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A Day to Remember

A Day to Remember-1

The Geezer always quotes Santa Anna – “He who chooses to ignore history is doomed to live it again.” I hope those are the right words. Geezer believes we can learn so much from things our species has done right and from its failures. Being canine and observing, I believe he is correct. Humans are a very slow learning species.

This day is one of those days that we should look back and listen to what history is screaming. Look at the pictures on this blog and understand what they mean. Each body lying on the beach was someone’s loved one. That corpse gave its life for all of us. It did this so we can have the freedoms we should enjoy and savor. They were purchased at such a high cost.

Today, there are many humans that do not value the sacrifices made and are perfectly willing to sacrifice freedoms for their particular political thought. Inflexibility and ignorance are siblings. Some see their view of the world as the only correct one. How sad. If something doesn’t affect them in the here and now they devalue it.

Let’s see if we can add that worth back. Look at the picture below. It’s the body of a brave man who died alone. In all probability his death was painful. No one was there to comfort him. Now, look at him a little differently. His unseen face is your brother, your son, your uncle, your father. The price of his sacrifice has just gone up. We should accord all those nameless, faceless heroes the same honor and esteem we would for those of our blood.

A day to Remember-2

Today, June 6th, 2018, say a prayer and give thanks to all those who fought, who fought and died, and who fought and were forever changed. In actuality, they are all our blood relatives.

A day at the fair …

Englewood Florida’s “Cracker Fair” was a great event. Heavily attended, its organizers deserve to take a bow.

 

Wow! The event I attended over the weekend gets a five bone award on a five bone scale. It had something that all who attended could enjoy. Woof-woof for the “Lemon Bay Historical Society Cracker Fair.” Everything from demonstrations of pioneer living, to the wildlife that Florida’s early settlers had for neighbors entertained and educated. You couldn’t help but be impressed by the folks who made up the very large crowd. I spoke to men and women from nine different countries. (Count ’em – England, Canada, India, France, Denmark, Germany, Columbia, Switzerland, and South Africa.) Like you’d expect, many canines took their humans to the cultural event. I had a chance to bark with breeds from – Boxers to Yorkies – with Chihuahuas, Bull dogs, German Sheperds, and many others mixed in. Of course, other Goldens were well represented. I distributed my canine cookie recipe to so many, I almost ran out of the cards it’s printed on. Below are some interesting pics from the fair.

 

This hawk checked out the spectators. Old talons was part of the wildlife exhibit.

“Who dat?” The wise old owl asked about an admirer. Wildlife was there courtesy of a wildlife rescue/refuge group. They do great work!

There wasn’t a negative about the fair. The result on the Geezer … that’s another thing. It will take a month for the swelling to go down. He was the featured speaker during the town’s history week at Charlotte/Englewood library a few days before and many people stopped by to tell him they really enjoyed his presentation. (At that point, an air-compressor hose was attached to his cranium) A couple individuals asked him to speak to their organizations. If that wasn’t bad enough, four people who have read his books stopped by to buy more and tell him how much they loved his stuff. That last part, the loved his stuff, was bad! The compressor fired off. Putt, putt, putt, putt……… Next, two placed orders for a book he’s in the process of finishing. Compressor. Faster.  Buttabuttabuttabutta……….. Finally, one person left her name with a standing order for each new book when it comes out. Compressor. Race. Bbbbrrrruuuummmmmmmm………. The old turkey will be hard to live with for a while. If I can find a large pin, I’ll puncture that balloon – that is if I can find a way to shelter from the gush of hot air that will rush out at hurricane force.

The Geezer loves history and the culture of ALL of our past. He believes that choosing to ignore history insures the same mistakes will be relived. Ignoring or “deleting” what’s happened won’t change one thing and only drastically increases the probability of an instant replay.

The Cracker Fair is all about history. Some intrepid re-enactors sweated and sweltered in the Florida sun so the visitors could get the flavor of the times. Below are a couple of gentlemen who were walking, talking history books. They added mystic and ambiance besides answering questions about the time period.

Infantryman Gene, a friendly fellow from the Florida militia, circa 1860s

Here comes the cavalry! An officer from the same period. One neat guy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Worse, the Geezer will be speaking at the Helen B. Hoffman Library, located at 501 N Fig Tree Lane, in Plantation, Florida, Monday 2/12 at 10 AM. He’ll be speaking about “The loyal 14th colony: Florida in the Revolutionary War.”

I may need a blimp tender to hold him down after that.

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“I speak to you from hallowed ground.”

 

“I am speaking to you today from hallowed ground.”

Just for the period of time it takes to read this post, I’d like you to imagine the words are being read to you by Charles Kuralt. All of you under forty are probably asking, “Who in the hell is Charles Kuralt?” Charles Kuralt was “the voice” of a CBS program that aired for years. It was titled On The Road. His distinctive voice was the signature for this show … a show that was all his.  On The Road was just that, Charlie nosed around the nooks, crannies, highways, and byways of the US. I know it may be hard for the younger folks who read this post to believe, but once upon a time their were actual journalists on national television that were true to their vocation, not their political beliefs. It was a time before we were divided into blocks for political opportunism. Kuralt found and touched the heart and the soul of his viewers. As you read my words, hear them through his voice.

The historical marker for Camp Blanding. Though it tries to tell the story it can only hint at the brave people who traveled through history here.

I’m speaking to you today from a few hundred yards off of Florida Highway 16. It’s about midway between two places you probably never heard of, the towns of Starke to the west and Green Cove Springs which lies eastward. The grass field I’m sitting in the middle of, is part of the Camp Blanding Museum. Around me are the tools of wars past. They’re reminders of what this place was, one of the important training areas for a war that would engulf the world. What remains of this site as an active military center is behind the entrance south of the museum. It’s only a token of what was once arguably the largest city in Florida. Over 300,000 men and women trained or worked here. Look around and you see what young men came to this place to learn to use. They had to do this to help win a war we could have lost and as importantly to give them their best chance of surviving it.

One of the artillery pieces on display. An artillery barrage was an infantryman’s worst nightmare.

This 1 1/2 ton truck was a World War II workhorse. Men road in it and supplies it carried kept them fighting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sherman. This M4A1 version was a medium tank. Shermans were the primary battle armor used by US forces in WWII. Its numbers offset the German armors superiority.

Looking inside the drivers compartments of these vehicles is a shock to some. The levers, switches, and mechanisms are crude by 2017 standards. A young man asked, “Did they really fight in these things?” An old man answered, “We sure did and we did a damned good job of it!” There was more in his voice than pride in having served and survived. In his eye and tone there was that reverence those who have experienced combat have for those they knew who did not return to stand here today.

The lawn around the museum is home to many vehicles. Half-tracks, DUKWs, ambulances, trucks, field pieces, all are pages of a book that tell us a story. Even a C-47 transport plane with D-day markings graces a concrete pad, a reminder of 508th Paratroop Regiment who trained in the sands beyond the guard gate.

Mixed in with the vehicles are monuments to the Army units that trained here and the people that were flesh and bone that gave them life. Among them was the Big Red One – the first army division. Nine infantry divisions lived here and learned about war on these grounds. There are monuments to the extra brave who began their journey into hell at this place. One honors distinguished service cross recipients and another the nations highest award, The Medal of Honor. Both have a significant number of names chiseled into stone to remind us of sacrifice and that sometimes forgotten word – honor.

Going inside the museum is like stepping through a time portal on Star Trek. We see what we were. What we did. Right and wrong.

A D-day newspaper. This sealed Hitler’s fate.

A GI dressed for battle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pictures and exhibits show us what a base for a quarter of a million men looked like. Row upon row of small cabins, barracks like the one the museum is housed in, hospitals, theaters, commissary buildings, maintenance facilities, everything that a city of that size needed to exist was built in Florida’s wilderness. Work on Blanding was a seven day a week, three shift schedule in 1940-1941. Today, most of the 150,000 acres that is Camp Blanding has been reclaimed by the pine barrens and swamps from which it was hacked. Concrete foundations, weathered and hidden by nature, dot the ground and are the ghosts that haunt these woods.

Reminders of the past always bring bitter to go with sweet. Exhibits remind us of where we’ve been, some of them telling us of what we did wrong. The Army of 1940 was one that was still segregated. Separate facilities, living areas, even swimming lakes are indictments of what just one of our societies mistakes has been.

It tells us of things we did correctly. Few know that many German POWs were transported to the USA. Camp Blanding hosted around 2,000. They lived in the same type facilities as our GIs. They were given jobs and paid to do them. Contrast that to the fate of POWs in German or Russian hands. Less than 10% survived the war and literally this amounted to millions of deaths. More than 15% of Germans elected to stay in the US and become citizens and over 98% survived.

Places like this, Camp Blanding, are places that should bring us together. We can attempt to change history, there are those who do, but it really won’t change. Camp Blanding is a string tied around our finger, like ones used by our country men before computers, to remind them of something they had to do. If we forget the good and bad that history teaches, we’ll neither continue our virtues or avoid our mistakes. Humans are on a long voyage of discovery. That discovery is how imperfect we really are. We have to embrace what we have become, not languish in what we were, but learn from where we’ve been.

The Medal of Honor.

 

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