Category Archives: Heroes

Gettysburg- A Fourth of July Long Ago

(reposted by request)

Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:What place is this? Where are we now? I am the grass.Let me work.
– Carl Sandburg

One hundred and fifty five years ago today, brave men fought in and around a small town in Pennsylvania to determine whether the Union would endure or whether it would not.

The Battle of Gettysburg broke the tide of the advance of Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia and while the war itself didn’t end for another 22 months, Gettysburg decided the outcome.

Lee’s objective was psychological as much as strategic. By 1863 there was substantial sentiment in the North to allow the Confederacy to go its own way and end what had become an increasingly bloody, unpopular and costly war. By subjecting the North to the same sort of invasion the South had been subjected to – in essence, bringing the war home – Lee hoped to increase this sentiment and force the North to negotiate a settlement.

Gettysburg was very much an accidental battle. Neither side was really looking to fight here, but the armies accidentally collided, largely because Lee was deprived of Jeb Stuart’s cavalry in the early stages of the battle and thus lacked his usual awareness of where the Union forces were. Once the initial impact was made,on July 1st 1863 in a battle between Brigadier General John Buford’s Union cavalry division and two corps of Union infantry and two large Confederate corps that attacked from the north and northwest under General Richard Ewell, the armies came together and the battle was on.

An astounding fact about Gettysburg is that the victorious commander of the Union forces, General George Gordon Meade, had only been in command of the Army of the Potomac for a scant three days, after General Joseph Hooker was relieved of command. Meade was caught by surprise with the sudden collision of the two armies, but he reacted with coolness and unexpected courage at several points when the battle could very well have been lost with a different sort of general in charge.

The missing man at Gettysburg, one who might very well have altered the course of the battle and of history was Confederate General Stonewall Jackson, who was accidentally killed by his own troops after his amazing victory at Chancellorsville.

The key to Gettysburg was the control of the high ground, the hills and ridges outside the town. After Gen. Buford’s troops were scattered into the hills that first day of battle, they could easily have been driven out of the high ground with an assault by the victorious Confederates, and had Stonewall been in command there’s no doubt he would have driven his troops to do exactly that, digging them in on the high ground and reinforcing them with Longstreet’s divisions to wait for General Meade’s Union Army to come at them. Gettysburg would then have been a very different battle. But the troops Jackson would normally have commanded were under the command of General Richard Ewell.

General Ewell, even after he was ordered by Lee to take the Union position on Cemetery Hill “if practicable” chose not to make the attack even though Buford’s men had mostly left. There’s no question that Stonewall Jackson would have ordered his troops to take the high ground and dig in to wait for the main Confederate forces which were coming to the ridges from the west. In that case, it would have been the Union forces attacking uphill at an entrenched Southern army backed up by dug in artillery. The battle could very well have ended quite differently.

When Ewell finally did attack, on the second and third day of the battle, it was the Union forces who were reinforced and dug in and the Confederates who were forced to assault them. Ewell’s hesitancy likely cost the South the battle.

On the second day of the fighting, July 2nd, General Lee sent General Longstreet’s divisions against the Union Left flank in an attempt to roll it up and knock the Union forces off of the high ground. Meade sent reinforcements to the Left flank to shore up positions that later became legendary – the Peach Orchard, the Wheat field, Plum Run Valley and the Devil’s Den. The Union forces held on in spite of horrendous casualties.

One of the most amazing exploits of that day happened in the defense of Little Round Top, where Colonel Joshua Chamberlain, a former college professor in command of the 20th Maine maintained a precarious hold on the Union’s extreme left flank under assault from General John Hood’s troops.When the 20th were almost out of ammunition, Colonel Chamberlain led them in a surprise bayonet charge downhill that swept the Confederates off the hill, saved the position and likely the Union, a deed for which he later won the Medal of Honor.

On the third day, July 3rd, Lee decided to risk everything on a frontal assault on the right center on the Union lines, and 12,500 Confederate troops advanced from the ridge line three-quarters of a mile (1,200 meters) towards Cemetery Ridge in that gallant attempt to reverse fortune known to history as Pickett’s Charge.

It was a slaughter. The Union artillery had deliberately held its fire during the Confederate bombardment prior to the Charge, but as the Confederate troops approached they were hit with fierce artillery fire from Union positions on Cemetery Hill and north of Little Round Top, and from the Union center. Nearly one half of the Confederate troops who participated in the Charge failed to return from the attack. Somehow, some way, Confederate General Lewis Armistad’s brigade managed to make it through the withering fire and briefly breach the Union lines at a place called the “Angle”, a place with a low stone fence near a small wooded area. But they were quickly hurled back, and with that, the battle was essentially over.

After the battle it rained, something that occurred frequently enough to give rise to a belief among soldiers on both sides that the smoke and gunpowder somehow brought on the weather.

The two armies, both licking their wounds and having been through almost more than men should be able to bear gazed at each other across the field of battle on that long ago July Fourth. On both sides combined, there were over 50,000 casualties from three days of battle.

Late in the evening, Lee began the torturous retreat southwards. Did he understand at that point that the war was lost? Perhaps, since he was recorded as telling his troops “This is all my fault.” We have no way of knowing. But on that July Fourth, one nation’s hopes for independence were doomed and another nation’s hopes reaffirmed.

After the battle, there were huge amounts or corpses that needed to be disposed of, and the Union decided to make the site a national cemetery, for convenience as much as anything else. Four months after the battle, on November 19, the cemetery was dedicated, and a ceremony was held.

The main speaker was a nationally known orator, Edward Everett. In those days of oratory as a national sport, he was expected to deliver a real rip snorter of a speech, and he reportedly did just that.

Oddly enough, Everett’s isn’t the speech that’s remembered.Almost as an afterthought, the organizing committee invited President Abraham Lincoln to participate a scant two weeks before the ceremony, where they requested that he appear and “make a few brief remarks to honor the occasion”.

So after Edward Everett finished his speech, which clocked in at close to an hour, the President rose and delivered those few brief remarks, ones that started with “Four score and seven years ago” and have come down to us through the mists of history.

Gettysburg today is a living version of Sandburg’s poem, in a way. The grass has done its work,but much of the original landscape has been altered and it takes some effort to visualize what happened there. To do that, you have to go there when its quiet and listen to the ghosts. Trust me, they’re there in abundance and they’ll tell you the whole story if you feel like listening.

Best wishes for a wonderful July Fourth…and take a moment to remember and honor the ghosts of July Fourths past. They deserve that much, at least.

Rob Miller

Rob Miller writes for Joshuapundit. His articles have appeared in The Jerusalem Post, The Washington Examiner, American Thinker, The Los Angeles Times, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The San Francisco Chronicle, Real Clear Politics, The Times Of Israel, Breitbart.Com, Yediot and other publications.

The Goth ISIS Utopia and Other Leftist Nonsense

Clarice Feldman - https://www.shiftfrequency.com/buzzfeed-stories-about-trump-false/
Clarice Feldman – https://www.shiftfrequency.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

EXCERPT:

From a Breitbart article by the Great Clarice Feldman

Black Lives Matter

An anonymous black professor at Berkeley urges historians to challenge the “problematic hypothesis “ that “white systemic racism, white supremacy, and other forms of white discrimination” are the cause of the difficulties in the black community.

He must make his argument anonymously as Berkeley and “our culture” leaves no room for dissent and he would lose his job and forfeit the opportunity for any other if his name were known. He says, and I agree, that dissent is necessary and factually warranted. Among his arguments detailed and documented (in his email attachments) are these:

“ *Black lives only matter when whites take them;”

“*It is for historians… to explain why Japanese internment or the massacre of European Jewry hasn’t led to equivalent rates of dysfunction and low SES performance among Japanese and Jewish Americans respectively;”

“*Our department appears to have been entirely captured by the interests of the Democratic National Convention, and the Democratic Party more broadly.”

I take to heart his conclusions in a statement worth your reading in its entirety:

The patronizing and condescending attitudes of Democrat leaders towards the black community, exemplified by nearly every Biden statement on the black race, all but guarantee a perpetual state of misery, resentment, poverty, and the attendant grievance politics which are simultaneously annihilating American political discourse and black lives. And yet, donating to BLM is bankrolling the election campaigns of men like Mayor Frey, who saw their cities devolve into violence. This is a grotesque capture of a good-faith movement for necessary police reform, and of our department, by a political party. Even worse, there are virtually no avenues for dissent in academic circles. I refuse to serve the Party, and so should you.

The total alliance of major corporations involved in human exploitation with BLM should be a warning flag to us, and yet this damning evidence goes unnoticed, purposefully ignored, or perversely celebrated. We are the useful idiots of the wealthiest classes, carrying water for Jeff Bezos and other actual, real, modern-day slavers. Starbucks, an organisation using literal black slaves in its coffee plantation suppliers, is in favor of BLM. Sony, an organisation using cobalt mined by yet more literal black slaves, many of whom are children, is in favor of BLM. And so, apparently, are we. The absence of counter-narrative enables this obscenity. Fiat lux, indeed.

There also exists a large constituency of what can only be called ‘race hustlers’: hucksters of all colors who benefit from stoking the fires of racial conflict to secure administrative jobs, charity management positions, academic jobs and advancement, or personal political entrepreneurship.

Given the direction our history department appears to be taking far from any commitment to truth, we can regard ourselves as a formative training institution for this brand of snake-oil salespeople. Their activities are corrosive, demolishing any hope at harmonious racial coexistence in our nation and colonizing our political and institutional life. Many of their voices are unironically segregationist.

Trump Jujitsu

If the mayors of places like Minneapolis and Seattle think they can stand by and wait to goad the President into acting so they can get the kind of optics the Kent State shooting presented to the anti-Viet Nam crowd, they must be surprised. Instead of soldiers with drawn bayonets, they got “tactical units from the FBI, the Secret Service, the DEA, ATF and the U.S. Marshals Service, the Bureau of Prisons, and other agencies, in full gear, many with no rifles, and certainly no bayonets.”

It’s Trump jujitsu again. Just as they tried to goad him into locking down the country over the ridiculously hyped pandemic, he used the tools of the presidency creatively to cut red tape and get done what the federal government could do and the states could not. (The “public health experts” who urged irrational lockdowns and attacked those who protested them, also lost all credibility when they supported mass protests in support of BLM. He leaves on the cutting room floor those hypocritical critics whose status they themselves destroyed.) Those governors who instituted draconian lockdowns and prolonged them bear the blame for the damage they caused — just as the misguided governments of Minneapolis and Seattle will for the wreckage in their cities.

Correction: Wayne State corrected to Kent State

SEE THRE FULL ORIGINAL ARTILE HERE

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NEWS, NEWS, NEWS: NO IT’S NOT, BECAUSE—Democrats Create Fake Reality, Phony Worlds, and A Universe Of Lies.

 

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Hierronymus Bosch

NEWS: By Jeffrey A. Friedberg

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Jeffrey A. Friedberg

Impolite and Brief

<<<<<——->>>>>

NEWS: from Democrats, Liberals, “Progressives,” Socialists, Communists, Suburban Housewives, and Canadian Supergirl has created politicized worlds that don’t exist.

This ranting excursion into a twilight (zoned) area of their own creation appears to be a one-way drop for them. They seem to be lost souls flailing for a formula—any devious, formulaic plot which they may think can ultimately beat Donald Trump in the coming election of 2020.

Time, and again, they flog that bestiary of demonic forms, seeking totalitarian salvation for deranged, murderous worlds within nightmare worlds. Their own, drug-infused, or alcohol-soaked, or hatred-infused worlds of domination, terror, horror, and global Communism.

Why should serious writers—daily—struggle to meet and answer Democrats’ every delusion and deranged smears of Trump?

I mean—how may times can I say, “Democrats have lost all sanity.

“Gone, are great men—Democrats—like Harry Truman, JFK, Hubert Humphrey, and the amazing Daniel Moynahan. They are dead, and their like is nowhere.”

Today’s “youth” (and tomorrow’s voters,) probably never even heard of these  Democrats. Because, today, NONE of these men would even be allowed in the New Hollywood Special Effects Communist Totalitarian Democrat Partei.

Die Partei.

 

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NEWS  FLASH! STOP THE PRESSES!

As reported—even in their own propagandist, so-called, “Media”—every deranged “scandal” they launch against Trump turns out to be a total lie.

Are “they” ever “called out” on it? Not really.

Are such make-believe scripts and shadow-plays ever retracted? Not really. Are any of the perpe-traitors ever punished, discredited, defrocked, or removed from their apparent, journalistic “priesthood?” Not really; no.

Neo:
I thought it wasn’t real

Morpheus:
Your mind makes it real

—THE MATRIX, (1999)

So why should serious writers try daily to counter, block, or “answer” the hurtling worlds of lies launched by Democrats?

It’s silly, right?

It forces the writer to politely chronicle and repeat the lie. It plays directly into the Play Itself.

It “makes it real.”

It makes me sick.

Yet, I have been urged by Conservative luminaries, and way more important and better writers, to keep on keepin’ on. To continue writing.

Wherein, I believe, this continued writing is ludicrous: sides have already been chosen; heroes have been picked and set; the universe has been capped off and the debris carted away.

Everyone already knows what they are going to do.

So—why should anybody keep writing?

I guess because we have to. Because these lying basterds cannot be allowed to go un-answered. Because they are lying,and too many people believe the lies.

Because they will stoop as low as they have to go—in order to “win.”  In order to even steal the election, if necessary. Whatever it takes.

NEWS:

We Write Because the Truth must be printed.

Because that’s how it was in America.

Because that’s how it still is—in what remains of the real America.

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“TRUTH, JUSTICE, AND THE AMERICAN WAY.”https://ethicsstupid.com/accountability/truth-justice-american-way/

<<<<<——->>>>>

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“Emotionals”—Such As Our Millennials, Democrat Voters, and Suburban USA Housewives—Have No Reason. They Don’t, Or Can’t, THINK.

“Emotionals”—Such As Our Millennials, Democrat Voters, and Suburban USA Housewives—Have No Reason. They Don’t, Or Can’t, THINK.

OPINION: BY JEFFREY A. FRIEDBERG

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<<<——————>>>

There’s a  problem with Emotionals.

These are “folks” who don’t actually think, but react. They react with emotions—with feelings. Not with actual thoughts or reasoning.

They don’t think things through or maybe ask, “How did this work out the last time it was done?”

Because there are others whom they could ask. There are older, wiser, and more experienced people in the world. You know—from the generations who fought in WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere across the Earth.

Others, who came long before the current sea of lies, bullsht, and Hollywood make-believe.

Emotionals could learn, from those of us who INVENTED computers, transistors, lasers, CDs, video, the space age, and the Internet Itself.

But, no. Emotionals think all they need are their phones and digital devices. They never think how these devices are all programmed by OTHER Emotionals— who don’t think either.

”Emotionals” can include millennials, suburban housewives, and democrat voters. Instead of asking others outside their tribes, or investigating thoroughly for themselves, they seem to rely on programming. What they were “taught” in Government creches—the so-called, “schools.” The inculcation centers where they were originally brainwashed.

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“THE MATRIX” (1999)

You know what I mean—the test tubes where they were trained not to think; not to question; not to have any real imagination, independence from the group, or any spirit of patriotism.

No, they were taught the opposite. By Captain Planet; by Sesame Street; by Fred Rogers; by hate groups; by Mr. Barack “Barry Soetoro” Obama; by kneeling athletes, Nike, Anderson Cooper, Chuck, Rachel, other talking nobodies on the “news,” and—oh—by Supergirl on Canadian TV.

And by all those make-believe freaks in Hollywood movies, who taught them there is no point resisting. There is no point in trying to go it alone. There is nothing they can do against real poWER.

You know—POWER pumped in your face by “social” media. POWER rammed inTO your orifices by “silicon valley.” THE POWER of propaganda, lies, obfuscation, and deletion.

Power of The Nothing.

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Remember? THE NOTHING? – AS IN, “THE NEVERENDING STORY.”

 

No—now they “know everything.”

They tell me I am old, and should die.

Well—fck you, pal—I’m not, and I won’t.

They ignore witnesses to the past. They avoid elders as unclean. They “KNOW” what their pre-programmed emotions and feelings tell them.

They have zero need for logic. They already have the answers.

They have been told what to think.

To them “It’s a new world.” —Noit’s not.

It’s the same world with the same bullsht, same lies, same propaganda, and same totalitarian aspirations. It’s the same old crap, “bro.” …seen it three times already.

What’s different, is: for the first time in human history, the science exists to enslave a world. Earth.

WE invented it. But THEY are harnessing it.

Will electing Trump in 2020 stop them?

No.

Will it slow them down?

Yes.

Will it get rid of them?

No. The only thing that can do that—is they, themselves. If they decide to open those gates.

<<<<<——————>>>>>

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When Hollywood Volunteered to go to War

Veterans Tales by Vassar Bushmills

March 29, 2019 is Vietnam Veterans Day.

Those veterans, called Baby Boomers, all recognize these Hollywood stars who served in the military during World War II. It’s called a handshake.

Obviously this is not the America of today that it was seventy years ago when “movie stars” just naturally put love of country above their own personal interests.

 


Sterling Hayden, US Marines and OSS.  Smuggled guns into Yugoslavia and parachuted into Croatia.

 

James Stewart, US Army Air Corps. Bomber pilot who rose to the rank of General. 

 

Ernest Borgnine, US Navy. Gunners Mate 1c, destroyer USS Lamberton. 

 

Ed McMahon, US Marines. Fighter Pilot. (Flew OE-1 Bird Dogs over Korea as well.) 

 

Walter Matthau, US Army Air Corps., B-24 Radioman/Gunner and cryptographer. 

 

Steve Forrest, US Army. Wounded, Battle of the Bulge. 

 

Jonathan Winters, USMC. Battleship USS Wisconsin and Carrier USS Bon Homme Richard. Anti-aircraft gunner, Battle of Okinawa[…]

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Tootsie Rolls and “The Chosin Few”

Veterans’ Tales by Vassar Bushmills

From our friend Mike Collins and his pals:

(Note: My wife’s uncle Phillip was one of those Marines. Her father was oder and served on a tin can in the Phillipine Sea but saw no real action. He always looked up to his baby brother as the real combat hero of the family.)

The 68th Anniversary of the Korean War “Chosin Few”…..The Tootsie Roll Marines

On November 26, 1950, 10,000 men of the First Marine Division, along with elements of two Army regimental combat teams, a detachment of British Royal Marine commandos and some South Korean policemen were completely surrounded by over ten divisions of Chinese troops in rugged mountains near the Chosin Reservoir. Chairman Mao himself had ordered the Marines annihilated, and Chinese General Song Shi-Lun gave it his best shot, throwing human waves of his 120,000 soldiers against the heavily outnumbered allied forces. A massive cold front blew in from Siberia, and with it, the coldest winter in recorded Korean history. For the encircled allies at the Chosin Reservoir, daytime temperatures averaged five degrees below zero, while nights plunged to minus 35 and lower.

Jeep batteries froze and split. C-rations ran dangerously low and the cans were frozen solid. Fuel could not be spared to thaw them. If truck engines stopped, their fuel lines froze. Automatic weapons wouldn’t cycle. Morphine syrettes had to be thawed in a medical corpsman’s mouth before they could be injected. Precious bottles of blood plasma were frozen and useless. Resupply could only come by air, and that was spotty and erratic because of the foul weather[…]

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Army Air Corps, WWII, “OK Boys, Put Some Clothes on those Girls”

Veterans’ Tales by Vassar Bushmills

“Ok boys, put some clothes on those girls.  We’re going home!”

Apparently no one worried about nose art on the bombers…over there.

(I don’t know who originally wrote this, but it was provided by one of our regular contributors, Ray Kasey, of New Jersey.

Did you know that more airmen died in WWII than Marines.

WWII Statistics US Army Air Corps:

Almost 1,000 Army planes disappeared en route from the US to foreign locations.

An eye-watering 43,581 aircraft were lost overseas including 22,948 on combat missions (18,418 against the Western Axis) and 20,633 attributed to non-combat  causes overseas.

In a single 376  plane raid in August 1943, 60 B-17s were shot down. That was a 16 percent loss rate and meant 600 empty bunks in England.  In 1942-43 it was  statistically impossible for bomber crews to complete a 25-mission tour in Europe .

Pacific theater  losses were far less (4,530 in combat) owing to smaller forces committed. The worst B-29 mission, against Tokyo on May 25, 1945, cost 26 Superfortresses, 5.6 percent of the 464 dispatched from the Marianas

On average, 6,600 American servicemen died per month during WWII, about 220 a day. By the end of the war, over 40,000 airmen were killed in combat theaters and another 18,000 wounded.  Some 12,000 missing men were declared dead, including a number “liberated” by the Soviets but never returned.  More than 41,000 were captured, half of the 5,400 held by the Japanese died in captivity, compared with one-tenth in German hands.  

Total combat casualties were pegged at 121,867[…]

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The Ten Greatest War Movies

Confession: Not a single Myrna Loy film shows up in this list. But we just can’t resist posting this photo of Loy serving coffee to American sailors during World War II. Lucky guys.

by Robert J. Avrech

Movies about war are ideally suited to the kinetic energy of motion pictures. The eternal themes of love, courage and loyalty are given full range in the theater of war. Readers will immediately notice the absence of silent films and movies from Hollywood’s golden age. Yes, in spite of our love of classic cinema we are the first to admit that sound and modern special effects have rendered most older war movies tame and stylized.

We have also excluded war movies that treat war as “senseless killing” or set forth a pacifist narrative. As far as Seraphic Secret is concerned, a just war is the only method by which moral states can triumph over evil nations. War is too serious a business to be intellectually castrated by fuzzy minds who traffic in moral equivalence.

We concentrate on movies that feature intense warfare, yet whose narrative line does not neglect the more intimate, personal stories. We have eliminated home-front movies, fantasies of good Nazi soldiers ( Auf Wiedersehen, Das Boot), movies about Holocaust victims, tales of spies, and POW movies, sub-genres that—except for good-Nazi movies, historically suspect and morally loathsome—deserve and will receive ten best lists all their own.

I invite WoW readers to list their own ten best war movies.

10. The Lighthorsemen, 1985

Beautiful Australian movie shot entirely in South Australia, that takes place during World War I, telling the story of a light horse unit fighting in Ottoman Palestine. The final assault on Beersheva is a masterpiece of filmmaking. The director, Simon Wincer, told me that he was working with very few horses and just used lots of “simple camera tricks” to make the final charge such a tour de force.

 

9. Gettysburg, 1993

This is a long movie, but it’s riveting. The battle of Little Round Top, the furthermost left flank of the entire Federal line, is exquisitely choreographed. When Jeff Daniels, as Colonel Joshua Chamberlain, orders his men to fix bayonets a chill runs up your spine. In spite of the bad wigs and even worse beards, a very effective film.

 

8. Duck You Sucker, 1971

Oh gosh, where to begin? This Sergio Leone epic is saddled with the worst title in movie history. Rod Steiger, a lice-ridden Mexican bandit, and James Coburn, a mysterious Irish Republican explosives expert on the run from the British, reluctantly team up and join the Mexican revolution. Enio Morricone’s score will haunt you for days afterwards. A neglected masterpiece.

 

7. Patton, 1970

The opening shot and monologue are, perhaps, the greatest introduction to character and personal narrative ever to be seen in motion picture history. Patton was a bully, an anti-Semite and a braggart, but he was a great field commander. The script and score wisely play up Patton’s mystical side which adds a whole new dimension to this memorable film.  George C. Scott’s performance deservedly won him the Academy Award for Best Actor. He refused to accept it, saying he rejected the idea of such competition among actors.

 

6. Lawrence of Arabia, 1962

One of the first lessons a screenwriter learns is to define heroes by their faults. The script for David Lean’s masterpiece elegantly portrays Lawrence’s emotional struggles with the violence he claims to abhor but in which, ultimately, he delights. His confused sexual identity is on display in several subtle scenes, and his divided allegiances between the British empire and the romanticized desert Arabs is fully rendered. This movie strikes the perfect balance between sweeping epic and intimate portraiture.

 

5. Zulu, 1964

The true—well, sorta—story of the Battle of Rorke’s Drift, 1879, South Africa, where ninety British soldiers fought against several thousand Zulu warriors. At one point a young bugler, lips trembling, asks the tough Sergeant: “Why? Why?” And the Sergeant, stiff-upper lip, as the British used to be, replies, “Because we’re here, lad.” A young and incredibly gifted actor named Michael Caine makes his very first major film appearance as a foppish young officer who becomes a man in the crucible of battle. Zulu’s score by the great John Barry, is one of the most memorable I have ever heard. During the Yom Kippur War I used to hum it to myself to keep up my spirits and remind myself that numbers don’t matter, that in the end discipline, courage and fortitude triumph.

 

4. The Winter War, 1989

A spectacular Finnish movie that tells the story of the hundred day Winter War fought by Finland against the Soviet Union from November 30, 1939 to March 13, 1940. It was the Winter War that convinced Hitler that invading Russia would be a cake walk.This epic details how ill-equipped, inept, and poorly led Soviet troops repeatedly flung themselves against brave and determined Finnish soldiers posted in thin lines across a massive front. Fighting in bitter, subzero weather, the story is told through the multiple story lines of a single squad composed of farmers, school teachers and village merchants, intensely patriotic men whose lives in a harsh, isolated land breeds first-rate soldiers. The overwhelming strength of the Soviet Union in men and armaments seemed to doom the Finns to a fast and bloody defeat. But the Finns are a stubborn people whose resistance should rank with greatest last stands in military history.

Based on a classic, Hemingwayesque novel of the same name by Antti Tuuri, the central character, Martti Hakala, is a member of the 23rd Infantry regiment, an easy-going farmer who likes nothing better than plowing the fertile earth. The battle scenes are huge and impressively choreographed with waves of screaming Soviet soldiers charging frontally—flank attacks are way too subtle for the Soviet bear—into pitifully narrow Finnish lines. It takes a while for non-Finnish viewers to identify all the supporting characters, but soon enough the individual soldiers become distinct. Family life is lovingly rendered. The sturdy women who wait anxiously for their men to return are blessedly unglamorous. The film has a nicely understated heroic yet gritty quality that correctly views war as abrupt bursts of blood drenched chaos and soul-shattering fear. This is a classic war film that deserves a wide international audience.

 

3. Come and See, 1985

The Nazi occupation of  Byeloruss was particularly savage. In this Soviet film, Florian, a naive teenager anxious to join the partisans, and Glasha, a village beauty, end up together, wandering a landscape that resembles hell on earth. Every frame of this film thunders with powerful, unforgettable images. The almost medieval world of the peasants is in stark contrast to the mechanized death brought by the Nazis. There are moments of lyricism that are just overwhelming. In a rain drenched forest, Glasha stands on a log and dances the Charleston. The title comes from  The Apocalypse of John:

And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.

 

2. Ride With the Devil, 1999

A brilliant Civil War movie about the merciless bushwacker warfare on the Kansas-Missouri border. A near perfect screen adaptation by James Shamus based on a novel by Daniel Woodrell. Vivid and touching performances by Tobey Maguire, Jeffrey Wright, Skeet Ulrich, Simon Baker, Jonathan Brandis and Jewel. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, as a psychotic bushwhacker, nearly steals the show with an over-the-top performance—is he playing the character sorta gay?—that shouldn’t work but does. The massacre of Lawrence, Kansas is a harrowing, extended sequence you will not soon forget. A major box office flop, Ride With the Devil will eventually be recognized as a timeless masterpiece.

 

1. Seven Samurai, 1954

Director Akira Kurosawa’s epic, the greatest movie ever made, speaks directly about the moral imperative of a just war.

The Seven Samurai takes place in medieval Japan, a time when bandits—the terrorists of their time—roamed the land looting, raping and killing defenseless farmers.

Seven down-at-the-heels Samurai warriors are hired to defend one poor village. The Samurai do not negotiate with the bandits. They do not try and appease them. Nor do they ponder the root causes of banditry. The Samurai set strategy and kill the bandits. One by one.

Every true warrior understands there is no deterrence and no freedom without the disproportionate use of force.

The climactic battle in the rain, where mud, blood and tears mix, is perhaps, the finest choreographed battle scene ever staged.

Every skilled director in Hollywood studies this masterpiece and tries—without success—to emulate Kurosawa’s cinematic style. We all stand in Akira Kurosawa’s shadow. This is the film that compelled me to become a screenwriter.

If you love movies but have not seen The Seven Samurai, you are without oxygen.

Heroism knows no age

Some things I post make me laugh, others, well, make me need Kleenex

In the chaos of Italy’s devastating earthquake, an older sister’s embrace allowed a four-year-old girl to survive.

The heartbreaking story of Giulia Rinaldo, 9, and her 4-year-old sister Giorgia was recounted Saturday by the bishop who celebrated a funeral Mass for 35 of the 290 people killed by the quake that ravaged central Italy before dawn Wednesday.

Bishop Giovanni D’Ercole recalled that around 6 or 6:30 p.m. Wednesday — 15 hours after the quake — he returned to a church in his diocese in the town of Pescara Del Tronto to recover its crucifix.

He said at the time, only meters (yards) from the church, firefighters were using their hands to dig out the two sisters.

“The older one, Giulia, was sprawled over the smaller one, Giorgia. Giulia, dead, Giorgia, alive. They were in an embrace,” D’Ercole said.

There are no words, except to say thank you Lord for heroes