Category Archives: History
The significance of December 7, 1941 is something that most of our parents do not need to be reminded about. It was a shocking, indelible moment for them, much like September 11, 2001 was for another generation of Americans.
There are not many veterans of Pearl Harbor still with us. Not many left who saw the Japanese planes diving out of the sky, felt the concussions as great battleships shuddered, burned, and sank. Not many left who can stand on the observation deck of the USS Arizona Memorial, gaze at that sunken iron tomb and say, “I knew a guy who went down with that ship.”
On December 7th, we remember what was lost at Pearl Harbor: the lives, the ships, the planes – our national innocence.
But on this day, we should also remember the miracle of Pearl Harbor: the incredible effort that raised so many of those ships from the bottom of the harbor, patched them up – and sent them back into the fight. Only three of the ships that were bombed in Pearl Harbor on that day of infamy were forever lost to the fleet.
And of the 30 ships in the Japanese fleet that attacked Pearl Harbor, only one survived the war without being sunk.
The dynamism, optimism and resolve displayed by those military crewmen and civilians who, within months, raised and repaired the devastated wreckage of Pearl Harbor are qualities that Americans must call on once again to overcome our national challenges. Would that our leaders would spend less time sowing the fear of future attacks – and more time appealing to the better angels of our national identity.
“Can do” was the unofficial motto of the Seabees, the legendary Navy outfit that led the reconstruction effort at Pearl Harbor.
Where’s that American “Can do” spirit now?
P.S. Click here for a WWII-era Pearl Harbor song I found online. It may seem a bit too upbeat at first, but in the context of our ultimate victory at Pearl Harbor, it’s not too bouncy after all. It’s got that confidence and “Can do” spirit.
This was the scene at 10:00 am in North Hollywood, California, where a long line snaked around Amelia Earhart Park for early voting, — set to “Dialogue, Pts. 1 & 2”, a classic song by Chicago. The mood was decidedly pro-Hillary. And it’s no wonder, since Hillary is projected to thump Trump in the Golden State by a margin somewhere around 30%.
But take nothing for granted my fellow Californians.
Get out and vote.
This Tuesday, Election Day, get out and vote.
And vote for Hillary Clinton.
If you’re a Democrat, of course, vote for Hillary.
If you’re a Bernie Sanders fan (as I was), reject Susan Sarandon’s third-party nihilism and vote for the only woman who can defeat the abomination that is Donald J. Trump.
If you’re a woman, please — have you been listening to Trump? Vote for Hillary.
If you’re married to a woman, or just in love with a woman, or you simply like women – vote for Hillary out of respect for the women you appreciate and respect.
If you’re Latino, vote for Hillary in droves. He has made you and your parents his scapegoat.
If you’re African-American, vote for Hillary. After all, says Trump, what do you have to lose?
If you’re Muslim, or any religious minority with a history of persecution in this country, vote for Hillary. (This, unfortunately, includes all of us blue collar Irish and Italian Catholics.)
If you believe in science and the salvation of our planet, vote for Hillary. Trump says climate change is a hoax perpetrated by China. (I don’t know that he actually believes this – but that’s what he says to get the votes of West Virginia coal miners and Oklahoma oil workers.)
If you call yourself a Christian, vote for Hillary. How many of The Beatitudes would Donald Trump agree with? Can you image Trump saying, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth?”
If you’re a parent, vote for Hillary. Do you want your children to grow up in a pro-bully culture?
I could go on.
But, really — this isn’t even close.
Vote for Hillary Clinton on Tuesday.
We must send Trump down to a landslide defeat.
If you’re sane…
If you’re reasonable…
If you’re a rational human being…
Vote against Trump.
And make Hillary Clinton the next President of the United States.
My wife is a Cubs fan.
I’m rooting for the Indians.
There can be no greater test of our marital bonds.
Can love overcome battling baseball allegiances?
Alas, there’s no umpire than can make this call.
My darling, treasured wife, Victoria, is a Chicago girl born and raised. Vic’s a South Sider by birth – and should really be a White Sox fan by regional rights – but she headed to the North Side for college, which is where we first met.
After her years at Northwestern University in Evanston on Chicago’s northern border, Victoria moved to Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood (also on the North Side), where loyalty to the Cubs was very strong. Shortly after I moved in with her in the mid-1980s, we took an apartment in the Wrigleyville neighborhood. It was a short walk to hallowed, historic Wrigley Field — the very epicenter of Cubs fandom.
As I discussed in a previous post, the Cubs became my favorite team in the National League during my years in Chicago, and Victoria and I went to many games at Wrigley Field, snuggling under a blanket during the chill of home openers in the spring and enjoying the thrill of pennant races in late summer.
Together we experienced the exhilarating highs and inevitable lows endemic to Cubbie love – especially the bittersweet 1989 season in which Ryne Sandberg, Andre Dawson, Rick Sutcliffe and Mitch Williams all made the All-Star game and Jerome Walton was the NL Rookie of the Year. Of course, that team broke our hearts again by losing to the hated San Francisco Giants four games to one in the National League Championship Series.
Love of the Cubs has always been something that Victoria and I have shared – from the time we began dating in 1985, to when we were married on the North Side in 1990, and throughout our long sojourn in Southern California. We suffered together through losing seasons and the horrors of The Bartman Game.
Meanwhile, my wonderful wife viewed my continued support of the Indians in the America League. She paid scant attention to American League baseball anyway. In fact, she’d never been to Comiskey Park to see the White Sox play until I took her to that venerable South Side ballpark during its final season of existence.
She happily supported my trip to Jacobs Field in Cleveland to watch the Indians win Game 4 of the 1997 World Series. In fact, losing Game 7 of that Series in a particularly heartbreaking fashion only strengthened our baseball bonds of mutual misery.
Now comes this moment. A moment I never imagined could happen in our lifetimes.
The Cubs we have loved together are finally, blessedly, in their first World Series since 1945. Yet, as cruel fate would have it, they are playing against my boyhood team, The Cleveland Indians.
And so, this time I must root for my Tribe.
I’ve explained why this must be – but especially with the Cubs down 3 games to 1 at this moment – Victoria is looking daggers at me.
I know love conquers all. But, why oh why, must the baseball gods test our marriage by pitting the Indians versus the Cubs? Why not Red Sox versus Cubs — or Tribe versus Dodgers? Those matchups would not have challenged our three-decade love match.
Tonight, we’ll watch Game 5 together. There is a possibility that The Indians will celebrate their first World Series championship since 1948 amid the history and ivy of Wrigley Field. There is also the chance the Cubs will send this Series back to Cleveland for Game 6.
And if the Tribe wins tonight – Vic might just send me back to Cleveland anyway.
There’s no doubt that the 2016 World Series is laden with historic significance.
This year’s Fall Classic pits two of baseball’s legendary hard luck franchises: The Cleveland Indians and The Chicago Cubs. When you consider how long it’s been since the Indians and Cubs have won a World Series, it’s 1948 against 1908 – with the Cubs suffering the longest title drought.
And, for me, it will be an exquisitely personal experience.
I was born and raised on the West Side of Cleveland — but I went to college and lived and worked on Chicago’s North Side for 15 years. I married my wife, a Chicagoan and lifelong Cubs fan, in Chicago. One of our daughters was born there.
For years, I’ve been able to root for my American League heroes, The Indians – while also cheering for my favorite National League team, The Cubs. The likelihood that my dual baseball loyalties would be tested in World Series was remote. Like worrying about getting hit by lightning.
But now, the baseball gods have flung their bolts – and lightning has struck.
So, I must make my choice.
Baseball and boyhood are inextricable. Some of my earliest memories involve the Cleveland Indians. I remember when I was 3-5 years old, looking at the front page of The Cleveland Plain Dealer to see if the Tribe had won or lost.
My dad, who was a fine cartoonist himself, enjoyed showing me the small cartoon Indian that appeared on The Plain Dealer’s front page the day after each game.
If the Indians won, that tiny cartoon Indian brave looked upbeat – with a feather in his headdress. (Two feathers for two victories in a doubleheader.)
If they lost, the little Indian would have a black eye – or, in this case, a sore bottom from getting his butt kicked.
And in the case of a split doubleheader, he might sport one black eye for the loss – while triumphantly holding a scalp to indicate the win.
Little boys – and The Plain Dealer — had no clue about political correctness in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.
I have vivid memories of frequent trips with my father and brother to the cavernous Municipal Stadium to cheer on those 1960’s Indians teams, starring my favorite player, Rocky Colavito. (Who should be in the Hall of Fame.) I was only two years old in 1960 when Rocky was sent to Detroit in a trade that many fans believed cursed the team – but I sure remember Rocky’s glorious return to Cleveland in 1965.
It didn’t hurt that Rocco “Rocky” Colavito was Italian. My mom is Italian – and as a member of St. Rocco’s Church and school – my world was decidedly Italian-centric.
Heck, I also took pride in the fact that Rocky’s teammate Vic Davalillo was also Italian. (He wasn’t. Vic was Venezuelan.)
In all the seasons that I followed The Indians before I went off to college in Chicago, there were more lowlights than highlights. But I saw young Craig Nettles, Dennis Eckersley, Luis Tiant, Sudden Sam McDowell, Buddy Bell, Gaylord Perry and so many others compete in a Tribe uniform.
The Indians has a Straight A Tickets program – and boy, did I make sure to score those straight A’s. On Bat Day, they gave you a real bat. Can you imagine handing 40,000 kids a real bat in downtown Cleveland – or any city – today?
So, the Indians are in my DNA. They’re my hometown team. My boyhood idols.
But I love The Cubs, too.
Soon after arriving at Northwestern University in 1976, I started watching Cubs games on WGN – with Jack Brickhouse calling the games. We didn’t get every Indians game on TV in Cleveland, and I got hooked on watching the Cubs every day.
In 1984, I started going to Wrigley Field on a regular basis. After all those years of watching baseball in the drafty vastness of Municipal Stadium, I was charmed by the intimacy of The Friendly Confines. And I fell in love with the team, led by the bat and glove of the glorious Ryne Sandberg.
Of course, those 1984 Cubs broke my heart when they blew a two-game lead to lose the NL pennant to Steve Garvey and the San Diego Padres. Having my heart broken by the Cubs only intensified a growing bond with my fellow Cubs fans and the people of the Windy City’s North Side. I knew from birth what it was to support a lovable baseball loser. Now I supported two of them.
Since then, I enjoyed the Indians’ resurgence in the late 1990’s – and endured their losses in the 1995 and ‘97 World Series. (But at least we got there, right?)
And, as a Cubs fan, I anguished along with everybody else in Chicago when Steve Bartman got in the way of that fateful pop foul.
These highs and lows only reinforced the needlessness of worrying about divided loyalties in an Indians vs. Cubs World Series. Such an incredible thing was never going to happen.
But now, it has happened.
And, as I said, baseball and boyhood are inextricable.
So, I’m rooting for my Cleveland Indians in this Series.
As for the Cubbies, they have so much youth, talent, pitching, managerial wisdom and front office brilliance that I expect them to be World Series favorites for the next decade.
I’ll say what we Cubs fans have said since 1908.
Wait ‘til next year.
I’ll be rooting for a Cubs victory then.
Now, let’s play ball!