September 5th is
Jury Rights Day *
Cheese Pizza Day
Be Late for Something Day *
Two-Ingredient Cocktail Day
U.N. International Day of Charity *
MORE! Amy Beach, Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat, click
WORLD FESTIVALS AND NATIONAL HOLIDAYS
Nepal – Kathmandu:
Indra Jatra (Hindu Lord of Rain)
Peru – Chachapoyas: Founding Day
Taiwan – Chung Yuan:
Zhongyuan (Ghost Festival)
On This Day in HISTORY
699 – Abu Hanfa born, Kufan Sunni Muslim theologian, scholar and jurist
917 – Liu Yan declares himself emperor, establishing the Southern Han state in southern China, at his capital of Panyu
1538 or 1545 ? – Chachapoyas * Peruvian city, Spanish name originally San Juan de la Frontera del Los Chachapoyas, site of the fortress of Kuelap built by the pre-Incan Chachapoya people, ‘Warriors of the Clouds’
1568 – Tommaso Campanella born, Italian philosopher and writer
1661 – Nicolas Fouquet, Superintendent of Finances under Louis XIV, arrested by D’Artagnan, lieutenant of the king’s musketeers for records discrepancies and suspicion of lining his own pockets from the state treasury
1670 – Jury Rights Day * – William Penn of London, arrested for publicly preaching Quakerism in violation of England’s Conventicles Act, pleads Not Guilty. The court repeatedly instructs jurors to find Penn guilty but they refuse. Jurors are jailed, withholding from them food, water, tobacco and fire. Jurors appeal their imprisonment and fines. A higher court ruling (Bushell’s case) confirms jurors cannot be punished for their verdict, even if a law has technically been broken, establishing jury rights in common law
1698 – Russia’s Peter the Great, trying to Westernize the Russians, imposes a tax on beards for all men except the clergy and peasantry
1735 – Johann Christian Bach born, German composer
1774 – First Continental Congress assembles in Philadelphia PA
1781 – American Revolution Battle of the Chesapeake: The British Navy, carrying much-needed supplies for the British Redcoats, is repelled by the French Navy, contributing to the British surrender at Yorktown
1781 – Anton Diabelli born, Austrian composer and music publisher
1791 – Giacomo Meyerbeer born, German-Jewish opera composer
1793 – French Revolution’s National Convention institutes the Reign of Terror, executing almost 17,000 people by guillotine, and 25,000 more by summary execution
1798 – French revolutionary government passes Jourdan law, universal conscription of all single and childless men between ages 20 and 25, with exemptions for clergy, public office holders, and workers essential to the war effort. However, wealthy men could pay for a “replacement” to serve in their stead
1836 – Sam Houston is elected president of the Republic of Texas
1862 – Pioneering meteorologist James Glaisher, with Henry Coxwell, breaks the world altitude record while collecting weather data in their balloon
1867 – Amy Beach born, first ‘name’ American female orchestral composer; the Gaelic Symphony, Bal masque, choral works, songs and chamber music
1879 – Frank Baldwin Jewett born, American engineer; first president of Bell Laboratories (1925-1940)
1881 – American Red Cross begins disaster relief work after Michigan’s 1881 Great Fire
1882 – First U.S. Labor Day parade, in New York City
1894 – U.S. Congress makes first Monday in September national Labor Day * to honor America’s workers
1897 – A. C. Nielsen born, American market research engineer
1899 – Helen Creighton born, Canadian author and folklorist; collector of over 4,000 traditional songs and stories, publishing many books on Nova Scotia folk songs and lore; Member of the Order of Canada (1976)
1905 – The Russo-Japanese War ends with the signing of the Treaty of Portsmouth
1905 – Arthur Koestler born in Hungary, English novelist and journalist
1912 – John Cage born, experimental American composer
1914 – WWI: First Battle of the Marne begins
1915 – Opening Day of the Zimmerwald Conference, an international pro-peace socialist meeting in Switzerland
1921 – Actress Virginia Rappe dies at a party in San Francisco hosted by silent film comic “Fatty” Arbuckle, and he is charged with rape and manslaughter. After two hung juries, he is acquitted in a third trial, but his films are banned and his career ruined
1927 – ‘Oswald the Lucky Rabbit’ cartoon, Trolley Troubles, created by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks for Universal, debuts
1935 – Helen Gifford born, Australian modernist composer; Distinguished Services to Australian Music Award (2016)
1939 – U.S. proclaims its neutrality in WWII
1939 – Claudette Colvin born, American nurse and civil rights activist; as a teenager, she refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white person in Montgomery, Alabama, nine months before Rose Parks did
1941 – WWII: Estonia is occupied by Nazi Germany
1956 – Les Waas founds the Procrastinators’ Club of America, and September 5 is chosen as ‘Be Late for Something Day’ *
1957 – Jack Kerouac’s On the Road is published
1958 – Doctor Zhivago by Russian author Boris Pasternak is published in the U.S.
1960 – Poet Léopold Sédar Senghor becomes the first elected President of Senegal
1969 – U.S. Army Lieutenant William Calley is charged with six specifications of premeditated murder for the death of 109 Vietnamese civilians in My Lai
1972 – Munich massacre: Palestinian terrorist group “Black September” takes 11 Israeli athletes hostage at the Munich Olympics. Two die in the attack, and the other 9 are killed the next day
1977 – NASA launches the Voyager 1 spacecraft
1978 – Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat begin peace discussions fostered by President Carter at Camp David, Maryland
Anwar Sadat, Jimmy Carter and Menachim Begin at Camp David – Getty Images
1984 – Western Australia becomes the last Australian state to abolish the death penalty
1986 – Dire Straits “Money for Nothing” wins MTV Best Video award
1991 – Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention of 1989 goes into force, eschewing integrationist and assimilationist policies of 1957 Tribal Populations Convention, and foreshadows 2007 U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
2005 – George W. Bush nominates John Roberts as U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice
2012 – International Day of Charity * – The U.N. chooses the date of Mother Teresa’s death as the day to inspire people to give of their time and money to help others
The current National Security Advisor, H.R. McMaster, wrote in his book “Dereliction of Duty” a sound explanation of what led up to Lieutenant William Calley’s involvement in the murder of the Vietnamese civilians in My Lai. His view was that Robert McNamara, President Johnson’s Secretary of Defense, had driven a new theory of how a war or battle would be fought. McNamara was known as a ‘bean counter’ from his days when he served in the military as an accountant. He developed a theory where only sufficient force would be applied in a battle to generate a victory at the least cost. History shows that success is gained with the application of overwhelming force, which he viewed as a wasteful use of resources. He became enamored in the statistics of war, seeking the most results for the least expense. He convinced President Johnson that his theory would lead to victory in Vietnam.
Before long, the Generals guiding the war in Vietnam learned they were rewarded if they maximized their results in battle, and they created an atmosphere where high body counts, an indicator chosen to define a successful battle outcome, became the key to a unit’s success more than any thing else. Body counts soon began climbing, an indication of good performance. Lt. Calley’s superior officers pushed him and other junior leaders to create as many casualties as possible to keep their reputations in good standing. Operations which were called “search and Destroy” missions were intended to locate and destroy enemy forces, Those missions became indiscriminate in who was destroyed in an effort to generate high body counts.
Robert McNamara created the environment that ultimately caught up with Lt. Calley. Fourteen officers were charged with war crimes, but most charges were dropped before trial. Calley’s immediate superior, Captain Ernest Medina was also charged in this incident. He denied he had given the order to destroy the village and was acquitted.
And that mind set is where the sick joke came from; about whether a pregnant woman should be counted as one or two kills on the body count.
The real hero of My Lai was CWO Hugh Thompson, who blocked the gunfire with his helicopter and blew the whistle on the affair. He became a pariah for his efforts, shunned by other officers. He died in 2006 at the age of 62.
I have never studied warfare. I have found it sickening enough to study other things, so I believe I probably “autodidacted” myself away from realizations like this. Now, as when any one of these kinds of realizations comes to me through some means (other than my deliberate search for an education) I feel almost mentally paralyzed. I find myself unable to think about things adequately and clearly because of a certain … I would call it emotional clumsiness or something … if I were trying to execute a dance step and couldn’t because at a certain point on the action/force progression, my left foot flipped out to unbalance me … something like that, but mentally. There is action/force, action/force, action/force and then OOPS crash. And that is how this kind of thing hits me. Then if, as now, I have something planned that I have to complete, I find myself needing to “rewind” and play my warm-up music: “OK ten minutes ago I did not know this. So now I can just get on with my work as if the last nine minutes had not …”
AND sometimes that works. As I age it doesn’t work as well as often. Still, somewhere, I am trying to believe knowledge is power. Even when it seems the opposite.
I understand. In my opinion one must discover all there can be found to become informed as neutrally as possible, then act on what seems right. The key seems to be accepting opposing points of view equally, right or wrong. You should not favor one over the other until the facts are in as either side is committed as the other, but ignore what the other says. I spent a year in Vietnam about the time this happened and am well aware of what was going on. I was there because I wanted to be there. At the time – mid 1960s – fighting communism was very much in vogue. By association, the North Vietnamese were communists, and had to be stopped. I knew some folks who were zealots and lost their humanity. It was life changing experience and today, if someone says war is needed to solve a problem, great thought is in order to do our best to prevent it.
My husband and I have often discussed the true costs of making a real ‘moral crossroads’ choice. No matter what a person chooses, they will lose. Either you allow or do something that will destroy your moral compass, or, if you choose to stand up for what you believe to be right, there will always be a different high cost: anything from shunning by your peers, to losing your livelihood, or close relationships shattered – your reality will be changed forever. In some cases, you will have died.
The most common reason given for making a choice like that of CWO Hugh Thompson is “I couldn’t live with myself if I had not.” But living with the consequences of doing the right thing will also be very hard.
When the far right politicians talk so glibly about ‘moral’ choices, this is not even on their radar.