An Honest Review of Abraham Lincoln Portrayals

by Rick Bretz

A recent viewing of Raymond Massey’s portrayal of Abraham Lincoln brought on a recollection of the actors trying their craft being Lincoln on the screen.  Many actors have attempted to flood the screen with the essence and character of our sixteenth President of the United States.  Three films stand out for capturing Lincoln’s personality on film.

16_abraham_lincoln

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0032181/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_71

Raymond Massey, a Canadian actor, in the movie “Abe Lincoln in Illinois” and released in 1940,  shows the young politician’s ability to relate to people from every social and financial status.  Massey’s Lincoln tones down the ambitious side of the rising potential of the young lawyer in favor of his agreeable nature and storytelling expertise. He’s almost the reluctant politician in this movie.

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The death of his first love interest, Ann Rutledge, is an important part of the movie and makes the audience aware of how important an event the death had on him for the rest of his life.

The selection of a young actress Ruth Gordon as Mary Todd Lincoln is perfect.  She realizes the young Lincoln will go places and understands him from the beginning.  Gordon gives the audience and idea of how the relationship between the two must have been and how Lincoln handled his equally ambitious wife. Massey’s voice is deeper than Lincoln’s from what historians have written, but the actor’s gangling frame gives the movie audience a sense of how he moved and how coordinated he was socially and physically. The movie ends after Lincoln is elected President as he and his family boards the train to Washington, DC, to begin the long, stressful work dealing with a rebellious south and a civil war.

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0557339/?ref_=nv_sr_1

Another movie has Henry Fonda showing us how effective a public speaker and lawyer Lincoln was during his travels in Illinois as an attorney.

Henry Fonda's Lincoln

Young Mr. Lincoln“, released in 1939, has Lincoln defending two suspects accused of murder.  It also introduces Ann Rutledge and Mary Todd as his love interest and future wife but the story centers on Fonda’s playing Lincoln in the courtroom. It seems when producing a movie about Lincoln it is mandatory to show his storytelling skills.  This movie is no exception but this movie also demonstrates his ability as a critical thinker and in the courtroom while cross examining witnesses on the stand.  Fonda captures Lincoln’s affable personality while also giving us a hint of his ambitious nature.  Fonda’s Lincoln has more confidence and the feeling that he is destined for great things and that he is in control of his surroundings.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0032155/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_100

 

The third and recent version of Lincoln is performed by Daniel Day-Lewis as “Lincoln“, released in 2012.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0443272/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_2

Day-Lewis, from what historians gather, has Lincoln’s voice close to the real Lincoln pitch.  He gives a performance showing a worn down Lincoln, after shouldering the responsibility of a long civil war, and enduring the grief of losing two of his children.  Day-Lewis shows Lincoln managing the many personalities of his cabinet as well as anger and other emotions that come with being the President of the United States.

Daniel Day-Lewis said of playing Lincoln, “I never, ever felt that depth of love for another human being that I never met. And that’s, I think, probably the effect that Lincoln has on most people that take the time to discover him… I wish he had stayed (with me) forever.”

lincoln-daniel-day-lewis-02

The three movies show the many facets of Lincoln’s personality and ability to relate to people. It’s daunting task to take on a role from history’s greatest figures.  If you overplay it or make a mistake in the acting, then it misses the mark or worse, you can look foolish on screen.  The actors hit the mark.

 

Honorable Mention:

Walter Houston-Abraham Lincoln-1930

 

Notable Links:

https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/presidents/abraham-lincoln/

http://www.anb.org/view/10.1093/anb/9780198606697.001.0001/anb-9780198606697-e-0400631

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/will-the-real-abraham-lincoln-please-stand-up-3431/

Ranking the Decades

by Rick Bretz

Some citizens of the world during certain decades have to deal with more adversity than others if war breaks out or the economies move into a recession or depression.  Wars caused by leadership and diplomacy failures cause a heartache as well as a depletion in a generation’s men and women who could have the answers for curing disease and making the world a better place.  Economic depression is caused by a number of factors including the malaise of industry captains and government officials. When these people who are educated by the world’s finest institutions neglect  to act by exercising preventative measures society bears the burden.

Some decades are better than others but some are more tumultuous than others.  It occurred to me the other day that if I had to rank the decades in order according to how much chaos and achievement occurred during that time period,  this is list I would compose.   To keep the list a short one, I am ranking the decades from the time period of 1900 to 2010.   Otherwise, I would have to include the Roman, Greek, Egyptian, Chinese, British,  Russian, and Mongol empires and I am sure I am leaving a few out.

My criteria:

Tumultuous Events

Effect on subsequent decades

Significant Figures in History

Demonstrations and protests against the Vietnam War (1)

  1. 1960-1969

Reason for Rank:  There was so much going on during this decade it’s a wonder that the world didn’t have a collective stroke from the stress endured by the population.  The Cold War, The Vietnam War, Nuclear build up and testing, the Middle East tensions, The Iron Curtain, North Korea and South Korea, the election and assassination of John F. Kennedy, the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, the Assassination of Martin Luther King, the assassination of Malcolm X, civil rights marches, the Freedom Riders in the south, tensions in Europe, South American coups, the Cuban Missile Crisis and Fidel Castro and the list goes on and on.   While these historical events were playing out, we managed to put a man on the moon, create some of history’s enduring works of art, literary classics and cinematic masterpieces.  Sometimes chaos can bring out the best as well as the worst in human kind.

As Orson Welles said in “The Third Man”.

In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The Cuckoo Clock. So long Holly

 USS_Arizona_(BB-39)_Panama_Canal

  1. 1910-1919

Reason for Rank:  When an event such as “The Great War” appears in a decade, you have to rank it high. Additionally, the Russian Revolution shocked the world in the decade and it was felt for several decades to come because it influenced foreign policy and caused several wars after World War II.  In addition, naval power advanced with aircraft carriers and the further development submarines.  The industrial revolution moved forward and the population of cities grew.  The Panama Canal was finished in this decade, changing the way products were shipped from one side of the continent to the other. The decisions from this decade, like the Treaty of Versailles, had a negative effect on countries two decades later.

 

  1. 1940-1949

Reason for rank:  Hitler and the Nazi regime’s rise to power brought on World War II and cruelty that equaled violence and destruction documented during the medieval age.  World War II dominated the decade followed by the rebuilding of several major cities.  The testing of the nuclear bomb and using it to force Japan’s surrender forever altered the diplomatic landscape. The cold war followed the end of the Second World War.  The end of the decade saw tension increase to the point of North Korea invading the South in June of 1950 to start the Korean War, where two countries still remain proxies for a higher stakes game diplomacy between super powers.  The formation of the United Nation, headquartered in New York.

 

  1. 2000-2010

Reason for rank: Terrorism on a global scale, the war in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Hinting down of Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden. Immigration in North America and Europe. The proliferation of social media.  The used of social media and the internet for business models; Amazon, Apple, etc.  The use of smart phone for communicating.

 

  1. 1930-1939

Reason for rank: The depression, the election of FDR and the New Deal socialist policies. Hitler’s election to Germany’s ruling party, the invasion of Austria, Poland, and other Eastern European countries, the annexation of the Sudetenland and the invasion of France, beginning World War II.  Japan’s military build-up, the invasion of Manchuria, the Nanking Massacre and many other aggressions.  The Hoover Dam was completed.

 

  1. 1900-1909

Reasons for rank: This decade featured President Teddy Roosevelt taking on monopolies and creating labor laws to curb the power of large corporations.  Roosevelt, a proponent of taking care of the land and its wildlife in it, oversaw legislation for many natural parks that we enjoy today.

 

  1. 1970-1979

Reasons for rank: The decade saw the end of the Vietnam War under the Nixon administration after being escalated by the Johnson power brokers.  The Watergate conspiracy played out on America’s television screens.  Nixon resigned, President Gerald R. Ford became the first President not be elected.  Jimmy Carter was elected. The Russian invasion of Afghanistan start their long stay there.   The Shah of Iran was deposed and because of the United State support for the Shah, the Iranian hostage crisis lasted until President Ronald Reagan’s first inauguration day.

 

  1. 1920-1929

Reasons for rank:  The decade began with silent movies and ended with sound on film, the talkies.  It began with unprecedented economic growth and wealth accumulation.  The motor car or automobile was having an impact on society and how people socialize with one another.  The Hoover Dam was planned as well as other engineering projects.

berlinWall

  1. 1980-1989

Reasons for rank:  Low on the list because there wasn’t that much upheaval compared to other decades. The most significant event was the destruction of Berlin Wall and the fall of communism in the Eastern Bloc countries, opening up the Iron Curtain in front of the Soviet Union whose communist ideology would fall later on.

 

  1. 1990-1999

Reason for rank: Some may rank this decade higher due to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 in addition to the Persian Gulf War after the invasion of Kuwait by Iraqi forces. A significant event but because we had to revisit the Iraq after the turn of the century, this isn’t high on my list.  Also, the Soviet Union was on a path to dissolution in the later 1980s, the next decade just made it official.  The election of President Bill Clinton also was significant due to his influence in subsequent decades.  The dissolving of Yugoslavian states resulted in genocide that had to be dealt with by UN Forces.  The ethnic cleansing was an event that should have been prevented and stopped by the United Nations.  This was one of the reasons the UN was formed after World War II but it failed in this mission.

 

 

 

Notable Links:

https://www.thoughtco.com/20th-century-timelines-1779957

https://www.infoplease.com/yearbyyear

First? Ohio or North Carolina

By Rick Bretz

Driving the nation’s Interstate Highways you may have noticed Ohio and North Carolina license plates trumpeting their aviation claims to fame.  Ohio license plates show the state is the “Birthplace of Aviation” while North Carolina license plates have a “First in Flight” motto on their plates.

ohiplate

first in flight

Over the years, a disagreement among these states developed concerning the one that can claim the birthplace of aviation.  The disagreement formed because Orville and Wilbur Wright lived in Dayton, Ohio, and engineered and tested their prototypes near there.  However, the Wright Brothers first documented powered flight occurred on the Outer Banks near Kitty Hawk, NC, where the sea wind could help them achieve their goal.

To this important issue the Federal government stepped in and Congress decided the issue in 2003 by voting Dayton, Ohio, as the birthplace of aviation by 378-3.  You can probably guess which state the “Ney” votes came from, North Carolina.

It makes sense that the home of Wilbur and Orville Wright is the birthplace of aviation. Dayton is where they grew up, went to school and set up their bicycle shop.  They tested their plans in a field near there, fine tuning the engine and the wings, before moving the plane to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

the-wright-brothers

This is explained in great detail by a book written by David McCullough, “The Wright Brothers.”   The book describes how meticulous and mechanical they were while developing a prototype.  McCullough also explains in detail the challenges involved in developing an engine that would produce enough power and speed to lift an airplane.  The engineering also had to take into account stability and aerodynamics.  All of this while other inventors and engineers around the world were racing to produce the first documented flight.

The author also gives us an insight to the personalities of Wilbur and Orville Wright.  McCullough’s literary genius and research portrays the Wright Brother’s parents and family members while giving us insight into their work ethic and passion for research.

After reading the book,  the Wright Brothers would be pleased to have their hometown of Dayton, Ohio, named as the Birthplace of Aviation.  However, the argument over Ohio versus North Carolina would have amused them.  They saw moving to North Carolina as a practical matter not only for testing their plane but also as financially sound due to budget constraints. the were pragmatic and were interested in solving issues.  The license plate mottoes for both states are correct.  Ohio is the birthplace of aviation while North Carolina can boast that it is the state where the first documented flight began the new age of flying.  To cement their status in aviation, as an afterthought, Ohio can boast the largest number of astronauts, 24, including John Glenn and Neil Armstrong.  If you are keeping score, the most astronauts from colleges are The United States Naval Academy, The United States Air Force Academy, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in that order.

 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RriKI7u72Xs

 

Notable Links:

https://www.csmonitor.com/2003/0310/p02s01-usgn.html

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/ohio-defends-status-birthplace-aviation-dispute-article-1.2219588

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/may/16/flight-wright-brothers-gustave-whitehead-connecticut-ohio-north-carolina

http://www.wral.com/3-states-tussle-over-bragging-rights-to-1st-flight/13031320/

https://www.ncpedia.org/aviation/overview

http://www.enquirer.com/editions/2003/06/14/loc_ohioflight14.html

https://www.britannica.com/technology/history-of-flight

 

Mahatma K Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr

Mahātmā Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

Born: October 2, 1869

Assassinated: January 30, 1948


Martin Luther King Jr.
Born: January 15, 1929
Assassinated: April 4, 1968

 

by Rick Bretz

Throughout history, public figures or groups use violence  to replace diplomacy and negotiation to achieve righteous.  Whether it is to silence people who disagree with your view or achieve power through the physical taking of land, or other means of wealth that translate into control and authority, it usually results in innocent lives being destroyed or disrupted.  Today is a good day to look at two individuals who went a different route.

Today is Martin Luther King’s  Birthday Memorial Holiday.  He tused many strategies in fighting for civil rights including borrowing some of Gandhi’s beliefs in his effort to gain independence from colonial rule.  They both were assassinated and were also effective speakers and leaders.

Gandhi

The movie Gandhi is one of my favorite autobiographical cinematic experiences due to Ben Kingsley’s perfect pitch portrayal of the man.  What I find most interesting about the movie is how Kingsley embodies Gandhi’s non-violent protest ideology.  Two particular scenes strike me as brilliant in showing this.  The part where Gandhi sit in front of large mass of fellow Indians and tells then how exactly they will  fight the English government.  The other scene is Gandhi’s Salt March in protest to salt taxes and prohibition of making salt.  It’s a simple protest but highly effective.  Gandhi’s effectiveness can be partly attributed to media and the world wide press publicizing his actions, protests, prison sentences and ultimately his successes.

The Philosophy

noun: ahimsa

  1. (in the Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain tradition) the principle of nonviolence toward all living things

 

Ahimsa also has a more spiritual meaning than the physical refraining of no violence.  The word also refers to transcendental philosophy of not bringing into your thoughts or mind any violent thought to anything in nature, man, woman, animals or any living being.  It’s on a deeper level than physical.

In the movie, he is sitting almost in a prone position on a stage inside a valley surrounded on all sides by British soldiers.  Following the ideals of Ahimsa or non-violence,  Gandhi called on his fellow Indians to resist colonial rule by “Quitting India”, avoid paying taxes, do no patron government offices, do not buy goods brought here from Britain but all the while showing respect for soldiers and the police force.  The act of not hitting back when you are being arrested or beaten enabled the movement to get positive press.  The Quit India speech as it is known today called for passive resistance in order to obtain certain goals,

Notable Links:

http://www.mkgandhi.org/speeches/speechMain.htm

https://www.mapsofindia.com/my-india/society/5-famous-speeches-of-mahatma-gandhi

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4954/What-Does-Ahimsa-Really-Mean.html

https://www.gaia.com/article/practice-ahimsa-everyday-life

Gandhi and his political partners earned their independence from colonial rule.  This success led to other issues with different religions and the fighting that resulted in the deaths of Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims  across the country.  A resentful Hindu extremist took Gandhi’s life.  The internal strife eventually resulted in the formation of Pakistan and India who both now have nuclear capability.


The Civil Rights Leader

gty_march_on_washington_martin_luther_king_ll_130819_16x9_992

Treating people as you would like to be treated with respect and dignity would seem to be innate in all of us.  However, people have a lottery aspect to their lives–new born babies can’t choose their parents. The nature versus nurture brings to each of us the history and prejudices of the family and the geographic culture.  Martin Luther King Jr was trying to change that or least make his audience think twice.  When he spoke on television, radio or on grand stages in person, he wasn’t just talking to his core audience, he wanted to reach his shadow listeners to make them think twice about the future and kind of America and Earth we should all inhabit.

Martin Luther King Jr was a magnificent speaker.  This ability to motivate his followers and galvanize people to march, ride buses and stop at walk in to segregated bus stops,  sit in, eat at a segregated restaurant, be subjected to prison sentences while not fighting back will always be remembered.  His words during some of his famous speeches are for all time.  The “I Have a Dream Speech” entered our history on August 28, 1963 and has many famous lines in it as his voice thundered across the Washington, DC Mall.

Quotes from “I Have a Dream Speech”

“Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.”

“Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.”

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.”

Notable Links:

http://www.thekingcenter.org/about-dr-king

http://www.americaslibrary.gov/aa/king/aa_king_subj.html

https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/i-have-dream-address-delivered-march-washington-jobs-and-freedom

Summary

Featuring these two significant people in history during times when people want to bomb, kill, maim  and destroy because people disagree with their views is all the more important.  All sides can agree or disagree but there is one idea we should all agree on–treat people with dignity and respect and as Martin Luther King Jr said judge people by the content of their character and not the color of their skin.

 

Book Recommendation: Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates

by Rick Bretz

The United States has always had issues with the Middle East.  For that matter, so has the rest of world.  Some of the issues are due to conquering and occupying nations and their policies but a majority can be traced back to dictator egos and their need for flaunting power. The fall of the Ottoman Empire after World War I created many problems as well.

Middle_east

The United States has had problems with that region from the beginning.  Presidents George Washington,  John Adams and Thomas Jefferson dealt with pirates, hostage takers and terrorist  demands for ransom.  This reality forced them to make difficult decisions so that the nation could build itself into a stable group of unified state governments with a federal power structure to deal with foreign policy and constitutional issues.

The troubled violent Middle East history as it pertains to the United States begins with the Tripoli Pirates and continues to this day.

A list of Middle East issues is a long one:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_modern_conflicts_in_the_Middle_East

http://www.economist.com/node/1922472

http://www.globalissues.org/issue/103/middle-east

Thomas Jefferson book cover

The Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger book, Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates, covers just one of the issues the United States had to solve at the start of the 19th Century.  The subtitle, The Forgotten War That Changed American History, makes a point that the Tripoli Pirate issue is largely buried or glossed over in history books but remains significant concerning the rest of world’s outlook toward the then young country of the United States of America.  The book tells the story about four Muslim countries extorting the United States by capturing ships and enslaving the crews until a ransom was paid by the United States government.  Tripoli, Algiers, Tunis, and Morocco saw the kidnapping and ransom process as their religious right to capture vessels on the Mediterranean high seas to fill their financial coffers.

George Washington and John Adams tried to use diplomacy while they were building a Navy and a nation while paying back war debt to countries supporting the colonies’ war for independence. As a secretary of state and diplomat, and Vice President during those years, Thomas Jefferson had seen how diplomacy never worked. It was this experience dealing with the pirates that compelled Jefferson to send the US Navy’s recently built warships to the Middle East for a blockade.  The Barbary Wars and the outcome sent a message to the world that the young country of the America would defend itself if needed.  This sent the country on a journey where its elected leaders had a say on the world stage, and later used to full effect by President Teddy Roosevelt.

CONCLUSIONS

The book does a good job of writing about the courage of the captured ships’ sailors held in prisons.  It also tells the story of Lieutenant Stephen Decatur’s night raid and General William Eaton’s five hundred mile march from Egypt to the Port of Derne for a surprise attack by US Marines. The result of this became a well-known line in the Marine Corps Hymn, “From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli.”  All together now!  This book is worth reading because the authors describe the difficulty of beginning a new nation, building a Navy, and defending America’s prestige on the world stage while keeping government politicians contented back home.

From the early 1800 Tripoli Pirates, the United States has dealt with a number of Middle East issues including, regime changes, oil embargos, Palestinian/Israeli conflicts, The Yom Kippur War, the Iraq invasion of Kuwait, the Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan, The Iranian Revolution, government-funded terrorism, and many others.  The Middle East and each administration’s malleable foreign policy that goes with dealing with this region, as well as the United Nations attitude toward Israel compared to the surrounding countries, is a nightmare that keeps coming back when you want to get a good sleep.  In this case the nightmare has lasted more than a couple hundred years.

 

Notable Links

https://web.stanford.edu/class/e297c/war_peace/middleeast/hcentury.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_Middle_Eastern_history

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/globalconnections/mideast/timeline/text/time2.html

http://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/asia/middleeast/metimeln_ext.htm

http://www.timemaps.com/history/middle-east-3500bc

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/target/etc/modern.html

http://www.varsitytutors.com/earlyamerica/early-america-review/volume-6/terrorism-early-america

https://www.cpj.org/

https://www.change.org/p/president-obama-support-the-righttoreport-and-protect-journalist-rights

http://gwpapers.virginia.edu/history/topics/gw-and-the-barbary-coast-pirates/

http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/287

https://www.monticello.org/site/research-and-collections/first-barbary-war

The 10,000 Day War and Ken Burns’ Vietnam War PBS Series

by Rick Bretz

Before analyzing these two documentaries, it is important to note the definition of a documentary.

From the Oxford English Dictionary–Documentary: Using pictures and interviews with people involved in real events to provide a factual report on a particular subject.

Documentaries strive to be objective but their reliance on human beings makes that goal honorable but a little out of reach. People have their own views and biases as witnesses to history and those who write their first draft of history are subjective.  Documentaries are the truth according to who produces them. In the end, documentaries can be a source for information but just like all forms of research, a scholar must seek other sources and make his or her own conclusions.

Vietnam War (1)

Many Vietnam War documentaries have been produced but two stand out.  One was done more than 30 years ago while the other aired recently on PBS.   One was produced by a Canadian journalist and narrated by Richard Basehart while the other was produced by the noted documentary producer Ken Burns and narrated by actor Peter Coyote, airing recently on PBS.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-pacific-16568035

http://afe.easia.columbia.edu/timelines/vietnam_timeline.htm

 

The Vietnam story goes back centuries before the United States became a nation. The people of  Vietnam were conquered and abused by the Chinese and French before the American government and military were major players in the Vietnamese struggle for independence.  Ho Chi Minh wanted to speak with Woodrow Wilson after World War II in Paris.  However, politics and diplomacy married with class defined government protocols can be complicated.  Not seeing then how Ho Chi Minh could be a leader is understandable.  What is not excusable is how the United States could ignore the Vietnamese leader after working with him during World War II to defeat the Japanese.  It’s only because they believed France’s Charles de Gaulle when he suggested the communist ideology would be taking a foothold in Western Europe.   Leaders saw the dominoes falling and became worried about the Red Menace.  This was also the time that the United States government thought that communism was infiltrating American society from Hollywood to the local unions.  The Korean War and the influence of Communist China was also dominating foreign policy strategy during the early 1950s.

12th_Inf,_4th_Inf_Div,_Vietnam_War_Hill_530

They documentaries interview key players or use interviews recorded years ago.   The 10,000 Day War is less passionate and more forensically produced.  It tries to stay away from making judgments and conclusions.  The recent Ken Burns documentary uses more editorial language and interviews veterans and other key players to illicit an emotional response.  Both of them use archival news footage and photographs.

They were both ambitious in their attempt to explain why the world, an especially the United States, became entangled in a war many people thought we had no business waging.  They both make the point that our commitments to our allies like France’s Charles de Gaulle and the strict following of the Truman Doctrine led to sending advisers that eventually led to more than a half million servicemen fighting there in the 1960s.

In both documentaries, the Presidential Administrations that were a part of the Vietnam problem don’t look good.  The early administrations, Eisenhower and Kennedy, look better than others because they were wary of the South Vietnamese leadership in the early stages.  In addition,  the US wasn’t fully committed yet and the early administrations conclusions were that “this is their war and the South Vietnamese were going to have to win it.”

The one criticism of The 10, 000 Day War is that it is a US dominated production and doesn’t give any other country’s diplomatic view, and that it doesn’t take to task the French Government’s insistence in occupying Vietnam after World War II when France was liberated themselves from Nazi rule.  The Ken Burns’ series points out that the only reason France wanted to control Vietnam was national pride and the economic exploitation of its resources.  The PBS series points out that the French occupiers treatment of the local population gave rise to Ho Chi Minh’s recruitment efforts.  The Burn’s PBS series also makes a better attempt to explain the North Vietnamese and South Vietnamese points of view.

Ho Chi Minh for is part couldn’t understand why the Americans couldn’t see his side of wanting to gain his country’s freedom from colonial rule.  He reasoned the United States was in the same position 200 hundred years ago so they must be able to relate to his struggle.  He didn’t count on America’s fear of communism and the spread of it across the globe. What is fascinating to know from the PBS series is that Ho Chi Minh’s influence in the decision making process was diminished late in his life.

The 10,000 Day War documentary is called that because it lasted that long.  Scholars might say the United States is still fighting the war by the decisions they make concerning other wars and because they are trying to make up for the ill-treatment of the Vietnam veterans after they came back.  The PBS series does a good job of telling the veterans story and their experiences there.

Vietnam veterans are looked upon wrongly as fighters who went over, lost the war, were there to do drugs and commit war atrocities.  As with many events, negative headlines become the perception and finally the reality.  The movies from Hollywood never helped the perception.  This is far from the truth.  The majority of Vietnam veterans were honorable and went over there to do a job and come back alive. They were put in a situation they had little, if no control, over. They made the trip, they didn’t skip out or make excuses.  Some of them came back alive but 58, 220 didn’t make it.  That’s a high price to pay for a generation.

Both documentaries are worth watching but they are both just additional sources. Do your own research and make your own conclusions.  You walk away from both of them shaking your head and wondering why decisions were made and why opportunities were not explored, especially after World War II.

Notable Links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnam:_The_Ten_Thousand_Day_War

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gvo3yeTYvNc

https://topdocumentaryfilms.com/vietnam-ten-thousand-day-war/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0174323/

https://undertheradar.military.com/2013/04/revisiting-the-ten-thousand-day-war/

http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/the-vietnam-war/watch/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Vietnam_War_(TV_series)

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/ken-burnss-vietnam-war-is-no-profile-in-courage/

http://kenburns.com/films/vietnam/

 

 

Favorite Female Music Voices

by Rick Bretz

Interesting voices have always been pleasant to hear. The selections below from the music industry are based on these measures: Passion, Versatility, Outstanding Live Performances, and the best one, does it catch your ear and pull you in.  A voice can be deep, gravelly, soprano, alto, clear, clean, distinctive, have range, and illicit an emotional response.  This list of ten can be longer because there are many voices that please the ear while doing daily activities.  These are just a few of the voices that make my list.

Maria McKee, Lead Singer for Lone Justice as well as a solo performer. Favorites: Shelter; Ways to be Wicked; Sweet. Sweet Baby, Show Me Heaven, Breathe, Wheels. She has an incredible stage presence and can sing a ballad or belt out a rock and roll tune that mesmerizes audiences.

 

Stevie_Nicks_-_1977

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQzY97UCXns

Stevie Nicks, Member of Buckingham/Nicks, Fleetwood Mac as well as solo performer and back-up singer for many other artists. Favorites:  Dreams, Standback, Stop Draggin my Heart Around, Silver Spring, Landslide, Nightbird. One of the most instantly recognizable voices in the music business and an equally impressive song writer.

Ann Wilson (Heart), Lead Singer for Heart. Favorites: Crazy on You, Barracuda, Straight On, Magic Man, Never, Dream Boat Annie.  Her voice can send chills when she hits certain notes.

https://www.axs.com/10-best-bonnie-raitt-songs-52636

Bonnie Raitt, Pop and Blues singer and outstanding guitarist. Favorites:  Nick of Time, Not the Only One, Thing Called Love, Angel From Montgomery.  Her voice is clean and can handle a ballad or blue tune. She sets the mood with her voice no matter what genre she sings.

Janice Joplin, Member of Big Brother and the Holding Company, Solo Artist. Favorites: Piece of My Heart, Mercedes Benz, Ball and Chain. Me and Bobby McGee. Passion and memorable live performances define this legend’s reputation.

Linda Ronstadt, Member of The Stone Poneys and solo artist. Favorites: Poor, Poor Pitiful Me, Hurt So Bad, Blue Bayou, You’re No Good. She is the one performer who can take a classic hit  from another performer and make it her own.  She has been able to make her mark in many different musical tastes throughout her career.

441px-Grace_Slick_ca._1967

Grace Slick, Member of The Great Society, Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship, Starship. Favorites: White Rabbit, Somebody to Love, Wrecking Ball, Dreams, Seasons. Her voice on White Rabbit hypnotizes the listener while on Somebody to Love she shows off how she can do voice gymnastics when she needs it.

Adele, Solo Performer. Favorites: Rolling in the Deep, Someone Like You, Skyfall, When We Were Young.  Just listening to Rolling in the Deep should give you an idea of why she is considered one of the best voices to come along in a while. The Jame Bond theme Skyfall is fine example of her vocal skill also.

Chrissie Hynde (Pretenders), Lead Singer for Pretenders. Favorites: Back on the Chain Gang, Brass In Pocket, Don’t Get Me Wrong, Talk of the Town.  The Pretenders’ classic Back on the Chain gang features Hynde’s voice in all of its glory as she goes up and down the scale.

Aimee Mann (Til Tuesday), Favorites: Voices Carry, Coming Up Close, What About Love, Lucky, Love in a Vacuum.  Mann’s  voice cuts through the music on everything she sings, especially for Voices Carry and What  About Love.

Other interesting voices

Rickie Lee Jones, Natalie Merchant, Sara McLaughlin, Melissa Etheridge, Tina Turner, Pat Benatar, Tracy Chapman, Joan Armatrading, Mama Cass,  Johnette Napolitano (Concrete Blonde), Amy Winehouse, Christine McVie, Annie Lennox, Debbie Harry, Lady Gaga, Kate Bush, Christina Aguilera, Enya.

 

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