Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day 2012

Today has been Memorial Day. This is what we remember:
From the days of the Revolution, through the struggles of 1812, the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, the Korean War, Vietnam, the first Gulf War and the present War on Terror, the strength of our nation is in the spirit of its men and women who fought and died for a nation determined to know its ancient liberty. 4,435 combat deaths in the Revolutionary War, 2,260 in the War of 1812, 1,733 in the Mexican War, 140,415 on the Union side in the Civil War, 74.524 on the Confederate, 385 in the Spanish-American War, 53,513 in World War I, 292,131 in World War II, 33,667 in the Korea War, 47,393 in the Vietnam War and 148 in the Persian Gulf War. Over 4,477 have died as a direct result of hostile action in Iraq, with 1,803 more in Afghanistan. The loss of life to American military men and women in all of our nation’s wars exceeds 1,340,000.
There's more in Michael Avramovich's post at Touchstone magazine's Mere Comments as he says a bit more about the beginnings of this American holiday and two of our most sacred pieces of land, Iwo Jima and Gettysburg.

And pardon me if I'm a bit of a grump about it, but today is about those 1.3 million men and women who gave the ultimate service for our nation. Veterans, for whose service we are also thankful, have their own day — Veterans Day, November 11, and we thank them then.

Today, the last Monday of May, when we remember those who died serving in our armed forces, has been Memorial Day.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Entering the Mouth of the Dragon

Here's a key follow-up from a post of nearly 2 years ago, Launch of Falcon 9 -- SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft has become the first commercial space vehicle to attach to the International Space Station. Thanks to private enterprise, American remains a space faring nation.

Here you can see ISS astronauts open the hatch and enter the Dragon.

Dragon was launched on the Falcon 9 rocket last week:

Liftoff from SpaceX on Vimeo.
The Falcon 9 launch vehicle carrying the Dragon spacecraft,
climbing from the launch pad. 5/22/12

Over the next few days the Dragon cargo (over 1000 pounds of supplies for the Space Station) will be emptied and return cargo (including experiments) will be put onto the craft for return to Earth next Thursday, May 31. The Dragon is scheduled to splash down that day in the Pacific Ocean, west of California.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

California: From Another Age

The following concludes Literature Reader: Sixth Year, edited by Leroy E. Armstrong, a sixth-grade reader from 1916 used in California at least through the mid-1920s. This weblog post is inspired today in part because I read the news from my home state, in part because I posted a new "cover" for my Facebook page featuring a postcard of downtown Los Angeles from the early '60s, and in part because I was thinking of essential things I learned in (California's public) schools that simply aren't taught any longer. Those were the days, my friends, and they seem long gone...


(Poets, dramatists, and historians are quite as useful and helpful to society as are wonder-workers in plants. John Steven McGroarty has served the people of California well by writing the Mission Play—a highly interesting portrayal of the days when California was owned by Spain. Mr. McGroarty has also written a pleasing book entitled California: Its History and Romance. The introduction to this book is a poem that is a worthy tribute to California. The author’s love for our beautiful State is felt in every line.)

’Twixt the seas and the deserts,
    ’Twixt the wastes and the waves,
Between the sands of buried lands
    And ocean’s coral caves,
It lies not East nor West,
    But like a scroll unfurled,
Where the hand of God hath hung it,
    Down the middle of the world.

It lies where God hath spread it,
    In the gladness of His eyes,
Like a flame of jeweled tapestry
    Beneath His shining skies;
With the green of woven meadows,
    And the hills in golden chains,
The light of leaping rivers,
    And the flash of poppied plains.

Days rise that gleam in glory,
    Days die with sunset’s breeze,
While from Cathay that was of old
    Sail countless argosies;
Morns break again in splendor
    O’er the giant, new-born West,
But of all the lands God fashioned,
    ’Tis this land is the best.

Sun and dews that kiss it,
    Balmy winds that blow,
The stars in clustered diadems
    Upon its peaks of snow;
The mighty mountains o’er it,
    Below, the white seas swirled—
Just California stretching down
    The middle of the world.

Hat tip to Jerry Pournelle at Chaos Manor.