Wednesday, November 11, 2009

November 11

Today is Veterans Day in the US.

This date is remembered all over the world as the day on which World War I ended. The ceasefire was reached on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. It was known as Armistice or Remembrance Day until 1954 when President Dwight Eisenhower changed it to Veterans Day to pay tribute to all veterans of all wars, which I thought should have happened much sooner. It got fixed anyway.

On November 11 many things happened in history, such as: St. Silverius’ reign as Pope of the Roman Catholic Church ended on this day in 537; Turkey and Austria signed the Treaty of Zsitva-Torok in 1606; Massachusetts was the first state to pass the U.S.’s first compulsory school attendance law in 1647; In 1778 Iroquois Indians killed 40 in the Cherry Valley Massacre in New York; In 1851 Alvan Clark patented the telescope; Washington was admitted as the 42nd state in 1889; Construction of the navy base at Pearl Harbor began in 1909; The tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington was dedicated by President Harding in 1921; The first great dust storm called “Great Black Blizzard” kicked up in Great Plains in 1933; Jews were forced to wear the Star of David in Kristallnacht in 1938, which was the first sign that something terrible was about to happen in Germany; Kate Smith first sang “God Bless America” by Irving Berlin in 1939; The Willys Jeep was born in 1940; Seals Stadium in San Francisco was demolished in 1959; Cassius Clay knocked out Floyd Patterson in Las Vegas in 1965; Gemini 12 with Lovell and Aldrin on board was launched into space in 1966; The Dow Jones Index moved above 1,000 for the first time in 1972; Angola gained independence from Portugal in 1975; Van Gogh’s “Irises” sold for a record $53.6 million in 1987; and 11-11-1999 was the last upside-down date until 1-1-6000, which I gladly will not see.

The event that I probably will never forget that happened on November 11 is Rhodesia’s unilateral declaration of independence from Britain in 1965 by Ian Smith, Rhodesia’s Prime Minister at the time.

Why would anyone remember that particular day, you may ask, since I am not from Rhodesia and had no family there either. Well, I was a cartographer in the South African army at the time and we were already in 1965 preparing maps for anticipated hostilities in Angola and South West Africa, which became Namibia after independence. One of my draftsmen was a Rhodesian who came down south to seek a more peaceful life and on November 11, 1965 he listened to Ian Smith’s speech announcing the unilateral declaration of independence, which became known as UDI, on his transistor radio. Dutifully, I asked him not to listen to the radio during working hours but he protested that history was in the making and I ought to listen to it, too. I listened and soon realized that I will probably remember this day as long as I lived. So far, I have remembered it every year.

UDI led to worldwide sanctions against Rhodesia as the world protested against it in its struggle against communism and anarchy.

Within 15 years, however, Rhodesia succumbed to the pressure as South Africa, who gave Rhodesia access to ports and a lucrative market during the sanctions era, also increased pressure on Ian Smith to strike a deal with the opposing sides. Huge deceptions hoodwinked the Rhodesians and in the end Robert Mugabe came into power driving the country into the ground with communist-socialist policies.

It became a common slogan: Previously one could go to Rhodesia and visit the Zimbabwe Ruins; lately one can go to Zimbabwe and visit the Rhodesian Ruins.

There is a lesson in it all for us here in the U.S., especially in today’s economic and political climate: Socialism by nature is corrosive and destroys. The Judeo-Christian economic model is the only model that spawns universal wealth, prosperity and justice.

The beauty is that one doesn’t have to believe in the doctrine to practice it and share in its bounty.


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Seeking the truth until I find it.