“Bold, brave, brilliant” are words I use to characterize President Joe Biden’s 10-hour train foray to Kyiv to meet with Ukrainian President Zelensky and his subsequent travel to Warsaw to demonstrate America’s commitment to a free, independent democracy.
Why bold? President Biden’s initiative in the face of Russian President Putin’s continued doubling down on escalating the war cannot be met with weak American resolve. His initiative, although shrouded in secrecy and launched in the midnight skies, must have left President Putin and his minions reeling with surprise and surely cast doubt on the wisdom of his “special military operation.” Bravo! Read more
Quickly now, without any help from Google or ChatGPT, tell me what the following items have in common: Cassadaga, Fairy Walks, hematite and carnelian, Warsaw’s Flying University, a 1903 Nobel Prize, the Paris Pantheon, Tho-Radia beauty cream, and the Radium Girls.
Don’t feel bad if you couldn’t find the common denominator. It will all be explained in Jan Vaupel’s latest “memoir”.
September 5, 1957 – I was just eleven years old when the evening news came on our black and white television. US paratroopers in Little Rock Arkansas held back an unruly crowd of angry white adults who were trying to prevent nine Black students from attending an all-white high school. Under President Eisenhower’s orders, the military enforced a Supreme Court ruling to desegregate federally regulated public schools.
Back then, this kind of violence was not unusual to see on television for a little kid like me. The networks covered state police wielding dogs, firehoses and night sticks against civil rights demonstrators.
In this same period, Russians were the first to launch a satellite into orbit around the earth. With America’s early lead in rocket science, we always assumed we would be first.
One TV newscaster commented: “This means that men are really going to the moon.”
“Yes,” said the second newscaster. “And here we are, still fighting the Civil War again.”
It was Christmas vacation time in December of 1945. World War II had ended a few months earlier. I was three months shy of my 18th birthday, and at six foot one and 172 pounds, looked a little older. I had saved a hundred dollars and got my parents’ permission to accept Uncle Willie’s invitation to visit him in Hollywood Florida.
The train fare was sixty-five dollars, round trip. Mom packed me a lunch/dinner, a combination of five or six sandwiches and fruit. My twenty-four-hour train junket started at New York Pennsylvania Station.
We like to end each year with an issue in which we look back at the stories, poems, articles, memoirs, and–well, whatever–that we’ve published during the past 51 weeks. And we have a staggering variety this time around.
We’ll share them with you in a moment. We want to stress that these are not necessarily “the best” articles in their category–just the ones that stood out for us personally, sometimes for very subjective reasons. We hope that you have a list of your own favorites.
The liberal world order fashioned in the aftermath of WWII by Western democracies has brought peace and prosperity for much of the world over the past 75 years. China, more than any other nation, was a significant beneficiary of a stable, rules-driven international order. Indeed, China was transformed nearly overnight from an agrarian peasant society to an industrial giant that raised millions of ordinary Chinese out of poverty and set the stage for China’s aspiration as an emerging world superpower. U.S.-China relations during this period prospered as well, with mutually beneficial trade, cultural, and political cooperation reaching new heights.
Triggered by the unprovoked, barbaric Russian invasion of Ukraine and its peoples’ horrendous suffering a few months ago, I began presenting to you, my dear OLLI friends, chronological excerpts from my dad Stefan’s war years—during a similar assault on Poland by the Soviets at the outbreak of WW II. The first story was, “The Soviet Invasion of Zbaraz.” This the second story: “Stefan’s Imprisonment in Ukraine”. –Junia
September 1939, Shepetovka (Soviet occupied Ukraine) Stefan arrived from Tarnopol (Pol.) in a cattle train, forty prisoners in each boxcar, to a massive POW camp in Shepetovka ((today: Shepetivka, in western Ukraine). His sergeant, Jagiello, was with him.
Every soldier had to identify himself at the camp’s registration posts. Stefan produced a fake document stating he was Infantry Private Stefan Orzechowski; Jagiello had written it hastily while on the train. He hoped the Soviets wouldn’t understand Polish or suspect anything shady.
After two days in the care of Carol and Merlin, Beryl had yet to receive permission to return to Philadelphia. A few more adventures awaited her before she was cleared to embark on a flight home. Episode II concludes with her personal reflections and a warm story describing the purpose of her trip to Brussels.–Editor
Day Three and the Journey Home The next day, Thursday, Carol needed to complete her planning with three other ministers for a Prayer Service that evening. Merlin also needed to be away and they allowed Joe, Peg and myself to be at their home for what we thought was going to be the morning. The hotline number had been helpful in providing information about departure times, but the delays began to be the norm. Carol came home and suggested that we might like to get out for lunch as a change. As we drove around, I noticed the many flags at half-mast, which felt like a very supportive gesture on the part of our neighbors to the north!
More television that afternoon plus the opportunity to get on email at the home of a neighbor of Carol’s made the time pass quickly. At 6:30 p.m., Carol needed to be at the church for the service. Read more
This week marks the 21st anniversary of the September 11th attack, a fitting time to publish a memoir penned by a fellow OLLI member. Beryl Byles was a passenger on a return flight from Brussels on that fateful day. Over the course of this week, OLLI Connects will run her story in two episodes. Today’s issue recounts her arrival in Moncton, New Brunswick and continues with a description of the hospitality she received from our neighbor to the north. On Thursday we will finish her story with Episode 2, including her journey home after nearly four days delayed in Canada until tourists were cleared to fly over US air space. —Editors
While we each have our own individual story of where we were and what we were doing on September 11, 2001 and beyond, I want to capture my account of being a “stranded yank” in Canada. This effort represents my need for closure, a way to capture the “extraordinary” so that I can get back into the “ordinary” activities of my life. Hopefully, it also will serve as an invitation for you to share your own individual experience.
I had been airborne for just over an hour on U S Air flight #335 from Brussels at the time of the first attack. Four or so hours later, the pilot informed us that we had experienced higher-than-predicted head winds and, although we certainly had enough fuel to reach our destination of Philadelphia, we would be going into our fuel reserve and he did not like to do that. Therefore, we were going to land in (Moncton, New Brunswick) Canada where the ground crew was prepared to take 45 minutes to add the necessary fuel before we would continue on our way. (I think the 45-minute timeframe was geared to allay the anxieties of the majority of the passengers who were scheduled to make connecting flights in Philadelphia.) Read more
The World War II “Flying Tigers”, or Fei Hu in Mandarin Chinese, was a highly respected group of American pilots, the American Volunteer Group (AVG), that was recruited by the Chinese Nationalist government to fight the Japanese in the early years of the war. In the summer of 1941, about 260 AVG members (including 110 pilots and 99 P-40 fighters) reached southwest China under the command of Claire Chennault, as part of the Chinese Air Force. The P-40 fighters of the AVG were originally painted with the design of a shark’s mouth. To the Chinese in southwest mountainous region, that image of “flying tigers” was the ultimate power and ideal symbol to fight the enemy. Thus was born the nickname and the legacy of Flying Tigers, including the Disney designed insignia.