Category Archives: HISTORY

Perspective of time and age on history

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Wreckage of the airship Hindenburg continues to burn on the ground at Lakehurst Air Base in New Jersey

 

I was typically scrolling through my Twitter feed this afternoon when a news blurb caught my eye. It was a picture of the Hindenburg with a headline reading that the last survivor of that disaster had passed away.

For those who may be too young to have ever heard of this historic disaster, or simply may have somehow missed or forgotten about it, here is a quick summary.

The Hindenburg was a dirigible, a blimp if you will, and the last airship commissioned by the world’s first-ever passenger airline, the German Airship Transportation Corporation Ltd, which was established in 1909. It was also known as “the pride of the Nazi airship fleet“, the largest ever built.

In the days prior to airplane travel, the Hindenburg provided the fastest method of travel across the Atlantic Ocean. Passengers could travel from Europe to the Americas in half the time of an ocean liner, and did so in luxurious and comfortable settings that would never be matched by commercial airliners in the coming decades.

On its final flight, the Hindenburg took off on May 3, 1937 from Hamburg, Germany with 36 passengers and 61 crew members on the ship’s 63rd flight. The destination was an air field at Lakehurst, New Jersey which is now part of the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, about 15 miles inland from the Jersey shore community of Seaside Heights.

On its May 6 arrival, the landing lines were dropped, but flames suddenly became visible. The fire quickly engulfed the tail of the ship, and a massive inferno was set off. Some passengers and crew actually dove out of windows. Those near the front generally survived. At the interior, most were not so lucky.

Broadcasting the arrival over the relatively new technology of national radio, newscaster Herb Morrison shouted out what would become one of the most famous lines in radio history: “This is one of the worst catastrophes in the world!

In the end, of the 97 on board, 36 people died in the Hindenburg disaster: 13 passengers, 22 crew, and one worker on the ground.

I was just a kid, maybe around 10 years old, when I first heard about the incident. That would make it roughly 35 years later. Watching the grainy footage in a television news blurb on the anniversary and hearing the old, scratchy radio broadcast, it seemed like ancient history.

Reading the news today as I rapidly approach age 58, decades after first learning of the disaster, the story stated that the oldest survivor had passed away at age 90.

Werner Gustav Doehner died on November 8 at his home in New Hampshire. He was just eight years of age when the disaster took the life of his father and sister.

We were close to a window, and my mother took my brother and threw him out. She grabbed me and fell back and then threw me out,” Doehner said in a rare interview in 2017. “She tried to get my sister, but she was too heavy, and my mother decided to get out by the time the zeppelin was nearly on the ground.

According to a piece by Eileen AJ Connelly for the New York Post, Doehner suffered from burns to his face, both hands and on his right leg. He remained hospitalized for various treatments and surgery until January of the following year.

Reflecting on my feelings as a young boy that the Hindenburg disaster was ancient history got me thinking a bit about age, and how it alters our perception of history.

I saw events such as the Hindenburg and then World War II, which followed just a couple of years later, as happening in another world. It was simply the stuff of history books, nothing that I could personally relate to in any way.

It makes me wonder if that is how my now 17-year-old granddaughter and 18-year-old nephew, even my older 26-year-old goddaughter, see events from that childhood and youth of mine.

Events such as Watergate and the resignation of President Richard Nixon, the Apollo moon landings, and the Vietnam War. To them, these are nothing more than history book items. Events that happened decades before they were born.

To them, these are only things they might have learned about in a brief school class or on some documentary they might have watched on television. But to me, and to anyone roughly my age or older, these are signature news events and happenings in our lives.

If you bother to take a minute and actually think about it, history is really something. We see many people as nothing more than historic figures, even if we acknowledge them as the most influential or famous of all-time. But each of them actually walked this very same Earth at one point.

Jesus Christ, Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte, William Shakespeare, Joan of Arc, George Washington, Cleopatra, Plato, Aristotle, Amelia Earhart, Albert Einstein, Helen Keller, Leonardo da Vinci, and so many more.

These were real people who, for a moment, walked the roads and streets of the world. They watched the sun rise and set. They enjoyed meals and made love. They traveled, worked, and played.

Events which happened to change the course of history are, to most of us living today, simply the stuff of history books and classes or those TV documentaries.

I’m talking events such as the American revolution, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the American Civil War, and even the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and World War II.

To me, and to you, these are the stuff of history books. Just as was the Hindenburg to me. Just as is the Vietnam War to my young relatives. Just as will the 9/11 attack be to my now 11-year-old grandson and nephews. This is the perspective of time and age on history.

Two players with Phillies ties died in the ‘War to End All Wars’

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Star pitcher Christy Mathewson delivers a war fund donation to members of the Red Cross. Nearly 117,000 Americans died fighting in World War I.

Today is Veteran’s Day, when we honor those who have served in the American military, past and present. This year, Veteran’s Day just happens to fall on the 100th anniversary of the ending of World War I.

The “War to End All Wars” famously came to a close when an armistice was signed among the combatants at the “11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month” in 1918 after more than four bloody years of battle.

Nearly 10 million died and more than 20 million more were injured among the combined armed forces of the Allied powers, which included the United States, and the Central powers led by the German Empire. Over 7.5 million civilians were also killed on the combined sides.

 

Major League Baseball teams were not immune from the casualties. Large numbers of players fought in the war, and a number of them never returned home.
Among those killed were two men with ties to the Philadelphia Phillies organization, Eddie Grant and Bun Troy. The two players are pictured in the featured image accompanying this piece, Grant on the left, Troy on the right.
Grant was born on May 21, 1883 in Franklin, Maine. He was nicknamed “Harvard Eddie” for the simple reason that he was a graduate of that prestigious Ivy League institution.
After signing with the Cleveland Naps (now Indians) in 1905, Grant made his big-league debut with them, appearing in two games that year. He was ultimately released, signed on with Jersey City of the Eastern League, and then had his contract purchased by the Phillies in August 1906.
Gant would play for the next four seasons as a regular with the Phillies, appearing in 527 games as the team’s starting third baseman. The team produced a winning record in three of his four seasons from 1907-10. He led all of baseball in at-bats in both 1908 and 1909, and in plate appearances in 1909.
On November 12, 1910 the Phillies packaged Grant along with starting center fielder Johnny Bates and solid pitchers Lew Moren and George McQuillan to the Cincinnati Reds.
In exchange the Phillies received Hans Lobert and Dode Paskert, who proved to be upgrades at the hot corner and in center field, as well as a pair of pitchers who never really panned out in Fred Beebe and Jack Rowan.
Then in June 1913, Grant had his contract purchased by the New York Giants. This led to his lone World Series appearance. That fall he got to pinch-run in the top of the 10th inning of Game 2 at Shibe Park against Connie Mack‘s Philadelphia Athletics.
After Larry McLean singled to lead off the frame against Eddie Plank, Grant was sent in to run by Giants skipper John McGraw. He would then score the game’s first run on a one-out single by Christy Mathewson. The Giants scored three times to take a 3-0 victory. It would prove to be New York’s only win of that Fall Classic.
In Game 4 again at Shibe Park, he made the final out, popping out to the catcher in the top of the 9th inning. The A’s would capture that series the next day.
Grant stayed with the Giants in the 1914 and 1915 seasons, and then retired from baseball to begin practicing law in Boston. According to a piece earlier this year by Lindsay Berra at MLB.com, Grant then entered the military when the U.S. entered World War I:

“When the U.S. entered WWI in April 1917, Grant enlisted and served as a captain in the 307th Infantry Regiment, 77th Division. He entered France in April 1918, and he was killed by an exploding shell during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive on Oct. 5, 1918, becoming the first former Major League player to be killed in action in WWI.”

 

Tom Simon at SABR wrote in his bio of Grant that he “…was buried in the Argonne Forest, only a few yards from where he fell. Later his remains were moved to the Romagne Cemetery. A monument in Grant’s honor was unveiled at the Polo Grounds on Memorial Day 1921, and a highway in the Bronx, a baseball field at Dean Academy (now Dean Junior College), and two American Legion posts still bear his name.”
Grant now lays in his final resting place at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in Romagne, France.
Robert Gustave “Bun” Troy was a rare foreign-born player. Born in Bad Wurzach, Germany on August 27, 1888 his family moved to the states and he grew up in western Pennsylvania. His connection with the Phillies was only slight.
According to Berra, he had a tryout with the Phillies in 1909. Not making the cut, he played minor league baseball in both the 1910 and 1911 seasons.
Finally, in 1912, Troy got his one shot at making the Baseball Encyclopedia. He was signed by the Detroit Tigers and made one start for them on the mound.
On September 15, 1912 at Navin Field in Detroit, Troy put up goose eggs against the legendary Walter Johnson and the Washington Senators into the 7th inning.
With the Tigers leading 3-0, the Senators finally broke through on Troy, scoring four times in the top of that 7th inning. They would pull away to a 6-3 victory, and Troy would never make another big-league appearance. He returned to the minor leagues, pitching in both the 1913 and 1914 seasons.
Berra describes his military service as follows: “In 1917, Troy joined the Army as a sergeant with the 80th Division. He was fatally shot in the chest during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive and died on Oct. 7, 1918, at Evacuation Hospital Eight near Verdun, France.

On this 100th anniversary of the ending of World War I, we honor these men with ties to the Phillies organization by remembering them. And on this Veteran’s Day we here at Phillies Nation thank them and all those who have served and are currently serving in the American military ranks.

Originally published at Phillies Nation as “Remembering two players with ties to the Phillies who died fighting in World War I

2017 American of the Year: Donald Trump

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It’s hard to imagine any first-year American President having to cope with partisan trials such as Donald Trump was forced to endure in office during 2017.

Trump was sworn-in back in January as the first-ever President of the United States to not previously have been an elected politician or serve in the American military ranks.

The new President was under attack from the opposition Democratic Party and liberal-slanted media outlets from day one.

On the television airwaves, networks such as CNN and MSNBC, programs like “The View”, and talk hosts led by Jimmy Kimmel continually bashed the President and his ideas and programs. While these same outlets and individuals had treated the last Republican President, George W. Bush, in much the same way, they chose to take it to a new level with Trump.

Meanwhile the Democrats, led by Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren attacked Trump through their media friends as often as possible, and on every issue. Their hatred, and that is what it is, pure hatred, came largely due to their shock that Trump was in office at all.

They had collectively believed that their idol, the socialist-leaning Barack Obama, would be followed to the highest office in the land by Hillary Clinton. The first black POTUS to be followed by the first female President. Even more importantly to them, the liberal progressive agenda would continue on.

When it didn’t happen, the Dems and the media were legitimately shocked. They responded by lashing out in an open, obvious, childish tantrum never seen previously. It is a whining, crying, stomping feet tantrum that continues today.

Trump had established during his campaign in 2016 that he was never just going to sit back and take it from the media. He continued taking to Twitter to get out his message unfiltered. Often those messages were direct counter-attacks at the media.

The media had never experienced anything like it. They were used to controlling the message heard by the vast majority of Americans. Here was a President not only going around them to deliver his program and policy ideas, but also his personal thoughts on a wide range of issues.

Donald Trump is the first POTUS to make such aggressive use of social media to reach the masses. It has backfired on him occasionally. He has at times come across as petty and vindictive.

However, there is not doubt that he has also kept his base fired up. And there is no doubt that his Twitter account has been a major public relations and messaging tool.

Thanks to the President’s past as a businessman rather than a politician, he is beholden to far fewer special interests than normally chip away at the energy of other administrations.

His personal wealth allows him an independence of thought, speech, and action rarely seen in occupants of the Oval office. And his life experiences as a public figure for decades have left him unafraid of how he is perceived.

Because of the uniqueness of the man, he has won the year by successfully labeling as “fake news” that old school media. That the moniker has stuck is largely their own fault.

The media has often gotten away from its reporting responsibilities to actually become a second form of opposition. So instead of simply battling Democrats, the President has to battle an ego-shattered media.

However, defeating a biased media that has largely abandoned any expectations of impartiality in reporting is not the reason that he has been selected as the 2017 American of the Year. That’s nice, don’t get me wrong, but it’s really a minor factor.

There have been a series of big victories during this first year for President Trump that have led to his selection for the honor. In many ways, his has been one of the most effective freshman season’s in POTUS history. Let’s examine this substantive list of accomplishments.

We’ll begin from the end: the President was a pivotal voice in getting tax reform done for the first time in more than three decades. As Sarah Westwood and Gabby Morrongiello at the Washington Examiner stated: 

“In addition to slashing the corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent, the landmark legislation cut individual rates for all income tax levels, doubled the child tax credit to $2,000, and dramatically increased the standard deduction.”

President Trump also began to change the face of the American judiciary, consistently and insistently pushing the courts toward the right with his nominations and appointments. This was led by the appointment of Neil Gorsuch, an originalist in the mold of his friend and idol, the late Antonin Scalia, to the Supreme Court of the United States.

The appointment of Justice Gorsuch, a dozen judges to the federal appeals courts, as well as a host of lower court appointments made and to come, will be a legacy that will positively effect the nation for decades after he leaves office. And again, that’s only year one.

All year long, Trump signed executive orders rolling back Obama-era regulations which had handcuffed the American economy. He had promised during the campaign to cut two regulations for any new regulation put in place. Here at year’s end, the administration has announced that it has saved billions by actually slicing 22 regulations for each new one.

Trump pushed for the FCC to end so-called “net neutrality”, withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate deal and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and set aside policies aimed at normalizing relations with the dictatorial Cuban regime.

These were all in keeping with another of Trump’s campaign pledges: “America first.” Those Obama-era programs, policies, and deals were not good for America. We were always being asked to carry the burden for the rest of a world that often seems disinterested in changing to help themselves.

President Trump showed the leadership spine necessary to call out the international community, as well as to once again set free the vital communications and information services of the Internet.

In perhaps his boldest statement to that international community, the President finally did what numerous predecessors had promised but fell short in having the courage to actually deliver. I’m talking here about his public recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

In his statement announcing the move, the President also let it be known that he planned to have the United States embassy in Israel moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem:

“In 1995, Congress adopted the Jerusalem Embassy Act, urging the federal government to relocate the American embassy to Jerusalem and to recognize that city — and so importantly — is Israel’s capital.  This act passed Congress by an overwhelming bipartisan majority and was reaffirmed by a unanimous vote of the Senate only six months ago. Yet, for over 20 years, every previous American president has exercised the law’s waiver, refusing to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem or to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city.”

Key themes during his campaign were tougher immigration policy, increased border security, and more aggressive action against criminal illegal immigrants. Check, check, and check.

President Trump immediately removed the handcuffs which had been placed on ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) by Obama. As reported by Avery Anapol at The Hill, this was made plain in a statement made by ICE director Thomas Homan in early December:

“This president has done more for border security and public safety than any of the six presidents I’ve worked for. Just since his leadership in January, border crossings are at a 45-year low. Now that’s not a coincidence. That’s because this president has let the men and women of Border Patrol and ICE do their job.”

The goal of radical Islam is nothing less than the establishment of a worldwide caliphate under Sharia law spread through jihad in its various forms. The U.S. military virtually dismantled ISIL (also known as ISIS) this year, largely thanks to greater freedom provided through President Trump’s leadership.

All year long, the President battled liberal judges on the federal bench over the issue of a travel ban aimed at restricting traffic into the U.S. from a number of Muslim-majority nations. Despite the best efforts of these jurists, a version of Trump’s ban is now in place. Per Mark Sherman of the AP through Fox News, the ban “applies to travelers from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

The President formed a lasting, positive relationship with a number of foreign leaders during the year. However, he also battled it out with a number as well, none more publicly and menacingly than North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.

In the administration’s list of foreign policy achievements for 2017, the actions against the North Koreans are front and center. They include designating North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism, banning more than 90% of that country’s exports, and encouraging other nations to join with tougher actions, especially China. 

During his first year in office, the President visited the Middle East and Europe, met with the Pope in Vatican City, and undertook the longest trip to Asia by any POTUS in the last quarter century.

Through his own statements and those of his appointed U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the President made it known that America would always act in its own self interests first.

The President is still fighting to get a full, secure wall built along the U.S. southern border with Mexico. But not waiting, his unleashing of the Border Patrol has resulted in the fewest attempted illegal crossings in decades. His newly appointed Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, let it be known that going after the violent MS-13 gang was a top priority.

President Trump has delivered on many of his promises already, and it was only the first of at least four years. Shackles have been removed from both the economy and homeland security that will benefit all Americans. The courts are gradually returning to the Constitution. The world is learning that “America first” is real, not just a campaign slogan.

The President has accomplished all of these things with absolutely no help from that opposition Democratic Party. He has accomplished them despite mischaracterization and at times outright character assassination from leftist media. 

For his accomplishments on behalf of the United States of America this year, President Donald J. Trump is selected as our 2017 American of the Year.

The following are the previous 11 honorees (there was no selection in 2014 or 2015 due to a temporary change in direction by the website):

2004 – Pat Tillman, 2005 – Bill O’Reilly, 2006 – Rev. Billy Graham, 2007 – P/O Chuck Cassidy, 2008 – President George W. Bush, 2009 – Glenn Beck, 2010 – Senator Ron Paul, 2011 – U.S. Navy Seal Team 6, 2012 – Michael Phelps, 2013 – Senator Ted Cruz, 2016 – Kellyanne Conway

Articles written on these prior honorees can be viewed simply by clicking on the “American of the Year” tag following this article.

2017: Year in Review

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The year 2017 is about to slip fully into the annals of history, and what a truly historic year it was. For good and bad, the news headlines were dominated by one man. But there was still plenty more to make this past year memorable.

On January 20, Donald J. Trump was sworn-in as the 45th President of the United States. Trump, a New York City businessman, thus became the first person to ever hold the highest office of the land without having served previously in the political arena or the U.S. military.

Trump’s wife, the former Melania Knauss, became just the second First Lady born outside of the United States and the first-ever naturalized U.S. citizen to take on that role.

Mike Pence, the former Governor of Indiana, was sworn-in as Trump’s Vice-President. He would provide a stable, measured, traditional balance to Trump’s bombastic style in office.

Much as he had in winning the Republican primaries and then the general election, Trump rallied support for his initiatives through the use of social media. The use of his Twitter account produced some notable gaffes, but also galvanized his loyal followers.

The President and those in his administration pushing out his first-year agenda would run into a number of roadblocks, most publicly from the Democratic Party and from liberal court jurists. However there were a number of big victories for the freshman POTUS.

Neil Gorsuch was nominated and confirmed, putting a jurist with a conservative record on the Supreme Court of the United States. Trump utilized the power of his office to roll back numerous Obama-era regulations, as well as some on Cuba.

It was Trump leadership that led to FCC repeal of so-called ‘net neutrality’ rules. The President pulled the United States out of both the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Paris climate deal. Under his direction, ICE had its most active year ever in combating illegal immigration, and the Border Patrol has similarly had a banner year in stopping illegal border crossings.

And as Christmas approached, the leadership of the President was key in getting tax reform done for the first time in decades. The act to reduce and reform taxation in the country would also eliminate the Obamacare individual mandate, basically killing that program. In addition, it opened up areas of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling, creating more economic opportunity for the nation.

On the day following the inauguration, millions took to the streets in the largest single-day protest in U.S. history. Though it was known as the “Women’s March”, it was actually anti-Trump, with American leftists rallying against the new president’s stated campaign goals.

On February 11, North Korea fired a ballistic missile over the Sea of Japan. This began a year-long war of words and military posturing between Trump and North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-un.

March 29 saw more major international news when the United Kingdom began Brexit negotiations aimed at withdrawing Britain from the European Union.

On April 13, the U.S. military dropped MOAB (Mother of All Bombs) on ISIL (also known as ISIS) troops in Afghanistan. This was the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used, and resulted in the deaths of 94 militants along with four commanders.

By years-end, the U.S. military, loosed by President Trump from reigns imposed under his predecessor, had virtually destroyed ISIL. On the last day of the Barack Obama administration, some 35,000 ISIL troops controlled 17,500 square miles in Afghanistan. Today there are only about 1,000 fighters left controlling some 1,900 square miles.

Mass casualty violence reared its ugly head at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England on May 22. Islamic terrorists set off a homemade bomb, killing 22 people and injury over 500 others.

Tensions with North Korea heightened even further on June 12 when an American student, Otto Warmbier, was returned home following a year and a half imprisonment there. In January of 2016, Warmbier had been accused of attempting to steal a political propaganda poster from the hotel room where he was staying as a tourist.

On his return, Warmbier was in a coma and found to have suffered severe neurological damage. He never regained consciousness, and died on June 19. It is believed that at least three U.S. citizens are still being held in North Korea.

On July 4, both Russia and China urged the North Koreans to halt development of their missile and nuclear weapons programs. Then on August 5, the United Nations hit North Korea with sanctions on trade and investment.

These developments came after North Korea successfully tested its first ICBM. Not to be dissuaded, the North Koreans would conduct their most powerful nuclear test to date on September 3. It is now estimated that their missiles are capable of hitting targets anywhere in the United States.

Cyberattacks became a late-spring, early-summer phenomenon. On May 12, computers around the world were hit with ransomware cyberattack. Then on June 27, the Ukraine suffered from a series of cyberattacks.

News was made in the heavens on August 21 as The Great American Eclipse took place. Passing from the Pacific to the Atlantic coasts, the total solar eclipse was the first in the United States since 1979.

On September 13 it was learned that the Summer Olympics would be coming back to the United States. The city of Los Angeles, California was awarded the 2028 Games, with Paris awarded the rights to the 2024 Olympics.

In between those two feel-good happenings, Hurricane Harvey brought death and destruction as a Cat4 storm. There was tremendous loss in the Houston, Texas area as the storm lingered for nearly a week. With just under $200 billion in damages, it was the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history. There were at least 90 deaths reported from the storm.

Mother Nature wasn’t done with the Americas yet. One week after Harvey moved out, Hurricane Irma slammed through the Caribbean and struck the United States at Florida. The storm caused at least 134 deaths and $63 billion in damages.

And there was still more of nature’s wrath to come this year. A pair of earthquakes struck Mexico in September, with a 7.1 quake striking on September 19. There were more than 350 deaths and 6,000 injuries as a result.

Puerto Rico and Dominica took major hits from Hurricane Maria on September 19-20. There were at least 94 deaths and over $103 billion in damages. The islands are still trying to recover now, more than three months later.

Death did not take a holiday in October. In fact, the month began with the deadliest mass shooting ever perpetrated by a lone gunman in American history. As the Route 91 music festival was taking place in Las Vegas, Stephen Paddock opened fire from his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel overlooking the festival. His attack left 58 dead to date, with 546 injured.

On November 15 the art world was rocked when an original painting titled ‘Salvator Muti’ (Savior of the World) purported to be by Leonardo da Vinci himself went for $450 million during an auction at Christie’s in New York. The price was the most ever paid for any work of art.

On December 5, Russia was banned from the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics, scheduled to be held in South Korea during February. The Russians were banned following an IOC investigation into state-sponsored drug doping of athletes.

A day later, President Trump kept a campaign promise when he formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This was something that the U.S. Congress had called for, and that a number of previous American presidents had pledged. Trump was the first to back up his words with actions, standing up for the United States’ greatest ally in the Middle East.

In one of the largest entertainment media deals in history, the Walt Disney Corporation announced on December 14 that they were acquiring 21st Century Fox for $66 billion dollars.

As December was winding down, the Thomas Fire in southern California was finally, mercifully being brought under control. Lasting nearly the entire month, it was the largest such fire in California history, burning away nearly 282,000 acres, or 440 square miles. It destroyed more than 1,000 structures, damaged hundreds more.

The fire caused $177 billion in damages, and forced more than 100,000 residents to flee their homes. At the peak, there were more than 8,500 firefighters battling the blaze in various locations. Miraculously, but still tragically, just one firefighter and one civilian were killed.

We had to say goodbye to a number of celebrities and public figures known to many Americans during this past year. Those who have died in 2017 (with still a few days to go) include the following: Hugh Hefner, Mary Tyler Moore, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lewis, Glen Campbell, Tom Petty, Fats Domino, Don Rickles, Roger Moore, David Cassidy, Erin Moran, Jim Nabors, Bill Paxton, Al Jarreau, Gregg Allman, Chester Bennington, Walter Becker, Prodigy, Adam West, Miguel Ferrer, John Hurt, John Heard, Powers Boothe, Sam Shepard, Mel Tillis, Chris Cornell, Malcolm Young, Della Reese, Dick Gregory, Jana Novotna, Monty Hall, Mike Connors, Robert GuillaumeBarbara Hale, Frank Vincent, Martin Landau, Glenne Headley, Jay Thomas, Stephen Furst, Richard Hatch, Judge Joseph Wapner, Richard Anderson, John Hillerman, Jake LaMotta, Bobby Heenan, Terry Glenn, Bobby Doerr, David Rockefeller, George Romero, Jonathan Demme, William Peter Blatty, Dina Merrill, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Helmut Kohl, and Manuel Noriega. Eugene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, also died this past year.

I’m from Philly, and a huge baseball fan. My hometown Philadelphia Phillies baseball franchise lost three of their historic figures this past year: Hall of Famer and former U.S. Senator Jim Bunning, pitcher Roy Halladay, and catcher Darren Daulton.



As you can see, 2017 was a momentous year. I began my look back at the year yesterday in a piece on yet another loss, my biggest personal loss with the death of my father, Matthew J. Veasey Jr.

I’ll conclude this year at my blog in the next day or two with the annual naming of the 2017 American of the Year. Last year’s honoree was perhaps the key architect of the historic Trump campaign victory, Kellyanne Conway. She was also the first-ever female winner of the honors. Who will it be for this past year? Stay tuned right here to find out.

 

Monica reminds us that it wasn’t her scandal

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HLN, which was formerly known as ‘Headline News’, is a cable TV network spun off CNN by Turner Broadcasting. Today the network broadcasts a mixture of traditional news and real crime stories.

In a recent announcement, HLN said that they would revisit what it called “The Monica Lewinsky Scandal” with a two-hour special program.

Many readers may be too young to know who she is, and those who do may have forgotten all but her name. Let’s do a quick review of exactly why Monica Lewinsky became such a public figure, along with a little background as to how she got into such a sensitive position.

In 1995, Lewinsky graduated with a degree in psychology from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. That summer, family friend Walter Kaye, an insurance big wig who was also friends with Hillary Clinton, helped her land an unpaid internship in Washington, D.C. in the office of White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta.

Per Jeff Leen of the Washington Post back in 2008, one of Lewinsky’s fellow interns that summer painted her as extroverted, hard-working and ambitious. In the coming months there would be rumors, some started by her own comments, that she had somehow developed an uncommonly close relationship with President Bill Clinton.

By December, Lewinsky had been moved to a paid intern position with the Office of Legislative Affairs. She would later confide in a friend, Linda Tripp, that she had begun an affair with the President a month earlier.

Per a USA Today article in 2008, Lewinsky had her first sexual encounter with Clinton in the private study of the Oval office on November 15, 1995. The two repeated this Oval office tryst under similar circumstances just two days later. 

This was the beginning of a physical relationship that lasted approximately a year and a half. There would be, according to Lewinsky, a total of nine sexual encounters between the two. There was never sexual intercourse, but fellatio and other sex acts were involved.

Described by some on staff as a bit forward, and by others as outright flirtatious, Lewinsky was moved in April 1996 into a position as assistant to the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, Kenneth Bacon. The move came because some of her superiors felt that she had grown too close to the President.

Lewinsky also had a reputation as a hard worker who was willing to genuinely put in long hours. She seems to have been an enigma. While exhibiting drive and determination, she also came across as distracted at times, with a fairly obvious crush on the President.

During a February 1997 liaison, Clinton purportedly left stains on Lewinsky’s dress during one of their encounters. The revelation that the dark blue dress had been preserved with this “evidence” would later became a part of the public lore involving their relationship. A month later, the two had their final dalliance with one another.

It was in September of 1997 that Lewinsky began to confide in Tripp, who then began to secretly record their conversations. By January 1998, the affair broke through as a public news story. Clinton famously responded I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky” in a news conference on national television.

Over the next few months, Clinton faced increased scrutiny involving the affair and his involvement in the Whitewater real estate controversy. He finally admitted under pressure from Kenneth Starr, the Independent Counsel on Whitewater, that “I did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky that was not appropriate.”

In December 1998, two articles of impeachment were brought against Clinton by the U.S. House of Representatives. Charges of perjury and obstruction of justice were leveled against him involving a sexual harassment lawsuit brought against him by Paula Jones. This was in relation to an incident that occurred while he was the Governor of Arkansas in 1991.

Both Clinton and Lewinsky were called to testify at the Jones lawsuit proceedings. Clinton lied under oath about his relationship with Lewinsky, spurring the impeachment charges. He was acquitted on both charges in a Senate trial along party-line votes. He would settle out-of-court with Jones.



Over the next couple of years, Lewinsky would hit the cover of Time magazine, be interviewed on TV by Barbara Walters, appear twice on “Saturday Night Live”, and participate in the publishing of her biography.

The problem with the labeling and marketing of this upcoming HLN program is the same as has always been the case with this story. It is always presented as the “Lewinsky scandal”, when in fact the more appropriate truth is that it was the “Clinton” scandal.

Bill Clinton was the President of the United States. He was the most powerful man in the world. Monica Lewinsky was a 22-year old young woman ostensibly working as his employee. 

That’s not to take any responsibility away from her. She was certainly old enough to know that what she was doing was wrong. But the true scandal is certainly more appropriately laid at the feet of the then 49-year old leader of the free world.

Lewinsky, now 44 years old and one of the nation’s leading anti-bullying social activists, was quick to cleverly strike back on social media at what she felt was this inappropriate labeling and marketing by the HLN folks.

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Per the ‘Page Six’ section of the New York Post, supporters were quick to jump to her side. Comments included “Yep. When it’s a woman, it’s a ‘scandal’ when it’s a man, it’s an ‘investigation’and “Hey @CNN how about you stop victimizing Monica? Fix your headline. It’s post-Weinstein 2017 for f**k’s sake! Have we learned NOTHING this year?

 



There has been plenty of scandal involving Bill and Hillary Clinton over the last few decades. Monica Lewinsky’s involvement is just one chapter. But it is a chapter that lingers with those of us who lived through those years. It’s important that we keep Monica’s reminder front and center. 

While she was a young woman who made a mistake in judgment, he was the President of the United States. And he later compounded those errors in his judgment by lying about them under oath in a formal court proceeding. Those actions of Clinton’s are the true scandal in this story.