Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Man of the Hour on His 90th Birthday

Today would have been my dad's 90th birthday. I miss him every day, but don't necessarily say it out loud. So a shout out to you, Dad, on your special day. I know you can hear me.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Time Flies

My dad retired 30 years ago today in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and I was honored to speak at the ceremony. We both retired at age 59. This coming Tuesday would have been his 90th birthday. Where does the time go?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Full Monty - Enjoy an English Fry-Up

I have long claimed the English can ruin a glass of water, but now that I think on it more, I have been unkind and unfair with my cutting remark.  They do make a fine pot of tea.  So perhaps it is time to give our Britannic brethren a fairer shake.

People who know me well know that I will eat just about anything . . . at least once.  There are not too many things I won’t eat at all.  Brussel sprouts come to mind.  Cooked or raw, I just cannot stomach a Brussel sprout.  There is no debate.  There is no changing my mind.   Eggplant was on the list for years, but I have gotten past my reservations and I will eat it from time to time if served to my liking.  On the other hand, I can easily do without it, especially in a casserole.  That is still on the list.  There are other foods I am not a big fan of, but I will eat them and say “thank you” when I am done.  But there are no yummy sounds going through my head or emanating from my digestive tract.  So to be fair, let me say a few words in tribute to something the English do quite well . . . the full English breakfast, or fry-up, and its regional variations. 

There are some on our side of the pond who have experienced this repast and who will admit they like it.  For many, however, it is not quite cricket.  In fact, it flutters the dovecote for those who can’t fathom the idea of touching such an offering with a bargepole.  “Gross” is an adjective I frequently hear when the subject of a full English breakfast comes up. “All that fried food!” . . . or “baked beans for breakfast?”  The idea is as black as Newgate’s knocker.  These skeptics are all belts and braces in my book.  Indeed, many are the British jokes and put downs about a full English breakfast . . . almost all of which are of such a nature that I cannot share them here.  In 2005 the Royal Mail stamp selection committee considered a set of stamps on a gastronomic theme.  One stamp was to feature a full English breakfast but it was rejected “on health grounds.”  The committee favored stamps representing healthy food items, including fish and chips and tea.  But I’ll argue the toss.  You can’t trip in a restaurant, pub, or B&B breakfast room anywhere throughout the British Isles without falling full face into a  full English.

Really, I am not quite sure what all the fuss is about; a full English in many ways resembles the standard high-fat, high-caloric blue plate breakfast at any American diner or highway “stop & choke.”  I have never been a big breakfast eater at home, but when I am on the road, either here or abroad, breakfast becomes an important ingredient of any travel experience . . . eggs, bacon or sausage (or scrapple if I can get it), with hash browns preferable over the chunkier home fries (unless these come with thick gravy).  Some places will offer corned beef hash, or a slice of ham or a small steak, but I usually keep it simple.  Add some slices of buttered toast or an English muffin , a couple large mugs of joe, and what more could one possibly want for breakfast?  Well, our British cousins have answered that question.

So what is it about a “full English” (or its Cornish, Scottish, Ulster and Irish variants) that makes me enjoy it so much?  Some may think it a bit of a curate’s egg; certain components appear just fine while others are revolting at best.  In my humble opinion it includes a host of foods that I thoroughly enjoy both alone and tout ensemble.  Granted, the presentation can often leave a great deal to be desired; it almost never look all that good on the plate.  In some instances it really can be downright revolting in appearance.  But it tastes so damned good.  So let’s break it down.  

Fried eggs for breakfast, whether served here or there, has long been a staple morning dish.  Sunny side up, over easy, or even scrambled, I don’t think anyone can find fault with the concept of eggs, fried or otherwise prepared, unless they just don’t like eggs to start with. From my own experience, the Brits tend to favor their eggs over easy with a semi-hard yoke.  With everything else on the plate a runny yoke is perhaps carrying the coals to Newcastle.

A full English also offers a variety of meats.  There is back bacon which we here commonly refer to as “Canadian bacon” rather than the rashers of strip bacon we are used to.  Sometimes the Brits just refer to it as ham, but there is a difference.  Along with the fried eggs, this style of bacon is still usually accepted as regular breakfast fare.  A full English also includes a type of sausage, most of which are unlike any sausage you have tasted before.  They can take some getting use to.  Cumberland and Lincolnshire sausage are probably the closest to what you are served here although the Cumberland is much longer and thicker than our link sausage.  The spiced pork content in both is diced rather than minced.  Oxford sausage are also similar to our links although they contain veal as well as pork.  Still, they taste familiar and I will eat them all in a tick.  Newmarket sausage, on the other hand, contains an overabundance of bread filler and whereas they resemble our link sausage, they have a rather pasty consistency.  Unique to the full English is the addition of black or white pudding (or both).  Black pudding is simply sausage containing pork blood, spices and oatmeal while the white version contains oatmeal mixed with spiced minced pork and fat or suet and bread filler.  Both are sliced and served either hot or cold.  Some places you will find kidney on your plate.  You know what that is; need I say more?  Traveling through Scotland one might also be treated to a serving of haggis, a pudding containing sheep offal minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, and spices.  It is traditionally encased in a sheep stomach although modern commercial haggis is usually prepared in a standard sausage casing.  One may also encounter tinned sardines and pilchard, or cold-smoked kipper herring when traveling in coastal areas.  I have particularly enjoyed the addition of Arbroath smokies to the breakfast offering while traveling in Scotland.  These strips of salted haddock taste as good as they smell on the kiln sticks in the smoking sheds along the North Sea waterfront. 

The Brits also fancy potatoes for breakfast.  It could be chips (french fries) or their own version of hash browns which is usually nothing more than left-over mashed potatoes pan-fried into a potato cake.  Something we seldom find on the breakfast platter in America are vegetables of any fashion, yet the English fry-up usually features fried or grilled tomatoes, as well as “bubble and squeak,” a portion of fried left-over veggies mixed with the potato serving.   Fried mushrooms are frequently added to the mix.

And then there are the ubiquitous baked beans.  Americans may look at the serving of baked beans for breakfast with high disdain, but truth be told the dish fresh out of a tin is an American import now offered up for breakfast.  From everything I have been able to learn on the subject, baked beans are a relatively new addition to the full English breakfast dating back only about 50 years although some blame the Yanks for bringing them to the ould sod during World War II.  Regardless, they seem to be there to stay and seldom is a full English served up without them.  I think they’re great, especially with a dab of mustard!

That is a great deal of food to contend with and as they say, you don’t want to over-egg the pudding.  But add some toast, a muffin, an oatcake, some soda bread, a tattie (potato) scone, or even a bowl of porridge in some locales, then pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea, and you have a full English breakfast.  Such a bounty of smells and flavors; why it’s enough to cobble a dog!  So, if you have never had a full English breakfast, I say grasp the nettle, break your duck, and give it a try.  You’ll find it keen as mustard and downright royal.

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Haunted By Waters

        For my friend Ted Mitchell (1949-2008), a dedicated Wolfe scholar 

During my recent visit to Chapel Hill, North Carolina to attend the annual gathering of the Thomas Wolfe Society on the campus of the University of North Carolina, I was reminded of a prologue reading I delivered at a similar gathering in Asheville, North Carolina back in the spring of 2007.  That reading was taken from Antaeus or A Memory of Earth which Wolfe wrote in 1930 and which he originally intended for inclusion in his massive second novel, Of Time and the River (1935).  These passages are Wolfe’s fictionalized account of the great flooding of the French Broad and Swannanoa rivers in and around his native Asheville, in July 1916 after several days of steady rain.  A dam was breached and the rising waters inundated the city’s river front claiming the lives of eleven local citizens.  Wolfe had previously referenced this flood in Chapter 27 of his first novel, Look Homeward, Angel (1929), but the Antaeus passages were Wolfe’s first well-tended treatment of the subject.  One cannot read these passages without realizing how well Wolfe understood that no one could spend any time on or near a river without feeling, and perhaps fearing, it as a living presence.

     Finally, the names of the mighty rivers, the alluvial gluts, the drains of the continent, the throats that drink America (Sweet Thames, flow gently, until I end my song!).  The names of the men who pass and the myriad names of the earth that abides forever; the names of the men who are doomed to wander and the name of the immense and lonely land on which they wander, to which they return, in which they will be buried – America!  The immortal earth which waits forever, the trains that thunder on the continent, the men who wander, and the women who cry out, “Return.”  Finally, the names of great rivers that are flowing in the darkness (Sweet Thames, flow gently, until I end my song!).
     The names of rivers, of great mouths, the mighty maws, the vast wet coiling never glutted and unending snakes that drink the continent.  Where, sons of men, and in what other land will you find others like them, and where can you match the mighty music of their names? – the Monongahela, the Colorado, the Rio Grande, the Columbia, the Tennessee, the Hudson (Sweet Thames!); the Kennebec, the Rappahannock, the Delaware, the Penobscot, the Chesapeake, the Swannanoa, the Indian River, the Niagra (Sweet Afton!); the Saint Lawrence, the Susquehanna, the Tombigbee, the Natahala, the French Broad, the Chattahooche, the Arizona, and the Potomac (Father Tiber!) – these are a few of their princely names, these are a few of their great proud glittering names, fit for the immense and lonely land that they inhabit
     O Tiber! Father Tiber! You’d only be a suckling in that mighty land! And as for you, Sweet Thames, flow gently till I end my song; flow gently, gentle Thames, be well-behaved, sweet Thames, speak softly and politely, little Thames, flow gently till I end my song.

William Least Heat-Moon, writing about his long trip across America by boat in River Horse [1999], describes navigating his way along the Missouri River, in South Dakota.  “There’s something in flowing water that can make a bloke downright contemplative.”  Standing on the banks of the Missouri just a month before I delivered this prologue reading I started to think a great deal about rivers; not just the flowing waters of the big American rivers, but also about my beloved trout streams in Northern New Hampshire; the chuckling waters of a freestone creek in Latimore Township, Pennsylvania, not far from where Wolfe’s father grew up; the French Broad River, as it meanders through western North Carolina.

And thinking of these I was reminded of a favorite passage from Norman Maclean which, appropriately, always speaks to me of the dimensions and constituencies of all water.  “Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.  The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time.  On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops.  Under the rocks are the words, and some of these words are theirs.  I am haunted by waters.”  The American actor, Tom Skerritt, who portrayed the father in the film adaptation of Maclean’s novel, once noted that rivers are very visceral, and that this passage is “as fine a piece of American prose as I can ever imagine.”  Maclean added, “A river has so many things to say that it is hard to know what it says to each of us.”

Wolfe, like Maclean, also searched for the true nature of these flowing waters.  Writing to his editor Max Perkins in July 1930, Wolfe clarified what he was intending with Antaeus; “everything moves across the enormous earth . . . moves to the great rhythm of the great river . . . .”  Perhaps Wolfe was recalling Mark Twain’s stories of flooding along the Mississippi, something William Faulkner also alludes to in The Wild Palms (1939).

     Of the paw of the yellow cat that smites the nation, of the belly of the snake that coils across the land – of the terrible names of the rivers in flood, the rivers that foam and welter in the dark, that smash the levees, that flood the lowlands for two thousand miles, that carry the bones of cities seawards in their tides; of the awful names of Tennessee, the Arkansas, the Missouri, the Ohio, and the Mississippi.

Thomas Wolfe would have understood this elegy as he demonstrates so well in these quoted passages which he describes to John Hall Wheelock, another editor at Scribner’s, in 1930.  “In Antaeus, in a dozen short scenes, told in their own language, we see people of all sorts constantly in movement, going somewhere, haunted by it . . . I saw it as a child, I’ve seen it ever since, I see it here in their poor damned haunted eyes.”  There is an urge to wander the earth just as its rivers wander through their various landscapes.  Life is brief, but the rivers continue to flow gently on.

     Yes, he likes livin’ on the River, an’ he likes lookin’ down the River, an’ he can’t fool me, I know why he keeps listenin’ in the night when he thinks I’m sound asleep; he’d like to be out there upon the River, he wouldn’t care if he went on forever, he could spend his life-time floatin’ down the River
[ . . . ]
    O God!  Just let me live where nothin’ moves!  Just let me live where things will always be the same!  I want a house way up there on a hill! Just make him build a house upon high ground!  I want a house that’s all my own, an’ trees an’ hills an’ no more River!
     There’s nothin’ you can hold there on the River!  There’s nothin’ you can keep there on the River!  It takes your house, it takes your home, it takes Annie holdin’ to the oak, it takes people by you all day long, it takes your man away – yes! even when you look at it you find you cannot look at it, it takes your eyes along with it, an’ you keep lookin’ down the River, there’s nothin’ you can keep along the River, my life an’ time an’ all, ten years of it, have gone on down the River!  That’s why I hate an’ always will, the River!
     Now he’s beside me listenin’ to the River.  Now I can feel him listenin’ to the River!  He thinks that I’m asleep, but I can’t sleep for listen’ to the River!
     I know each sound that’s comin’ from the River!  I hear the willows trailin’ in the River!  I hear the oak-limbs snagged there in the River!  All of my thoughts are flowin’ like the River, all of my life is movin’ like the River, I think an’ talk an’ dream just like the River, as it flows by me, by me, by me, to the sea.

[Thomas Wolfe, Antaeus or A Memory of Earth, edited by Ted Mitchell, The Thomas Wolfe Society, 1996]

Thomas Wolfe was certainly haunted by waters.  Perhaps we all are in one way or another.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Summer of '69 - Lighting the Fire

                       “Education is not filling a bucket but lighting a fire.”
                                         – William Butler Yeats

My high school alma mater is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.  Opened in Park Ridge, Illinois in 1964, the first graduating class of Maine Township High School South, including a young Hillary Rodham, received their diplomas in June 1965.  Four years later, on June 10, 1969, I stood in my black graduation gown in the school’s very warm gymnasium waiting to step onto the stage to receive my own diploma.  The Class of 1969 was only the second graduating class to spend its entire high school career at Maine South, and the last graduating class that was required to adhere to a strict student dress code which required men to be clean shaven, and to wear their hair cut above the collar.  Bob Dylan reminded us . . . the times they were a-changin’.

The last episodes of Star Trek and the Smothers Brothers Comedy had aired on NBC and CBS respectively during the previous week.  Joe Namath quit the New York Jets and Mickey Mantle’s #7 was retired by New York Yankees.  The Beatles release the “Ballad Of John & Yoko” in the US and Tommy James & the Shondells released "Crystal Blue Persuasion."  Warren Burger was confirmed as the new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and President Nixon announced that 25,000 troops would be leaving Southeast Asia by the end of the summer to begin the “Vietnamization” of the war.

In the weeks following graduation we watched as more racial unrest erupted in cities across the US.  The three-day Stonewall riot in New York City would mark the beginning of the modern gay rights movement.   Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an automobile accident on Chappaquiddick Island in which Mary Jo Kopechne drowned.  Charles Manson’s cult family committed the Tate-LaBianca murders in Los Angles, and Hurricane Camille took the lives of 256 along coastal Mississippi and Louisiana.  There was also unrest and uncertainty brewing beyond our borders.  A brief war erupted between El Salvador and Honduras over a soccer match.   A revolution in Libya would bring Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi to power, and British troops began their militarily intervention in Northern Ireland.

With over a half million men and women deployed to Vietnam, the war continued to rage in Southeast Asia a year after the Tet Offensive despite the planned withdrawal of some US troops.  On June 27, Life magazine displayed portrait photographs of all 242 Americans killed in Vietnam during the previous week bring the war even closer to home.  The US began a secret bombing campaign over Cambodia and more than 11,000 US troops would be killed in action in 1969.  Hô Chí Minh died that September but his death brought the war no closer to a conclusion and the Selective Service began a draft lottery in December 1969.

During that summer, and perhaps for the first time, we began to look in earnest beyond our own planet.  Two American astronauts landed on the moon’s Sea of Tranquility, taking one small step for man yet one giant leap for mankind while a third orbited on board Apollo 11.  Pioneer 10 began its long voyage to Jupiter and eventually beyond our solar system while Mariner 6 and 7 began sending photographs of Mars back to Earth.

Closer to home, American youth continued to make their voices known as they flocked to the Newport Jazz Festival, the Atlanta Pop Festival, the Seattle Pop Festival, the Atlantic City Pop Festival, the  Texas International Pop Festival, the New Orleans Pop Festival, and the Woodstock Music & Art Fair.  The Rolling Stones played a free concert in London's Hyde Park.  It was another Summer of Love imprinting itself across the cultural landscape of America.  Even the Boys of Summer heralded change as the long-shot New York Mets defeated the Baltimore Orioles to win the World Series for the first time in their short history.

After graduation my family moved to the suburbs of Milwaukee where I worked on a  construction crew during the week and returned to Park Ridge on the weekends to hang out with my friends as we prepared to begin our college careers in the fall.  We had picnics and spent warm days on the shores of Lake Michigan.  Despite all that was going on in the world around me, it was a mostly carefree summer, a time to spend with friends and to begin looking toward my future.  How was my high school education going to pay off?  What was I going to do with the rest of my life?   One of my buddies planned to join the Marines that fall; unlike the rest of us who hoped college would somehow keep us out of the military, he wanted to go to Vietnam.  He visited me at my college in Florida later that year after he finished basic training.  He shipped out to Vietnam in early 1970 and was killed in action shortly after his arrival in country.   It would be a summer not to forget for so many reasons. 

I am reminded of “Summer of 69,” one of my favorite songs by Bryan Adams:

    Oh, when I look back now
    That summer seemed to last forever
    And if I had the choice
    Yeah, I'd always wanna be there
    Those were the best days of my life.

At the time those relatively carefree weeks after graduation did seem like the best days of my life.  I had put another chapter of my life behind me and I was entering into an even bigger adventure.  I had no idea what life had in store for me.

Now I look back over these forty-five years and I am thankful for everything.  They were not years of simply filling the bucket of all that life has given me.  Back in the summer of 1969 I lit a fire that is burning ever brighter with each passing year.  

    And now the times are changin'
    Look at everything that's come and gone.

I would not change a single thing. 

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Friday, June 6, 2014

The Longest Day

"It's a hell of a war, but God willing, we'll do what we came here to do.”
                – John Wayne, in “The Longest Day”

Today we mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of France.  On the morning of June 6, 1944, after months of planning and preparation, over 150,000 US and Allied soldiers made airborne landings in coastal France followed closely by landings on the beaches of Normandy.  An armada of several thousand ships of all sizes and descriptions had slipped out of English ports in the darkness and crossed the English Channel to the European mainland where four years before Britain had retrieved its  battle-worn troops from the beaches at Dunkirk [Dunkerque].  As the Allied soldiers once again stepped ashore, they were greeted by a murderous hail of machine-gun and mortar fire by deeply entrenched German positions along the Atlantic Wall.  Having fought in North Africa, across Sicily and up the boot of Italy, the Allies and Operation Overlord were finally taking the war back to western Europe for the final push to defeat Hitler’s Germany. 

The expectations of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme commander of all Allied forces, were simply stated.  "You are about to embark on a great crusade. The eyes of the world are upon you and the hopes and prayers of all liberty-loving peoples go with you . . .  Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well-trained, well-equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely. I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory."  Later that morning he would broadcast an announcement to the peoples of western Europe, telling them of the landings and declaring, "all patriots, young and old, will have a part to play in the liberation."  Today there are less than five thousand survivors of those who saw action during the initial stages of the Allied invasion.  We owe them, and all of those who died there or have passed on since then, a deep debt of gratitude.  These days we tend to throw the word “hero” around too carelessly.  But these men and women were all heroes in very sense of the word.

My father was part of that effort although he was not involved in D-Day or its immediate aftermath as the Allies attempted to move deeper into France.  He fought in Patton’s Third Army which landed in Cherbourg, west of the Normandy beaches, that July and  then began to move across France just after those who landed on D-Day and shortly thereafter finally achieved their breakout from Normandy.   I knew about that part of the conflict from what my father told me as a young boy when I anxiously asked him “Dad,. What did you do during the war?”  It was not until a few years later that I began to fully understand the momentous importance of what those brave men and women accomplished on D-Day and the long days, weeks and months that followed.

I was thirteen years old when I finally saw The Longest Day, the 1962 Darryl Zanuck-20th Century film based on Cornelius Ryan’s 1959 book on the D-Day invasion of France (Ryan also wrote the screenplay).  It happened to be on the twentieth anniversary of that watershed event of the 20th century as well as my last day of 7th grade.  After our release from school I walked up to the theater on Pack Square, in Asheville, North Carolina, and sat through two complete showings of the three-hour film.  It was my first introduction to that historic struggle to turn the tide of war against Nazi Germany.   Fifty years later this film, despite all of its Hollywood trappings, is still recognized as perhaps the most complete effort to capture on film the scope and importance of that seminal historical event. For those involved in the invasion, it truly was “the longest day.”

So let us take a moment today to remember those living and dead who were participants in that great struggle.  They all did what they came there to do and we are all thankful for their sacrifice.

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Remembering the Tiananmen Square Massacre

A quarter of a century ago something quite unordinary occurred in the world’s most populous country.  Almost thirteen years after the death of Mao Zedong, the founder and “Great Helmsman” of the People’s Republic of China, a young generation of Chinese students, largely from the University of Beijing, congregated in the 109-acre Tiananmen Square, to demand more democratic reforms in a country celebrating its 40th anniversary.  The ruling Communist Party sat quietly by, allowing the students to vent their frustrations and make their demands, and having done so, the hope was they would soon return to their studies and classrooms.  But they did not leave, and with each passing day and week their voices grew ever stronger and strident.  Before long the ranks of the students were joined by others long tired of government corruption and in the desire for more personal freedoms.  Soon the assembled masses swelled to an estimated three million and spread well beyond the square.  Nobody was going home and the government realized it had lost control of the situation.

Enough was enough.  The nascent seven-week pro-democracy movement finally ended on June 3-4, 1989 with the Communist government declaring martial law and ordering heavily armed soldiers and tanks of the People’s Liberation Army into the streets of central Beijing to restore order.  Yet the protestors did not back down in the face of an overwhelming show of military might as they attempted to block the advance of tanks and troops into the Tiananmen Square from every direction.

Without provocation the PLA units opened fired on the demonstrators several miles from the square, killing several.   They inflicted heavy civilian casualties as they continued moving toward the square and soldiers fired indiscriminately on nearby buildings lining the route of their advance.  The local populace, incensed by this unnecessary violence and killing, quickly took to the streets to attack the soldiers and tanks.  The casualty rate grew on both sides.   As the PLA units approached Tiananmen Square demonstrators there were warned not to oppose the implementation of martial law.  By this time, however, word of the death toll elsewhere in the city had reached the tens of thousands of demonstrators in the square.  The moment of decision had arrived . . . to depart or to continue their non-violent protest. 

Despite pleas for calm by some of the protest leaders, the largely peaceful demonstration descended quickly into violence as the units of the PLA arrived in the square.  They were pelted with rocks and bottles and several vehicles were set ablaze.  In an attempt to seal off the square and to isolate the demonstrators, several more unarmed students were shot or killed as tanks and armored personnel carriers overran and crushed the tent city erected there.   The indiscriminate killing continued for several more hours until the PLA had finally secured the square and forced the demonstrators to leave.  But it did not end there.  The PLA pursued and attacked them beyond the square and  dozens of civilians were reported shot in the back as they fled.  The blood continued to flow in the streets of central Beijing.  

The government eventually regained control following the military's seizure of the square.  With suppression of information about the crackdown the death toll estimates have varied widely, from several hundred to a few thousand.  Leaders of the demonstration were arrested and jailed and the fate of many remains unknown to this day.  At the time the Communist regime in Beijing justified its actions as suppression of counter-revolutionary agitation resulting in brutal attacks on the PLA by the demonstrators.  Those in the government who originally condoned the demonstration were quicky purged and the government began the process of a state-enforced erasure of the pro-democracy movement and its bloody finale from the collective memory of the Chinese people.  Now, 25 years after these events, it is still forbidden to speak of the uprising and the resulting judicial murder of dissenters.  Images of the protest on the Internet have been censored in China.  If its actions were justified, why is the regime so afraid to talk about it now?  I think the answer is quite obvious.

What can one say about a country that will murder dissenters in cold blood?  A country that cannot reconcile itself with its past is a country living in self-denial, a country that will fail learning from that past.  Even though the Chinese government has attempted to erase all memory of its crimes against its own people striving for basic human freedom and dignity, it is important that the rest of the world stand united in its condemnation of the cruel and unnecessary slaughter of a people brave enough to stand up for their beliefs in the face of their oppressors.

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