Thursday, July 31, 2014

Britain to turn off lights to mark World War One centenary



UK-WW1-CENTURY-BRITAIN:Britain to turn off lights to mark World War One centenary

LONDON (Reuters) - On the eve of World War I, Britain's foreign minister, Edward Grey, observed: "The lamps are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our lifetime."
As Britain and Commonwealth countries mark the centenary of the declaration of war on Germany on Monday, London will switch off the lights at landmarks such as Trafalgar Square, the Houses of Parliament and St Paul's Cathedral for an hour in the evening in tribute. Other cities around Britain will do the same.
More than one million soldiers from Britain and its former empire died in the conflict. New Zealand lost 2 percent of its total wartime population.
"Most of us will have ancestors who fought, many from what is now the Commonwealth ... and every single one of us is indebted to that generation because their legacy is our liberty," said Prime Minister David Cameron at London's Imperial War Museum last month.
"It wasn't just Britons who secured Allied victory. It was Indians, Canadians – even a Chinese Labour Corps," added Cameron, who said six of his own relatives died in the fighting.
Soldiers from the former British empire including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, India and troops in the Middle East and North Africa all fought in the war under the banner of the British Army.
Of the roughly 9 million who served, 1.1 million died, according to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. About 74,000 were from India, 65,000 from Canada and 62,000 from Australia.
But most casualties were from the United Kingdom, including Ireland and small dominions with 888,230 men, many of them still teenagers, killed - more than double the number of its casualties in World War Two.
Britain's royal family and senior politicians from Britain, Ireland, Germany, Belgium and the Commonwealth will attend remembrance services in London and Glasgow and an event in Belgium to commemorate the centenary on Monday.
Candles at an official service in London's Westminster Abbey will go out one by one until only a burning oil lamp remains at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior. At 2200 (11:00 pm BST) GMT, the lamp will be extinguished, marking the exact time the British Empire joined the war. In Trafalgar Square, one single light will shine from an old police box.
Hundreds of organisations, companies, landmarks and local authorities will also participate in the "Lights Out" campaign - organised by 14-18 NOW, the official cultural programme for the centenary, by leaving a single light on for shared reflection.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

BRIAN MCLAREN, WORLD WAR I AND THE NEW (OLD) HEROISM


A sea of crosses at the Germany cemetery of Neuville St. Vaast. www.spiegel.de


On July 29, 1914 the first shots of the Great War were fired from gunboats on the Danube River. Austro-Hungarian artillery shelled Serbia from the river and the war that was supposed to be over in weeks or months lasted four and a half years, nearly wiping out a generation of young men from across EuropeWikipedia’s WWI entry reports that “The total number of military and civilian casualties in World War I was over 37 million. There were over 16 million deaths and 20 million wounded ranking it among the deadliest conflicts in human history.” But these are just estimates. The total number of combatants blown to bits or buried in hastily dug graves can only be guessed at.
What led to such wholesale slaughter? Volumes have been written on the political and social upheaval that occurred as the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empires faced their death throes, but the most eloquent explanation comes from the battlefield itself. The soldier poet Wilfred Owen, killed in WW I at the age of 25, witnessed heroic actions and died heroically himself. But in the poem, “Parable of the Old Man and the Young” Owen warns against romanticizing battlefield deaths. He insists instead that we see the soldier not as a hero but as a victim sacrificed on the altar of pride. Comparing the deaths of the sons of Europe to the biblical story of the near sacrifice of Isaac, the son of Abram*, he says that Europe is doing what Abram would not do – kill his child.
Parable of the Old Man and the Young
So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb for this burnt-offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
and builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretchèd forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him. Behold,
A ram, caught in a thicket by its horns;
Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.
But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.
In Owen’s retelling of Genesis 22, Europe does what Abram refused to do and “half the seed of Europe” is sacrificed, “one by one”. As Brian McLaren explains, Abram’s refusal was riskier and more difficult than we realize because in Abram’s time, to offer one’s son as a sacrifice to the gods was a religious/ patriotic duty. To refuse would be akin to draft evasion or desertion in Owen’s Europe. In his new book, We Make the Road by Walking, McLaren explains Abram’s predicament as he headed up the mountain with the accoutrement of sacrifice:
The sacrifice of children for the well-being and security of adults has a long history among human beings. For example, in the ancient Middle East there was a religion dedicated to an idol named Molech. Faithful adherents would sacrifice infants to Molech every year, a horrible display of twisted religiosity to appease their god’s wrath and earn his favor. In contrast, beginning with the story of Abraham and Isaac, we gradually discover that the true God doesn’t require appeasement at all. In fact, God exemplifies true, loving, mature parenthood… self-giving for the sake of one’s children, not sacrificing children for one’s own selfish interest.
At the recent Colloquium on Violence & Religion Conference in Germany, Simon de Keukelaere from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome called our attention to Owen’s poem and his belief that the fathers of Europe had failed to be heirs to Abram. Owen sees his predicament as identical to Isaac’s as both sons watch the preparations of their fathers for sacrifice. Abram’s refusal to believe that piety and duty required the death of his son was in direct contradiction to the prevailing beliefs of his family, his tribe, and the wider culture. Had Europe’s fathers been willing to “offer the Ram of Pride” instead of their sons, if they had found the courage to sacrifice their own ambitions, wounded egos, and national identities instead of the lives of their children, then like Abram they would have stayed their hand. Such self-sacrifice is what we might call a new heroism that is as old as Abram, a heroism that might have saved the life of Wilfred Owen and millions like him.
As McLaren explains, any war yet to come “will most likely resemble every war in the past. It will be planned by powerful older men in their comfortable offices, and it will be fought on the ground by people the age of their children and grandchildren.” Rather than demand that our children make the supreme sacrifice of their lives, might we yet find the courage, like the father of our faith, for the heroism of our own, lesser sacrifice of self-interest? McLaren frames the question this way: do we serve God when we sacrifice our children? On this anniversary of the onset of the Great War, I invite you join me for a conversation with Brian McLaren as we reimagine what it might mean to make a new road by following in the footsteps of Abram.

World War I - Shot At Dawn

English: Shot at Dawn Memorial, National Memor...
The Shot at Dawn Memorial is a British Monument at the National Memorial Arboretum near Alrewas, inStaffordshireUK. It memorialises the 306 British and Commonwealth soldiers executed after courts-martial forcowardice or desertion during World War I.[1][2]
The memorial was created by the British public artist Andy De Comyn. It was commissioned in 2000 and unveiled at the National Memorial Arboretum by Mrs. Gertrude Harris, daughter of Private Farr, in June 2001. Mrs. Marina Brewis, the great niece of Lance Corporal Goggins, also attended the service.[2]
The real usual cause for their offences has been re-attributed in modern times to post-traumatic stress syndrome and combat stress reaction.[3][4] Soldiers accused of cowardice were often not given fair trials; they were often not properly defended, and some were under age.[3][4]
Another perspective is that the decisions to execute were taken in the heat of war when the commander's job was to keep the army together and fighting.[5]
The families of these victims often carried the stigma of the label of "coward".[4][2] Another side to this form of "justice" is the lasting emotional pain caused to those who were in the firing squads, shooting the "deserters".[3]
Britain was one of the last countries to still dishonour these victims of shell shock and, to this date, none of their names appear on any British war memorial. John Major emphasised this in 1993 when he told the Commons that pardoning the 'deserters' would be an insult to those who died honourably on the battlefield and that everyone was tried fairly.[3][6] However, in 2007, the Armed Forces Act 2006 was passed allowing the soldiers to be pardoned posthumously, although section 359(4) of the act states that the pardon "does not affect any conviction or sentence."[7]
The memorial portrays a young British soldier blindfolded and tied to a stake ready to be shot by a firing squad. The memorial was modelled on the likeness of 17-year-old Private Herbert Burden, who lied about his age to enlist in the armed forces and was later shot for desertion. It is surrounded by a semicircle of stakes on which are listed the names of every soldier executed in this fashion. These include:

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Truman Ends Segregation in Armed Forces

Naval History & Heritage Command emblem
Naval History & Heritage Command emblem (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
JUL26

It didn’t have the branding power of the Emancipation Proclamation that was issued 86 years prior, but President Harry S. Truman’s Executive Order 9981 would give the military services the guidance they needed to fully integrate their service members for years to come.
At just a little more than 400 words, Executive Order 9981, when it was issued July 26, 1948, established there shall be “equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin.”
Bespectacled as a youth and awkward around boys and girls his age, a young Harry Truman spent his leisure time reading and playing the piano, entertaining the thought of becoming a concert pianist. He also dreamed of being a solider.
In 1917, with the United States on the verge of entering World War I, Truman joined his National Guard unit, where he blossomed as a leader, rising through the ranks to captain. Truman and the 129th Artillery Regiment were sent to France in 1918, where they served until the end of the war.
This photo shows Harry S. Truman, the future U.S. President, in his Missouri National Guard Uniform, in 1912. This photo is from the National Archives, and is from Collection HST-AVC: Audiovisual Collection, 1957 - 2006. ARC Identifier 199750
This photo shows Harry S. Truman, the future U.S. President, in his Missouri National Guard Uniform, in 1912. This photo is from the National Archives, and is from Collection HST-AVC: Audiovisual Collection, 1957 – 2006. ARC Identifier 199750
At that time, African-Americans were allowed to serve in any capacity in the armed services, as ordered by the Emancipation Proclamation“that such persons of suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service.”
But after World War I, the Navy in particular chose to limit black Sailors to thesteward and mess- man rates, and further eliminated chances of attaining a higher rank by not offering petty officer status to stewards and messmen.
John Henry ("Dick") Turpin, Chief Gunner's Mate, USN (retired) (1876-1962) One of the first African-American Chief Petty Officers in the U.S. Navy. This photograph appears to have been taken during or after World War II. Turpin enlisted in the Navy in 1896. A survivor of the explosions on USS Maine (1898) and USS Bennington (1905), he became a Chief Gunner's Mate in 1917. Transferred to the Fleet Reserve in 1919, CGM Turpin retired in 1925. Qualified as a Master Diver, he was also employed as a Master Rigger at the Puget Sound Navy Yard, and, during the World War II era, made inspirational visits to Navy Training Centers and defense plants. U.S. NHHC Photograph.
John Henry (“Dick”) Turpin,
Chief Gunner’s Mate, one of the first African-American Chief Petty Officers in the U.S. Navy whose active-duty service from 1896-1919 was with a more segregated Navy. That changed after World War I. NHHC Photograph.



Decades later, Truman’s leadership skills brought him to the White House for the final months of World War II after the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt just 82 days into his fourth term.
After the war, Truman struggled to fix a fractured Democratic party that splintered over Truman’s advocacy of civil rights through his 1947 report “To Secure These Rights” aimed at reforms in voting and employment. The party was throwing its support to avowed “Dixiecrat” and segregationist Strom Thurmond.
If there was one event that might serve as the flash point for Truman’s civil rights advocacy, it would most likely come from the case of U.S. Army Sgt. Isaac Woodard Jr.
Woodard, a World War II veteran who had served in the Pacific Theater, was taking a bus from Augusta, Ga., to his family in North Carolina. The 27-year-old was still wearing his uniform after receiving his discharge papers just hours before on Feb. 12, 1946…President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.
During one of the stops, Woodard asked the driver for the time to go to the bathroom. The driver reluctantly agreed after an exchange of words, and Woodard returned to his seat without incident.
When the bus stopped in Batesburg, S.C., the driver called the police. After showing the officers his discharge papers, Woodard was accused of disorderly conduct and then beaten with nightsticks. He was jailed and beaten further, with the nightsticks being jabbed repeatedly in his eyes. The next morning, with both his eyes ruptured and suffering from partial amnesia, Woodard was fined $50.
After his family found him at a hospital weeks later that provided inadequate care, nothing could be done to save his eyesight. Despite publicity demanding South Carolina officials investigate the incident, nothing happened.
NAACP Executive Secretary Walter Francis White brought the case before Truman during a meeting Sept. 19, 1946. Truman was outraged, and a week later, he directed the Justice Department to investigate the case.
It mattered little in the outcome for Woodard. The trial was a travesty, the all-white jury found the police chief not-guilty, even though he admitted to blinding him with the nightstick. Woodard moved to New York after the trial, dying at age 73 at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in the Bronx in 1992. He was buried with military honors at nearby Calverton National Cemetery.
The case spurred Truman to be the first American president to speak at a meeting of the NAACP on June 29, 1947, as they met on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. It was there he proclaimed civil rights as a “moral priority.”
Abbie Rowe, 1905-1967, Photographer (NARA record: 8451352) Title President Truman addresses the closing session of the 38th annual conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D. C. In this photo, President Truman is leaving the podium area, accompanied by Walter White, President of the NAACP (to Mr. Truman's left) and Fred Vinson (between them). Gen. Harry Vaughan is to the right of President Truman. Record creator National Archives and Records Administration. Office of Presidential Libraries. Harry S. Truman Library. (04/01/1985 - ) Date 29 June 1947
Abbie Rowe, 1905-1967, Photographer (NARA record: 8451352)
Title President Truman addresses the closing session of the 38th annual conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D. C. In this photo, President Truman is leaving the podium area, accompanied by Walter White, President of the NAACP (to Mr. Truman’s left) and Fred Vinson (between them). Gen. Harry Vaughan is to the right of President Truman.
Record creator National Archives and Records Administration. Office of Presidential Libraries. Harry S. Truman Library. (04/01/1985 – )
Date 29 June 1947
Riding his civil liberties platform, as he headed into the November 1948 election against New York Republican Thomas Dewey, Truman issued Executive Order 9981 on July 26, stating: “It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin.” A sister act, Executive Order 9980, declared equality for those in the federal government.
The order also established the President’s Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services.
The Committee did its homework over the next two years, making field investigations of eight Navy ships and stations, seven Air Force bases and 10 Army posts, held more than 40 meetings and heard testimony from 67 witnesses, according to its 1,025-page report to the president given May 22, 1950.
The Navy was the most compliant, following through with a directive June 7, 1949, from Secretary of the Navy James V. Forrestal, with all jobs and ratings in the naval general service open to all enlisted men, and berthing as well. “Negroes are currently serving in every job classification and in general service.”
Blacks who had been serving as stewards could transfer into the general service as well.
All technical courses were open, with “Negroes attending the most advanced technical schools and are serving in their ratings both in the fleet and at shore installations.”
Sailors in general service were integrated, with whites and African-Americans from basic training, technical schools, on the job, in messes and sleeping quarters, both ashore and afloat.
But most importantly, the steward rate added third, second, first and chief petty officer to its promotion levels, like other rates in the Navy.
Flying high now: African-Americans have the complete choice of rates in the Navy after President Harry S. Truman's desegrated the Armed Services on July 26, 1946. Navy astronaut Capt. Winston E. Scott goes for a "walk" during a space shuttle mission in 1997. NHHC photograph
Flying high now: African-Americans have the complete choice of rates in the Navy after President Harry S. Truman’s desegrated the Armed Services on July 26, 1946. Navy astronaut Capt. Winston E. Scott goes for a “walk” during a space shuttle mission in 1997. NHHC photograph
The success of the Navy incorporating African-Americans into the Navy was recently illustrated in a blog about Vice Adm. Samuel L. Gravely Jr., who took advantage of the Navy’s V-12 College Training program and became the first African-American admiral.
“The thing that most impressed the Committee about the Navy’s experience was that in the relatively short space of five years the Navy had moved from a policy of complete exclusion of Negroes from general service to a policy of complete integration in general service,” the Committee report concluded. “In this about face, the Navy had not been primarily motivated by moral considerations or by a desire to equalize treatment and opportunity. Undoubtedly public opinion had been a factor in this reversal of policy, but chiefly the Navy had been influenced by considerations of military efficiency and the need to economize human resources. Equality of treatment and opportunity, the Navy had discovered, was a necessary and inevitable condition and byproduct of a sound policy of manpower utilization.”

Monday, July 28, 2014

Royal Navy first female commander sent home after alleged affair with another office






THE former head of the Royal Navy believes the first female warship commander has "let down women" if claims she had an affair on board her Plymouth-based ship are true.
Commander Sarah West, who has been in charge of HMS Portland since 2012, was sent home from duty amid claims she was having a relationship with a fellow officer on board the ship.
National media reports claim the 42-year-old would have been in breach of the Armed Forces’ Code of Social Conduct, which prohibits personnel from having relationships with subordinates if they compromise ‘operational effectiveness’.
And ex-Navy boss Admiral Lord West - no relation - says she could face the sack if the claims are proved, as well as unwittingly helping to provide fuel for those who argue against women being on active service.

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He told the Mail on Sunday: "The rules are very clear and if she has had a relationship with someone under her command then she’s rather let down other women in the Royal Navy, because there are people who will jump on this and say this is why women shouldn’t be on ship – which is total nonsense."
Cdr West, who is divorced from a Navy helicopter pilot, is the first woman to command a frontline warship in the Navy’s 500-year history.
Her 5,000-ton Devonport-based Type 23 frigate was conducting anti-narcotics patrols in the Caribbean when the claims of misconduct emerged, and she was flown back to Britain.
Navy sources said she had left HMS Portland for "personal reasons" and is now on annual leave.
Meanwhile the frigate is sailing back to Britain and is expected to dock in the city this week, having left San Juan, Puerto Rico, on July 19.
The ship’s officers and crew are being questioned by military investigators over the alleged affair, according to the Mail.
If the claims are proven, she could face a formal warning, reassignment or even termination of her service.
The male officer, whose identity is unknown, may also face disciplinary action.
Lord West added: "This incident is very sad.
"If the allegations are true I doubt Commander West will continue in her post or be given another ship to command.
"There are so many excellent officers coming through that she won’t get the chance.
"Without any doubt, women must continue to lead in the Royal Navy as they have proved themselves in an array of demanding jobs.
"The truth is we wouldn’t have enough sailors in the Royal Navy if you removed the women.
"They are a key part of what we do.
"There were not any women aboard when I was commanding ships but I was aware of men having sex with each other and they were disciplined.
"Indeed, early in my career it was illegal.
"As ship’s captain you must set an example through your conduct and be beyond reproach.
"The rules banning relationships in the chain of command exist for a very good reason."
A Navy spokesman said: "We are aware of an allegation of a breach of the Code of Social Conduct on board HMS Portland, which we are treating seriously.
"Anyone who is found to fall short of the Royal Navy’s high standards can expect to face appropriate action. It would be inappropriate to comment further."
Earlier this year, Cdr West - separated from her forces ex - said work commitments had got in the way of her love life.
Cdr West, from Grimsby in Lincolnshire, said in a newspaper interview earlier his year: "I’m really proud to be the first woman but I’m not reinventing the wheel.
"Lots of women in the services have challenging roles.
"It’s just that I happen to be newsworthy at the moment.
"There are drawbacks, though. Years at sea probably explains why I’m single. But every person in the military makes sacrifices.
"I’m a comprehensive-educated northerner who knew nothing about the military as I grew up. I worked as a trainee manager for two years after leaving university – then got bored with the nine-to-five."
The military’s policy on relationships between servicemen and women is that they are permitted but that they must not undermine ‘trust and cohesion’ or damage ‘operational effectiveness’.
The types of disciplinary action that can be taken when military personnel breach the Code of Social Conduct include formal warning, official censure or the re-assignment of those involved.
In particularly serious cases, those who have breached the code can be sacked.
Devonport-based HMS Portland is currently completing a seven-month deployment, during which she has spent time in Europe, Africa, South and North America, protecting and promoting national interests.
HMS Portland boasts an impressive array of weaponry, including a submarine-hunting kit, Sea Wolf and Harpoon missiles, Stingray torpedoes and a Lynx attack helicopter.
Cdr West graduated from the University of Hertfordshire with an honours degree in mathematics, before joining Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth in 1995 as a Warfare Officer.
She was selected as a small ship navigator and joined HMS Cottesmore in 1997.
Subsequent appointments included Officer of the Watch of HMS Sheffield and Navigating Officer of HMS Somerset.
In 2007 she joined the Permanent Joint Headquarters and was responsible for coordinating the UK contribution to operations in the Balkans, which included the period that saw Kosovo’s declaration of independence.
Selected for sea command in 2008, she commanded minesweepers HMS Ramsey, HMS Penzance, HMS Pembroke and HMS Shoreham between April 2009 and December 2011.
Her time on HMS Pembroke included eight and a half months deployed on operations in the Arabian Gulf.
She was promoted to commander in January 2012 and assumed command of HMS Portland in May that year.
She said at the time: "Taking command of HMS Portland is definitely the highlight of my 16 years in the Royal Navy so far.’
Cdr West added: "It is a challenge that I am fully trained for and ready to undertake."







Read more: http://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/Royal-Navy-chief-says-Plymouth-based-warship/story-21942982-detail/story.html#ixzz38ji1hUda

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