September 25, 2009
Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump
Just south of Calgary, where I live, there is a significant historic site.
It’s called Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump and it’s a World Heritage Site as designated by UNESCO.
The site was in use for over 10,000 years by Native Americans.
The bison (buffalo) herds were driven into a chute by the Natives on the top of the cliff and forced over the cliff. When they hit the bottom they died or were severely wounded. Natives at the bottom finished off the survivors and then butchered them. The tribe had food to last the long hard winter. Every part of the bison was used. Nothing was wasted.
At the site there is a great interpretative centre manned by First Nations people who convey their heritage and history to visitors.
The illustration is a Canadian stamp issued a few years ago to draw attention to it and other historic sites in Canada.
September 1, 2009
Today is the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the Second World War. The worst conflict of the 20th century the effects of which changed the world we live in today. It’s been described as the last “good” war because it was clear to everyone what we were fighting for, good versus evil.
Veterans of this war are dying everyday. We are rapidly losing our direct connections to this time. My father and two of his brothers served. His youngest brother paid the ultimate price.
It’s important in my opinion not to forget those who fought and especially those who gave their lives in the cause of freedom.
I’m fascinated with the stories of those who fought. It’s amazing to me how they suffered through it and got the job done. I’m not all that interested in generals and vast battle plans. I love to read about the men on the front lines, the average soldier. That’s who won the war.
I like to recommend the following for reading,
The War by Ken Burns (companion to the PBS Series)
Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose
Citizen Soldiers by Stephen Ambrose
The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw
May 11, 2009
This past weekend was interesting from this writer’s point of view. First May 8th was the 64th anniversary of V-E Day. Germany surrendered on May 7th to the Allies and May 8th was then proclaimed as Victory-in-Europe (V-E) Day.
The next day May 9th was the 60th anniversary of my entry into the world. Yes I turned sixty. A party was held for me and a good time had by all. I’ve in a reflective mood lately, but all in all so far life hasn’t been bad at all. In fact I’m probably happier at this stage of my life, then I’ve ever been.
Finally and likely most important of all May 10th was Mother’s Day. Time to salute those who hold the hardest job in the world. Don’t believe that? Then try doing it for a day or two without any help. Thank goodness I’ve never had a performance appraisal written on my experiences.
March 31, 2009
Reagan Just Before the Shots
March 30, 1981 Ronald Reagan just 70 days into his first term was leaving the Washington Hilton after giving a speech. Outside a young man waited. He was fixated on actress Jodie Foster and was sure what he was about to do would impress her.
John Hinckley, Jr. was only 25 years old and was out to make a name for himself.
Outside the hotel onlookers and media pressed forward to see the president. Reagan appeared and his press secretary, James Brady stepped forward to field questions. Reagan waved. Hinckley pointed a .22-caliber revolver and fired six shots in two seconds. Secret Service agent Jerry Parr shoved Reagan into the waiting limousine and left.
The car headed for the White House. Agent Parr noticed Reagan was coughing blood and complaining of a sore rib. He ordered the driver to head for the hospital a mile away. This quick action by the Secret Service agent almost certainly saved Reagan’s life.
There doctors revealed Reagan was bleeding “at a rather alarming rate”, this even though he walked into the hospital. To ease his wife’s fears he joked, “Honey I forgot to duck.”
One of Hinckley’s bullets had ricocheted off the car, struck Reagan’s rib, and entered his lung. The President had gone into shock by the time surgery was started. Doctors found the bullet, which had narrowly missed his heart, and stopped the bleeding. It took them almost three hours of surgery.
The most seriously injured was James Brady who was shot in the head and wasn’t expected to survive. He did survive. Also injured was a Secret Service agent who was shot while wrestling with the would-be assassin Hinckley.
At the time it seemed Reagan wasn’t injured that badly. The public didn’t realize how close a call it was. Think of how history would have been changed if instead of having Ronald Reagan as president for eight years, he served only 70 days. How quickly things can change.
March 30, 2009
- Nagasaki Bomb
Tsutomu Yamaguchi, now 93 years of age, has been certified as the only person to survive both atomic bombs dropped on Japan in the Second World War.
On August 6, 1945 Yamaguchi was in Hiroshima on a business trip. The first atomic bomb was dropped that day. He survived with serious burns. He stayed overnight in the cityand the next day returned to his home in Nagasaki.
Several days later on August 9, 1945 the second atomic bomb was dropped after the Japanese failed to surrender. This bomb was dropped on Yamaguchi\’s home city of Nagasaki. Again he survived.
The government of Japan compensates and provides medical care to certified survivors. His benefits won\’t increase because of his double certification.
And you thought you were having a bad day!
March 11, 2009
Saltscapes, Mar/Apr 2009
A bit of a brag today. I just had my first feature article published in a mainstream magazine. I’m previously published in hobby magazines, but this is the first non-philatelic article published for me. It’s very satisfying to see one’s hard work in print. I say hard work, but in actuality it was fun for me.
The magazine is Saltscapes, March/April 2009 Issue. This is a lifestyle magazine published in Bedford, Nova Scotia. The photo is of the cover of the current issue. The editor, Heather White, was fantastic to work with. She really believed in the article. The title of the article and it’s description is,
“The Invisible Immigrants: One Home Child’s Story”
“Like many immigrants, home children came to Canada to bave a better life. They left a legacy, but not necessarily a history. Here is one home child’s story.”
The magazine’s website is, www.saltscapes.com
So now it’s back to work on the writing to have more articles published. Thank goodness I seem to have lots of ideas.
February 19, 2009
President Obama & Prime Minister Harper
President Obama’s first foreign trip as president took place today when he came to Ottawa, the Canadian capital. No matter your politics the leader of 300 million Americans met the leader of 34 million Canadians for the first time.
Canada and the United States share a 4,000 mile border. The last time hostilities took place across this border was the War of 1812. We are fast friends, allies, and trading partners.
- Canada is fighting in Afghanistan against the Taliban who sheltered Bin Laden and his terrorists.
- Canada took in the many grounded passengers as result of the 9/11 order to ground airliners.
- Canada’s ambassador to Iran helped get Americans out of the country during the revolution.
- Canada and the United States were allies in two World Wars and the Korean conflict.
These are just some of the examples of our friendship and mutual respect.
As countries we have much in common, but like all friendships there will always be some differences. Our countries are both stable and thriving democracies. Best of all we are true friends. As a Canadian with American links I’m proud of the Can/Am relationship.
February 18, 2009
Lincoln's coffin (replica)
Even in death Abraham Lincoln didn’t rest in peace, at least until his tomb was completed. After his shooting at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC on April 14, 1865 and subsequent death on April 15, 1865 his body was borne by train to Springfield, Illinois where it was interred. The tomb as it is today was completed in 1874.
For years after he was buried in Springfield numerous attempts were made to steal his body. The family kept moving the body around within the crypt to foil the thieves.
The most serious attempt was by a gang of Chicago criminals in 1876. They actually got the coffin out and were attempting to move it when the Secret Service swooped in and arrested them. The coffin was replaced. The motive was to kidnap the body and ask the government for ransom.
Lincoln's Tomb today
Finally Robert Todd Lincoln, Abe’s only surviving child decided to cover the coffin with cement in the crypt to put an end to the foolishness. This was done in 1901. The day of the cement pour Robert Todd Lincoln wasn’t present. The workers decided to open the coffin before encasing it forever. They wanted to make sure Lincoln’s body was actually still there. So they lifted the top half of the coffin exposing Lincoln. According to witnesses he appeared very life-like with very little decomposition having occurred. This was written up in Life Magazine in 1963. A 13 year old boy, Fleetwood Lindley, was the last person to see Lincoln before the coffin lid was closed. He then helped them lower Lincoln into the crypt and the cement was poured. Lindley died February 1, 1963. Three days before he died he was interviewed.
Lincoln, his wife Mary Todd Lincoln and three of their four sons are interred inside the tomb. Robert Todd Lincoln is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
The Lincoln Tomb receives more than one million visitors each year. The figure is likely to be considerably more in this year, the bicentennial of his birth.