Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Day Between Bad Days

Today is Sunday, June 29. Diane is baking and I am writing and the world seems pretty much okay right at the moment. The Sun has just risen over Flathead Lake -- barely -- and the portents are good. Xander spent the night with us Friday, which was a win win win for the family: we got time with him, Mom and Dad got a few hours without having to both attend to CharleeRose and entertain Xander, and Xander got to run around as six year old boys need to do. They are like puppies: you need to run them a bit so they can relax. Plus, he brought the Lego Movie with him for us to watch. We had not seen it, so it was a real treat, expecially since the film was both clever and brilliant. But all this is mere foreplay. What I want to write about is the significance of this day in history. There are many highlights, but for the most part June 29 turns out to have been a quieter day than those around it. In 1888 the first known recording of a piece of classical music was made, of Handel's "Israel in Egypt" on wax cylinder. In 1942 Dmitri Shostakovich's monumental "Leningrad Symphony" received its premiere. In 1963, the Beatles' first song to hit the radio waves was"From Me to You>" One year later, the first draft of the pilot episode for a proposed new program on TV was released: "The Cage," for something called STAR TREK. On that same day, the Civil Rights Act was passed in Washington. There are many more highlights, also mostly positive, for June 29. However, yesterday and tomorrow are different matters. June 28 marks the one hundredth anniversary of the murder that launched the bloodiest century in human history, the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria and his beloved wife Sophie. 187 million human beings would be killed during all the wars and armed conflicts that followed this tragic death. And tomorrow, June 30, marks the 89th anniversary of Adolph Hitler's "Night of the Long Knives," a 48 hour period that extended into July 1 and saw Hitler's forces murder or execute hundreds of political opponents and potential opponents, especially Ernst Roehm and the leadership of the SA, or Brown Shirts, the Nazi militia. Controlling that group was crucial to Hitler's standing with Germany's industrialists, who feared that Roehm was the one with the actual power. Finally, July 1 marks the first day of the Battle of the Somme in 1916 -- during which the British launched a headlong attack directly at German entrenchments and lost nearly 20,000 lives in that brief 24 hours, eight of those killed being among the soldier poets I so treasure. As they say, every silver lining has a cloud.

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