THERE’S A LONG LONG TRAIL A WINDING (WW1) – JOHN MCCORMACK – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Trail

It’s a great song and I remember my mother singing it. In fact, I think we sang it in glee club. All our teachers were old enough to remember “the war to end all wars.”

It didn’t end all or any wars. I think it started more wars … as soon as there were enough men to fight another one.

I’m still, after doing a lot of reading on that war baffled as to how it began. There was little to be gained and much to be lost, especially by the people living in Europe where the battles were fought. They had nothing to gain and everything to lose.

It was all politics, all national leaders trying to prove that they were the most powerful in Europe and everyone bought more and more weapons.

One day, a shot was fired and a war which virtually wiped out all the men in Europe began. Does it sound vaguely familiar?

THE WEIGHT OF THE WORLD, JUDY COLLINS – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Weight



I still see my brother Michael,
pressed and polished, shaking hands down at the store
Everyone had come to see the all-star hop the Greyhound bus and go to war
He punched me in the arm to say goodbye
It was the first time that I saw our father cry

I kept all my brother’s letters tied in ribbon in a box beneath my bed
Every night I read by flashlight with the covers in a tent above my head
His words said “Not to worry, doing fine”
It was his way of trying to ease my mind
While I was trying not to read between the lines

The weight of the world, too heavy to lift
So much to lose, so much to miss
It doesn’t seem fair that an innocent boy
Should have to carry the weight of the world

Then it was football games and homecoming and
picking out our dresses for the prom
With my brother in some desert dodging bullets when he wasn’t dodging bombs

While we went from the land of brave and free
To just being afraid to disagree
While I was being brought down to my knees by

The weight of the world, too heavy to lift
So much to lose, so much to miss
It doesn’t seem fair that an innocent boy
Should have to carry the weight of the world

It was the middle of December when the Army sent my brother home at last
While the flagpole by the football field flew the colors half-way down the mast
The wind blew cold and snow was coming down
Still everybody turned out from our town
As we laid my brother in that frozen ground

The weight of the world, too heavy to lift
So much was lost, so much was missed
It doesn’t seem fair that any boy or any girl
Should have to carry the weight of the world


Songwriters: Amy Speace / J Vezner / Judson Caswell
Weight of the World lyrics © DO Write Music LLC

CANINE HEROES – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I am crazy, an over the top dog lover. I share cute dog videos on Facebook.  I also share pleas for the endless number of rescue dogs who are in dire circumstances and really need rescuing. I donate money to all kinds of dog rescue organizations as well as the Humane Society.

One of my favorite Rescue Groups.

My heart breaks for all the dogs out there who are abandoned, neglected and/or abused. I try to read as little as possible about dogs suffering all over the world because their images haunt me and keep me from sleeping. Sometimes my heart actually hurts just thinking about them.

Then I read a feel-good dog story and I jump up and down with glee. The positive piece that recently caught my attention was in the New York Times on August 7. Written by Sean Piccoti, it’s called “A Military Medal For ‘Our Four-Legged Heroes’”. The article is primarily about the legislation that has just created a ‘Guardians of America’s Freedom Medal’, the first official commendation by the Defense Department for military working dogs.

Statue to Military Dogs and their Handlers

Close to 3000 military dogs and handlers are stationed around the world, especially in the Middle East. All branches of the military use dogs who are trained in bomb and drug detection. Dogs are also trained to scout, guard, and track. Also to sniff out bombs, booby traps, mines, drugs, and hostile forces. They are used to patrol Air Bases, Military Compounds, Ammunition Depots, and Military Checkpoints.

The dogs often do multiple tours of duty, like their humans. Some lose their lives, and some lose limbs or suffer other debilitating injuries, just like human soldiers do. Until now, the dogs and their handlers were not recognized for the amazing jobs they do.

crippled military retiree

The story goes beyond the military award and the recognition of the dogs’ service. The article also talks about a wonderful organization called The War Dogs Association. This New Jersey-based organization provides essential services for the military dogs and handlers on active duty as well as after retirement.

The War Dogs Association donates badly needed supplies to active duty dogs. Ron Aiello, the President of War Dogs, says that if an active duty handler needs a new harness for his dog, it can take months to get it from the army. War Dogs can respond to an email request immediately and get the harness delivered within a week!

The dogs also need other equipment that the military doesn’t always provide. For example, War Dogs sends special goggles to protect the dogs’ eyes from sandstorms. They send cooling vests to protect the dogs from the over 100-degree temperatures in the Middle East. They also send dog boots to protect the dogs’ paws from injury due to extreme heat and rough terrain. It’s appalling to me that the military doesn’t protect their dogs in these basic ways!

War Dogs also takes care of retired dogs. They find good adoptive homes for them when they come back to the States. They also pay for medical care for the retirees, including a free canine prescription drug program.

This story is particularly encouraging because, during the Vietnam war, military dogs were regarded as ‘equipment.’ Many dogs who served were euthanized or just given to the Vietnamese when they were no longer needed.

We’ve come a long way.

Even today, I’ve read that handlers who want to adopt their service dogs when they retire, have to jump through hoops to make it happen. They have to pay lots of money and often wait years to go through the red tape necessary to get the dogs released to them and eventually shipped to America.

It should be automatic that dogs and handlers be kept together if that’s what the handler wants. Hopefully, War Dogs will help with this problem as well.

Here is a link to the War Dogs Association: https://www.uswardogs.org. Please donate something.

I did.

OUR MOMENT – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Moment

This is a moment. Well, really, the last year and a half (is it longer? shorter? interminable?) has been a “moment.”

For me, it has been a long and painful moment of realization. This catastrophe in which we have been engulfed didn’t just “sort of show up” in 2016. It isn’t something that dropped in from the outer limits. As Americans, we’ve been building towards this monumental, momentous calamity for our entire history.

We have done great things. We have also done horrendous and unspeakable things. We have — as all countries do — glossed over the unspeakable and put a lot of our energy focusing on the greatness. We have ignored our failures and failed to grow up, nationally speaking.

One of the many important things Obama said in his recent lecture was that we had made progress and so we assumed that this progress meant that we had left “the bad stuff” behind and moved on.

But that isn’t what happened at all. Briefly, our better selves dominated politically, but all the rest of it was still right where it had been before. Our Civil War is more than 150 year in our past, yet for many people, it is still going on. Despite the obvious that this entire country — unless you are a Native American — is built on immigration, we have forgotten who we are and where we come from and that it is the energy and willingness to “go the distance” that gave the United States its vitality.

We also forgot that we got our big bang of industrial power from the decimation of Europe following two devastating wars. Yes, we fought in them, but they took place elsewhere. Not on our shores and if we want to pause briefly and ponder Pearl Harbor and 9/11, we can only imagine how different this country would be if the wars fought had been fought here.

Not “over there.” Not on some foreign shore, but in our backyard. We never had to rebuild our entire infrastructure. We have been political fools. Not only now, but in many earlier times when we elected immoral, mentally challenged morons as our leaders.

It matters more now because we gained so much power. And because the speed of events has increased and we don’t wait for news anymore. Everything is instant, continuous, and migraine-inducing.

We didn’t get here by accident or because of one bad election. We have never demanded our citizens vote or even get a decent education. We have never required our citizenry behave like grownups, either. Why should we be surprised we find ourselves in this unreal, treasonous, and terrifying scenario?

Map of Nazi conquest of Europe as of 1940

This is our moment to consider who and what we want to be as a nation. Do we want to be the perpetual international fools and morons? Do we want to pretend that all the really important things — decency, morality, safety, protection, equality, liberty and fair government — are trivial? That the only thing that matters is greed? As long as someone promises to lower our taxes, nothing else counts?

If we continue thinking like that, we will be lost in history, a mere blip on the timeline. And because we have had so much power, we might take down other nations with us. Who knows how many?

We are not an island, nor do we exist alone and separate on this planet.


No Man is an Island – John Donne

No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.


MEDITATION XVII
Devotions upon Emergent Occasions
John Donne

DOG TAG MEMORIES by CHRIS DONNER – for Memorial Day

For all those who served, a good remembering post. Thank you!

Cee and Chris

Dog tags.  For years they were always with me.  Day and night, dangling over my heart.  I don’t know what became of them once I took off my uniform for the last time.  I kept them for a while but they were lost somewhere, some time ago, in a move from here to there.  

Mine were from the Vietnam era, the 1960s and 70s.  We didn’t have the fancy silencers on ours that they have today, those little coverings around the edges that keep them quiet.  Ours did tend to clink together, easily giving away your position if you were trying to be stealthy.

They always give you two of them, you know.  One stays with your body and the other goes back for the identification record.

I’m mentioning all of this because in the United States, we are going to celebrate Memorial Day this weekend.  I know many…

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WTF IS GOING ON? – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I’m so confused. I used to think I had some handle on what was going on in the news. Pretty much all bad, all crazy, all the time. But I had definite opinions on how I thought things would play out.

No more. I’m clueless now. I have no idea what’s going to happen. I was sure that no matter what Trump did or what Mueller found, the Republicans in control of Congress would not do anything to censure, let alone impeach him. I thought we would have to wait for Democrats to regain control of both houses in Congress before impeachment could even be considered. And even then, I didn’t believe that there would be enough votes in the Senate to actually convict Trump and remove him from office. So any impeachment by the House would end up being a toothless gesture.

At that point, my brain would freeze over. I had no idea what would happen next in my own scenario.

Now I’m less certain about this whole theory. I’m really not sure what will happen in the future or even later today. So much happens so quickly these days. Often out of the blue, or so it seems. Trump makes spontaneous, off the cuff policy announcements that no one in his own White House knows about or is prepared for. He often backtracks the next day. Or not! Headline news stories blare out constantly with revelations from various investigations, law suits and ethics probes involving the president and his merry band of unethical misfits.

I worry that Trump will bomb a random country and start another pointless war. I live in fear that Trump will fire Robert Mueller or Rod Rosenstein, which would have the same effect. One minute I’m sure he’ll do it and throw the country into a major constitutional crisis with no satisfactory resolution in Republican controlled Washington. The next minute I’m sure he won’t risk the major political explosion he would trigger if he interfered with the Mueller investigation.

This perpetual uncertainty makes me very uncomfortable. I pride myself on staying informed enough to understand what’s going on in the news at any given time. I’m shaky on Mid Eastern and Far Eastern policy and economics. But I usually have a handle on domestic news and policies. I have to narrow my focus since I don’t want to spend even more time than I already do consuming news every day. I’m a slow reader so I can only cover so much territory.

Things are happening so quickly and so randomly that I can’t keep up any more. Even though I do try.

I have to admit that sometimes all the national drama can be exciting and energizing. But the crazy and the unpredictable are going into warp drive. Trump seems to be devolving and dragging us all under with him. It’s getting less and less exciting and more and more scary and insane.

I wish I could turn away from this slow motion train wreck, but I can’t. So I’ll keep reading and watching MSNBC and hope that my sanity survives longer than Trump’s does.

POSTWAR: A HISTORY OF EUROPE SINCE 1945 – TONY JUDT

Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945
by Tony Judt


Available in paperback, hardcover and as an audiobook


Reading PostWar was a project, an immersion experience during which I first unlearned, then relearned everything I knew of modern European history. It was worth the effort. This is a long book — 960 pages — crammed with so much information I had to read it twice before I felt I had a grip on the material.

Tony Judt was an historian with controversial opinions. He made no pretence of being a neutral observer. Not that any historian is really neutral. Every historian has an agenda. Whether or not he or she puts it out there for all to see is a matter of style, but there is no such thing as historical neutrality. If an historian is writing about an era, he or she has an opinion about it. All history is slanted, changed by the historians who write it.

Mussolini (left) and Hitler sent their armies ...

Dr. Tony Judt believed the role of an historian is to set the record straight. He undertakes the debunking and de-mythologizing of post World War II European history. He lays bare lies that comprise the myth of French resistance, the “neutral” Swiss, the open-minded anti-Nazi Dutch — exposing an ugly legacy of entrenched anti-Semitism, xenophobia and ethnocentricity.

Although Judt follows a more or less chronological path from World War II to the present, he doesn’t do it as a strict “timeline.” Instead of a linear progression, he follows threads of ideas and philosophy. Tracing cultural and social development, he takes you from news events through their political ramifications. You follow parallel developments in cinema, literature, theater, television and arts, not just the typical political and economic occurrences on which most history focuses.

After two consecutive readings, I finally felt I’d gotten it. Postwar changed my view of  the world, not just what happened, but what is happening.

Tony Judt and I were born in 1947. We grew up during same years, but his Old World roots gave him an entirely different perspective. He forced me to question fundamental beliefs. What really happened? Was any of the stuff I believed true? Maybe not or at least, maybe only partially. It was hard to swallow, but he convinced me. I believe it.

If you are Jewish (I am and so was Judt), and lost family during the Holocaust, this will stir up painful issues. The depth and breadth of European anti-Semitism and collusion in the destruction of European Jewry is stomach churning. Pretty lies are easier to deal with than ugly reality. It’s easy to understand why so much of what we know is wrong.

Map of Nazi conquest of Europe as of 1940

Even though I knew history, I didn’t grasp the impact of these years until Postwar made it real. I assumed, having lived these decades and followed the news, I knew what happened.

I was wrong. What is reported by American media barely scratches the surface. The transformation of Europe from the wreckage of war to a modern European union is more extensive, complex and far-reaching than I had grasped. These changes affect all of us directly and personally. My understanding of current events is far better because of this book.

I read Postwar on paper, then listened to the audio version. Available from Audible.com, I recommend it to anyone with easily tired eyes. It has excellent narration and is a fine showcase for the author’s conversational writing style.

Postwar is analysis and criticism, not just “what happened.” The book is an eye-opener, totally worth your time and effort, an investment in understanding and historical perspective. It’s never dull. After reading it, you will never see Europe or World War II the same way.