Saturday, May 30, 2009

Senator Joe Lieberman on How the U.S. Should Deal with the Iranian Nuclear Threat

Hello from beautiful Omaha, Nebraska. (I really do mean that--Omaha is a lovely city with incredibly friendly people. Go Huskers!) I am here visiting on the occasion of my daughter Sara's completion of her 4-year OB/GYN residency at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Allow me to "shep nachas" as we say in Yiddish. (It means deriving some proud joy in the achievements of one's children.) Sara's next stop is Chicago, where she will be engaged in a 3-year post-residency fellowship in Urogynecology, an emerging surgical specialty that I probably am misspelling.

But enough about my family. In the May 30 Wall Street Journal, Senator Joe Lieberman published an excellent column on how the U.S. should confront the Iranian nuclear threat, discussing in particular the bill introduced in the Senate by Senators Lieberman, Jon Kyl and Evan Bayh. I urge our readers to read Senator Lieberman's column and urge your Senators to support the bill.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Gay Marriage: The Crux of the Debate

[Note from Lowell: The following is a post from a brand-new blog, True North, where I'll be posting about subjects outside the scope of this blog. This particular post, however, seems like a cross-over to typical Hedgehog subjects.]

The crux of the debate, huh? I know, that's a fairly grandiose title for this post; the gay marriage debate is about many things. For one thing, gays want acceptance, and that basic human desire looms large in the discussion. So does the desire of traditional marriage proponents to uphold the ideal of a family that includes both a father and a mother.


All those important elements aside, I think the crux of the public debate in the coming years will be this question: In the context of marriage, is sexual preference the same as race? In other words, is opposition to gay marriage the same as opposition to interracial marriage?

Understanding the two principal competing answers to that question is crucial to understanding the nature of the national conversation that is under way right now.Read more »

Monday, May 25, 2009

Rick Rescorla Remembered

He was born in Hayle, Cornwall in 1939. He enlisted in the British Army in 1957, trained as a paratrooper. After emigrating to the United States, he joined the U.S. Army in 1963, attended Officer Candidate School and upon graduation was assigned as a platoon leader in the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), under the command of Lt. Col. Hal Moore. It was in that capacity that he served with distinction at the Battle of Ia Drang, between November 14 and November 18, 1965, as related in "We Were Soldiers Once ... and Young," by Lt. Gen. (ret) Hal Moore and Joe Galloway. His iconic photo taken by then war correspondent Joe Galloway during that battle appears on the cover of the book. Described by Hal Moore as "the best platoon leader I ever saw," his companions at Ia Drang related how he raised their morale during a critical night of the battle by leading cheers and singing Cornish battle songs.

Rescorla's Vietnam honors included the Silver Star, the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, a Purple Heart, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. Yet he rarely spoke about Vietnam, and when he received a copy of "We Were Soldiers Once ... and Young," with his picture on the cover, he set it aside and never read it. "The real heroes are dead," he told his wife, Susan.

On September 11, 2001, Rick Rescorla was Vice President of Security for Morgan-Stanley/Dean-Witter, stationed at its headquarters in the World Trade Center. There he gave his last full measure of devotion to his adopted nation. The last years and hours of his life are related in a heart-rending narrative by James Stewart, "The Real Heroes Are Dead, a love story" published in the New Yorker in February 2002.

Recorla had predicted that the twin towers would be the target of a second attack by Islamist terrorists, and had prepared for it. On September 11, the frequent evacuation drills he had imposed on the Morgan-Stanley/Dean-Witter employees paid off, as under his direction over 2700 employees safely made their way down the fire escape stairwells of the south tower of the World Trade Center. From his post in the south tower, Rescorla also oversaw the evacuation of another 1000 Morgan Stanley employees from WTC5.

When an old army buddy, Dan Hill, reached him by cell phone during the evacuation, he could be heard calmly and collectively barking orders through a bullhorn. He exhorted his fellow employees to " proud to be an American ...everyone will be talking about you tomorrow". He then burst into song:

Men of Cornwall stop your dreaming;
Can’t you see their spearpoints gleaming?
See their warriors’ pennants streaming
To this battlefield.
Men of Cornwall stand ye steady;
It cannot be ever said ye
for the battle were not ready;
Stand and never yield!

In his last cell phone call with his wife Susan, he told her, ”Stop crying. I have to get these people out safely. If something should happen to me, I want you to know I’ve never been happier. You made my life.” After evacuating the employees from the south tower, he took his security team back into the tower to make one last sweep, to make sure everyone had safely escaped. When one of his colleagues told him he too had to evacuate the World Trade Center, Rescorla replied, "As soon as I make sure everyone else is out". He was last seen alive on the 10th floor, moving upward, shortly before the south tower collapsed.

Every year, on March 25, Medal of Honor Day, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, a society of the some 100 living recipients of the Medal of Honor, selects three civilians to receive the Above and Beyond Medal. In this manner, those of our living veterans who most exemplify the ideals of courage, sacrifice, integrity, patriotism, commitment and citizenship associated with the Medal of Honor itself, continue to give to our country by recognizing those qualities in civilian life. On March 25, 2009, in a ceremony before the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery, Rick Rescorla posthumously received the Above and Beyond Medal.

Operation Tidal Wave and 2nd Lt. David R. Kingsley

For Memorial Day I'll revisit an earlier remembrance about a pivotal moment in World War II and one of the men who willingly made the ultimate sacrifice in that moment.

Operation Tidal Wave: The Ploesti oil fields raid

This Deseret News article tells part of the story of one pilot and his plane's role in the pivotal Ploesti oil fields raid on August 1, 1943 (artist's rendition at left). It was a harrowing low-altitude bombing mission.

An inspiring 1-hour documentary film is available on DVD. You can buy it here.

It's called "Wing and a Prayer: The Saga of Utah Man," and is advertised as "the story of, and tribute to, the 1,700 men who flew this mission, told from the point of view of Walter T. Stewart." Walter T. Stewart is a University of Utah alumnus who named his B-24 bomber "Utah Man," after his alma mater's fight song. Utah Man was the sole surviving bomber in the first wave of the attack, and dropped the first bombs of Operation Tidal Wave on the massive Ploesti refinery.

The mission is summed up here:
In all, of the 163 bombers from the five bomb groups that reached their target, only 89 made it back to Benghazi. (The following day only thirty-three of these were pronounced "fit to fly.") Casualties for the 1,726-man force that had flown into hell were heart-rending. Nearly a third of the crews failed to return with more than 300 known dead and 140 captured. Of those who did come home, more than 440 were wounded.

The smoke and flame of burning oil lit the night skies of Ploesti and [German] General Gerstenberg marveled at the American strike. In less than half-an-hour the Axis had lost 40% of its critical oil production. Though devastating, he understood that it could have been worse. He was also acutely aware that while the bombs had been falling over Ploesti that day, the Allies had painted a bulls eye over his domain. He was certain they would be back.

David R. Kingsley

I happened to come across this Medal of Honor citation, also from the Ploesti raid. If you can read it without getting at least the beginning of a lump in your throat, you're a tougher person than I am:
KINGSLEY, DAVID R. (Air Mission)

Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Corps, 97th Bombardment Group, 15th Air Force.
Place and date: Ploesti Raid, Rumania, 23 June 1944.
Entered service at. Portland, Oreg.
Birth: Oregon. G.O. No.: 26, 9 April 1945.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty, 23 June 1944 near Ploesti, Rumania, while flying as bombardier of a B17 type aircraft. On the bomb run 2d Lt. Kingsley's aircraft was severely damaged by intense flak and forced to drop out of formation but the pilot proceeded over the target and 2d Lt. Kingsley successfully dropped his bombs, causing severe damage to vital installations. The damaged aircraft, forced to lose altitude and to lag behind the formation, was aggressively attacked by 3 ME-109 aircraft, causing more damage to the aircraft and severely wounding the tail gunner in the upper arm. The radio operator and engineer notified 2d Lt. Kingsley that the tail gunner had been wounded and that assistance was needed to check the bleeding. 2d Lt. Kingsley made his way back to the radio room, skillfully applied first aid to the wound, and succeeded in checking the bleeding. The tail gunner's parachute harness and heavy clothes were removed and he was covered with blankets, making him as comfortable as possible. Eight ME-109 aircraft again aggressively attacked 2d Lt. Kingsley's aircraft and the ball turret gunner was wounded by 20mm. shell fragments. He went forward to the radio room to have 2d Lt. Kingsley administer first aid. A few minutes later when the pilot gave the order to prepare to bail out, 2d Lt. Kingsley immediately began to assist the wounded gunners in putting on their parachute harness. In the confusion the tail gunner's harness, believed to have been damaged, could not be located in the bundle of blankets and flying clothes which had been removed from the wounded men. With utter disregard for his own means of escape, 2d Lt. Kingsley unhesitatingly removed his parachute harness and adjusted it to the wounded tail gunner. Due to the extensive damage caused by the accurate and concentrated 20mm. fire by the enemy aircraft the pilot gave the order to bail out, as it appeared that the aircraft would disintegrate at any moment. 2d Lt. Kingsley aided the wounded men in bailing out and when last seen by the crewmembers he was standing on the bomb bay catwalk. The aircraft continued to fly on automatic pilot for a short distance, then crashed and burned. His body was later found in the wreckage. 2d Lt. Kingsley by his gallant heroic action was directly responsible for saving the life of the wounded gunner.

David Kingsley was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery, along with 45 other World War II recipients of that honor.

I read stories like that and ask myself: From where do such men come? A good question to ponder on this of all weekends. Happy Memorial Day.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

President Obama Learns That There Really Are Ogres Under the Bed. His Solution-Move Them Into a Different Bedroom

Former Vice President Dick Cheney, in today's Wall Street Journal, writes about the welcome development that President Barack Obama has now embraced many of the George W. Bush Administration security measures that he sharply criticized during his presidential campaign. Unfortunately, President Obama has also flip-flopped on his campaign criticism of runaway deficits.

Yet, while the reality of governing has caused President Obama to steer away from some of his campaign positions, he steadfastly adheres to his determination to close the Guantanamo detention camp. Today, he doubled down on that position, despite a 90-6 thumping in the Democratically controlled U.S. Senate the day before, when the Senate refused to authorize funding to close Guantanamo.

The President's position on Guantanamo is quite simply irrational. You would think that Gitmo, like some haunted house in a Stephen King novel, is an inanimate object with malevolent powers. It is not. It is a prison, and one that cost the American taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars to construct. Its physical facilities are superb and provide a higher level of prisoner amenities than those detainees would find anywhere else in the federal prison system. It has the added virtue of isolation: its location on Cuba renders terrorist rescue attempts virtually impossible; and the high-risk prisoners are kept isolated from the general prisoner population.

Guantanamo is said to be an international symbol for Bush-era prisoner abuse and human rights violations. However, little if any of the alleged human rights violations took place at Gitmo. Moreover, if President Obama were determined to reject Bush Administration policies regarding prisoner hearings and interrogations, he could easily do so with a few strokes of the Presidential pen, without closing down the Guantanamo prison facility. Change the policies, don't close the prison. The prison did not conduct any interrogations, or waterboard a detainee, or deprive a detainee of habeus corpus.

Actually, quite to the contrary of this approach, President Obama has decided to retain the Bush-originated military tribunals for some Gitmo detainees, who could not be effectively tried in the civilian criminal court system, and to continue incarceration of indefinite duration for those particularly high-risk prisoners who cannot be tried in any kind of court but are too dangerous to release.

And so, the President said today that "opening and continuing the military prison set back the moral authority that is America's strongest currency in the world." Yet he continues several of the substantive policies that, rightly or wrongly (and certainly wrongly in this writer's opinion) gave rise to the international condemnation of the Guantanamo detention facility.

Again, such an approach is frankly irrational. It has only one possible rationale, and that is that President Obama values image over substance, and believes that the rest of the world does so as well. He believes that the domestic and international left-wing critics of the U.S. will somehow be mollified by the closure of the Guantanamo detention faciilty, even thought many of the detainees will remain incarcerated, and probably under worse physical conditions. This is quite simply the elevation of smoke and mirrors over reality as a political strategy. It is a policy that is bound to fail. It will only enrage the domestic and international critics of the Bush Administration, while justifiably lowering respect for President Obama on the part of those voters who expect rational governance.

U.S. Air Quality Sharply Improved During George W. Bush Administration

During the George W. Bush Administration, the left frequently charged that President Bush had "gutted" our air pollution laws. The criticisms became particularly strident in 2003, when President Bush discontinued a Clean Air Act program that required older power plants, refineries and industrial sites to install pollution control devices when they expanded their operations. The political poster at the left is a mild example of the demogoguery.

Now, according to Fox News, a report by the American Enterprise Institute, based on data collected from the Environmental Protection Agency, discloses that air quality in the United States improved markedly during the past decade. Among the findings: Carbon monoxide decreased by 39 percent, ozone by 6 percent, and sulfur dioxide by 32 percent.

"Pick any category you want and pollution levels are generally lower than they were seven years ago," said Steven Hayward, the policy analyst who authored the report, titled "Index of Leading Environmental Indicators," for the conservative think tank.

"(Environmental groups) said air pollution was out of control, but this was always more about politics than it was fact," Hayward said.

Indeed, the levels of most air pollutants declined more rapidly during the George W. Bush Presidency than during the previous 8 years of the Clinton Administration.

Which provides a segue into the topic of the next post, which could be called "Smoke and Mirrors versus Substance in Politics." My largest criticism of the George W. Bush Administration was its failure to control the public debate--to make sure that its policy achievements were publicized. Instead, it allowed the Democrats to successfully label its policies as anti-environmental and anti-peace. If the Obama Presidential Campaign and Presidency is mostly about imagery, the Bush Administration cared too little about imagery.

Michael Ramirez political cartoons now linked

At the left. Ramirez was the clear choice of readers, so we have linked to him at the left. If anyone knows how to get his cartoons simply to appear here (like Day by Day did) without a copyright violation, please let me know!

Concerned about the country's direction?

From Rasmussen:

Thirty-eight percent (38%) of U.S. likely voters believe the nation is now moving in the right direction, down slightly from a week ago and the first drop
since March. It’s too early, however, to say if it’s a trend in the making. . .
. Women remain more optimistic than men this week. While 41% of women say the nation is heading in the right direction, just 34% of men agree. Sixty-one percent of men say the country is heading down the wrong track, compared to 51% of women. Optimism among black voters jumped four points to 70% this week, which is over twice the number of white voters who say the nation is heading in the right direction.
I am not an Obama fan but am not trying to make any point with this. It's just interesting information. Just because people think the country is not moving in the right direction doesn't mean they don't like the president or what he is trying to do. They're probably mainly worried about the way things are going generally.

I know I am. And it's primarily because of Barack H. Obama.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Iran Launches Medium-Range Missile; U.S. Retaliates with Words

Iran announced today that it has successfully tested a medium-range ballistic missile, capable of striking Israel, parts of Europe and even many U.S. military installations in the Middle East. Paul Kujawsky, an occasional guest contributor at the Hedgehog Blog, and the L.A. Middle East Policy Examinor for, characterizes the response of the United States Defense Department spokesperson as "the language of confusion, capitulation, or both."

That spokesperson, Bryan Whitman, said, "Iran is at a bit of a crossroads. They have a choice to make. They can either continue on this path of continued destabilization in the region or they can decide that they want to pursue relationships with the counties in the region and the United States that are more normalized."

But, as Paul Kujawsky notes, regional destabilization may be exactly what Iran wants--the principal objective of its foreign policy! He writes:
Iran made its choice long ago. It wants nuclear weapons. Destabilization doesn’t frighten it. Indeed, Iran may welcome instability; instability often provides opportunities for aggressors. Normal relations are not what Iran seeks. It seeks to dominate. The only remaining question is, what will the U.S. finally do about it?

On Monday, on the occasion of the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House, President Barack Obama said that he expects to know by the end of the year whether Iran is making "a good-faith effort to resolve differences" in talks aimed at ending Iran's nuclear program. In the meantime, the thousands of centrifuges at Iran's nuclear facilities spin on, and by the end of the year may well have produced enough enriched uranium to assemble several nuclear warheads. The President remarked, “We’re not going to create a situation in which talks become an excuse for inaction while Iran proceeds.” However, that seems to be exactly what the United States is doing.

To Our Readers

For some time now we have run Chris Muir's "Day By Day" cartoon on the top left of our blog. Unfortunately, Mr. Muir's work seems to have become increasingly risque, and this being a family blog, we have now decided to discontinue showing it here. We do love political cartoons and are looking for a replacement. Suggestions solicited!

--The Management

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

When Bibi Met Obama--Dry Bones Version

The above cartoon is an updated version that "Mr. Bones," Yaakov Kirschen published in 1977 on the occasion of Prime Minister Menachem Begin's first visit to the U.S. to meet President Jimmy Carter. Laura (Mrs. Kosher Hedgehog) and I were visiting Israel for a year at the time, as volunteers. Here is the original version:

Two questions: (1) Which version do the readers prefer? (2) Has anything changed in 32 years?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Leon Panetta fires back at Nancy Pelosi - hard

Dear Speaker Pelosi:

When the director of the CIA, who is a former White House Chief of Staff, long-term congressman, and a member of your own party, comes after you for lying about his agency, it's time to get very worried.


The Hedgehog

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Egyptian Islamic Cleric Says All Pigs Must Die Because They Descend From Jews

Last month the Egyptian government ordered the slaugher of the roughly 300,000 pigs in the country, out of a misplaced fear of contagion from swine flu. (Public health experts say that there is little or no risk of cross-species infection, and therefore such a mass slaughter is both unnecessary and a waste of resources.) The order led to protests and even attacks on Health Ministry vehicles by Egypt's pig farmers, most of whom are minority Coptic Christians. In Egypt, pigs are raised and consumed mainly by the Christian minority, which some estimates put at 10 percent of the population. They are frequently the target of discrimination or worse by the Islamic majority, and naturally viewed the current order as a prime example of such discrimination.

Now, as reported by Palestinian Media Watch, a prominent Islamic scholar has provided another justification for the swinocide. According to Sheikh Ahmed Ali Othman, supervisor of the Da'awa [Islamic Indoctrination] of the Egyptian Waqf [Islamic Holy places], pigs in our time have their origins in Jews who angered Allah. Allah turned them into monkeys, pigs, and Satan-worshippers, and it is therefore obligatory for faithful Moslems to kill the pigs.

However, the Jordanian newspaper Al-Hakika al-Dawliya notes that there are dissenting opinions on this point. It cites Sheikh Ali Abu Al-Hassan, head of the Fatwa Committee at Al-Azhar [Sunni Islamic university], who believes that all the Jews who were turned into pigs by Allah died out without reproducing, and therefore there is no relationship between today's pigs and Jews.

Thank you for that spirited endorsement, Sheikh Hassan. By the way, I defended you and Sheikh Othman the other day. An infidel said that the two of you were unfit to sleep with a pig, and I said that you were.

Which reminds of another joke going around recently: "I always said that the U.S. would have an African American President when pigs fly; and sure enough, within 100 days of President Obama taking office, swine flu."

Thank you, folks, I've got a million of them. The only problem is that anti-Semitic Islamic clerics such as Sheikh Othman and Sheik Hassan have audiences of millions of faithful Moslems who take them seriously, and that isn't funny.

Why Is There So Much Identity Theft?

Today I enjoyed a meal at my favorite cafe. When paying my bill, I happened to glance at the machine used by the owner to process credit card payments. The message on the LCD panel read, "Swipe the customer's card." If the credit card processing companies are instructing their clients to steal customer credit cards, is it any wonder that there is so much identity theft?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mark Steyn on Colin Powell and the GOP

Mark Steyn, writing about Colin Powell's pronouncement of the Republican Party's imminent demise:
Last November, even with the GOP’s fiscal profligacy, even with the financial sector’s “October surprise,” even with a cranky old coot of a nominee unable to articulate any rationale for his candidacy or even string together a coherent thought on the economy, even with a running mate subjected to brutal character assassination in nothing flat, even running against a charming, charismatic media darling of historic significance, even facing the natural cycle of a two-party system, the washed-up loser no-hoper side managed to get 46 percent of the vote.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Hamas Dangles Bait of Phony Peace Plan--Will Obama Bite?

The useful idiots at the New York Times are at it again. This time, the so-called "newspaper of record" conducted a 5-hour interview with Hamas leader Khaled Meshal at his Damascus headquarters, and reports breathlessly that Hamas, unlike Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, is offering a "two-state solution."

One might better describe it as a "two-state Final Solution." The "peace" offered by Hamas does not include recognition of Israel and actually is only a 10-year truce, after Israel cedes all territories captured in 1967 to a newly created Palestinian state and allows all Palestinian refugees and millions of claimed descendents to return to live within the borders of Israel. The New York Times observes, "Apart from the time restriction (a truce that lapses after 10 years) and the refusal to accept Israel's existence, Mr. Meshal's terms approximate the Arab League peace plan." That is correct, and both the Hamas proposal and the Arab League peace plan have the same objective, the destruction of Israel. The Arab League is simply more subtle.

Charles Krauthammer brilliantly dissects the Hamas peace gambit, and the danger that the Obama Administration will buy into it, in a column today in the Washington Post. (Hat tip: Dov Fischer.)

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Beverly Cleary

In an odd moment I came across this video interview with Beverly Cleary. Anyone who, like me, spent hour after hour in elementary school reading about Henry Huggins, his friend Beezus and her sister Ramona (not to mention Henry's dog Ribsy), will find this lots of fun and quite interesting.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Keith Olbermann and Miss California: Have You No Decency, Sir?

Disclaimers: I don't watch Keith Olbermann or O'Reilly, so I don't know if this is the kind of thing they do regularly. From what I have read, I also think Ms. Prejean is a terrible spokesperson for any serious political issue.

Having said that, I think this is one of the meanest bits I have ever seen on any prime-time show that purports to be about news and/or commentary:

And it goes on for over 4 minutes . . . . I first saw this on Instapundit, a favorite blog of mine. The author's a libertarian law professor named Glenn Reynolds, who says about all this:
It’s stuff like this that makes all the “have you no decency, sir?” stuff from the left hard to swallow. Plus, "gay gynephobia?"  There does seem to be a lot of misogyny coming out of the gay-marriage crowd lately. I don’t think it does them any credit, and if it were coming out of people who didn’t possess the Official Victim Sanction it would be denounced mercilessly by the usual chin-tuggers. Instead, as Gloria Feldt demonstrates, they’re joining right in.

Meanwhile, you probably can name Ms. Prejean, but can you name this year’s Miss USA?
Well, no, I can't.

Ivan Houston's "BLACK WARRIORS: The Buffalo Soldiers of World War II"

Ivan Houston is the father of my friend and former legal assistant Pam Houston. Mr. Houston is the author of BLACK WARRIORS: The Buffalo Soldiers of World War II. Here is the publisher's description of the book:

More than sixty years after the end of World War II, most Americans remain unaware of the Negro soldier's contribution to America¹s victory over the Axis forces of Germany, Italy, and Japan in the great struggle to preserve Western civilization.

Black Warriors: The Buffalo Soldiers of World War II is a survivor's memoir of the contribution that one segment of the U.S. military, the all-Negro 92nd Division of the U.S. Army, made to the Allied victory over the Germans in Europe.

Ivan J. Houston was a 19-year-old member of 3rd Battalion in Combat Team 370 of the 92nd (Buffalo Soldier) Division that entered combat for the first time on the night of Aug. 23-24, 1944, on the south bank of the Arno River near Pontadera, Italy, not far from Pisa and the Ligurian Sea. The 370th was an untested Negro infantry regiment in the segregated U.S. army, poised to fight against the retreating battle-wise forces of Germany¹s 16th Panzergrenadier Reichsfuehrer Division under the overall command of Field Marshal Albert Kesselring. Once Herman Goering's deputy, “Smiling Albert” had commanded Germany's air fleets during the invasion of France and the Battle of Britain in 1940 and later served as Gen. Erwin Rommel's co-director of Germany's North African campaign.

The Combat Team's assignment was to cross the Arno and break through the Germans' deeply fortified Gothic Line, which stretched 170 miles from the Ligurian Sea on the west across the Apennine mountains that form the spine of Italy to the Adriatic on the east.

The U.S. armed forces during World War II relegated most Negroes to service units as drivers, cooks, and laborers in support of the combat forces, and never really wanted to place them in direct combat. The 92nd Infantry Division was one of the few exceptions. (The all-black 93rd Division fought in the Pacific and the 332nd Fighter Group, later to become known as the Tuskegee Airmen, fought over Africa and Europe.)
Combat Team 370 was comprised of 4,000 men, predominantly southern Negroes of modest education, along with a smattering of college men. The team¹s junior officers were Negroes, mostly college men. All senior officers were white, and mostly southern. Many of them, including Commanding General Edward M. Almond, were outspokenly bigoted on the record and strongly opposed to Negroes serving under fire. Their racism is documented in U.S. military archives.

For nine months until the German surrender in May 1945, the 92nd Division (the Buffalo Soldiers) fought the Nazis and the Italian Fascists with honor, face to face in the villages and rugged mountains of Italy, in such little-known places as Ripafratta, the Serchio River Valley, Pietrasanta, Seravezza, Mount Cauala, and Pontremoli. The Division broke through the Gothic Line and moved north on the attack. Eventually, in the last campaign of the war in Italy, the 370th Combat Team was joined by the 442nd Regimental Team, all Japanese Americans, one of this nation's most highly decorated military units. The combined forces suffered hundreds of casualties and in the end defeated the Nazis proponents of a Master Race and their allies.

When Houston and his fellow Negro GI's returned home, they discovered that the heart of America had not changed. They encountered the same segregation and discrimination that had existed since the end of the Civil War. They had won the hearts and the minds of those in Italy whom they had freed from Fascist domination, men and women to whom color was no issue at all. Yet, back in the States, returning Negro soldiers, even those with college degrees, could not get jobs. Engineers went to work as janitors. Members of the fabled Tuskegee Airmen were denied positions as commercial pilots. Mr. Houston, a three year letterman in track and field at the University of California at Berkeley, was given an apartment with Negro shipyard workers several miles from the campus.

America is clearly a different place now. But it is important that young people of all races know what people of color did in defense of freedom all those years ago, and remember.

Or, as Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, the founder of Chasidism, said, "In remembrance lies the secret of redemption."

Here is a link to the website: