The past always seems so idyllic, so serene, and so sublime. The reality of day to day life is more prosaic, more challenging and far crueller. For instance the use of horse and carriages raises a number of questions. Firstly consider the welfare of the animals. In ancient and not so ancient wars, more bemoans the tragic loss of human life but what about that of the animals especially the horses. The movie The War Horse puts the atrocious treatment of horses during WW1 i.e. only a century ago into perspective. But what about another factor which had to be born with equanimity by the population especially those residing in the cities – the streets caked with horse excrement!
Main picture: A Normandy Beach landing photo they don’t show in textbooks – Brave women of the Red Cross arriving in 1944 to help the injured troops, WWII.
A number of these photos illustrate the value – or lack thereof – of human life. Photographs of workers assembling the steel girders during the construction of the Empire State Building are already legendary. Here are a few more to add to those memories. Today higher standards of safety are probably employed even in supposed Third World countries but a century ago that was still an acceptable norm even in First World countries.
The most heart breaking story of WW2 must relate to the Sullivan family. No other family in American history has suffered a wartime loss like that of Waterloo’s Sullivan family. The Sullivans gave up their five sons in a World War II tragedy that has never been forgotten. They all were serving on the same ship that was sunk. The Navy changed its policy, after that tragedy, about next of kin serving on the same ship.
Mrs Sullivan received two letters from F.D.R. in February of 1943. The first informed her of the death of her five sons in the line of duty, the second sent later requested her presence at the christening of the destroyer U.S.S. Sullivans named in their honor.
Can you even start to imagine the grief this poor lady had?
The Dunhuang manuscripts are a cache of important religious and secular documents discovered in the Mogao Caves of Dunhuang, China, in the early 20th century. Dating from the 5th to early 11th centuries, the manuscripts include works ranging from history and mathematics to folk songs and dance. Most of the religious manuscripts are Buddhist, but other religions including Daoism, Nestorian Christianity and Manichaeism are also represented. The majority of the manuscripts are in the Chinese language. Other languages represented are Khotanese, Sanskrit, Sogdian, Tangut, Tibetan, Old Uyghur language, and Hebrew. The manuscripts are a major resource for academic studies in a wide variety of fields including history, religious studies, linguistics, and manuscript studies.
Library hidden in a cave, a unique repository of ancient manuscripts known as the Library Cave. A hidden cache of 50,000 books and rolls dating from ca. 500 to 1002 AD that were deemed heretical and hidden in the cave since the early 11th century.
USS Ranger (CV-4), America’s first Aircraft Carrier
USS Ranger (CV-4) was the first ship of the United States Navy to be designed and built from the keel up as an aircraft carrier. Ranger was a relatively small ship, closer in size and displacement to the first US carrier—Langley—than later ships. An island superstructure was not included in the original design, but was added after completion. Deemed too slow for use with the Pacific Fleet‘s carrier task forces, the ship spent most of the war in the Atlantic Ocean. Ranger saw combat in that theatre and provided air support for Operation Torch. In October 1944, she fought in Operation Leader, air attacks on German shipping off Norway. The ship was sold for scrap in 1947.