Thursday, January 01, 2009

2009: Anniversary of Some Dubious as well as Distinguished Events

Today is the 100th Anniversary of the birth of Arizona icon Sen. Barry Goldwater who was born on New Year’s Day 1909 in Territorial Arizona. The Year A.D. 2009 will also see the 200th anniversaries of the births of Abraham Lincoln and British naturalist Charles Darwin who were born on the same day, February 14, 1809.

Aside from Barrack Obama’s relentless efforts to associate himself with the 16th U.S. President, Lincoln is set to get a well-deserved though probably over-the-top attention from our media this year. This includes a generally uninspiring commemorative redesign of the reverse side of the penny with four depictions of scenes from Honest Abe’s life.

The log cabin and rail-splitter designs are nice and appropriate. But the last two, outside the Illinois Capitol building and the inexplicable construction view of the U.S. Capitol Dome, are mistakes. The final two designs should have depicted something to do with freeing of the slaves and the Emancipation Proclamation or perhaps the Lincoln-Douglas Debates on the topic of slavery. The final design should have focused on the universal values embodied in the Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural. Maybe a depiction of attention-starved Lincoln Administration domestic policy achievements like the railroads and creation of land grant colleges could have been featured instead of the Capitol scaffolding.

This year also sees the sad anniversaries of the Castro Bros. Communist Dictatorship on Cuba (50th, 1959) and Hugo Chávez’s socialist paradise in Venezuela (10th, 1999).

It’s the twentieth anniversary of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s fatwa calling on adherents to the “Religion of Peace” to murder “The Satanic Verses” author Salman Rushdie (which has yet to be successfully carried out.) It’s also the 20th anniversary of .the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing. Pete Rose’s lifetime ban from baseball for gambling on the sport also began in 1989.
But 1989 should not be remembered for those dreary events. Instead, the iconic scene of Germans dancing on the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989 signaled the end of the Cold War with the West’s victory over Soviet Communism. What was so remarkable about the collapse was how peacefully it was accomplished. The notable exception to the bloodless revolutions toppling communism was in Romania where Christmas 1989 saw the lynching of dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu.

As a native Vermonter, I cannot let pass the 400th anniversary of explorer Samuel de Champlain’s “discovery” and claiming the Lake Champlain area of Vermont for France in 1609.

June 11th will see the 500th anniversary of the ill-fated marriage of Henry VIII of England to Catherine of Aragon. Seven-hundred years ago saw the beginning of the “Babylonian captivity” (1309–77) of the papacy in Avignon by the French crown.
I’ll stop here. My next post will take a closer look at a pair of historic events, one 1,000 years ago and the other 2,000 years ago, that have define today’s world.


Anonymous said...

I'm struck by the comment that there should be something commemorating the Licoln-Douglas debate on slavery, since the debate had nothing to do with freeing anyone. In fact, they had little to do with slavery, outside of expressing Lincoln's thoughts on the fact that blacks were, in fact, inferior to whites. He also, throughout time, made many statements about how he considered slavery something that he would not change.
This is not something that I feel diminishes the stature of the great man; I do not, however, see the commemoration of the lesser of his days, or doing so without completely understanding what actually happened, is a good idea.
Should anyone wish to geek this out a little more, the Weider History Group offers a series, "The Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln", in which he expresses many of these thoughts. HE eventually (during and after the war) recognozes the humanity and value of black soldiers, leading to his ultimate decisions.
Relative to the Douglass debates, there is a geat book called, simply, "Lincoln and Douglass." Not to be missed, as I said before, if you are a geek like me :)

-Brent Bushong II

Anonymous said...

Whites are superior to blacks, and we all know it. That is why Obama is trying to make a name for himself, by ruining our country. This way he can prove that whites are better in the WHITE house.

Anonymous said...

Abe Lincoln did not start the Civil War over African American rights or with any idea to do anything about it. He really didn't find it an issue at the time. The issue was holding together a united country with federal law being more important than state's rights. African American rights only entered at the very end.

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