September 9, 2017

Lanterns of the Dead Lighting the Way

The Lanterns of the Dead

 Lanterns Of The Dead

At some point in the early part of the 12th century, people in the center and west of France began to erect strange constructions – effectively hollow towers with a hole for a lantern at the top - near or in their village graveyards (and before you ask, most were nowhere near the sea).  Although many were moved or destroyed during the revolution, about a hundred survive to this day.  Known as Lanterns of the Dead (Lanternes des Morts) their precise original use is still debated. In the French capital, Paris, a system of street lanterns did not evolve until the late 1500s. ..So why did the French place the only significant night-time light near or smack bang in the middle of their graveyards?...

One theory - Protection from plague

In times of plague, the flame from the lamp might serve as a way for the villagers to quickly transfer fire to their hearths without coming in to contact with each other – a pestilential pilot light, as it were. People could visit the lantern in isolation so helping to slow or halt the spread of disease.  This sounds plausible enough, no?...As time moved on, churches would remain at the heart of the village but medical advances pointed clinical fingers at the sanitary implications of burying the dead so close to where the living resided.  Graveyards were moved lock, stock and coffin to the periphery of many villages and the lantern of the dead was taken along too. ....

The First Crusade

Yet even though they had served the purpose of honoring the dead, Eygun’s research uncovered another reason for their construction – one which was no doubt their primary purpose, at least in terms of utility. Incredibly, they are intimately connected with the First Crusade (1095-1099), the first medieval military expedition made by Europeans to recover the Holy Land and one church in particular.  The Church the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem had been destroyed by the Caliph Hakem in 1009.  When the city was seized by crusaders ninety years later in 1099, orders were given for the church to be rebuilt at once.

It would serve to remind the population of Jerusalem who was now in charge. The builders constructed a spiral staircase leading to the top of the building. There they placed a giant lantern to symbolize the resurrection of Christ which shone over Jerusalem from 1100 till 1187, when the city fell to Saladin, the first Sultan of Egypt and Syria.

As such, it is now believed that the majority of the lanterns were erected by local nobility or monastics as an undoubted souvenir of the time they spent on the First Crusade. Specifically, they wished to evoke the presence of the remarkable church in Jerusalem where they worshiped in some awe of its magnificent lantern, the rays of which illuminated the city nightly.  There is, moreover, a definite correlation between the period of time during which the lanterns were developed in France and the era of the Latin Kingdoms in the Holy Land – the first three quarters of the 12th century....

It should be noted here that the First Crusade began as a pilgrimage before it descended in to the brutality of a military expedition ...  So, again, what better to mark the route of a pilgrimage than lanterns which echo the sight to be found at the endpoint of the most desirable of all – the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem?...

Lighting the way to Santiago

The route that the French lanterns take does not, of course, terminate in Jerusalem.  Rather they guide travelers towards the city of Santiago de Compostela, the Galician capital in northwestern Spain.  This was one of the most important medieval pilgrimages, after those to Rome and Jerusalem:
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:24 PM | Permalink

August 16, 2017

"Every day, at six o'clock sharp, he lies down on top of the grave stays there all night"

Capitan the German shepherd has stood by its owner's grave for TEN YEARS

Capitan the German shepherd has been standing vigil at owner Miguel Guzmán's grave side in Argentina ever since he passed away in 2006.  And it seems the 15-year-old dog intends to remain faithful to his last, as he continues his ritual despite being almost totally blind and barely able to walk. Graveyard workers, who now care for 15-year-old Capitan, say he is 'waiting until he can be reunited' with his owner.

 Capitan's Vigil 10 Years

The dog's vigil began the day after Mr Guzmán's funeral, when he went missing from the family home in Cordoba. Mr Guzmán's wife and son launched a search for the dog, eventually locating him a 45 minute drive away in the village where his owner had been taken to be buried. They say it is a mystery how Capitan found the grave, claiming he had not been taken there before. Damian tried several times to bring the animal home, but he always escaped and returned to the grave side, and they decided to leave him there.

The cemetery's director Hector Baccega remembers the day he first saw the dog. "He turned up here one day, all on his own, and started wandering all around the cemetery until he eventually found the tomb of his master....During the day he sometimes has a walk around the cemetery, but always rushes back to the grave. And every day, at six o'clock sharp, he lies down on top of the grave stays there all night.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:29 AM | Permalink

May 26, 2017

They died while defending Leningrad (St Petersburg) when it was under siege for more than 2 years in WW2

Remains of 602 Russian WWII soldiers are re-buried near St Petersburg after being found by volunteers .

Volunteers who found the remains of 602 Soviet soldiers slaughtered by the Nazis give fighters proper burial  The group discovered the skeletons on the bank of the River Neva, near St Petersburg during a voluntary dig Around 200,000 Soviet soldiers were killed there when the Nazis laid siege to Leningrad for 900 days in 1941.

Russia lost around 11 million soldiers in total and up to four million who have never been found. This has inspired younger generations of Russians to volunteer their spare time to searching for the missing fighters, with the hope of being able to give them a proper burial.

 Reburial Ww2 Russia


The Siege of Leningrad, was a prolonged military blockade undertaken mainly by the German Army Group North against Leningrad, historically and currently known as Saint Petersburg, in the Eastern Front theatre of World War II. The siege started on 8 September 1941, when the last road to the city was severed. Although the Soviets managed to open a narrow land corridor to the city on 18 January 1943, the siege was only lifted on 27 January 1944, 872 days after it began. It was one of the longest and most destructive sieges in history and possibly the costliest in terms of casualties.
When the German High Command considered how to destroy Leningrad, they ruled out occupying the city  "because it would make us responsible for food supply". The resolution was to lay the city under siege and bombardment, starving its population "
The two-and-a-half year siege caused the greatest destruction and the largest loss of life ever known in a modern city. On Hitler's express orders, most of the palaces of the Tsars, such as the Catherine Palace, Peterhof Palace, Ropsha, Strelna, Gatchina, and other historic landmarks located outside the city's defensive perimeter were looted and then destroyed, with many art collections transported to Nazi Germany. A number of factories, schools, hospitals and other civil infrastructure were destroyed by air raids and long range artillery bombardment. .....

The 872 days of the siege caused extreme famine in the Leningrad region through disruption of utilities, water, energy and food supplies. This resulted in the deaths of up to 1,500,000 soldiers and civilians and the evacuation of 1,400,000 more, mainly women and children, many of whom died during evacuation due to starvation and bombardment. Piskaryovskoye Memorial Cemetery alone in Leningrad holds half a million civilian victims of the siege. Economic destruction and human losses in Leningrad on both sides exceeded those of the Battle of Stalingrad, the Battle of Moscow, or the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The siege of Leningrad is the most lethal siege in world history, and some historians speak of the siege operations in terms of genocide, as a "racially motivated starvation policy" that became an integral part of the unprecedented German war of extermination against populations of the Soviet Union generally.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:46 PM | Permalink

May 1, 2017

On May 1, Remember the 100 million UPDATED

Remember the VICTIMS of Communism on May Day!

May 1, is -- as we all have heard repeatedly -- International Workers' Day.

 May Day

...May 1 is also suggested as a commemorative day for another, much darker, reason. Ilya Somin has been campaigning for years to have May 1 declared Victims of Communism Day.

 Forgotten Victims

...Communism in the 20th century killed 100 million people, according to the Black Book of Communism. That included Jews, Kazakhs, Ukrainians in Russia, millions of Chinese under Mao, millions of Cambodians under Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge; for most of that time, western media was at best indifferent and at worst directly misleading (like Walter Duranty and the Holodomor).

 100 Million Victims

As Somin says:

Our comparative neglect of communist crimes has serious costs. Victims of Communism Day can serve the dual purpose of appropriately commemorating the millions of victims, and diminishing the likelihood that such atrocities will recur. Just as Holocaust Memorial Day and other similar events help sensitize us to the dangers of racism, anti-Semitism, and radical nationalism, so Victims of Communism Day can increase awareness of the dangers of left-wing forms of totalitarianism, and government control of the economy and civil society.

UPDATE:  Another NY Times Piece Extolling the Virtues of Communism.

It's depressing to see the NY Times get all weepy-eyed and nostalgic for for commie thugs and murderers:
It is perhaps hard to understand now, but at that time, in this place, the Marxist vision of world solidarity as translated by the Communist Party induced in the most ordinary of men and women a sense of one’s own humanity that ran deep, made life feel large; large and clarified.
But it was part of the NY Times "Red Century" series of articles. I'm not making this up, they actually called it 'Red I wonder why they never run articles about old Nazis getting together to reminisce about the good old days and sing the Horst Wessel song and such?

Dennis Prager on the Left’s unending love for communism even as it reviles Nazism

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:05 AM | Permalink

March 10, 2017

Bikers honor the dying and the dead

Bikers Heard This Marine's Remains Were Coming Home In A Box. They Couldn't Let That Happen

 Patriots Guard

The Patriot Guard Riders is an organization whose members attend the funerals of the military, firefighters, and police at the invitation of a decedent's family. The group forms an honor guard at military burials, helps protect mourners from harassment and fills out the ranks at burials of indigent and homeless veterans. In addition to attending funerals, the group also greets troops returning from overseas at homecoming celebrations and performs volunteer work for veteran's organizations such as Veterans Homes.

 Staff Sergeant Jonathan Turner

With a military career that included seven tours of duty in both Afghanistan and Iraq, USMC Staff Sgt. Jonathan Turner served the United States for 17 years as a Marine. But when Turner passed away in California due to combat-related issues, his mother — who still lives in the Turners' hometown of College Park, Georgia — couldn't afford the cost of traveling to the west coast to retrieve his ashes.Instead, Turner's ashes would be shipped home.

That didn't sit well with Patriot Guard riders, so they stepped up by creating a caravan and personally escorting Turner's remains all the way across the country. It was an operation that involved hundreds of volunteers and thousands of miles ridden...."We didn't want him to go home in a Fed Ex box."

A Man's Dying Wish: 'To hear the roar of a Harley, one last time'

Bill Conklin, a hospice patient in Boise  had one last wish of hearing the roar of a Harley Davidson, one last time.
Conklin told his nurse a while back about his wish, who helped get the ball rolling. "Guess what?" asked Teri Jordan, Conklin's nurse. "Your wish has come true."

Surrounding his home were about 50 Harleys and bikers ready to unleash the sound Conklin was waiting for. The sound filled the entire block while excitement filled Conklin's body and heart. "My feet are numb, my hands are numb, and my back is burning like fire," he said.  To us, it may just be a sound, but to him, it was the best medicine he could get. ...

Conklin says the bikes brought back many great memories. He was so appreciative of the display, Conklin made it an important duty of his to shake every hand he could get to, saying thanks before the bikers took off.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:10 PM | Permalink

January 31, 2017

Hidden in plain sight

Alexander the Great's last will and testament may have been found 'hiding in plain sight' 2,000 years after his death

The fabled last will and testament of Alexander the Great may have finally been discovered more than 2,000 years after his death. A London-based expert claims to have unearthed the Macedonian king's dying wishes in an ancient text that has been 'hiding in plain sight' for centuries.  The long-dismissed last will divulges Alexander's plans for the future of the Greek-Persian empire he ruled.  It also reveals his burial wishes and discloses the beneficiaries to his vast fortune and power.

 Alexander The-Great Will

Evidence for the lost will can be found in an ancient manuscript known as the 'Alexander Romance', a book of fables covering Alexander's mythical exploits.  Likely compiled during the century after Alexander's death, the fables contain invaluable historical fragments about Alexander's campaigns in the Persian Empire. 

Alexander the Great is arguably one of history's most successful military commanders. Undefeated in battle, he had carved out a vast empire stretching from Macedonia and Greece in Europe, to Persia, Egypt and even parts of northern India by the time of his death aged 32

Historians have long believed that the last chapter of the Romance housed a political pamphlet that contained Alexander's will, but until now have dismissed it as a work of early fiction. But a ten-year research project undertaken by Alexander expert David Grant suggests otherwise.  The comprehensive study concludes that the will was based upon the genuine article, though it was skewed for political effect.

He believes that Alexander's original will was suppressed by his most powerful generals, because it named his then unborn half-Asian son Alexander IV and elder son Heracles as his successors.  Rather than accepting the leadership of what the Macedonians saw as 'half-breed' sons, which would have been 'unthinkable', they fought each other for power in a bloody period of infighting and civil war known as the 'Successor Wars'.

The revelation is detailed in Mr Grant's new book, 'In Search of the Lost Testament of Alexander the Great.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:43 AM | Permalink

October 5, 2016

"One of the most beautiful sights you’ll see in a war zone was given a name that honors the lives of fallen soldiers."

How a Combat Photographer Named a Phenomenon to Honor Soldiers

While embedded with troops in Afghanistan in the late 2000s, war photographer and writer Michael Yon captured numerous photos of the sparkling halo that can appear when a helicopter’s rotors hit sand and dust. Upon finding that the particular phenomenon didn’t have a name, Yon gave it one that honors two fallen soldiers: the Kopp-Etchells Effect.

The name “Kopp-Etchells Effect” is now widely used when referring to dazzling helicopter halos, which commonly appear when powerful military helicopters take off or land in sandy environments.

 Helicopter Halo-2

After asking around, Yon found that none of the American or British pilots around could give a name for the glowing rings of light. All they could tell him is that it was caused by sand hitting the titanium and nickel abrasion strips on rotor blades and eroding their surfaces. The cloud of tiny metal particles spontaneously ignites in the air (a “pyrophoric oxidation of eroded particles“), creating a visible corona.

How can the helicopter halos, so majestic and indeed dangerous at times, be devoid of a fitting name?” Yon wrote in a dispatch in 2009.

So, the former Green Beret decided to name the phenomenon himself. After spending 2 weeks trying and failing to come up with a good name, Yon’s mind turned to a 21-year-old US Army Ranger named Benjamin Kopp and a 22-year-old British soldier named Joseph Etchells, both of whom were killed in battle in Sangin, Afghanistan, that year.

“And so a fitting name had arrived to describe the halo glow we sometimes see in Helmand Province: Kopp-Etchells Effect, for two veteran warriors who died here,” Yon writes. “The Kopp-Etchells eponym can be seen as a cynosure for the many who have gone before the Corporals, and those who will follow.”

And that’s how one of the most beautiful sights you’ll see in a war zone was given a name that honors the lives of fallen soldiers.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:22 PM | Permalink

August 30, 2016

Phoebe remembered

I Found This At My Local Dog Beach Today

 Dog Memorial Beach

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:57 AM | Permalink

May 30, 2016

May they rest in honored glory

Never have the "honored dead" been more eloquently extolled than when Abraham Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address  on November 19, 1863.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Five years later came the first national celebration of the holiday on May 30th, 1868 at Arlington National Cemetery, where both Confederate and Union soldiers were buried, following the order of  John A. Logan, Commander in Chief  of the Grand Army of the Republic who designated May 30th as Memorial Day.... "for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land."  In 1971, federal law changed the observance of the holiday to the last Monday in May and extended the honor to all soldiers who died in American wars.

Why They Died: The Motivations of American Soldiers in 12 Great Wars

12. The Persian Gulf War (1990-1991) -- 383 deaths.
11. The Indian Wars (ca. 1817-1898) -- 1,000 deaths.
10. The War of 1812 (1812-1815) -- 2,260 deaths.
9. The Spanish-American War (1898-1901) -- 2,446 deaths.
8. The Revolutionary War (1775-1783) -- 4,435 deaths.
7. The Global War on Terror (2001-?) -- 6,888 deaths.
6. The Mexican-American War (1846-1848) -- 13,283 deaths.
5. The Korean War (1950-1953) -- 36,574 deaths.
4. The Vietnam War (1964-1973) -- 58,220 deaths.
3. World War I (1917-1918) -- 116,516 deaths.
2. World War II (1941-1945) -- 405,399 deaths.
1. The American Civil War (1861-1865) -- 650,000 to 850,000 deaths.

Every year on Boston Common flags are planted in memory of every fallen Massachusetts service member from the Revolutionary War to the present.  In this photograph by Brian Snyder of Reuters you are seeing a few of the 37,000 planted this year.

 Memday Bostoncommon

The "battlefield cross" is far starker, part of the unofficial military ceremony that men and women often hold, either in the field or back at their home base, to memorialize a deceased comrade. 

 Battlefield Cross
This “cross” is not a cross but a field weapon, a rifle, with fixed bayonet thrust into the ground. A helmet sits on the top of the butt of the rifle. This inverted-rifle icon is at the center of a ceremony that enables comrades to pause, to bend a knee, to remember, to grieve, to say farewell. There is often a final roll call, understanding that one—or more—of the names shouted out will elicit no response....The boots are a forceful and personal reminder, symbolizing the “final march of the last battle.”

Jim from Galveston writes For Love Of Country  And of our fellow man.

Dignity, honor, respect and a day of remembrance is all that they ask now of us. Especially, remembrance. So, this weekend, set aside if only for a day, thoughts of (D) or ®. Rail not against your fellow American, nor wish harm to him, his party or his creed. Not on this day.

The men and women in those graves are no longer Democrats or Republicans. They are still and eternally though Americans, and are forevermore worthy of this day given but to them.  Honor the Day. Honor Them.

From their dark and silent graves, they give more honor to our Nation than any one politician, party or officeholder dares ever imagine.  Dignified beyond words, with nobility above the highest offices of government, these silent warriors speak loudly of what it is to be American.  They did not die for the Republicans. Nor for the Democrats, Greens or Libertarians.

Whether in combat, or fifty years later surrounded by only the memories of comrades long since passed, the men and women resting forever under those flags once marched proudly under that banner. They have earned nothing less than the unqualified respect of a grateful Nation, and her grateful people.

The last full measure of devotion is an awesome, terrible thing. Yet, magnificent; and it is upon the altar of their sacrifice that we enjoy the freedom of the greatest Nation in the history of the world.

Stand and salute, and remember them.

For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:59 PM | Permalink

February 26, 2016

"Tapping the Admiral"

What did people do before embalming became widespread? Or, if an important someone died at sea and his body had to be delivered home which could take weeks, even months?

Well, they decided to PickleAdmiral Horatio Nelson in Brandy!

In the middle of the Napoleonic War, Britain's most famous naval hero is struck by a fatal musket ball at the very moment of his greatest strategic triumph. Rather than bury his body at sea, a quick-thinking Irish surgeon preserves it in a cask of brandy lashed to the deck of the ship. A hurricane is on the horizon and the mast has been shot off; there is no way to hang the sails that would get ship (and body) to England quickly.

The two words that stand out in this story? Brandy and surgeon.

 Battle Trafalger.Jpg
A painting of the Battle of Trafalgar, showing the fatal wounding of Lord Nelson on the deck of the HMS Victory.

Nelson was barely less famous in his lifetime. Britain was an island nation with an overseas empire; the strength of its navy was central to national pride and economic security. Nelson was not merely a vice-admiral; was not merely the man beating the fearsome Napoleon's fleet with aplomb and  derring-do. Nelson was an officer who led from the front instead of the rear, who promoted men on the basis of merit instead of political connection, who referred to his missing arm as his fin, and flashed it at people who doubted his identity. His ongoing and blatant extramarital affair with a diplomat's wife was tabloid gold that added an air of scandalous romance to his exploits.

News of Nelson's death took 16 days to reach London; for the next two months, England was in a frenzy.

 Lordnelson Trafalgarsquare
Lord Nelson atop his 169 foot-tall-column in Trafalgar Square, London 

By keeping Nelson's remains in brandy and ethanol—"spirit of wine" in the lingo of the day—Beatty (the surgeon) was setting himself against popular wisdom. As a scientist, he knew Nelson's body had the best chance of surviving the journey if he used the strongest proof liquor on board. But if it didn't work—and there was no guarantee it would—standard rum was the politically safer choice.

Before he could be proven right or wrong, the ship had to limp its way back to England—grieving, wounded, jury rigged. And Beatty's best impromptu efforts could only slow the decomposition of Nelson's corpse, not arrest the process entirely. The body was slowly rotting. Two weeks into the journey, gaseous pressures burst the lid of the cask, startling one of the watchmen so much he thought Nelson had returned to life...[After} a closed-casket farewell tour, London held a funeral which cost around $1.2 million, inflation adjusted. Nelson was buried. His corpse had spent 80 unrefrigerated days above ground. It was over.

The gossip wasn't.

Beatty was now famous, partly by his own doing. Why didn't you use rum instead of brandy, people wondered, sometimes to Beatty's face. Countless printed accounts said Beatty did use rum, because of course he did: it's what you use. Popular slang popped up; navy rum was now "Nelson's Blood." Surreptitious tippling was "tapping the Admiral," and legends abounded that the cask had been drunk down to nothing during the journey. (It hadn't.).....

Beatty died wealthy—a king's physician, and a knight. However, the Nelson-rum connection remains tenacious, with several liquor companies selling bottles of spiced rum named after the Admiral pickled in brandy. There are still pubs all across England called The Lord Nelson.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:55 PM | Permalink

February 5, 2016

Memorial banned

Migrant centre banned from holding memorial to Swedish social worker 'stabbed to death by Somali boy, 15' in case it upsets refugee children

Staff at a housing centre for child migrants in Sweden have been banned from holding a memorial service in honor of a fellow social worker who was murdered last week.  Alexandra Mezher, 22, was stabbed to death when she tried to break up a fight between two teenage boys at a home for unaccompanied minors in Molndal, Gothenburg.

When staff at a similar accommodation in Örnsköldsvik, north-east Sweden, wanted to hold a memorial for Miss Mezher, the council said no.  Staff and social workers at a home for unaccompanied minors in Örnsköldsvik, a town on the north-east coast, were deeply affected by the killing of a colleague in the workplace

....Mr Lindahl wanted to do a memorial service for 'colleague' Miss Mezher, but said that a superior immediately got in touch and forbade them from using council premises. They were also told not to fly the Swedish flag at half-mast, SVT reports.
A service for Miss Mezher was later held at a nearby church in Örnsköldvik, but staff at the housing facility who were scheduled to work, were told they could not attend during working hours
The alleged attacker, a boy claiming to be a 15-year-old from Somalia, is being held in a secure psychiatric hospital in Gothenburg and has been remanded in custody until February 11.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:04 AM | Permalink

January 16, 2016

'So, we have Smithson’s monument all mangled to shit, his casket broken open, his 150-year old skeleton exposed to all and sundry, and now everything is ON FIRE."

James Smithson, the illegitimate son of the 1st Duke of Northumberland, died without children so his nephew became his sole heir but he died without children as well.  So begins the extraordinary story, The Creation of the Smithsonian which is hilarious and must be read in its entirety.  Here's one excerpt:

....the curator of the Smithsonian in 1973 impulsively decided to exhume Smithson AGAIN. On the basis of ghost stories.

Workmen took out the casket, which they discovered was made of metal and soldered shut. The curator told them to use their flashlights to bust the casket open. In doing so, they managed to catch the silk lining inside the casket on fire.....

So, we have Smithson’s monument all mangled to shit, his casket broken open, his 150-year old skeleton exposed to all and sundry, and now everything is ON FIRE.

Then, “He didn’t want them to ruin the silk by using an extinguisher so he told them to fill their mouths with water and come back to spray it down. So they did it.”

The silk is already ruined. It’s on fire. And if you, A CURATOR, were so concerned with preservation, why did you have random workmen bust open a sealed relic with improper tools, without any authorization to do so?

And now, to cap things off, a whole group of people are just spitting on James Smithson. Congratulations. This might be the worst thing I’ve ever written about on this blog.

-James Smithson Remains

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:15 PM | Permalink

January 4, 2016

The importance of writing condolence letters

That a heart-felt condolence letter became a young woman's only concrete connection to the father she never knew underscores the importance of writing condolence letters.

Jane Genova, Letters - When They Brought Unique Comfort In Loss

There was a time when we routinely wrote letters. Long, detailed ones.  Therefore, when the husband of a young friend died in his mid 30s, I sat down and wrote a letter to their baby daughter. It was the couple's first child. It would turn out to be their only child.

My instructions were that she open the letter when she became an adult. In it, I explained what a force of good her father had been in the community of Stamford, Connecticut. He had the ability to make each of us feel whole. That was hard in a upscale town where we stood in the shadow of the 1%.

Tonight that child, now 26 years old, called me from California. She had spent a lot of time tracking me down. I had relocated to Tucson, Arizona in 2014. She explained how many times she had read the letter. Aside from what her mother told her, that was her only concrete connection with the man who had been her father.

She wept. That put the burden of the conversation back on me. I gave  more details about her father's life and death.

For instance, she hadn't known how many men her father had helped become sober in a recovery program. I ticked off the names. As far as I knew, those who were alive were still sober.

I described his Kennedy-like mop of hair. His hair entered the room first.

No, she hadn't known: The church where his funeral mass had been held was packed. At it, Heidi played the guitar and sang. That was even though she herself had recently suffered the loss of a stillborn child. Then, I went on to anecdotes about her mother. Mostly funny ones. Her mother was still alive.

It was palpable during the phone call: I had been able over the years and this very evening to comfort a human being in pain.

Unfortunately, I haven't written that kind of letter in years. Now, I will resume the ritual. Over and over again, this young woman thanked me for giving a piece of her father back to her in four hand-written pages.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:24 PM | Permalink

December 10, 2015

“The truth is, like so many other kids, they lost their father years ago. What they truly lost on December 3rd was hope.”

Hats off to Mary Forsberg Weiland

‘Don’t Glorify This Tragedy'
Days after Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver singer Scott Weiland’s death, his ex-wife wrote a heart-wrenching open letter on his recent death and lifelong struggle with addiction. In the letter, Mary Forsberg Weiland urged readers not to glorify her ex-husband’s death and instead learn from his mistakes as a father and spend time with a child who needs love and mentorship.

She detailed Scott’s struggle to be a father to his children, Noah, 15, and Lucy, 13.

“December 3rd, 2015 is not the day Scott Weiland died,” Mary wrote. “The truth is, like so many other kids, they lost their father years ago. What they truly lost on December 3rd was hope.”

Mary explained that after Scott remarried, he no longer maintained contact with his children and would frequently skip child support payments, even excluding his children from his wedding.

Our once sweet Catholic boy refused to watch the kids participate in Christmas Eve plays because he was now an atheist. They have never set foot into his house, and they can’t remember the last time they saw him on a Father’s Day. I don’t share this with you to cast judgment, I do so because you most likely know at least one child in the same shoes. If you do, please acknowledge them and their experience. Offer to accompany them to the father-daughter dance, or teach them to throw a football.

Finally, she concluded the letter by urging fans not to glorify his death or romanticize his addiction, but to spend time with a child in need of love and support — much like Scott’s own children.

Our hope for Scott has died, but there is still hope for others. Let’s choose to make this the first time we don’t glorify this tragedy with talk of rock and roll and the demons that, by the way, don’t have to come with it. Skip the depressing T-shirt with 1967-2015 on it – use the money to take a kid to a ballgame or out for ice cream.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:13 PM | Permalink

November 24, 2015

The Power of a Letter with Words of Love

Veteran Moved To Tears When A Letter He Wrote To His Wife During WWII Is Found

 Power Of Letter

Precious mementos such as letters, trinkets and photographs are far too easy to lose during your lifetime, and when one of these beloved items is lost it leaves a hole in your heart that never heals.

Veteran Bill Moore was lonely and missing his significant other, just like most guys stationed overseas during WWII, and just like the others he made himself feel less lonely by writing his beloved Bernadean letters.

When Bill came home he married Bernadean, the letters becoming part of their love's legacy, but somewhere along the way one very important letter disappeared, only to reappear 70 years later in a thrift store in Colorado.

Watch Moore read this letter  and talk about his wife who died 5 years ago in a touching video on YouTube.  His daughter remarks, I could see the true depth of his love."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:51 PM | Permalink

August 17, 2015

Memorial T-shirts

In the Wall St Journal, Remembering the Dead With T-Shirt Memorials

About twice a week, Mr. Arthur performs a custom that is ubiquitous in New York City’s most crime-plagued neighborhoods but virtually invisible outside of them: He silk-screens T-shirts with the names and photos of young dead New Yorkers, often killed in street violence.

“As it gets warmer, it gets worse,” said Mr. Arthur, 57 years old, who estimated his shop every year prints about 2,500 T-shirts that memorialize about 100 victims. The T-shirts often are commissioned only hours after a death by grieving parents and friends and have become a mainstay of wakes and funerals.

 Memorial T-ShirtTroy West, 18, in Brooklyn in June. Mr. West wears a T-shirt as a tribute to his friend Tay-Quan ‘TJ’ Sumpter, who died at age 20 of bone cancer, Photo by Kevin Hagen

Most of the shirts feature a large color picture of the deceased, accompanied by a brief message—a shirt for 1-year-old Antiq Hennis, shot in his stroller in 2013, reads “Play in Peace”—and a set of birth and death dates, often referred to as sunrise and sunset.
And while some shirts are ordered to commemorate those who succumb to less violent deaths, such as illness and accidents, few of the faces are ever old.

“Every time I look at it, that’s a smile from him,” said Troy West, 18, as he nodded to the grinning face of his friend Tay-Quan “TJ” Sumpter, 20, whose likeness was emblazoned on T-shirts just hours after he died of cancer. “It’s really bringing him down (to earth).”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:59 AM | Permalink

May 9, 2015

New ways of memorializing the dead

Photographs of the Weird and Beautiful Ways the Dead Are Memorialized Around the World

French perfume maker bottles scent of the departed

Like many struggling to get over the death of a loved one, Katia Apalategui’s mum held on to her late husband’s pillowcase to keep the precious smell of the man she loved.After years of knocking on doors to try and develop her idea, Apalategui was put in touch with the northwestern Havre university which has developed a technique to reproduce the human smell.

“We take the person’s clothing and extract the odor – which represents about a hundred molecules – and we reconstruct it in the form of a perfume in four days.

The powerful link between smell and memory means the product offers “olfactory comfort”, Apalategui claims, on a par with photos, videos and other memories of the deceased.b“We are going through funeral homes to offer families a small box containing a vial of the departed’s odor that we would have extracted from a piece of material provided by them,”

How social media is the final frontier of mourning

'Social media just wasn't something my husband saw the point of, but it's a huge part of how I grieved and continues to be very important to me,' Bacciaglia said.

Offline or on Facebook, crass is crass when it comes to funerals and memorial services, said David Ryan Polgar, a lawyer and former college professor in West Hartford, Connecticut, who blogs about tech and ethics.
'Would you want to see Google Glass at a funeral? Nothing can replace that human connection,' he said. 'There are certain times for a heightened awareness, a need to stay in the moment, and a funeral is one of them.'
Sometimes the violators are the most grief stricken. A Facebook user once posted a photo of himself at the cemetery with his mother's casket behind him. Another put up a photo of her mother's will in a status update about her role as executor of the estate.
Posting is one thing, Posey said, but web tech can be valuable to the bereaved. His funeral home and others around the country offer livestreams of funerals and memorials as a way for far-flung loved ones to be connected. He sets up 30 to 40 webcasts a year, including one from the funeral of a grandmother so her two grandsons serving in the military in Iraq could be virtually present.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:20 PM | Permalink

April 10, 2015

Ghost Dad


Photographer Adds Father Who Died Before Seeing His Son To Family Portrait

Sierra Sharry and Lane Smith were supposed to have a son in 2014, but Lane died in a tragic accident. Sierra recently asked a photographer to insert Lane into a family portrait of her and her son. Kayli Rene was more than glad to help. Kayli used a warm family portrait of Sierra and her baby son Taos and merged it with a picture of Lane. The photo went viral shortly after Kayli posted it on her business’ Facebook page.

On the day of the tragedy in July 2014, the couple was going to a jet boat race, since Lane’s family was there, and Lane was nothing if not a family man. Sierra had to leave early, since the July heat wasn’t good for then 8 month pregnant woman. Unfortunately, Lane suffered an accident and passed away.

After posting the image, Kayli has received a veritable onslaught of messages from people interested in similar projects, as well as general well-wishers. There’s a fund set up to support Sierra and Taos, too. As for the picture, here’s what Sierra herself had to say: “Thanks to Kayli I now have a picture of my little family. It brought me to tears as I know it will many if y’all. This is how I picture us. Taos and I living our lives the best we can with Lane ALWAYS watching over our shoulder.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:12 PM | Permalink

February 19, 2015

"In this tight-knit village, these men will not be remembered for their brutal murders"

An important story that reminds us that  real people and real families behind the bloody executions by ISIS.

ISIS Boasted Of These Christians' Deaths. Here Are The Lives They Lived.

The men were laborers, gone for months on end, who sent home hard-earned money to feed entire families. They left their impoverished home in Egypt to work in Libya for a better future, despite the dangers. What they found instead was a militant group hell-bent on humiliating and harming them because they were Christian. While most of the people killed by the Islamic State have been Muslim, the group's recent propaganda video made a point to threaten Christianity as a religion. The fact that the 21 men were Egyptian made them even more sought-out targets: citizens of a country cracking down on Islamists both within its own borders and inside Libya.

On Jan. 3 at around 2:30 a.m. in the coastal Libyan city of Sirte, masked gunmen began knocking on doors, according to survivors. They were looking for Christians marked with traditional tattoos on their hands that identified them as Copts, an ancient Christian sect in Egypt. Some men were pulled from their beds at gunpoint. Others hid and prayed, only to later see their captured friends and family members decapitated in a widely circulated and highly produced Islamic State video.

But in this tight-knit village, these men will not be remembered for their brutal murders. They are remembered as beloved husbands, sons, brothers, cousins and friends. In death, their lives are celebrated.

Here are the lives they lived, as told by family members.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:29 AM | Permalink

February 12, 2015

The Saddest Goodbye and Heirloom Portraits

Cradled in their parents' arms, the dying babies whose brief but love-filled lives are preserved forever in these poignant photographs

Cradling their newborns with their faces filled with love, these pictures capture heartbroken parents' final moments with their babies.  The images were taken by the organization Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, who say they create the treasured memories by sending photographers to meet devastated parents and their terminally ill babies in hospital.

The service has boomed in popularity since launching in the USA ten years ago and boasts 1,650 volunteers in 40 countries across the globe, who offer their services via the organization's website.  Describing their mission on their website, the organization  writes: 'Our mission is to introduce remembrance photography to parents suffering the loss of a baby with a free gift of professional portraiture.' The organization  trains, educates and organizes for professional photographers to provide what they describe as 'beautiful heirloom portraits' to families facing the untimely death of an infant.

 Portrait Parents Terminal Babies

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:39 AM | Permalink

January 28, 2015

70th anniversary of liberation of Auschwitz. Said one survivor "I could cry nonstop, even now" and another "You should never, never be a bystander!’

 70Years Return Auschwitz

70 years after they were liberated, Auschwitz survivors make their last pilgrimage to the infamous death camp.

When the original Auschwitz concentration camp could not cope with the slaughter expected of it, the Nazis created an even larger, industrial death plant and railway yard next door here at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Its pointed, red-brick watch tower, beneath which every cattle wagon hauled its tragic cargo to the end of the line and the ‘selection’ ramps, is now a global symbol of genocide.

Yesterday, it was the dramatic backdrop to the desperately poignant, emotionally-charged international ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
That event is now enshrined as Holocaust Memorial Day in honour not only of the 1.1 million Jews murdered here but of all six million Jews and five million others executed at all those synonyms for cruelty – Bergen-Belsen, Treblinka, Sobibor, Buchenwald…
Sitting in the front row were four British survivors, including a sprightly 84-year-old Hampstead grandmother who, until yesterday, had been unable to face coming back. Widowed earlier this month, she is profoundly glad she came.‘I felt such turmoil, such anger seeing this place again,’ Susan Pollack told me last night. ‘But this ceremony was so uplifting that it will be one of the defining memories of my life.’

In the summer of 1944, aged 13, she emerged, gasping for air, from a fetid cattle truck (in which several people had died) just yards from here only to be dragged away from the mother she would never see again. Stripped, shaved and housed ten to a bunk, Susan withdrew inside herself, spoke to no one and barely noticed when a random wave of an SS finger eventually sent her not to the gas chambers but a slave labour camp.
In early 1945, with the Allies approaching, her captors sent her on a ‘death march’, a merciless retreat through the snow, to a place which evokes memories every bit as terrifying as Auschwitz – the human abattoir of Bergen-Belsen.

By the time it was liberated by the British in April 1945, Susan was lying among the dead when a British medic spotted signs of life. He carefully carried the skeletal 14-year-old to his ambulance. ‘The very fact that this soldier was picking me up and holding me was an act of human kindness I have never got over. I still can’t,’ she says brightly.‘Someone actually caring for me again – it still brings out tears.’
Roman Kent survived the Lodz ghetto, Auschwitz and two slave camps to build a new life as a US businessman and author.
‘We do not want our past to be our children’s future,’ declared Roman Kent. ‘That is the key to my existence.’  …‘Six million Jews? They were not “lost”. They were murdered. Those that died did not “perish” but were murdered. By using sanitised words, we are helping the deniers.’
He concluded that he would like to add an eleventh commandment to the Old Testament list: ‘You should never, never be a bystander!’

One of the many haunting photographs

 2Elderly Holocaust Survivors

Holocaust survivors’ 70 years of trauma: ‘I could cry nonstop, even now’

Seven survivors' stories, 70 years on

Remembering the priests of Dachau and the roots of the restored diaconate
The priest prisoners were kept in cellblock 26, known as “Der Priesterblock.” For the imprisoned priests, this experience was transformative. While in Der Priesterblock, many of them began talking about how to renew the Church when the war was over. How could the Church better serve the world? One answer, they felt, would include bringing back an ancient order of service, the diaconate.

After the camp was liberated, the priests who survived returned to a Europe in ruins – a world desperately in need of evangelization, just as in the first century. Some of the priests formed what they called Deacon Circles of clergy and laity – circles of prayer, and service and charity. By the early 1960s, some of those priests from Dachau had become bishops. They attended the Second Vatican Council.

Wrestling With the Darkness of Man (On Auschwitz & Dietrich von Hildebrand)

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:56 PM | Permalink

December 30, 2014

"Mummified room" of WWI Soldier

World War I soldier’s room untouched for almost 100 years

His torn military jacket still hangs by his desk and his shoes are still tucked neatly by his bed — relics of a life lost long ago. In the small village of Bélâbre in central France sits the room of Hubert Rochereau, untouched for nearly a century as a memorial to the fallen solider, who died during World War I. It’s “an unforgettable journey back in time,” reported la Noveulle Republique, which described it as a “mummified room.”

 Mummified Soldiers Room

Dragoons officer Rochereau died at age 22 inside an English field ambulance after a battle in Belgium on April 26, 1918. According to the Guardian, the officer’s parents decided to keep his room exactly as he left it — even after selling the house under the poignant, if legally unenforceable condition the room should not be changed for 500 years.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:39 PM | Permalink

November 11, 2014

A Sea of Sacrifice, a Flood of Blood

This may be the most extraordinary memorial I've ever seen.  A single red ceramic poppy for every British and Commonwealth soldier who died in the 'war to end all wars'  was planted in the moat surrounding the Tower of London to commemorate their lives and the 100th anniversary of World War I.

Including one for my great uncle Jack Paterson. Jack, a Canadian, a member of the Cameron Highlanders, 9th Brigade, 43rd Battalion, was killed in France in 1916.    When I learned that Clifford Holliday, who fought alongside of him in the Cameron Highlanders, died at the great age of 105 in May, 2004, I began to grasp that the loss of life was also the loss of length of life that would otherwise have been lived.  Lost in the mud and the constant shelling ever fearful of mustard gas attacks.  John McCrae, another Canadian wrote:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

A sea of sacrifice; a flood of blood has drawn some 5 million visitors. 

The last of the poppies is planted this morning as thousands flocked to Tower of London to see the final ceramic flower put in place by 13-year-old cadet and  the nation fell silent to remember Britain's war dead

From the first ceramic poppy to the last: How the field of flowers at the Tower of London grew over four incredible months to create an unforgettable memorial

 1St Poppy-1

It began as a parched grass field but was turned into one of the most spectacular installations in memory - these photos show the gradual process by which 888,246 poppies transformed the Tower of London.

The site was cleared for work on the installation to begin four months ago and once completed, it went on to fill the tower's 16-acre moat and attract millions of visitors.
The artwork – the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red – has proved so popular, with an estimated four million visitors, that there have been calls to keep the poppies at the Tower until the end of the year.
Each poppy - which represents the life of one British or colonial soldier - was made by hand and took around three days to create.

 2Poppy Bloodsweptlands,Seasofred-1
When Paul Cummins decided to create 888,246 poppies in what has now become one of the most significant pieces of artwork in British history, he knew it would be no easy task….Mr Cummins felt so overwhelmed with the sheer scale of his task that he had to draft in emergency help from two other ceramic factories to ensure the work was finished by today - Armistice Day.
After being personally asked for help by Mr Cummins, two factories in the Midlands pulled out all the stops in a bid to produce 500,000 poppies in just four months, ensuring there were enough flowers to fill the 16-acre dry moat.
Today, Harry Foster, from Johnson Tiles, Stoke-on-Trent, told how his team of unsung heroes have made nearly 400,000 poppies since July, working around the clock through nights and weekends to ensure the project was completed.

He admitted the work had been 'relentless' but added it had been a 'great source of pride' seeing the almost-finished crimson sea of poppies - and knowing some 4million people had managed to see the work.


To see how much Britain has changed, you only have to read how an Army veteran, 70 was assaulted as  he walked to cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday by gang of thugs who stole his regimental beret and medals

George Gill, 70, had been walking through a park on his way to the service in Keighley, West Yorkshire, when he was attacked by a gang of Asian [Pakistani muslim] youths he said had grabbed his beret 'like a pack of dogs would a piece of meat'.

The gang then ran off laughing, leaving Mr Gill with cuts to his lip, but the courageous former soldier dusted himself off and continued to the cenotaph to pay his respects before reporting the mugging to police.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:24 PM | Permalink

October 6, 2014

Colleen Hufford, the Oklahoma woman who died by beheading RIP

The smiling grandmother beheaded by Muslim convert in the Oklahoma food factory where they both worked

 Colleen Hufford
Smiling with her whole family beside her, beheading victim Colleen Hufford (far right) looks every bit the loving wife, mother and grandmother.  The 54-year-old is pictured here for the first time since she was killed at Vaughan Foods in Moore, Oklahoma, last Thursday in an apparent ISIS-style beheading.

Since the brutal killing, her family and friends have set up a Facebook tribute page, on which they are asking users to donate to a special fund or to charity……People wanting to donate money to the Hufford family are asked to visit the family page.

They can also give money to Catholic Charities in Oklahoma or OU Children's Hospital. ….On a link to a donation page for the family, the site administrator wrote: 'Colleen Hufford was beautiful soul who will be remembered for always having a smile on her face and a kind word to offer.  'She was a loyal wife, mother, and a doting grandmother.'
Mrs Hufford, who had been married to her husband KC for 25 years, had only just recovered from the trauma of losing her family home in the devastating Moore tornado last year.

Her neighbors described her as 'quick to smile' and said her husband picked her up from the food processing plant every night and he was outside when he found out she had been killed…..Neighbor Donna Myers said Colleen's husband KC had told her he was 'overwhelmed' by the tragedy but he was 'really grateful' for all the support he had received.

No word from the President on the beheading of Colleen Hufford

One would think that the beheading of a woman on American soil would warrant some sort of comment from the President Obama. At the very minimum, he could offer a few kind words. As of this writing, he has not said word one about it. His silence speaks volumes.
The Obama administration’s rationale for not commenting on the death of Colleen Hufford is that it is currently being investigated by the FBI. Well, when I last checked the FBI is also conducting an investigation into the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. These legal niceties apparently do not apply in the Brown case because President Obama not only commented on an ongoing FBI investigation, but did so in front of the UN General Assembly no less.

But the President did have time to pen a thank-you letter to the beheader's mosque and a White House official flew to Oklahoma to deliver it.

for their hard work in helping rebuild the Moore community after a destructive tornado tore through the city in 2013.

“Your service is a powerful example of the powerful roots of the Abrahamic faiths and how our communities can come together with shared peace with dignity and a sense of justice,” President Barack Obama said.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:56 PM | Permalink

September 17, 2014

King Richard III hacked to death in War of Roses, Game of Thrones

The remains of King Richard III, lost  for over 500 years until 2012 when archeologists using  ground-penetrating radar found them under a car park in the central English city of Leicester have now undergone forensic examination.

The University of Leicester, relying on mitochondrial DNA evidence, soil analysis, dental tests and the physical characteristics of the skeleton, confirmed 'beyond a reasonable doubt' that the remains were those of King Richard III.

From Wikipedia Richard III (2 October 1452 – 22 August 1485) was King of England for two years, from 1483 until his death in 1485 in the Battle of Bosworth Field.  He was the last king of the House of York and the last of the Plantagenet dynasty. His defeat at Bosworth Field, the last decisive battle of the Wars of the Roses, symbolizes the end of the Middle Ages in England. He is the subject of the play Richard III by William Shakespeare.
After his death, Richard's image was tarnished by propaganda fostered by his Tudor successors (who sought to legitimize their claim to the throne),culminating in the famous portrayal of him in Shakespeare's play Richard III as a physically deformed machiavellian villain, albeit courageous and witty, cheerfully committing numerous murders in order to claw his way to power. 

The phrases "The winter of our discontent" and "My kingdom for a horse" both come from Shakespeare's play. 

Richard III's brutal last moments revealed: Forensics show how doomed king was hacked to death by 11 blows after losing his helmet (and his horse) in the Battle of Bosworth

Richard III was surrounded by soldiers and hacked to death after losing his helmet in battle, analysis of his remains suggests.

Medical scanners were used to establish that the king suffered 11 injuries from enemy soldiers at Bosworth Field in 1485.  The 32-year-old died after two blows to the back of his head – one from a sword and the other from a halberd, a medieval axe-like weapon.

 King Richard Iii Forensics

As nine of the injuries were to his skull, researchers at Leicester University suggest he had lost his heavy helmet.
The two other injuries may have been inflicted after his armour was torn from his body.  Wounds to his buttocks probably came as his bloodied corpse was paraded around the battle ground, they suggest.

The medical evidence establishes the most detailed account of Richard III’s death ever attempted and is published today in the Lancet medical journal.

His successor was Henry VII, the first Tudor king who won his throne by defeating King Richard III with the support of a small force of French and Scottish that increased his forces to about 5000.  His victory effectively ended the War of the Roses between the Houses of Lancaster and York.  Henry's marriage to Elizabeth of York united the warring houses and his symbol became the Tudor rose.

Tudor Rose The Tudor Rose is a combination of the Red Rose of Lancaster and the White Rose of York.

The widely popular Game of Thrones is based loosely on the Wars of the Roses

The war between the Starks and the Lannisters also bears stark similarities to the Wars of the Roses between the English houses of Lancaster and York between 1455 and 1487.

Like the Starks, the House of York were northerners, like the Lannisters the House of Lancaster were southerners and extremely wealthy.

 Stannis Baratheon Stannis, brother of Robert Baratheon, was unfaltering in his loyalty to the King while he was alive, but after Robert's death, declared his own nephews illegitimate and tried to seize the throne for himself using some fairly controversial tactics.

Richard III, brother of King Edward IV, was also loyal up until the point of the King's death, upon which he declared his own nephews illegitimate, and succeeded to the throne after their 'disappearance'.

The counterpart to Henry Tudor?  Daenerys Targaryen. 
 Daenerys Targaryen-1

Henry Tudor, later Henry VII, took the throne from Richard III after crossing the channel with a foreign army in tow, marching through his birthplace and recruiting more troops along the way.
For many years before that, however, he lived a life of exile in France while chaos slowly spread in England, waiting for the perfect moment to seize his opportunity.

Not a little unlike Daenerys, who has been slowly amassing a huge army across the Narrow Sea (read: the English Channel) while plotting to invade her birthplace, rallying the loyal to her cause as she goes.

You can read lots more about the History Behind the Game of Thrones here with many contributions by noted historians

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:44 PM | Permalink

July 19, 2014

Heartbreaking request. Heartwarming reponse

Heartwarming response to the Father who asks Reddit to photoshop his infant daughter without medical tubes

Following the loss of his infant daughter, Sophia, a mourning father took to Reddit to ask the community for a single, heartbreaking request:

"Photoshop Request: My daughter recently passed away after a long battle in the children's hospital. Since she was in the hospital her whole life we never were able to get a photo without all her tubes. Can someone remove the tubes from this photo?"

The community response was overwhelmingly supportive, and many talented artists volunteered to give this father the beautiful portrait of Sophia he never had the chance to take.

 Infant Sophia With:Without Tubes
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:35 PM | Permalink

June 11, 2014

A Traitor's Memorials

 Engraving B. Arnold  Benedict Arnold, a general during the Revolutionary War, later defected and became a brigadier general in the British army and fought against George Washington and the Continental Army.  He was called the American Judas and his name became synonymous with treason and betrayal.

Wikipedia's account of his career

Born in Connecticut, Arnold was a merchant operating ships on the Atlantic Ocean when the war broke out in 1775. After joining the growing army outside Boston, he distinguished himself through acts of intelligence and bravery. His actions included the Capture of Fort Ticonderoga in 1775, defensive and delaying tactics despite losing the Battle of Valcour Island on Lake Champlain in 1776, the Battle of Ridgefield, Connecticut (after which he was promoted to major general), operations in relief of the Siege of Fort Stanwix, and key actions during the pivotal Battles of Saratoga in 1777, in which he suffered leg injuries that ended his combat career for several years.

Despite Arnold's successes, he was passed over for promotion by the Continental Congress while other officers claimed credit for some of his accomplishments.  Adversaries in military and political circles brought charges of corruption or other malfeasance, but most often he was acquitted in formal inquiries. Congress investigated his accounts and found he was indebted to Congress after spending much of his own money on the war effort. Frustrated and bitter at this, as well the alliance with France and failure of Congress to accept Britain's 1778 proposal to grant full self-governance in the colonies, Arnold decided to change sides and opened secret negotiations with the British. In July 1780, he was offered, continued to pursue and was awarded command of West Point. Arnold's scheme to surrender the fort to the British was exposed when American forces captured British Major John André carrying papers that revealed the plot. Upon learning of André's capture, Arnold fled down the Hudson River to the British sloop-of-war Vulture, narrowly avoiding capture by the forces of George Washington, who had been alerted to the plot.

Damnatio Memoriae  from Futility Closet

 Benedict Arnold  Arnold’s perfidy so blackened his name that he’s strangely absent even from his own memorials. A monument (above) at the site of the Battle of Saratoga depicts only a boot, to reflect the leg wound that ended Arnold’s fighting career. His name appears nowhere in the inscription:

In memory of
the “most brilliant soldier” of the
Continental Army
who was desperately wounded
on this spot the sally port of
7th October, 1777
winning for his countrymen
the decisive battle of the
American Revolution
and for himself the rank of
Major General.

A second monument at Saratoga includes four niches: Three contain statues of Horatio Gates, Philip Schuyler, and Daniel Morgan, but the fourth niche is empty.  And West Point displays a commemorative plaque for every general who served in the revolution. One plaque bears a rank and a date (“Major General / Born 1740″), but no name.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:56 PM | Permalink

June 7, 2014

“To Fats Waller with Love, Honeysuckle Rosenkrantz”

`A Barrelhouse of Talent and Love'

A few artists make us happy. That is the nature of their gift. Think of Louis Armstrong, Laurel and Hardy, P.G. Wodehouse and Thomas “Fats” Waller.

Timme Rosenkranz (1911-1969) was a Danish aristocrat, writer, concert and record producer, and jazz enthusiast who lived for fifteen years in New York City…. When he opened the Mel-O-Dee Music Shop in Harlem in 1940, his first customer was Armstrong, who bought fifty dollars’ worth of records. Rosenkranz’s Harlem Jazz Adventures: A European Baron’s Memoir, 1934-1969, was published by the Scarecrow Press in 2012. He concludes the chapter titled “To Fats Waller with Love, Honeysuckle Rosenkrantz” like this:

"Yes, Fats Waller was great. I think of him often, especially when I’m sitting with my record player at home in Hellerup, north of Copenhagen. I put on his happy sounds, and I don’t have to close my eyes to see that great big happy kid in front of me, waggling his eyebrows and wiggling his torso. I hear him laugh and laugh, and remember the wonderful days and nights I spent with him. Sometimes, awash in his music, I feel him right there in the room, and I am twice blessed to have known such a barrelhouse of talent and love.”

I put on his happy sounds. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:30 AM | Permalink

June 6, 2014

Remembering D-Day 70 years ago today

John Fund sets the scene

Northern France was under the boot of Nazi occupation, and was defended by an intimidating array of fortifications and gun emplacements all along its coast. But on June 6, 1944, 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of beaches whose names have gone down in history — Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, Sword — in what General Dwight D. Eisenhower called a crusade in which “we will accept nothing less than full victory.” More than 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the D-Day invasion, and at the cost of 9,000 killed or wounded soldiers, the Allies gained a toehold in Europe that became the staging area for the ultimate defeat of Nazi


Gerard Vanderleun puts us in the middle of the action

Today your job is straightforward. First you must load 40 to 50 pounds on your back. Then you need to climb down a net of rope that is banging on the steel side of a ship and jump into a steel rectangle bobbing on the surface of the ocean below you. Others are already inside the steel boat shouting and urging you to hurry up.

Once in the boat you stand with dozens of others as the boat is driven towards distant beaches and cliffs through a hot hailstorm of bullets and explosions. Boats moving nearby are, from time to time, hit with a high explosive shell and disintegrate in a red rain of bullets and body parts. Then there's the smell of men near you fouling themselves as the fear bites into their necks and they hunch lower into the boat. That smell mingles with the smell of cordite and seaweed.

In front of you, over the steel helmets of other men, you can see the flat surface of the bow’s landing ramp still held in place against the sea. Soon you are in range of the machine guns that line the cliffs above the beach ahead. The metallic dead sound of their bullets clangs and whines off the front of the ramp.

Then the coxswain shouts and the klaxon sounds and then you feel the keel of the LST grind against the rocks and sand of Normandy as the large shells from the boats in the armada behind you whuffle and moan overhead and then the explosions all around increase in intensity and then the bullets from the machine guns in the cliffs ahead and above rattle and hum along the steel plates of the boat and the men crouch lower and then somehow together lean forward as, at last, the ramp drops down and you see the beach and then the men surge forward and you step with them and then you are out in the chill waters of the channel wading in towards sand already doused with death, past bodies bobbing in the surf staining the waters crimson, and then you are on the beach.  It’s worse on the beach.

-Into The Jaws Of Death

Mark Steyn reminds us who they were

They were young, but they were not children. I was listening to President Obama explain yesterday from Brussels that the deserter he brought home from the Taliban this week was just a "kid". In fact, he's 28 years old. I remember walking through the Canadian graves at Bény-sur-Mer a few years ago. Over two thousand headstones, but only a handful of ages inscribed upon them: 22 years old, 21, 20… But they weren't "kids", they were men.

Tom Rogan explains why America remembers.  A US Army historian captures the scene:

Crossing bands of automatic fire caught most of the craft as the ramps were lowered, and from there on, losses were heavy. Most of them were incurred in the water, and among men who stopped to drag the wounded ashore. So exhausted and shaken were the assault troops that when they reached the sand, 300 yards from the shingle bank, most of them stopped there and crawled in just ahead of the tide. The greater number of the company's 105 casualties for D Day were suffered on the beach, in the first stage of assault.
For America, D-Day isn't about arrogant triumphalism, it's about celebrating young men who had never previously left their country, but in four years, defeated two tyrannical empires.

There were many others who played their part,  Like the spy who saved D-Day named Juan Garcia from Barcelona  in  one of the most extraordinary and significant subterfuges in espionage history: Operation Fortitude South 

that worked so well that Hitler kept two armored divisions and 19 infantry divisions back in the Pas-de-Calais throughout June, July, and August, and it is certain that had these units not been held back, the Allies would have faced a far bloodier landing. Even as late as 29 July, Hitler remained so convinced that García was on his side that he personally awarded him the Iron Cross for "extraordinary service". By the time anyone realized there was no invasion force bound for Calais under General Patton, it was too late.
….. García stepped down after D-Day for his own safety. In December, the Director General of MI5 awarded him the MBE, thus making him perhaps the only person to have been decorated by both sides in World War Two.

A great leader, General Dwight D Eisenhower inspired them with  the Order of the Day

Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!

You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hope and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is will trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely…..

The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory!

I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!

Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

That great leader was willing to take full responsibility for failure   It came to be known as the "In Case of Failure Letter." The supreme Allied commander intended it for his troops if the invasion failed. In four sentences, he accepted the blame:

"Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that Bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone."

President Ronald Reagan marked the 40th anniversary at Pointe du Hoc

We stand on a lonely, windswept point on the northern shore of France. The air is soft, but 40 years ago at this moment, the air was dense with smoke and the cries of men, and the air was filled with the crack of rifle fire and the roar of cannon. At dawn, on the morning of the 6th of June, 1944, 225 Rangers jumped off the British landing craft and ran to the bottom of these cliffs. Their mission was one of the most difficult and daring of the invasion: to climb these sheer and desolate cliffs and take out the enemy guns. The Allies had been told that some of the mightiest of these guns were here and they would be trained on the beaches to stop the Allied advance.
These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war.

Gentlemen, I look at you and I think of the words of Stephen Spender's poem. You are men who in your ``lives fought for life . . . and left the vivid air signed with your honor.''

Paul Wolfowitz remembers the debt owed to the heroes of D-Day.

"Veterans who were here then . . . will surely all agree that it was the longest day of our lives," said Walter Ehlers, the last surviving recipient of the Medal of Honor among the D-Day veterans, who was speaking at the 50th anniversary in Normandy….D-day, he once said, was "60 times worse than 'Saving Private Ryan.
"Sadly," continued Ehlers, who was an Army staff sergeant that fateful day, soon promoted to second lieutenant, "it was the end of the war for a great many brave men who died here that day. But it was also the beginning of the end for Hitler. The world changed June 6, 1944, the day the good guys took charge again."
"While we braved these then-fortified beaches to beat back Hitler and to liberate Europe . . . we fought for much more than that. We fought to preserve what our forefathers had died for . . . to protect our faith, to preserve our liberty. . . . I pray that the price we paid on this beach will never be mortgaged, that my grandsons and granddaughters will never face the terror and horror that we faced here. But they must know that without freedom, there is no life and, that the things most worth living for, may sometimes demand dying for."

 Soldiers In Normandy Cemetery

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:09 AM | Permalink

April 14, 2014

Soldier's time capsule from WW1

Sealed for a century: 'Time capsule' from soldier who died on the Somme contains possessions that his parents couldn't bear to see - including the German shell that killed him

Private Edward Ambrose, from Hertfordshire, was killed on the Somme, just days he arrived at the front in 1916
After a telegram telling of his death, his last belongings were sent back from the trenches to his heartbroken parents  But the family left the case unopened, finding its contents too painful to look at, and it was placed in an attic for years.

After visiting a local historical exhibition, Private Ambrose's nephew has now opened the package for the first time.  The case includes black and white photos of his family, letters from his parents, a half-smoked pipe and cigarettes.  The items, including a locket with photos of Private Ambrose and his sweetheart, Gladys, will go display later this year

 Wwi-Soldier's Time Capsule

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:23 AM | Permalink

March 8, 2014

"Memory Wound"

 Norwegian Memorial Victims Brevik

Memorial to mark where Anders Breivik ‘left a scar on humanity’ by carving three-metre channel through island where he slaughtered 69 youths

The July 22 terror attacks killed eight in a bombing at the government headquarters in Oslo and 69 people, mostly teenagers, were murdered by Anders Breivik in a shooting spree at a youth camp organised by Norway’s social-democratic Arbeiderpartiet.

Artist Jonas Dahlberg's Memory Wound will be a 3.5metre (11ft 6in) channel cut in the mainland facing Utøya, creating a 'physical wound' in the landscape.

The excavation will represent the physical experience of something being taken and 'reflect the abrupt and permanent loss of those who died on Utøya'.  The 3.5metre wide gap will have the names of all 77 victims, both Oslo and Utøya, engraved on its sides.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:15 AM | Permalink

January 23, 2014

From Ashes to Diamonds

For some years now, companies have offered to turn the ashes of a beloved into a diamond.  From Ashes To Ashes To Diamonds: A Way To Treasure The Dead, a story from NPR, explains the process.

 Blue Diamonds

Diamonds are supposed to be a girl's best friend. Now, they might also be her mother, father or grandmother.

Swiss company Algordanza takes cremated human remains and — under high heat and pressure that mimic conditions deep within the Earth — compresses them into diamonds.

Rinaldo Willy, the company's founder and CEO, says he came up with the idea a decade ago. Since then, his customer base has expanded to 24 countries.  Each year, the remains of between 800 and 900 people enter the facility. About three months later, they exit as diamonds, to be kept in a box or turned into jewelry.

Most of the orders Algordanza receives come from relatives of the recently deceased, though some people make arrangements for themselves to become diamonds once they've died. Willy says about 25 percent of his customers are from Japan.

At between $5,000 and $22,000, the process costs as much as some funerals. The process and machinery involved are about the same as in a lab that makes synthetic diamonds from other carbon materials.

The basic process reduces the ash to carbon, then slides it into a machine that applies intense heat and pressure — for weeks. That's at least several hundred million years faster than diamonds are made in nature
It only takes about a pound of ashes to make a single diamond, Willy says. His company has created up to nine diamonds from one individual's ashes.
Most of the stones come out blue, Willy says, because the human body contains trace amounts of boron, an element that may be involved in bone formation. "I don't know why, but if the diamond is blue, and the deceased also had blue eyes, I hear almost every time that the diamond had the same color as the eyes of the deceased," says Willy, who personally delivers the diamonds to his Swiss customers.

Each time, he says, the family is happy that their loved one has, in a sense, returned home. And in sparkling form to boot.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:13 PM | Permalink

Memorial gifts

Weighing In at the End


Three-Fourths of an Ounce, a new line of condolence products including memorial candles and jewelry, is named after measurements taken by the early 1900s Massachusetts doctor Duncan MacDougall. After studying terminally ill people and euthanized dogs, he concluded that a body lost three-quarters of an ounce at the moment of death, so a soul must weigh that much. (Scientists, however, have since discredited his methods and data.)

The designer Ted Muehling has contributed polished quartz ovals ($200 each) that weigh, yes, 0.75 ounces. His staff grinds the stones at a workshop behind his Manhattan boutique, on machines with wet sandpaper wheels that emit mournful sounds as they spin. Mr. Muehling, who was brought up Catholic, said the translucent stones remind him of his childhood image of the soul as an internal vapor that grows cloudier with every sin. The polished talismans are also ecumenically reminiscent of crystal orbs that Buddhist temple statues carry and pebbles that Jews place on gravestones.


I think this stone is beautiful.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:02 PM | Permalink

November 12, 2013

Hundreds attend the funeral of a veteran they didn't know

Harold Jellicoe Percival, who was known as Coe, served as ground crew on the famous Dambusters raids carried out in May 1943 by 617 Squadron.

Mr Percival, who died last month aged 99, never married or had children.

The funeral home organizing the service put an advert in a newspaper appealing for people to attend.

Hundreds attend war veteran's funeral after newspaper ad

 Funeral Dambuster

Mr Percival's nephew, Andrew Colyer-Worrsall, said the attendance was "just remarkable".

"He was a quiet man, he was an ordinary man who did his duty and served in the war and to see so many people turn up, it's just overwhelming," he said.

"I can only say thank you so much to everybody.

"We thought there would just be two or three of us, so to see this many hundreds of people turn up is stunning."
About 100 people were inside with another 400 standing silently outside in the rain.

The Dambusters March played as Mr Percival's coffin was carried into Lytham Park Crematorium at 11:00 GMT on Armistice Day.

A two-minute silence was observed around the coffin to mark the anniversary of the World War One armistice before it was carried into the crematorium.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:23 PM | Permalink

November 11, 2013

Remembering the Dead of World War 1


Wilfred Owen,  "My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity."

Born in England, Wilfred Owen, a soldier in World War I and a poet, was killed in action on November 4, 1918, one week before the Armistice.  He is one of 16 of the Great War poets commemorated in Westminster Abbey's Poet Corner.  The inscription on the slate is Owen's, "My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity."

Pat Barker's novel Regeneration, the first of a trilogy of novels on the First World War, describes the experience of British army officers being treated for shell shock at Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh.  Dr. William Rivers, an army psychiatrist, treats the traumatized officers so they can be returned  to battle, among them Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, both poets.

In an interview referenced in the Wikipedia article about the book,  Pat Barker said, "The trilogy is trying to tell something about the parts of war that don't get into the official accounts".
Barker states that she chose to write about World War I "because it's come to stand in for other wars, as a sort of idealism of the young people in August 1914 in Germany and in England. They really felt this was the start of a better world. And the disillusionment, the horror and the pain followed that. I think because of that it's come to stand for the pain of all wars."

The book was made into a fine film, titled Behind the Lines, which you can find on Netflix.  It closes with this stirring rendition of a poem Wilfred Owen wrote.

The Parable of the Old Man and the Young

So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb for this burnt offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
And builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretched forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him, thy son. Behold,
A ram, caught in the thicket by its horns;
Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.

But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:41 AM | Permalink

September 4, 2013

Cleanup specialist finds treasure in deceased hoarder's apartment

After a Recluse's Death, a Cleanup Man Reaps a Trove of Art

NYT Surprise Bounty for Cleanup Artist

Darryl Kelly  lives in the Bronx and has never spent a night outside New York City. Harry Shunk had photographs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and he worked with some of the great artists of the late 20th century. Mr. Kelly is a cleanup man. Mr. Shunk was a recluse and a compulsive hoarder.

Their fates crossed in 2006 under the worst of circumstances: in Mr. Shunk’s West Village apartment, where his body had decomposed for about 10 days before it was found, upside down and trapped by stacks of his accumulated possessions, with only his ankles and his feet visible.

The cleanup specialist and the hoarder — yin and yang of New York’s real estate ecology. Now, the death of one may be a fresh start for the other.

At a storage locker in SoHo recently, Mr. Kelly, 56, displayed mementos from his 2006 trip to Mr. Shunk’s apartment: sketches and three-dimensional maquettes by Christo; large-format photographs of the artist Yves Klein directing naked women dabbed in paint; lithographs by Andy Warhol and Paul Jenkins; a menu handwritten by Larry Rivers; museum posters; gallery fliers; magazine clippings; a packet of gold leaf belonging to Mr. Klein.

“There was a stink coming out of there that was out of this world,” recalled Mr. Kelly, who was called in by the management of Westbeth, the apartment building for artists where Mr. Shunk had lived since 1970, after the body had been removed.

“Oh my God,” he recalled, items were “piled to within a foot of the ceiling. I had to send a skinny man in there to climb up over it to the window.”

At the storage locker, he unrolled a Warhol lithograph of Marilyn Monroe, in hot fuchsia. Mr. Kelly’s brother-in-law, Gregory Marsh, the skinny man who helped clean out the apartment, made kissing noises at the image. Mr. Kelly beamed at his good fortune.

“I feel like I’m alive,” Mr. Kelly said, looking over the works. “I been down and out for so long, I feel like I’m alive now. This one they can’t take away from me.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:18 PM | Permalink

May 1, 2013

Video shows why the proposed memorial to Dwight Eisenhower as designed by Frank Gehry should never be built

The current proposed Washington memorial to President Eisenhower designed by Frank Gehry is a de-constuctionist horror that even the family opposes.  George Weigel called it "ghastly"

Quoting biographer Steven Ambrose's description, “Dwight Eisenhower was a great and good man. He was one of the outstanding leaders of the Western world of [the 20th] century,” Weigel calls the proposed memorial an "historical and aesthetic travesty".

The present Eisenhower Memorial design, by postmodernist Frank Gehry, has virtually nothing to do with the Dwight David Eisenhower of history. Plans call for Ike to be memorialized in sculpture as a barefoot farmboy on the Great Plains: not the great wartime leader; not the soldier-diplomat; not the chief executive of the United States who presided over eight years of peace and prosperity. The Gehry conceit seems both obvious and entirely in tune with the postmodern deconstruction of history: There are no great men; there are no great virtues; there is no great striving; nor is there great accomplishment or great service to others. No one, visiting the Eisenhower Memorial as designed by Frank Gehry, would have the slightest reason to grasp the truth of the man himself, as Stephen Ambrose once described him:

As a soldier, he was, as George C. Marshall said at the end of the war, everything that the U.S. Army hoped for in its finest products — professionally competent, well versed in the history of war, decisive, well disciplined, courageous, dedicated, and popular with his men, his subordinates, and his superiors. His leadership qualities also included a high degree of intelligence, integrity, commitment to basic principles, dignity, organizational genius, tremendous energy, and diplomatic ability. As a man, he was good-looking, considerate of and concerned about others, loyal to friends and family, given to terrible rages (which he learned to control), ambitious, thin-skinned and sensitive to criticism, stubborn and inflexible about his habits, an avid sportsman and sports fan, modest (but never falsely so), almost embarrassingly unsophisticated in his musical, artistic, and literary tastes, intensely curious about people and places, often refreshingly naïve, fun-loving — in short, a wonderful man to know or be around. Nearly everyone who knew him liked him immensely, many — including some of the most powerful men in the world — to the point of adulation.

None of this is conveyed by the sculpture of a barefoot boy on the plains. None of it is conveyed by the other elements in the Gehry design: 80-foot-tall, nondescript cylindrical posts (they can’t even be properly described as pillars) holding up perforated metal “tapestries,” creating what Gehry himself once called a “theater for cars.” But what does a “theater for cars,” or any other kind of postmodernist knock-off of a Fifties drive-in, have to do with creating a memorial to Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme Allied commander who planned the invasion of Normandy, the president who ended the Korean War and who proposed “Open Skies” as a means to lower the temperature of the Cold War?

A new  video slams the unbuilt memorial for its $142 million cost and impermanent design.

The design for a proposed Eisenhower Memorial has inspired much heartache and anger among historians, architects, veterans and even the Eisenhower family, who say this wasn't the way they imagined a monument to the 34th president and D-Day commander.

The video, created by the National Monuments Foundation in Atlanta and shared with Whispers Tuesday, uses digital modeling to show viewers exactly what the unbuilt monument would look like, and the foundation says the results are troubling.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:44 AM | Permalink

April 30, 2013

Gravestones hold hands over a wall that separates a wife from her husband

 Hands Across Gravestones

What a lasting image of love over the walls that separate people

Catholic wife and Protestant husband, separated after death by religious bigotry

Grave of a Catholic woman and her Protestant husband. The Protestant Colonel of Cavalry, JWC of Gorkum married the Catholic damsel JCPH of Aefferden. This "mixed" marriage, at that time (the 19th century), would have given them trouble. The wife wanted to be buried next to her husband, but the difference in their denomination would not allow that. So the Colonel was buried in the Protestant part, against the separation wall and his wife was buried on the Catholic side.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:54 AM | Permalink

February 14, 2013

"My love for you is eternal"

 Valentine Flowers After Death

Source Beauty in Spectras via Mme Scherzo

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:39 PM | Permalink

January 15, 2013

An angel and a skeleton

 Memorial To James Lenox Dutton
Memorial to James Lenox Dutton, died 1776

Bill Jewitt took this photo in Sherborne, Gloucestershire, England.  Via Madame Scherzo

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:50 PM | Permalink

November 11, 2012

Veterans Day and why WWI stands for the "Pain of all wars"

Born in England, Wilfred Owen, a soldier in World War I and a poet, was killed in action on November 4, 1918, one week before the Armistice.  He is one of 16 of the Great War poets commemorated in Westminster Abbey's Poet Corner.  The inscription on the slate is Owen's, "My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity."

Pat Barker's novel Regeneration, the first of a trilogy of novels on the First World War, describes the experience of British army officers being treated for shell shock at Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh.  Dr. William Rivers, an army psychiatrist, treats the traumatized officers so they can be returned  to battle, among them Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, both poets.

In an interview referenced in the Wikipedia article about the book,  Pat Barker said, "The trilogy is trying to tell something about the parts of war that don't get into the official accounts".
Barker states that she chose to write about World War I "because it's come to stand in for other wars, as a sort of idealism of the young people in August 1914 in Germany and in England. They really felt this was the start of a better world. And the disillusionment, the horror and the pain followed that. I think because of that it's come to stand for the pain of all wars."

The book was made into a fine film, titled Behind the Lines, which you can find on Netflix.  It closes with this stirring rendition of a poem Wilfred Owen wrote.

The Parable of the Old Man and the Young
So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb for this burnt offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
And builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretched forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him. Behold,
A ram, caught in the thicket by its horns;
Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.
But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:26 AM | Permalink

September 18, 2012

Flight 93 Widow

'She died of a broken heart': Tragic 9/11 widow suffers heart failure brought on by accidental drugs overdose 11 years after United 93 pilot husband perished

 Sandy Dahl

The widow of the captain of doomed 9/11 flight United 93 died of heart failure brought on by an accidental drug and alcohol overdose, an autopsy released on Friday has revealed.  Sandy Dahl, who was married to captain Jason Dahl, passed away unexpectedly in her sleep in May while staying at a friend's home in Lakewood, Colorado.

The death came after a decade of tireless work maintaining the memory of those on board Flight 93 who perished on September 11, 2001 after crashing in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  Making numerous public appearances over the decade after the attacks, Dahl supported a permanent memorial to the victims of the fourth hijacked plane, making sure they were not forgotten.

Dahl died of acute heart failure due to the combined effects of alcohol and multiple prescription drugs, Jefferson County chief deputy coroner Carl Blesch said.  He said a heart condition – right ventricular dysplasia – was a contributing cause in her death.

She died of a broken heart and probably the stress but you know you never would have known it unless you knew her really, really, deeply,' her friend Jewel Wellborn told 9News after her death.
She also developed a conviction to hear the flight deck recordings from United 93, because, as a flight attendant herself, she wanted to understand from the cockpit what had happened.  Hearing the harrowing tapes back, Dahl came to understand what happened on the flight and tirelessly worked in public to make sure that no one forgot it.

'Yes, my husband did have a big role in it,' said Dahl. 'He was not going to give up his airplane just like that.'

After she unexpectedly passed away in May, Patrick White, the president of The Families of Flight 93, lauded Dahl's bravery following her husband's death.

'Sandy's courage picked up where her husband's left off,' White said in a statement. 'Her dedication to completing the Flight 93 National Memorial as a way to honor her husband's heroic actions on 9/11, and those of his fellow crew members and passengers, is a significant part of her legacy.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:54 PM | Permalink

July 13, 2012

Heart-shaped tribute like no other

Love is… a heart-shaped wood: Devoted farmer creates memorial meadow to his late wife by planting thousands of oak trees

 Memorial Oaks Heart

A devoted farmer created this touching heart-shaped meadow as a tribute to his late wife - by planting thousands of oak trees.  Dedicated Winston Howes, 70, spent a week carefully planting 6,000 oak saplings after his wife of 33 years Janet died suddenly 17 years ago.

He laid out the fledgling trees in a six-acre field but left a perfect heart shape in the middle - with the point facing in the direction of her childhood home.
The labour of love has now blossomed into a mature meadow - a peaceful oasis where Winston can sit and remember his wife of 33 years.

His meadow cannot be seen from the road and had remained a family secret until a hot air balloonist took this photograph from the air.
Mr Howes, who owns an 112-acre farm near Wickwar, South Gloucestershire, decided to seed housewife Janet’s legacy after she died from heart failure in 1995, aged 50. The pair were married in nearby Stroud in 1962.

He created with the wood using small oak trees next to his farmhouse in the months after her death - marking out an acre-long heart with a large bushy hedge. The entrance to the secret heart is only accessible from a track leading up to its tip.
'We plant daffodils in the middle that come up in the spring - it looks great. I go out there from time to time and sit in the seat I created.

'I also flew over it myself about five years ago.'

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:02 AM | Permalink

July 4, 2012

Tsunami stones

The mystic stone at tsunami tide's highest point that saved tiny Japanese village from the deadly wave

This four-foot high stone may look unremarkable, but it is credited with saving the lives of the population of Aneyoshi when the tsunami struck Japan.  Carved into its weather-worn rock is a warning - 'Do not build your homes below this point!' - because they would be at risk from floods in a tsunami.  The villagers obeyed the ancient warning and the tiny community of just 11 houses and 34 residents were rewarded with survival at a key geographical point.

 Tsunami Stone

Aneyoshi, in the mountains of stricken Iwate Prefecture, bears a significant mark of the national natural disaster.

Just 300ft down the hill from where the stone sits is a blue line painted on the road. It marks the point in Japan where the tsunami water reached its highest point - 127.6 feet.

'The tsunami stones are warnings across generations, telling descendants to avoid the same suffering of their ancestors,' IItoko Kitahara, a specialist in natural disasters at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, told the New York Times.

It was a tsunami in 1896 which killed 22,000 people that first convinced the people of Aneyoshi to move to their hilltop retreat and remain there.  After a period of stability the population renewed itself and slowly began moving back down the hill towards the coast, but a then in 1933 another tsunami struck and left four survivors.  It was after that disaster that the stone was erected and the village credits that with saving the village from a tsunami in 1960.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:10 AM | Permalink

May 28, 2012

Memorial Day 2012

Away at my college reunion this past week, I didn't have a chance to read Memorial Day posts until late today.  But my gratitude for those who died in the service of their country is bottomless.

These were my favorites.

From the U,K, Tim Stanley writes about Memorial Day in America, the greatest country in the world

The USA is unique in that it was founded on an idea. That’s why I’ve headlined this piece with the controversial statement that it’s the “greatest country in the world.” To qualify: Britain is clearly God’s garden, but it belongs only to the British. America, because it is founded on the universal principle of free will, belongs to humanity. It can assimilate any individual, family or entire culture because the principle is so much more powerful than the nationality of the person who integrates into it. As a Briton living in America – even without being a citizen – I feel more American than British on the strength of enjoying free speech, a free market, the free exchange of ideas, freedom of faith. Most importantly, I am unencumbered by the European poison of class.

Neoneocon has a terrifically moving song and video by Tim McGraw I had never heard before, If You're Reading This

So lay me down
In that open field out on the edge of town
And know my soul is where my momma always prayed that it would go
If you’re reading’ this
If you’re reading’ this
I’m already home

And the modern modern photograph that continues to haunt by Todd Heisler

It is the one and only photo that makes me cry each time I see it.



Remembrance, which may seem a modest contribution in the moment, is a sacred act with long-term payoff — a singularly human gift that keeps on giving, year after war-fatigued year.

And a stunning image from the past, comprised of 18,000 men preparing for war in 1918 at Camp Dodge in Iowa via Jim Hoft

 Camp-Dodge Memorialday

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:40 AM | Permalink

January 12, 2012

The proposed deconstruction of President Eishenhower planned for the National Mall

The proposed Eisenhower Memorial is awful.  His grandchildren oppose it.

George Weigel writes about  Gehry's Ghastly Eisenhower Memorial

The present Eisenhower Memorial design, by postmodernist Frank Gehry, has virtually nothing to do with the Dwight David Eisenhower of history. Plans call for Ike to be memorialized in sculpture as a barefoot farmboy on the Great Plains: not the great wartime leader; not the soldier-diplomat; not the chief executive of the United States who presided over eight years of peace and prosperity. The Gehry conceit seems both obvious and entirely in tune with the postmodern deconstruction of history: There are no great men; there are no great virtues; there is no great striving; nor is there great accomplishment or great service to others. No one, visiting the Eisenhower Memorial as designed by Frank Gehry, would have the slightest reason to grasp the truth of the man himself, as Stephen Ambrose once described him:

As a soldier, he was, as George C. Marshall said at the end of the war, everything that the U.S. Army hoped for in its finest products — professionally competent, well versed in the history of war, decisive, well disciplined, courageous, dedicated, and popular with his men, his subordinates, and his superiors. His leadership qualities also included a high degree of intelligence, integrity, commitment to basic principles, dignity, organizational genius, tremendous energy, and diplomatic ability. As a man, he was good-looking, considerate of and concerned about others, loyal to friends and family, given to terrible rages (which he learned to control), ambitious, thin-skinned and sensitive to criticism, stubborn and inflexible about his habits, an avid sportsman and sports fan, modest (but never falsely so), almost embarrassingly unsophisticated in his musical, artistic, and literary tastes, intensely curious about people and places, often refreshingly naïve, fun-loving — in short, a wonderful man to know or be around. Nearly everyone who knew him liked him immensely, many — including some of the most powerful men in the world — to the point of adulation.

None of this is conveyed by the sculpture of a barefoot boy on the plains. None of it is conveyed by the other elements in the Gehry design: 80-foot-tall, nondescript cylindrical posts (they can’t even be properly described as pillars) holding up perforated metal “tapestries,” creating what Gehry himself once called a “theater for cars.” But what does a “theater for cars,” or any other kind of postmodernist knock-off of a Fifties drive-in, have to do with creating a memorial to Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme Allied commander who planned the invasion of Normandy, the president who ended the Korean War and who proposed “Open Skies” as a means to lower the temperature of the Cold War?
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:57 PM | Permalink

November 2, 2011

Sacred Memories Sold as Scrap

The desecration of war memorials continues apace in the U.K.

Sacred memories sold as scrap: Clampdown on dealers who encourage pillage of war memorials, demand police

Campaigners fighting to save war memorials from scrap metal thieves say only a handful have ever been brought to justice.

Tragically, the War Memorials Trust also revealed that only one in ten of the stolen plaques and statues are ever recovered.\
Frances Moreton, director of the trust, said the rest end up being melted down by unscrupulous scrap metal dealers making a fast buck out of Britain’s fallen heroes.

The Mail reported yesterday that the 100,000 war memorials in Britain are being targeted by thieves and vandals at the rate of one every other day. Thieves steal the brass plaques to dealers, who melt the metal down to fuel the worldwide demand for scarce metals.

 Sacred Memories Sold As Scrap

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:07 AM | Permalink

November 1, 2011

On All Saints Day, Dalrymple Visits a Guatemalan Graveyard

Theodore Dalrymple visits a Guatemalan graveyard on All Saints Day with a woman from North America

I like graveyards in general, and Guatemalan graveyards are particularly attractive. Every little pueblo has its cemetery, the plain block-like tombs gaily painted pink, yellow, white, purple, sky-blue or mauve. They are well cared for and not at all dismal.

On 1 November, All Saints' Day, I had been in the little town of Salama, some sixty miles distant from the capital. All Saints' Day is every cemetery's day of glory, the day on which Catholic Guatemalans go with their families to the tombs of their dead relatives and spend the day there. Flowers are taken: real flowers, beautiful but ephemeral, or plastic ones, gaudy but permanent. A few days beforehand, the family refreshes the tomb with a coat of paint and renews the inscription. On the day itself, everyone picnics over grandmama, eating a dish called fiambre - rice and twenty different kinds of cold meat - which is prepared only for this day.
No grave was totally neglected on All Saints' Day, and even the graves of the dead without descendants were newly painted or strewn with a flower or two.

 Guatemalan Cemetery

People from northern latitudes often find the customs of All Saints' Day morbid. I found them not only charming, but moving and wise. It seemed to me that death as the inevitable end of life was accepted better in Guatemala than in our own culture, where everything possible is done to disguise the fact of death until the last moment, when it comes as a terrible shock. And surely it is some consolation to the dying to know that at least once a year they will be remembered.

Nothing could illustrate better the contrast in our attitudes to death than the behaviour of the North American lady with whom I visited Salama cemetery on All Saints' Day. It happened that she was a member of the American Association of Graveyard Studies, which has a membership of 300, and as such I supposed she would be interested in the activities in the graveyard on this of all days. On the contrary, she regarded them as a hindrance to the proper study of gravestones as purely physical artifacts. I was rather embarrassed when, wishing to take a photograph of a particular tomb, she asked the family who had decorated it in remembrance to remove their flowers so that the tomb should appear in her photograph in its 'natural' state. She preferred her cemeteries dead in every possible sense, so that they were strange and alien places on the edge of town, with no connection to the world of the living. Thus death remained a taboo for her, despite her studies; she belonged to a culture in which death was warded off by facelifts, vitamin tablets, the magical avoidance of ubiquitous substances and even the freezing of corpses at -270°. Which was the wiser attitude?
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:59 AM | Permalink

September 12, 2011

The 9/11 Memorial in NYC

 Tributelight, Memtower Ladylib

'It was a huge relief to see that it's actually beautiful': 9/11 Memorial opens to first members of the public

The plot of land known for a decade as Ground Zero today opened to the public for the first time since that terrible morning in 2001, transformed into a memorial consisting of two serene reflecting pools ringed by the chiselled-in-bronze names of the nearly 3,000 souls lost.

Visitors were allowed to walk among hundreds of white oak trees on the eight-acre site and gaze at the water on the exact spots where the World Trade Center's twin towers stood.

From The Big Picture: Ground Zero Sept 11. 2001 -September 11. 2011

 Opening Ground Zero-1

 9:11Memorial North Pool

 Twopresidents Groundzero

Kathryn Lopez writes in 'Raised with Christ' on 9/11

Growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time at St. Francis of Assisi Church, steps away from Madison Square Garden, the home parish of Fr. Mychal Judge, who rushed to the scene that day ten years ago. There is a memorial there now, with a foundation of three pieces of steel from the World Trade Center. But what the eye is drawn to is the artistic addition. As one description puts it: “A single golden rose rises gently from the mass of contorted steel and transcends the senseless brutality with an enduring promise of hope.”

 Frmychalljudgememorial Stfrancisassisichurchnyc

We are a creative people, and we reach for hope using our talents. But ultimately, we don’t have to create a thing. Before all else, there is the cross, which points to Christ, our source of hope.

As New York Jesuit Fr. James Martin recently wrote: “God is like the firefighter who rushes into a burning building to save someone. That's how much God loves us. And I saw this love expressed in the great charity of all the rescue workers who gathered at the American Golgotha.”

 Wtc-Cross Light

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:47 PM | Permalink

September 11, 2011

Grief at Ground Zero and Shanksville

I'm of the same mind as The Anchoress in Calling Olly Olly Oxen Free at Ground Zero

In Shanksville, Pennsylvania and in New York City, two new memorials were unveiled, and all of the dignitaries involved, Presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton, Vice-President Biden and Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, participated with great dignity. In New York they even managed to add a bit of scripture and prayer, which were effective amid the poignant moments of silence.

But had the ceremony progressed from its opening, to include a few remarks from first responder representatives, and perhaps a bit of music, and then an official proclamation of the opening of the memorial garden, with an invitation to the families to linger there for as long as they wished, it might have been a more powerful, and perhaps healthier remembrance than the six hours that followed, which were moving until (as family members began to top each other in declarations of love and remembrance) they became numbing; until (when it appeared a women meant to name all 11 of her grandchildren and tell her dearly departed what each had been up to since last they’d chatted) it seemed like we were barreling toward self-indulgent grief porn, from which we should avert our eyes.

For the families of the passengers on Flight 93 and for many of the families of victims whose remains were never found, the opening of the two memorials was the first time they could ever visit something like grave and for them the memorials are the cemeteries of their loved ones who died on 9/11.

'We'll never forget, we'll never forget, we'll never forget': The heart-wrenching words of the broken father who has become the symbol of a nation's grief

Overwhelmed by emotion to the point of collapse, he is the broken father who has come to symbolise a nation's grief.

Robert Peraza lost his son on 9/11 after he was trapped on the 104th floor of the North Tower, just above the gaping hole left in the building by the impact of American Airlines flight 11.

Although ten years have passed since his son Rob came down with the towers, Mr Peraza showed just how strong the feeling of loss still is for those who lost a loved one that day.

 9:11 Memorial Robert Peraza

Mr Peraza said he did not have to look hard for his son's name on the memorial - he was somehow just drawn to it.

'I just began to walk, and I found it,' he said.

'It was, to me, very emotional to find the name. I knew it was in the north pool. It’s very moving.'

He added: 'All I am doing here is to honour his memory. The issue isn’t about me.'

The Tenth Anniversary of 9/11 will likely be the last time we see such private grief on public display. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:33 PM | Permalink

September 10, 2011

Critics assess the 9/11 memorial at Ground Zero before its opening

These critics reviewed the Ground Zero memorial before it opened.

Michael J. Lewis on America resumed: 9/11/ remembered

Violent acts such as bombings or shootings tend to be swift events, and it is usually only the grisly aftermath that finds its way to television. But the prolonged destruction of the World Trade Center, from the televised airplane impact to the final shuddering collapses, offered prolonged images of unusual graphic clarity.
In one other respect was the experience without precedent: the destruction was witnessed by an audience with an acute and immediate sense of personal danger, a fact that is not sufficiently appreciated.

The architects for the memorial came up against a transformed public sensibility that they no longer recognized. Accustomed as they were to adulation and critical respect for their transgressive gestures, they were caught off guard by the intensity of the public wrath.
The one thing the public did demand, and in the most vehement terms, was a solemn and respectful memorial to the dead.


Here, for once, the authorities moved efficiently, selecting a design in 2003 and rushing it through to completion this month, although at the rather astonishing cost of nearly half a billion dollars. It now opens as the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center, and, in many respects, it is commendable. It has a austere dignity appropriate to its site and character: within the footprints of the towers, a perpetual internal waterfall flows, surrounded by stone tablets on which are incised the names of the dead. The flowing water gives a welcome living note to what would otherwise be a place of nearly unbearable oppressiveness.

With its air of tragic dignity, the September 11 Memorial is better than might have been expected.
In the end, there is something distressing about making a monument out of a calamitous national defeat.
The buildings and institutions that were targeted on that day were chosen as symbols of American national identity; those who were murdered were not collateral casualties but were killed in their capacity as Americans. The entire framework of the attack was a deliberate and focused assault on those objects that stood for the American government and American capitalism. (Although the target of United 93 is sometimes said to have been the White House, it was surely headed for the United States Capitol, a far more conspicuous—and realistic—target for a novice pilot). But if the context of the event was explicitly American, this was precisely the terrain on which the arbiters of American culture—at least a substantial faction—felt themselves uneasy. Feelings of national solidarity, the sense of personal participation in the fate of one’s nation-state, have so long been disparaged as jingoism that even those artists who felt unaccountable patriotic stirrings found themselves utterly unable to make artistic use of them.
But it is also because of a taboo, imposed gradually and imperceptibly over the past few decades, about expressing strong emotions in national terms—other than that of grief.

Edward Rothstein, Amid the Memorials, Ambiguity and Ambivalence

Has any attack in history ever been commemorated the way this one is about to be? What might we have anticipated, that morning of Sept. 11, as we watched the demonically choreographed assault unfold? What could we have imagined when New York City was covered in the ashes of the twin towers and their dead, or when a section of the Pentagon — the seemingly invulnerable core of the world’s most powerful military — was reduced to rubble? Or when we finally understood that but for the doomed bravery of several heroes, the destruction of the Capitol or the White House was assured?
The sheer quantity of cultural events is overwhelming; so is their scattered miscellany, a potpourri of sentiment and argument, memorialization and self-criticism, reflection and political polemic. It seems as if every cultural institution, television network and book publisher feels duty-bound to produce some sort of Sept. 11 commemoration. Is there a precedent for this almost compulsive variety show about an attack on a nation’s people?
That impulse of self-blame still runs through many cultural commemorations. Indeed, because little during the past decade was an unmitigated triumph, the impulse has even grown stronger. A poll from the Pew Charitable Trust this week shows that while in September 2001, 33 percent of those asked thought United States wrongdoing might have motivated the attacks, now 43 percent hold that belief. Many of the Sept. 11 books now being published are sentimental recollections of loved ones; another hefty segment is about criticism of American policy before and after Sept. 11.

This means that memorialization, rather than simply recalling the dead, or strengthening the resolve to pursue an enemy, becomes an opportunity to push these arguments further. Disaster becomes ambiguously commemorated. Any victory is also ambiguously celebrated because it is seen as scarred by sin (though surely no victory is ever unmarred). The delays in the reconstruction at ground zero are as much a result of these tensions as anything else.
Moreover, they stress that commemorations here and abroad should “emphasize the positive.” The implication is made that at one time “fear” was the response to Sept. 11; now “resilience” is.
The memos almost treat Sept. 11 as if it weren’t Sept. 11. It is certainly not about Islamist extremism or the jihadist proclamations by its aspirants. It isn’t even really about us. We are told: “We honor all victims of terrorism, in every nation of the world.
Indeed, so anxious is the White House to filter out any historical aspects of Sept. 11 that it proclaims this anniversary “the third official National Day of Service and Remembrance.” It should be used to encourage “service projects” and a “spirit of unity.”

Daniel Greenfield on Memorials of Grief

It was around the time of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, that memorials stopped being remembrances of virtue, and became therapy sessions. The old statues of determined men gave way to empty spaces to represent loss. Their lessons of courage and sacrifice, were replaced by architecture as therapy session, clean geometrical shapes, reflective pools and open areas in which to feel grief at what was lost and then let go of it.

September 11 memorials have inevitably followed this same pattern, empty spaces, still pools of water groves and names tastefully inscribed in row after row. How do you tell the Ground Zero memorial from the Oklahoma City memorial? The Oklahoma City memorial has one reflecting pool and the September 11 memorial has two pools.

Forgetfulness is the underlying theme of everything. Stop being angry. Stop being vengeful. Forget!
Drown history in enough reflecting pools and it stops mattering. Put up enough empty benches and people will remember to forget. Tell them that they're courageous for moving on and they'll admire themselves for putting it all behind them. And if they won't forget, then fill them with grief until they can't take it anymore and willingly forget.
We don't need more holes in the ground, more places to feel empty and alone. What we need are things to aspire to. The World Trade Center's towers were not targets of convenience, no more than the Saudi and Emirati skyscraper building spree is. Towers are symbols of achievement. They are guardians of the skyline who remind us of what we can accomplish.

The terrorists and the memorialmakers have a common purpose-- to make us forget what we are capable of.
Grief is for the foregone conclusion. But though thousands upon thousands are lost-- we are not yet lost. And the war is not over
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:07 AM | Permalink

August 24, 2011

Clergy banned from 9/11 ceremony UPDATED. FDNY banned too


Bloomberg Bans Clergy From 9/11 Ceremony but Ground Zero Mosque OK

Religious leaders are calling on Mayor Michael Bloomberg to reverse course and offer clergy a role in the ceremony commemorating the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

Rudy Washington, a deputy mayor in former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's administration, said he's outraged. Mr. Washington organized an interfaith ceremony at Yankee Stadium shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

"This is America, and to have a memorial service where there's no prayer, this appears to be insanity to me," said Mr. Washington, who has suffered severe medical problems connected to the time he spent at Ground Zero

The Anchoress brings us word of the Secret Heroes at Ground Zero

Afterwards, [Cardinal Egan] worked at Ground Zero, a site so contaminated that officials told him to discard all his clothes when he returned home. He anointed bodies, listened to rescuers, and consoled both the disconsolate and their consolers. He celebrated funeral Masses at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and led prayers when President George W. Bush arrived at Ground Zero, and at an ecumenical service he organized Yankee Stadium.

Other priests sprang into action too. Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, head of Catholic Charities of the New York Archdiocese, saw that it was not just Wall Street people with significant finances who were affected. It was also those who live on the edge, such as the wait staff at Windows on the World, the restaurant atop one of the Twin Towers. Msgr. Sullivan contacted the unions and said Catholic Charities would pay the salaries for six months for restaurant workers there, who were suddenly out of work — enough time, he thought, for them to find another job.

Banned.  They are all banned.

The first recorded victim of the 9/11 attacks was Fr. Mychall Judge, a Franciscan priest and chaplain of the Fire Department of New York .

 Michael Judge

Wikipedia's account of Fr, Judge

Upon hearing the news that the World Trade Center had been hit, Father Judge rushed to the site. He was met by the Mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani, who asked him to pray for the city and its victims. Judge administered the Last Rites to some lying on the streets, then entered the lobby of the World Trade Center North Tower, where an emergency command post was organized. There he continued offering aid and prayers for the rescuers, the injured and dead.

When the South Tower collapsed at 9:59 AM, debris went flying through the North Tower lobby, killing many inside, including Judge. At the moment he was struck in the head and killed, Judge was repeatedly praying aloud, "Jesus, please end this right now! God, please end this!", according to Judge's biographer and New York Daily News columnist Michael Daly.

Shortly after his death, an NYPD lieutenant, who had also been buried in the collapse, found Judge's body and assisted by two firemen and two civilian bystanders carried it out of the North Tower lobby to nearby St Peter's Church. This event was captured in the documentary film 9/11, shot by Jules and Gedeon Naudet. Shannon Stapleton, photographer from Reuters, photographed Judge's body being carried out of the rubble by five men.[12] It became one of the most famous images related to 9/11. The Philadelphia Weekly reports the photograph is considered an American Pietà.

Here's a photo of Catholic priests in FBI jackets at Ground Zero.  911-Ground-Zero-Catholic-Priests-In-Fbi-Coats   

UPDATE:  I didn't realize that  First Responders were banned from the memorial service too!

No representatives from the police or fire department or volunteers.  No FDNY!

first responder John Feal, founder of an advocacy group for the police officers, firefighters, civilian volunteers and others who worked at ground zero, assailed Brent's response, saying Bloomberg "lives in his own world."  "The best of the best that this country offered 10 years ago are being neglected and denied their rightful place," Feal said.

The Anchoress reminds us

Of the First Responders, 343 members of the FDNY lost their lives. The NYPD lost 23. The Port Authority Police lost 37. Of the 2998 killed at Ground Zero, 403 of them were First Responders, and one of them was a priest. That’s what, about 12% of the total?

The most potent and lasting  memory I have of 9/11 is that of the firemen running up the stairs, sacrificing their lives to save others

Just who does Bloomberg plan to invite anyway?  My guess more politicians and donors.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:33 PM | Permalink

June 24, 2011

Corpse Bride: French woman marries her DEAD boyfriend

Another stunner headline

Corpse Bride: French woman marries her DEAD boyfriend

President Sarkozy gives blessing for marriage under obscure law

A woman has married her dead boyfriend at a ceremony in France - after getting permission from President Sarkozy.

Karen Jumeaux, 22, made use of an obscure French law to wed fiance Anthony Maillot - almost two years after he was killed in a road accident.

She wrote to President Nicolas Sarkozy to ask permission for a posthumous wedding, which was granted because she could prove they were already planning to marry.

The couple met in 2007 and had a baby boy in 2009, shortly before his death at the age of 20.

She tied the knot wearing a white dress and in the presence of family and friends at the town hall ceremony in Dizy-le-Gros, eastern France, yesterday.

She said afterwards: 'He was my first and only love and we were together for four years.

I vaguely remember such laws enacted in World War 1 because so many millions were killed so quickly.
Women who were engaged before their fiances left  home to fight and die could be declared 'white widows' and collect a survivor's pension.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:08 PM | Permalink

June 2, 2011

Child Martyr now a Potent Sumbol

Only 13, he was picked up by Syrian security forces at a protest in Dar'a, April 29.  A month later, his parents received his body which revealed  Torture of the child martyr: 'Rebel', 13, shot, kneecapped and had genitals removed before being killed by Syria's sadistic regime 

Devotedly washed and sprinkled with rose petals, Hamza Ali al-Khateeb lies prepared for burial.

But the rituals of death cannot wipe away the horrific injuries that have mutilated his body almost beyond recognition.

Nor do they blot out that Hamza - riddled with bullets, kneecapped and with neck broken and penis hacked off - has the rounded cheeks and gentle face of a child.

The gruesome video of his mutilated body has been posted online and broadcast on Al Jazeera fueling the anger of protestors

Radwan Ziadeh, an exiled human rights activist told the Washington Post the boy had already become a symbol of the Syrian revolution.

'(His death) is the sign of the sadism of the Assad regime and its security forces,' he said.

'Torture is usual in Syria. It’s not something new or strange. What is special about Hamza is that he was only 13 years old. He really is a child.

The young child martyr has now become a symbol for Syria's revolution

 Childmartyr Syria

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s statement, quoted by Reuters, reflects an increasingly harsh position towards Syrian president Bashar al-Assad:

“I think what [Hamza's death] symbolizes for many Syrians is the total collapse of any effort by the Syrian government to work with and listen to their own people.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:42 AM | Permalink

May 30, 2011

The American Colonel Who Saved Chartres Cathedral

As the WWII generation dies away, so will many of their stories unless they are recorded or memorialized in same way, saved,  remembered and passed on to our children.  It was the local citizens of Chartres, France, who memorialized the brave American who saved one of the greatest cathedrals in the world, preserving the memory of what he had done for 50 years before his family learned about it.

A Colonel at Chartres

. . . My wife’s maternal grandfather was a colonel in the U.S. Army in WWII. They were closing in on Chartres from the southwest, and they came under heavy artillery fire from the Germans in the town. An order was issued to shell the cathedral on the assumption that the Germans were using the tower to locate the Allied forces. My wife’s grandfather questioned the strategy of taking out the cathedral on a hunch and volunteered to go behind enemy lines to find out whether the Germans really were occupying the cathedral. His offer was accepted, and he found himself climbing the cathedral tower alone, not knowing whether an enemy unit was a step or turn away. After finding the tower unoccupied, he rejoined his forces, reporting that the cathedral was clear. The order to shell the cathedral was withdrawn, and the Allies took the town. During the gunfight, my wife’s grandfather was killed. He is buried in St. James Cemetery in Brittany.

The locals somehow pieced together the story I have just recounted, and, for many years, they recognized his bravery in saving their cathedral with a plaque on a sidewalk in Lèves (on the outskirts of Chartres) where he was killed. The only problem was that they did not know how to read American dog tags. His name was Welborn Griffith (so one could forgive their not knowing which was a first name and which a last name), but they got the names reversed, and his plaque read “Griffith Welborn.” For nearly 50 years, the story about the cathedral was unknown to his family in the U.S. because of this mistake — and would have remained unknown had it not been for a historian in Lèves who maintains a small World War II museum there.

In the mid-1990s, this historian, Monsieur Papillon, realized the mistaken reversal of Colonel Griffith’s names and, upon correcting the mistake, located his only living descendant — my mother-in-law in Jacksonville, Fla. With the aid of a translator, he contacted her and told her the story of her father and Chartres Cathedral. Soon thereafter, a ceremony was held at the cathedral to honor the officer who had seen fit to question the order to bomb the cathedral, and my wife’s family was truly touched when they played “The Star-Spangled Banner” — right in the cathedral. The plaque has been corrected, and a park has been dedicated in his honor . . .

Here's another story about a woman who found her own way of honoring one who served.  It wasn't until Lee came over to move something heavy in his closet that she  learned what Sargent Major Sparky McKenna kept hidden.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:53 AM | Permalink

May 9, 2011

A tribute from the sky

 Guitar Argentina

Maybe Graciela Sees It From Heaven, This Huge Guitar Made of Trees

Pilots often stare in disbelief when they make their first flight over this hamlet on the verdant pampa. There, on the monotonous plain below, is a giant guitar landscaped out of cypress and eucalyptus trees. It is more than two-thirds of a mile long.
Behind the great guitar of the pampa, and its 7,000-odd trees, is a love story that took a tragic turn.

The green guitar is the handiwork of a farmer named Pedro Martin Ureta, who is now 70. He embedded the design into his farm many years ago, and maintains it to this day, as a tribute to his late wife, Graciela Yraizoz, who died in 1977 at the age of 25.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:15 AM | Permalink

March 10, 2011

Last Journey for soldier and dog

Lance Corporal Liam Tasker was on patrol in Afghanistan with his sniffer dog Theo when he was killed in a firefight.
His dog suffered a seizure from the stress and died shortly after his master.

Together they had saved "countless lives" by located IEDs.

Expert dog handler killed in Afghanistan saved 'countless lives'

In a statement, L/Cpl Tasker’s family said: "There are three words that best describe Liam: larger than life. He lit up every room he walked into with his cheeky smile.

“He died a hero doing a job he was immensely passionate about. We are so proud of him and everything he's achieved.

"Words can't describe how sorely he will be missed.”

The body of L/cpl Tasker and the ashes of Theo were flow back to England in the same aircraft .

Dog lovers gather for repatriation of soldier and spaniel from Afghanistan

Dog lovers brought their pets in tow as they lined the streets of Wootton Bassett yesterday to pay their respects to an Army dog handler and his Springer spaniel who died in Afghanistan.
The sombre lines of mourners remained silent but dogs could be heard barking as a solemn bell rang out to mark the arrival of the cortege.
His mother Jane Duffy added: “I would like to believe he (Theo) died of a broken heart to be with Liam.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:16 PM | Permalink

March 3, 2011

Crushed, killed by own car during repossession

A California woman was crushed and killed by her own car as she desperately tried to stop it from being repossessed.

Lisa Via, 42, was standing between her car and the tow truck when she was crushed outside of her home in the Chino Hills area, near San Bernadino, California on Tuesday.

Tow truck driver Leo Song arrived at Via’s trailer around 1:10 am and backed up his 1999 Dodge Ram tow truck to her 2002 Buick.

Via ran out her home while tow truck Song lifted the car onto his truck, according to San Bernadino police. She asked Song not to take her car. He told her he had to take it
Family members have stated that Via was yelling and screaming at the tow truck driver to stop towing her car.

But Song says that he didn’t hear anything as he drove away, having lost sight of her in his rear view mirror and assuming she had stepped away from the vehicles.

He only stopped Via’s husband ran to him as as he stopped in front of Via’s trailer and said that his wife was trapped underneath the car.

Song attempted to use his floor jack to lift the car off of Via before Chino Valley fire fighters arrived to the scene.

Via was taken to Chino Valley Medical Center where she died at 2:56 am.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:18 AM | Permalink

November 11, 2010

The last night of their lives

From the 1989 movie Glory, the splendid story of a young Bostonian Robert Gould Shaw who leads the Massachusetts 54th regiment, the first all-black volunteer army, into battle for Union in the Civil War.

Across the street from the State House in Boston is the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial, a stunning bas-relief by Augustus Saint-Gaudens.

-Robert Gould Shaw Memorial

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:43 PM | Permalink

October 27, 2010

A young man's sacrifice, a family's grief

I missed this beautiful encomium to Mark Daly, his family and America by Christopher Hitchens until Bookworm Room followed up on her post about meaningful lives and early death.

A Death in the Family

"Somewhere along the way, he changed his mind. His family says there was no epiphany. Writings by author and columnist Christopher Hitchens on the moral case for war deeply influenced him … "

I don't exaggerate by much when I say that I froze. I certainly felt a very deep pang of cold dismay. I had just returned from a visit to Iraq with my own son (who is 23, as was young Mr. Daily) and had found myself in a deeply pessimistic frame of mind about the war. Was it possible that I had helped persuade someone I had never met to place himself in the path of an I.E.D.?
I don't remember ever feeling, in every allowable sense of the word, quite so hollow.
I became a trifle choked up after that, but everybody else also managed to speak, often reading poems of their own composition, and as the day ebbed in a blaze of glory over the ocean, I thought, Well, here we are to perform the last honors for a warrior and hero, and there are no hysterical ululations, no shrieks for revenge, no insults hurled at the enemy, no firing into the air or bogus hysterics. Instead, an honest, brave, modest family is doing its private best. I hope no fanatical fool could ever mistake this for weakness. It is, instead, a very particular kind of strength. If America can spontaneously produce young men like Mark, and occasions like this one, it has a real homeland security instead of a bureaucratic one. To borrow some words of George Orwell's when he first saw revolutionary Barcelona, "I recognized it immediately as a state of affairs worth fighting for."

 Mark Daily

R.I.P. Mark Daily

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:41 AM | Permalink

October 8, 2010

Twenty-five years ago, he was murdered and tossed overboard into the sea

Leon Klinghoffer, R.I.P.

Daughters keep up terror fight for Leon Klinghoffer 25 years after attack on Achille Lauro

For the daughters of Leon Klinghoffer, all it takes is the smell of a cigar to erase the 25 years since Palestinian pirates murdered him and dumped him over the side of the Achille Lauro.

Because Klinghoffer - a tough New York Jew who defied the terrorists despite being in a wheelchair - loved a good cigar.

"I pass a smoke shop in the street and I say, 'Oh my God, he could have spent hours in here,'" Ilsa Klinghoffer said.

Friday, exactly a quarter-century after the gunmen shot Klinghoffer in the head, he lives on in memories like these - and in the anti-terrorism work his daughters do in his name.

"People say, 'Girls, why don't you get on with life?'" Lisa Klinghoffer said. "My answer to them is this is part of my life and I feel honored to be doing the work that I do.

Amd Lisa Ilsa Klinghoffer

It was only after the pirates were captured that Klinghoffer's body washed up on a Syrian beach.

"My mother, when she called us from the boat, told us, 'Do your crying now. We have a lot of work when I come home,'" Lisa recalled. "She didn't want our father's murder to be in vain."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:46 PM | Permalink

September 25, 2010

Greatest mass murderer in history

Astonishing how so few people know of this.  Since no literary work has come to shine a light on that terrible period of time, I can only hope that the memories of what the Chinese people suffered are guarded within familes and passed on. 

Mao's Great Leap Forward 'killed 45 million in four years'

Mao Zedong, founder of the People's Republic of China, qualifies as the greatest mass murderer in world history, an expert who had unprecedented access to official Communist Party archives said yesterday.

Speaking at The Independent Woodstock Literary Festival, Frank Dikötter, a Hong Kong-based historian, said he found that during the time that Mao was enforcing the Great Leap Forward in 1958, in an effort to catch up with the economy of the Western world, he was responsible for overseeing "one of the worst catastrophes the world has ever known".

Mr Dikötter, who has been studying Chinese rural history from 1958 to 1962, when the nation was facing a famine, compared the systematic torture, brutality, starvation and killing of Chinese peasants to the Second World War in its magnitude.
At least 45 million people were worked, starved or beaten to death in China over these four years; the worldwide death toll of the Second World War was 55 million.
Mr Dikötter is the only author to have delved into the Chinese archives since they were reopened four years ago. He argued that this devastating period of history – which has until now remained hidden – has international resonance.
"It ranks alongside the gulags and the Holocaust as one of the three greatest events of the 20th century.
His book, Mao's Great Famine; The Story of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe, reveals that while
this is a part of history that has been "quite forgotten" in the official memory of the People's Republic of China, there was a "staggering degree of violence" that was, remarkably, carefully catalogued in Public Security Bureau reports, which featured among the provincial archives he studied. In them, he found that the members of the rural farming communities were seen by the Party merely as "digits", or a faceless workforce. For those who committed any acts of disobedience, however minor, the punishments were huge.

State retribution for tiny thefts, such as stealing a potato, even by a child, would include being tied up and thrown into a pond; parents were forced to bury their children alive or were doused in excrement and urine, others were set alight, or had a nose or ear cut off. One record shows how a man was branded with hot metal. People were forced to work naked in the middle of winter; 80 per cent of all the villagers in one region of a quarter of a million Chinese were banned from the official canteen because they were too old or ill to be effective workers, so were deliberately starved to death.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:27 PM | Permalink

September 11, 2010

In Memoriam

A ten-year-old girl, Jackie Evancho, with a remarkable voice sings  "Pie Jesu".

Especially fitting today, the ninth anniversary of the horrific attack on September 11, 2001.

Pie Jesu, (4x)                      Merciful Jesus
Qui tollis peccata mundi    Who takes away the sins of the world
Dona eis requiem. (2x)      Grant them rest

Agnus Dei, (4x)                    Lamb of God
Qui tollis peccata mundi,  Who takes away the sins of the world,

Dona eis requiem (2x)        Grant them rest
Sempiternam. (2x)           Everlasting.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:06 AM | Permalink

June 23, 2010

More remains found at Ground Zero

Remains of 72 people found this year at World Trade Center site

New York City officials say a renewed search this year of debris in and around the World Trade Center site has recovered 72 human remains.

The sifting of more than 800 cubic yards (612 cubic meters) of debris recovered from ground zero and underneath roads around the lower Manhattan site began in April and ended Friday.

The greatest number of remains – 37 – were found from material underneath West Street, a highway on the west side of ground zero. The new debris was uncovered as construction work made new parts of the site accessible.

The city began a renewed search for human remains in 2006. More than 1,800 remains have been found.

Some have been matched to previously unidentified 9/11 victims.

Imagine dealing with a funeral or memorial service almost 10 years after the attack on the WTC.  I wonder how those families feel about the mosque proposed just feet away from where their loved ones met their deaths.

Here's what Mark Steyn has to say
A mosque at Ground Zero. We think it symbolizes our "tolerance". They think it symbolizes our submission. Either way, the two most important sites of 9/11 - the scene of the greatest atrocity and the scene of the only good news of the day - will honor neither the victims nor American heroism. Lower Manhattan nine years on is, in its own way, a very telling memorial.

Here's what he had to say about the memorial planned for the site of the downed Flight 93

The memorial is called “The Crescent of Embrace”.

That sounds like a fabulous winning entry - in a competition to create a note-perfect parody of effete multicultural responses to terrorism. Indeed, if anything, it’s too perfect a parody: the “embrace” is just the usual huggy-weepy reconciliatory boilerplate, but the “crescent” transforms its generic cultural abasement into something truly spectacular. In the design plans, “The Crescent of Embrace” looks more like the embrace of the Crescent – ie, Islam. After all, what better way to demonstrate your willingness to “embrace” your enemies than by erecting a giant Islamic crescent at the site of the day’s most unambiguous episode of American heroism?

Okay, let’s get all the “of courses” out of the way – of course, the overwhelmingly majority of Muslims aren’t terrorists; of course, we all know “Islam” means “peace” and “jihad” means “healthy-lifestyle lo-carb granola bar”; etc, etc. Nevertheless, the men who hijacked Flight 93 did it in the name of Islam and their last words as they hit the Pennsylvania sod were no doubt “Allahu Akhbar”. One would like to think that even today one would be unlikely to come across an Allied D-Day memorial called the Swastika of Embrace. Yet Paul Murdoch, the architect, has somehow managed to conceive a design that makes a splendid memorial to the hijackers rather than their victims.
Four years ago, Todd Beamer’s rallying cry was quoted by Presidents and rock stars alike. That’s all that’s needed in Pennsylvania: the kind of simple dignified memorial you see on small-town commons honouring Civil war veterans, a granite block with the names of the passengers and the words “LET’S ROLL.” The “crescent of embrace”, in its desperation to see no enemies and stand for nothing, represents a shameful modification: Are you ready, guys? Let’s roll over.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:37 AM | Permalink

May 31, 2010

"The endless chain of the mourning and the dead"

Mark Helprin on the "universal connection" that links every living American with those who have fallen in American wars.

I have seen lonely people of advancing age, yet as constant as angels, keeping faith to those they loved who fell in wars that current generations, not having known them, cannot even forget. The sight of them moving hesitantly among the tablets and crosses is enough to break your heart. Let that break be the father to a profound resolution to fulfill our obligation to the endless chain of the mourning and the dead. Shall we not sacrifice where required? Shall we not prove more responsible, courageous, honest, and assiduous? Shall we not illuminate our decisions with the light that comes from the stress of soul, and ever keep faith with the fallen by embracing the soldiers who fight in our name? The answer must be that we shall.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:13 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

May 23, 2010

Marines in Dress Blues Stood Watch As He Lay Dying

"He buried them on Iwo, they buried him yesterday in Massachusetts."

A Favor Returned by  Jules Crittenden and the Boston Herald

In the bloodiest days of Iwo Jima, he spoke the last words over fallen Marines and Navy corpsmen as they were buried in the island’s black sand.

Yesterday, Marines, sailors and soldiers returned the favor to the late Rev. E. Gage Hotaling of Agawam, sending the old Navy chaplain on to join his comrades with military honors.

Hotaling, 94, died Sunday in a Springfield hospital, 65 years after the iconic battle for the Pacific island. In a 2007 documentary, he talked about the grim task he faced as Marines fell in bitter combat against the dug-in Japanese enemy. Of the 6,821 Americans killed, Hotaling believed he buried about 1,800.

“We would have four Marines with a flag over each grave. And while they were kneeling with the flag, I would stand up and I would give the committal words for each one,” he told the filmmakers.

He said he took up smoking to overcome the stench of decay.

“I did it not as a Protestant, Catholic or a Jew, but as a Marine,” the Baptist minister said. “Every man was buried as a Marine. And so I gave the same committal to each one.”
Thanks to Joe Galloway and Massachusetts State Trooper Mike Cutone on the headsup. Cutone, an Army Special Forces veteran of Iraq, was on a prisoner watch at Mercy Hospital when he learned from an old Marine that Hotaling was dying down the hall, made some calls and
saw to it he was attended at his bedside by Marines in dress blues in his last days as he had tended to them in theirs in dirty, bloodstained dungarees.

The Boston Herald has a fine video that brought tears to my eyes.

What men they were!  The last are dying now.    That  war is a terrible thing is much on my mind these days having watched the HBO series, The Pacific and earlier this year for the first time the earlier HBO series Band of Brothers
But what examples of manliness - courage, endurance, loyalty, resiliency and sacrifice.  How alive they were!  One reason why the bonds made between men at war have proved so enduring.

With Memorial Day weekend soon upon us, the quote that comes to mind is

Only 2 defining forces have ever offered to die for you.....Jesus Christ, and the American Soldier. One died for your soul, the other for your freedom

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:44 AM | Permalink

Marines in Dress Blues Stood Watch As He Lay Dying

"He buried them on Iwo, they buried him yesterday in Massachusetts."

A Favor Returned by  Jules Crittenden and the Boston Herald

In the bloodiest days of Iwo Jima, he spoke the last words over fallen Marines and Navy corpsmen as they were buried in the island’s black sand.

Yesterday, Marines, sailors and soldiers returned the favor to the late Rev. E. Gage Hotaling of Agawam, sending the old Navy chaplain on to join his comrades with military honors.

Hotaling, 94, died Sunday in a Springfield hospital, 65 years after the iconic battle for the Pacific island. In a 2007 documentary, he talked about the grim task he faced as Marines fell in bitter combat against the dug-in Japanese enemy. Of the 6,821 Americans killed, Hotaling believed he buried about 1,800.

“We would have four Marines with a flag over each grave. And while they were kneeling with the flag, I would stand up and I would give the committal words for each one,” he told the filmmakers.

He said he took up smoking to overcome the stench of decay.

“I did it not as a Protestant, Catholic or a Jew, but as a Marine,” the Baptist minister said. “Every man was buried as a Marine. And so I gave the same committal to each one.”
Thanks to Joe Galloway and Massachusetts State Trooper Mike Cutone on the headsup. Cutone, an Army Special Forces veteran of Iraq, was on a prisoner watch at Mercy Hospital when he learned from an old Marine that Hotaling was dying down the hall, made some calls and
saw to it he was attended at his bedside by Marines in dress blues in his last days as he had tended to them in theirs in dirty, bloodstained dungarees.

The Boston Herald has a fine video that brought tears to my eyes.

What men they were!  The last are dying now.    That  war is a terrible thing is much on my mind these days having watched the HBO series, The Pacific and earlier this year for the first time the earlier HBO series Band of Brothers
But what examples of manliness - courage, endurance, loyalty, resiliency and sacrifice.  How alive they were!  One reason why the bonds made between men at war have proved so enduring.

With Memorial Day weekend soon upon us, the quote that comes to mind is

Only 2 defining forces have ever offered to die for you.....Jesus Christ, and the American Soldier. One died for your soul, the other for your freedom

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:38 AM | Permalink

May 21, 2010

The Death Mask of Abraham Lincoln

 Deathmask Abraham Lincoln

Taken at the time of his autopsy and currently on display at the National Museum of Health and Medicine, Washington DC. In 2007, Dr. John Sotos studied his face and medical records and concluded that he suffered from a disease called Multiple Mucosal  Neuroma Syndrome and had he not been assassinated, he would have died soon anyway.

From 20 Death Masks of Famous People

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:19 PM | Permalink

November 18, 2009

"The defence rests but his soul goes strolling on"

 John Mortimer

Memorial service celebrates 'magnificent Mortimer'

A gathering of celebrities and notables remember John Mortimer, lawyer, author and creator of Rumpole of the Bailey
who died in January.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:05 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

November 7, 2009

The Victims of the Terror at Fort Hood R.I.P.

In the worst act of terror since 9/11, a "radicalized Muslim US Army officer shouting, "Allahu akbar!" ("God is great!")" killed 13 people and wounded dozens of others at Ft Hood, Texas.  I agree with Ralph Peters who says

This was a terrorist act. When an extremist plans and executes a murderous plot against our unarmed soldiers to protest our efforts to counter Islamist fanatics, it's an act of terror. Period.

When the terrorist posts anti-American hate speech on the Web; apparently praises suicide bombers and uses his own name; loudly criticizes US policies; argues (as a psychiatrist, no less) with his military patients over the worth of their sacrifices; refuses, in the name of Islam, to be photographed with female colleagues; lists his nationality as "Palestinian" in a Muslim spouse-matching program and parades around central Texas in a fundamentalist playsuit -- well, it only seems fair to call this terrorist an "Islamist terrorist.

I've read a great deal about Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, but little, as yet, about his victims.  I've cobbled together what I've been able to learn this morning on the Web about the people killed, the lives disrupted, the families shattered.

With deep condolences to all the families and friends of those killed and wounded.

2 66 Seager Russell Russell Seager

Capt. Russell Seager, 51, of Racine, Wisconsin, joined the army a few years ago because he was a psychiatrist  who wanted to help  soldiers returning from war adapt to civilian life again.

His uncle said, “He just wanted to help the soldiers because they helped us,...“And then he got shot by a psychiatrist.”

 Krueger Amy Fthood  Amy Krueger

Sgt. Amy Krueger, 29, of Kiel Wisconsin joined the Army shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, vowing to take on Osama bin Laden.  She was part of Captain Seager’s unit, which was headed to Afghanistan.

Her high school principal said  "I know she was proud to serve and proud to share her experience. She took pride that she was able to serve her country."

 John-Gaffney Fthood John Gaffney

Capt. John Gaffaney, 56, of the Serra Mesa area of San Diego, who had worked with mentally disabled adults in San Diego, was a psychiatric nurse who arrived at Ft. Hood the day before the shooting to prepare for a deployment to Iraq.  His close friend d and co-worker Stephanie Powell said, "He wanted to help the boys in Iraq and Afghanistan deal with the trauma of what they were seeing, He was an honorable man. He just wanted to serve in any way he can."  He leaves a wife and son.

1 65 Pearson Michael Fthood  Michael Pearson

Pfc. Michael Pearson, 21, of Bolingbrook, Ill., joined the Army a year ago, was training to deactivate bombs and was known for his nimble fingers on his Fender Stratocaster guitar.  His mother said "He was the best son in the whole world,

  Jason Hunt Fthood Jason Hunt

Specialist Jason D. Hunt, 22, joined the military three years ago because, he told his grandmother, in Frederick, Okla., “it was time to grow up.” And when his two-year commitment was finished, he re-enlisted, right in the middle of the Iraq desert on his 21st birthday.  He got married just two months ago.

 Francheska Velez Fthood-1 Francheska Velez

Francheska Velez, 21, of Chicago, was just  return ing home from Iraq where she disarmed bombs. She was three months pregnant and scheduled to begin maternity leave in December.  Ms. Velez had joined the Army three years ago to fulfill her father’s dream of serving the country and enlisted for another three.

“She knew I always wanted to be in the Army,” Mr. Velez, a Columbian citizen, said in Spanish. He learned Thursday of her death. “I didn’t expect it to happen here and not in Iraq. The worst thing was it wasn’t a terrorist. It was an American soldier.”

Lt. Col. Juanita Warman, 55, who grew up in Pittsburgh, also joined the military like her father and grandfather, her sister, Margaret Yaggie, said in a telephone interview. Lt. Col. Warman was a physician’s assistant who was also a member of one of the Army medical reserve units.  She leaves behind a husband, two daughters and six grandchildren.

 Kham Xiong Fthood Kham Xiong

Kham Xiong, 23, of St. Paul, Minnesota, was preparing to deploy to Afghanistan and was standing in line for a physical at the center and was responding to a text message from his wife, urging him to come home for lunch when he was killed.  Hs sister Mee Xiong said the family would have been able to understand if Kham would have died in battle. But the death on U.S. soil just didn't make sense.  "He didn't get to go overseas and do what he's supposed to do, and he's dead ... killed by our own people," Mee Xiong said.

He leaves his wife and three children, ages 4, 2, and 10 months.

 Michael Cahill Fthood Michael Grant Cahill

Michael Grant Cahill , 62 from Cameron, Texas,  suffered a heart attack two weeks ago and returned to work at the base as a civilian employee after taking just one week off for recovery, said his daughter Keely Vanacker.

"He survived that. He was getting back on track, and he gets killed by a gunman," Vanacker said, her words bare with shock and disbelief.

Cahill, a physician's assistant helped treat soldiers returning from tours of duty or preparing for deployment. He had been married for 37 years to his wife Joleen

2 67 Nemelka Aaron Fthood Aaron Thomas Nemelka

Pfc. Aaron Thomas Nemelka, 19,  of the Salt Lake City suburb of West Jordan, Utah, chose to join the Army instead of going on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, his uncle Christopher Nemelka said.

"As a person, Aaron was as soft and kind and as gentle as they come, a sweetheart," his uncle said. "What I loved about the kid was his independence of thought."

Aaron Nemelka, the youngest of four children, was scheduled to be deployed to Afghanistan in January,

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:49 AM | Permalink

October 29, 2009

Eulogist given the hook

I'm scratching my head wondering how the editor gave this report this headline - Soupy Sales goes out with love

SOUPY Sales would have loved his memorial yesterday at the Riverside Funeral Home. Freddie Roman, Joe Franklin and Kenny Kramer -- who inspired the character played by Michael Richards on "Seinfeld" -- were among those who paid their last respects.

One of Soupy's two rock musician sons, Tony or Hunt -- our source didn't know which -- recalled his dad's advice: "Be true to your teeth, and they won't be false to you."

Professor Irwin Corey had to be removed from the podium after his eulogy turned into a diatribe about health-care reform, in which he insisted that Soupy -- along with Odetta, Eartha Kitt and Miriam Makeba -- died prematurely because of inadequate treatment.

And a female rabbi told the crowd that Soupy's parents, Irving and Sadie Supman, the only Jewish family in Franklinton, NC, owned a dry-goods store and sold sheets to the Ku Klux Klan.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:04 AM | Permalink

October 13, 2009

A Gift Outright

From American Digest PUDDY: The Gift

You can take lots of rides in this life, but a full sled careening down a hill of fresh snow is the closest to a ride of pure joy as you can get. You'll find it near the top of my list of "Best Moments in This Life." It's probably on yours too. If you've never done it, move it to the top of the Bucket List now.

The man buried here died in his 45th year: R. Scott Puddy

On the morning of June 18, 2002, Scott perished doing what he loved: practicing aerobatics in a Yak-52, in the mountains of Brentwood, Calif.

He was survived by his parents, his sisters, and his daughter.

The dark secret fear lurking inside you when you are a parent is that your children will die before you do. That fear came true for this family. All parents can imagine their grief, but all choose not to do so. But they did not choose, as so many do, to be utterly undone by grief. Instead they chose to balance grief with joy, "For Joy and sorrow are inseparable," and place upon this grave a bronze symbol of all that is best in this life and in this world.

It's a gift to their son, R. Scott Puddy, and a gift to any in the world who chance upon his grave. It's a gift outright.


Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:37 AM | Permalink

September 11, 2009

Teardrop memorial in New York harbor

While we haven't been able to erect a memorial at Ground Zero, the Russians gave us a moving sculpture in Bayonne New Jersey, overlooking the New York harbor.  Astonishing that I never knew about it before this week.

 Teardrop Memorial Harbor-1

A Beau Geste: the 9/11 Tear Drop Memorial

The Tear Drop Memorial was created by Georgian/Russian sculptor Zurab Tsereteli and is officially titled "To the Struggle Against World Terrorism" or "The Memorial at Harbor View Park". The monument is located at The Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor, New Jersey, and is lined up to look upon the Statue of Liberty. The persons most likely to see it would be those coming into the harbor by boat.

The monolithic block of vertical, earth-colored stone is over 100 feet high. It appears rent in the center from top to bottom and in the gap is a 40 foot, four ton nickel-plated tear drop. The base of the monument is a multi-faceted onyx pedestal inscribed with the names of all of those that perished on 9-11-01, from Flight 93 in Pennsylvania to the Pentagon to the twin Trade Towers.

The symbolisms of this touching and costly gesture are as profound as those of our adopted First Lady, the Statue of Liberty. The Tear Drop and the Russian people deserve, in spite of whatever else they are, a commensurate acknowledgment of this moving symbol of sympathy. It's a crime that even three years later the Russian's simpatico for our losses has not been widely recognized by America and her leaders.

 Teardrop Memorial 1

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:48 AM | Permalink

August 9, 2009

At Cahokia, Sacrificial Virgins

In the southern part of Illinois, just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, Missouri, lies  2200 acres with 120 earthen  mounds that's been designated a National Historic Site and a World Heritage Site.  Cahokia Mounds is the largest prehistoric earthen construction in the Americas, the last remnants of an American Indian people called the Mississippians.

The focus of ongoing archaeological study, Cahokia was once the largest city in America with about 20-40,000 people at its peak.  Nobody knows what the original name of the ancient great city on the MIssissippi because the people left no written records.

 Cahokia Monks Mound

Andrew O'Hehir brings us up to date with what's been learned from the archaeological studies including the evidence of human sacrifice on a large scale. Sacrificial virgins of the MIssissippi.

At its peak in the 12th century, this settlement along the Mississippi River bottomland of western Illinois, a few miles east of modern-day St. Louis, was probably larger than London, and held economic, cultural and religious sway over a vast swath of the American heartland. Featuring a man-made central plaza covering 50 acres and the third-largest pyramid in the New World (the 100-foot-tall "Monks Mound"), Cahokia was home to at least 20,000 people. If that doesn't sound impressive from a 21st-century perspective, consider that the next city on United States territory to attain that size would be Philadelphia, some 600 years later.
Cahokians performed human sacrifice, as part of some kind of theatrical, community-wide ceremony, on a startlingly large scale unknown in North America above the valley of Mexico. Simultaneous burials of as many as 53 young women (quite possibly selected for their beauty) have been uncovered beneath Cahokia's mounds, and in some cases victims were evidently clubbed to death on the edge of a burial pit, and then fell into it. A few of them weren't dead yet when they went into the pit -- skeletons have been found with their phalanges, or finger bones, digging into the layer of sand beneath them.

What they found at Mound 72.

This mound contained a high-status burial of two nearly identical male bodies, one of them wrapped in a beaded cape or cloak in the shape of a thunderbird, an ancient and mystical Native American symbol. Surrounding this "beaded burial" the diggers gradually uncovered more and more accompanying corpses, an apparent mixture of honorific burials and human sacrifices evidently related to the two important men. It appeared that 53 lower-status women were sacrificed specifically to be buried with the men -- perhaps a harem or a group of slaves from a nearby subject village, Pauketat thinks -- and that a group of 39 men and women had been executed on the spot, possibly a few years later. In all, more than 250 people were interred in and around Mound 72.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:18 AM | Permalink

August 5, 2009

Chapel of Our Lady of Hope

Several years before he died, Bob Hope converted to Catholicism.  McNamara's Blog reports

Before his death, the Hopes funded the building of a new chapel at the National Shrine in Washington, D.C. The name of the chapel? Our Lady of Hope!

In 1994 the Washington Post announced:

A new chapel donated by Bob Hope and his wife, Dolores, will be consecrated tomorrow at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The chapel was given in memory of Hope's mother, Avis Townes Hope, and honors Our Lady of Hope of Pontmain, France. Devotion to Our Lady of Hope began with four children in Pontmain who saw an apparition of the Virgin Mary in January 1871, as Prussian troops approached the town. They said she told them, "Pray, my children. God will soon grant your request."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:38 AM | Permalink

April 21, 2009

Yom Hashoah - Remembrance Day

Atlas Shrugs has some heart-breaking photos of children whose lives were broken or lost during the Holocaust. Sometimes it takes little children to awaken us again to the horrors of what happened in an advanced Western country


When the deportations to the extermination camps began, a chasm opened up in the lives of Jewish children. Throughout Nazi Europe, they fled and hid, separated from their parents and loved ones. Some of them found refuge in the homes of decent people whose conscience would not allow them to remain passive; several were hidden in convents and monasteries and boarding schools; others were forced to roam through forests and villages, hunting for food like wild animals and relying entirely on their own ingenuity and resourcefulness. Many were forced to live under assumed identities, longingly anticipating the return of their father and mother. Some were so young when separated from their parents that they forgot their real names and Jewish identity. Many were forced to train themselves not to move, laugh or cry, or even talk. Upon liberation, one little girl asked her mother, “Mommy, may I cry now?”

 Jewish Children Gaschambers

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:51 PM | Permalink

January 24, 2009

"The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground."

The Holocaust Memory Keeper

Father Patrick Desbois is a French Catholic priest who, virtually single-handedly, has undertaken the task of excavating the history of previously undocumented Jewish victims of the Holocaust in the former Soviet Union, including an estimated 1.5 million people who were murdered in Ukraine. Father Desbois was born 10 years after the end of World War II -- and yet, through his tireless actions, he exemplifies the "righteous gentile." The term is generally used to recognize non-Jews who, during the Holocaust, risked their lives to save Jews from the Nazis. Father Desbois is a generation too late to save lives. Instead, he has saved memory and history.

Father Desbois's French grandfather was imprisoned in a forced-labor camp in Rawa Ruska in the Ukraine during the war with 25,000 other French soldiers captured by the Germans. This initially motivated the priest to travel to the region and learn more about all of the Nazis' victims.

Father Desbois is tired, as the circles beneath his eyes attest, but he wants to learn more. In 2009, he and his team will expand their work into Belarus and Ossetia. He hopes people will contact him through his organization's Web site,, and tell him where to look for more mass graves and more eyewitnesses to history.

"These were young children who were forced, in the course of one day, to fill the grave and to witness," Father Desbois said. "They heard the last words of the dead. They want to speak."

Time is working against the priest, who accompanies researchers on most of their trips into the former Soviet Union and has, to this point, personally interviewed 823 witnesses. Each interview takes up to two hours, and his team takes 10 to 15 trips a year to the region, each lasting no more than 17 days because, he explains, "We can't bear more, psychologically." But the surviving witnesses, most of whom were children at the time of the massacres, are already in their late 70s and early 80s, and Father Desbois worries that they won't be able to tell their stories for much longer.

But this project that has become his life's work, he says, is inspired by two sources far greater than either history or circumstance. One is "min hashamayim," Father Desbois says in Hebrew -- from heaven, which inspires us to build relationships with our fellow human beings. The other inspiration, he explains, comes from the earthly world, and what is written in Genesis about the blood of Abel, murdered by Cain: "The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground."

I've written about Father Patrick before in The Evil That Men Plan and Do

These people want absolutely to speak before they die," says Father Desbois of the bystanders. "They want to say the truth."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:48 PM | Permalink