As the entry below from today’s Writer’s Digest dramatizes, this day in 1862 was the bloodiest in American military history. But the Vietnam War, to be dissected in tonight’s debut of the new 10-part series by Ken Burns, claimed more than twice the American lives, plus 3 million Asian lives.  Yet this country of ours continues such fruitless combats, and the waste that was Vietnam echoes in our continuing crusade in Afghanistan, now America’s longest, and perhaps must futile, war ever.

It’s the anniversary of the Battle of Antietam, fought near Sharpsburg, Maryland, along the banks of Antietam Creek (1862). It was the bloodiest single day in American military history, with nearly 23,000 casualties, and it ended in a tactical draw. One regiment, the First Texas Infantry, lost 82 percent of its men.

The 12-hour battle began at dawn, in a cornfield on David Miller’s farm. It was the first Civil War battle fought in Union Territory; the second, the Battle of Gettysburg, would happen less than a year later. Confederate General Robert E. Lee had brought troops into Maryland — which was still part of the Union, even though it was a slave state — to try to replenish his dwindling supplies. Encouraged by word of Stonewall Jackson’s capture of Harpers Ferry, Lee decided to make a stand in Sharpsburg rather than return to Confederate Virginia.

Union Major General George B. McClellan commanded twice as many troops as Lee. Not only that, but he also had a copy of Lee’s battle plan. But McClellan fumbled these advantages, failing to fully collapse the Confederates’ flanks and advance his center — which meant that more than a quarter of McClellan’s men never entered the battle. In the afternoon, Union troops advanced and a victory seemed imminent, until late-arriving Confederate reinforcements held them off. By sundown, both sides simply held their own ground. A veteran of the battle later recalled, “[The cornfield] was so full of bodies that a man could have walked through it without stepping on the ground.”

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Source: KENNEDY TUNES UP FOR ILLINOIS

Speaking of Monday’s rare eclipse, I quite accidentally ran across the following exchange regarding a similar 1912 phenomenon, between Winston and Clementine Churchill:

Clementine was staying at the Hotel Bristol in Paris, where she had “flitted off with some friends,” after recovering from a miscarriage back in England. In her letter to Winston of April 17th, she commented: “It is so bright and warm, not a breath of wind & a cloudless sky. The (solar) eclipse was weird & it became very dark for a few moments. Everyone out in the street with bits of smoked glass. The light was strange and metallic, like lighting on the stage. Rosie has gone off to see a friend., and I am resting — the horror of the Titanic (which had sunk the night of 14-15 April with the loss of 1,513 lives)  overshadows everything. Goodby my Darling. Your very loving Clem.”

 

Winston wrote back April 18th from 33 Eccelston Square in London: ” My Darling — Your description of the metallic light of the eclipse is perfectly correct. I noticed it myself. It also got much colder. The Titanic disaster is the prevailing theme here. The story is a good one. The story of the great traditions of the sea towards women & children reflects nothing but honor upon our civilization. Always your loving and devoted husband, W.”

Trump last night said we would no longer be nation-building but killing terrorists in Afghanistan going forward. Oddly, several years ago I heard from a general departing to lead Americans in Afghanistan that we were failures at nation-building there, but good at killing.

Sorry folks. America has been trying to nation-build in Afghanistan for 16 years, and in Iraq (how did that go?) and in Vietnam before that (we know how that ended.) It has been about nation-building all along, and that has failed time after time. Despite what Trump said last night, it is still about nation-building in Afghanistan and Pakistan today.

Are we good at killing? Yes. Are we wasting another generation of young American troops in another fruitless war? Yes.  Are we protecting the American way of life in the process? No. Are we wasting more billions, even trillions, that could be used to rebuild our own nation? Yes.

Are we learning anything? Yes. Are we doing anything useful with that learning? Absolutely not. Thanks Trump. The one time where one of your bad ideas — getting out of Afghanistan — might have been positive, you failed us again last night.

If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed.

If you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed.

 

—Mark Twain

(courtesy of Ed Weed)

We visited Budapest several years ago, where the Hungarians took down the major statuary of the communist era and assembled it in a well-designed park outside the city in 1993. Marx, Lenin, Engels and the gang are gathered outside the city limits, where tourists and locals can find them, if they wish, but are not confronted with these symbols of a dark age, unless they wish to seek them out.

What America ought to do with the Confederate monuments being taken down is perhaps something like Memento Park in Budapest.

A journalist friend: Everyone has biases, but reporters and editors are supposed to check that at the door when they do their jobs. As a journalist, I am embarrassed by the actions, statements, editorializing etc. Of the mainstream news media. There has been a complete double standard of coverage on this president vs. The last one. The last one could do no wrong in the media’s eyes and the current one can do nothing right. That is a problem.
Comment from another friend:. Chuck needs more friends like you
·
Charles Ebeling
Charles Ebeling (Journalist above) is a friend, but we disagree. My long career in PR taught me that every media person has a personal bias. Some overcome that, and some don’t, and some use it as a moral compass for their journalism. Most are a bit of all three, to varying extents. I happen to agree with the weight of the current mainstream media regarding Trump, not because of their bias, but because of my own.

Chuck Todd of MSNBC closed his Sunday feature news program this morning by thanking the audience for watching his “show.” This grates me no end. To me, he is degrading an important news program by referring to it as a simple entertainment — a “show!”

Semantics matter, even in this world of reality TV and Trumpness.

A program implies, to me at least, something of importance. A show is just that, some Barnum & Bailey entertainment.

So, let’s call a spade a spade, and let’s call news by the name “programs,” and comedies, etc. “shows.” Such respect of semantics might help us begin to define the difference between the two terms in our contemporary lives, where, thanks to the one who calls himself “the President who is making America great again,” a meaningful “program” has often been denigrated to a mere “show.”

The opening scene in 2012, just five years ago, from the TV series  “The Newsroom,” made me tremble back then, and still does today, as the Trump regime bulldozes its way through the increasing rubble of America’s former greatness.

Wonder what I’m talking about? Take a look: you’ll remember.

It was on this day in 1974 that Richard Nixon turned in his resignation to Henry Kissinger, and Gerald Ford became President. I was somewhat distracted then, as just 5 days before I had gone back to work in public relations in Chicago at Cooper and Golin on the global McDonald's PR account. I was still living on my Chris-Craft, anchored opposite Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park harbor. I would row ashore each morning in my dingy, wearing a three piece suit with my briefcase, then walk across Grant Park to my new office overlooking the Wrigley Building across the Chicago River on Michigan Avenue. Seeing Nixon out was some recompense for the insult of the Vietnam War, but I was too busy getting in the groove of publicizing Ronald McDonald to stop and pay much notice. If Ford hadn't later pardoned Nixon, he might have gone on to become a greater President.

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