September, 9 A.D., Kalkriese Hill, northern Germany: the Germanic warriors waited in grim silence. Three Roman legions, commanded by General Publius Quintilius Varus, advanced across the Rhine into Anglo-Saxon territory. The Romans hoped to expand Roman power, Roman law, and Roman culture. The Germans hoped to preserve their Teutonic laws and institutions and their way of life.
May 1917 was a time of troubles. In France the titanic Battle of Arras was raging. The United States, which had declared war on Germany the previous month, was in the process of drafting millions of men, more than 100,000 of whom would lose their lives. The great empire of Russia was in turmoil, its Czar, Nicholas II having abdicated the throne in February in response to the first of two revolutions. The second revolution — the October bloodbath that would thrust those living under Russian rule under the heel of Bolshevism — lay only months away.
Most Americans today would probably still recognize the stirring words from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Concord Hymn”: “By the rude bridge that arched the flood,/ Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,/ Here once the embattled farmers stood,/ And fired the shot heard round the world.” Most of us are still aware that those embattled farmers won for us the freedoms we too often take for granted today.
In the midst of public outcry over the decision by Scottish authorities to free Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, convicted in 1991 for his involvement in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, the anniversary of an older case of state-sponsored terrorism, the shooting down by KAL 007 by Soviet jet fighters in 1983, is almost forgotten by the media and public.
Arielle Levin Becker of the Washington Post wrote about John Philip Sousa’s professional stature as regards his past association with the Marine Corps Band: If there’s any question about the place Sousa has in the band’s memory, a visit to the director’s office settles any doubts.