Category Archives: Historical

A Reminder About Race

During my lifetime I’ve seen a lot of progress on race relations in this country.  I can still remember my first television commercial featuring African-Americans.  It was for Crest toothpaste, and it featured middle-class suburbia, except the family was black.  It was unusual enough to interrupt our family dinner.  No big deal today. We’ve come

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Our Forgotten Link With Haiti

You don’t study history for long without developing a certain sense of irony. Recently our president was accused of talking disparagingly about Haiti (among other countries).   That’s why I was intrigued when I found an article entitled “How Haitians Helped Win The American Revolution” by Pooja Bhatia. Here’s the situation:  In 1779, colonial rebels laid

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Benjamin Franklin and Virtue

With all the virtue-challenged public figures these days, perhaps it’s time to go back to basics.  Founding fathers basics. One of the most fascinating founding fathers was Ben Franklin.  He had a remarkable life as a successful businessman, humorist, scientist, and public servant.  Did he have a secret? He may have.  I’ve been reading about

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Be Thankful Christmas Is Legal

One hot topic in the culture wars has been the proper holiday greeting — “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”? Not that I want to get involved in this contemporary debate, but as a history nerd I couldn’t help notice the following item on the December 23rd Ozy Presidential Daily News Brief  email — It’s enough

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Remembering the Dark Side of History

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. — George Santayana As a history nerd, I’ve always been interested in one of our past’s most scholarly dilemmas — how do you remember the dark side of history without glorifying it?  Setting aside the issue of Confederate monuments, I have three examples of

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Happy Birthday Charles de Gaulle

On November 22, 1890, Charles de Gaulle was born in Lille, France.  He is best known for leading Free France against the Nazi occupation in World War II, then becoming the symbol of post-war France by organizing the Fifth Republic in 1958 and serving as president until 1969.  He was also a decorated officer in

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Happy Birthday — Radio

On November 2nd, 1920, radio station KDKA in Pittsburg, PA broadcast the first regular radio transmission in the US — the Harding-Cox presidential election results.  Only about 5000 people owned radios at that time, and no one was quite sure how to use this new technology. Some wanted radio used for the good of everyone, funded

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Dazzle Them With Camouflage

Having had a career in the military, I know something about camouflage.  A common opinion is good camouflage is supposed to make you disappear into the background (which has led to a lot of jokes, particularly about stealth technology).  Actually all camouflage has to do is make a recognizable shape unrecognizable, if only for a

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