Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

I've always had trouble wishing anyone a "Happy" Memorial Day. It's a day of contemplation, a day for showing our pride in our service men & women, & a day for giving thanks to those who've sacrificed their all for their - our - country.

My dad, a veteran himself of the 1st Infantry Division - The Big Red One - sent this to me & I thought this would be best time to share it. Thanks dad, for this article and for serving your - our - country in the jungles of Viet Nam.

Hopefully, someday, I'll learn more from Dad about his experiences & with his permission, share them. I'm extremely proud of him.

"This picture was taken in 1918. It is 18,000 soldiers preparing for war in a training camp at Camp Dodge in Iowa. A gift from our grandfathers. ..

As the web site of the Iowa National Guard explains, the above-displayed photograph of a "human Statue of Liberty," formed by 18,000 posed soldiers, was taken in July 1918 at Camp Dodge, Iowa, as part of a planned promotional campaign to sell war bonds during World War I:

On a stifling July day in 1918, 18,000 officers and soldiers posed as Lady Liberty on the parade drill grounds at Camp Dodge. According to a July 3, 1986, story in the Fort Dodge Messenger, many men fainted; they were dressed in woolen uniforms as the temperature neared 105 degrees F. The photo, taken from the top of a specially constructed tower by a Chicago photography studio, Mole & Thomas, was intended to help promote the sale of war bonds but was never used.

A reader whose great-grandfather appeared in this picture passed along to us some contemporaneous information about the photograph prepared by the Committee on Public Information.

The design for the living picture was laid out at the drill ground at Camp Dodge, situated in the beautiful valley of the Des Moines River. Thousands of yards of white tape were fastened to the ground and formed the outlines on which 18,000 officers and men marched to their respective positions. In this body of soldiers are any hundreds of men of foreign birth, born of parents whose first impression of the Land of Freedom and Promise was of the world's greatest colossus standing with beacon light at the portal of a nation of free people, holding aloft a torch symbolic of the light of liberty which the statue represents. Side by side with native sons these men, with unstinted patriotism, now offer to sacrifice not only their liberty, but even life itself for our beloved country.

The day on which the photograph was taken was extremely hot and the heat was intensified by the mass formation of men. The dimensions of the plotting for the picture seem astonishing. The camera was placed on a high tower. From the position nearest the camera occupied by Colonel Newman and his staff, to the last man at the top of the torch as plotted on the ground was 1,235 feet, or approximately a quarter of a mile. The appended figures will give an adequate idea of the distorted proportions of the actual ground measurements for this photograph:

Base to shoulder: 150 feet.

Right arm: 340 feet.

Widest part of arm holding torch: 12-1/2 feet.

Right thumb: 35 feet.

Thickest part of body: 29 feet.

Left hand (length): 30 feet.

Tablet in left hand: 27 feet.

Face: 60 feet.

Nose: 21 feet.

Longest spike of head piece: 70 feet.

Flame on torch.: 600 feet.

Torch and flame combined: 980 feet.

Number of men in flame of torch: 12,000

Number of men in torch: 2,800

Number of men in right arm: 1,200

Number of men in body, head and balance of figure only: 2,000

Total: 18,000

Incredible as it may seem there are twice the number of men in the flame of the torch as in the whole remaining design, while there are eight times as many men in the arm, torch and flame as in all the rest of the figure. It will be noted that the right thumb is five feet longer than the left hand, while the right arm, torch and flame is eight times the length of the body.

Arthur S. Mole was a British-born commercial photographer who worked in Zion, Illinois. During and shortly after World War I, Mole traveled with his partner John D. Thomas from one military camp to another, posing thousands of soldiers to form gigantic patriotic symbols that they photographed from above. The formations depicted such images as the Liberty Bell, the Statue of Liberty, the Marine Corps emblem and a portrait of President Woodrow Wilson. The Wilson portrait, for example, was formed using 21,000 officers and men at Camp Sherman in Ohio and stretched over 700 feet. H is "Human Liberty Bell " was composed from over 25,000 soldiers, arranged with Mole's characteristic attention to detail to even depict the crack in the bell. Mole and Thomas spent a week or more preparing for these immense works, which were taken from a 70 or 80 foot tower with an 11 by 14 inch view camera. When the demand for these photographs dropped in the 1920s, Mole returned to his photography business in Zion .

This picture, as well as additional photographs produced in the same style by Mole & Thomas and other photographers (and featuring the patriotic themes mentioned in the preceding paragraph), can be viewed at the web site of Chicago's Carl Hammer Gallery."

(all emphasis is mine.)

To all vets out there, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Where Was I....

Over the last little while

(since St. Pat's Day),

I flat haven't had the energy or the time to post anything. Politically, things are in the shitter

(I don't need to tell you that!),

Personally, not much has been going on to write about. I think part of my problem is that I have never, ever liked repeating myself & that's what a lot of blogging is about. You all know what I think politically, religiously, and personally

(Unless I really need to rehash something)

and I've always thought that if I have to say the same things over and over, then either (or both) of two things is true:

1. The intelligence of the reader/listener is sorely lacking
(not true in the case of those I call friends)


2. I S.U.C.K. as a communicator.
(the most likely of the two).

Well either way. let me try to catch up in what's been going on in the Bodhran Clan.

Firstly, Squeaks has been rechristened. Since he breaks wind with the resounding thunder of his old man, he is henceforth called Boomer. He's almost 3 months old now. I'll have some new photos soon.

Secondly, I was informed last week that my work day has been shortened from 9 am - 7(ish) pm, to 11:30 am - 7(ish) pm. The volume of freight over the last few months just hasn't been there.

For example, if I had more than two deliveries & more than 2 pick-ups, (granted I cover a large area), I was a busy man. Lately, I leave the dock with one delivery, drop it off around 10 am or so, and find a place to park until 4:15 when I go to my first of two daily pickups, unless I'm lucky enough to get called for an unscheduled pickup.

If it wasn't for the fact that I'm a voracious reader (and sometimes napper) I'd be bored off my ass! Hell, face it, I'm both of those things and I'm still bored off my ass with my job. I became a truck driver to see a whole helluva lot more of the country than the northeastern part of The Sheoples Republic of Illinois!

Damned familial responsibilities....


Thirdly, living history. Now, I know the history and origins of the bodhran, & to be honest although it is an ancient instrument it just plain wasn't in this part of the country during the time I reenact -- early French & Indian War.

It. Wasn't. Here!

Usually, I don't care (I seriously couldn't care less) of what most people think of me. However, I do have friends who are living historians (Seamus, Petey, Wil & others) & I'm not ashamed to say that I DO care what these fella's think in the context of historical accuracy.

While discussing the issue of the bodhran in the Northwest Territories in the middle part of the18th century, I challenged my very good friend and confidant Seamus to find information on the subject, knowing all the while what he'd find but hoping he'd find something I'd missed.

He searched, he cursed, he searched some more, he drank, he searched some more, drank more, tried to deny the evidence before him.... and finally came to terms with the fact:

There is no documentation that we could find of there ever having been bodhrans in this part of the country before the early 20th century!

Needless to say this sucks for me! It's what I do, I play the bodhran and sing Jacobite songs! What the hell do I do now?!

I strive for historical accuracy. For fooksake, I shaved off my facial hair after a discussion with Seamus and Wil about how improper beards were considered for "civilized" men in polite company.

How can one put a limit on historical accuracy? If I continue playing my bodhran at events, would I be perpetuating a lie upon those who come to reenactments to be educated in the life-ways of our ancestors?

I don't think I could LIE to people like that!


This past Saturday a very good friend of mine got married.

I wasn't there.

I overslept.

Sorry Virtue.

*hanging head in shame*