Today was one of those weird days for me, very busy, pretty good work and good intellectual stimulation n an ethics committee meeting. I’m also still pretty tired from the past few weeks, not feeling bad but I know that I need to pace myself while we are short staffed in our department this summer. It is a good thing that I have the boss that I have as he is making sure that I am okay on a pretty regular basis. He knows that I will push myself hard until I hit the wall, which I did about a week and a half ago. The thing is it is not just me that is feeling the strain. All of us on our staff have been pushed hard caring for folks during the recent deaths of two military staff members, regular work on our wards, administrative tasks as well as the extra load imposed by being short staffed. But this is what we do as chaplains. The good thing is that we are doing our best not just to look after our flock, but to look after each other. We have a great team which I am proud to be a part.
Thus today my mind was a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives. In fact it was awash in so much that I should have written them down. The mind is like a sieve sometimes. Since it is late I am going to stick with a few observations from this day in history which seems to still have significance today June 17th.
On this day in 1579 Sir Francis Drake sailed his ship the Golden Hind into San Francisco Bay. Immediately he was picketed by anti-imperialist and environmentalist protesters who had come down from Haight Ashbury in their Birkenstocks. Ignoring them Drake’s crew hit on women and some men in Golden Gate Park, had lunch at Fisherman’s Wharf and took in a Giants game. At least that’s what they wanted to do, but they were 400 years or so too early. Instead they sat around wondering why it was so cold in the middle of summer as they repaired their ships, had the chaplain celebrate Eucharist and then claimed everything in sight for England calling it New Albion. The Spanish realtors in the area took umbrage to this and never recognized the claim.
On this day in 1775 was fought the battle of Bunker Hill or more appropriately Breed’s Hill. The American soldiers defending the hill gave a good account of themselves against the British who were trying to drive them off of the hill. An American commander on the front line uttered the cry which did not become in military history “Don’t fire until you can smell the Redcoat bastards.” The insensitivity of the comment regarding the Colonial’s British Cousins body odor, which wafted over the battlefield, offended some of in the snior commanders who had a hard time smelling the gunpowder over their own body odor. When the Pentagon heard about it the offending officer was sent to Ft Polk Louisiana and the utterance was officially changed to “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes.” After the clash the surviving unwounded opponents gathered at Sam Adams pub where they consumed vast amounts of his original Boston Lager beer as they played darts and argued the merits of English versus American Football. Some went to the Yankees Red Sox game at Fenway later in the evening.
On this day in 1815 Commodore Stephen Decatur commanding a Task force from the 6th Feet conquered the Algerian frigate Mashouda in an action that finally helped bring an end to the Barbary Wars and drove the Barbary Pirates from the Mediterranean. Within 48 hours of defeating the Mashouda he was in Algiers harbor exacting peace on the Dey of Algiers. This ended the period of where Barabry Pirates excercised domain over the Mediterranean. Getting with British sailors on liberty in town with which they had recently been at war, the Americans and Brits spent the evenings at Murphy’s Irish pub drinking Guinness and Kilkenney with Irish and other expats while watching Arsenal play Bayern München on pay per view.
On this day in 1856 Republican Party opened its 1st national convention in Philadelphia. Immediately Randall Terry demanded equal time to speakers demanding the end of slavery while Ron Paul was ignored. Others lobbied for the Flat Tax until they discovered that there was not yet an income tax. Up and coming Illinois legislator Abraham Lincoln gave the keynote address recommending a bigger Federal role in solving disputes between states while Newt Gingrich presented a “Contract with the Union” to deal with the various tensions. Fox News covered the event
On this day in 1916 US troops under General John Pershing marched into Mexico to bring Pancho Villa and others into custody. The expedition was not successful as many troops were inflicted with Montazuma’s revenge while KBR failed to get the porta-poties in place in a timely manner. The Easern European sub-contractor walked out and KBR replaced them with men from the Indian Subcontinent area who had each paid $4000 to an agent for the job and recived $300 a month working 16 hour days 6 days a week. However the campaign did give US troops experience operating in harsh climates which would serve them well when stationed in Texas over the next century. General Phil Sheridan had once said of Texas that “If I owned Hell and Texas I would live in Hell and rent out Texas.”
On this day in 1938 after conducting military operations against the Chinese for over 5 years the Japanese declared war on China. Chinese leaders Chaing Kai Shek and Mao Tse Tung issued a joint statement agreeing to work together and declaring “It’s about damned time they admitted that they are at war with us.”
On this day in 1940 the French after having their asses handed to them by the Germans yet again asked for surrender terms. General Charles DeGaulle immediately departed for England to continue the war against both the Germans and his fellow Frenchmen. Upon his arrival DeGaulle immediately complained about the bad food, plain women and miserable weather. He was embraced by Winston Churchill who got him drunk, left him passed out in a brothel and blamed the Vichy government for it. Churchill wrote afterward, “that man is a pain in the ass.” DeGaulle always doubted Churchill’s version of events every time he looked at the tatoo of a German tank on his ass.
On this day in 1944 Iceland declared independence from Denmark. No one noticed until 1953.
Most importantly on this day in 1960 Ted Williams hit his 500th home run. and today the Nationals beat the Yankees and the Orioles beat the Mets.