Forty-five years ago, former SS troops gathered by the thousands. Old friends emerged from self-inflicted obscurity. Many, intent on still concealing their less-than-positive one-time career pursuits, joined comrades-in-arms unfazed by the bloody legacy they splattered on the pages of history. They were Adolf Hitler’s elite personal security who took an oath to their Fuhrer rather than to their country.
It wasn’t just Oval Office tape recordings that Richard Nixon wanted to get rid of. According to documents made public last week, the 37th president ordered the removal of pieces of modern art placed in embassies during the Kennedy administration. Calling such pieces “little uglies,” on January 26, 1970 Nixon issued a memo calling the examples of modern art and architecture in government offices “incredibly atrocious.”
Great legends are often built on the ashes of someone's destruction — whether figurative or literal. Competition is often a zero-sum game. One man's moment of triumph is another's devastating defeat. Bobby Thomson hit the home run that made him forever famous, the "shot heard around the world" in the ninth inning of the final playoff game, the home run that won the pennant for the New York Giants and sent the Brooklyn Dodgers home for a long and bitter winter. But Ralph Branca, the Dodger pitcher who surrendered that home run, was forever marked as a loser. The world must seem merciless to a man who was one of the best pitchers in the game of Major League Baseball, but must go through life labeled a "loser" because of one pitch in the ultimate game of a fabled season.
The sinewy, bearded man raced up the brushy hillside, blood streaming from his nose from the terrific exertion. He did not consider himself a fast runner, but on this occasion the terror of sudden and agonizing death lent wings to his feet.
Our own Founding Fathers were convinced, and history has proven them prescient, that they were building a new and everlasting republic that would do what other republics of the ancient world had failed to do: survive the effects of the maladies of self-government and bequeath to the subsequent generations of Americans a sound and stable republic — if they could keep it.
As Americans come to dread the increasingly bromidic nature of the festive season (where, that is, they are still allowed to celebrate Christmas at all), they might find it profitable to reflect upon the First World War. For it was that conflagration that did so much to make the West what it is today.
A generation after George Washington’s Christmastime farewell to his troops and to the Congress who commissioned him in 1775, Clement Clarke Moore penned the iconic poem he called “A Visit From St. Nicholas,” but known to most as “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.”
On December 7, 1941, the Japanese Navy launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. But was the surprise attack really a "surprise"? The American military personnel and their commanders at Pearl Harbor were certainly caught by surprise, but the evidence is overwhelming that this was not the case in Washington, D.C.
Sixty years following its first publication and twenty-five since the fateful year, George Orwell’s 1984 remains a mystery to the experts. They convene often in exotic places to agree that Orwell wrote a dystopia on the communist take-over of Britain and America. They concur how he reversed the final two digits of the year he wrote the book — 1948 — to arrive at the title 1984. They write that Orwell was not a prophet and few predictions fill his volume. These consensus beliefs on 1984 by the experts still shape the views of tens of millions of citizens who read Orwell’s work in the public schools and colleges.
In politics, it seems, nothing succeeds like failure. The most successful men in American political history are its most spectacular failures. Consider that the most important responsibilities that a President has are preserving our liberties and keeping the peace. Yet the Presidents we celebrate the most are those who led the nation into war and expanded the power of the state.