Thursday, January 6, 2022

Sunday, December 26, 2021

A World War I truce on Christmas Day, soccer on the Western Front.


German, British soldiers found peace on pitch

During a World War I truce on Christmas Day, the two sides put away their weapons and played soccer on the Western Front.

By Kevin Baxter

The first Christmas of World War I was a hellish time for Alfred Dougan Chater, a second lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion Gordon Highlanders, who woke that morning in a freezing, muddy trench less than 100 yards from the German lines in West Flanders, Belgium.

It was 1914 and the bloodiest fighting of the still-young conflict had ended in a stalemate. Corpses littered the deadly “No Man’s Land” separating the two sides along the Western Front, where hope had long since given way to despair and disillusionment.

So what Chater saw next, he wrote his mother, was “one of the most extraordinary sights that anyone has ever seen.”

All along a 20-mile stretch of the Western Front, unarmed German troops began climbing over the parapets and walking toward the British side simply to shake hands and exchange greetings, the first tentative steps toward what is likely the largest spontaneous Christmas truce in modern history, one in which the warring armies shared cigars, good cheer, chocolate and, in more than one place, a game of soccer.

“It absolutely did happen,” said Terri Blom Crocker, author of “The Christmas Truce,” among the most authoritative books on the subject. Some of the men, she said, came out “the night before, some the morning of, some the afternoon of Christmas. Nobody pre-arranged anything.”

The truce, Crocker said, ranged from soldiers shouting across the pockmarked battlefield pledging not to shoot if the other side promised the same to “full-fledged let’s go out and fraternize and maybe even play a little football.”

More than a century later the truce and its spontaneous example of humanity and decency in the darkest of times continue to inspire, which is why the incident remains a subject of both study and curiosity. Failed, cowardly leadership had brought the world to war, but a simple child’s game brought the two sides to peace — for a few hours at least.

In one of a series of interviews the Imperial War Museum conducted with veterans long after the conflict, Ernie Williams, a 19-year-old private with the 6th Battalion Cheshire Regiment, said he was near Ypres, on the northern end of the front, when “from somewhere, somehow, this football appeared.”

He continued the story with Peter Hart for his book “Fire and Movement: The British Expeditionary Force and the Campaign of 1914.”

“They took their coats off, some of them, and put them down as goalposts,” he said of the Germans. “There would be at least a couple of hundred taking part.

“No referee; we didn’t need a referee for that kind of game. It was like playing as a kid in the streets, kicking the ball about and the referee being the policeman and chasing you off. There was no score, no tally at all — it was simply a melee.”

Hours before, men on both sides had been trying to kill one another. But when the football came out, Williams said, “everybody seemed to be enjoying themselves. There was no sort of ill will.”

At another spot along the front, a group of Scottish soldiers marked a goal with their hats and played against the Germans with “huge enthusiasm,” until a German officer found out about the game and put a stop to it with the Germans leading 3-2.

Temporary ceasefires have been a part of war dating to the Roman Empire. They are frequently arranged to allow each side to collect the dead and wounded littering the battlefield or to allow the exhausted armies to rest and recover.

The impromptu truce of 1914 — truces, actually, since they involved thousands of soldiers up and down the line with no coordination — that briefly halted the fighting five months into World War I had all of that.

“For many men the truce was, in the moment, nothing more than a welcome break from the grind and abject misery of trench life and constantly living under mortal threat,” Mike Hill, author of recently released “Christmas Truce by the Men Who Took Part: Letters From the 1914 Ceasefire on the Western Front,” wrote in an email interview. “The truce was a much-desired chance to gather in the dead bodies of their friends, which had been just out of reach, in some cases for months, and must have been a pretty grim sight to live with.”

The 1914 truces were also unique in that many took place without the knowledge or permission of commanding officers. Also because they featured soccer.

“The football games are really what attracted everyone’s attention,” Crocker said. “There’s really a big thing made out of them.”

So much so that the English supermarket chain Sainsbury’s aired a smartly made and emotional 3-minute 20-second holiday commercial timed to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the truce.

Officers on both sides opposed the fraternization, which is why some contemporary histories of the war downplayed or ignored the magnitude of the event. British commanders threatened to discipline some who participated, fearing it would rob soldiers of their will to fight. On the German side, Crocker said, an Austrian-born corporal refused to leave his spot in the trenches, believing the truce to be disgraceful. His name was Adolf Hitler.

But letters the men wrote home, many of which were published in local newspapers and later collected in museum archives, speak in glowing terms about the truce. However, there were far fewer references to soccer.

“There is very little first-hand evidence of organized games taking place in the form we would recognize as a match, i.e. even sides, referee, rules, laid-out goals, etc.,” said Hill, whose book claims to be the largest collection of letters from the front during World War I. “There are a lot of references to more impromptu kickabouts. There is also a lot of discussion about the possibility of having games, conversation between enemies about professional football back in Britain — a significant number of Germans had lived in the UK prior to the war — and also reports of games taking place on Christmas Day between British regiments behind the lines.”

Soccer also was used as a morale-booster and recruitment tool on both sides, so the sport was hardly a stranger to the troops. Moreover, FIFA, the world governing body for international soccer, had been created just a decade earlier and the German and English national teams had played one another four times in the six years preceding the war, with England winning three times and the other match ending in a draw.

As a result, the idea of soccer as a vessel for nationalist expression already had been established, so it’s not hard to imagine the game serving the same role during a tentative truce.

“Football was very popular at the time in both countries and then, as now, would have been a default conversation between strangers, so it is no surprise it should have come up as something to talk about, and the next logical step is having a game,” Hill said. “If nothing else, it would underline their new-found camaraderie.”

One firsthand account of a game, from Cpl. Albert Wyatt of the Norfolk Regiment, is featured in Hill’s book.

“Everybody on each side walked out to the middle of the two firing lines and shaking hands wished each other a Merry Christmas,” Wyatt writes in a letter home. “To our surprise we found we were fighting men old enough to be our fathers, and they told us they had had enough of the war, as they were nearly all married men.

“We finished up in the same old way, kicking a football about between the two firing lines. So football in the firing line between the British and Germans is the truth, as I was one that played.”

British officer Peter Jackson, in an interview with the Imperial War Museum nearly a half-century after the conflict, also clearly remembered a Christmas Eve game.

“Somebody from the trench punted across a short football [that] landed amongst the Germans and they immediately kicked it back amongst our men,” he said. “I spoke to the German officer and suggested that we ha[ve] a football match. After a while he relented, and the football match began. ...

“They were kicking the ball backwards and forwards to the trenches, to the barbed wire, for quite half an hour, until unfortunately the ball got impaled on one of the stakes of the barbed wire and was deflated.”

That sports could become a substitute for war shouldn’t be surprising since generals rely on many of the same attributes coaches do, among them teamwork, camaraderie and discipline.

During the Contra War in Nicaragua in the 1980s, a Sandinista patrol reportedly came across a small group of anti-government rebels, and with neither side willing to violate the delicate ceasefire then in place, they decided to settle their differences with a baseball game in a nearby pasture.

That the story is almost certainly apocryphal does little to diminish its message: play ball, not war. It’s also why Crocker finds the lessons of the Christmas Truce still relevant 107 years later, in a country riven not by war but by political and social divisions.

“We’re so divided by everything. We can’t talk to each other. We have these two very disparate sides of America,” she said. “Imagine they were fighting and they’re still able to say, ‘You guys are people and we’re going to go out and hang with you for the afternoon.’

“That’s what’s wonderful about the truce. It’s not because they were rejecting the war. Everybody out there in the trenches still thought the war was worth fighting. They were out there because they recognized their enemies as people.”


Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Batteries, A Discussion About the Costs of EV


Some amusing lagniappe [small gift] with some
good information on the subject.
Anonymous (couldn’t locate the author)

When I saw the title of this lecture, especially with the picture of the scantily clad model, I couldn’t resist attending.  The packed auditorium was abuzz with questions about the address; nobody seemed to know what to expect. The only hint was a large aluminum block sitting on a sturdy table on the stage.

When the crowd settled down, a scholarly-looking man walked out and put his hand on the shiny block, “Good evening,” he said, “I am here to introduce NMC532-X,” and he patted the block, “we call him NM for short,” and the man smiled proudly. “NM is a typical electric vehicle (EV) car battery in every way except one; we programmed him to send signals of the internal movements of his electrons when charging, discharging, and in several other conditions. We wanted to know what it feels like to be a battery. We don’t know how it happened, but NM began to talk after we downloaded the program.

Despite this ability, we put him in a car for a year and then asked him if he’d like to do presentations about batteries. He readily agreed on the condition he could say whatever he wanted. We thought that was fine, and so, without further ado, I’ll turn the floor over to NM,” the man turned and walked off the stage.

“Good evening,” NM said. He had a slightly affected accent, and when he spoke, he lit up in different colors. “That cheeky woman on the marquee was my idea,” he said. “Were she not there, along with ‘naked’ in the title, I’d likely be speaking to an empty auditorium! I also had them add ‘shocking’ because it’s a favorite word amongst us batteries.” He flashed a light blue color as he laughed.

“Sorry,” NM chuckled, then continued, “Three days ago, at the start of my last lecture, three people walked out. I suppose they were disappointed there would be no dancing girls. But here is what I noticed about them. One was wearing a battery-powered hearing aid, one tapped on his battery-powered cell phone as he left, and a third got into his car, which would not start without a battery. So, I’d like you to think about your day for a moment; how many batteries do you rely on?”

He paused for a full minute which gave us time to count our batteries.  Then he went on, “Now, it is not elementary to ask, ‘what is a battery?’ I think Tesla said it best when they called us Energy Storage Systems. That’s important. We do not make electricity – we store electricity produced elsewhere, primarily by coal, uranium, natural gas-powered plants, or diesel-fueled generators, [and solar panels]. So to say an EV is a zero-emission vehicle is not at all valid. Also, since forty percent of the electricity generated in the U.S. is from coal-fired plants, it follows that forty percent of the EVs on the road are coal-powered, do you see?”

He flashed blue again. “Einstein’s formula, E=MC², tells us it takes the same amount of energy to move a five-thousand-pound gasoline-driven automobile a mile as it does an electric one. The only question again is what produces the power? To reiterate, it does not come from the battery; the battery is only the storage device, like a gas tank in a car.”

He lit up red when he said that, and I sensed he was smiling. Then he continued in blue and orange. “Mr. Elkay introduced me as NMC532. If I were the battery from your computer mouse, Elkay would introduce me as double-A, if from your cell phone as CR2032, and so on. We batteries all have the same name depending on our design. By the way, the ‘X’ in my name stands for ‘experimental.’ 

There are two orders of batteries, rechargeable, and single-use. The most common single-use batteries are A, AA, AAA, C, D. 9V, and lantern types. Those dry-cell species use zinc, manganese, lithium, silver oxide, or zinc and carbon to store electricity chemically. Please note they all contain toxic, heavy metals.

Rechargeable batteries only differ in their internal materials, usually lithium-ion, nickel-metal oxide, and nickel-cadmium.

The United States uses three billion of these two battery types a year, and most are not recycled; they end up in landfills. California is the only state which requires all batteries be recycled. If you throw your small, used batteries in the trash, here is what happens to them.

All batteries are self-discharging.  That means even when not in use, they leak tiny amounts of energy. You have likely ruined a flashlight or two from an old ruptured battery. When a battery runs down and can no longer power a toy or light, you think of it as dead; well, it is not. It continues to leak small amounts of electricity. As the chemicals inside it run out, pressure builds inside the battery’s metal casing, and eventually, it cracks. The metals left inside then ooze out. The ooze in your ruined flashlight is toxic, and so is the ooze that will inevitably leak from every battery in a landfill. All batteries eventually rupture; it just takes rechargeable batteries longer to end up in the landfill.

In addition to dry cell batteries, there are also wet cell ones used in automobiles, boats, and motorcycles. The good thing about those is, ninety percent of them are recycled. Unfortunately, we do not yet know how to recycle batteries like me or care to dispose of single-use ones properly.

But that is not half of it.  For those of you excited about electric cars and a green revolution, I want you to take a closer look at batteries and also windmills and solar panels. These three technologies share what we call environmentally destructive embedded costs.”

NM got redder as he spoke. “Everything manufactured has two costs associated with it, embedded costs and operating costs. I will explain embedded costs using a can of baked beans as my subject.

In this scenario, baked beans are on sale, so you jump in your car and head for the grocery store. Sure enough, there they are on the shelf for $1.75 a can. As you head to the checkout, you begin to think about the embedded costs in the can of beans.

The first cost is the diesel fuel the farmer used to plow the field, till the ground, harvest the beans, and transport them to the food processor. Not only is his diesel fuel an embedded cost, so are the costs to build the tractors, combines, and trucks. In addition, the farmer might use a nitrogen fertilizer made from natural gas.

Next is the energy costs of cooking the beans, heating the building, transporting the workers, and paying for the vast amounts of electricity used to run the plant. The steel can holding the beans is also an embedded cost. Making the steel can requires mining taconite, shipping it by boat, extracting the iron, placing it in a coal-fired blast furnace, and adding carbon. Then it’s back on another truck to take the beans to the grocery store. Finally, add in the cost of the gasoline for your car.

But wait - can you guess one of the highest but rarely acknowledged embedded costs?” NM said, then gave us about thirty seconds to make our guesses. Then he flashed his lights and said, “It’s the depreciation on the 5000 pound car you used to transport one pound of canned beans!”

NM took on a golden glow, and I thought he might have winked. He said, “But that can of beans is nothing compared to me! I am hundreds of times more complicated. My embedded costs not only come in the form of energy use; they come as environmental destruction, pollution, disease, child labor, and the inability to be recycled.”

He paused, “I weigh one thousand pounds, and as you see, I am about the size of a travel trunk.” NM’s lights showed he was serious. “I contain twenty-five pounds of lithium, sixty pounds of nickel, 44 pounds of manganese, 30 pounds cobalt, 200 pounds of copper, and 400 pounds of aluminum, steel, and plastic. Inside me are 6,831 individual lithium-ion cells.
It should concern you that all those toxic components come from mining. For instance, to manufacture each auto battery like me, you must process 25,000 pounds of brine for the lithium, 30,000 pounds of ore for the cobalt, 5,000 pounds of ore for the nickel, and 25,000 pounds of ore for copper. All told, you dig up 500,000 pounds of the earth’s crust for just - one - battery.”

He let that one sink in, then added, “I mentioned disease and child labor a moment ago. Here’s why. Sixty-eight percent of the world’s cobalt, a significant part of a battery, comes from the Congo. Their mines have no pollution controls and they employ children who die from handling this toxic material. Should we factor in these diseased kids as part of the cost of driving an electric car?”

NM’s red and orange light made it look like he was on fire. “Finally,” he said, “I’d like to leave you with these thoughts. California is building the largest battery in the world near San Francisco, and they intend to power it from solar panels and windmills. They claim this is the ultimate in being ‘green,’ but it is not! This construction project is creating an environmental disaster. Let me tell you why.

The main problem with solar arrays is the chemicals needed to process silicate into the silicon used in the panels. To make pure enough silicon requires processing it with hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, nitric acid, hydrogen fluoride, trichloroethane, and acetone. In addition, they also need gallium, arsenide, copper-indium-gallium- diselenide, and cadmium-telluride, which also are highly toxic. Silicon dust is a hazard to the workers, and the panels cannot be recycled.

Windmills are the ultimate in embedded costs and environmental destruction. Each weighs 1688 tons (the equivalent of 23 houses) and contains 1300 tons of concrete, 295 tons of steel, 48 tons of iron, 24 tons of fiberglass, and the hard to extract rare earths neodymium, praseodymium, and dysprosium. Each blade weighs 81,000 pounds and will last 15 to 20 years, at which time it must be replaced. We cannot recycle used blades. Sadly, both solar arrays and windmills kill birds, bats, sea life, and migratory insects.

NM lights dimmed, and he quietly said, “There may be a place for these technologies, but you must look beyond the myth of zero emissions. I predict EVs and windmills will be abandoned once the embedded environmental costs of making and replacing them become apparent.

I’m trying to do my part with these lectures.  As you can see, if I had entitled this talk “The Embedded Costs of Going Green,” who would have come?  But thank you for your attention, good night, and good luck.”

NM’s lights went out, and he was quiet, like a regular battery.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

The Lone POW of Pearl Harbor


The Lone POW of Pearl Harbor

Eighty years ago, Japanese submariner Kazuo Sakamaki was taken prisoner by the U.S.—and erased from his own country’s history


          Japanese submarine HA-19 on an Oahu beach after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

                                             PHOTO: U.S. NAVY/NATIONAL ARCHIVES


By Takuma Melber


Wall Street Journal

Dec. 4, 2021 12:01 am ET


Until the end of World War II, Japan celebrated its surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, as a glorious victory. But the patriotic legend also created a victim: Kazuo Sakamaki, a lieutenant in the Japanese Navy who was taken captive during the attack, becoming Japan’s first prisoner of war in the conflict.

During their military training, Japanese recruits were taught that for imperial soldiers only victory mattered; there must be no retreat. Individuality and personal sentiments were to be subordinated to the group. “Whatever happens to me—if I go, it will be in the service of my country. Words cannot express how grateful I am for the privilege of fighting for peace and justice,” the 22-year-old Sakamaki wrote in a letter to his parents, expecting them to read it after his death.

The submariners left behind hair and fingernail cuttings

for their relatives to bury in the event that they died. 

Weeks before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Sakamaki had been put in command of HA-19, a Kō-Hyōteki-class midget submarine—a speedy ship barely 2 meters wide, with room for just two crewmen. It carried two torpedoes, but if they had no other option the submariners were instructed to crash directly into the target, sacrificing their own lives in the process—underwater kamikazes. The submariners left behind not only letters to their families but also hair and fingernail cuttings so that their relatives would have something of their bodies to bury in the event that they died.

The Japanese plan called for five of the submarines to be unloaded from their tenders about 12 miles from the entrance to Pearl Harbor, then conceal themselves in the bay and attack American battleships following the first air raid. On Dec. 5, 1941, the squadron entered American waters as planned and was able to tune in American jazz on the radio. Inside submarine tender I-24, the last religious rites were performed to ritually cleanse body and soul.

                            Kazuo Sakamaki as a young officer in the Japanese Navy.

                                                                                        PHOTO: ALAMY STOCK PHOTO


When he boarded HA-19, Sakamaki wrote in a memoir after the war, he discovered to his horror that the gyrocompass, the most important navigation instrument in his midget submarine, was defective. As a result, the sub was soon 90 degrees off course, moving in a circle away from Pearl Harbor instead of heading toward the entrance. It quickly became impossible to maneuver and ran aground on a coral reef.

When the bombing of Pearl Harbor began on the morning of Dec. 7, the destroyer U.S.S. Helm managed to escape the inferno and sailed at full speed to safety on the open sea. At 8:17 a.m., the Helm reported spotting a stranded Japanese submarine and opened fire. HA-19 was shaken and Sakamaki lost consciousness for a moment, but when he came to he saw that the shots had missed their target and freed the submarine. His steersman, Kiyoshi Inagaki, had the presence of mind to immediately put the engines in reverse and steer back into the water at full speed.

The sub’s battery had been damaged and was giving off toxic fumes, and the two-man crew began to feel lightheaded from lack of oxygen. Sakamaki ordered his steersman to attempt evasive action and head for the island of Lanai, one of the eight main Hawaiian Islands, to rendezvous with the submarine tender. HA-19 managed to get away from the Helm, but it drifted for hours in the water, badly damaged and incapable of maneuvering with two dazed seamen on board.

Sakamaki and Inagaki activated the self-destruct mechanism and left the vessel, attempting with their last strength to reach land. They realized on the way that they had not heard an explosion and that the self-destruct mechanism had not worked. Sakamaki wanted to turn back, he recalled, but then he saw a huge wave carry off his crewmate Inagaki, and he himself was swept exhausted onto the beach, where he lost consciousness.

On the morning of Dec. 8, while wounded American servicemen were being treated and the dead buried, 21-year-old corporal David Akui, a Japanese-American born on Hawaii, was patrolling with Lieutenant Paul Plybon on Oahu’s Waimanalo Beach southeast of Kaneohe Naval Air Station, which had been heavily bombed the day before. They discovered an unconscious man lying on the beach: Kazuo Sakamaki, who became the U.S.’s first Japanese prisoner of war. His crewmate Inagaki was found dead.

As Sakamaki learned when he was interrogated, all of his other comrades in the midget submarines had also died. None of the Kō-Hyōteki submarines returned from Pearl Harbor. Sakamaki asked to join them in an honorable death by being executed or allowed to take his own life. But the request was denied, and he remained in captivity until the end of the war.

Japanese propaganda tried to brand Sakamaki,

at least by implication, as a kind of outlaw.


Japanese propaganda tried to brand him, at least by implication, as a kind of outlaw. Sakamaki’s comrades, described as “nine fallen soldiers, distinguished by their incomparable uprightness and loyalty” and celebrated as “war gods,” were the subject of books, paintings and songs. In April 1942, they were given a state funeral in the presence of Prime Minister Tōjō, and they are still venerated today in ultranationalist circles.

Meanwhile, Sakamaki’s face was missing from all pictures, his name wasn’t mentioned and his whereabouts were left unspoken. In the U.S., the captured HA-19 was exhibited for the rest of the war to promote the sale of war bonds. It toured the country decorated with red, white and blue ribbons and the inscription “Remember Pearl Harbor.” Instead of damaging the U.S. Pacific Fleet, it thus helped to finance the American war against Japan.

When Sakamaki was released at the end of the war and returned to Japan, he published a book about his experiences in American captivity. He went on to work for decades for Toyota and was manager of the company’s subsidiary in Brazil, but to the end of his life he was stigmatized in Japan as the “first prisoner of war.” When he died in 1999 at the age of 81, his family requested that the news not be made public.

—Dr. Melber teaches history and transcultural studies at Heidelberg University in Germany. He is the author of “Pearl Harbor: Japan’s Attack and America’s Entry into World War II,” published by Polity Press.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Veteran, 103, retains vivid memories of Pearl Harbor attack


                                                                                    PHOTO BY DANIELLA SEGURA


Joe Eskenazi says ‘the Lord saved me again’ on that fateful day in Hawaii.

By Daniela Segura

Correspondent, San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Though it’s been 80 years, 103-year-old Joe Eskenazi can still feel the percussion from the Japanese torpedo bombers dropping bombs on the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor.

The then-23-year-old Army private first class was asleep at Schofield Barracks, about 20 miles inland from the seaside base, when the first Japanese bomber appeared in the sky at 7:55 a.m. on Dec. 7, 1941.

“It was a beautiful day, very sunny, very beautiful. But what woke us up was the bombings that was taking place at Pearl Harbor,” Eskenazi, who will turn 104 on Jan. 30, said. “I jumped out of bed. I said, ‘I know we’re being attacked. We’re at war with Japan and that’s what’s happening.’ ” Eskenazi, a Redondo Beach resident, shared haunting memories from eight decades ago with an audience as he was honored by the South Bay Quilters Guild last weekend at the American Legion in Redondo Beach. The quilters presented him a quilt decorated in red, white and blue, along with American flags and the words “God Bless America.”

“I only wish my wife were here to see this,” Eskenazi said. “She just passed in June. I loved her so much.”

Eskenazi is one of a rare breed these days, one of the remaining survivors of the “day that will live in infamy.” There is no official list of Pearl Harbor survivors, but it’s clear with each year that passes, the number is dwindling.

On that morning in 1941, hundreds of Japanese fighter planes descended on the base. Nearly 20 American naval vessels were damaged or destroyed, along with eight battleships and more than 300 planes, according to historical reports. During the attack, more than 2,400 Americans died, including civilians, and another 1,000 were wounded.

The following day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan.

For Eskenazi, at the time of the attack, it was initially unclear at first if there had been an assault. Another soldier convinced Eskenazi that all the activity may just be naval maneuvers. But when the men stepped outside, there was no mistaking that an attack was underway.

“I look up, and I see a Zero (aircraft) flying over my head. He was flying so low that I think I could see his goggles,” Eskenazi recalled. “I said, ‘Oh my God. That’s a Zero fighter going by us,’ and then I saw bombs drop.”

The bombs, however, did not detonate.

Eskenazi grabbed his M1 Garand rifle and some ammo and jumped in a truck with other soldiers, driving 20 miles to get a glimpse of the attack’s aftermath.

Soon after, Eskenazi’s captain asked for volunteers.

Eskenazi’s hand shot up. He looked around to find his was the only hand raised.

Eskenazi’s captain gave him orders to take a bulldozer across Hickam Field, the principal army airfield adjacent to Pearl Harbor. The bulldozer was needed to move the planes that were on the other side of the field in the event aircraft needed to land.

“I’m crossing the runway. I see it. I see a Zero fighter following the path of the runway but way out there in the distance,” Eskenazi said. “Actually, I saw just a little black dot in the sky, and then it started getting closer. I got my rifle.”

He fired and lost sight of the Zero fighter. Moments later, “I started to see the dirt kicking up only three feet away from the door.”

Thankfully, the gunfire ceased.

“I thought we were almost dead and thought, ‘The Lord saved me again’ … I’m thankful for the God that we believe in and that He controls everything that happens to humans,” Eskenazi said.

Ed Candioty, 70, who attended Sunday’s event, has known Eskenazi his entire life and considers him an uncle.

“He’s the sweetest, warmest, kindest man you’ve ever met,” Candioty said. “He taught me how to sail. He’s the one who first took me out on the ocean to learn how to sail.”

As he’s gotten older, Candioty has come to appreciate Eskenazi’s stories.

“He can recount them (the stories) bullet for bullet, minute by minute, name by name,” Candioty said. “I mean, it’s incredible that somebody 103, almost 104 years old, can retell a story like it happened yesterday.”

Eskenazi’s granddaughter, Marcella Mastrangelo, said her grandfather’s mind is the result of his curious, engineering nature.

“He’s so old. Right? But he’s such a kid at heart,” she said. “He can use an iPhone. He loves a challenge. He loves to learn. I think that’s why he stayed so young and healthy because he keeps up like every day’s a new day.”

Eskenazi was born in 1918 in New York City after his family immigrated to the United States from Turkey.

“In 1911, his grandfather didn’t want to be drafted into the Turkish Army,” retired lieutenant colonel Dan Massey said of Eskenazi at Sunday’s quilt presentation. “He left with the family and went to America.”

His family, though, originally hailed from Spain.

When Eskenazi was 4 years old, his family moved to Puebla, Mexico. He remained in Mexico until he decided to travel back to New York City in 1936. He enlisted in the Army in 1938 at Fort MacArthur at the age of 20.

In September 1941, he was sent orders to report to Schofield Barracks just three months before the attacks on Pearl Harbor. He served in the U.S. Army as a private first-class in the C-Company, 804th Engineers for the duration of World War II. After six years of active duty, he decided to conclude his time with the military and was discharged in 1945. He was ultimately awarded the Army Good Conduct Medal, Asiatic—Pacific Campaign Medal, Pearl Harbor Survivor’s Medal and the Combat Medal with Cluster.

Following the war, Eskenazi traveled back to Mexico, where he met his wife, Victoria Faradji. The two married in 1947, came to California and settled in Redondo Beach. They have one daughter, Belinda Mastrangelo, three grandchildren — Raquel Mastrangelo Nassif, Marcella Mastrangelo and Mike Mastrangelo — and two great grandchildren.

Eskenazi went on to work for the Los Angeles Department of Public Works and later at LAX. He retired as the head of engineering at the drafting department at the age of 61 in 1979.

“Instead of looking for work, I decided I wanted to do what I’ve always wanted to do — travel as much as I can and visit as much of the world as I can,” Eskenazi said. “The only part of the world that I didn’t go to was in the East.”

Eskenazi and Victoria traveled the world together, visiting Canada, England, Italy, Brazil, Israel, Turkey and beyond. The couple was married for 74 years.

“He’s just in love with my grandmother, who just passed away in June,” his granddaughter Marcella Mastrangelo said. “They were just the cutest couple. They were inseparable. Inseparable.”

Eskenazi said he has no sage advice.

“I’m not wise, but all I can say is I hate war, and I hate what happens to people,” he said. “I don’t care who they are or what they are, as long as they’re humans we shouldn’t be attacking one another. Instead, be a nice person; be a good person.”

Joe Eskenazi poses for a photo on Nov. 28 at the American Legion in Redondo Beach, where he shared memories from the attack on Pearl Harbor with an audience as he was honored by the South Bay Quilters Guild with a quilt decorated in red, white and blue and the words “God Bless America.” Eskenazi, 103, said he was touched by the tribute but wished that his wife, Victoria, who died in June, could have been there, too.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

 Abraham Lincoln's Witty One-Liners

Abraham Lincoln’s Witty One-Liners

Retrieved from 27 November 2021


Abraham Lincoln experienced many hardships in his life, suffering from what in his day was known as “melancholy,” but today we would call clinical depression. Despite this, the United States’ 16th President loved to laugh and tell jokes. His many witty stories elicited chuckles and groans in equal measure, while his sharp one-liners were used to poke fun at his rivals as well as at himself.

Humor was a release mechanism for Lincoln, who was constantly under great strain, especially during the American Civil War. During critical cabinet meetings, he would often start by reading a passage from one of his favorite humorists. On one occasion, when those gathered for the somber meeting failed to appreciate the humor, Lincoln reportedly said, “Gentlemen, why don't you laugh? With the fearful strain that is upon me night and day, if I did not laugh occasionally I should die, and you need this medicine as much as I do.”

This statement, perhaps better than any other, demonstrates Lincoln’s use of wit and humor. Much like Britain’s wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Lincoln knew how powerful laughter could be in dark times. As the following quotes show, Lincoln’s sharp wit was both self-deprecating and, at times, a potent weapon in the political realm.

I have now come to the conclusion never again to think of marrying; and for this reason: I can never be satisfied with anyone who would be block-head enough to have me.

Abraham Lincoln poked fun at himself as much as at anyone else, as shown in this line from a letter written to Mrs. Orville H. Browning in 1838 (four years before he married Mary Todd).

I didn't want the [damned] fellow to kill me, which I think he would have done if we had selected pistols.

In 1842, the young Abraham Lincoln publicly ridiculed politician James Shields during a debate about banking in Illinois, leading Shields to challenge Lincoln to a duel. Being the far larger and stronger man, Lincoln, who had the privilege of choosing the weapons, went with “cavalry broadswords of the largest size.” The two men later called a truce on the day of the duel.

Shoot me, for if I am an uglier man than you I don’t want to live.

One of Lincoln’s favorite stories involved an encounter with a stranger who apparently told him, “Some years ago I swore an oath that if I ever came across an uglier man than myself I'd shoot him on the spot.” It may be a tall tale, but Lincoln’s response is funny nonetheless.

He has a good deal of trouble with his popular sovereignty. His explanations explanatory of explanations explained are interminable.

This zinger is from a 1858 presidential debate with Stephen Douglas. Lincoln poked fun at his opponent’s seemingly contradictory ideas regarding popular sovereignty, drawing laughter from the crowd.

Honestly, if I were two-faced, would I be showing you this one?

This self-deprecating comment is perhaps the most famous Lincoln one-liner from the Douglas debates. Lincoln made the quip in response to Douglas’ accusation that he was two-faced.

I am rather inclined to silence, and whether that be wise or not, it is at least more unusual nowadays to find a man who can hold his tongue than to find one who cannot.

During an 1861 speech in Pittsburgh, Lincoln addressed a supportive and vocal crowd who were more than willing to laugh at his jokes — especially this one, which poked fun at the chattering political class in general.

My dear McClellan: If you don't want to use the Army I should like to borrow it for a while.

During the Civil War, Lincoln became increasingly frustrated by Union General George McClellan’s unwillingness to attack the Confederate Army. Lincoln recalled him to Washington with the simple but barbed message above.

My dear girl, the ball that hit him, would have missed you.

While visiting a wounded soldier, Lincoln noticed a young woman asking the injured man where he had been shot. The soldier had been shot through the testicles and didn’t wish to give the woman an answer. After talking with the soldier, Lincoln gave the woman this delicate explanation.