THOUGHTS ON MEMORIAL DAY

I have posted this before, but I do have more ‘friends’ than I did when I previously posted it.  Except for the last three paragraphs the following paragraphs are excerpts from the excellent book “Guns at Last Light” by Rick Atkinson.  I have made several very small edits to help link together the excerpts, but I have made every effort to retain the power of Mr. Atkinson’s moving words.

Among Dwight Eisenhower’s comments at a ceremony on June 12, 1945 upon receiving the thanks of the British government and monarchy – “humility must always be the portion of any man who receives acclaim earned in the blood of his followers and the sacrifices of his friends.”

Two thirds of the soldiers commanded by Ike in Western Europe from D-Day until the end of the war were Americans.  Of those 60 divisions thirteen suffered 100% casualties and another five suffered 200%.  Casualties totaled 587,000.  Of the 361,000 wounded there were 1,700 left blind, 11,000 at least partially paralyzed and nearly 18,000 amputations.  This does not include the mental scars carried by both the wounded and the “unwounded.”

Another 75,000 Americans had been listed as missing or captured during the European campaign; thousands still were not accounted for at war’s end, leaving their loved ones with the particular anguish of uncertainty.  An estimated 25,000 GIs lay in isolated graves around the Continent, many of them hidden or lost.

No sooner had the ink dried on the surrender documents than mobile teams fanned out across Europe to seek the dead and the missing.  In three years, European fields, forests, orchards and cellars would yield 16,548 isolated GI dead.  These dead and all GIs interred in cemeteries on German soil were re-interred in 38 temporary European sites of which ten would eventually become permanent American cemeteries.  On May 30, 1945, Memorial Day, at the Ninth Army cemetery in Margraten, Holland, Dutch citizens gathered flowers from sixty villages and spread them like a brilliant quilt across 17,000 graves.

In 1947, the next of kin of 270,000 identifiable American dead submitted Quartermaster General Form 345 to choose whether they wanted their soldier brought back to the U.S. or left interred with comrades abroad.  More than 60% of the dead worldwide would return home, at an average cost to the government of $564.50 per body.  Each affected grave was opened by hand and the remains sprinkled with an embalming compound.  Wrapped in a blanket each body was then laid on a pillow in a metal casket lined with rayon satin.

The first of twenty-one “ghost” ships, the Joseph V. Connolly, departed Antwerp bearing the remains of 5060 American soldiers.  Thirty thousand Belgians bade them adieu from the docks, while pledging to look after those remaining “as if,” one man vowed, “their tombs were our children’s.”

On October 27, the Connolly berthed in New York and the caskets were removed in specially designed slings.  Most then traveled by rail across the republic for burial in their hometowns.  Among those waiting was Henry A. Wright, a widower living on his farm near Springfield, Missouri.  Gray and stooped the elder Wright watched as one by one his three sons were carried into the bedroom in which each had been born.  Neighbors kept vigil overnight, carpeting the floor with roses, and in the morning they bore the brothers to Hilltop Cemetery for burial side by side by side under an iron sky.

Many years after the war the daughter of a Major buried at Colleville, just above Omaha Beach wrote of seeing his headstone for the first time.

“I cried for the joy of being there and the sadness of my father’s death.  I cried for all the times I needed a father and never had one.  I cried for all the words I had wanted to say and wanted to hear and had not.  I cried and cried.”

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As a child my Dad took me along to my uncle’s house where he was helping my uncle build a garage.  It was a hot summer day and my uncle removed his shirt as they worked.  I still remember my shock upon seeing the scars of the grievous wounds suffered by my uncle at Anzio.  But at least I got to know him.  I never met my father’s younger brother.  He disappeared with his PT boat in the Pacific.  I guess his epitaph would be the same as his boat – “overdue and presumed lost.”  Freedom is indeed not free.

If you pass a soldier or an ordinary citizen wearing a ball cap identifying them as a veteran please thank them for their service.  If you have a few minutes ask them about their experiences.  I passed a very old gentleman in the grocery store wearing a cap identifying him as serving on the USS Randolph, a WW2 aircraft carrier.  When I asked him what his job was his demeanor totally changed.  He seemed 50 years younger as he described his experiences.  I’m not sure which of us was more uplifted by the exchange.

I’d also like to recommend the best war movie ever made, “The Best Years of Our Lives.”  And there’s not a single battle in it.

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AN OLDIE BUT A GREATY

If you’ve seen this twenty times before, most recently just 2 months ago, it will still be funny.

Accident Report

This one needs an introduction, so you won’t be lost at the beginning. This man was in an accident at work, so he filled out an insurance claim. The insurance company contacted him and asked for more information. This was his response:

“I am writing in response to your request for additional information, for block number 3 of the accident reporting form. I put ‘poor planning’ as the cause of my accident. You said in your letter that I should explain more fully and I trust the following detail will be sufficient. I am an amateur radio operator and on the day of the accident, I was working alone on the top section of my new 80-foot tower. When I had completed my work, I discovered that I had, over the course of several trips up the tower, brought up about 300 pounds of tools and spare hardware. Rather than carry the now unneeded tools and material down by hand, I decided to lower the items down in a small barrel by using the pulley attached to the gin pole at the top of the tower. Securing the rope at ground level, I went to the top of the tower and loaded the tools and material into the barrel. Then I went back to the ground and untied the rope, holding it tightly to ensure a slow decent of the 300 pounds of tools.”

“You will note in block number 11 of the accident reporting form that I weigh only 155 pounds. Due to my surprise of being jerked off the ground so suddenly, I lost my presence of mind and forgot to let go of the rope. Needless to say, I proceeded at a rather rapid rate of speed up the side of the tower. In the vicinity of the 40-foot level, I met the barrel coming down. This explains my fractured skull and broken collarbone. Slowed only slightly, I continued my rapid ascent, not stopping until the fingers of my right hand were two knuckles deep into the pulley. Fortunately, by this time, I had regained my presence of mind and was able to hold onto the rope in spite of my pain. At approximately the same time, however, the barrel of tools hit the ground and the bottom fell out of the barrel.”

“Devoid of the weight of the tools, the barrel now weighed approximately 20 pounds. I refer you again to my weight in block number 11. As you might imagine, I began a rapid descent down the side of the tower. In the vicinity of the 40-foot level, I met the barrel coming up. This accounts for the two fractured ankles, and the lacerations of my legs and lower body. The encounter with the barrel slowed me enough to lessen my injuries when I fell onto the pile of tools and, fortunately, only three vertebrae were cracked. I am sorry to report, however, that as I lay there on the tools, in pain, unable to stand and watching the empty barrel 80 feet above me, I again lost my presence of mind. I let go of the rope…”

Attn:  Wile E. Coyote

VIET NAM REDUX

“What we have here…” is an attempt by the radical left to seize power.  They thought that they were going to get it by the election of Hillary which was a ‘done deal’ that literally fell through.  Now, totally incensed, the left is determined to seize power regardless.  It has been said of the Viet Nam War, “we won all the battles, but lost the war.”  This was thanks to the overwhelming assistance of the media.  There are two important differences now.  The first is that the media is even more in the tank for the left now than it was then.  The tactics then as now are straight out of the play book of Herbert Marcuse with an added assist now by Hilliary’s hero, Saul Alinsky, and his book ‘Rules for Radicals.’  This is evident in the suppression of opposition speech and the use of street thuggery against anyone who dares to oppose leftist doctrine.  The second difference now is that the left is in total control of the Democratic Party (Pro-lifers need not apply) as can be seen in the Democrats’ strategic efforts to castrate the Trump Presidency.

As to the issue of this current flap about Comey’s firing, I would like to see the following.  Trump should appoint, as the Democrats are demanding, a Special Prosecutor.  And that Special Prosecutor should be Joe Digenova.  To those who would complain that Joe is practically a Republican operative, I would point out that Joe has a proven record of success as a Special Prosecutor.  And then I would stuff it down the Democrats’ throats.  I’m not an expert, but I don’t believe Trump needs any approval from Congress or anyone else to appoint a Special Prosecutor.  The Dems will scream bloody murder for a while, but we all know a special prosecution can go on for years.  And here is the most important point.  In his charge to Digenova, Trump should direct him to investigate ALL actions by the Russians within the LAST 10 YEARS to influence the American system of government or our economy.  This would naturally put within the purview of Mr. Digenova not only this most recent election, but things like business deals for Uranium rights and associated charitable donations, or emails made easily hackable by improper storage, etc., etc., etc.  So any complaints about Comey’s firing or investigation of Russian influence can be deflected with, “it’s in the hands of the Special Prosecutor.”  And all the while Joe will be ‘out there’ – digging, digging, digging.  Uranium.  Closet servers. hee, hee, hee

POLITICALLY INCORRECTABLE – THE LOST WORD

Several weeks ago President Trump was being interviewed by a TV news person.  In a series of questions about Trump’s proposal for tax cuts, the interviewer ended up asking, “… but isn’t this going to increase the deficit?”  Deficit?  Deficit.  Deficit.  I remember that word.  Seems like forever since I last heard it.  Hmmm… It was actually only about 8 years ago.

Presidential candidate Barack Obama was implying that George W. Bush was treasonous for allowing the yearly deficits to push the national debt to record levels.  Where has that word been for the last 8 years.  It must have fallen out of the ‘Official Professional Journalists Lexicon.’  That’s the only thing I can think of.  And a true shame it was that the word was unavailable just when it was most needed.  After that ‘traitor’ George W. Bush added $4.9 trillion to the national debt the journalists were then unable to provide any warning to the American people that Barak Obama was in the process of adding $9 trillion to the national debt.

I think I’m going to try to recollect any other words that have been lost for the last 8 years.  Yeah, yeah, that’s the ticket.

ALL THE REAL IMPORTANT STUFF

Over the 30 years of my career in information technology I managed to collect a significant number of rules, observations and principles from many different sources. Below is a compilation.

All the Real Important Stuff You Need to Know

The Three Primary Rules of Data Processing –

  •  Never attribute to malice that which can be easily explained by stupidity.
  •  It is impossible to make anything fool-proof because fools are so ingenious
  •  Artificial Intelligence is no match for Natural Stupidity.

Applicable Rules from other Areas –

Yogi Berra’s Law – You can observe a lot just by watching.

Agnes Allen’s Law – Almost anything is easier to get into than out of.

Anderson’s Law – I have yet to see any problem, however complicated, which, when you looked at it the right way, did not become still more complicated.

Derek Bok’s Law – If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.

Erma Bombeck’s Rule of Medicine – Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died.

Lord Falkland’s Rule – When it is not necessary to make a decision, it is necessary not to make a decision.

Marshall’s Generalized Iceberg Theorem – Seven-eighths of everything can’t be seen.

Clopton’s Law – For every credibility gap there is a gullibility fill.

Historian’s Rule – Any event, once it has occurred, can be made to appear inevitable by a competent historian.

Thurber’s Conclusion – There is no safety in numbers, or in anything else for that matter.

Law of Statistics – Numbers, when tortured sufficiently, can be made to say anything.
Corollary – Figures don’t lie, but liars figure.

First Rule of Wing Walking – Never let go of what you’ve got until you’ve got hold of something else.

Raymond Berry’s Rule – When in doubt go down and out.

Harris’s Law – Any philosophy that can be put in a nutshell, belongs there.

Boren’s Guidelines for Bureaucracy –
1) When in charge, ponder.
2) When in trouble, delegate.
3) When in doubt, mumble.

Fred Bucy’s Law – Nothing is ever accomplished by a reasonable man.

Donald Douglas’s Law of Aeronautics – When the weight of the paperwork equals the weight of the plane, the plane will fly.

Fiedler’s Forecasting Rules
1) It is very difficult to forecast, especially about the future.
2) He who lives by the crystal ball soon learns to eat ground glass.
3) The moment you forecast, you know you’re going to be wrong – you just don’t know when and in which direction.
4) If you’re ever right, never let them forget it.

Law of Gardening – You get the most of what you need the least.

Iron Law of Distribution (and the First Rule of Organic chemistry) – Them what has, gets.

Thomas Jones’ Law – Friends may come and go, but enemies accumulate.

Kafka’s Law – In the fight between you and the world, back the world.

Claire Boothe Luce’s Law – No good deed goes unpunished.

Damon Runyon’s Law – The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong. But that’s the way the smart money bets.

Senator Moynihan’s Law – If the newspapers of a country are filled with good news, the jails of that country will be filled with good people.

Osborn’s Law – Variables won’t, constants aren’t.

Peer’s Law – The solution to a problem changes the problem.

Wolf’s Law – Those who don’t study the past will repeat its errors. Those who do study it will find other ways to err.

Kristol’s Law – Being frustrated can be very disagreeable, but the real disasters in life begin when you get what you want.

Boyle’s Law – If not controlled, work will flow to the competent person until he/she submerges.

Charlie Chan’s Theory of Relativity – Man with two watches never certain of time.

My sister Sandra’s Apparel Axiom – When your underwear’s too tight, nothing goes right.

Rita Jones’ Conundrum –  Sometimes your knight in shining armor is just an idiot wrapped in tin foil.