Quote of the Moment: John Kennedy, June 26, 1963 (51 years ago)

June 26, 2014

Rare color photograph of President John Kennedy addressing a crowd in the then-divided city of Berlin, June 26, 1963

Rare color photograph of President John Kennedy addressing a crowd in the then-divided city of Berlin, June 26, 1963

On the day the U.S. and Germany meet in Brazil in the World Cup, let us remember the ties that bind our nations together, including especially the memorable speech of  U.S. President John F. Kennedy on this day, in Berlin, in 1963.

From the Smithsonian Magazine site:

June 26, 1963: “Ich bin ein Berliner”

In West Berlin, President John F. Kennedy delivers the famous speech in which he declares, “Ich bin ein Berliner.” Meaning literally “I am a citizen of Berlin,” the statement shows U.S. solidarity with democratic West Berlin, surrounded by communist territory.

View a video of President Kennedy’s speech at American Rhetoric, Top 100 Speeches.

Kennedy’s entire speech was good. It was well drafted and well delivered, taking advantage of the dramatic setting and the dramatic moment. John Kennedy well understood how to give a speech, too.

Below is most of the speech, nearly five minutes’ worth, from a YouTube file — another indication that schools need to open up their filters to allow at least some of the best YouTube material through:

You may also want to note these posts:

German government photo and caption: The masses that greeted Kennedy in front of the West Berlin City Hall and throughout the city were jubilant. (© Press and Information Office of the Federal Government; Steiner)

German government photo and caption: The masses that greeted Kennedy in front of the West Berlin City Hall and throughout the city were jubilant. (© Press and Information Office of the Federal Government; Steiner)

This is an encore post.

This is an encore post.

Photo of the moment: India brilliantly demonstrating the error of Mao Zedong

May 12, 2014

You remember the quote, don’t you?

Every Communist must grasp the truth; “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”

Mao Zedong, “Problems of War and Strategy” (November 6, 1938), Selected Works, Vol. II, p. 224.

Here is the 21st century response from India:

A man shows off his finger, marked with ink, to show he's voted in India's elections, 2014.   WSJ image

A man shows off his finger, marked with ink, to show he’s voted in India’s elections, 2014. WSJ Tweet: India’s weeks-long federal elections come to a close. Photos from the polling place: http://trib.al/SekkQd2 (EPA)

In a democratic regime, political power grows from the finger that rings the doorbell or dials the phone to invite a neighbor to vote, and to that same finger marking the ballot in the voting place.  In the 21st century, democratic revolutions are slower, cause less bloodshed, but are more deeply rooted in the will of the people, and last longer in the deep reforms they bring to a nation.

The finger is mightier than the gun.

Mao is dead.  Even his nation turns towards capitalism, and eventually, to personal political freedom.

O, Tempora! O, Mores!

To which I would add (hoping I get the grammar correct!):  Novae viae veteres malis eius conterendos.  Spes et patientia superare tyrannidis.  (New ways crush the old bad habits. Hope and determination overcome tyranny.)

Afterthought:   When Malcolm X preached “The Ballot or the Bullet,” he advocated the ballot. He knew.

“It’s a Wonderful Life,” Republican edit

December 17, 2013

It's a Wonderful Life

Movie house poster for “It’s a Wonderful Life” (from Wikipedia)

Jimmy Kimmel’s crew put together the trailer for the new, GOP-edition of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Tip of the old scrub brush to Frank Milewski, and the “real communists of Bedford Falls.”

It’s a wonderful life, Christmas, Capitalism, Communism in America Politics.


If the photo didn’t exist, you wouldn’t believe it: Abraham Lincoln and Fidel Castro

October 11, 2013

This popped in over the Twitter transom yesterday:

I don’t recall having seen the shot before. But Alex Selwyn-Holmes at Iconic Photographs posted a very complete story about the picture in 2009.

Fidel Castro at the Lincoln Memorial, 1959.  Photo by Alfredo Korda

Fidel Castro at the Lincoln Memorial, 1959. Photo by Alfredo Korda

Between April 15 and April 26 1959–a few months after he took power in Cuba–Fidel Castro went to the United States, invited by the American Society of Newspaper Editors. In one of those forgotten episodes of the Cold War, Castro went to the US for loans. Castro hired one of the best public relations firms to present his new government. Castro answered impertinent questions jokingly and ate hot dogs and hamburgers. His rumpled fatigues and scruffy beard cut a popular figure easily promoted as an authentic hero.

Read the whole story at Iconic Photographs.

In 1959, Castro’s forces had recently ousted Cuban president (and dictator) Gen. Fulgencio Batista.  Under Batista Cuba was very much a playground for America’s rich, and a steady supply of cheap sugar and good cigars.  In the musical play and movie, “Guys and Dolls,” the character Sky Masterson gets a date with a Salvation Army-style preacher woman, to win a bet.  When she finally consents (after he offers to fill her mission hall with reprobates in need of salvation), she asks what time she should be ready for dinner.  “Noon,” Masterson replies.  They are to fly from New York to Cuba for dinner, and return by the next morning.  Cuba’s reputation as hangout for American mobsters came honestly.  (“Guys and Dolls” opened on Broadway in 1950, and the movie hit theaters in 1955. That was the heyday of the Douglas DC-6, which is what a gambler probably would have flown from New York to Havana at that time, flying in to what is now Jose Marti International Airport.)

In contrast to the playboy mobsters, Cuban people tended to lead very bleak lives.  Sugar and tobacco farming did not make Cubans rich; processing of sugar was done by large international corporations.  Cuban cigars, recognized for quality, tended to be cheap, and tobacco farmers and cigar makers employed thousands of underpaid Cubans.  Cuba’s Havana nightlife seemed reserved for the wealthy, which usually meant foreign tourists, and not Cubans.

Castro’s revolution succeeded partly because of that rift, and Castro promised to turn things around for the masses of Cuban people (promises yet unkept).

For 11 days in 1959, Fidel Castro fascinated the U.S.  He spoke to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, and to the American Society of Newspaper Editors. (His UN speech and famous hotel stay, in which he plucked and cooked chickens in his New York Hotel room, came the next year).  Castro ate hot dogs, and laid a wreath in the tomb of George Washington. At one point Castro was introduced in the audience of the “Ed Sullivan Show” as “the George Washington of Cuba” (this trip?)  But in Washington, Castro ran into Richard Nixon’s anti-Communist paranoia when seeking aid from the Eisenhower administration.  Without help from the U.S., Castro took offers of assistance from the Soviet Union who were anxious to have a friend and ally in the Americas, close to United States territorial waters.

Would Castro have cozied to the U.S. instead of the U.S.S.R., had the U.S. offered aid.  Most  historians think Castro’s communist path was already set when he visited the U.S.

This photo makes one wonder.  Certainly it was good public relations, for Castro to be seen paying homage to Abraham Lincoln.  Was it more than just a propaganda photo?

It’s a fascinating photo.

What do you think?


Chess games of the rich and famous: Truman vs. Stalin, over Berlin

September 8, 2012

Not a chess game that really happened, but a virtual chess game with the highest stakes ever:

Truman and Stalin play chess, by Leslie Illington - Berlin Airlift - George Mason U image

Caption from George Mason collection: In this game Stalin‘s main opponent would be Harry Truman, the board Germany, and the opening gambit would occur in Berlin. Image by Leslie Illington. Source: National Library I of Wales.

Stalin’s pieces include “Eastern Bloc,” and “Berlin Blockade.”  Trumans pieces include a knight,  “Air Lift,” and a piece looking a lot like Gen. Dwight Eisenhower,   “Atlantic Alliance.”

I found this image at a site covering the Berlin Airlift, set up by John Lemza, a Ph.D. candidate in history at George Mason University.  I gather it was his response for a final assignment in a class — but it’s a great site to cover Berlin in the Cold War, and especially the Berlin Airlift:  “Berlin Airlift:  Relief for a city held hostage.”



August 13, 1961: Berlin Wall

August 13, 2012

51 years ago today.

Soviet-bloc communism disabused us of a lot of ideas, including pointing out that when the amplification was turned up a lot, even Robert Frost could be wrong in the voice of his farmer and neighbor character, because high, concrete and concertina wire fences don’t make good neighbors.

A rock wall in Vermont, like the one Robert Frost wrote about -Wikimedia image

A rock wall in Vermont, like the one Robert Frost wrote about -Wikimedia image

Of course, even in demonstrating Frost in error, the communists made the opening clause of “Mending Fences” more poignant: “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall . . .”

Residents of Berlin awoke on August 13, 1961, to discover that the Soviet-dominated East Germany had begun constructing a wall across Berlin, to keep East Berlin residents from escaping the clutches of communism and walking to freedom in West Berlin.

This year I saw a mock up of part of the Berlin Wall next to an exhibit honoring Winston Churchill at the Trout Museum of Art in Appleton, Wisconsin.  A few days later I saw actual portions of the wall, mounted for permanent display at the National Churchill Museum on the Churchill Center in Fulton, Missouri.  A few days later, I saw more sections of the wall, with one of the 300+ guard towers, at the Newseum, in Washington, D.C.  On Each occasion I was reminded of my own  trip to the Wall in 1987, finding next to the boarded-up Reichstag eight wreaths, honoring the eight people who were known to have died trying to cross the wall in the previous six months.

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.  That something is freedom.

Please see other Bathtub posts on the topic:

And remember the poet’s telling, “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.”

A wall Robert Frost would not love - Berlin Wall at Potsdamer Platz, November 1975, from West Berlin - Wikimedia photo

A wall Robert Frost would not love – Berlin Wall at Potsdamer Platz, November 1975, from West Berlin – Wikimedia photo

Rep. Allen West: Santayana’s Ghost claims another victim

April 16, 2012

It’s right there in the right ear of this weblog for all to see; George Santayana said,Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Rep. Allen West, from Florida’s newly created 18th Congressional District, is old enough to know better, but doesn’t:

The question was, how many American legislators does Rep. West think might be “card-carrying” communists.  He answered that 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party are communists.

Okay, kids, what’s wrong with Rep. West’s claim?


Santayana's aphorism about those ignorant of history, on a plaque in a German subway

Wikimedia photo by Andy82: Caption: Citation of George Santayana at the U-Bahn (subway) Station Gesundbrunnen (Berlin). Translation: "Who does not know the past is condemned to repeat it". The poster above the citation advertises video surveillance. Translation: "Attention. video surveillance". The sign below the citation shows that the U-Bahn Station is a building of historic importance which stands under preservation order. Denkmal means literally memorial or monument

The only way Rep. West could know if anyone in any Democratic caucus is a communist is if Rep. West runs the membership office for the American Communist Party.

That’s probably true, Raoul.  I hadn’t thought about that — but it certainly calls into question just how Rep. West could know what he claims, doesn’t it?  What else is wrong with the claim?  Yes, Anna:

Wouldn’t a member of a third party caucus with their own party, and not with the Democrats?  I mean, even though he voted for the Democratic leadership, Bernie Sanders always let it be known that he was independent, and not a Democrat.  If there were 80 of them in Congress, wouldn’t they get special breaks on committee assignments as Communists?

Oh, Anna, all that time you spent reading the House Rules has made you the Master of Arcana, hasn’t it?  You’re probably right, though we can’t be sure — a third party with that many seats could almost swing a vote in the House — and so, as in Europe, they’d probably want to caucus together, so they could bargain for power with the other two larger parties, at least.  Good catch.  Not quite what I was looking for.  But it’s one more way that Rep. West looks a little silly, isn’t it?

Santayana on ignorance of history, at Auschwitz - Wikipedia image


Mr. Begay?  Did you have your hand up?

How do you know Rep. West was talking about the House of Representatives?  He could have been talking about the Senate, couldn’t he?

Yes, and you’re getting closer to the the issue I’m thinking of.  If we just take his statement at face value, he could be including the Senate — does that suggest another line of analysis you should be thinking of, Davey?

What do you mean?  I don’t get it.

Did Rep. West limit his analysis to federal legislators?  Did he exclude state legislators?  The questioner just asked about how many “card-carrying” communists there are among legislators in the U.S.  There are 538 Members of Congress (100 senators, plus 435 representatives from the states, plus three delegates from D.C. and Guam and Puerto Rico). Plus, there are another 7,382 people in the state legislatures.  The questioner didn’t limit his question to Congress; did Rep. West limit his answer to Congress?  I doubt it.

Yes, Kwame?

Isn’t this claim dangerously close to that other dude . . . McCartney, or something?  McCarthy!  Joe McCarthy.  Isn’t this almost exactly what Joe McCarthy said?

Very similar — maybe it’s a long standing problem, do you think, Kwame?

No, no.  McCarthy falsely accused people.  Turned out the list he waved in West Virginia kept changing — how many communists there were, who was on the list. He was just grandstanding.  He didn’t really know what he was talking about.

And Rep. West?

Well, don’t we have better information now?

How is our information better today?

You know, with the NSA bugging everybody’s phone and reading everybody’s e-mails.  Don’t you think they’d know who is a communist and who is not?

What do you think?  Do the federal agencies have better tools today?  And if they did, does that make it a crime to yearn for a different political system?  Do communists have rights, like Republicans and Democrats do, to push for change through their preferred political party?  Does Rep. West have access to the NSA’s work?  Billy?

Rep. West knows what happened to Sen. McCarthy, right?  This looks like exactly the same sort of stuff McCarthy did, but surely he wouldn’t make false charges like McCarthy did, would he?

So you think that there are, secretly, 70 or 80 Members of Congress who are communists, working to overthrow the government of the U.S.?

Tell you what:  Let’s look at Sen. McCarthy’s original complaint, as he telegraphed it to President Truman from Nevada; and let’s look at Truman’s response [both courtesy of the Truman Library, "Telegram, Joseph McCarthy to Harry S. Truman, February 11, 1950, with Truman’s draft reply; McCarthy, Joseph; General File; PSF; Truman Papers"].

Six pages from Sen. McCarthy:

Sen. McCarthy to President Truman, telegraph on communists in State Dept, page 1 - Truman Library Image

Sen. McCarthy to President Truman, telegraph on communists in State Dept, page 1 - Truman Library Image

McCarthy to Truman telegram, page 2

McCarthy to Truman telegram, page 2

McCarthy to Truman telegram, page 3

McCarthy to Truman telegram, page 3

McCarthy to Truman telegram, page 4

McCarthy to Truman telegram, page 4

McCarthy to Truman telegram, page 5

McCarthy to Truman telegram, page 5

McCarthy to Truman telegram, page 6

McCarthy to Truman telegram, page 6

And here is President Truman’s response, in draft form, before being sent as a telegram in reply:

Truman's response to Sen. McCarthy draft, February 1950 - Truman Library image

Truman's response to Sen. McCarthy draft, February 1950 - Truman Library image

So, knowing what you know about Sen. McCarthy, the Red Scare, the Cold War, and President Truman, what to you think of the accuracy of the claims McCarthy made?  Are the claims of Rep. West any better documented?

Santayana’s Ghost wonders whether you and I remember history correctly.


If Stalin said America is “a healthy body,” why can’t anyone find the source?

March 14, 2012

Joseph Stalin, via Chicago Boyz

Joseph Stalin would have to have been drunk to call the U.S. “healthy,” and to have complimented America’s patriotism, morality and spiritual life. Even then, it would be unlikely. Why does this quote keep circulating?

This has been floating around Tea Party and other shallow venues for a while, but I’ll wager Stalin did not say it:

“America is like a healthy body and its resistance is threefold:  Its patriotism, its morality, and its spiritual life.  If we can undermine these three areas, America will collapse from within.”

I can’t find any source for it; it’s mostly quoted on right-wing sites where people marvel over what a prophet Stalin was.  All requests for a citation in five or six different forums I’ve checked, are unanswered.  Nothing like it appears at the often-checked Wikiquote.  The Stalin Archive holds nothing close to the claimed quote.

Perhaps more telling:  Is it likely that Joe Stalin ever would have called the U.S. “a healthy body?”  Stalin was of a school that claimed capitalism was diseased, and America was infested with a soon-to-be terminal case.  If he called America “diseased” by patriotism and religion, it would be consistent with other statements, but his calling America healthy for patriotism and spiritual life, it’s inconsistent with other claims he made, about America and about capitalism (see Stalin’s 1929 remonstrance to the U.S. Communist Party, for example).

So, Dear Readers, my request to you:  Can you offer the source of this quote, Joseph Stalin or not?

Why would a false claim from Stalin get such a life on the internet?

Update, March 15, 2012:  I’m calling this one:  It’s a bogus quote.  Joseph Stalin didn’t say it.  Not as many comments here as e-mails and comments on other discussion boards and Facebook — no one has come even close to anything like the line above from Stalin.  No source quoting the line even bothers to give a decade, let alone a year, a location, and a citation that would pass muster in a sophomore high school English class.  Tea Partiers, you’ve tried to twist history again — stop it.

Update March 1, 2013: If you’re checking in here studying for a DBQ for an AP class, please tell us in comments, which AP class, and what city you’re in.  Thanks.

Cold War propaganda: “Make Mine Freedom,” 1948

October 10, 2011

Designed to promote democracy versus communism, and free enterprise (capitalism) over communism’s totalitarian governments then in vogue in the Eastern Bloc, this film was targeted to young college students who did not have the opportunity to fight for freedom in World War II.  “Make Mine Freedom” was produced by Harding College in 1948, preserved by the Prelinger Archives.

Is it a bit heavy handed? Is this an accurate portrait of economic or political freedom?  Are the characters in this animated short movie quite stereotyped?

In Blogylvania, the movie has been seized on as a sort of parable for our times.  Those bloggers who say it is a parable see a lot more in the movie than I do.  Almost any Lewis Hine photograph of child labor should be a good rebuttal.  Some say it seemed far-fetched in 1948 (then why did anyone bother to make it?).  It’s much, much more far-fetched now.

It’s a good departure point for discussions about propaganda in the Cold War.

Harding College resides in Searcy, Arkansas, and is affiliated with the Church of Christ.  It is now Harding University.

Starvation crisis in North Korea (Reuters report via Al Jazeera)

October 9, 2011

Some images may be shocking to young children.  This is information you need to have.

Al Jazeera carried this report, an edited version of a report from Reuters, who somehow got video and interviews from inside North Korea, if we are to grant credence to the report.

In a hospital in Pyongyang, doctors monitor a group of weak infants, some of whom are already showing signs of malnutrition and sickness. They are the most vulnerable members of a population suffering from extreme food shortages.

According to the United Nations, one third of all children under the age of five in North Korea are malnourished, and other countries have become less interested in donating food as the “hermit kingdom” battles efforts to constrain its nuclear program.

The UN World Food Programme says public distributions are running extremely low, and they are only able to help half the people who need aid. Meanwhile, the countries rulers stage outsized military parades, and some wonder whether food donations are being siphoned off to them.

North Korea recently granted a Reuters news crew access to the country, and Al Jazeera’a Khadija Magardie reports on the plight they found.

The longer Reuters report can be viewed here (but I can’t figure out how to embed it at the Bathtub).

Climate-change aggravated severe weather adds to the serious nutrition shortages in North Korea, according to Reuters written reports.

Famine in North Korea is one more vital topic ignored by the presidential and Congressional campaigns, and conservatives in their rush to get Obama out of office.


August 13, 1961: The Berlin Wall’s 50th anniversary

August 13, 2011

August keeps handing us these dates:  How should the 50th anniversary of the construction of the Berlin Wall be remembered?

AP reports in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that the current mayor of Berlin said we must use the Wall to remember that we must stand up for democracy.  Ceremonies in Berlin marked the anniversary and the creation of a new museum there.  I wrote before:

August 13 . . . [marks the 50th] “anniversary” of the erection of the Berlin Wall, the totem of the Cold War that came down in 1989, pushing the end of the Cold War. Residents of Berlin awoke on this day in 1961 to find the communist government of East Germany erecting what would become a 96-mile wall around the “western quarters” of the city — not so much to lay siege to the westerners (that had been tried in 1948, frustrated by the Berlin Airlift) as to keep easterners from “defecting” to the West. The Brandenburg Gate was closed on August 14, and all crossing points were closed on August 26.

From 1961 through 1991 1989, teachers could use the Berlin wall as a simple and clear symbol for the differences between the communist Eastern Bloc, the Soviet Union and her satellite states, and the free West, which included most of the land mass of Germany, England, France, Italy, the United States and other free-market nations — the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries. I suspect most high school kids today know very little about the Wall, why it was there, and what its destruction meant, politically.

This era of history is generally neglected in high school. Many courses fail to go past World War II; in many courses the Cold War is in the curriculum sequenced after the ACT, SAT and state graduation examinations, so students and teachers have tuned out.

But the Wall certain had a sense of drama to it that should make for good lessons. When I visited the wall, in early 1988, late at night, there were eight fresh wreaths honoring eight people who had died trying to cross the Wall in the previous few weeks (in some places it was really a series of walls with space in between to make it easier for the East German guards to shoot people trying to escape) — it’s an image I never forget. Within a year after that, East Germans could travel through Hungary to visit the West, and many “forgot” to return. Within 18 months the wall itself was breached.

The Wall was a great backdrop for speeches, too — President John F. Kennedy visited Berlin in June 1963, and expressed his solidarity with the walled-in people of both West and East Berlin, with the memorable phrase, “Ich bin ein Berliner, which produced astounding cheers from the tens of thousands who came to hear him. There are a few German-to-English translators who argue that some of the reaction was due to the fact that “Berliner” is also an idiomatic phrase in Berlin for a bakery confection like a jelly doughnut — so Kennedy’s words were a double entendre that could mean either “I am a citizen of Berlin,” or “I am a jelly doughnut.”  [Be sure to see the comments . . .  from Vince Treacy (9/28/2010).]  Ronald Reagan went to the same place Kennedy spoke to the Berlin Wall, too, to the Brandenburg Gate, in his famous June 1987 speech which included a plea to the Soviet Union’s Premier Mikhail Gorbachev: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

What do we do appropriately with such memory?

What does the Berlin Wall, and its demise, mean to us today?  What should it mean?

Kennedy said, in the struggle for freedom, we are all citizens of Berlin (Quote of the moment)

June 26, 2011

49 years ago, on June 26, 1962, in Berlin:

President Kennedy addresses Berlin citizens, 6-26-1962 (photographer unidentified)

President John F. Kennedy addressing a crowd in Berlin, Germany, June 26, 1962 - image from NARA and/or Kennedy Library

From the Smithsonian Magazine site:

June 26, 1963: “Ich bin ein Berliner”

In West Berlin, President John F. Kennedy delivers the famous speech in which he declares, “Ich bin ein Berliner.” Meaning literally “I am a citizen of Berlin,” the statement shows U.S. solidarity with democratic West Berlin, surrounded by communist territory.

View a video of President Kennedy’s speech at American Rhetoric, Top 100 Speeches.

Audio of the famous line, from the National Archives:

Photos and complete audio, at The Sounds of History.com:

Text and transcript, and other materials, from the Kennedy Library and Museum:

Kennedy’s entire speech was good. It was well drafted and well delivered, taking advantage of the dramatic setting and the dramatic moment. John Kennedy well understood how to give a speech, too.

Below is most of the speech, nearly five minutes’ worth, from a YouTube file — another indication that schools need to open up their filters to allow at least some of the best YouTube material through:

Transcript, from the JFK Library:

I am proud to come to this city as the guest of your distinguished Mayor, who has symbolized throughout the world the fighting spirit of West Berlin. And I am proud to visit the Federal Republic with your distinguished Chancellor who for so many years has committed Germany to democracy and freedom and progress, and to come here in the company of my fellow American, General Clay, who has been in this city during its great moments of crisis and will come again if ever needed.

Two thousand years ago the proudest boast was “civis Romanus sum.” Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is “Ich bin ein Berliner.”

I appreciate my interpreter translating my German!

There are many people in the world who really don’t understand, or say they don’t, what is the great issue between the free world and the Communist world. Let them come to Berlin. There are some who say that communism is the wave of the future. Let them come to Berlin. And there are some who say in Europe and elsewhere we can work with the Communists. Let them come to Berlin. And there are even a few who say that it is true that communism is an evil system, but it permits us to make economic progress. Lass’ sie nach Berlin kommen. Let them come to Berlin.

Freedom has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect, but we have never had to put a wall up to keep our people in, to prevent them from leaving us. I want to say, on behalf of my countrymen, who live many miles away on the other side of the Atlantic, who are far distant from you, that they take the greatest pride that they have been able to share with you, even from a distance, the story of the last 18 years. I know of no town, no city, that has been besieged for 18 years that still lives with the vitality and the force, and the hope and the determination of the city of West Berlin. While the wall is the most obvious and vivid demonstration of the failures of the Communist system, for all the world to see, we take no satisfaction in it, for it is, as your Mayor has said, an offense not only against history but an offense against humanity, separating families, dividing husbands and wives and brothers and sisters, and dividing a people who wish to be joined together.

What is true of this city is true of Germany–real, lasting peace in Europe can never be assured as long as one German out of four is denied the elementary right of free men, and that is to make a free choice. In 18 years of peace and good faith, this generation of Germans has earned the right to be free, including the right to unite their families and their nation in lasting peace, with good will to all people. You live in a defended island of freedom, but your life is part of the main. So let me ask you as I close, to lift your eyes beyond the dangers of today, to the hopes of tomorrow, beyond the freedom merely of this city of Berlin, or your country of Germany, to the advance of freedom everywhere, beyond the wall to the day of peace with justice, beyond yourselves and ourselves to all mankind.

Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free. When all are free, then we can look forward to that day when this city will be joined as one and this country and this great Continent of Europe in a peaceful and hopeful globe. When that day finally comes, as it will, the people of West Berlin can take sober satisfaction in the fact that they were in the front lines for almost two decades.

All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words “Ich bin ein Berliner.”

You may also want to note these posts:

Dan Valentine – “I miss my Dad”

May 22, 2010

By Dan Valentine

Yesterday I wrote: “Everybody in Texas drives. They’d drive to the bathroom if the stall doors were wide enough.”

I borrowed that line from the script of Bob Fosse’s “All That Jazz” (1979): “I got a friend who bought a Mercedes just to get to the bathroom.” He lifted it (perhaps, perhaps not) from my dad’s “The Wit & Wisdom of Dan Valentine” (1974). Can’t remember off hand how my dad phrased it. There’s a copy of the book, along with all his columns, in the BYU Achieves. I’m in Ensenada.

I googled “drive to the bathroom” and came up with:

“If we Indians could drive to the bathroom, then we would do that.” (TIME Asia, Bryan Walsh, Hong Kong.

“We are a ‘car’ people and we would like to drive everywhere. We’d drive to the bathroom if we could.” (M. Timothy ‘O Keefe. “Guide to the Caribbean Vacation”.)

“The urban population, they are driving in cars everywhere. If they could drive to the bathroom, they would.” (David Kohn. “Getting to the Heart of the Matter in India.)

I like to think that my dad came up with the line first. But probably not.

The Salt Lake Tribune didn’t pay my dad much, tho’ for many in Utah it was the reason they subscribed to the paper. So he free-lanced to make ends meet. Sold a story here, sold a story there, sold a story to Esquire.

He wrote a pamphlet called “Pioneer Pete’s Utah Scrapbook,” off-beat tales of Utah history, geared to tourists and distributed at truck/tourist stops. It shot off the shelves. So he wrote “Pioneer Pete’s Idaho Scrapbook, Wyoming Scrapbook, Divorcee Scrapbook, Nevada Scrapbook, Hunter’s Scrapbook, Fisherman’s Scrapbook, the list goes on and on.

He published a soft-back collection of his newspaper columns, displayed and distributed in these same truck/tourist stops. One the columns was called “Dear World,” his thoughts and wish for me, watching his first-born traipse off to his first day of school.

“Dear World: My young son starts to school today. It’s going to be sort of strange and new to him for awhile, and I wish you would sort of treat him gently …” It’s been called a “newspaper classic”.

In 1969, Jerry Herman (Hello, Dolly/Mame) wrote a musical, starring Angela Lansbury, called “Dear World.”

A few years ago, I met Jerry Herman at the ASCAP Musical Theatre workshop. We had quite a long chat. Wonderful guy! Half-kidding, I told him that he had stolen my dad’s title. He didn’t deny it. He smiled and said, “Nice title.” I picture him in a restaurant, picking up one of my dad’s American Essay books, and getting the germ of an idea for a musical.

When my sister was born, in 1955, my dad wrote a column called “Hello, Little Girl.” He later included it in a book, sold in restaurants. I googled “Hello, Little Girl” earlier this morning. I knew what would come up. Wikipedia: “The title is reference to the Stephen Sondheim song ‘Hello Little Girl’ for the musical ‘Into the Woods.”

I like to think that Sondheim was thumbing through a restaurant table-copy somewhere and the title stayed in the back of his mind.

The first song John Lennon ever wrote was called “Hello Little Girl.”  I like to think – nah, impossible. But, then again …

The book, displayed at truck/tourist stops, sold so well that he wrote and published a series of booklets called the American Essay series, each geared to those on the road, eating at truck/tourist stops along the highway:

“What is a trucker driver?” He’s a big guy. He’s a small guy. He comes in all sizes and shapes. Short, tall, skinny, fat. Laughing, serious.”

“What is a veteran? He’s a man who looks the world in the eye. He’s a big man, he’s a small man, he’s a short man, he’s a tall man.” On and on. Corny stuff. But they sold and sold. So much so that he wrote “What is a father/mother/teacher/secretary/nurse/ minister/rancher/farmer/rancher’s wife/farmer’s wife/truck driver’s wife. He even wrote “What is a mortician,” for morticians to hand out to customers.

He once said, later in life, that he had ruined what little talent he had writing them.

He sold hundreds of thousands of them. “Sentimental classics designed to make the heart sing”.

In 2003, the 75th Annual Academy Awards were hosted by Steve Martin. He began his introduction: “What is a movie star?” Tremendous laughter. Immediate recognition. “A movie star is many things.” More laughter. “They can be tall, short, thin, or skinny.” More laughter, stars falling off their seats, as they say. It’s on YouTube. My dad would have loved it!!!

Most humor is identification, and most everyone in the audience, it seems, had stopped to dine in their travels and read one or two of my dad’s sentimental essays sold at truck/tourist stops throughout the west.

At Carnegie Hall, Andy Kaufman read my dad’s essay “This is a wife” to the audience and brought down the house. “A sigh in the night … A smile across a room of strangers … A tug at a sleeve in the middle of a sad movie.” People were falling off their seats. It’s on YouTube.

As Tony Cliff, Kaufman read “This is a wife” on David Letterman, bringing the house down once again. It’s on YouTube. It’s also reprinted in a book of best written humor ever with Kaufman’s by-line. My dad wouldn’t have been too keen about that.

During the Red Scare, in 1950, my dad hosted a local radio show in Salt Lake. One of his guests was Sen. Joe McCarthy who was traveling the country, spreading the word to one and all who would listen that there were “Commies” in our State Department. Heaven forbid! God save us all! One day the number of “Commies” was 205; another day, 4; next day it would be 81.

It was on my dad’s radio show that McCarthy first came up with the exact number of “actual card-carrying Communists in the State Department.”


My Dad: In other words, Senator, if Secretary of State Dean Acheson would call you at the Hotel Utah tonight in Salt Lake City–”
Sen. McCarthy: That’s right.
My Dad: –you could give him 57 names of actual card-carrying Communists in the State Department of the United States–actual card-carrying Communists?
Sen. McCarthy: Not only can, Dan. but I will.

Flip the calendar pages to 1962 and “The Manchurian Candidate”, starring Frank Sinatra and Angela Lansbury, based on the Red Scare and Joe McCarthy.

Mrs. Iselin (at meal time): I’m sorry, hon’. Would it really make it easier for you if we settled on just one number?
Sen. John Yerkers Iselin: Yeah. Just one, real, simple number that’d be easy for me to remember.
(Mrs. Iselin watches her husband thump a bottle of Heinz Tomato Ketchup onto the his plate)
Sen. John Yerkers Iselin (addressing the Senate): There are exactly 57 card-carrying members of the Communist Party in the Department of defense at this time.

I miss my Dad.

Colorado legislature says ‘bring the USS Pueblo home’

February 4, 2010

It’s a story about a series of the grandest and bravest hoaxes by U.S. soldiers held in extremely hostile enemy prisons.  Coloradans, especially those from the city of Pueblo, the namesake of the ship, have not forgotten.

U.S.S. Pueblo, moored in Pyongyang, Peoples Republic of Korea - Wikipedia image

U.S.S. Pueblo, moored in Pyong Yang, Peoples Republic of Korea where the North Koreans try to exploit their capture of the ship by offering tours - Wikipedia image

Spurred by its members from Pueblo, the Colorado state legislature passed a resolution on Monday asking the U.S. government to ask North Korea to return the U.S.S. Pueblo to the U.S.  The spyship was captured, probably illegally, in 1968 with Capt. Lloyd Bucher and his crew, with the loss of one crewman’s life in the capture skirmish.

North Korea (more formally known as the Peoples Republic of Korea or PRK) held Bucher and his crew eleven months in that tragic year of 1968.  The crew were tortured, but PRK finally agreed to release them in December.

During their capture the crew had signed hoax confessions that, while wildly embarrassing to the PRK, got the crew in hot water when they returned to the U.S.

Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub officially and formally approves of any legislative action honoring the captain and crew of the Pueblo, and would like to see the ship returned.

Earlier stories on the Pueblo and its capture:

An account in Korea Times suggests North Korea seized the Pueblo simply to save face after a disastrous attempt to assassinate the president of South Korea.

The entire story about the legislative resolution, from the Pueblo Chieftan, is below the fold.

Read the rest of this entry »

20 years ago, the Berlin Wall fell – reverse domino effect

November 9, 2009

High school sophomores in Texas study world history, and juniors study U.S. history. At 16 and 17 years old, they have difficulty figuring out the fuss over the Berlin Wall. It’s just pictures in their textbook.

The Wall was already three or four years gone when they were born. They don’t remember living with the Soviet Union at all — it’s been Russia to them for their entire lives.

I have some hopes that the celebrations set for this week will aid their understanding, on the 20th anniversary of the breaching and destruction of the wall.

Dominoes set for celebration of the Berlin Wall's destruction.  AP photo by Herbert Knosowski, via Canadian Broadcast System

Caption from CBC: "Dominoes are placed where the Berlin Wall once stood in front of the Brandenburg Gate in the German capital. (Herbert Knosowski/Associated Press)"

An enormous line of giant dominoes is set up along the line where the old wall stood – to be toppled on November 9, the anniversary of the official breaching of the wall.

It’s the “domino theory” in reverse.

About 1,000 plastic foam dominoes will fall to the ground Monday along the route where the Berlin Wall once stood to mark the 20th anniversary of the crumbling of the Cold War barrier.

The 2.3-metre-high blocks, painted by schoolchildren, stretch for 1.5 kilometres in a path near the Brandenburg Gate and the German parliament.

Former Polish leader Lech Walesa, whose pro-democracy movement Solidarity played a key role in ending communism in Eastern Europe, will tip the first domino at 8 p.m. local time.

I made one visit to the wall, late on a night in 1988.  American Airlines explored the possibility of taking over the service authorized from Munich to Berlin.  Soviet and East German rules required passenger flights to stay at a very uncomfortable 10,000 feet.  Pan Am had the route, but Pan Am was in trouble.  We spent a day with Berlin airport authorities and real estate agents trying to figure out how to set up a reservations office and other ground facilities.  European airports tended to force foreign carriers to share gate facilities, which was a problem, and we devoted a lot of time to gathering data for computer lines.

But then, after a smashing dinner of sausage and German-style potatoes in a great, small Berlin pub, we talked our taxi driver into giving us a tour of the wall.  He drove a spot near the Brandenburg gate, and there on a chain link fence keeping westerners from the wall were eight fresh wreaths.  Eight people had died trying to cross from East Berlin to West Berlin in the previous six months.  One wreath for each death.

Just over a year later, the Berlin Wall itself would be gone.

West Berlin acted much like a normal, western European city.  But the wall was there as a constant reminder of the oppression on the other side, a dull fog to constantly dim even the sunniest day.

Old posts on the Berlin Wall here at the bathtub are suddenly popular — usually they get a lot of hits after March when U.S. schools get to the post-World War II era, the Cold War and the Berlin airlift.  I imagine the current popularity has something to do with the anniversary.

I hope somebody has some great video of the dominoes toppling.

Dominoes acerbicly note the irony:  While the U.S. feared nations would fall under communism in a “domino effect,” especially in Southeast Asia (Indochina), communism broke up in a domino effect, as one communist-dominated country after another found freedom near the end of the Cold War.  Why has no one done a serious essay on the domino effect of freedom?

More news and resources:

Famous sign warning visitors leaving West Berlin

A sign of old times, now unneeded

Viral dominoes: Help spread the news:

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