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Their Normandy Beach, Our Higgins Boats

normandy-higgins-boatOn this day seventy-two years ago, young Americans were fighting and dying on the shores of Normandy France. The soldiers made their way onto the beach that June 6th in Higgins boats, unique high-walled boats that carried 25 men, sort of a “floating boxcar.”

Conservative author Peggy Noonan wrote about D-Day, and about the Higgins boats in the introduction of her book “Patriotic Grace: What it is and why we need it now.” Noonan tells of one soldier, his fate intricately woven with the fate of the other men in his Higgins Boat, heading in high seas to a conclusion unknown… “it took [his] five little boats four hours to cover the nine miles to the beach:”


They were the worst hours of our lives. It was pitch black, cold, and the rain was coming down in sheets, drenching us. The boats were being tossed in the waves, making all of us violently sick.

Noonan reflects in the remainder of Patriotic Grace on the difficult circumstances we find ourselves in as a people today, and of the rise of the partisan hate-filled din. Says Noonan “we fight as if we’ll never need each other,” yet our very fate may depend on one another.


And so I came to think this: What we need most right now, at this moment, is a kind of patriotic grace-a grace that takes the long view, apprehends the moment we’re in, comes up with ways of dealing with it, and eschews the politically cheap and manipulative. That admits affection and respect. That encourages them. That acknowledges that the small things that divide us are not worthy of the moment; that agrees that the things that can be done to ease the stresses we feel as a nation should be encouraged, while those that encourage our cohesion as a nation should be supported. I’ve come to think that this really is our Normandy Beach… the little, key area in which we have to prevail if the whole enterprise is to succeed. The challenge we must rise to… We are an armada. All sorts of Americans, wonderful people, all ages, faiths and colors, with different skills, fabulous skills, from a million different places, but all here with you, going forward.

Like it or not, we are in each others’ Higgins boats. Our fate, almost certainly shared.

Given that circumstance, perhaps we might use today to consider how we will best keep faith with those young Americans who left their lives that day on Omaha Beach. It’s something we ought to be doing right about now.

Photo credit: Chuck Holon



On darkness and light on this day

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.
(Photo credit.)



Florence Snyder: Florence’s Handy Dandy Father’s Day Shopping Compendium

3520871459_ed2586d917_zHey kids! Just six more shopping days until Father’s Day. Step away from the tie counter, please, because your father does not want another tie, unless it’s the one Jim Morrison wore at his high school graduation.

Here are some other things your father does not want: belts, bathrobes, T-shirts, cuff links, coffee mugs, and electronic devices that were on the shelves before Mothers Day and cost less than $500.

If you’re old enough to be reading this, you’re old enough to get it through your head that what you father wants from you is time.

Give him as much of that as you can spare, because God counts the years, and you never know when his number—or yours—will be up.

Here’s some stuff your father wants you to ask about:

  • What’s the first thing you remember?
  • When did you decide to become a butcher (or baker or candlestick maker)?
  • What’s your favorite movie?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • If you could go anywhere, where would you go?
  • If you could do anything, what would you do?



For best results, have these conversations in person, and remember to shut off your father’s device, as well as your own.

And kids, while you’re home, don’t forget to clean up your room. Your father is very tired of hearing your mother wringing her hands about whether it would be ok to give away your stuffed animals.

_____________

Florence Snyder is a corporate and First Amendment lawyer. Contact her at lawyerflo@gmail.com

(Photo credit: Easa Shamih)



Join the Asteroids Club: Possibly too true to be funny

asteroids social media cartoon

Cartoon courtesy of XKCD.com

Learn about our Asteroids Club season online HERE.



Caricature-defying quotes: Rachel Maddow

“Giant incredible rocket ships have a way of rendering politics meaningless, just as close proximity to scientific glory is a really good cure for cynicism, world weariness or being jaded about what human beings can accomplish.” — Rachel Maddow

(One of our theories here at The Village Square is that if we actually knew each other beyond the cut and paste quotes that uber-partisans regularly feed us, we’d like each other a little more. So please help me keep an eye out for people who’ve been – well, uh… divided — by the gaping partisan divide doing something intensely, decently human that you can’t help but kind of like…)

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President Reagan at 100

Today, President Ronald Reagan would have turned 100. From a Village Square perspective it’s interesting to observe the feuding over Reagan’s legacy, mainly because it’s more of a legacy of our time than it is of Reagan’s. Ronald Reagan was clear in his beliefs but he was not a flame-thrower. He invited people to the conversation. So in that spirit, and on this day:

I have always believed that a lot of the troubles in the world would disappear if we were talking to each other instead of about each other. –Ronald Reagan



Staggering acts of hypocrisy continue…

… From one Congress to the next, the change is only who blocks judicial nominees and who screams about the blocking. Apparently in this Congress the affirmation process has so slowed that 10% of positions are not filled. In the spirit of the State of the Union coming on Tuesday night, here’s a word about the state of the courts. It’s bad enough that Chief Justice John Roberts commented:

“Each political party has found it easy to turn on a dime from decrying to defending the blocking of judicial nominations, depending on their changing political fortunes,” [Supreme Court Chief Justice John] Roberts said this month in his year-end report. “This has created acute difficulties for some judicial districts. Sitting judges in those districts have been burdened with extraordinary caseloads.”

We’ve been hearing a lot lately about working across the aisle. This seems to be an opportunity…



Florence Snyder: A reflection for our third graders

Saturday started out so happily for me and moviegoers all over America.

The Metropolitan Opera’s centennial production of Puccini’s La fanciulla del West was beamed to big screens across America. Audiences were enthralled by the by rootin’ tootin’ lotsa shootin’ Old West romance staged in Italian by an international company of musical magicians, all plainly enjoying themselves. The afternoon orgy of opera and popcorn rendered fans mercifully oblivious to the real bullets flying at a New West strip mall in Tucson.

By the time I left the theater and turned on my car radio, the Perpetual Scream Machine that passes for political discourse was in hyperdrive. Police had not yet had time to notify all the families of Jared Loughner’s victims, but that did not stop any of the usual suspects from fingering all of their usual targets. Read all »



Arizona

“An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serves…” Speaker of the House John Boehner

“I think we would all agree that there is a place for a vigorous spirited debate in this country, but we need to do it in a way that’s respectful of other peoples’ views. And in that regard Gabby Giffords was a role model. She was a person who was passionate about issues but very even-tempered in her approach to things. She is really one of our brightest lights in the United States Congress.” — Representative Chris Van Hollen (D, Maryland) on This Week with Christiane Amanpour

(Photo credit.)



The tea party is right, but it’s not [right] because we don’t need government. We need government to not be idiotic.

No one can say “go.” No one can use their common sense. Everyone has their nose in a rule book… but people have to be free to make decisions to balance different goals…The current political system has almost a conspiracy to argue about things that aren’t relevant.”

—-Phillip K. Howard, Common Good (on The Daily Show last night)



Bloomberg on founding principles

“There are a lot of people who’ve said things I don’t agree with. But if I want to say what I believe, I’ve got to let you say what you believe, even if I violently disagree with it and even if I find it despicable.” NYC Michael Bloomberg on Islamic Community Center in Lower Manhattan, last week on The Daily Show

Find the beginnings of a We the Wiki page on this debate HERE. Log in and add your information to the post.



On election day in my neighborhood

Before all of our events, we plaster the town with posters so people know what we’re up to. That includes grocery stores, public bulletin boards, churches and your living room if you’re willing. We get all sorts of responses to the plastering, from warm welcomes to recitations of no-poster policies.

A couple of years ago we took a poster for Faith & The Founding Fathers to a large conservative church in town. I thought that was a safe topic and – as always – we want to invite as wide a diversity of opinion as we can to the table. Staff there said, as churches and some businesses usually do, that they have to get the OK of the pastor. A couple days later I got a call that it wasn’t approved and that I could come by to pick up my poster. I thought it was particularly kind and respectful of them to bother to call me back to get my poster (and wasn’t likely easy). Read all »



Earthquakes: Liberte ou la morte

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Cleaning out the blog draft queue and found a great story from a couple weeks ago that I failed to get posted. But it’s timeless, so we’ll run with it…