Monday, August 31, 2009

70 Years Ago Today, WWII and my family

Above are pictures of my grandfathers Doyle and Wright from the 1940s. They served the United States valiantly, as did all the brave men and women of "America's Greatest Generation." Today, on the 70th anniversary of World War II, I honor their memory and that of every soldier who served to secure liberty and promote the ideals of democratic society.

In addition to my grandfathers, several great uncles also served the U.S. Military in both theatres of the war. Fortunately, they all made it home to Indiana and rejoined their families. One of them, my Uncle Les Dunning, is a decorated veteran and still lives today in Dayton, Ohio.

Thousands of families were not so lucky. None were as unfortunate as our Jewish brothers and sisters across the globe, especially in Europe. Think for a moment of the many generations of families that were cut off due to the fanatical, genocidal policies of Hitler, Himmler and the Third Reich. I was watching a documentary recently in which the son of a Holocaust survivor was mourning the loss of his grandparents. He wasn't fortunate enough to ever know them.

And while my father's father (pictured above left) died before my ninth birthday, I at least got the chance to spend time with him and love him in the flesh. He and his brother returned to father children. My mother's uncles all returned to start or rejoin families. I still see some of those first cousins, once and twice removed, at family reunions. This year, as I reflect on what happened two generations ago, I will cherish those members of my family even more, knowing now just how fortunate I really am.

See WWII anniversary news articles here.

70th Anniversary of World War II

Since the United States didn't officially enter WWII until after Pearl Harbor in late 1941, most of our newspapers won't bother to commemorate the official start of the war. Nonetheless, many European media outlets are talking about Hitlers invasion of Poland, September 1, 1939. Tomorrow marks the 70th anniversary, so here are some interesting articles and blogs for your consideration...


Lodz, Poland remembers murdered Jews

Europe Commemorates WWII

AP story describes start of war

Poland's Jews commemorate WWII

Yad Vashem marks 70th Anniv. of WWII

Detroit's Polish-Americans remember WWII

NY Times Op-Ed "When Thief Stole From Thief"

Polish survivor of WWII in Maryland

Poland Remembers WWII


Sand drawing reflections of WWII --VERY COOL!

Pro-Jewish blog in France

What started the war?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Islamic holy day celebrated @ Jewish Synagogue

Buried at the bottom of Saturday's headlines was a compelling story about faith, friendship and goodwill that read "Muslims to feast at synagogue." Many may have missed the significance in that one line and scrolled past. I, however, could not...not after my recent blog about Jewish persecution during WWII.

The article tells of an Indianapolis rabbi who opened his synagogue to a Turkish-American Muslim for a celebration of Ramadan, an Islamic holy day. Think of that for a moment. In today's socio-political climate where tensions between Arabs and Jews run redhot, these men in downtown Indy have not only found some common ground, they are fasting and feasting together!

Joining them in the celebration are two protestant congregations, as well, which made me very happy as a protestant Christian, myself. I don't often see my co-religionists reach across denominational boundaries, let alone religious and cultural ones. To me, this speaks to the "good news" of Jesus, who like these men, loved to sit across the table from those who were not like him and practice the fine art of fellowship. He was not afraid to befriend a so-called enemy or invite a hated member of society to his table. He knows firsthand the benefit of putting aside one's own wellbeing for the benefit of another.

And while these men are not laying down their lives one for the other, I'm not so sure they wouldn't. At least they've made a bold statement about religious reconciliation. And in this day and age of jihad and self-righteous rhetoric, it is a welcomed and appreciated gesture.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Never Again - The Jewish Holocaust

One can scarcely believe that something as atrocious as the WWII Holocaust ever occurred, but even more inconceivable are the claims of so many that it never really happened; that it was merely pro-Jewish propaganda funded, produced and distributed by Hollywood moguls. The purpose of this blog entry is to perpetuate the truth of the mass murder and near extinction of European Jewry, so that we can reverberate the oft-repeated refrain, “NEVER AGAIN!”

I have no doubt that the Jewish Holocaust happened, yet even still I cannot fathom—nor begin to wrap my mind around—the brutality and terrorism exhibited by the Third Reich during WWII. As evidence, I point to the many testimonies I’ve read and witnessed either firsthand or as documented on film. I have touched a living Auschwitz survivor and listened as she recounted her harrowing story.

Personal Stories
I have been thoroughly gripped by these accounts for the last year or so and was recently reminded when I read of the homeless Holocaust survivor who died in New York. Suffice to say that I am moved deeply by every story that I hear. Stories of survivors like Eva Kor, my new hero, and Szmulek Rosental (aka Steve Ross) cause me to reevaluate my own priorities and my appreciation for life and personal liberty.

I’ve blogged before about Eva, but I only learned Mr. Rosental’s story while watching Bearing Witness: American Soldiers and the Holocaust. This short documentary meant to be used as a tool to educate young people is very well done and provides thought-provoking questions in the accompanying discussion guide. It is one of the best documentaries on the subject I have seen, considering it is time-condensed for teaching purposes. I think this video paired with a presentation by Eva would be ideal for a seventh grade class (anyone know any junior high teachers or admins?). It’s important that we educate the next generation to ensure that truly and forevermore, “Never again!” Watch a clip of the intro to this video documentary, below:

Why We Watched?
Educated as I have become on the subject, I have yet to figure out how the Nazi death camps were kept secret for so long, why well-meaning Europeans kept silent or why the Allies turned a blind eye when they had ample evidence. The former I can understand because of all the Nazi propaganda, the terror they spread and the fear of individuals speaking out. The latter, namely willful ignorance on the part of the United States, I have been unable to come to terms with even after reading a lengthy book on the subject, titled Why We Watched .

I find myself intrigued, fascinated, repulsed and feeling a bit guilty, but I cannot let the memory of what happened die with those who survived and those helped put an end to the Holocaust.
Streaming Video of Bearing Witness:

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Legendary Les Paul dead at 94

The music world today lost one of its key innovators from the modern era. Les Paul, legendary guitarist and musician, died in New York at the age of 94. Paul was a "brilliant jazz guitarist whose exposure on coast-to-coast radio programs guaranteed a wide audience of susceptible young musicians.”[1] It has been said that his solid body guitar (like those pictured above) "made the sound of rock and roll possible.”[2] And while I'm not a guitarist, I can appreciate the contributions he made to the genres of music I love the most, namely blues, rock and jazz.
Many of my favorite guitarists sport various Les Paul models, including Neal Schon of Journey (pictured, left). Your favorite rock, blues or jazz god certainly has one in his collection. Paul's significant influence in the music biz over the last 80 years cannot be overstated, but you can find links below to support that claim.[3]

I am just thankful that he used his God-given talent to make a mark on the world, to inspire and influence thousands of artists and to leave a lasting musical legacy.

A few other bloggers have begun to buzz about today's sad news, leaving a tribute to the greatness that was Les Paul:

If you're so inclined, you can sample an audio clip of The Les Paul Show, Episode 1, from Whatever you do, please leave a comment here or on my Facebook page to share your Les Paul memories.

Les Paul
June 9, 1915 – August 13, 2009

1. (written by by Richard S. Ginell) -
3. Official Les Paul Website -