An Oblate priest told me about this book and the series. He said if you like history, you have to read this guy. So I did, all 540 pages in 3 weeks flat – it was an inter-library loan with no renewal.
Basic story: The U.S. enters WWII after Pearl Harbour. They are called upon by Churchill to help Britain drive Rommel and the Nazis from North Africa in late 1942. (Reluctantly they agree as they would have preferred a more direct assault on the Continent as well as an allied focus on defeating the Japanese in the Pacific.) Gen Ike Eisenhower is appointed Commander. They land in Morocco and Algeria. They suffer initial setbacks and humiliations in learning how to fight. There is much rivalry and disdain between the American and British commanders. They proceed east to Tunisia where the bulk of the fighting takes place, finally annihilating the Afrika Corps, Panzer Divisions and Italian forces in May 1943 with the help of liberated French troops. This is not before suffering some 100,000 Allied casualties (killed, wounded or missing)!
It was the coming of age of America’s might and world domination. Part way through it became evident to everyone that the Allies are going to win the war due to the shear depth and strength of America’s industrial might. It was a Quartermasters war and America was second to none in its ability to provide equipment, troops, food and transport. Rick Atkinson is adept at explaining the horror of combat and the ugliness of war in exhaustive detail. He won the Pulitzer Prize in history for this book in 2003.
There is some ugly portraying of Muslims as looters and traitors, Italians as lazy and inept, French as vacuous and pompous and the British as egotistical and simply awful. There is grudging respect for Germans ability but real hate and a developed desire to kill, kill, kill Heinies. I had some trouble understanding the maps detail but that was probably just me. There were interesting references to U.S. Civil war heroes such as “unconditional surrender” Gen Ulysses S. Grant.
All in all a solid 8.5 out of 10, riveting. Not sure whether I will read the 2 sequels yet, need a breather.
I am writing this in glee as the water advisory for Arnprior has been lifted in our area. Let me back up and tell you the story.
Heading out the door on Aug 10 on foot to run an errand, the phone rings but I miss the call. It is our elderly neighbour Rita, so I call her back thinking she has some emergency need. Not at all, she informs me that the Town of Arnprior has just issued a water advisory – no drinking, washing or bathing in municipal provided water. No bathing! I hang up and the phone rings again with Mike on the other side telling me the same thing.
I decide to drive out and pick up some drinking water just in case. Road traffic is unusually heavy for late morning. At GT and Shopper’s they are sold out of H2O. I drive up to Metro – they have dozens of cases still. I pick up 4 and notice others stocking up. Road traffic is even heavier on the way home. I check local social media and the lines are abuzz with panic. There are reports of angry men pushing aside women with baby carriages in their haste to grab drinking water in the stores. People have unknowingly drank and showered after the warning was issued. What’s in the town water?? Go to the hospital if you feel sick! All the restaurants are quickly closed. OMG!! The great Arnprior water riot is on.
We soon find out how much we take drinking water for granted. Marie and I find ourselves accidentally washing our hands or brushing our teeth. We post notes at each sink not to use the water and put bottles in each sink. Go figure! We can’t shower for several days!
Then it all changed. We find out that cases of drinking water are available for free at the central Nick Smith Centre. Volunteers man the stations 24 hrs. You can even call and they will deliver it. Local businesses have donated the water for free. Mayor David Reid is seen helping distribute free water. Neighbours start picking up water for their families and shut in neighbours. People out-of-town offer access to their water well fed shower for free. Random acts of such kindness multiply all over town. The media does a great job of getting the news updates out to people. Everyone is concerned for their neighbours.
The tone on-line changes. My what a great town we live in with responsible leadership and caring neighbours. We are so lucky to live here. Local Canadian community at it’s best. I pick up some water for Rita and call her back to inform her the advisory has just been lifted in our area. She says neighbour Kevin just called her to let her know and that she had already picked up some water herself.
Apparently a wrong valve had been closed in the water distribution system in the course of some water main construction work. Pressure quickly bled off for those houses and businesses connected downstream. This meant groundwater or worse could potentially infiltrate into the town’s water distribution system. Hence the Advisory was issued. Authorities then had to sample at various points to verify water quality was still safe. This took several days. It appears that at least in our area of town, there never was a problem with water quality.
As some one on-line observed – now you know what is like to live with a boil water advisory as some of our indigenous communities have had to – for 11 years! What a great lesson in hardship and hope.
This is a brand new first hand account of what is was like to spend time in Auschwitz-Birkenau Extermination Camp during WWII written by a Canadian. Little Max, a 15-year-old Czech Jew was taken forcibly with his family to Auschwitz in March 1944. His whole family perished there. He survived as a slave labourer by chance after a Polish doctor took him in as a medical room assistant. In 1948, he was fortunate to get a Displaced Person permit enabling him to emigrate to Canada. He waited many years to tell his story.
A very grueling account of starvation, fear, pain, survival and hope. What I found particularly new and interesting here is the story of the forced march west of 10,000 prisoners from Auschwitz fleeing the advancing Russian forces and then, what happened to him personally after liberation. Max describes an ongoing horror of sickness and hunger of being a DP (i.e. refugee). He was imprisoned by the Communist regime in Prague, then wandered between Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Austria in poverty, trying to emigrate to Canada. He finally finds safety and human warmth in Toronto. He is married and has several kids and grand kids. He helps educate about the Holocaust.
He tells his story in a matter of fact way after many years if being unable to talk at all about it. Perhaps the most poignant lesson is when he describes what a former SS guard at Birkenau said in his war crimes trial at which Max testified…”Hitler told us that the Jews were a danger to our country. I was just following orders and am not guilty of any offense.” From this example, Max warns us to be extremely wary of the real dangers of totalitarianism – people will do all kinds of nasty things if they become brainwashed and are ordered to do them by a nasty leader. A timeless lesson for today.
9 out of 10, a formidable read!
A crowd of 800 or more listened intently to Bishop Mulhall’s homily at the St. Ann Shrine Pilgrim Mass in Cormac, Ontario on July 31, 2016. He reminded us that consumerism destroys our personal freedom because we want more and more. While it is OK to have things in our life, we must detach from these things so that we remain conscious of God’s presence, love and great mercy in our lives.
We attended this event under brilliant sunshine. In 1891, Fr. James McCormac who had a great devotion to St. Ann, had a church built in this small Opeongo Hills settlement about 150 km NW of Ottawa. The original church burnt down in 1916 and a new cement block one was erected by Fr. J. N. George within 6 months with the help of 55 families. The beautifully decorated church house a statue above the altar as well as a relic of St. Ann.
St. Ann (or St. Anne), the mother of the Virgin Mary, and hence Jesus Grandmother, is not mentioned in the Bible. She is mentioned in the apocryphal Gospel of James written about 145 AD. She has been venerated since c. 550 AD. She is the patroness of unmarried women, housewives, women in labour, grandmothers and the Mi’kmaq people of Canada. A major shrine is at St. Anne de Beaupré, Quebec.
In 1938, Bishop C. L. Nelligan approved of a Shrine of St. Ann in Cormac which is centrally located in the Pembroke Diocese. On her Feast Day July 26, 1938, the first Pilgrimage was hosted which subseuqntly fostered a deep devotion to St. Ann by local people. A Polish lady in her late 60s from Barry’s Bay told me this year that she has attended every year since childhood. “It was mandatory in those days” she said. “There were 9 or more pilgrim buses parked in the field then” vs. the 3 we saw this year.
Fr. Howard Chabot, a retired Pembroke Diocese priest, was the Pilgrimage Leader this year. He led 3 nights of reflection which lead up to the Shrine and Healing Masses on Sunday. Fr.Ken Obrien from St. James the Less Parish in Eganville, our host, thanked all volunteers as well as attending pilgrims. As well as the Masses, there is Adoration in the church, opportunity for Reconciliation, sale of religious articles and good food available. This year 54 adventurous pilgrims hiked the Opeongo Line from Renfrew to Cormac, as a special Year of Mercy Pilgrimage, a distance of some 60 km. Well done folks!
We will surely attend again next year, God willing.
Occasional Thoughts on Contemporary Christianities and Cultures
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A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you ... John 13:34