Sunday, December 27, 2015

Nostalgia (part 5) - Big Band and World War II

Maj Glenn Miller/
Remember the Big Band Era?

The music of  Big Band in America may have found its origins after World War I with Jazz and Swing. But after the stock market crash of 1929, it rose in popularity during the Great Depression and World War II with such composers as Duke Ellington, Tom Dorsey, Glenn Miller, and Benny Goodman.

[reference: The Big Band Era - Or How America came out of the Great Depression and Went on to Win World War II ]

Salute to Major Glenn Miller

One of the most memorable musicians of the World War II generation was Glenn Miller. In 1942, Glenn Miller had enlisted in the Army and later transferred to the Army Air Force. There, he headed up the US Army Air Force Band and boosted the morale of the troops with his music during the war.

In August 1944, Captain Miller had been promoted to the rank of major. Sadly, Major Miller's military flight from London to Paris disappeared on December 15, 1944. His death remains a mystery as neither his body nor the plane had been found. But as thousands of other men, he gave his life serving his country.

[reference: Glenn Miller Biography ]

And 70+ years later during the Holiday Season....

In the spirit of Big Band music, the USAF Band, Washington DC, dance troupe from New York City put on this show, as described in the comments: 

A special holiday musical presentation from Union Station in Washington, DC celebrating the service and sacrifices of our nation's World War II veterans and commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of the war.

Timeless music?

The Glenn Miller Orchestra and Big Band are still going strong into the 21st century. The music is even popular in SciFi, as shown in this scene below from Doctor Who: The Doctor Dances (2006):

Recognize the song?  Glenn Miller's In the Mood (1939)

As the Holiday Season passes for 2015 
and we enter 2016, 
may you dance into
a Blessed New Year!


photo from: Maj Glenn Miller/

Thursday, December 17, 2015

America's Story (part 20) - Patton's Weather Prayer

Battle of the Bulge/

The picture above is a diorama of the Battle of the Bulge. 

December 1944, as World War II turned in favor of the allies, Hitler's Army made a last ditch effort in an offensive against Belgium. The Nazi attack caught the American troops off guard and outnumbered.

As a consequence, the Germans bottled up the 101th Airborne in Belgium in what has became known as the Seige of Bastogne. And I previously blogged about this in the post:  Christmas 1944, when we said NUTS to the enemy

General Patton to the rescue

Patton's Third Army did a 90 degree turn and moved quickly from northeast France to Bastogne, Belgium. Yet, another enemy was the weather. And Patton looked for help from the top of the chain of command, the Almighty, as shown below.

The Third Army Chaplain, Father James O'Neill, wrote the following prayer:  the "Patton Prayer"

The weather cleared. As Patton's troops linked with the defenders of Bastogne, the seige was broken.  Despite overwhelming odds, the Americans defeated the Germans.

In January 1945, the Battle was over. April saw victory in Europe. The Patton Prayer is now in the annals of history and the subject of many movies.

But that fighting spirit to not give up against overwhelming odds,
to look up to heaven for help,
is part of
America's Story.


Other posts in this series:

America's Story (part 19) - Trinity and "The Long Peace"  (2015)


photo from: Battle of the Bulge/

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

CC (part 7) - Buzz Aldrin

Buzz Aldrin/
Apollo 11 was a watershed mission. It was unique. It would never be repeated to have another first human being walk on an extraterrestrial world.
[For more info:  Apollo 11 Mission Overview ]

In 1969, an estimated 530 viewers watched Neil Armstrong take his first step on the moon:

And he said these words: " small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind"

What about the second man? 

Buzz Aldrin is the man in the spacesuit in the photo at the top of the page. And Neil Armstrong took his picture. His words were most poetic recorded in the clip below:

"Magnificent Desolation"

And that became of title of one of his books: Magnificent  Desolation: The Long Journey Home from the Moon

And speaking of books ....

In the first book of The Commander and the Chief series, His Tribe of One, Chief Nova Orlovic remembers the second man on the moon as well as the first. The following excerpt takes place in the Middle-Eastern desert with Nova, Colonel Jack Sheffield, and Commander Reginald Barrett during their search for Admiral Quinn:

Mid-morning, Jack stopped on the crest of a bluff and surveyed the landscape. “I need to do a recalibration.” He turned on his smart tablet, then connected a cable into the KNOSE.

Magnificent desolation.” Nova scanned the wilderness—edifices of stone, rising like fortresses, floating on an ocean of pale yellow sand.

“I’ve heard that before. Somewhere.” Reggie skimmed the desert-scape from his backseat window.

Nova turned around. “Buzz Aldrin.”

Buzz who?” Reggie squinted at her.

“How quickly we forget.” Nova shook her head. “Buzz Aldrin was the second man on the moon…after Neil Armstrong, of course.”

“Right-o.” Jack chimed in. “Admiral Quinn was an astronaut. So you know this ancient history.”

“Doesn’t seem that long ago, though it happened before I was born.” Nova panned the moonscape-like desert. “Yet this place reminds me of the Badlands in the Dakotas, only with sand and stuff.”

Jack said, “So these Badlands look like the moon?”

“In many ways, they do.” Nova returned a fond look. “Actually Jack, parts of Wyoming have been likened to Antarctica.”

from Part 5: The Badlands, Chapter 1: The Backside of the Desert.
[for more info on the book: ]

To Infinity and beyond ....

Though Neil Armstrong had shunned the limelight and passed away in 2012,  Buzz Aldrin has been more active in popular culture as well as promoting his vision of space.

And he inspired Disney's Toy Story character, Buzz Lightyear. In the clip below, one Buzz coaches another Buzz for a coming shuttle mission to the International Space Station.  [reference: Buzz Aldrin FAQ ]

To echo the Buzz Lightyear catch phrase, to infinity and beyond,  Buzz Aldrin has a plan to colonise Mars by 2040

To the 21st century ...

In step with the times, Buzz Aldrin is active on social media, such as twitter @TheRealBuzz and Facebook Buzz Aldrin as well as his own website:

And Buzz created quite a buzz with this cameo on The Big Bang Theory :

Astronauts are heroes. 
And a very elite subset of them have walked on the moon. 

To find out more about a fictional astronaut hero, Admiral Connor Quinn, please read the book and its coming sequels.

His Tribe of One, now available:

* Paperback:  CreateSpace

* eBook:   Kindle

Your readership is much appreciated.

S. K. Smith


For other posts in this series:
CC (part 1) - The Commander and the Chief: His Tribe of One (2014)

CC (part 2) - Universe in a Glass of Wine  (2014)

CC (part 3) - Happy Bill of Rights Day  (2014)

CC (part 4) - Stories and the Brain (2015)

CC (part 5) - Audie Murphy  (2014)

CC (part 6) - Pavle Orlovic (2015)


photo from: Buzz Aldrin/