Category Archives: Opinion Piece

Fun Photo Friday II — Couldn’t resist a little satirical photo manipulation


Disclaimer: The photo below is not mine, but I did the manipulation and added the text.

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Baltic Cruise — Gdańsk and Solidarity (and some political commentary)


Solidarność (Solidarity)

In the aftermath of World War II, Eastern Europe fell under the domination of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R., a.k.a., the Soviet Union). This ‘Eastern Bloc‘ included, among others, Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungry, Romania, Yugoslavia, and, of course, the Polish People’s Republic. All were puppets of the Soviet regime. That would eventually change, and the beginning of the end of Eastern Europe’s domination was the Solidarity Trade Union at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk.

European Solidarity Centre

But, while Solidarity began here in 1980, the history of dissent toward U.S.S.R. domination really had its start in the Coastal Cities Protests of 1970, in which 42 Poles lost their lives and another thousand injured when the protest was crushed by the Polish People’s Army and the Milicja Obywatelsk (Citizen’s Militia). Many of those killed worked at the Lenin Shipyard. A decade later this uprising was commemorated with the Monument to the Fallen Shipyard Workers of 1970, which became the first monument in a communist state dedicated to victims of communist oppression.

Monument to the Fallen Shipyard Workers of 1970

Monument to the Fallen Shipyard Workers of 1970

Monument to the Fallen Shipyard Workers of 1970

Now for some blatantly political comments (and a warning):

There is a very fine line between communism and socialism, with socialism having been viewed by Karl Marx as but a first step toward Marxist Communism. Remember that lesson well before you consider voting for an avowed Democratic Socialist come next year’s Democrat presidential primaries and caucuses. Conversely, do not allow the Fox News crowd or many supporters of Donald Trump to confuse you with their attempts to erroneously equate social programs (Medicare, Social Security, etc.) with actual socialism. Social programs are most assuredly not synonymous with socialism, as socialism requires state control of the means of both production and allocation. Anyone trying to link the two is either too ignorant to warrant heeding, or they are trying to scare you into voting against your own interests (and for theirs). Either way, such individuals have no credibility on the subject of either social programs or socialism.

Think social programs have a role in today’s United States? By all means, vote for them. Think socialism does, even if it’s billed as Democratic Socialism? Think again, and heed the examples of Venezuela, Nicaragua, and countless other such experiments in ‘Democratic Socialism’ (an oxymoron if there ever was one), because it is awfully hard to regain your democracy once you open that door toward true socialism.

Okay, off my soapbox for the day. Here are more images of Gdańsk to tide you over until this week’s Fun Photo Friday favorites:

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The Meaning of Memorial Day


Normandy American Cemetery, France

Honorably discharged veterans of the military are frequently thanked on this day for their service to their nation.  And although we are grateful for the thanks, veterans would like to remind you that Veterans Day (formerly Armistice Day and also known as Remembrance Day to our Commonwealth Cousins) is the time to celebrate military service both past and present.  Memorial Day is set aside to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of a grateful nation.

Overlooking Omaha Beach, Normandy

Memorial Day was originally conceived as Decoration Day in the immediate wake of the Civil War, and it formally commemorated the horrendous loss of life experienced by both the Union and the Confederacy.

Statue Titled: The Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves Normandy American Cemetery

The true meaning of Memorial Day has been all but obscured since Congress changed the date of observance from May 30 to the last Monday in May so as to create a three-day weekend.  Now, unfortunately, it’s seen more as a quasi National Barbeque Day and the unofficial First Day of Summer.  As a result its true meaning has been obscured to many.

M4 Sherman Tank on Utah Beach

Veterans Day suffered a similar fate – moved to the fourth Monday of October – but in this case Congress acknowledged the dilution of that holiday’s true meaning and moved it back to its hard date of November 11 a few years later. Congress really ought to do the same with Memorial Day.  To me, that’s a much more solemn occasion deserving of even more respect than Veterans Day.

German Gun Emplacement Overlooking Pointe de Hoc

In April, 2012, I had the solemn privilege of walking through some of the battlefields of the D-Day Invasion in Normandy, France.  It was a pilgrimage I had wanted to make since I was a youngster of nine sitting in a darkened theater at an Air Force Base in Ohio watching the classic film The Longest Day.  The pictures I took that cold day in April are what you’ve been experiencing throughout this blog.

Pointe de Hoc, Normandy

Below are a few more reminders of what we commemorate on this solemn occasion.  Included in those photographs are the markers for Medal of Honor recipient Brigadier General Theodore “Ted” Roosevelt, Jr. who died just five weeks after he led the landing at Utah Beach, and his younger brother 2nd Lieutenant Quentin Roosevelt of the 95th Aero Squadron (Pursuit), who also fell on French soil just two days shy of twenty-six years earlier — during World War I.  They are two brothers separated by two World Wars reunited a quarter century later in hallowed ground in Normandy, France.

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