A new history book about Lowell by Richard P. Howe Jr and Chaim Rosenberg to be published on March 11, 2013. To order a copy and to learn about local readings and book signings, check out our Legendary Locals of Lowell page.
On April 24, 1980, the world awoke to news that the a rescue mission launched by the United States to retrieve its Iranian Embassy personnel who were being held hostage in Tehran had ended in a deadly failure. While at an intermediate position known as Desert One, a series of mishaps caused the mission to be aborted. In the scramble to get out of Iran before being discovered, a Marine helicopter collided with an Air Force C-130 as both maneuvered around a desert landing strip. The resulting explosion killed nine service members and the rush to depart caused much equipment and classified material to fall into Iranian hands. It was not until January of 1981 on the day Ronald Reagan took the oath of office as president that the US hostages were finally released.
Part of the problem of Desert One was that the assets for the mission – Army commandos, Marine helicopters, Air Force planes and Navy ships were cobbled together in an ad hoc manner, never having worked together before. From that fiasco, the American government and military learned a valuable lesson as to the almost unimaginably high level of training required to even have a chance to successfully execute that mission.
The fruits of that 1980 lesson were seen yesterday in the raid into Abbottabad, Pakistan that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden. The details of the mission will perhaps never become fully known, although President Obama’s counter-terrorism expert John Brennan gave an extensive briefing today. Still, anyone with the slightest understanding of military operations know what a daring and risky mission this was. To fly into unknown territory on a moonless night and assault a compound that was designed and built to withstand just such an assault. It was simply an incredibly bold undertaking with a remarkable result that was absolutely the outgrowth of three decades of post-Desert one preparation and training.
The “Open Court” project begins a pilot experiment in public access today in the busy Quincy, Massachusetts District Court. Court proceedings will be streamed live over the Web for anyone to see – in fact as I write I’m viewing/listening to the action. From an AP story: “The courtroom, which usually does not allow reporters to use even computers, will now welcome laptops, iPads and smartphones, and will encourage live blogging,Tweeting and Facebooking. ”
Read the full AP story about the whys and wherefores of the project here and check out the live broadcast of the Quincy District Court proceeding with Judge Mark Coven on the bench here. Some may find the proceedings dull while others will see it as important slice of life that citizens need to watch. Will bloggers and other citizen journalists begin to cover courts and the proceedings using new media and social media? Where is this all headed?
Growing up in the 1960s and 70s, I always watched the network news on May 1 because that’s the day that the Soviet Union would parade its most advanced military equipment through Red Square as part of that country’s May Day celebration. To contrast the Soviet glorification of military power, President Dwight Eisenhower back in 1958 proclaimed May 1st to be Law Day, a day on which Americans would celebrate the supremacy of the law.
With May 1 falling on a Sunday this year, the annual commemoration of Law Day by the Greater Lowell Bar Association was held at Middlesex Superior Court this past Friday. The event featured a student essay contest, patriotic songs, and speeches from judges and elected officials. A full report is available on the Lowell Deeds blog.
I found it especially appropriate that the greatest mass murderer in American history, Osama bin Laden, was brought to justice on May 1 – on Law Day. It’s fortunate that he was killed in the raid on his compound. Had he been captured, he would have been entitled to some kind of due process, a military tribunal no doubt, and would have been afforded legal counsel. But like the architects of the Third Reich at the post-World War Two trials in Nurnberg, bin Laden, too would have been brought to justice. His death makes the outcome clearer – - – and gives us another reason to celebrate May 1.
Frequent contributor Jim Peters shared some thoughts with us over the weekend:
I have been reading a bit of Robert Burns, the Scottish poet, and I really enjoy reading a poem he dedicated to a louse on a lady’s bonnet at church. He uses most of the poem to describe how awful it is to see a louse having the audacity to appear on a lady’s bonnet at church but he ends with:
“Oh, would the Lord the gift he give me,
to see ourselves as others see me.”
I do not want to spend too much time describing how I believe people see me, because I really have no idea, nor do I particularly care. I am a little too old, like that proverbial dog, to learn new tricks. So I blunder through my day, but sometimes, I must admit, I do think of how others see me. And I do not fare well. I would fare better if I recognized my failings and tried to correct them. Maybe I will try that for awhile. read more »
What part of Lowell do you want to pass on to future generations? That’s the question that the city’s just-announced photo contest asks:
Nearly ten years ago, the City of Lowell created a citywide Master Plan, thereby establishing a shared and comprehensive framework for long range development. This year the city is updating its Master Plan as a Sustainability Plan, which will help ensure that future generations have equal access to the economic, environmental, social and cultural resources that residents enjoy today. Take a snapshot of something in the city that holds meaning for you, something that you hope to pass on to the next generation. Then, send your snapshots our way so we can include them in our new vision for the future!
The rules of the photo contest are HERE while an explanation of the process for updating the city’s Master Plan is HERE. With both the city of Lowell and the Lowell National Park holding photography contests this summer, it’s time for everyone to break out the cameras.