Author and Methuen-man Jay Atkinson has an essay about fathers, dads, in today’s Boston Globe Magazine. Read the essay here, and get the Globe if you want more.
Today’s NYTimes includes a capsule review of Neil Young’s new recording, “A Treasure,” which features a song inspired by the writing of poet and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier, most often associated with Haverhill and Amesbury, but also a former Lowell resident when he was the editor of a newspaper in the Spindle City:
“It Might Have Been,” a song Mr. Young extrapolated from an opening verse by the 19th-century poet John Greenleaf Whittier, [is] perfect for a sawdust-covered dance floor.
New Hampshire will be more and more in the news as the “would be” Republicans trek north in search of that momentum that the eventual GOP presidential nominee needs. Editorial space will soon be overcome with their antics and activities. Before the onslaught – please note some exerpts from a thoughtful and timely editorial on the origins of Memorial Day in today’s Nashua Telegraph.
…Across the region and the nation this weekend, Americans will pause to pay tribute to hundreds of thousands of other brave soldiers who also stood tall for their country but never came home.
Memorial Day traces its roots to the Civil War. To honor the Union soldiers killed in the war, Gen. John Logan, the commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, ordered their graves decorated May 30.
The Civil War remains the nation’s most deadly, claiming more than 646,000 lives north and south of the Mason-Dixon line. World War I’s death toll topped 116,000, and World War II killed 405,000…
The best way to ensure the commitment of future generations of Americans is to pay proper respect to the unselfishness of previous generations. The greatest threat to our future is a failure to honor our past.
So in between the trips to the shopping mall and hanging out in the backyard around the barbecue, take a few moments to attend a Memorial Day service or decorate a war grave. That’s a miniscule sacrifice compared to what the fallen have done for you.
Read the full editorial here at the Nashua Telegraph: http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/opinioneditorials/921081-263/remember-origin-of-memorial-day.html
A biography from the White House:
John F. Kennedy
On November 22, 1963, when he was hardly past his first thousand days in office, John Fitzgerald Kennedy was killed by an assassin’s bullets as his motorcade wound through Dallas, Texas. Kennedy was the youngest man elected President; he was the youngest to die.
Of Irish descent, he was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, on May 29, 1917. Graduating from Harvard in 1940, he entered the Navy. In 1943, when his PT boat was rammed and sunk by a Japanese destroyer, Kennedy, despite grave injuries, led the survivors through perilous waters to safety.
Back from the war, he became a Democratic Congressman from the Boston area, advancing in 1953 to the Senate. He married Jacqueline Bouvier on September 12, 1953. In 1955, while recuperating from a back operation, he wrote Profiles in Courage, which won the Pulitzer Prize in history.
In 1956 Kennedy almost gained the Democratic nomination for Vice President, and four years later was a first-ballot nominee for President. Millions watched his television debates with the Republican candidate, Richard M. Nixon. Winning by a narrow margin in the popular vote, Kennedy became the first Roman Catholic President.
His Inaugural Address offered the memorable injunction: “Ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country.” As President, he set out to redeem his campaign pledge to get America moving again. His economic programs launched the country on its longest sustained expansion since World War II; before his death, he laid plans for a massive assault on persisting pockets of privation and poverty.
Responding to ever more urgent demands, he took vigorous action in the cause of equal rights, calling for new civil rights legislation. His vision of America extended to the quality of the national culture and the central role of the arts in a vital society.
He wished America to resume its old mission as the first nation dedicated to the revolution of human rights. With the Alliance for Progress and the Peace Corps, he brought American idealism to the aid of developing nations. But the hard reality of the Communist challenge remained.
Shortly after his inauguration, Kennedy permitted a band of Cuban exiles, already armed and trained, to invade their homeland. The attempt to overthrow the regime of Fidel Castro was a failure. Soon thereafter, the Soviet Union renewed its campaign against West Berlin. Kennedy replied by reinforcing the Berlin garrison and increasing the Nation’s military strength, including new efforts in outer space. Confronted by this reaction, Moscow, after the erection of the Berlin Wall, relaxed its pressure in central Europe.
Instead, the Russians now sought to install nuclear missiles in Cuba. When this was discovered by air reconnaissance in October 1962, Kennedy imposed a quarantine on all offensive weapons bound for Cuba. While the world trembled on the brink of nuclear war, the Russians backed down and agreed to take the missiles away. The American response to the Cuban crisis evidently persuaded Moscow of the futility of nuclear blackmail.
Kennedy now contended that both sides had a vital interest in stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and slowing the arms race–a contention which led to the test ban treaty of 1963. The months after the Cuban crisis showed significant progress toward his goal of “a world of law and free choice, banishing the world of war and coercion.” His administration thus saw the beginning of new hope for both the equal rights of Americans and the peace of the world.
For more information about President Kennedy, please visit
John F. Kennedy Library and Museum
In today’s NYTimes, writer Jonathan Franzen advises graduates at Kenyon College and all of us to be brave enough to go past “like” to the “love” setting on our emotional temperature control setting. Read the essay here, and get the NYT if you want more of this kind of writing.
This “Matthew Brady Studio” portrait was probably made in the spring of 1864, around the time U.S. Grant put General Benjamin F. Butler in command of the Army of the James River.
The Sesquicentennial commemoration of the American Civil War began in earnest last month. Locally, the story has been playing out through a series of lectures, panels, exhibits, tours and a movie series, that sets the stage for the Civil War in the “big picture” by telling the story of “Lowell in the Civil War.” What are these stories? The “first in the War” deaths of Lowell mill-workers Luther Ladd and Addison Whitney in the Baltimore Riots of 1861.. the exploits of the 6th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry – the Lowell-mustered regiment… the history-making role of General Benjamin F. Butler of Lowell doing his duty in the Civil War… the heroism of Lowell men in the bloody battles of the War… the work on the home-front of such groups as the sanitary commission. Then by displaying the coat worn by Ladd with the bullet hole; discussing letters written by a Civil War soldier to a local lady; highlighting the reseach of a citizen historian in his quest to locate the burial site of Lowell Civil War soldiers; searching out the contemporary newpaper stories about abolitionist activities in Lowell; sharing the illustrations, cartoons, images and artwork of those CW days – all that and more helps fill-out the big story of the Civil War using our local connections.
The television version of these commemoratives with the iconic Ken Burns mini-series “The Civil War” created back in the 1990s as the standard and formula for pattern and quality has also tapped into those local connections. The New York Times article “Old-Time Stuff Is Not Forgotten” in today’s edition tells us of the History Channel approach to recounting the Civil War though the well-known programs – “History Detectives,” “American Pickers” and “Pawn Stars.” Regular watchers know that the personal items, stories, artifacts and traditions of an individual, a family and collectors become the grist for the experts on these programs – researching, exploring the past, looking for the real story, for historic valuation and validation. Using such things as a child’s doll, an aging tintype, a faded letter – these 19th-century artifacts tell viewers what the war was really about and how the Civil War aftermath remains with us today. As one of these “regulars” I recommend this programming appoach as another way to learn about and commemorate this most important part of American history.
Read the entire NYT’s article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/29/arts/television/civil-war-gettysburg-history-detectives.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha28