Election day art of Norman Rockwell, and the unpredictability of elections

November 4, 2014

Can’t let election day go by without at least noting this great, undersung painting by Normal Rockwell, “Election Day (1944)”:

Norman Rockwell, Election Day, 1944, watercolor and gouache, 14 x 33 1/2 in., Museum purchase, Save-the-Art fund, 2007.037.1.

Norman Rockwell, Election Day, 1944, watercolor and gouache, 14 x 33 1/2 in., Museum purchase, Save-the-Art fund, 2007.037.1.

Remember when people used to dress up to go to the polls?

In 1944 President Franklin Roosevelt ran for an unprecedented fourth term.  Most Americans did not know it, but he was deathly ill at the time.  He dropped Vice President Henry Wallace from his ticket — some argue it was a mutual disaffection at that time — and selected the relatively unknown young Missouri U.S. Sen. Harry S Truman for the vice president’s slot.

In November 1944, D-Day was known to be a successful invasion, and most Americans hoped for a relatively speedy end to World War II in both Europe and the Pacific.  Within the next ten months, the nation would endure the last, futile, desperate and deadly gasp of the Third Reich in the Battle of the Bulge, the liberation of Berlin in April 1945, and end of the war in the European Theatre on May 8; the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the Philippines Campaign, and the bloody, crippling battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa in the Pacific Theatre, and then the first use of atomic weapons in war, at Hiroshima and Nagasaki (and we hope, the last use).

Voters in Cedar Rapids could not have known that.  They did not know that, regardless their vote for FDR or his Republican challenger, New York Gov. Thomas Dewey, Harry S Truman would be president within six months, nor that the entire world would change in August 1945.

This painting captures a time of spectacular moment, great naivity, and it pictures the way history got made.

For a 2007 exhibition, the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art offered this history:

Norman Rockwell: Fact & Fiction

September 12, 2009 – January 3, 2010

In 2007, the citizens of Cedar Rapids rallied together to purchase a series of watercolors destined for the auction block in New York. These five watercolors, by acclaimed 20th century American artist Norman Rockwell, depicted scenes associated with an election day and were created specifically for the November 4, 1944 issue of the Saturday Evening Post. To complete the Post commission, Rockwell traveled to a quintessential Midwestern town, Cedar Rapids, to study local citizens as models for his series of images.

In the 65 years since his visit, numerous anecdotes and stories have arisen about the artist’s time in Cedar Rapids and the creation of this work. This exhibition uses these five, newly conserved and restored watercolors and a related oil painting from the Norman Rockwell Museum, along with numerous photographs taken by local photographer Wes Panek for Rockwell, to investigate the many facts and fictions associated with Rockwell’s visit and this set of watercolors.

Norman Rockwell: Fact & Fiction has been made possible in part by Rockwell Collins, Candace Wong, and local “Friends of Norman Rockwell.” General exhibition and educational support has been provided by The Momentum Fund of the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation.

Friends of Norman Rockwell: Wilma E. Shadle, Howard and Mary Ann Kucera, Jean Imoehl, Ben and Katie Blackstock, Marilyn Sippy, Chuck and Mary Ann Peters, Phyllis Barber, Ann Pickford, Anthony and Jo Satariano, Barbara A. Bloomhall, Virginia C. Rystrom, Jeff and Glenda Dixon, Robert F. & Janis L. Kazimour Charitable Lead Annuity Trust, Fred and Mary Horn, Mrs. Edna Lingo, John and Diana Robeson, Jewel M. Plumb, Carolyn Pigott Rosberg, Mr. and Mrs. Robert J. Buchacek, Dan and Anne Pelc, Mary Brunkhorst, and John and Diana Robeson.

I am amused and intrigued that this scene also closely resembles the scene when I voted in Cheverly, Maryland, in 1984 — down to the dog in the picture.  Oh, and most of the women didn’t wear dresses, none wore hats, and I was the only guy in the room with a tie.

Roosevelt won the 1944 election in an electoral college landslide, 432 to 99, but Dewey won Iowa, and we might assume Dewey won Cedar Rapids, too.

And that Truman guy?  Rockwell came back to the topic of elections four years later, when Truman was running for election to the office he’d filled for nearly four years, with another classic, American election portrayal.

“Election Day,” by Norman Rockwell, 1948

More:

 

Yes, this is an encore post.

Yes, this is mostly an encore post.


Old Glory! Flying at Manzanar

August 30, 2014

It’s just a photo from World War II, the U.S. flag, flying against some California mountains.

It’s from Manzanar, the camp where Japanese Americans were detained during the war.

What words would be appropriate?

Dorothea Lange photo of the U.S. flag, flying at Manzanar, July 3, 1942.  Via Wikimedia.

Dorothea Lange photo of the U.S. flag, flying at Manzanar, July 3, 1942. Via Wikimedia. “Scene of barrack homes at this War Relocation Authority Center for evacuees of Japanese ancestry. A hot windstorm brings dust from the surrounding desert.” Public domain.

Many more than a thousand words there.


Fly your flag August 21, for Hawaii Statehood 55 years ago

August 21, 2014

A newsboy happily hawks the Honolulu Star-Bulletin with the headline showing the state had achieved statehood, August 21, 1959.  Star-Bulletin photo

13-year-old paperboy Chester Kahapea happily hawks a commemorative edition of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin with the headline showing the state had achieved statehood after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the law authorizing Hawaii as a state. Star-Bulletin photo by Murray Befeler.

Hawaii’s official statehood day is August 21, commemorating the day in 1959 when Hawaii was recognized as a member of the union of the United States of America.  Hawaiians should fly their flags to day in honor of the date (you may, too).

Hawaii formally celebrates the day on the third Friday in August (last Friday, for 2013).  I hope you joined in the festivities (it’s a holiday in Hawaii) — but under the U.S. Flag Code, you may certainly fly your flags on August 21, regardless which day of the week that is.

Specimen copy of the ballot used by Hawaiians in a June 27, 1959, plebiscite to approve conditions of statehood.  Image from Hawaii Magazine, 2009

Specimen copy of the ballot used by Hawaiians in a June 27, 1959, plebiscite to approve conditions of statehood. Image from Hawaii Magazine, 2009

After the U.S. annexed Hawaii in 1898 (in action separate from the Spanish-American War) attempts at getting Hawaii admitted as a state got rolling.  After World War II, with the strategic importance of the islands firmly implanted in Americans’ minds, the project picked up some steam.  Still, it was 14 years after the end of the war that agreements were worked out between the people of Hawaii, the Hawaiian royal family, Congress and the executive branch.  The deal passed into law had to be ratified by a plebiscite among Hawaiian citizens.  The proposition won approval with 94% of votes in favor.

Some native Hawaiian opposition to statehood arose later, and deference to those complaints has muted statehood celebrations in the 21st century.

Other than the tiny handful of loudmouth birthers, most Americans today are happy to have Hawaii as a state, the fifth richest in the U.S. by personal income.  The nation has a lot of good and great beaches, but the idea of catching sun and surf in Hawaii on vacation might be considered an idealized part of the American dream.

U.S. and Hawaii flags flying together.

U.S. and Hawaii flags flying together.

More:

From Prologue, the blog of the National Archives: This petition, rolled onto a wooden spool, was signed by 116,000 supporters of Hawaii statehood and presented to the U.S. Senate on February 26, 1954. (RG 46, Records of the U.S. Senate)

From Prologue, the blog of the National Archives: This petition, rolled onto a wooden spool, was signed by 116,000 supporters of Hawaii statehood and presented to the U.S. Senate on February 26, 1954. (RG 46, Records of the U.S. Senate)

U.S. postage stamp issued in 2009 commemorating the 50th anniversary of Hawaii's admission to the union.

U.S. postage stamp issued in 2009 commemorating the 50th anniversary of Hawaii’s admission to the union.

Contrast the first class postage price above with the airmail postage price of this stamp issued in 1959 — August 21, 1959 7¢ Rose Hawaii Statehood C55 26432. Wikipedia image

Contrast the first class postage price above with the airmail postage price of this stamp issued in 1959 — August 21, 1959 7¢ Rose Hawaii Statehood stamp. Wikipedia image

This is an encore post.

This is an encore post.


Remembering Nagasaki, in 2014

August 9, 2014

A roundup of thoughts on Twitter and elsewhere.

From The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists:

At the end of the day, it can be worthwhile on the Hiroshima and Nagasaki anniversaries to think about the personal and the emotional—while keeping such clinical data in mind and ready to hand when it is necessary to debate proponents of ideas such as “battlefield nuclear weapons,” “limited nuclear war,” and the use of select nuclear strikes as a form of “de-escalation.”

Therefore, perhaps the most compelling of the stories in the Bulletin archive is a first-person recollection, Hiroshima Memories, by Hideko Tamura Friedman, who was just a young girl back on August 6, 1945. After moving to the United States and becoming a therapist in private practice and a part-time social worker in the Radiation Oncology Department at the University of Chicago Hospitals, Hideko excerpted this 1995 article  from a longer, unpublished manuscript she was working on.

Hideko describes how she was reading a book when “a huge band of white light fell from the sky down to the trees.” She jumped up and hid behind a large pillar as an explosion shook the earth and pieces of the roof fell about her.

Hideko survived; some members of her family did not. “My father,” she wrote in in a heart-rending statement of fact, “brought Mama’s ashes home in his army handkerchief.”

Editor’s note: The Bulletin’s archives from 1945 to 1998, complete with the original covers and artwork, can be found here.  http://books.google.ca/books?id=-wsAAAAAMBAJ&source=gbs_all_issues_r&cad=1. Anything after 1998 can be found via the search engine on the Bulletin’s home page.

Even the cross was bent by the blast.


August 9, 1945, at Nagasaki: What we hope was last use of atomic weapons in war

August 9, 2014

Much has changed since I wrote most of the post, below, in 2009. The number of years, perhaps (and I’ve changed them in the text).  Not enough else.

The Obama Administration made some progress in getting Iran to the table to talk non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.   START was renewed.  But not much more.

We’re left with the hope that this was the last time atomic weapons are used.

Stars and Stripes posted this short video of the ceremonies held in 2011 in Peace Park in Nagasaki

21

Stars and Stripes said:

A memorial service was held at the Nagasaki Peace Park on Aug. 9, 2011, the 66th anniversary of the atomic bomb being dropped on the city at the tail end of World War II. The ceremony was attended by dignitaries from 44 countries – including an envoy from the United States – to honor the more than 155,000 people who were claimed by the bomb, including the 80,000 killed instantly.

The service came three days after one similar in Hiroshima, and marked the first time in history that an envoy from the United States attended both services.

In the wake of the March 11 disaster, Japanese officials called for the abolition of nuclear weapons and also for renewable sources of energy to replace nuclear power.

Below is mostly an encore post:

Nuclear anniversaries have been ignored again this year, it seems to me.

Ceremony in Nagasaki marked the remembrance of the victims of the second atomic weapon used in war, which was detonated over Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. Agence France Press reported (in 2009):

Nagasaki’s mayor, marking the 64th anniversary [66th in 2011] of his city’s atomic bombing by the United States, called on Sunday on the leaders of nuclear-armed powers to visit the site and build a nuclear-free world.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki, map by CNN

Hiroshima and Nagasaki, map by CNN

Tomihisa Tanoue urged world leaders from both declared nuclear powers and others such as Iran, Israel and North Korea to visit the city in southwestern Japan.

“I am sure anyone who visits here would feel the sorrow of the victims and be shaken by it,” the mayor said in an address at an annual ceremony commemorating the 1945 bombing.

A minute of silence was observed at 11:02 am (0202 GMT), when the US bomb exploded above the city, killing roughly 74,000 people. The bombing followed one a week before in Hiroshima and hastened Japan’s surrender in World War II.

Tanoue said an April speech by US President Barack Obama in Prague, where Obama pledged to build a world with no nuclear weapons, “impressed” the residents of Nagasaki.

“The Japanese government must support the Prague speech. As a nation that has come under nuclear attack, Japan must lead the international community” in abolishing the weapons, he said.

Similar appeals were made Thursday when Hiroshima marked the anniversary of its bombing, which killed 140,000 people.

At the Nagasaki ceremony, Prime Minister Taro Aso reiterated the Japanese government’s anti-nuclear stance, three weeks ahead of national elections that he is tipped to lose.

Aso raised eyebrows at the Hiroshima ceremony, when he pledged to work toward abolishing nuclear weapons but later told reporters that he thought it was “unimaginable” to attain a nuclear-free world.

Similar ceremonies, and similar pleas for nuclear non-proliferation marked the August 6 anniversary of the atomic bomb drop on Hiroshima. The Chinese news agency Xinhua reported:

Some 50,000 people gathered Thursday at the peace park in Hiroshima to mourn the 64th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city by U.S. forces during the World War II.

Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba delivered a peace declaration, calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons by 2020.

“The hibakusha still suffer a hell that continues,” said Akiba.

“The Japanese government should support hibakusha, including those who were victims of black rain and those who live overseas,” he said.

Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso delivers a speech in front of the Memorial Cenotaph during the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony in Hiroshima, western Japan on Aug. 6, 2009. Hiroshima on Thursday mourned the 64th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city by U.S. forces during the World War II. (Xinhua/Ren Zhenglai)

“Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso delivers a speech in front of the Memorial Cenotaph during the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony in Hiroshima, western Japan on Aug. 6, 2009. Hiroshima on Thursday mourned the 64th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city by U.S. forces during the World War II. (Xinhua/Ren Zhenglai)”

It was reported Wednesday that the Japanese government aims to come to an agreement with all atomic bomb survivors who have sued the government for financial support to help them pay medical bills for illnesses related to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Akiba also said “The year 2020 is important as we want to enter a world without nuclear weapons with as many hibakusha as possible. We call on the world to join forces with us to eliminate all nuclear weapons by 2020.”

Referring to the movements such as the environmentalists, Akibasaid, “Global democracy that respects the will of the world and respects the power of the people has begun to grow.”

“We have the power. We have the responsibility. We are the Obamajority. And we can abolish nuclear weapons. Yes we can,” said the mayor.

On Wednesday, Akiba urged the people around the world to join the city’s efforts to abolish nuclear weapons in response to U.S. President Barack Obama’ s appeal for a world free of nuclear weapons.

During the 50-minute memorial ceremony, a moment of silence was observed at 8:15 a.m., the time the atomic bomb detonated over Hiroshima 64 years ago, killing nearly 100,000 people in a blink.

This in a week when two burgeoning new nuclear powers, Iran and North Korea, continue to claim they will flout non-proliferation agreements for their own self defense. [Still true in 2014, alas.]

The question obtains on nuclear issues as well as genocides: When does “never again” start?

It’s up to you and me.  What have you done to make “never again” with atomic weapons, start now?

Other related posts at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub:

This is an encore post.

This is an encore post.


Remembering Hiroshima on August 6, 2014

August 6, 2014

A few notes from Twitter.

http://twitter.com/timsquirrell/status/497050637801390080


August 6: Hiroshima atomic bomb, 69 years ago today

August 6, 2014

[Still true, from last year, with minor edits.]

A-Bomb Dome in Hiroshima, Japan

A-Bomb Dome in Hiroshima, Japan Wikipedia image

As a Utah Downwinder, I fight depressing ideas every August 6, and August 9.

The first atomic bomb used in war was dropped by my nation on August 6, 1945.  The second, on August 9.  Hiroshima, then Nagasaki, were the targets.

I know the arguments, both ways.  I feel certain my Uncle Leo B. Stewart’s life was saved by the bombs — and the lives of probably two or three million more Americans, and five or ten million Japanese.  And still I am troubled.

I’m troubled that there seems to be so little attention paid to the anniversary in the U.S.  Year by year, it gets tougher to get news out of remembrance ceremonies in Japan.  Here are some Twitter notes on the day.  I may be back with more, later.

This comes from a pseudo-Truman, but it’s an accurate reflection of the angst Truman went through; once he made the decision, he did not have doubts that it was the right one.

Fortunately, in 68 years since, no other nuclear device has ever been used in war. May we have a planet that never sees their use in war, again.

More:

This is an encore post.

This is an encore post.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,376 other followers

%d bloggers like this: