The Demise of 3 Kings

Posted by Rick Bretz

Today’s headlines reveal that once a dictator has power they are reluctant to give it up.   I submit to the court of history as evidence the countries of Egypt, Libya, Iraq, Haiti, and many others. You can’t blame them.  As Mel Brooks said in his movie The History of the World, Part I, “It’s good to be King.”

The three stories of one Russian Tsar, Nicholas II, and two Kings, England’s Charles I  and France’s Louis XVI can be reduced to isolated adolescences and lack of situational awareness in their homelands.  This isolation continued into their adult lives and created a stubbornness and sense of entitlement. Their refusal to understand the plight and basic needs of citizens and the nobility forced their enemies to take action.  The lack of leadership at crucial times gave their enemies the chance to strike and force a surrender.  In all three cases, the revolutionaries that captured them felt it necessary to execute them so that they would not be a living symbol for their supporters.  In two cases, King Louis XVI and King Charles I were beheaded.  In the case of Tsar Nicholas II, he was gunned down along with his entire family. Louis XVI’s wife, Marie Antoinette,  also met the executioner’s guillotine.  When there are wars, lack of basic needs like food and shelter, and general unrest, it can force people to desperation and revolution.  History’s lesson for these three rulers from the genetic lottery is that their lofty stations in life didn’t necessarily mean safety from scheming enemies.

SIMILARITIES

Charles   I-England Louis   XVI-France Nicholas II=Russia
Executed Executed Executed
Lacked   situational Awareness Lacked Situational   Awareness Lacked Situational   Awareness
Isolated Upbringing Isolated   Upbringing Isolated   Upbringing
Unsympathetic   Captors Unsympathetic   Captors Unsympathetic   Captors
Unwilling to Compromise Power Unwilling   to Compromise Power Unwilling   to Compromise Power

England’s King Charles I

Oliver cromwell imrpisoning king charles I
Oliver cromwell imrpisoning king charles I (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

King Charles I of England ruled during the years from 1625 to January 30th, 1649.  It was during his reign when Puritans and Catholics began leaving England due to religious persecution.   He also kept dissolving parliament (3 times) so that he could run things his way within the first three years of his rule.  This forced him to raise funds by other forceful means. What really got him trouble was creating enemies within the nobility.   Due to wars with Scotland and Ireland and creating tensions within the religious communities, he was on a collision with powerful groups. Eventually, civil war began in 1642.  The Royalists were defeated in 1646 due to the Parliament’s alliance with the Scott’s.  Charles surrendered to the Scott’s who handed him over to Parliament.  He escaped to the Isle of Wright in 1647 and a second Civil War began and was finished within a year.  Parliamentarian General Oliver Cromwell defeated the Royalists.  Charles was captured.  The conquering parliamentarians decided that the country would never have peace if the King continued to live.  Cromwell and his associates put the King on trial, found him guilty of treason. He was executed  outside the Banqueting House on Whitehall, London on January 30th, 1649.

France’s King Louis XVI

Queen Marie Antoinette of France and her husba...
Queen Marie Antoinette of France and her husband King Louis XVI. of France with their first child Princess Marie Therese Charlotte of France, 1778 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Louis the XVI got into trouble by not having the necessary leadership qualities to understand the social and political climate of the period.  He preferred hunting rather than sitting in his office trying to figure out budget concerns and other political matters.  He relied  heavily on the court member’s advice.  In addition, his treasury secretary’s financing part of the American Revolution reduced the funds or canceled out any savings from the reforms the King approved.  His laissez-fair attitude got him trouble with parliament, the nobility and his subjects.  Once the debt got to be unmanageable the King tried to tax the notable or privileged classes.  The assembly balked at that demand.  The King sent troops to Paris to force his will.  This was the spark that ignited Bastille Day, where the Bastille was stormed on July 14, 1789.  The royal family was confined to Paris in Tuileries Palace a couple of months later.  They tried to escape but were recaptured.  At the time, France was at war with Austria and Prussia. Marie Antoinette’s was the daughter of an Austrian royal family.  The Austrian’s made it clear that should any harm come to Louis and his family, they would march on Paris.  Louis’s communication with the Prussian’s infuriated the revolutionaries.  After the family’s  imprisonment in the Temple in August of 1792, incriminating  evidence was used to try Louis XVI in January of 1793.  He was found guilty and guillotined on January 21, 1793.

Russia’s Tsar Nicholas II

Tsar Nicholas was unprepared for managing a country as large a Russia when he assumed power in 1894.  He mistrusted a majority of his ministers and was

English: Photo taken by A. A. Pasetti of Tsar ...
English: Photo taken by A. A. Pasetti of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, near age 30, at St. Petersburg, Russia, 1898. Français : Photo de Nicolas II de Russie, prise par A. A. Pasetti en 1898, alors que Nicolas II a 30 ans. Русский: Фотография A. A. Pasetti царя Николая Второго, в возрасте 30 лет в Санкт-Петербурге, 1898 год. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

influenced by his wife Princess Alexandra.  He got off to a bad start when he tried to gain more land by getting into a war with Japan over Manchuria.  This resulted in a humiliating defeat on land and sea.  This provoked riots and demonstrations due to poor economic conditions in Russia. In January 1905, Russian troops fired into a crowd who were demonstrating for reforms.  This event forced a change. The Tsar, in order to keep power, accepted a constitution and a ruling government body called the duma. This enabled the middle class to have more say in government affairs.  However, the Tsar still had his secret police to stifle radicals. This held off the inevitable, but with the start of World War I in 1914, the Tsar made an unwise decision.  He went to the front to lead the Russian Army . The Army was experiencing heavy losses and with each one, the blame was attributed to the Tsar.  Combine that with food shortages, high inflation, suppression and general unrest, Vladimir Lenin had the chance to strike.  In 1917, widespread demonstrations in Petrograd, combined with the Tsar’s loss of support from the Army,  Nicholas II abdicated the throne. After the end of World War I, a civil war began between the Bolsheviks and the anti-Bolsheviks. The Bolshevik’s moved the royal family from place to place until Lenin gave the order to execute the whole family.

Feel free to comment about this post or any other one.

Top Eight Military Memorials

Since Memorial Day is a few days away I wanted to give a list of memorials in remembrance of American service members..  The nation owes them a debt of gratitude for defending the United States  and its values. Choosing the top eight military memorials is a tough task.  I think all of them honor the veterans with splendor and reverence. Throughout history, leaders and politicians from America’s adversaries have underestimated the spirit of our fighting men and women.  Arguably, when given a mission and left alone, they have achieved success time after time.  American servicemen aren’t politicians so they have no control over decisions made by the government.  The military is an essential position for diplomacy. It’s President Teddy Roosevelt‘s analagous “Big Stick.” Politics aside, they have achieved success in every war, conflict, police action and peace-keeping mission given to them—and that means every mission.  These memorials are a testament to the widely held belief that servicemen would rather have peace because they know more than any other citizen the price to be paid for war.

1.  USS  Arizona-dedicated in 1962

2. Vietnam Memorial-Accepted by the President of the US in 1984

Vietnam war memorial
Vietnam war memorial (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

3.  Marine Corps War MemorialDedicated November 10, 1954 (179th Birthday of the Corps)

United States Marine Corps War Memorial by Fel...
United States Marine Corps War Memorial by Felix de Weldon at night. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

4.  US Air Force Memorial-Dedicated in 2006

5. Tomb of the Unknown Soldier-Patrolled continuously 24/7 since 1930

Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unkno...
Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
                                                                                            6.  Korea War Memorial-Dedicated in 1995
Korean War Veterans Memorial
Korean War Veterans Memorial (Photo

        7.  Women  in the Military Service Memorial-Dedicated in 1997

The Women in Military Service for America Memo...
The Women in Military Service for America Memorial is the nation’s first major national memorial honoring women who served in the armed forces during all eras and in all services. Image shows a panorama of the monument. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

8.  Arlington  National Cemetery-Began with the confiscation of the Mary Anna Custis Lee  property in 1864

Soldiers from the 3d Infantry Regiment carry N...

Other Notables: Normandy American Center and Memorial (D-Day); Missing Man Formation; Empty Boots, Rifle and Helmet; Gettysburg National Park; Taps on the Bugle; and any resting place for an American serviceman and family member.

The Brooklyn and Golden Gate Bridges

Bridges are, and will continue to be, the original information super highway. Whether spanning long distances or a few hundred feet in length, a bridge connects people, towns, cities, cultures, industry and commerce. There is something remarkable about crossing a wide river like the Mississippi to get to a destination.  They are monuments to mankind’s ability, courage,  and engineering  skill. The following post features two well-known and visited bridges.

 

Similitaries

The Brooklyn Bridge The Golden Gate Bridge
Twisted cable suspension engineering Twisted    cable suspension engineering
Connects two NYC Boroughs Connects San Francisco and Marin County
Known worldwide Known worldwide
Longest suspension bridge upon completion Longest suspension bridge upon completion
Pedestrian access Pedestrian access
History of suicide jumps History of suicide jumps
First steel suspension bridge Steel shipped from East Coast ports through   Panama Canal to West Coast
27 men lost their lives during construction 11 men lost their live during construction

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Brooklyn Bridge, seen from Manhattan, New ...
The Brooklyn Bridge, seen from Manhattan, New York City. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE

The Brooklyn Bridge was completed in 1883 and connects Manhattan and Brooklyn, New York.  The bridge’s main span is 1595.5 feet and was the longest suspension bridge when completed. John Roebling, a German immigrant, and bridge designer and engineer, began work on the project. He sustained an injury while conducting surveys resulting in an amputation that developed a tetanus infection that eventually killed him. His son, Washington Roebling, continued the project.

Unfortunately, Washington Roebling sustained a paralyzing injury himself due to decompression sickness soon after the construction phase began on Jan 3, 1870.  What is fascinating about the construction is that Washington Roebling’s wife, Emily Warren, stepped in to act as a liaison during construction.  Washington Roebling was incapacitated so Emily Warren communicated engineering plans to the staff building the bridge.  Under Washington Roebling’s guidance Warren communicated strength calculations, catenary curves. bridge specifications, and cable construction designs.  She assisted her husband for the next 11 years.

Roebling used airtight caissons that were made like massive wooden boxes. The wooden boxes were sent to the bottom using giant granite blocks.  The

Théobald Chartran – Portrait of Washington A. ...
Théobald Chartran – Portrait of Washington A. Roebling – Brooklyn Museum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

chamber was pressurized so that water and debris would be kept out.  They didn’t know enough about how pressurized air affected a person’s internal organs upon ascending to the surface too quickly. This is what is known today as the “bends” when too much gas forms bubbles in the bloodstream. Many were killed or injured during this process.  These workers were known as “sand-hogs” and earned $2 a day.  However, despite the dangers, they stuck with the process. Once they cleared away the debris and reached the bedrock, they started the process of laying the granite for the towers that were used for the suspension cables.

Roebling built the bridge so that it would be six times stronger than needed.  It is one reason the bridge is still standing today after so much vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

The Brooklyn Bridge was opened for use on May 24, 1883. On first day for crossing 1,800 vehicles and 150,300 people travelled between Manhattan and Brooklyn. Emily Warren Roebling was the first to cross the bridge.  Emily Warren Roebling died of stomach cancer in 1903. Washington Roebling died on July 21, 1926.  He fought the effects of caisson’s disease the remainder of his life..

Baker Beach and Golden Gate Bridge
Baker Beach and Golden Gate Bridge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE

The Golden Gate Bridge spans the Golden Gate Strait and is the entrance to the San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean. The Golden Gate Bridge construction phase began on Jan.5, 1933 and was open to traffic on May 28, 1937. Pedestrians were able to cross on May 27, 1937. Ten different prime contractors and their subcontractors worked on the bridge  construction.  During the construction, 11 men lost their lives but 19 men were saved due to the project using safety nets.  The men who were saved by falling into the nets are known as the “Halfway-to-Hell Club.”

According to historical documents, the steel used in the construction of the bridge was manufactured by Bethlehem Steel in plants in Trenton, New Jersey and Sparrows Point, Maryland and in plants in three Pennsylvania towns: Bethlehem, Pottstown, and Steelton. The steel was sent to Philadelphia and shipped through the Panama Canal to San Francisco.

The construction design relies on cable suspension that passes through two  main towers. The weight of the roadway is hung from two cables that pass through the two main towers and are fixed in concrete at each end. Each cable is made of 27,572 strands of wire. There are 80,000 miles (129,000 km) of wire in the main cables.The bridge has approximately 1,200,000 total rivets.

Engineers working on the project used a “deflection theory” design that reduced stress by transmitting forces through suspension cables to the bridge towers.  The project cost more than $35 million. The project was finished by April 1937 and came in  $1.3 million under budget.

The color of the bridge is officially an orange vermillion or international orange. Since 1990 acrylic topcoats have been used for air-quality reasons. The program was completed in 1995 and it is maintained by 38 painters who re-paint the areas where it becomes eroded.

 

 

Both the Golden Gate and Brooklyn Bridges are majestic when viewing or crossing over them.  The workers who died while making these structures deserve to be remembered.  The talented engineers and hard-working construction people who completed the bridge also deserve a “job well done!” from each citizen who walks, rides or travels across these bridges.

What are your names of your favorite bridges? Leave a comment and let me know.

 

 

The Top Eight Quotes Spoken by Presidents

The Presidents of the United States have been in office during the successful years and the difficult times.  There are websites devoted to the men who served in the office and what words they have spoken while occupying the position.  The following are the most intriguing quotes from these men and what I think they wanted to say to the American people.  This post is a subjective exercise.  I am listing the ones that impress me.

 

Seal of the President of the United States Esp...

1.”Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder. “
George Washington

He was pointing out that most men have a price.  When someone is prepared to give the highest bounty you have asked, few men or women can say “no.”   The historical record is littered with people who have compromised their integrity for money, power and influence.  Most have paid a price of some kind in either loss of reputations, loss of wealth or loss of freedom and sometimes all three.

 
2. “A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have. “
Gerald Ford

This is perfect quote that demonstrates how government can take on a human dynamic.  A government that is big enough to provide you with everything you need or desire can also use power to take those things away and then some.  Most communist or socialist governments try to provide their citizens what they need but in exchange the society is  forced to relinquish freedoms, like free press, free movement within boundaries, rights to privacy and slanted judgments within the judicial system.
3. “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit. “
Harry S Truman

Every program manager and leader in America should have this hanging on the wall somewhere.  If one person decides that their ego is above a certain goal, then accomplishing a goal just got that much more difficult.  The tough part is getting a team to “buy in” to that idea.  It is fine to deliver kudos and credit afterwards.  That is what capitalism is all about.  However, if you want to get somewhere fast, then build a team with one thought in mind and that is delivering an excellent product on time and within budget. Today’s congress, state and local governments should take a lesson from this.
4. “As man draws nearer to the stars, why should he not also draw nearer to his neighbors?”
Lyndon Johnson

Despite President Johnson’s intentions it seems that technology has pulled us away from each other.  He is right.  Just because we have all of this technology for our benefit doesn’t mean we as American’s can’t take time to get to know neighbors at home or strangers on the subway. He also might be speaking about getting to know America’s neighbors in the world, as in making an effort to know other countries cultures.

 
5. “Democracy is worth dying for, because it’s the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. “
Ronald Reagan

President Reagan nailed it.  Democracy in action may have its faults but it is the most effective and successful form of government produced by people.  There are many forms of democracy but any shade of it is much more effective than an autocracy, theocracy, monarchy or oligarchy.

 
 6.”The middle of the road is all of the usable surface. The extremes, right and left, are in the gutters.”
Dwight D. Eisenhower

This piece of wisdom is perfect for today’s political climate.  Extremes are where nothing ever gets done.  There has to be some compromise so people can move forward and not let their goals end up stalled in a ditch somewhere.  It’s easy to be inflexible.  It is much more difficult to find common ground with your ideological opposite.

7. “True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made. “
Franklin D. Roosevelt

If you want capitalism and democracy, you have to make it work.  As the late, former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neal used to say “All politics is local.”  A politician can deliver and distribute many loft ideas about how government should operate.  To most people striving to make a living and take care of their families, the measure of success is:  Do I have a JOB?  How much am I paying for gas? Can I afford groceries this month?  Can I live comfortably and can I retire?   If you don’t have these, then you have people willing to change the system to something else, like a dictatorship.

8. “Our problems are man-made; therefore they may be solved by man. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. “
John F. Kennedy

President Kennedy had one trait that makes great leaders, “A can do spirit.”   He was saying, what we destroy we can rebuild.  What we break, we can fix.  What problems we create, we can solve.  Everything that is around us was built, engineered, and invented by man.  So with this in mind, he states, that man can solve these problems through the continuing ingenuity of man.

Honorable Mention

 9. “People ask the difference in a leader and a boss. The leader leads and the boss drives. “
Teddy Roosevelt

President Roosevelt states here that real leaders motivate people.  A boss drives or “works” his people through fear or intimidation.  Leading and motivating people will get you to your goal a lot sooner.  This, of course, is a lot more difficult to put into practice. Some people learn it, some just have it, and others never learn the lesson.

What quote do you like?  Leave a suggestion and tell me why?

Empress Dowager Cixi and Catherine the Great

The two powerful women featured in this comparison are significant because they knew how to assess their situation, develop influential followers, and then create a plan of action. In fact, few men in history have been so effective at gaining power and then keeping it for as long a period as these two women.  Readers may note that one difference between the two seems to be that Catherine the Great had a more positive influence on her country than the Empress.  However, the Empress Dowager Cixi had to use her power behind the curtains, influencing decisions within the Emperor or Regent’s power structure.

Similarities

Empress Dowager Cixi

Catherine the Great

Ruled Manchu Qing Dynasty and expanded her   power Ruled Russia and expanded its boundaries
Outmaneuvered Existing Power Elite Outmaneuvered Palace Power Elite
Instituted Social Reforms Instituted Social Reforms
Wielded Power within Family Wielded Power within Family
Held Power for Long Time Held Power for Long Time
Suppressed Rebellions Suppressed Rebellions
Live long life for her day Lived long life for her day
The oil painting of the Chinese Empress Dowage...
The oil painting of the Chinese Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908) by Catherine Karl in late 1890s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tz’u Hsi or Empress Dowager Cixi (November, 29 1835 – November, 15 1908)

Tz’u Hsi is a testament to not underestimating someone who is small in stature and comes from a modest background.  She held power as a regent or as a

defacto ruler of China for 47 years until 1908, when she died.  Born in 1835, she began her rise to power as the Emperor Hsein-Feng’s concubine. Since she produced the only heir to the Emperor, her power increased exponentially until she achieved Imperial Concubine status and then Noble Consort, second in influence only to that of the Empress. She gave birth to their son a couple of years before the emperor died.  Her son became Emperor Tung-Chih.  Since he was too young, at five years, to make decisions, Tz’u Hsi was given the power with two other partners.  She soon became a force in this triumvirate.  The Empress gained power when she talked military leaders and ministers into supporting her after the 8 regents selected to run the government alienated them.   She was persuasive and influential.  According to many scholars, despite pushing through reforms such as instituting foreign languages in schools and creating the Chinese Foreign Service Office, she also had a reputation for corruption and amassing a huge fortune and accumulating wealth. She used the country’s revenue funding for her own pleasure.  She retired from office in 1889.  Nevertheless, all decision-making ran through her for approval until her death.  The new emperor wanted to clean out corruption in China’s government but Hsi didn’t want this to happen so she took the power of the regency again and confined him to the palace.  In 1900, the Boxer Rebellion forced her to flee Peking and accept the peace agreement.   Toward the end of her life, she changed her mind and worked to eliminate corruption in government the best she could at her advanced age. The Empress Dowager Cixi died in Peking on November 15, 1908, a day after the real emperor, Guangxu.  The Empress Dowager is known for political maneuvering, accumulating wealth, and instituting reforms.  She is also remembered as the most successful concubine in history.  After she evaluated her circumstances and assessed her friends and enemies, she acted without hesitation. It seems her years as a concubine weren’t wasted. She understood the personalities working around the family dynasty and the Forbidden City so that when she moved, she knew who to rely on and who were her enemies. In that time, one false step would have meant death.

Catherine the Great or Catherine II (Born Sophia Augusta Fredericka) May 2, 1729-November 17, 1796

 Since history is written by the living or the victors, the fact that Catherine II became known as

Portrait of Catherine II the Legislatress in t...
Portrait of Catherine II the Legislatress in the Temple Devoted to the Godess of Justice, by Dmitry Levitsky. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Catherine the “Great” is a testament to her leadership and reforms during her reign as Russia’s Empress Consort of all Russians.  History’s timeline does not record many people with “Great” after their names.  So she must have been doing something right while serving as ruler of “all” Russians.  She gained power through her understanding of the personalities around her in the royal palace.She came to the Russian Palace from Prussia as a political union to strengthen the Russian-Prussian alliance.  Her wedding to Peter III and her conversion to Russian Orthodoxy  as well as her ability learn the Russian language endeared her to citizens and won her favor in the royal family.  After her  spouse Peter III’s succession to the throne, the new King made several poor decisions that alienated the his advisors and military leaders.  These decisions were siding with Prussia’s King Frederick the II and wearing the colors of Austria for his uniforms.  His eccentrities alienated the same groups that Catherine had cultivated, showing political savvy beyond her years.   Six months after assuming the throne, Peter III left Catherine in St. Petersburg and that’s when her supporters decided to remove Peter III from power, arrest him and put Catherine in the position as leader of Russia.  Eight days later, Peter III was murdered in prison by Alexei Orlov, the brother of Gregory Orlov, a supporter of Catherine.

Catherine the Great’s ability to cultivate supporters within the nobility, military and government leaders served her well early by consolidating her power until time developed her own reputation.  Catherine, like Peter the Great, believed in Western influence and culture as a way to further Russia’s stance in the world.  She believed in education and opened schools for russian girls to further their studies.  In addition, Catherine expanded the Russian Empire after victories against the Ottoman Empire so that the country had access to the Black Sea.  She was also a champion of arts and culture as well as finance reform.  Catherine the Great died from complications from a stroke on November 17, 1796.

One thing can be stated about the Empress Dowager Cixi and Catherine the Great, they knew how to move within houses of power.  Once they were in a position to gain power, they used their political savvy, intelligence, positions in the royal hierarchy, and their supporters’ willingness to help them, to achieve goals.  If any of those aspects had not been present, historians or the victors might have written a different story.

What do you think?  Write a comment or suggest any other people to compare.

The Top Eight Wingmen

Let’s face it. If you are going out on the town,  you want to take the best guy who will have your back in case there is trouble.  The following is a list of the top eight “wingmen” that you would want to call on to help you take care of business.  In today’s terms, they would be people, who if they cut you off when driving, you would just let go, smile, and wave as if to say, “That’s OK, anytime, it’s your world and I’m just trying to get along in it.”  On the other hand, if you needed a wingman for a night out, these people would be your “go-to” guys.  For any misunderstanding, they would make the offending people “understand.”

During Teddy Roosevelt’s  early years, especially after college, he became a tough guy.  He went out to the Dakota Territory in the late 1800’s to start a ranch.  During that time, he learned to ride a horse well and went on hunting trips.  One story from the book, “TR: The Last Romantic”, notes that he tracked down

Theodore Roosevelt in 1885 with his highly-dec...
Theodore Roosevelt in 1885 with his highly-decorated deer-skin hunting suit, and Tiffany-carved hunting knife and rifle. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

some thieves over several days who stole some of his property by following them down a cold river.  He caught them, brought them back to town so the authorities could deal with them.  He took on big business monopolies, corruption in government, and when they told him it was impossible to build a canal, he did it anyway. He also was a big game hunter and explored Africa with his son fighting off disease and other hazards associated with trekking off deep into the jungle.  He’s at the top of the list also because his sons were tough also.  By awarding Teddy Roosevelt the Medal of Honor in 2001 for his actions on San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War, he is one of only two father/son combinations to earn the Medal of Honor. (The other being General Arthur MacArthur and General of the Armies Douglas MacArthur)  His son Brigadier General Teddy Roosevelt, Jr., earned a Medal of Honor for his actions on D-Day while Allied Forces assaulted Utah Beach. He said about diplomacy, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”  That means, he’ll reason with you to a point but after that back up. He was a tough guy, but also was a prolific writer and the Nobel Committee awarded him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906 for settling the Russo-Japanese War.  So if you had President Roosevelt as a wingman along for night out, he could help you fight your way out of a situation or negotiate a way out also.

2. Genghis Khan (1162-1227)

Ghengis Khan monument, Terelj National Park
Ghengis Khan monument, Terelj National Park (Photo credit: Michael Foley Photography)
If Genghis Khan was on your trail, you are in big trouble.  The only way he is not number one is he is one of those guys that will always have you in a fight when you go out on the town.   There is no negotiating with this warrior. He was ruthless and took his mean streak out on the towns and villages he conquered by killing every man and young male in sight and then taking the women with him.  Researchers say that if you checked today’s citizens in the Far East and European regions he rode through during his salad days (I don’t think he ate much salad) for DNA samples, that 1 out of 500 people could be traced back to his gene pool. That’s a lot of riding. One of his more famous quotes as he formed his Mongol Empire is, “It is not sufficient that I succeed-all others must fail.”  So for today’s standards, he would go into a night club, drink everything, run everyone out of the place, and then have all the girls to himself.”  This guy had one purpose, take all of the money, the land, and pretty much everything he saw.
3. General and President George Washington (1732-1799)

The equestrian sculpture of George Washington ...

Several authors have covered the particulars about the Father of our Country.  Historians have documented and published his life several times.  This is about his worthiness to be a “Wingman” on a night out. Washington was tall measuring at 6 feet 1 inch to 6 feet 2.  This meant that he was taller than most men at that time, height being an automatic intimidator. Washington also had a temper that he fought to control. He learned to keep his anger in check because he wanted to keep control and a clear mind when making decisions. Foremost in his mind, he thought that a Virginia man of status should conduct himself with the utmost integrity and demeanor.  A Wingman with a temper isn’t all bad.  He was courageous in battle and did not tolerate cowardice or anything less than bravery from his soldiers and leaders. He was also prepared to make tough decisions, like executing deserters to show his men that he would not tolerate undisciplined soldiers in his Army. Recently, in a British poll listing their greatest military enemies, George Washington came in first.  It’s been 229 years since the end of the Revolutionary War and the United Kingdom still ranks him above Napoleon and Hitler. Taking the colonies away from them has been a rock in their shoe for a long time. Forget about him being your wingman.  You would want to be his wingman on any excursion into the concrete jungle for that matter.
4. Chief Crazy Horse (1840-1877)

The Lakota Chief Crazy Horse gave the War Department fits during the western territory expansion in the middle 1800s.  Crazy Horse began stealing horses

Alleged photo of Crazy Horse of the Black Hill...
Alleged photo of Crazy Horse of the Black Hills Oglala Sioux. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
from the Crow tribe at the young age of 13.  He led his first war party before he was 20 years old.  Crazy Horse was known for his bravery in battle. He fought with Red Cloud to keep settlers out of Wyoming as well as many other battles during the nation’s westward expansion.  He was a fierce defender for the Lakota Indian way of life. He surrendered due to the decline in the Buffalo population which severely limited the food supply.  While he stayed in the United States to fight the US Army. his contemporaries, Sitting Bull and Gall, retreated to Canada.  Crazy Horse fought General Nelson Miles’ unit and eventually surrendered.  He was arrested for leaving the reservation to take his sick wife to her parents. General George Crook  thought he was getting a war party together. He was killed while being led to the guardhouse on the reservation by a soldier’s bayonet. Chief Crazy Horse is one fighter who you hate if you are on the other side.  If he’s on your side, however, you are thinking, “Well, we’re out numbered but we got Crazy Horse with us.  We got a good chance to make it out of here.”
5. Lt. General Lewis Burwell “Chesty” Puller (1898-1971)
Marine Colonel Lewis B. Puller, right, who dis...
Marine Colonel Lewis B. Puller, right, who distinguished himself during the Inchon landing, studies the terrain before advancing to another enemy objective beyond Inchon. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Lt. General Lewis “Chesty” Puller was a Marine’s Marine. He once said, “They are in front of us, behind us, and we are flanked on both sides by an enemy that outnumbers us 29:1. They can’t get away from us now!” He was awarded five Navy Crosses for his actions in battle beginning in 1930 with the Haitian Campaign and ultimately receiving his last one for his actions during the Korean War in 1950.  He is the most decorated Marine in history. He was a tough Marine who didn’t like to retreat in battle.  He fought guerillas in Haiti and Nicaragua.  He commanded units and fought alongside his men in the Pacific Theater in World War II as well as the Korean War.  There are many tough leaders and officers but Chesty Puller was a tough, take no prisoners, Marine wearing an officer’s uniform.  For that enlisted Marines loved him. In boot camp, recruits before hitting their bunks, “Good Night Chesty, wherever you are!” Yes, Lt. Gen can be my wing man any day.
6. King Leonidas I (Died August 480 BC)
Public monument of King Leonidas and the 300 S...
Public monument of King Leonidas and the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
King Leonidas is on the list for a couple of reasons. He was at the front of the force at the Battle of Thermopylae, taking on a far superior Persian Army with the purpose of wiping out Sparta.  Leonidas is also on the list because he was one of the few Spartan kings to successfully complete the public school for Spartan youth in order to qualify for Spartan citizenship.  This “school” was not the ordinary books, learning, and sitting by the fireside and chatting school.  This was more like a military beat you up so we can toughen you up, I wish this was over soon, school.  This school prepared young Spartan men for battle so that one of them could fight like 20 or 30 ordinary men.  They were taught tactics, weapons, hand to hand combat among other Spartan necessities.  At the Battle of Thermopylae and the Persian King Xerxes large Army, Leonidas brought 300 of his best Spartan soldiers along with and augmented force from other Greek city-states that numbered close to 7,000.  Xerxes Persian Army is believed to have been between 100-300 thousand strong.  Leonidas’ force held off the Persians for seven days while fighting for three of those days, inflicting a mass number of casualties on the Xerxes forces.  Leonidas and his forces made a historic last stand at the Thermopylae pass but were over run.  However, his forces taught the Greek City-States what could be accomplished if they joined forces in defense of their homeland. Any guy that can go through Spartan training has to be someone you need  at the local pub if you get in a jam.
7. President Andrew Jackson (1767-1845)
Andrew Jackson (1767 – 1845) English: Portrait...
Andrew Jackson (1767 – 1845) English: Portrait of Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States Deutsch: Andrew Jackson, siebter Präsident der USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

President Andrew Jackson, a self-taught, effective lawyer, did not like people sullying his reputation and honor. He was born near the border of South and North Carolina. He made his way to Tennessee. With a name like, “Old Hickory”, he had to be tough and he was. If someone made a disparaging remark toward him, Andrew Jackson would fight or challenge you to a duel.  He killed a man during a duel because  he utterred a slur against his wife, Rachel. He fought as a civilian and as a member of the military. He was a Major General during the War of 1812 and was a hero of the Battle of New Orleans.  He considered himself a representative of the average person.  He drank, fought and   it known to political leaders that they didn’t need to make a career of politics.  He was for a simple and stream lined government.  He also recommended the elimination of the Electoral College because he favored a democratic majority vote rules system.  Like another President, George Washington, he was tall, 6 foot, inch.  He was someone who liked to do it his way.  He would listen but the decision would be his and that would be the end of it.  If you crossed him at the local pub, you had better be prepared to throw punches or face off in a duel.

8. Colonel Jim Bowie (1796-1836)
SOG Bowie Knife
SOG Bowie Knife (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He has a knife name after him.  That should be enough but he also volunteered to defend the Alamo along with several other people against General Santa Anna’s forces.  By all accounts, Colonel Bowie met his end at the Alamo while sick in bed.  He went out fighting.  He was firing at his attackers as they stormed his room.  He was also a brawler and fighter who didn’t hesitate to accept an impossible mission, the defense of the Alamo.  He is also on this list for another reason, David Bowie, the musician and singer, changed his last name from Jones to Bowie because he said; it was the “ultimate American knife.  It is the medium for a conglomerate of statements and illusions.’  You can’t argue with that.  Well, you could, but Col Bowie would have my “six.”

That’s my list.  If you have any one else you think needs to be on the list, or you want to leave a comment or suggestion, feel free to do so and I will respond.
On the Bench but a Phone Call Away
General “Black Jack” Pershing, Hannibal, Alexander the Great, Davey Crockett, General Chuck Yeager, All of the “Original Seven” in the Mercury Space Program (Scott M. Carpenter, Gordon L. Cooper, Jr*., John H. Glenn, Virgil I ‘Gus’ Grissom, Walter M. Schirra, Jr., Alan B. Shepard, and Donald K. ‘Deke’ Slayton)

The Assassinations of Anwar Sadat and Yitzhak Rabin

Middle East Map עברית: מפה מדינית של המזרח התי...
Middle East Map עברית: מפה מדינית של המזרח התיכון Bahasa Indonesia: Peta yang menunjukkan Asia Barat Daya - Istilah "Timur Tengah" lebih sering digunakan untuk merujuk kepada Asia Barat Daya dan beberapa negara di Afrika Utara (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Certain people in history have tried to change the current political climate.  They make an effort to reverse the trend and push the tide in another direction.  Sometimes in their effort to change their corner of the world, they meet with resistance and hate and are killed along with their goals and ideas. Such is the case of Anwar Sadat and Yitzhak Rabin.  Sadat was the leader and military hero of Egypt and Rabin the Prime Minister and Defense Minister of Israel. Both leaders played an important role in the formation of their country’s development and status in the world.

A military lieutenant, who obtained a Fatwa (an opinion) approving the assassination, cut down Sadat and several others on the stand during a victory parade on October 6, 1981.

A far right-wing religious Zionist who despised the Oslo Accords signing killed Rabin during a rally supporting the Oslo Accords on November 4, 1995.

Despite the best efforts of people who have a chance to make a difference, there are others who want to create disharmony.

Similarities

Anwar Sadat

Yitzhak Rabin

Nobel Peace Prize Winner (1978) Nobel Peace Prize Winner (1994)
Assassinated by over zealous internal military officer   (1981) Assassinated by over zealous internal citizen (1995)
Military Officer Military Officer
Served in other government positions before assuming top government post Served in other government positions before assuming top government post
Respected by western leaders for taking a stand for peace Respected by western leaders for taking a stand for peace
Saw peace negotiations as a way to prevent further casualties in his country and bring stability to the country Saw peace negotiations as a way to prevent further casualties in his country and bring stability to the country
Astute Politician Astute Politician
Leader in modern formation of Egypt Leader in modern formation of Israel

Muhammad Anwar El Sadat

(25 December 1918 – 6 October 1981)

Menachem Begin, Jimmy Carter und Anwar Sadat i...
Menachem Begin, Jimmy Carter und Anwar Sadat in Camp David (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anwar Sadat served as President of Egypt for 11 years and during this time he moved away from the principle of Nasserism by promoting the multi-party government system and changing the economic policy.   He was a member of the Free Officers Group that overthrew the Muhammed Ali Dynasty in 1952.

He assumed the Presidency in 1970 after Gamel Abdel Nasser.  He led Egypt in the October War in 1973 against Israel.  Afterwards he engaged in peace negotiations with Israel and signed the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin in 1979.  This earned him the Nobel Peace Prize. This led to Egypt and Sadat becoming unpopular within the Arab community and the Arab League, despite wide support among Egyptians.

Sadat was breaking away from pan-Arabism espoused by his predecessor, Nasser.  In addition, he was moving away from the USSR as an influence and towards a more friendly relationship with the United States.  All of these events led to Lieutenant Khalid Islambouli leading a charge toward the VIP stand during the annual victory parade and assassinating Sadat along with several others including a Cuban Ambassador and an Omani General on October 6, 1981.

Vice President Hosni Mubarak and four US military liaison officers were wounded in the barrage of gunfire.  Islambouli was sentenced to death and executed in April 1982.  Hosni Mubarak assumed the duties as President after the assassination.  Sadat’s funeral was attended by three former Presidents (Ford, Carter, Nixon).

Yitzhak Rabin

(1 March 1922-4 November 1995)

Yitzhak Rabin served two terms as Israeli Prime Minister, from 1974-1977 and 1992-1995, when he was assassinated.  He did not  finish his policies

Israeli generals Yitzhak Rabin and Yigal Allon...
Israeli generals Yitzhak Rabin and Yigal Allon in 1949. Česky: Izraelští generálové Jicchak Rabin a Jigal Allon v roce 1949 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

during his second term due to a far right religious Zionist who was angry about Rabin’s peace negotiations.  Yigel Amir, a law student, fired several shots at Rabin after a rally in support of the Oslo Accords at the Kings of Israel Square in Tel Aviv on November 4, 1995.  Rabin died at the hospital less than an hour later.

Rabin was a fighter for Israeli statehood from the beginning. He rose to take command of the Heral Brigade in the military and served as an Israeli General.  Under his command of the IDF, the Israeli gained significant ground against Egypt, Jordan, and Syria in the Six Day War in 1967.  During his first term as Prime Minister, Rabin successfully ordered the rescue of hostages by an Israeli commando unit after an airline hijacking in Entebbe, Uganda, on July 4, 1976.

According to many theories, the assassin Amir had come to believe that Rabin was a rodef, meaning a “pursuer” who endangered Jewish lives. Amir believed he would be justified under Jewish law by killing Rabin and removing a threat to the Jews.  Apparently, this is a misinterpretation of the law.  The law applies to removing a “pursuer” where they may be a threat to an individual.  Moreover, the law does not apply to elected representatives because if a person removes the elected official, that person would have to remove each voter who elected the government official.  The assassin acted  under flawed logic and reasoning concerning Jewish law.  Thinking about it, most assassination attempts begin under flawed logic to begin with, except in the cases of taking out someone who is evil personified such as Adolf Hitler.

Monument marking the site of the assassination...
Monument marking the site of the assassination: Ibn Gabirol Street between Tel Aviv City Hall and Gan Ha'ir (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rabin was buried the day after the assassination on November 6, 1995, at the Mount Herzl  Cemetery in Jerusalem, where 80 heads of state attended the funeral.  A monument to Rabin rests at the location of the assassination. The monument erected with broken rocks that represent the political destruction the assassination brought to the peace process.

In other notes concerning the assassination, Rabin’s pocket carried a blood-stained paper with the lyrics of an Israeli song “Shir Lashalom” (“Song for Peace”). The song was used at the rally and outlines the futility of bringing a dead person back to life.  This means that peace should be foremost in everyone’s mind. The Knesset has set the 12th of Heshvan, the assassination date according to the Hebrew calendar, as the memorial day of Rabin.  What is your opinion? Make a comment and I will respond.

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