Back in May 2007, I posted a report that my friend Staff Sergeant Mike Phipps had been wounded in Iraq. Lots of visitors to the site left notes, and Mike’s ex-wife Kelly provided some updates as to Mike’s status and condition. Apparently, Mike didn’t learn of this post until today. He’s back in Iraq, finishing up his third tour of duty there. He asked me to post this for him:
My friend and fellow John Buford fan Eric Wittenberg posted a very touching message to me in May 2007 concerning my wounding in Iraq on his website. Unfortuneatly, I did not see this posting or the numerous nice comments that followed it from people I know and some who I don’t know. I apologize: but to say I am not a “computer guy” would be the understatement of the year. Also at that time I was on some very nice medications which I highly recommend. On November 30 I chanced across Eric’s post and asked him to post this belated message to those who wished me well.
– my ex-wife Kelly who knows the tough life of the U.S. Army well.
-my aunt Sharon who has always been there for me.
-my old high school and college friend Episcopal Minister Taylor Albright…at least one of us didn’t go to the dark side.
-my cousin Kathy who has 2 West Point officers as sons.
-my old Infantry Officer Basic buddy Mike Peters who is now a Houston PD homicide detective…better him than me.
-my old cop buddy, the late Frank Spadaro…see you in cop heaven.
-Rhonda Travis, a direct descendant of William Barrett Travis…I’m glad you are doing well.
– my old 27th Conn. buddy Ron…have a few for me.
-Heather and Matt Philbin (of Winslow’s Battery and The Irish Bde.) who probably have as many ‘Mike Phipps’ stories as anyone..I deny most of them.
-noted Civil War Historian Brooks Simpson.
-my good friend Adams County Historical Society President Wayne Motts…without a doubt the most enthusiastic battlefield guide ever and a guy who has helped me out of numerous jams.
-Mike Nugent, Chris Swift, Brian S., Don, Ian Duncanson, Jim Studnicki, and finally motor coach operator extraordinaire Tony.
My e-mail is email@example.com Thanks again for your kind thoughts back in 07.
Mike told me earlier today that he would be returning to his home at Fort Hood next month. Keep your head down and your powder dry, Mike.Scridb filter
147 years ago today, Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia and George B. McClellan’s cobbled-together version of the Army of the Potomac met on the banks of Antietam Creek near Sharpsburg, Maryland. After a full day of brutal, bloody slugging, the parties spent September 18 staring at each other and licking their respective wounds, and then Lee withdrew across the Potomac, back into Virginia. The single bloodiest day of the war ended with nearly 23,000 casualties between the two armies. The battle itself is often called a tactical draw but a strategic victory for the Union since Lee’s invasion of the north was repulsed there.
Antietam is a beautiful, mostly pristine place. For that reason, it has long been one of my very favorite battlefields. Despite the constant and inevitable creep of “progress” southward toward the battlefield from Hagerstown, it nevertheless lacks the chaos and touristy schlock associated with Gettysburg, but the story–and the beauty of the countryside–are equally compelling.
Last October, the battlefield yielded up another of the many blue-suited casualties who gave the last full measure of their devotion there. The remains of a New Yorker whose name and identity are known only to God who died and was buried in the Miller Cornfield were sent home for burial in the Saratoga National Cemetery on September 15. Ranger Mannie Gentile has documented the ceremony by which this soldier’s remains were turned over to the New York National Guard to be taken home for burial. The pictures are quite moving and drive home the fact that we are still touched by the sacrifices made by the young men who fought and died for causes that they believed in to this day.
Here’s to the nearly 120,000 Americans who fought and died that warm, beautiful September day 147 years ago…..Scridb filter
Normally, I would not mention the passing of an actor like Patrick Swayze in this blog. As lamentable and sad as that might be, lots of actors have died without being mentioned here. Swayze’s passing is a notable exception, because the first role I ever remember seeing him in was in a pot-boiling, bodice-ripping mini-series about the Civil War.
In 1985, Swayze starred in an awful production called North and South, based on the novels by John Jakes. Swayze played Orry Main of South Carolina, a West Pointer who goes with his state when it secedes from the Union. The series followed his story, as well as that of his best friend from West Point, George Hazard, a Yankee. It was awful–large leaps of faith that diverged from the truth–with bad overacting and a terribly convoluted and unrealistic story. It was, perhaps, one of the very cheesiest productions in the history of Hollywood, but it did have an unbelievable cast. Among the many stars who appeared were Elizabeth Taylor, Robert Mitchum, Gene Kelly, Hal Holbrook (as Abraham Lincoln), Forrest Whitaker, Johnny Cash, and lots of others. There’s no doubt that ABC spent a fortune on it, and even though it was incredibly cheesy, it was a huge success. It was such a huge success that they did two sequels, just as cheesy. Swayze appeared in the first sequel but not the second.
These bad mini-series are the last time that Hollywood has tried to tackle the Civil War on a large scale, and the 18 episodes of the three series cover a lot of ground, even if they are pot-boiling, bodice-ripping, and often historically inaccurate. They brought the drama of the Civil War to the unwashed masses, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
While I have no doubt that the vast majority of the women who watched this dreck did so to get a big dose of beefcake, undoubtedly a few became interested in the Civil War as a result. For that reason, the passing of Patrick Swayze is noteworthy and lamentable. If he helped to spur interest in the Civil War in even one person as a consequence of his performances, then that’s a good thing, and I regret his death.
Besides, this is the same man who uttered THE cheesiest move line ever, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner,” from the end of Dirty Dancing. The man had a real gift for cheesy performances, and I respect that.
Rest in peace, Patrick, and thanks for the cheese.Scridb filter
From Associated Content:
A series of Islamic cartoons lampooning the prophet Muhammad have been declined for publication by Yale University Press. The Ivy League school initially planned to include them in a book about how the cartoons incited violence from Muslim fanatics against the original publishers of the cartoons, which included one in a Danish newspaper four years ago.
Yale intended for the book and the inclusion of the cartoons to stimulate intellectual debate on why Muslims would be outraged by the depictions of their prophet. In Sunni Islam, orthodox sharia forbids the portrayal of Muhammad or other human or animal figures, while Shi’ite Islam allows the depiction of humans. There are several Persian paintings that exist that in fact portray Muhammad, such as the “Muhammad Received by the Four Archangels” one painted in 1436. Of course, there is next to no criticism from most Muslims against these paintings, if they know of their existence. Islam believes the first commandment sets the precedence for their law, which forbids the making of images to be worshiped. There is nothing in the first commandment in Judeo-Christian law that forbids the making of images for decoration, such as paintings and other artwork.
Criticism of Yale’s withdrawal of these cartoons being published are out of fear, versus respect for Islam. It is entirely possible to write and publish a book without using the actual cartoons in the book, and merely describing them and the consequences of the publication from the Islamic community. Only Islamic extremists are opposed to these cartoons plus other images which represent Muhammad. Mainstream and lapsed Muslims do not give too much attention to such matters, especially is they are comfortable and secure with their faith in Islam.
Yale alumnus Michael Steinberg accuses Yale of intellectual dishonesty in making the decision to withdraw the cartoons from the book, claiming that all the motion does it appease Islamic extremists. While such a motion may be of more concern in a nation like Saudi Arabia or Pakistan, the publication of the book is taking place here in the United States, written by American intellectuals, not by Muslims who might be perceived as having an ax to grind, as Salman Rushdie was when he wrote and published “The Satanic Verses.” The only one at fault is Yale University itself, for having consulted with the wrong people when the school’s publishing sector asked for aid and research on the subject. Asking counter-terrorism experts, diplomats, and the Muslim official at the U.N. are probably not the best sources in acquiring information about publishing the cartoons in question, especially when Yale knew the responses would be biased heavily in favor of Islam. Yale is located in a nation where the freedom of speech is highly valued, not self censorship out of fear for what terrorists might do when the book containing the cartoons is published. Yale University Press has the final say in what they want to publish in the book on Islamic terrorism and its reaction to images of Muhammad in the western world.
Spineless wimpiness in the name of political correctness is not a good trend, especially among publishers. Normally, I avoid contemporary politics in this blog, but I feel compelled to speak out about this example of political correctness run amok.
By removing these cartoons from a scholarly discussion, the operators of the Yale University Press have permitted political Islam, and all of its ugly implications, to dictate policy. The moment we allow political Islam to dictate how we do things in this country, we’re finished as a society. Yale never should have done this, and I encourage all publishers to reject this as a policy.Scridb filter
Between us, Susan and I probably have 3000 books. When we bought this house, we had less than half that number. When we bought the house, we had 24 linear feet of floor-to-ceiling bookcases built into one of the five bedrooms. Between us, we filled it.
However, in 14 years, we’ve both bought a lot of books. Before long, I had squeezed Susan out of the room. Then, I filled the built-ins completely and commissioned a couple of custom bookcases. And then all of that was filled. We were supposed to move a couple of years ago, and, in fact, had broken ground on a new house that would have had 65 linear feet of floor to ceiling bookcases. However, Susan got laid off from her job, and we suddenly couldn’t qualify for the financing any more, and we stayed here.
For the past two or three years, I’d just been allowing new books to pile up on the floor because there was nowhere to put them. When it got to be a couple of hundred books that took up pretty much the whole floor of my home office, I realized we had to do something about it. Susan started by reorganizing her books, which, in turn opened up shelf space. I brought home two bookcases that were previously in my office and started moving stuff around yesterday. I worked in all of the new non-Civil War books yesterday as I was moving things around. I was surprised to learn that I now have 3.5 shelves worth of books on the Revolutionary War.
That, however, leaves the Civil War books. I bought a ton of books when we were working on One Continuous Fight: The Retreat from Gettysburg and the Pursuit of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, July 4-14, 1863, and I likewise have bought a bunch of books for my other pending projects, such as Monocacy. Without counting them, I would guess that I probably have somewhere between 150 and 200 new books to work into my existing library. That means wholesale moving around of books, which is hot, sweaty work albeit a good and cheap workout.
Last night, after finishing moving the non-Civil War books around, I told Susan that I think that there’s a reasonably good chance that there won’t be room for all of them in my home office, which means some of them will spill into another bedroom. There are bookcases in virtually every possible spot in the house, and they’re all pretty much full at this point. We have room for only two more bookcases around this place, and then I don’t have any idea what we’re going to do. It’s a major dilemma.
At least we’re not my wife’s stepmother. Her personal library, constantly growing, is about 18,000 volumes, which is a truly awesome collection; I can only imagine how much money she’s invested in building that library of hers. My father-in-law had to build a house around Marlene’s library. We’re not THAT bad, but it’s plenty bad around here…..Scridb filter
On this Memorial Day, please take a moment and say thank you to the veterans who gave so much to permit us to enjoy the freedoms that we enjoy and who have worked so hard to keep us safe. Thank you to all who have made those sacrifices. I want to give a special thanks to my friend Col. Wade Sokolosky, who is just finishing up a year in Afghanistan. Wade’s son is also on active duty in the U.S. Army. Thank you, Wade.
And a special thanks to Sgt. Morton L. Wittenberg, USAAF, World War II, and Gunnery Sgt. Joseph L. Pacitto, USMC, Grenada, Panama, Desert Storm, and Somalia.Scridb filter
Harry Kalas, the Hall-of-Fame broadcaster whose silvery voice has been the voice of the Philadelphia Phillies since 1971, is gone. From Philly.com:
Phils announcer Harry Kalas dies
BY THE INQUIRER STAFF
Harry Kalas, the Phillies’ Hall of Fame announcer, died at 1:20 p.m. today, the Phillies announced.
Mr. Kalas was 73.
He collapsed in the press box at Nationals Stadium in Washington at about 12:30 p.m. and was rushed to George Washington University Medial Center.
The cause of the death was not announced. Today’s game against the Nationals will be played, but the team will not visit the White House tomorrow.
“We lost Harry today,” David Montgomery, the team president, said. “We lost our voice.”
Mr. Kalas, who was found unconsious, missed most of spring training after undergoing undisclosed surgery in Feburary. That surgery was unrelated to the detached retina that sidelined him for part of last season.
Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) praised Mr. Kalas in a statement.
“As the voice of the Philadelphia Phillies, Harry Kalas was everyone’s friend in this region. His incisive commentaries will be sorely missed.”
Susan Buehler, president of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of NATAS, today issued this statement upon hearing the news.
“The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences sends our heartfelt condolences to Harry’s family, his friends, his colleagues and many generations of fans. In 2002, NATAS bestowed our Chapter’s most prestigious honor – the Governor’s Award honoring his lifetime achievements. He was a beloved and respected broadcaster in the TV industry with a distinguishing voice that will resonate for years to come.”
Mr. Kalas, who turned 73 on March 26, has broadcast Phillies games since 1971. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002 as the recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award. He is entering the final season of a 3-year contract that he signed in December 2006.
We’ve lost one of the truly great ones. At least Harry got to call and experience the 2008 World Series victory of the Phillies. Now he will be reunited with his best friend and partner, Richie Ashburn, who left us too soon in 1997. And now Harry’s “outta here”, which was his signature line. Every great broadcaster has one, and that was Harry’s.
And with Harry’s passing, so passed another piece of my childhood. I can never remember a time when Harry wasn’t calling the Phillies, through good times and bad. Jayson Stark got it right when he said earlier today that the thought of listening to a Phillies game without Harry calling it is unimaginable.
Rest in peace, Harry. You will be missed.Scridb filter
Thanks to Charlie Knight for passing this along, from today’s on-line edition of the Hampton Roads Pilot.
Confederate re-enactor pleads not guilty in shooting
The Associated Press
Â© April 9, 2009
ISLE OF WIGHT
A Confederate re-enactor has pleaded not guilty to reckless handling of a firearm in the accidental shooting of a Union re-enactor during the filming of a Civil War documentary in September.
Joshua Owen Silva of Norfolk appeared in court Wednesday on the misdemeanor charge, which stemmed from the shooting of 72-year-old Thomas Lord Sr. of Suffolk. A June 24 trial date was set, but prosecutors say they hope to reach a plea agreement with Silva before that.
Lord was struck in the right shoulder by a .45-caliber musket ball during the filming of the “Civil War Overland Campaign Web Series Project.” He was treated at a local hospital and released.
The moron won’t even step up to the plate and accept responsibility for his stupid and irresponsible conduct at the reenactment. I hate it that this guy won’t be responsible for what he did.
As Bugs Bunny would say, “what a maroon!”Scridb filter
…the accident at Three Mile Island occurred. The accident, whereby Metropolitan Edison’s nuclear reactor nearly melted down, happened two days after my 18th birthday. I was in twelfth grade, eager to graduate and move on. However, the loss of coolant and resulting release of a large amount of radioactivity into the surrounding environment was a big deal. Although nobody died in the accident itself, statistics suggest that there has been an increase in leukemia and other cancers in the surrounding communities situated most closely to the plant, which still operates one reactor to this day.
My parents’ house is just over 60 miles from Three Mile Island, and when the accident occurred and for the next few days, things were absolutely nerve wracking. Nobody knew the extent of the damage to the reactor, and nobody knew for sure that the nuclear reaction had been slowed enough to control it. We also didn’t know just how close we came to a full-scale meltdown of catastrophic proportions. For a few days, things were really touch and go. Gov. Dick Thornburgh, who had only been in office for about 60 days when the accident happened, had a full-scale crisis on his hands, and it was an unprecedented one. Nobody knew precisely what to do. And coming two weeks after the release of the movie The China Syndrome, a media frenzy ensued.
I remember when Pres. Jimmy Carter, a trained nuclear engineer, visited the site in an effort to calm a terrified public. Carter’s presence that day was both welcome and reassuring.
At one point, a plan to evacuate a radius of 60 miles from the crippled plant was announced. My parents’ house is just outside that radius by a mile or two, so we were debating whether to pack up and go, too. It was an incredibly stressful and uncertain time that remains indelibly burned in my memory banks. Of course, the crisis passed in a few days, and the damaged reactor was sealed in concrete. But for those few days, it was touch and go.
My alma mater, Dickinson College, is about 25 miles from TMI as the crow flies. Students had just come back from spring break a week or so before the accident happened, and after the accident occurred, the College administration made the prompt decision to shut down and sent students home for the duration. I remember arriving on campus that August and seeing students wearing t-shirts that would be real collector’s items today: they commemorated surviving what became known as the College’s 1979 “radiation vacation”. I wish I had one of those shirts.
I drive by that plant on the Pennsylvania Turnpike each time I go home to Reading to see my parents, and each time, I see those cooling towers looming over the shallow Susquehanna River. I see the steam billowing from the cooling tower of the still functioning Unit 1, and I remember those scary, wild days of my youth. It’s hard to believe that thirty years have passed since that frightening day.Scridb filter
Several months ago, I posted an article that I had written about an interesting chap named David F. Day, who was awarded a Medal of Honor for participating in Grant’s “forlorn hope” attacks at Vicksburg in May 1863.
A reader named Dan Glasgow sent me an e-mail last night that I thought I would share with you:
I truly enjoyed your narative about David Frakes Day and his Metal of Honor. I knew his sons, Guy and George and how David started calling himseld Col. Day. His son said that his father was kicked by a mule when he was young and it left a scar on his cheek. Soon David started saying that the scar was from a saber cut received during the Civil War and then he promoted the story that he was a promote to col. I’ve read your narative and enjoyed it very much. At one time I thought Day’s story would have made a great movie but today it wouldn’t have enough sex appeal. Thanks for your efforts.
What a great story….and so like David Day.
Day’s son was evidently a chip off the old block. From the April 25, 1922 edition of the New York Times:
Editor Kills Editor on Durango (Col.) Street: Scandal Story After Row Over Dry Law
Durango, Co., April 24.–William L. Wood, city editor of The Durango Herald, was shot dead on the street this afternoon by Rod S. Day, editor of The Durango Democrat, as the result of a squabble that started over prohibition and reached a climax in the printing of a scandal.
Wood some time ago printed an article on prohibition clipped from an outside paper, and asked the attitude of The Democrat on enforcement of the Volstead Act. Day replied that he favored enforcement. Wood then reported that The Democrat should stamp out the bootlegging in Durango. With each article the feeling grew until several days ago when Day printed something about Woods’ life and divorce.
Today the two met in front of a barber shop and after an exchange of words Day struck Wood with a carpenter’s square he held in his hand. Wood dodged the square and landed a blow on Day’s nose, breaking it. Wood then backed off the sidewalk, but Day drew a pistol and shot him twice, one bullet entering the brain.
Wood died in a hospital without gaining consciousness. Day was put under arrest and will be charged with first degree murder. Eyewitnesses say Wood tried to avoid the meeting with Day today, but as they came to a corner of the street, they almost bumped into each other. Day refuses to talk.
Wood was about 35 years old. Day, who is about 47, is a son of David F. Day, a pioneer editor of the State. He became editor of The Democrat in 1914, upon the death of his father.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I have been unable to ascertain whether Rod Day was convicted of the crime.
I continue to be fascinated by Dave Day and his interesting family. Thanks for coming forward, Dan.Scridb filter