The reason most of us say, "Happy Holidays."
- Me (8 years old): Merry Christmas!
- My Friend: Thanks, but I'm Jewish so I don't celebrate Christmas.
- Me: Oh! Sorry.
- My Friend: It's no problem. Just made sense to tell you.
- Me: Thank you!
- Me (to myself at 8 years old): That felt uncomfortable. I'd rather not do that again. I'm not going to assume people celebrate Christmas. I'll say, "Happy Holidays!" and avoid moments like this. It just makes sense.
- What Bill O'Reilly Believes I Thought To Myself At 8 Years Old: Time to rip the Christ out of Christmas!!! Har, Har, Har!!!!
Some of you might be aware of our affinity for war dogs and the stories behind their service in World War II. Today, specially trained dogs continue on their unique predecessors’ service and sacrifice in Afghanistan, and recently in Iraq.
Not long after a Belgian Malinois named Cora went off to war, she earned a reputation for sniffing out the buried bombs that were the enemy’s weapon of choice to kill or maim U.S. troops…
But after months in Iraq and dozens of combat patrols, Cora changed. The transformation was not the result of one traumatic moment, but possibly the accumulation of stress and uncertainty brought on by the sharp sounds, high emotion and ever-present death in a war zone.
While you are at it, check out the Los Angeles Times’ excellent Tumblr!
Pertinent reading: How War Dogs Work.
I do not stand with a government that occupies, humiliates, and dehumanizes the other.
I do not stand with a nation that teaches their children that the killing of the other is “good for the state”.
I do not stand with a government that views successive generations…
Early Chemical Warfare: Antiquity
Though chemical weapons became well-known and feared during the First World War, evidence of their use goes back almost 15,000 years, to the South African San tribes, which utilized poison from scorpions and snakes on their arrow tips used for hunting.
However, unlike the Mesoamerican peoples who were shown to have used curare vine and dart frog poison on their weapons several thousand years later, there is a lack of evidence that the San actively used these tactics against other humans. That’s not to say that they didn’t, but there is as yet no solid evidence of it that has been found.
Chemicals in Early Warfare
Despite the efficacy of poison-tipped arrows and weapons in killing individuals, to utilize chemical weaponry in warfare required being able to disperse a substance over a significant area, so as to incapacitate or kill large numbers of enemies. Aside from large-scale water and foodstore poisonings, gaseous compounds have been used against enemies and revolting subjects alike, since before the days of Sun-Tzu in the East, and the Peloponnesian War in the West.
Thucidydes wrote in 500 BCE, in History of the Peloponnesian War, of Spartans burning wood, pitch, and sulfur under the walls of Athens, hoping to incapacitate the enemy before the direct assault. Unfortunately, a thunderstorm rolled in shortly after the incendiaries were ignited, and the tactic failed. There were recorded incidents of burning sulfur in several wars in the following millennium, however, and it functioned as a moderate choking agent when it dispersed correctly.
Recent excavations of Dura-Europos, in modern-day Syria, proved that burning sulfur could be extremely effective in closed quarters, especially when combined with other compounds. In 256 CE, the city launched a counter-attack against Roman forces tunneling under the battlements. The Persians heard the tunneling, and formed a smaller tunnel that connected to the Romans. At the bottom of their tunnel, they lit a fire of pitch, sulfur, and bitumen. The smoke from this fire traveled up a small chimney and into the larger Roman tunnel.
Almost 17 centuries later, excavators in the 1930s would find a pile of twenty men within the large tunnel, with Roman armor, and no apparently mortal wounds to their bones, unlike those found from the same era and area. Though ancient texts proposed chemical and incendiary tactics, proof of their use had never before been found in this area. However, in 2008, a team of archaeologists from the University of Leicester tested the tunnels, remains, and findings within the tunnels, and their findings demonstrated the earliest archaeological proof of chemical warfare.
Image description: This wedding dress was made from a nylon parachute that saved Major Claude Hensinger during World War II.
Hensinger, a B-29 pilot, and his crew, were returning from a bombing raid over Yowata, Japan, in August 1944 when their engine caught fire. The crew was forced to bail out. He kept the parachute and used it to propose to his girlfriend Ruth in 1947. Learn more about the story behind this parachute wedding dress.
Photo from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History
Facing Ninth Deployment, Army Ranger Kills Himself. 'No Way' That God Would Forgive Him For What He'd Seen, Done, He Told Wife
End the warS. Bring Them Home.
My heart goes out to his wife. The VA needs the resources (and a major restructure) to do more to help our troops and prevent things like this from happening.
U.S. Army nurse Wyatt Graeber holds three-month-old burn victim Zhargonia at an American combat hospital in Baghram Air Field, Afghanistan. The child was brought into the hospital when she was two days old, her face completely burned when a flaming curtain fell on her head during a kitchen fire. The hospital staff cared for her for months afterward.
see more — Today’s Wars: Iraq & Afghanistan