Tag Archives: World War II

Stars and Stripes falls victim to changing media climate?

Wait just a cotton-pickin’ minute.

Donald John Trump keeps yammering about how much he cares about the men and women who serve in the military, doing duty that he couldn’t fit into his own life when he was of the age to fight for his country.

Why, then, is the Pentagon — under the current president’s watch — stripping Stars and Stripes of the government subsidy on which it relies to provide news and other information to our military personnel?

Stars and Stripes, which has been published regularly since World War II, is losing its $8 million annual subsidy, ostensibly so the Pentagon can spend that money (which amounts to chump change in the total spending accrued by the agency) on other projects.

As Stars and Stripes reported: “Every day in my office as commander of U.S. European Command, I would read Stars and Stripes,” said retired Adm. James Stravidis, who served as EUCOM chief and NATO Supreme Allied Command from 2009 to 2013. “It was an invaluable unbiased and highly professional source of information which was critical to me in my role overseeing U.S. military throughout Europe.”

Allow me to join Adm. Stravidis in declaring my own intense interest in Stars and Stripes. Many of us serving in Vietnam came to rely on the newspaper to tell us of what was happening back home. We also had Armed Forces Radio, but to those of us who preferred to read the printed word, Stars and Stripes served as a sort of lifeline to the “The World.”

Are we now being led to believe that our young men and women no longer get to read the news that Adm. Stravidis said kept him informed just a few years ago?

This is an absolute shame.

USS Doris Miller: What a marvelous honor for a Pearl Harbor hero

Doris Miller was in the right place at the wrong time, I suppose one could say.

On Dec. 7, 1941, Miller was working in the laundry room on the USS West Virginia, a battleship that was moored at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Then all hell broke loose.

Japanese warplanes swooped in over the harbor and hit the West Virginia, along with many other ships and planes. Miller jumped into action. He tended to his mortally wounded ship captain, helped other wounded sailors. Then he strapped himself into a deck gun — a weapon on which he was not qualified — and began firing at enemy aircraft.

He survived that terrifying event. He received a medal from Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz. Miller would die in action in 1943.

But here we are today. The U.S. Navy has announced that it will name a future Gerald R. Ford class nuclear aircraft carrier in honor of Doris Miller.

Yes, the USS Doris Miller will carry the name of the first African-American so honored. It will carry honor a young man who was thrust into a hero’s role in a time of immense national peril and tragedy.

Doris Miller was a native of Waco. I am pleased to see the picture above of Miller receiving a medal from another native Texan: Nimitz hailed from Fredericksburg. Miller was awarded the Navy Cross, the Purple Heart and received a commendation from the Navy secretary at the time for the actions he took on that “date which will live in infamy.” 

The Navy Department chose to make the announcement today to coincide with the nation’s celebration of Martin Luther King Day, a holiday set aside to honor the memory and the work of our great nation’s greatest civil rights champion.

“Doris Miller stood for everything that is good about our nation, and his story deserves to be remembered and repeated wherever our people continue the watch today,” acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said in a statement.

May they “continue the watch” with the pride and courage exhibited by the young man under whose name they will set sail.

Trump’s belittling of brass simply stinks beyond belief

The history of Donald Trump’s pre-business history is well-known.

He sought to avoid service in the military during the height of the Vietnam War. He received dubious medical deferments citing bone spurs or some such ailment that kept him out of being eligible for military service.

He went into business. Made a lot of money. Lost a lot of money. Had mixed success as a business mogul. Then he went into politics. He ran for president of the United States. He won!

So for this current president to dress down men who have served their country honorably, in combat, thrust themselves into harm’s way is insulting, degrading and astonishingly unpatriotic.

Two reporters for the Washington Post, Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig, have written a book that tells just how disgraceful Trump’s conduct has gotten with regard to the military high command. An excerpt from that book tells of a meeting in a Pentagon room called The Tank. The brass sought to explain the nuts and bolts of military matters to the commander in chief. He was having none of it.

He called the generals “babies and dopes.” He has told them they are “losers” and said he wouldn’t “go into battle” with them.

I am trying imagine, were I one of those decorated combat veterans, hearing such denigration coming from the commander in chief. The entire world knows this man’s history. We all know that, when he had the opportunity to serve his country, he chose another path.

Don’t misunderstand me on this score. I do not begrudge a president who’s never worn the nation’s military uniform. Two recent presidents did not serve: Barack Obama or Bill Clinton. Neither did Franklin Roosevelt or Woodrow Wilson, both of whom led this country through two world wars.

What is so objectionable is the snarky attitude this president demonstrates to individuals who have done what he sought to avoid doing. That he would speak to these patriots in such a manner is disgraceful on its face.

Recall Einstein’s projection about ‘WW IV’

An excellent analysis on Politico.com suggests that Iran isn’t likely to trigger an overarching armed conflict in the Middle East in reaction to the death of Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Sulemaini on orders from Donald Trump.

The Iranians are blustering about a severe response to Sulemaini’s death in a U.S. air strike. Ray Takeyh, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, believes Iran will back off and will not provoke a conflict that would fester into a third world war.

Read his essay here.

It goes without saying that I hope he’s right. I’ll say it anyway: I hope he’s right.

I want to look back at a statement attributed to the physicist Albert Einstein, who after contributing to the development of the atomic bomb as part of the Manhattan Project during World War II, offered his view of how future world wars would unfold.

He supposedly said he didn’t know how World War III would be fought, but said he was certain “World War IV would be fought with sticks and stones.”

If ol’ Albert Einstein didn’t say precisely that, the message remains vital if the Iranian mullahs have any ideas about how they intend to react to the death of a killer.

As Takeyh said, the “last thing (the mullahs) need is a costly confrontation with a president willing to do things they once considered unimaginable.”

We’re remembering ‘a date which will live … in infamy’

This is not a celebratory date. I hesitate even to call it an “anniversary.” It’s a date of solemn remembrance and honor.

We remember the event, the attack on our Navy at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The Japanese fighter planes and bombers that roared in over the harbor that day 78 years ago brought this country into the world’s bloodiest and costliest war.

We also honor the heroes who fought back that Sunday morning. They were awakened by the sounds of ships and planes exploding under the force of the ordnance dropped by those aircraft.

We remember the USS Arizona, the World War I-era battleship that is memorialized to this day in the harbor, at the place where it blew apart and sank. There reportedly are just three survivors of the attack on the Arizona. One of them is a gentleman named Lou Conter.

Conter is now 98 years of age. His time on Earth is running out, just as it has already for all but fewer than 500,000 of the more than 16 million men and women who fought for this country and saved the world from the tyrants who wanted to conquer us all.

I want to insert a point of personal pride here. One of those brave Americans was my father, Pete Kanelis, who 78 years ago today — as he and his parents and siblings were listening to the news about the attack on the radio — ventured to downtown Portland, Ore., to enlist in the Navy.

Lou Conter will receive honors and high praise from those who have gathered at Pearl Harbor. He couldn’t participate a year ago and this year he is the only one of the three Arizona survivors who is able to take part.

Let us never forget the sacrifice of these heroic Americans. Indeed, we should honor them every single day and thank them — either privately or out loud — for all they did to save us from the evils of oppression.

Be sure to thank our WWII, Korean War vets

Their ranks are diminishing each day.

I refer to the brave veterans of two long-ago wars: World War II and the Korean War.

World War II came to an end in September 1945; less than five years later, North Korea invaded South Korea and the Korean War was on. Thus, the men who fought on World War II battlefields aren’t much older than those who fought in Korea.

Monday is Veterans Day. I am a veteran as well. My wife and I are going to breakfast in the morning at a restaurant that will provide free chow to vets who I presume can present some ID that proves they served in the military; I have the ID, so I’ll enjoy a meal on the house.

If I see any WWII or Korean War vets, I’ll be sure to extend a hand of gratitude for their service. I’ll know them if they are wearing a ballcap that IDs them in that manner.

These men and women are in their very late 80s and 90s these days. Sixteen million Americans served in the military during World War II; fewer than 500,000 of them are still among us. During the Korean War, 5.7 million Americans wore our nation’s uniform and my hunch is that their numbers have diminished to levels rivaling the WWII vets.

Sooner than many of us want to acknowledge, there will be no one left from those two grisly conflicts.

So I am pledging to shake as many hands and express my thanks and gratitude to as many individuals as I recognize as vets. My gratitude will extend far beyond a single day we set aside to honor these brave Americans.

And rest assured, by all means we should honor all the men and women who have served our nation.

All of them have earned our eternal thanks.

Where is Ike’s wisdom now?

Yep, to be sure Dwight David Eisenhower was a wise and brave man. He was a soldier, a warrior, a patriot and a statesman.

The 34th president of the United States earned his high office simply by commanding the greatest military effort in world history to victory in World War II.

The quote attributed to him in this blog post sums up the fearful time we have entered with the election of the 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump.

Of course, Ike didn’t foresee the election of Trump when these remarks came out. It was Trump who said that “I, alone” can repair the nation and restore it to greatness. President Eisenhower knew better than to make such a presumption when he first ran for president in 1952. He knew better, even though he commanded all those men and women in Europe, that no “one Great Man” can lead a nation such as ours.

The United States of America cannot possibly be led in the manner that many of us fear is being crafted in this moment by Donald Trump.

Ike’s words serve as a dire warning to what lies ahead in the 2020 election. We can restore the essence of what this country is all about, or we can continue down the frightening path that the current president seeks to take us.

Let us beware.

My favorite veteran would enjoy the recognition he deserves

The picture you see here reveals my favorite veteran. He’s the fellow on the right, the sailor who is standing guard next to a British marine in front of a door where some highly sensitive negotiations were underway.

The sailor is Pete Kanelis, my father. The marine’s name, as Dad told me, was Tony. That’s all I know. The year was 1943. The place was off the coast of Sicily aboard a command ship in the Mediterranean Sea.

The negotiation involved the Allied naval commander in the Med and the British prime minister, Winston Churchill.

So, Dad had a brush with arguably the 20th century’s greatest statesman. As Dad told me the story, Churchill looked at him, asked Dad a question, then patted him on the head and said something like, “There you go, Yank.”

Dad will be among the veterans we will honor Monday. It’s called Veterans Day, a holiday that came into being known as Armistice Day; it was established to commemorate the end of World War I, which was supposed to be The War to End All Wars. It wasn’t.

World War II followed. The United States joined the fight on Dec. 7, 1941, with the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

I learned something profound about my favorite veteran on a trip to the Pacific Northwest with my wife in September. Dad’s youngest brother, Tino, told my wife and me about the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor. “I was 9 nine years old at the time,” Uncle Tino told us, “and I remember it vividly.” The family was listening to the radio news broadcast of the attack and its immediate aftermath.

Tino looked around for his big brother. “Where’s Pete?” Tino said he asked about Dad. He was gone. He had left the house in northeast Portland; he went downtown to enlist in the Navy.

Yes, Dad was so incensed at what had happened in Hawaii, he enlisted on that very day to get into the fight. He would suit up a month or so later. He would complete his basic training in San Diego, Calif. and then would ship out for Europe.

He got his wish. Dad took part in the fight to save the world from the despots in Berlin, Rome and Tokyo who wanted to subject the rest of us to their tyranny.

All told, about 16 million Americans took part in that great struggle. Seventy-five years later, their numbers have dwindled to just slightly less than 500,000 men and women. They are almost all gone.

Indeed, just this weekend, the last known survivor of the Pearl Harbor attack reportedly passed on. I fear the day when all those Americans who answered their nation’s call will be gone.

We honor them today. We honor all our veterans who have donned a military uniform — in war and in peace.

It is their day. As for Dad, I am immensely proud to be the son of an American who performed heroically and who, along with his comrades in arms, saved the world.

‘Boomer’ becomes a negative term?

Social media have this way of injecting curious judgments into everyday terms and phrases.

Those who use social media, for example, have suddenly decided that the term “Boomer” — as in “Baby Boomer” — is a negative term.

I guess some of the younger among us think that “Boomers” are too old to be relevant in contemporary issues debates and discussions. I saw a video of a New Zealand member of parliament put down an elderly heckler with an “OK Boomer” response. The video went viral and has become something of a talking point throughout social media.

Well … pardon me!

I am proud to be a Boomer. I have been referring to myself as a Boomer since I first heard the term. I cannot remember when that occurred, but that doesn’t matter to anything.

I was born in 1949, which puts me near the front end of the Baby Boom Generation. Dad returned home from World War II in late 1945. He was one of about 16 million Americans who suited up to save the world from tyranny. He and Mom got married in August 1946. They got busy right away producing a family. They delivered a baby boy in 1947, but he died shortly after being born.

Then in December 1949, I came along. I’m about to hit 70 years of age. I am proud to be a Boomer. I also am proud to declare that I have most of my marbles, I enjoy relatively good physical health (a few annoying aches notwithstanding), I am fully engaged in issues of the day and — my sons might not believe this entirely — I do seek to embrace 21st-century technology. That last item does get me a bit confused at times, given that I am not entirely fluent in what I call “techno-speak.”

Still, “Boomer” ain’t a pejorative term in our house.

‘Thank you for saving the world’

I vowed a while back to start thanking World War II veterans when I encountered them. I would do so more frequently, except that I don’t find too many of The Greatest Generation wearing gimme caps with “World War II Veteran” inscribed on the front of them.

I did so yesterday, though, while shopping for groceries here in Princeton.

I saw a gentleman pushing a shopping cart. I walked over to him, extended my hand and said, “I want to thank you, sir, for saving the world.” The nice man smiled, took my hand, returned a firm handshake and said, “Well, we did what we could.”

That’s typical of those folks, all 16 million of them who suited up for World War II after the attack on our armed forces at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. I told the gentleman that he “damn sure did” do a lot to save the world.

I mentioned my effort to thank World War II vets in an earlier blog post, but a reader of this blog reminded me that Korean War veterans are getting long in the tooth, too. The Korean War erupted only five years after the end of World War II, so the reader is correct to remind me that I most certainly should extend the hand of gratitude to those veterans, too.

I am proud to be the son of a World War II veteran. Dad is no longer among us, but I offer these words of thanks and gratitude in his memory.

It will be a sad day, indeed, for the nation when the final World War II veteran passes from the scene. Oh, what these men and women did during that time of grave worldwide peril is the stuff of legend.