Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Bluenose   4 comments

I wasn’t sure I’d find anything like the boat behind me — a replica of a hundred-foot fishing schooner, similar to a very famous one from Canada — but I lucked out in the end.  While I was wikiwalking today, you see, I was reminded of what some claim is the most famous ship in Canadian history, one most of us take for granted every day because it’s in our pockets, and we see it so damned often that we “forget” about it.  But never, never completely ….

The 1920s were the last great days of the wind-driven North Atlantic fishing fleets, including out of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.  In 1921, the schooner Bluenose was launched, in part to participate in the dory-fishing trade on the Grand Banks, but also to get revenge on the Americans for winning a schooner race sponsored by a newspaper.  She could work hard — she carried eight dories, which would be launched up to four times a day when she was active during the fishing season — but she was designed as much for speed, with a very unique profile in the water.

The Bluenose handily won the right to represent Canada in the 1921 International Fisherman’s Trophy, and proceeded to take apart the American Elsie in October to win the Cup.  She and her captain, Angus Walters, defended the Cup in 1922 against the Henry S. Ford.  The 1923 race ended in controversy, and another wasn’t held for years.

The ship continued mostly successful in racing, and represented Nova Scotia in 1935 for the Silver Jubilee of His Majesty King George V; but her paying days as a fishing boat were ending.  Motor trawlers started taking over the trade from the dorymen in the 1930s; that and the Great Depression hit the wind-driven fishers hard.  The Bluenose‘s greatest racing challenger was at hand, though — Gloucester’s Gertrude L. Thebaud.  The Thebaud defeated her in a challenge cup in 1930; but the Bluenose had the better of the American boat in the International Fisherman’s Trophy, defeating her twice — and ending with the trophy in her possession in 1938.  That was the end for her, though; her masts were removed afterward by new owners, who moved her to the Caribbean in 1942 and turned this beauty into a diesel-powered coastal freighter.  She ran aground off Haiti in 1946, was abandoned, and broke up on the reef.

The Bluenose has never been forgotten by Canada, though.  At the height of her fame, the schooner was placed on the reverse of Canada’s dime coin, where she has sailed ever since.  Even before that, she was commemorated on one of Canada’s most famous stamps; and again in 1988, on a stamp honouring Angus Walters, her long-time captain.  And a replica, Bluenose II, built from her original plans, sails the waters out of Lunenburg to this day as a living museum and “ambassador” of Nova Scotia.

Veterans Day 2017

This blog always salutes our veterans of today in a more international manner, by recalling those who gave their all in service at one time or another, representative of the bravery those who are still with us showed.  This year, while considering what I would be writing about, I happened back across this story from World War II, not much remembered today by those of us obsessed with the fight against terrorism, or who champion veterans for more political purposes.  These four men show that there are many forms which bravery can take, and it can be exhibited even by those who swear never to take another’s life.

Learn more after the break.

Looking Back — Charles Lindbergh

 

Read the story on the next page.

From the Archives — “A date which will live in infamy….” (updated)

NOTE: This article was originally published on December 7, 2011, on the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Some changes have taken place in Second Life, and so I have revised the article where needed to avoid confusion.

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USS Arizona sinking following explosion of her magazine, 7 Dec 1941; photo from U. S. Navy History and Heritage Command collection

USS Arizona sinking following explosion of her magazine, 7 Dec 1941; photo from U. S. Navy History and Heritage Command collection

“Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan….”— President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, December 8, 1941, speaking to a joint session of Congress.

The world changed — massively — for Americans on that December day.  While most of us were going about our Sunday routines — perhaps sitting in church for the day’s sermon or Sunday school, or getting out for brunch with friends — a squadron of Japanese aircraft carriers were turning into the wind and launching attack bombers.  Japan was stymied in its plans for expansion of its “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere” by an American embargo on oil, machine parts and other needed goods, and afraid that the U. S. would respond if it attacked British interests in Southeast Asia, and planned a preventive strike against the American Pacific Fleet in Hawaii to forestall any action against it.  The Japanese had planned to shave its “notification” to the U. S. government of hostile intent as closely as possible to keep a warning from being sent to the American bases in and around Pearl Harbor; but clerical problems in decoding and typing the message eliminated any validity to their weak attempt to observe the niceties.

Read the rest of this entry »

For Our Veterans

veterans-day

Harper put up an excellent pair of pieces for her Veterans Day writing this week, but I decided to do something of my own.  In Canada, we call this Remembrance Day, and it’s more specifically to honour the soldiers and sailors who have fallen, like America’s Memorial Day, since the day’s origin lies in the end of what was then called the Great War, now World War I.  The Flanders poppy in my lapel derives from the poppies that dotted the northern European landscape, thus the inspiration for Canadian army doctor John McCrae’s “In Flanders Fields.”

Je me souviens….

Conan's signature

From the Archive — In Memory of Broken Glass

This would have been a good article to republish under any circumstances.  In light of recent events, though, it’s even more important that we remember this thing, and that we swear, solemnly and before all that we all hold holy in this world, that it will never happen again, to any people on this planet.

I’ve checked the Map, and Israel Island is still there.  Spare a moment, I beg ye, whoever ye may be and whatever be thy creed and faith, and visit this place, and pray for the souls of the dead, for the Righteous Gentiles, and for all who died as the result of a madman’s insanity.

“Rest quietly, for we will not repeat the evil….”

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Kristallnacht blog

While we’re remembering our veterans today, both alive and dead, it’s appropriate that we remember others as well, who died for no reason other than the desires of a madman. I will tell you right now that this isn’t a light article, a happy fashion piece or a visit to some beautiful vista, and I pull no punches in my subject or my choice of language. If you find this a hard thing, my sorrow for you, and you should move on to another blog for now. But an evil this great must be remembered; must be kept alive in the history of the world, so that we may see the signs and take steps to stop it before it grabs hold of us again.

Read more after the break.

Veterans Day and Election Day 2016

veterans-day

Jem, Conan (who couldn’t be present) and I all salute our country, our veteran relations and ancestors, and our democratic process.

In part, Veterans Day and Election Day are close enough together this year that I decided to combine the two together into one post. This isn’t normally my practice, but the theme I’m going to talk about here links into both, as it’s a matter that links the two days together.  As I’ve done before, I’m writing for all three of us, and adding their signatures to this article with my friends’ review and permission, for which I thank them most gratefully.

We at Around the Grid all have a father or grandfather who served in the U. S. armed forces at some point — as well, doubtless, as any number of ancestors we have never known — and we were raised “traditionally” enough to have a reasonably strong sense of patriotism, along with belief in our country and its inherent good and decency.  Our ancestors fought on behalf of the United States in any number of wars, going back to the Revolutionary War, because they believed in those facts.  They desired the right of a man — and now of a person — to be free, to determine their own destiny with the least imposition of rule by the government over them, and only by their own consent when the government did institute a law of some kind.  Jem and Conan haven’t mentioned any specifics about their fathers; but I can tell you that my own, as I think I’ve mentioned in the past, fought and bled for those ideals in France in World War II.  (This is the reason I wear the purple duster I have on above, for Dad’s Purple Heart; and the purple strip in Jemmy’s dress is suggestive.)  Many more since have fought, or simply served and stood ready to defend this country against its perceived enemies.  Again, as this blog tries to do every year, we salute those men and women — not always understood, never enough appreciated, often wounded in spirit as well as body, but willing to lay their lives down if called upon for the greater good.

Please don’t stop here; more words, even more important, are past the turn of the page.

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