Monday, November 17, 2014

Watch FREE Live-Stream of International Conference on WWII - Dec. 4-6, 2014

The National World War II museum in New Orleans, Louisiana, will once again live-stream their amazing conference for FREE. This year's theme is 1944: Beyond All Borders, and it promises to be just as good as last year.

Here's a brief description of the conference:

"The 2014 International Conference on WWII, 1944: Beyond All Boundaries, will cover the buildup and preparations for the explosive summer of 1944, the Allied advances on all fronts, and the eventual stalling of that momentum in the fall. Top scholars in the field will explore key battles, personalities, and controversies—including why, despite great success, the Allies were unable to achieve victory by year’s end."

Noted speakers include Rick Atkinson, Antony Beevor, and Dr. Gerhard Weinberg.

Check out the museum's website for a full schedule and to see a list of all the talks. Then make sure to mark your calendars!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Review: Out of the Depths by Edgar Harrell

Sometimes, we forget the horrors of war. We forget that the veterans we rightly praise as heroes went through hell, time and time again.

This is certainly true for Edgar Harrell, a U.S. Marine who survived the sinking of the USS Indianapolis in late July 1945. Together with his son, David Harrell, Edgar relates his unbelievable story in Out of the Depths: An Unforgettable WWII Story of Survival, Courage, and the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis.

Much has been written about the USS Indianapolis as one of the worst naval disasters in U.S. history, but Edgar's story truly brings the human element to life. When the ship was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine, Edgar was sleeping on the deck of the ship. The blasts instantly woke him and before long, he, along with hundreds of other men, had to abandon the sinking ship.

What followed in the next four days could only be the stuff of nightmares. Plagued by unbearable thirst, the sun's harsh rays, and hypothermia, many men went delirious or saw hallucinations and swam away to their deaths. Others succumbed to their need for water and drank the poisonous salt water, resulting in their tormenting deaths. Shark attacks, lack of fresh water and food, dehydration, injuries, and utter exhaustion took many others.

With vivid imagery, Edgar describes the heartbreaking ordeal of watching his comrades die, of trying to keep his fellow friend and Marine, Miles Spooner, alive, of his determination to survive. Throughout it all, his faith in God kept him going, and others, as well. It was this unshakable faith that enabled him to never give up hope.

Rescue finally came, a miracle in itself,  and Edgar and his fellow survivors began the arduous journey of recovering from their experience. 317 out of 900 men survived. Unfortunately, the secrecy and deception surrounding the incident haunted them for years afterwards, and it would be decades before the truth was finally told.

This is an intimate, highly readable story. In fact, it would be quite easy to imagine Edgar telling you his tale while sitting across from you at a table in your local coffee shop. His is a gentle voice, one that can move you to tears of happiness or tears of pain. Yet over and over, the one striking element of his story is his overwhelming gratitude to the Lord for sparing him and for allowing him to share his faith with his shipmates.  It's this faith that sustained him through his ordeal, and this faith that has enabled him to live a full life blessed with a loving wife, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Though the memories of this nightmare still remain (he has never again stepped foot in the ocean), Edgar has found peace.

A highly readable, well-written personal account, Out of the Depths is as inspiring as it is informative.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans Day 2014

A few weeks ago, hubby and I went to a local grocery store to buy a few things. An elderly veteran stood outside, selling poppies for the Disabled American Veterans. He looked grizzled and cranky and, frankly, plain grouchy. And no wonder. No one was stopping to buy his poppies.
I didn't have any cash on me, so I figured I'd wait to buy a poppy from him until I got some money inside the store. After we finished shopping, we went back outside and I walked up to the veteran, handing him the money. You would not believe the smile that lit his face. 
"I'd like to buy a poppy," I said.
He beamed at me. "You can have as many as you want!"
That smile changed his entire demeanor, and I suddenly realized what a small act of kindness can do for people, especially a small act telling that veteran you will remember him and his comrades.
Today, I wear that poppy and I remember him and the rest of the veterans, past and present.

Thank you for allowing me to live in freedom. I will never forget.

Friday, November 07, 2014

The Illustrated London News

If you're interested in primary resources on World War I and World War II, then it's a safe bet you'll love this new resource from Christie's in London: The Illustrated London News. Though the sale has passed, you can still view the e-catalogue with a listing of the works and descriptions.

From the press release:

"Christie’s is proud to announce that it will offer works from the collection of The Illustrated London News in the Interiors sale on 7 October 2014. The works on offer from Illustrated News Limited (ILN) include original illustrations and artworks from the world’s first illustrated weekly news magazine, The Illustrated London News, published from 1842 to 2003 and The Sphere, a weekly illustrated newspaper published from 1900 to 1964. The illustrations offered from the collection, the majority of which were reproduced in print, highlight the role that these publications played in chronicling through imagery British history in the 20th Century.

From their coverage of royal events including the Royal wedding of Queen Elizabeth and Phillip Mountbatten, to the publications’ coverage of WWI and WWII, and The Festival of Britain, the illustrations offer a diverse and fascinating insight into the way The Illustrated London News documented key events of the time to its British and North American readership. The sale features works on paper by leading artists and illustrators of the period, Bryan de Grineau, Steven Ward, Fortunino Matania and several oils by Terence Cuneo, all of whom worked for the publications."

 A few of the illustrations:

The value of carrier pigeons during World War II - by Bryan De Grineau, 1941

Charles Edward Turner (1883-1965) - The last tense minutes of the "Ark Royal": A destroyer hitches alongside the sinking warship, 1941.