May 5, 2011: Obama Visits 9-11 Memorial at Ground Zero

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama places a wreath at the site of the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero President Obama places a wreath at the site of the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 5/5/11

STATS & POLLS

  • For Obama, Big Rise in Poll Numbers After Bin Laden Raid: Support for President Obama rose sharply after the killing of Osama bin Laden, with a majority now approving of his overall job performance, as well as his handling of foreign policy, the war in Afghanistan and the threat of terrorism, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.
    The glow of national pride seemed to rise above partisan politics, as support for the president rose significantly among both Republicans and independents. In all, 57 percent said they now approved of the president’s job performance, up from 46 percent last month.
    But euphoria was tempered by a sense of foreboding: more than six in 10 Americans said that killing Bin Laden was likely to increase the threat of terrorism against the United States in the short term. A large majority also said that the Qaeda leader’s death did not make them feel any safer. Just 16 percent said they personally felt more safe now…. – NYT, 5-5-11

THE HEADLINES….

  • Obama giving NY its moment of justice on bin Laden: From the heart of the shocking terror strike on America, President Barack Obama will try to bury the memory of Osama bin Laden by honoring those who died in the fiery Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. In private talks with families and a somber ceremony at ground zero, Obama is out to let New York have its own moment of justice. Obama heads to New York City on Thursday after sharply rejecting calls for him to release photos of a slain bin Laden so the world could see some proof of death. The president said he would not risk giving propaganda to extremists or gloat by publicizing grotesque photos of a terrorist leader shot in the head. To those who keep on doubting, Obama said, “You will not see bin Laden walking on this earth again.”… – AP, 5-5-11
  • Obama in NY: We never forget, we mean what we say: Solemnly honoring victims of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, President Barack Obama hugged survivors, thanked the heroes of one of the nation’s darkest days and declared Thursday that the killing of Osama bin Laden after all these years was an American message to the world: “When we say we will never forget, we mean what we say.” On a brilliant blue-sky day, one of reflection more than celebration, Obama offered New Yorkers a moment of their own. Standing at the gritty construction site of ground zero, where the towers fell and a memorial now rises, the president laid a wreath of red, white and blue flowers for the nearly 3,000 who died as he marked a turning point for the nation and this city of steely resilience. For Obama, the day was about the importance of being in New York in the aftermath of the successful raid to find and kill bin Laden, the al-Qaida leader. Obama addressed families who have watched and wondered for nearly a decade whether the government would track down its most infamous enemy…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • In NYC, Obama says Osama mission ‘sent a message’: Visiting New York just days after the mastermind of the 2001 attack on the city was killed U.S. special forces, President Obama on Thursday told police and firefighters the terrorist’s death is proof that American justice has a long reach. In surprise visits to the “Pride of Midtown” firehouse, which lost 15 men in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks nearly a decade ago, and then later at the 1st Precinct police station in Lower Manhattan, Mr. Obama said the Navy SEALs who killed Osama bin Laden Sunday in Pakistan did it “in the name of your brothers that were lost.”
    “What happened on Sunday, because of the courage of our military and the outstanding work of our intelligence, sent a message around the world, but also sent a message here back home that when we say we will never forget, we mean what we say,” the president told the firefighters. He also visited with family members of victims of the attack and laid a wreath at the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero. Along the roads his motorcade was greeted by cheering crowds… – Washington Times, 5-5-11
  • After bin Laden death, Obama visits Ground Zero: Days after the killing of Osama bin Laden, President Barack Obama met New York firefighters and police on Thursday and visited Ground Zero to offer comfort to a city still scarred by the September 11 attacks. His predecessor, George W. Bush, just three days after hijacked planes destroyed the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, had stood bullhorn in hand in the smoldering wreckage to declare, “The people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.” Almost a decade later, in a bookend to that historic visit, Obama came to New York to say that promise had been kept. He said the killing of bin Laden told the world “that when we say we will never forget, we mean what we say.”
    Obama visited Engine 54 in midtown, which with 15 deaths lost more members on 9/11 than any other firehouse, before heading to Lower Manhattan to talk with police and lay a wreath at Ground Zero, the Twin Towers site, where he also met with victims’ families. Obama told firefighters at the “Pride of Manhattan” firehouse, “I wanted to just come here to thank you.” “This is a symbolic site of the extraordinary sacrifice that was made on that terrible day almost 10 years ago,” he said. “It didn’t matter who was in charge, we were going to make sure that the perpetrators of that horrible act — ‘ that they received justice…. – Reuters, 5-5-11

QUOTES

  • The President in NYC: “When We Say We Will Never Forget, We Mean What We Say”:
    To the firefighters: This is a symbolic site of the extraordinary sacrifice that was made on that terrible day almost 10 years ago. Obviously we can’t bring back your friends that were lost, and I know that each and every one of you not only grieve for them, but have also over the last 10 years dealt with their family, their children, trying to give them comfort, trying to give them support.
    What happened on Sunday, because of the courage of our military and the outstanding work of our intelligence, sent a message around the world, but also sent a message here back home that when we say we will never forget, we mean what we say; that our commitment to making sure that justice is done is something that transcended politics, transcended party; it didn’t matter which administration was in, it didn’t matter who was in charge, we were going to make sure that the perpetrators of that horrible act — that they received justice.
    So it’s some comfort, I hope, to all of you to know that when those guys took those extraordinary risks going into Pakistan, that they were doing it in part because of the sacrifices that were made in the States. They were doing it in the name of your brothers that were lost.To the police: And so since that time I know a lot of you have probably comforted loved ones of those who were lost. A lot of you have probably looked after kids who grew up without a parent. And a lot of you continue to do extraordinary — extraordinarily courageous acts without a lot of fanfare. What we did on Sunday was directly connected to what you do every single day. And I know I speak for the military teams, the intelligence teams that helped get bin Laden in saying that we know the sacrifices and courage that you show as well, and that you are part of the team that helped us achieve our goal, but also help us keep our citizens safe each and every day.
    So I couldn’t be prouder of all of you. I couldn’t be more grateful to you. And I hope that you know that the country will continue to stand behind you going forward, because there are still going to be threats out there and you’re still going to be called on to take courageous actions and to remain vigilant, and you’re going to have an entire country behind you when you do it. – WH, 5-5-11
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Claude Stanley Choules: Last World War I Combat Veteran Dies at 110

Appreciation Career warrior who hated war dies at 110 in Australia

Source: Globe and Mail, 5-6-11

Claude Choules poses in his Royal Navy uniform in 1917 in this handout picture. - Claude Choules poses in his Royal Navy uniform in 1917 in this handout picture. | Reuters

He was a career warrior who hated war; a man nicknamed Chuckles who would sooner cut a rug with his wife than carry a flag in any veterans parade.

Claude Stanley Choules, the last man standing among First World War combat veterans, died Thursday at age 110 in a nursing home in Perth, Australia. Along with the British-born sailor went the uncomfortable mantle of hero so often accorded to the final survivors of conflicts past, whether they want to wear it or not.

More related to this story

Mr. Choules, who pretended to be older when he signed up to serve at age 14, was certainly a close witness to history through 41 years of duty for Britain and his adopted Australia. He looked on from the British battleship HMS Revenge as the German High Seas Fleet surrendered on Nov. 21, 1918, and during the Second World War served the Royal Australian Navy as chief demolition officer for the continent’s western side.

For all the glory one might infer from Mr. Choules’s activities, “He just saw it as a job,” his son Adrian Choules told Sydney’s Daily Telegraph. “He never marched in an Anzac parade he wasn’t ordered to,” he said, referring to the annual day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand.

The greatest trauma of the sailor’s life came long before he’d seen war, when his mother abandoned him at age 5 to follow a career in acting. The wound, bandaged over with a lie that she had died, drove Mr. Choules to build a loving home life of his own.

“His family was the most important thing in his life,” his daughter, Anne Pow, said in a 2010 interview with Associated Press.

While Mr. Choules’ death leaves the world without a living link to the front-line conduct of the First World War, it also ends an awkward – some would say unseemly – era that lionized its longest-living participants regardless of their peripheral roles or lack of desire to be recognized….READ MORE

Randall J. Stephens: Eastern Nazarene College professor named a Fulbright Scholar

Source: NCN News, 5-5-11


Randall J. Stephens, a professor at Eastern Nazarene College, was named a Fulbright Scholar.

Eastern Nazarene College history professor Randall J. Stephens received a J. William Fulbright fellowship, the college announced Wednesday.

As a Fulbright Scholar, Stephens will participate in one of the prestigious scholarship’s programs – the Roving Scholars in American Studies – teaching history courses in spring 2012 in Norway.

“As a Roving Scholar, I will travel around the (U.S.), lecturing on a variety of topics related to American history and culture, including immigration in American history, post-World War II popular culture, the Civil War, American identity, and more,” said Stephens. “I’m looking forward to bringing the experiences of this rich cultural exchange back into my classes at Eastern Nazarene College.”

An associate professor of history at ENC, Stephens is the editor of Historically Speaking and associate editor of Fides et Historia. He is the author of The Fire Spreads: Holiness and Pentecostalism in the American South (Harvard University Press, 2008), which received the Smith-Wynkoop Book Award from the Wesleyan Theological Society and was nominated for the 2008 Grawemeyer Award.

Later this year, he will publish a new book, co-authored with Karl Giberson, on conservative evangelical experts. In 2008, Stephens was named a Top Young Historian by George Mason University’s History New Network.

“Dr. Randall Stephens is recognized as a national scholar in the area of American Pentecostalism,” said Timothy Wooster, provost and academic dean of Eastern Nazarene College. “It is important for us at ENC to provide a vibrant academic environment that cultivates excellence in scholarship within our faculty and students. Earning the Fulbright Award is a testament to Randall’s ability to achieve at the highest level intellectually while also expecting the same from his students. We are extremely proud of this achievement.”

Overseen by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Fulbright Scholarship Program aims to promote understanding, goodwill, and intellectual exchange around the world. Since its inception more than 60 years ago, participants have gone on to become heads of state, judges, ambassadors, cabinet ministers, university presidents, and CEOs. Forty-three Fulbright Scholars have been awarded Nobel Prizes.

Armenian Genocide: Thousands gather in Times Square to mark the Genocide anniversary

Source: Armenian Reporter, 5-5-11

On Sunday afternoon, May 1, as thousands of people gathered at the crossroads of America to honor the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide, the message to the world was clear: While almost a century has passed, and Turkish denial is stronger thanever, the Armenian Genocide will not be forgotten and it will remain an important part of history.

Hamazkayin’s New Jersey Arekag Choir taking stage on May 1. Taleen Babayan

Crowd assembled in Times Square. Taleen Babayan

Supporting this message in the middle of Times Square on a beautiful, clear day, were some of the country’s most respected politicians, who have continuously and tirelessly fought for U.S. and global recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

Citing the Armenian Genocide as “one of the worst genocides in world history,” U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), said the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust were “intrinsically related” and if the world had stopped the Armenian Genocide, the Holocaust may not have occurred….

Revered historian and scholar Dr. Richard Hovannisian, said that although everyone may know the story of the Armenian Genocide, it is “a story that needs to be repeated and told to each generation.” He astutely noted that genocide does not end with the passing of genocide survivors or the passing of genocide resolutions, because the trauma of genocide continues. For Armenians, the loss of a homeland and the loss of a 3,000 year-old civilization is the “major continuing traumatic aspect.” He stressed the importance of making the Armenian Genocide a part of human history, to ensure it does not become lost. Concluding his remarks, Dr. Hovannisian said it is important to “re-commit ourselves daily to the memory so that it will continue until there is victory.”

By letting the Armenian Genocide go unrecognized, “we will allow the perpetrators one last victory,” said Dr. Rivitz, an associate of the NJ Commission for Holocaust Education. A daughter of a Holocaust survivor, Dr. Rivitz said the world suffered a blow when millions were killed in the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust. She noted the importance of survivors and future generations to “continue in solidarity to remember the dark parts of our parallel histories.” In his remarks, Dr. Dennis Papazian, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Michigan-Dearborn and Grand Commander of the Knights of Vartan, said that there has been progress regarding the acknowledgement and affirmation of the Armenian Genocide around the world. He spoke of Turkish historian Dr. Taner Akcam, who was one of the first Turkish scholars to openly acknowledge the Armenian Genocide. “In the future it will be honest Turkish scholars doing work on the Armenian Genocide,” he said. Furthermore, Dr. Papazian challenged the Turkish government to get rid of Article 301 of the Turkish criminal code and allow the Turkish people to investigate their own history. “Free the Turkish people, let them decide for themselves,” he said.
Survivors in attendance were recognized, including Perouz Kalousdian, 101, Arsaloys Dadir, 98 and Charlotte Kechejian, 99. The three survivors – who escaped the brutal atrocities of 1915 – were brought to the front of the crowd to a wave of applause and cheer, holding red carnations and small American flags, representing the country that welcomed them almost a century ago. Proclamations from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Congressman Scott Garrett (R-NJ) were read by Dr. Mary Papazian and Armen McOmber, Esq., who served as masters of ceremonies for the commemoration.

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