Tag Archives: World war II

InCity Book Review

But first …

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The Plots Against Hitler

By Danny Orbach, (2016, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 406 Pages)

Reviewed by Steven R. Maher

In The Plots Against Hitler Danny Orbach, a former intelligence operative in the Israeli army, revisits attempts by Germans to kill Adolf Hitler. For the most part, the book concentrates on the well-known assassination attempt on Hitler organized by Claus von Stauffenberg on July 20, 1944, the event inspiring the film “Valkyrie” with Tom Cruise playing Stauffenberg.

If you’re not a history buff or haven’t seen the movie “Valkyrie,” Stauffenberg was a Colonel in charge of Hitler’s “Home Army,” a fighting force composed mainly of old men or children large enough to carry a rifle. Stauffenberg placed a bomb next to Hitler during a military conference, quietly left the bunker, and took off to Berlin to organize a coup. The bomb exploded, but failed to kill Hitler. Stauffenberg’s coup attempt fell apart after Hitler did a radio broadcast announcing he had survived the assassination effort. Stauffenberg and other heroic members of the conspiracy were afterwards rounded up and shot, or on Hitler’s direct order, strung up from meat hooks with piano wire, their agony filmed for the Fuhrer’s viewing delight.

That’s how most Germans would like to remember Stauffenberg and his compatriots. This was the first historical depiction of the episode after World War II. This was for many Germans a comfortable offset to the historical guilt for the Nazi period, proof that not all Germans were evildoers, mass-murderers, or anti-Semites.

Revisionist History

In recent decades, historians of both the left and the right have challenged this rosy scenario. Some argued that many of the conspirators only turned against Hitler after Stalingrad and after the tide had turned against the Third Reich. Others argued that some of Stauffenberg’s followers were far from the heroic figures depicted by history, and that some had committed terrible atrocities. Still others argue that the conspirators were motivated by a cowardly desire to escape historical condemnation – and allied retribution – for Nazi war crimes.

No one better symbolizes this better than Arthur Nebe. From June to November 1941 Nebe oversaw SS Einsatzgruppen B, set up to massacre Jews after the invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941.

Explains the U.S. Holocaust Memorial website: “The Einsatzgruppen, often drawing on local civilian and police support, carried out mass-murder operations. In contrast to the methods later instituted of deporting Jews from their own towns and cities or from ghetto settings to killing centers, Einsatzgruppen came directly to the home communities of Jews and massacred them.”

Another website puts the Einsatzgruppen B death toll at 134,000.

Yet Nebe joined the anti-Hitler conspiracy in 1938, remained a co-conspirator until after the July 20, 1944, attempt, and was hanged for his complicity in the plot. Should Nebe be remembered for his heroism in trying to kill Hitler or vilified for his successful slaughter of Russian Jews? As Orbach points out, if Nebe was interested in his own self-preservation, joining a plot to kill Hitler in Nazi Germany was the last thing he would do.

Afflicted by Bad Luck

Hitler credited his survival to the protection of God. Orbach attributes Hitler’s survival to luck. Bombs failed to go off; other Nazis the conspirators wanted to kill, such as Himmler and Goering, were not present to be killed with Hitler; an adjutant who would shoot Hitler couldn’t get into a meeting because the event organizer banned adjutants due to a lack of space; personnel prepared to suicide bomb Hitler were unavailable at the last minute.

Most of the book deals with the metamorphosis of the July 20, 1944, group. This entity was comprised of upper-class, intermarried Germans who, through strong bonds of family solidarity and social caste, blocked Gestapo infiltration of their organization. The group’s small size was both a blessing and a curse. A blessing, because the group’s inbred insularity kept Hitler’s secret police from penetrating the organization. (Indeed, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, chief of Germany’s military intelligence, was a part of the group, and Orbach details episodes of Canaris using his position to assist Jews in escaping the Holocaust.) A curse, because the group lacked sufficient breadth to put assets in the right place at the right time to assassinate Hitler.

This group first coalesced in the late 1930s during Hitler’s bloodless conquests of the Rhineland, Austria and Czechoslovakia. The resistance wanted to depose Hitler in September 1938 during the Munich crisis and were only waiting for the west to confront Hitler before acting. When Chamberlain appeased Hitler instead, the plan to depose Hitler collapsed. When Hitler won a series of stunning military victories, culminating in the capture of Paris in June 1940, the group went into stasis until Hitler’s defeats in the Soviet Union solidified their resolve to act.

Bad luck afflicted the July 20, 1944, group to the end. They were delighted when Hitler’s most famous general, Irwin Rommel, joined their group; Rommel’s enormous prestige could prevent civil war from breaking out once Hitler was dead. Three days before the bomb planned to kill Hitler went off, Rommel was grievously wounded when allied airplanes strafed Rommel’s car. Afterwards, Hitler gave Rommel a choice: kill himself with painless poison or be court martialed and his family sent to concentration camps.

On the day of the assassination itself, Stauffenberg was in the men’s room starting the delay fuses on the two bombs when one of Hitler’s aides came and urged them to hurry, Hitler was about ready for Stauffenberg’s report. Panic-stricken, Stauffenberg told his adjutant to take the second bomb back to the car with him. The second bomb would have been detonated by the first bomb’s explosion if it had been put into the briefcase; and everyone in the bunker, including Hitler, would have been killed.

Afterwards, the plan foundered because there had been no Plan B to act upon if Hitler survived the bomb. All assumed that if a bomb of this magnitude went off in a closed bunker, everyone would be killed. Flummoxed by the Fuhrer’s survival, the conspirators were paralyzed into inaction when they should have acted decisively to seize power.

Brings Objectivity

The most impressive thing about this book is the author’s objectivity. He paints a very careful picture of the flawed human beings who tried to kill history’s worst despot. He does so in a manner that leaves the reader pondering the character of those Germans who tried to save their country, too few realizing too late that their nation had been captured by a Satanic dictatorship.

Good bye, Tony ol’ pal!

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Tony Hmura in his bomber jacket, circa 2002.  ICT file photo

By Rosalie Tirella

My old pal Tony Hmura died a few weeks ago at the very ripe old age of 93. To many InCity Times readers the Polish guy from Green Island and then Canterbury Street, where he ran his sign company Leader Signs for 50+ years, was a strange pal for me to hang with. He was a familiar – and controversial – face on these pages, too. He had wild opinions about EVERYTHING – mostly stemming from a horrific Green Island childhood and gleaned from horrific, politically right-wing-nut books that he sent away for and kept on shelves he built by his toilet in his bathroom in his Auburn home. Books that, in his early years, probably got him on some FBI watch lists.

Tony began his crusade for getting money from our private colleges. – PILOT – payment in lieu of taxes – on these pages. Fifteen years ago he got the PILOT ball rolling in ICT!  Something, he said, he’d never get credit for. And he was right! Tony lashed out at all our private colleges, I think, because he was wicked smart and always hungry for all knowledge but his hardscrabble youth kept him from books, writing, drawing – the things he really loved. His immigrant family’s poverty kept him out of Holy Cross’s ivy-covered buildings studying Plato and Socrates – and selling earth worms from a little red wagon Tony pulled around the neighborhood to make money for his mother, whom he adored. Tony was also working full time (illegally) in a Worcester factory. He was an adolescent money making machine! Because he had to be!  It was during the Great Depression and his father from Poland couldn’t handle life in America and had a nervous breakdown – useless to the family. Tony’s Pa was lost  – stayed helpless in a back room in the Hmura Lamartine Street tenement –  a kind of emotional invalid the family cared for and loved  but on whom the clan couldn’t depend. For anything – even love. Tony, at 7, stepped into the breach. There was no welfare or Medicaid or Section 8 back then. So Tony had to hustle to keep his family afloat! He would go with his mother to the places where all the ragged people went to get cans of food; he would dig for mushrooms in the good Woo earth; he’d pick wild blueberries too and sell the earth worms he dug out of the dirt and threw all squiggly and entwined with each other into his red wagon, walking all over kingdom come, a runty, sad kid with the world on his skinny shoulders. He used to tell me that on cold winter nights he would wrap a hot brick with cloth and place it at the foot of his bed then get under his blankets to stay warm. In the morning he’d hit the Worcester streets and begin work.

Tony worked (pretty much to the day he died) with a feisty, jaunty attitude.  He worked at break neck speed – unbelievably strong for a little guy. He hauled big signs, scaled walls, strutted on roofs, blew neon sign letters without masks or filters, inhaling chemicals and dust and dirt.

Even as a teen Tony kicked butt!  Was full of himself! He used to like to tell me the story of how at the old Commerce High School he went up to his teacher and said: I MAKE MORE MONEY THEN YOU DO!

The teacher laughed at Tony’s boldness.

The next week Tony brought in his factory paycheck ( he asked his boss for overtime to fatten it up!) and his earth worm biz money and showed the wad to his teacher.

His teacher was stunned! The poor skinny kid from the Polish ghetto did infact make more money than he did! Tony was reported to the principal – a kid working like a man was not allowed. Plus he was missing lots of school days. Tony’s mom had to walk to Commerce to explain to the authorities that Tony missed classes because he supported the family. Tony’s teacher and principal didn’t say much. Didn’t do much for Tony or his Ma, either. Tony always claimed that if he had been born Irish instead of Polish in Worcester things would have been different – easier for him and his family. Culturally, the Hmuras were outsiders, even though his mom was a devout Catholic and went to  Our Lady of Czetchowa church every Sunday, buxom and stout, her long hair braided and wrapped in a bun at the nape of her neck. Not enough, Tony believes, in an Irish immigrant (as well as WASP) city.

His go getter style and energy propelled Tony to blue collar heights in Worcester. His ambition … his eventual greed … got him tons of rental property (which he relinquished in time cuz he didn’t have the people skills to be a landlord); stocks and bonds, a cool Brady Bunch!! look alike home in Auburn; a little hole in the wall night club; trips all over America the land he loved with  his whole body and soul; women, women, women; even solid bars of gold that he kept in his attic, which his wife wrapped in towels and dragged down the stairs and out of the house during their divorce. Tony never held the move against his ex –  he almost admired her for the feat – she was so petite!, weighed 90 pounds! How the hell did she steal all his solid gold bars??!!

By reading ICT you all learned Tony was against fluoridation of Woo water. To me he railed against what he considered Congressman McGovern’s political machine, though he liked Jim immensely and  pretty much everyone in the “machine,” making donations, putting their political signs on his biz property every election cycle. Sometimes Leader Signs would make the signs!

Tony was filled with contradictions. He was against government hand outs and called for the end of “sucking off the political teat” – whatever that meant – but every Monday morning he’d give 10 bucks to each lost soul – often hookers or junkies or alcoholics – who was lined up at the door of Leader Sign company. He felt sorry for them, but didn’t know the right way to help them. They needed money, asked him for money. So he gave it to them – knowing they’d spend it on booze or junk. He would dole out about 60 bucks. That was just on Monday. The rest of the week moms in need or old workers in need came to Leader Sign and Tony would give them 20 or 30 quid, bitching about it later but unable to turn his back on people who needed help. He once claimed their addictions were part of a liberal govt plot to destroy America. His America. Plus, Tony believed America was a tough place if you were poor and had zero resources.  He ran a kind of nutty social service agency out of Leader Signs pretty much until the day he died.

I wonder how all his old friends are doing without Tony’s donations and goofy chit chat.

Tony walked with a hitch, from a wound he suffered when he was shot down out of his bomber plane during World War II. Tony was a little guy so Uncle Sam made him a gunner, put him in the small end of the plane and told him KEEP FIRING!!!! Tony was in a ton of fights, was shot down two or three times. Each time he thought he died to discover: FUCK! I’M STILL ALIVE! I believe Tony always felt guilty for surviving the war while most of his mates died in combat. I also believe he left WW II shell shocked – and stayed that way for the rest of his life. He didn’t believe in PTSD or psychotherapy or psychiatric meds. The old gunner just toughed it out – for 70+ years. He did go to a weekly WW II veterans support group, where he said nothing, but just hung out and listened. I always believed Tony loved this group of guys even though he whined about what he felt was their belly aching! I believe he ached too – right there with them. 

For a little guy, Tony had an ego as big as the continental USA. So he loved to regale me with stories of his WW II heroics. There were plenty of Tony Hmura ads with photos of him during World War II looking so young and cute: Tony in his bomber uniform, Tony in his dress uniform and cap, Tony with his bomber mates, a fellow gunner with his arm draped over his shoulder, everyone smiling and proud! Of their country! Of themselves! They were all about 18 or 19. They were right along side their captain –  actor JIMMY STEWART!!  Yes! No lie! Stewart was Tony’s squad’s chief pilot. He hung out with his boys, gave them their orders and, according to Tony, “was a regular guy.”

Tony, too, was a regular guy. But like his hero, Jimmy Stewart, he was so much more! I know what you all are thinking – that Tony was a bad man: sexist, racist, a hater. And that I hung out with this kind of guy. But I never saw Tony that way. Yes, he said the evil shit that all men of his time said. But  when you got to know him you realized he did the exact opposite. That he taught that Hispanic artist who used to visit Leader Sign how to blow neon glass – it’s an art and Tony took pride in passing on his knowledge to the next generation. That he charged that black church next to nothing for a sign he made for them. That during the war when a gay combat gunner was being harassed by his mates, Tony beat them up! “He was a good guy,” Tony said. Tony, when I first knew him, had classrooms of kids and their teachers visit the shop to learn about signs and sign making. He didn’t care if the classroom was majority-minority!

Tony Hmura was an American original. He was part of the violent, old, weird America that many of us are ashamed of but an America that we should never stop examining … to see … the good in it. A ghastly, beautiful mystery.

Good bye, Tony, my old friend!

InCity Times Book Review

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Rose’s kitchen window: more flowers, fewer fascist dictators!!!!  pic:R.T.

The First Nazi: Erich Ludendorff, the Man Who Made Hitler Possible

By Will and Denise Brownell (Counterpoint Press, 2016; 277 pages)

Reviewed by Steven R. Maher

If there ever was a human being who richly deserved to spend eternity burning in the fires of hell, it would be German Field Marshall Erich Ludendorff. This man prolonged the agonizing bloodshed of World War I at a cost of millions of lives, brought Lenin’s Communists to power in what became the Soviet Union, and smoothed the way for Adolf Hitler’s rise to power. Ludendorff was an epicenter of evil a century ago, a man who fostered the greatest mass murderers of the 20th century.

A scholarly study of Ludendorff is long overdue, given his enormously destructive impact on human history. Unfortunately, this book isn’t it. The authors, as they were writing, let their emotions get away from them and used inflammatory language throughout this book, expressing opinions about Ludendorff and Germans in general.

A good example:

“World leaders now saw Ludendorff as a megalomaniac, and they regarded Germany as what Romans used to call an ‘enemy of the human race.’ Germany was indeed becoming the enemy of the world. It was a country that enslaved its neighbors and its own people at the same time. It sent torpedoes into any ships it pleased, spewed poison on the battlefield, and practiced something similar to genocide in both Africa and Europe.”

Depending on the era, the same things could be said about the United States: the pre-civil war era when slavery was an institution, Mexico invaded and deprived of half its national territory, the genocide of native Americans, and Agent Orange in Vietnam.

After reading this diatribe, one could not help but thinking that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

Usually historians “source” their reference material with footnotes or endnotes. Instead, the authors here cited for each chapter half a dozen sources, with no statements identifying the text verified. In going through a book which is heavily laced with opinion, readers are left to wonder whether he/she is reading a fact, or the authors’ opinion.

Focus on World War I

Much of this book dwells on the carnage of World War I. There is little background on Ludendorff’s upbringing, which the authors attribute to a lack of source material. They review at length the agony of trench warfare, the battles with million man casualties (Verdun and the Somme), the entry of the United States into the war, and the 1918 collapse of the German army.

The book devotes several chapters to how Ludendorff sent Lenin in a sealed train to Russia in 1917 in the hopes Lenin would lead a second revolution that would take Russia out of the war. In this Ludendorff was successful, and so the catastrophe that was Russian 20th century history followed.

Post World War I, Ludendorff is best known for being present at the “Beer Hall putsch” in 1923 when Hitler attempted to seize power. While Hitler and the other Nazis flopped to the pavement on their bellies after the state police opened fire, Ludendorff bravely marched forward towards the gunfire. This was left out of the book’s account of the episode.

Ludendorff was the main propagator of the so-called “stab in the back” theory, in which Germany was not defeated on the World War I battlefields but undermined by a Jewish cable. This theory gained considerable acceptance in Germany and created an atmosphere which enabled Hitler to rise to power.

An impartial assessment of Ludendorff’s life would be difficult given his great crimes. The authors seemed talented at the writing aspect of this book. But they could have at the least made an attempt to be impartial. By allowing their emotions to flow into this book, and not sourcing their accusations, they undermine their contention that Ludendorff was one of the worst monsters in human history.
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These guys brought Hitler to his knees! Worcester honors them – City Hall. pic:R.T.

(Tweaked! Again! Sorry!) … Just one question for Worcester’s city council and city manager …

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There’s plenty of room on our Common for Worcester’s planned memorial to our city’s fallen African American W W II soldiers. Right here, for instance – the Franklin Street side of City Hall.        pics: R.T.

By Rosalie Tirella

… Why is Worcester’s planned memorial to our fallen African American W W II soldiers being erected at the Worcester Police Station?

Why not put the statue honoring our Black soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice right where it belongs? On the Worcester Common, along with all the other statues honoring Worcester’s fallen heroes?

There’s a slew of them on our Common –  in the middle of our soon-to-be revitalized downtown! Around and behind Worcester City Hall … they adorn the grass and trees that surround them even as we try (at least on holidays) to adorn them – lay wreaths braided with flowers or pine at their feet. We walk or drive by the stone and iron soldiers if we work in or visit the heart of our city. They make you think … put aside your work, dining, shopping obsessions for a few fleeting seconds to see something greater – a person’s life story, a city’s story, world history. The stone and iron soldiers come alive!

You can even build the new memorial to our Black WW II soldiers next to our John Power WW II monument that stands right outside our City Hall. The monument to our Black WW II heroes –  it was called the “Colored Citizens World War II Honor Roll Memorial” –  was once located in our African American Laurel-Clayton neighborhood but disappeared, along with the neighborhood!, when the interstate highway was built.  John Power is STILL with us – standing guard by Worcester City Hall (see my photo, above). So, truth be told, we will be building a new monument because we lost, destroyed, the old one! How can you “lose” a monument? What does that “loss” say about our city a few decades ago? Back then, how sacred to our city fathers were the memories of these dead African American soldiers – Black men from Laurel-Clayton, from Worcester?

Not very sacred at all.

Hell! There’s room for a tank or a couple of Jeeps to the right of the John Power statue. There John stands as the hip students walk by to get to their recently built dorms on Franklin Street …

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Soldier Power doesnt look hip at all! He looks like your average WW II grunt – ditch digger, mucking around in stinking trenches with penecillin pills, canned spam in his knap sack  –  but a KILLER too. Make no mistake! See the rifle slung over Power’s right shoulder and the long dagger in his left hand? He’s clutching the dagger ready for the fight – hand to hand combat – to the death probably. How can any city deprive a Black soldier, who fought the same fight, the honor we’ve bestowed on John Power? Power’s helmet is on askew cuz he’s in battle. He looks Irish – and a little cockey. Why can’t we humanize our dead African American soldiers this lovingly?

Why can’t Worcester’s Black community have the same thing? A touching yet tough depiction of men in war in stone?

Why stick our Black soldiers at the bottom of Bell Hill, at the Worcester police station, in the middle of a 20-way intersection, surrounded by ugly concrete (we’re talking the police station, too!) – a place where few will visit, stop to honor these men, think about them? A place where drug dealers, robbers, rapists and killers are flung?

Yes, the police station is a stone’s throw from the old Laurel-Clayton neighborhood, razed and replaced by the Plumley Village low-income public housing complex, home to many people of color – Blacks, included. Why not – I’m certain residents would be honored -put the monument there? It would be back at its real home. Placed before the entrance way to the buildings and high rise, lots of folks would stop and pay their respects.

Or is that the point? The intention (maybe subconscious) of Worcester City Leaders? To keep the monument to our fallen Black WW II Soldiers out of the public eye –  especially out of reach of the African American community?

And something else…to stop it from being a focal point, a symbol, a place for Blacks to gather, to remember, to rally, to teach … to protest. So often people come to their city or town common to express views, speech-ify … Protest! It’s been happening as long as there have been places where people chose to live together. A kind of gathering at the communal fire place! In America we’ve been doing it ever since our forefathers and mothers sailed into Plymouth Rock!

It’s happening still. All over. Especially with Black Lives Matter and, before that, Occupy Wall Street. It’s happening in Worcester. Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus has come down brutally hard on the BLM movement/rallies here, just as his predecessor City Manager I HATE ALL POOR RESIDENTS Mike O’Brien was hard with Occupy Wall Street protesters – refusing to meet with them, making sure they were off THEIR Worcester Common!

Would city leaders want a Black Lives Matter march to end at the “Colored Citizens World War II Honor Roll Memorial” on the Worcester Common? Would they want to see anyone give witness to pain, anger, racial discrimination in Worcester, “a city on the move”? Would they want a large crowd of folks agitating for change? In the middle of downtown?

Nope.

Is this what John Power died for?

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(P.S. Don’t let this happen, Bill Coleman and James Bonds!)

Gordy parked in Yum Yums! … Worcester’s Lost Colored Soldiers Honor Roll

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James Bonds is spearheading the effort!

By Gordon Davis

The Worester City Council voted Tuesday night to restore or replace the Honor Roll of Colored Soldiers from Worcester who served in World War II. The vote was 11-0.

In 1943, when the Honor Roll was erected, the United States Armed forces were segregated. The so called “colored” soldiers (dark-skinned soldiers) were organized into separate units from the white soldiers.  Latino soldiers were assigned units based on how light or dark their skin color was. Asian soldiers also were in separate units.

The Worcester Honor Roll was located in the Laurel Clayton section of Worcester, a neighborhood that was home to a large Black population. The neighborhood was displaced first by the building of Interstate 290 and later by the building of Plumley Village.
 
The people who lived in the Laurel Clayton neighborhood still keep in touch with each other. They used to have reunions, but the get-togethers occur less often, as the residents have aged.

Interstate 290 destroyed many neighborhoods in Worcester – including the large Jewish neighborhood around Water Street.

The restoration of the Honor Roll of Colored soldiers is important to the Black community of Worester, as the soldiers not only fought for their country against Fascism, but for their race in the constant struggle to prove equality and to gain acceptance.

Still, today the Honor Roll is a symbol of this struggle for justice and equality.

Idella Hazard, a Worcester resident whose family goes back to at least the Civil War, said at the City Council meeting that the City has accommodated the Italian community in the Shrewsbury Street area by preserving and moving – several times – the statue of Christopher Columbus. Ms. Hazard implied that not to restore the Honor Roll would be disparate treatment of Worcester’s Black community.
 
The VFW of mostly Black veterans led the process to get the Honor Roll restored. Mr. James Bonds, the VFW leader, spoke for the group at the Worcester City Council meeting. Mr. Bonds said it was an important issue for him and the Post.  Members who have long-time roots in the city like Jack Toney and others were a force.

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Community activist and Worcester booster Bill Coleman played an important role in putting the issue on the city council’s radar!

Mr. Bill Coleman played a major part as well in the publicity he gained for the restoration. The story appeared in more than 30 newspapers and on NPR.

The restoration will cost about $20,000. It was suggested that it be placed at Worcester City Hall. I would like it to be erected next to the bronze GI statute on the Franklin Street side of City Hall. Placement there would give both memorials additional meaning.

This is important to Worcester’s Black community. I know it is important to City Councilor King. It may be important to other Worcester city councilors, as well.  Maybe the 11 to 0 council vote is a sign of less racism from city government – maybe not.

But I am happy that the memorial is being given a new life.

Tonight! Be there! Worcester City Council meeting! 7 p.m. City Hall … Speak out to restore the memorial honoring our WW II veterans of color!

From the Worcester NAACP branch:

Greetings,

The VFW Post 312 is calling out to Veterans and community members to support their efforts in seeking the assistance from the City to replace the Colored Citizens of Worcester Honor Roll monument. 

Mr. Bonds will be speaking on behalf on the VFW Post 312 tonight March 29 before the Worcester City Council at 7 p.m.  Bill Coleman has petitioned the City Council on this matter recently.  

Thank You,

Pat

********

From James Bonds:

Friends:

On Tuesday, March 29, at 7 p.m. I am appearing before the Worcester City Council  on behalf  of VFW Post 312 to gain the Council support on replacing the honor roll that was erected and dedicated in 1943 and placed on the ground at Belmont and Clayton streets.

The honor roll was moved in 1959 to make room for interstate highway 290. The names on that honor roll were World War II Soldiers (The greatest generation). 

I am asking for your support by coming to the Worcester City Council meeting [tonight]. Veterans please wear your cover. 

I thank you in advance for your support.

James Bonds

**********

From ICT contributing writer Ron O’Clair:

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Worcester St. Patrick’s Day Parade photo: Ron O’Clair

My thoughts on this subject

By Ron O’Clair

I understand that the powers that be back in 1959 had to move the Memorial to run I-290 through the area where it stood, even though Clayton Street is no longer there. But why did they not put it up somewhere else?

That is the question I have and will be voicing at Worcester City Hall tonight at the Worcester City Council meeting. I believe the inaction was/is a blatant sign of disrespect for our fallen heroes of color who deserved the honor they received by having the memorial built by a grateful City of Worcester in the first place.

Nothing irritates this former staff sergeant more than to have fellow soldiers, airmen or naval personnel shown such discourtesy whether by intention or by oversight.

This is an egregious violation that needs to be rectified immediately by special order of the present City Council seated now, of which its newest member Khrystian E. King happens to be a person of color. I was pleased to have had an opportunity this past November to ask my own 580 city council candidate supporters to vote for King in lieu of candidate Juan Gomez, as I feel that Khrystian E. King may be the new blood we need on the city council to move Worcester into the future.

I hope Worcester City Councilor King will be at the forefront of a drive to rectify this slap in the face to our deceased veterans of color. They have been ignored since 1959. I will be right there with him.

We should determine exactly what happened to the original monument and find if it is stored away somewhere in some area of the City of Worcester gathering dust. We should restore it to its original glory and find a spot to erect it with the proper ceremonial honors being paid to the event.

Failing locating the original structure, we should commission a new monument and perhaps use this as an opportunity to have our own Worcester artisans involved in its conception, design and construction.

This is something we all need to get behind. We need to work together to show that we have learned something through the summer’s Department of Justice talks on race relations, of which I was a participant.

Why no one brought this up long ago is also something I will be inquiring about at tonight’s Worcester City Council meeting.

I salute the memory of all the citizens whose names belong on the monument. I wish to see them properly remembered for their service and sacrifices to the cause of freedom and democracy during the second World War when America stood fast in the face of evil, united against the tyranny of oppression from the Axis powers of that era in history, only after having been surprise-attacked on 07 DEC 1941 on the day that lives on in infamy.
 

One InCity Times reader writes (and a song) …

It’s great to have a “special” connection to our readers – the sweet and the snarky, the erudite and the average, fans and smarty pants. We love ’em all! After 11 and a half years of publishing InCity Times, we do a lot of sharing. Here is a letter from a reader who questioned my p. 7 story in this issue of InCity Times – “Slagging my neighborhood.”  He didn’t have anything to say about the developer but wanted to talk about other stuff – the smarty pants. Here’s the email/smart phone exchange. How ever, this turns out, I want him to keep reading ICT. – R. Tirella:

OUR READER WRITES:

Rosalie,

Let’s talk about your Uncle “Joe”.  First thanks go out to him for his service
to this country during WW II.  Second, as a Naval Lieutenant he did not command
a battle ship.  You used all capital letters in the December 14-27, 2012 edition
of In City Times, COMMANDED A BATTLE SHIP IN OKINAWA.

World War II battleships generally had a complement of between 2200 and 2900
officers and men.  They would not be commanded by a 20 something lieutenant and
this is not intended to insult your Uncle Joe.  Because you reference “battle”
“ship” as two words and not the single “battleship” indicating the largest
warship in the US Navy at the time of WW II, Uncle Joe might have be assigned to
a much smaller sized ship.
>
>A battleship, such as the USS New Jersey, generally was under the command of a
Captain, officer grade O-6.  Uncle Joe as a lieutenant was either an O-2 or O-3
grade.  Any one that is in command of a naval vessel is referred to as captain
regardless of official rank, officer grade, title.
>
>If I had to offer a guess, I would say that uncle Joe may have been assign to a
vessel as small as a PT boat, the same as JFK in WW II, perhaps a minesweeper,
oiler, seagoing tug, supply ship or other support vessel.

It doesn’t matter as long as he carried out the assigned duties that went with
his rank and position in a professional manner and to the best of his abilities. 
He returned home safe and deserves thank and appreciation.

Just sign me,
Mr. Roberts

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ROSALIE’s RESPONSE (via smart phone):

Hi. I have pics of my uncle. He was an officer. The pics have him in uniform. He was a Holy Cross graduate. The Bishop of Springfield put him through college because my mom and her two sisters were the Bishop’s housekeepers for a decade. College grads were officers. Sorry. If you want to meet at library some time, I will show you the photos.

Rosalie

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ICT reader’s response:

Rosalie,

 Thank you for the response.  I understand the pride that you have for your Uncle Joe and it is understandable.  Thank you for the invitation to meet.  I would certainly be willing to get together at any time after the first of the year.  Anytime before that doesn’t work with all of the holiday matters that need my time.  Would like to see the pictures that you have of your Uncle Joe.
 
Thanks for sharing the story of his path to college.  Good deeds and works are always rewarded, many times in unusual ways.
 Mr. Roberts
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Rosalie’s message:
 
Great! See you in January! (Rosalie thinking to herself: This guy sounds like a condescending schmuck, but I will dress up real nice, look sharp, bring pics of  Uncle Joe and … even the playing field. Men are a pain in the ass.)
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Anyways, a song for my Uncle “Joe.” My mom, who passed away this summer, loved him so much! He used to take her to Red Sox games and taught her how to draw – the Red Sox players, of course! I wish I could find the large number-2 pencil drawing of a ball player swinging at a ball she sketched more than half a century ago … Click on link below to hear one of my mom’s favorite songs. Her tastes in music were wide-ranging!  – R. T.
My mom’s favorite Red Sox player, TED WILLIAMS:
 

Celebrate Patriots Day! Watch “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” starring James Cagney!

By Rosalie Tirella

I seem to have grown more patriotic with age. I remember when I played apathetic American years ago, as a dopey kid: sorta standing, shoulders slouched, of course, kinda placing a very limp hand over my heart during the Pledge of Allegiance as it blared over the loud speaker at home room in Burncoat Senior High School. I was 17 then, a cool graduating senior. I did my best to look bored with the whole deal – too cool (it was 1979!) to feel the love for old America, too dopey to understand the idea of America, too immature to get down on my knees (like my grandmother would) and thank God for America.

I remember a few years later, when I was 19, and the Vietnam War had wound down but there was still a draft. I told my mother, if young women were to be callled up: I would never fight. I would high tail it to Canada.

I had never really seen my mom look ashamed of me; she never berated me either. This time was different – she was actually mad at her favorite daughter. “Rosalie,” she said in a stern tone of voice I had never heard before, “you wouldn’t die for your country?” Then, my 40-something year-old mom, a woman way past her prime from raising three kids alone and working 60 hours a week at a minimum wage crap job in an inner-city Worcester neighborhood, said with iron-clad pride: “I would fight for my country! I would die for my country!”

I didn’t get her.

All I knew is that if the Soviet Union had bombed us that second, my mother would have run to city hall, kitchen carving knife in hand, and demanded: WHERE CAN I ENLIST?!

Today at age 85, my mother was/is part of the World War II/Great Depression generaton – the group of folks newscaster Tom Brokow has dubbed: THE GREATEST GENERATION. And they were/are! Tough as nails, my mother is. My uncles and aunts the same – all determined, industrious people who always were/are honest, decent, polite and ready to help a person when the chips are down. They believe: we are in this thing together. We all rise together/fall together. We are Americans! They always sing the National Anthem, too. Know it by heart! They sing it loud and proud at baseball games and other public events. My mom, even with her dementia, hums the pre-game “Star Spangled Banner” when she watches her beloved Red Sox on TV.

My grand parents were just as patriotic as my mom. I remember my feisty old grandma from Poland used to tell people she loathed – like my ne’er do well, peripatatic father – “You no like this country? You no love this country?! Then get the hell out! Get the hell out!” Then she would turn to my father and show him her chunky round butt (swaddled in her flannel housecoat) and whack it hard. Her poverty-wracked life in America had swept the niceties away. Still, for my “Bapy,” it was church every day (back then immigrants like my grandmother attended Mass every day!) and America all the way!

Now? Well, now it is a completely different story. I don’t know if it’s reimagining my mother, my immigrant grandparents or almost 11 years of publishing and writing for my own paper – InCityTimes – but I am absolutely besotted with America! Cuckoo over the very idea! I adore my country’s fab history! It’s music. Its painters. Its national parks. Its great presidents (FDR, TR, Lincoln, Washington, Kennedy!). And lately … its grand musicals of the 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s.

No where can you see America at her finest – her feistiest, her most idealistic, her most artistic and talented – than in American musicals. The melodies, the lyrics, the choreographers, the dancers … all Americans! All American! All first rate! We really were number one back then! In brains, in heart, in spirit! The world looked upon us as a free, brassy, brilliant one of a kind miracle. Buy/rent/watch on TCM the following movies and you’ll see what I mean: “Top Hat/anything starring Fred Astaire,” “An American in Paris,” “Singing in the Rain/anything Gene Kelley,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Oaklahoma,” “South Pacific,” “Gi Gi,” “Show Boat,” “Calamity Jane,” “West Side Story,” “White Christmas,” “Going My Way,” “Guys and Dolls.”

Last night, in honor of Patriot’s Day, I watched the classic American musical “Yankee Doodle Dandy” starring the one and only classic American actor James Cagney! Fantastic!

There he is, James Cagney, a movie tough guy who is no Fred Astaire and can’t even carry a tune (he kinda half speaks/sings the songs), dancing to and singing classic American songs written by another classic American – song writer George Cohan … and he’s brilliant! Cagney’s performance makes you wanna stand up and cheer for our “Grand Old Flag.” And you believe we can lick Hitler because we won’t stop fighting “Til It’s Over, Over There!”!

All these great songs, celebrations of America, written to get us marching and singing. But not progaganda – garbage that was forced from the pen, lies to seduce the masses. These are American love songs written by guys like Cohen, Irving Berlin, Rodgers and Hart. Guys who were maybe considered part of America’s underbelly: Italian Americans and Jews whose parents came from Europe. Life was tough but there were opportunities for the industrious and talented! Look old woman from Italy! Your son has grown up to be frank Capra! Where would American musicals and movies be without first generation Americans like Frank Capra, Irving Berlin and George Cohan?

No where!

But I digress. LIke I said, in the movie Yankee Doodle Dandy, Cagney is no Fred Astaire; he can’t really dance or even sing! But he is mesmerizing! Ebullient! When you see Cagney strut down the stage and sing/speak Cohan’s songs, you are uplifted! You are bathed in pure spirit, pure American showmanship! And then the topper: as part of the finale, when Cagney as Cohan plays FDR in a skit, and the camera pans in for a close up Cagney/George Cohan looks squarely into the lens and basically tells Adoph Hitler to shove it!

I loved it! And so did the WW II audiences who first saw it! They got up to their feet in movie theatres all over the country and cheered! Here they were in the middle of World War II, up against EVIL incarnate and little tough thug james Cagney – with a hardscrabbe American background like my mom’s and grandma’s – is telling them: We’ll cream Hitler! We will be a free country – forever!

Only in America!

And FDR, Franklin Delano Roosvelt, the president Cagney/Cohan portrays in the skit? Well, my mom still finds it hard to believe her hero was in a wheelchair all those years. Sure, she tells me, everyone knew FDR had had polio, but … he couldn’t walk?! She still doesn’t quite believe the facts. And By God, if you watch, “Yankee Dodle Dandy” (Cagney/Cohan tells his life story to FDR during a visit with the president to receive the Congressinal Medal of Honor) FDR danced across America. Few folks (accept Eleanor!) could keep up!

It is so important to know our history! To tap into our American idealism and remember how great we really are! It just takes hard work, a bit of selflessness, a lot of joy! Watch “Yankke Doodle Dandy” or any Fred Astaire flick or any American musical, and you’ll see just how fantastic America is/YOU are!

Happy Patriot’s Day!