many of the sources and also furnished them with so-called rare documents related to this. I am presently making contact with both companies to discuss my concerns. Fortunately I documented my research every step of the way. I also documented all my contacts with Raw Cut. Smithsonian and Raw Cut need to make sure I am credited somewhere in this documentary. That’s all I ask.

In any event the show will be great publicity for this “near miss”. Just remember “Near Miss: The Attempted Assassination of JFK” is the only book ever written concerning this and its potential impacts. The book was published in December 2010 and is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Googlebooks, Kobobooks and others. The author is me – Steve B. Davis.

Link:

Near Miss – The book by Steve B. Davis


Alberta Birds of Prey Centre – Coaldale, Alberta

August 16, 2013

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My daughter handling a Great Horned Owl which is the Provincial bird of Alberta. His name was Gordon.

Located in Coaldale, 10 minutes east of Lethbridge, Alberta on Highway #3 is a gem of an attraction. It’s the Alberta Birds of Prey Nature Centre. This is a nationally recognized conservation centre.

When injured, orphaned or distressed wildlife need help the centre offers a place to go for help. Volunteers are on call every day of the year to respond. The centre makes every effort to rehabilitate and release to the wild, but if this is not possible then they have a home and are well cared for. The resident birds serve to educate the public and raise awareness of the value of these predator birds.

Visitors experience close-up encounters with hawks, falcons, eagles and owls. They get an opportunity to see first-hand the centre’s rescue, captive breeding and public education programs. Daily flight demonstrations will awe the visitor. Wait until you see one of these magnificent birds fly. Interactive experiences are available. You can hold one of these birds on your arm and marvel close-up eye-to-eye.

I recently visited the centre with my children and came away thrilled by the experience, more than that we gained a greater appreciation of these birds.  I invite you to visit and have this experience for yourself.  You’ll be enriched for it.

Admission Prices: (as per the latest brochure – August 2013)
Adults                   $8.50
Seniors 65+         $7.50
Students (6-18)   $5.50
Youth (3 – 5)        $4.50
Under 3                No charge

Note: The centre operates without subsidies. Donations are needed to ensure the good work continues.
(Charity BN/Registration # 896535895RR001)

Hours of Operation:        9:30 to 5:00 p.m.  May 10th to September 10th

Contact:
Alberta Birds of Prey Foundation
P.O. Box 1030
Coaldale, Alberta  T1M 1M8

403-345-4262
http://www.burrowingowl.com


Extreme speed + extreme stupidity

July 16, 2013

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No problem with speeding in these days.

Speeding at extreme speeds, more than 30 km/h over the limit, has become a serious problem in the Province of Alberta. These individuals not only put their own lives at risk, but those of others. A couple of examples will serve to illustrate this stupidity.

In the first example police stopped a black Mercedes SUV (sport utility vehicle) for speeding. Nothing unusual about that you say. Well in this case they ticketed the individual for driving more than 50 km/h (30 mph) over the posted speed limit. They clocked the SUV at 152 km/h (94 mph) in a 100 km/h (60 mph) zone.

The road in question is paved, but runs through a farming area with lots of intersections. At the time of the infraction police cited poor weather conditions, heavy fog and light rain with snow on the road.

Taking all this into account it seems to me this driver was being extremely foolish. Being foolish with their own life would be bad enough, but in this case even more so. Riding in the vehicle at the time was a father, his wife, with three children of theirs, and another child. The children were between the ages of four and 11. The driver was the father.

Next we have a man ticketed for driving his car at 180 km/h (112 mph) in a 100 km/h (60 mph) zone. Again it was on a paved secondary highway, but with lots of intersections and hills. In this case no one else was in the vehicle except the male driver. His excuse? He had just washed his car and was drying it off. Needless to say police weren’t sympathic. For this he received a $800 fine and a 45-day driving suspension.

What will it take to pound some sense into the brains of these drivers? Right now the penalty for driving more than 50 km/h (30 mph) over the posted limit is a heavy fine, driving suspension and demerit points. The ticketed drivers also must appear in court before a judge. They are not allowed to plead and mail the fine in as with an ordinary speeding ticket. Hopefully, it won’t take a horrific accident with multiple innocent lives loss before action is taken.


Blow the stink off.

July 14, 2013

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Grandfather Davis possible originator of the saying.

When I was a kid my Dad would always be telling us to, “Go outside and blow the stink off”.

Every family has it sayings I guess. That was one of my father’s favorites. I tried for years to find out what the hell it meant, and second where in God’s name he ever came up with it.

He’d always say it to us kids. I think he’d use it whenever he got tired of us being in the house. It didn’t matter that there was a monsoon rain or the blizzard of the century happening outside, Dad’d direct that at us and then he’d get up and walk away. He never said it to our Mom, or anyone else only us kids.

As kids we actually got the part about going outside, but the “blow the stink off” part? Well I knew I didn’t smell because I showered that morning. I also knew I hadn’t farted, at least most of the time that wasn’t my transgression. Hell if it was the farts he did more of that than we did. Why didn’t he go outside and blow the stink off?

Now after many years I find myself using on my kids. I still don’t know what it means. I did find out where he picked it up. Turns out his father used it on him and his four brothers. Guess what? None of them ever knew exactly what it meant either.

The best interpretation I’ve ever have been able to come up with is this. Go outside meant to leave the house and go play outside where you wouldn’t be bothering him.

My interpretation of the “blow the stink off” is to get some fresh air. It’s a hell of a weird way to say it, but that’s the only way I can put a meaning to that phrase.

Where it came from originally I’m afraid is lost in the mists of time and family roots.

 


What happens if no presidential candidate gets 270 Electoral votes?

November 6, 2012

In an extremely close presidential election it is possible that no candidate could get the needed majority of 270 Electoral votes. The Constitution of the United States makes provision for this scenario.

The Twelfth Amendment (ratified June 15, 1804):

This states in layman’s language that if no one presidential candidate gets the required majority, than the House of Representatives would choose immediately, by ballot, the President. However, it is important to note the vote would be by states, the representation from each state would have one vote. So each Representative does not get one vote, rather each state represented in the House gets one vote.

Again if no one vice-presidential candidate gets a majority of Electoral votes, then the Senate would choose the Vice-President from the two candidates with the most Electoral votes.

This system raises an interesting scenario. If both the presidential and the vice-presidential candidate did not receive a majority of Electoral votes, both would be elected by Congress, the House of Representatives the President, and the Senate, the Vice-President. This election if the Senate stays Democratic and the House stays Republican as expected then the likely scenario in this rare case would be President Romney and Vice-President Biden for the next four years.

What an interesting administration those would be. History consists of what-if scenarios. Some come true and others don’t. Watch closely to see what happens here.


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