Issues you haven’t heard discussed in the campaign, 3: Clinton on national service

November 5, 2016

Part 3 of a series, listing policy issues we’ve heard too little about during this presidential campaign.

This is borrowed wholesale from the campaign website for Hillary Clinton (unless otherwise noted), just to try to get a little discussion going on the real issues of the campaign.

Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub is working on a series of issues not yet discussed, less than a week before the vote. Consider it public service, in the spirit of Fillmore, who remained ever conversant in public affairs and anxious to take a role to push for policies to improve America, as he saw it — and who, supported by his wives, founded the White House Library, the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, and the University of Buffalo (now SUNY-Buffalo) to further knowledge.

Beyond a military draft, which few people want in an era of a very successful all-volunteer military, should we ask more of our young people, ask them to serve the nation? How would such a scheme work?

Clinton’s policy paper introduction on national service:

There aren’t many places where people of all ages, all races, all backgrounds, all beliefs come together in common cause. But service is one of them, and that’s one of the reasons I think it’s so valuable, because in addition to the good work it does, it helps us reconnect with each other to feel more a part of our shared American life. I believe that one of the jobs of president is to encourage more service … .

Hillary, September 30, 2016

The generation of Americans coming of age today has changed our politics and our country. From racial justice and marriage equality to economic opportunity and climate change, they have put key issues at the top of the national agenda. Hillary Clinton believes we must do more to support activism and create pathways for Americans to serve and to lead.

As president, Hillary will:

  • Expand national service. Hillary will create more opportunities for Americans to participate in national service, creating economic and educational opportunities while improving communities. She will significantly expand AmeriCorps to allow hundreds of thousands of more Americans to serve their communities through organizations such as City Year, YouthBuild, American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, and other community organizations. To achieve this, Hillary will grow AmeriCorps to 250,000 members annually, fulfilling the goals of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. And she will create a National Service Reserve to enable millions of Americans across the country to engage in part-time volunteer service to their communities, taking on the most pressing challenges identified by state and local leaders and earning recognition for their contributions. Read more here.
  • Increase access to higher education. Hillary believes that if you serve your country through national and community service, you should be able to earn meaningful educational benefits. Her New College Compact will build on the current AmeriCorps Segal Education Award, on top of her plans to make debt-free college available to all by doubling the Segal Award and making it tax-free so that AmeriCorps members can earn more than $10,000 for college for every year of full-time service.
  • Strengthen international service. As secretary of state, Hillary saw firsthand the impact that Peace Corps Volunteers have around the world. That’s why, as president, she will continue to be a strong advocate for the Peace Corps. She will strengthen the program to provide more opportunities to send Americans abroad to work side by side with local leaders and address our most pressing global challenges.
  • Bring Americans together. Hillary strongly believes in the power of service to break down barriers by bringing together Americans from all backgrounds and uniting them in common purpose. She will ensure that national service remains at the top of her agenda as a broad-based solution to expand opportunity for people across America and strengthen our communities and our country.

Hillary has a strong record of supporting national service:

  • As first lady, Hillary advocated for Congress to reauthorize AmeriCorps so that tens of thousands more Americans would have opportunities to learn “how much more we get when we give.”
  • As senator, Hillary fought to protect AmeriCorps from budget cuts, and in 2003 stood alongside 150 mayors and governors in requesting funding to secure and grow the program. She also co-sponsored a bill to base AmeriCorps Education Award on the average public college tuition as a way to reduce student debt and allow more Americans to attend college in a time of rising costs.
  • As secretary of state, Hillary re-established the Peace Corps’s relationship with Indonesia after a 45-year hiatus. The first program in 2010 sent 19 volunteers, and now that number has grown to more than 100. Also under her leadership, the State Department provided $1 million to the Peace Corps to advance renewable energy efforts.

Read the fact sheet

Related:

I must confess a bias. In my time in Washington I met many former Peace Corps volunteers, and others who volunteered for VISTA and other programs. I found them without exception to be great leaders of people, and committed workers (in and out of government) who put service to the nation before their own welfare, often — and almost always to the great benefit of American people.

I liked them. Service to America had made them better people, and easier to befriend and respect.

Programs that train such leaders are priceless, in my estimation.

More:

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Worth repeating: Cinco de Mayo is NOT Mexico’s Independence Day

May 5, 2016

(Mostly an encore post, from 2009, with updates)

You thought Cinco de Mayo was Independence Day for Mexico?

No, it’s not.

History.com has a nice explanation, with a nice little video

NPR’s blogs explain: “Cinco de Mayo: Whose holiday is it, anyway?”

“It ain’t about the Margaritas: The real meaning of Cinco de Mayo,” at NPR’s The Takeaway.

Perhaps the U.S. should celebrate the day, too, at least in those states who were not in the old Confederacy. On May 5, 1862, Mexicans under the command of 33 year old Commander General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín stopped the quick advance of superior French forces trying to invade Mexico to take it over, at the Battle of Puebla. While France did eventually defeat Mexican forces (after getting 30,000 men in reinforcements), the spirit of May 5 inspired Mexicans to continue to fight for freedom. And ultimately, Mexican forces overpowered and captured the French forces and Emperor Maximilian, who was executed.

Thus ended a great hope for the Confederacy, that a French-supported Mexican Army would lend aid to the Confederates in their struggle to secede from the Union.

It is one of the great what-ifs of history: What if France had kept Mexico, and what if French-led Mexican forces backed up the Confederate Army, as Confederates and the French hoped?

One thing is rather sure: Had that happened, and had the Confederacy been successful, we wouldn’t be celebrating Cinco de Mayo in Texas today.

What do the scholars of Lincoln have to add?

Battle of Puebla, Wikimedia (artist?)

Battle of Puebla, Wikimedia (artist?)

Mexican Independence Day is September 16.

_______________________________________

Update: A reader sends a note that Seguin was a Texan. So the Mexican hero of the Battle of Puebla was a Texan. You couldn’t make this stuff up — real history is always more interesting than fiction.

Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.

Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience. And repetition.


Cinco de Mayo: NOT Mexico’s Independence Day; should Confederate sympathizers celebrate?

May 5, 2015

(Mostly an encore post, from 2009, with updates)

You thought Cinco de Mayo was Independence Day for Mexico?

No, it’s not.

History.com has a nice explanation, with a nice little video

NPR’s blogs explain: “Cinco de Mayo: Whose holiday is it, anyway?”

“It ain’t about the Margaritas: The real meaning of Cinco de Mayo,” at NPR’s The Takeaway.

Perhaps the U.S. should celebrate the day, too, at least in those states who were not in the old Confederacy. On May 5, 1862, Mexicans under the command of 33 year old Commander General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín stopped the quick advance of superior French forces trying to invade Mexico to take it over, at the Battle of Puebla. While France did eventually defeat Mexican forces (after getting 30,000 men in reinforcements), the spirit of May 5 inspired Mexicans to continue to fight for freedom. And ultimately, Mexican forces overpowered and captured the French forces and Emperor Maximilian, who was executed.

Thus ended a great hope for the Confederacy, that a French-supported Mexican Army would lend aid to the Confederates in their struggle to secede from the Union.

It is one of the great what-ifs of history: What if France had kept Mexico, and what if French-led Mexican forces backed up the Confederate Army, as Confederates and the French hoped?

One thing is rather sure: Had that happened, and had the Confederacy been successful, we wouldn’t be celebrating Cinco de Mayo in Texas today.

What do the scholars of Lincoln have to add?

Battle of Puebla, Wikimedia (artist?)

Battle of Puebla, Wikimedia (artist?)

Mexican Independence Day is September 16.

_______________________________________

Update: A reader sends a note that Seguin was a Texan. So the Mexican hero of the Battle of Puebla was a Texan. You couldn’t make this stuff up — real history is always more interesting than fiction.


Cinco de Mayo is NOT Mexico’s Independence Day

May 5, 2011

(Mostly an encore post, from 2009)

You thought Cinco de Mayo was Independence Day for Mexico?

No, it’s not.

History.com has a nice explanation, with a nice little video

Perhaps the U.S. should celebrate the day, too, at least in those states who were not in the old Confederacy. On May 5, 1862, Mexicans under the command of 33 year old Commander General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín stopped the quick advance of superior French forces trying to invade Mexico to take it over, at the Battle of Puebla. While France did eventually defeat Mexican forces (after getting 30,000 men in reinforcements), the spirit of May 5 inspired Mexicans to continue to fight for freedom. And ultimately, Mexican forces overpowered and captured the French forces and Emperor Maximilian, who was executed.

Thus ended a great hope for the Confederacy, that French-supported Mexican Army would lend aid to the Confederates in their struggle to secede from the Union.

It is one of the great what-ifs of history: What if France had kept Mexico, and what if French-led Mexican forces backed up the Confederate Army?

One thing is rather sure: Had that happened, and had the Confederacy been successful, we wouldn’t be celebrating Cinco de Mayo in Texas today.

Battle of Puebla, Wikimedia (artist?)

Battle of Puebla, Wikimedia (artist?)

Mexican Independence Day is September 16.

_______________________________________

Update: Sam DeBerry sends a note that Seguin was a Texan. So the Mexican hero of the Battle of Puebla was a Texan. You couldn’t make this stuff up — real history is always more interesting than fiction.


Armed Forces Day 2010 – Fly your flag Saturday, May 15

May 10, 2010

Armed Forces Day 2010 poster

Armed Forces Day 2010 poster

At the moment the link is down, to download a sharp copy of the poster for printing in gigantic size, but that shouldn’t stop you from planning to fly your flag next Saturday, May 15, for Armed Forces Day.  We honor those men and women currently in uniform serving our nation on the third Saturday in May

Previously, in Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub:


Quote of the moment: Eisenhower on D-Day (encore post)

June 5, 2009

Eisenhower talks to troops of invasion force, June 5 -- before D-Day[Encore post from 2007.]

Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force: You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you.

Order of the Day, 6 June, 1944 (some sources list this as issued 2 June)


Quote of the moment: Mr. Mike’s everlasting humility

May 30, 2009

Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, oil on canvas painting by Aaron Shikler, 1978 - Wikimedia image

Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, oil on canvas painting by Aaron Shikler, 1978 - Wikimedia image

Beginning in March 1974 I had the great pleasure and high honor of interning with the Secretary of the Senate, Francis R. Valeo.  Valeo served because of his close relationship with the Majority Leader, Mike Mansfield, and working in Valeo’s office put one on the Mansfield team.  In an era before serious security with magnetometers in Washington’s public buildings — we didn’t even have photo identification cards then — Mike Mansfield’s signature on my staff card got me anywhere I wanted to go in Washington, including the White House.

People who knew Mansfield held him in very high regard.  I often tell people he was the best politician to work for, but in reality, he’s probably the best leader I ever worked with in any enterprise.  He respected every senator as a representative of the people of one of the 50 states, and that respect was returned.

In his office one afternoon he met with the a couple of members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the big bigwigs from the Pentagon.  Mansfield was a former sailor, marine and soldier — he had served in the Navy, Army and Marines.   He lied about his age the first time.  He had served in China and the Philippines, producing a life-long interest and deep expertise in U.S. affairs in the Pacific and Far East.

But this was 1974.  Mansfield had turned against supporting corrupt Vietnamese politicians early in the U.S. involvement in Vietnam.  Originally a supporter of Nixon’s policies, by 1974 his opposition to the war was the chief part of their relationship.  Still the military guys loved him.  An Army Colonel accompanying the group was anxious to explain to the young intern part of the mystique.

“You should see Mansfield in the formal meetings.  Everybody is always introduced, and their full rank is laid on the table.  ‘General Muckamuck.  West Point ’33, Columbia Law.  Admiral Bigship.  General Soandso, who recently got his third star.'”

“And then they get to Mansfield.  He’s the Senate Majority Leader.  And he introduces himself as ‘Mike Mansfield, Private First Class.'”

I asked Mansfield about it later.  He smiled, and said he might have done that a time or two.  He said that the big brass in the military need to remember as every senator does that they work for the American people.  Rank doesn’t make you right, he said.

Looking up a minor fact on Mansfield this morning I ran into this statement, which I’d never heard [quoting now from Wikipedia]:

This gentleman went from snuffy to national and international prominence. And when he died in 2001, he was rightly buried in Arlington. If you want to visit his grave, don’t look for him near the “Kennedy Eternal Flame”, where so many politicians are laid to rest. Look for a small, common marker shared by the majority of our heroes. Look for the marker that says “Michael J. Mansfield, Pfc. U.S. Marine Corps.”

Remarks by Col. James Michael Lowe, USMC, October 20, 2004.

The burial plot of Senator and Mrs. Mansfield can be found in section 2, marker 49-69F of Arlington National Cemetery.

For the sake of accuracy, I would like to know the occasion of Col. Lowe’s remarks, and who Col. Lowe is.  The link at Wikipedia is dead.  Does anyone know?

Resources:

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National Guard history: First African American Medal of Honor

March 18, 2009

From the National Guard Image Gallery: The 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment was recruited in the spring of 1863 by Governor John Andrew, who had secured the reluctant permission of the War Department to create a regiment of African-American soldiers. Like all Massachusetts Civil War soldiers, the 54ths men were enlisted in the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia. These Guardsmen would serve as a test case for many skeptical whites who believed that blacks could not be good soldiers. The battle that proved they could was fought on Morris Island, at the mouth of Charleston Harbor. Following three days of skirmishes and forced marches with little rest, and 24 hours with no food, the regimental commander, Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, requested the perilous honor of leading the attack of Fort Wagner, a sand and palmetto log bastion. As night fell, 600 men of the 54th advanced with bayonets fixed. Despite withering cannon and rifle fire, the men sustained their charge until they reached the top of the rampart. There, Colonel Shaw was mortally wounded. There, also, Sergeant William Carney, who had earlier taken up the National Colors when the color sergeant had been shot, planted the flag and fought off numerous attempts by the Confederates to capture it. Without support, and faced with superior numbers and firepower, the 54th was forced to pull back. Despite two severe wounds, Sergeant Carney carried the colors to the rear. When praised for his bravery, he modestly replied, I only did my duty; the old flag never touched the ground. Carney was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions, the first African-American to receive the award. The 54th Massachusetts suffered 270 casualties in the failed assault, but the greater message was not lost: some 180,000 African-American soldiers followed in the footsteps of these gallant Guardsmen, and proved that African-American soldiers could, indeed, fight heroically if given the opportunity.

From the National Guard Image Gallery: Fort Wagner, South Carolina, July 18, 1863; "The Old Flag Never Touched the Ground": The 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment was recruited in the spring of 1863 by Governor John Andrew, who had secured the reluctant permission of the War Department to create a regiment of African-American soldiers. Like all Massachusetts Civil War soldiers, the 54th's men were enlisted in the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia. These Guardsmen would serve as a test case for many skeptical whites who believed that blacks could not be good soldiers. The battle that proved they could was fought on Morris Island, at the mouth of Charleston Harbor. Following three days of skirmishes and forced marches with little rest, and 24 hours with no food, the regimental commander, Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, requested the perilous honor of leading the attack of Fort Wagner, a sand and palmetto log bastion. As night fell, 600 men of the 54th advanced with bayonets fixed. Despite withering cannon and rifle fire, the men sustained their charge until they reached the top of the rampart. There, Colonel Shaw was mortally wounded. There, also, Sergeant William Carney, who had earlier taken up the National Colors when the color sergeant had been shot, planted the flag and fought off numerous attempts by the Confederates to capture it. Without support, and faced with superior numbers and firepower, the 54th was forced to pull back. Despite two severe wounds, Sergeant Carney carried the colors to the rear. When praised for his bravery, he modestly replied, "I only did my duty; the old flag never touched the ground." Carney was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions, the first African-American to receive the award. The 54th Massachusetts suffered 270 casualties in the failed assault, but the greater message was not lost: some 180,000 African-American soldiers followed in the footsteps of these gallant Guardsmen, and proved that African-American soldiers could, indeed, fight heroically if given the opportunity.

This is one of a series of artworks describing the history of the National Guard.  A sizable gallery of art covers the first muster of a militia in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1637, through rescue and recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  Along the way are highlights such as Lexington and Concord, Teddy Roosevelt’s New Mexico Rough Riders in Cuba, including Fort Wagner and the return of General Lafayette.  With some caution on accuracy, these are good for classroom use (the Rough Riders picture shows a man on horseback, but I understand the Rough Riders’ horses had not yet arrived when they stormed up San Juan Hill; it took more than 30 years for Carney to get his medal, etc.).



Chuck Norris and Jack Bauer not up to the memory of Thomas Baker

February 5, 2009

Bauer is fictional, Norris is mostly fictional.

Neither of them can hold a candle to the exploits of Thomas A. Baker.

This is one of the rewards of the study of history:  Fiction cannot hold a candle to reality.

Older son Kenny and I were discussing fantastic things, and he mentioned the story of a “real life Rambo” he had heard about, a guy named Tom Baker.  Baker’s heroism on Saipan, in the Marianas Islands, in the last months of World War II could not pass as fiction — no one would believe it true.  Of course, it is true.

That’s what marks a winner of the Medal of Honor from other heroes in uniform, often.  The things they do, under fire, with their lives on the line, so far exceed what we think humanly possible, that all we can do is marvel.

Take a deep breath, say a little prayer of thanks for those who go into harm’s way in defense of freedom, and read the Medal of Honor citation for Thomas A. Baker, whose medal was awarded posthumously:

*BAKER, THOMAS A.

Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company A, 105th Infantry, 27th Infantry Division. Place and date: Saipan, Mariana Islands, 19 June to 7 July 1944. Entered service at: Troy, N.Y. Birth: Troy, N.Y. G.O. No.: 35, 9 May 1945. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty at Saipan, Mariana Islands, 19 June to 7 July 1944. When his entire company was held up by fire from automatic weapons and small-arms fire from strongly fortified enemy positions that commanded the view of the company, Sgt. (then Pvt.) Baker voluntarily took a bazooka and dashed alone to within 100 yards of the enemy. Through heavy rifle and machinegun fire that was directed at him by the enemy, he knocked out the strong point, enabling his company to assault the ridge. Some days later while his company advanced across the open field flanked with obstructions and places of concealment for the enemy, Sgt. Baker again voluntarily took up a position in the rear to protect the company against surprise attack and came upon 2 heavily fortified enemy pockets manned by 2 officers and 10 enlisted men which had been bypassed. Without regard for such superior numbers, he unhesitatingly attacked and killed all of them. Five hundred yards farther, he discovered 6 men of the enemy who had concealed themselves behind our lines and destroyed all of them. On 7 July 1944, the perimeter of which Sgt. Baker was a part was attacked from 3 sides by from 3,000 to 5,000 Japanese. During the early stages of this attack, Sgt. Baker was seriously wounded but he insisted on remaining in the line and fired at the enemy at ranges sometimes as close as 5 yards until his ammunition ran out. Without ammunition and with his own weapon battered to uselessness from hand-to-hand combat, he was carried about 50 yards to the rear by a comrade, who was then himself wounded. At this point Sgt. Baker refused to be moved any farther stating that he preferred to be left to die rather than risk the lives of any more of his friends. A short time later, at his request, he was placed in a sitting position against a small tree . Another comrade, withdrawing, offered assistance. Sgt. Baker refused, insisting that he be left alone and be given a soldier’s pistol with its remaining 8 rounds of ammunition. When last seen alive, Sgt. Baker was propped against a tree, pistol in hand, calmly facing the foe. Later Sgt. Baker’s body was found in the same position, gun empty, with 8 Japanese lying dead before him. His deeds were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Army.

This site may have a photo of Thomas A. Baker.


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