Archive for the ‘Americana’ Category

John McCain Visits “Blue Angels”

April 2, 2008

By Chris Brennaman 
KTOK, Meridian, Mississippi
March 31, 2008

John McCain’s Naval career is most defined by his commitment to service.

Following a near-death experience aboard the USS Forrestal in July of 1967, just a few months after being deployed to Vietnam, the then-Lieutenant Commander’s plane was hit by a missile. After the crash, McCain was taken as a prisoner of war for more than five and a half years.
USS Forrestal-600px.jpg
USS Forrestal

But prior to his deployment, the presidential candidate spent some time at NAS Meridian as a flight instructor.

“They were some great years,” McCain said. “I really learned to fly here. When you teach flying is when really learn to fly. I enjoyed being an instructor here.”

McCain’s connection with NAS Meridian doesn’t end with his time spent there. In 1961, when the air station was commissioned, the operations area was named McCain Field after the late Admiral John S. McCain — the grandfather of the Arizona senator.

“My grandfather was one of the early Naval aviators,” McCain said. “He was in World War II. Our family is a Mississippi family — our roots are here — so it’s a great experience to be back.”

McCain knows first-hand how much Meridian supports the military, something which he credits with keeping the base open during several rounds of base closing commissions.

He arrived at NAS Meridian Sunday in time to catch part of the Blue Angels show in between hand shakes. The Blues are known as the best of the best, and McCain says they represent the Navy well.
Blue Angels on Delta Formation.jpg

“I’m very proud of these young people that are serving,” McCain said. “They are turning out the highest quality product and the best pilots in the world. They, and our Air Force pilots are the best in the world.”

In addition to greeting those in the crowd, McCain spent some time with the Blue Angels pilots before leaving the base.

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US. Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain is ... 

Why Americans love the Irish (St. Patrick’s Day is Today!)

March 13, 2008

St. Patrick’s Day is about more than just green beer. It’s about scrappy underdogs who embrace their heritage while bleeding red, white and blue.

By Michael Medved
USA Today
March 13, 2008

On Monday, tens of millions of Americans of  every race and background will join together to celebrate a uniquely cherished ethnic holiday — a tribute to despised, destitute Hibernian hordes whose descendants eventually claimed pride of place as the most popular of all immigrant groups. With mass immigration once again a contentious issue in our politics and culture, the St. Patrick’s Day formula — combining Irish pride with unabashed, flag-waving Americanism — offers hope that current controversies might someday achieve similarly satisfactory resolution.

Saint Patrick

There’s little doubt that our annual “Great Day for the Irish” draws more attention than festive commemorations of other national origins (Columbus Day, Pulaski Day, Cinco de Mayo, Israeli Independence Day, you name it), complete with shamrock decorations turning up nearly everywhere, big city rivers sparkling with emerald dye, and school kids featuring green in their wardrobes under serious risk of pinching. The mostly positive images and emotions toward the Irish say as much about the character of the USA as they do about the sons and the daughters of the Auld Sod.
Initial hostilityIn part, we love the Irish because we instinctively embrace underdogs. The Emerald Isle suffered hellish torments during 800 years of oppression by the English — the same arrogant colonialists we defied in our own Revolution. When the starving Irish began to arrive en masse during “The Great Hunger” of the 1840s, they initially faced fiery hostility from nativist Americans and encountered occasional posted notices declaring, “No Irish Need Apply.” Agitation culminated with bloody riots against churches and convents, with the virulently anti-immigrant “Know Nothing” Party electing numerous governors and mayors and even running a former president (Millard Fillmore) as a credible contender for the White House. Despite such obstacles, Irish arrivals persevered, establishing a vibrant Catholic community, dominating police and fire departments within a generation, and playing the lead role in organizing labor unions and big-city political machines.When Harvard-educated millionaire John Fitzgerald Kennedy won the presidency in 1960, barely 110 years had passed since the American arrival of his famine-fleeing great-grandfather, Patrick Kennedy. That’s the sort of poverty-to-power, rags-to-riches tale that has always inspired Americans in this nation of fresh starts and second chances.

The other key element in the appeal of the Irish involves their instantaneous affirmation of American patriotism. Many other immigrant groups experienced a sense of divided loyalties, torn by nostalgic connections to old country nationalisms. In Ireland, however, English overlords ruthlessly suppressed expressions of national pride or distinctive culture (including Gaelic language) so that immigrants embraced Yankee symbols and customs with scant hesitation. That redoubtable patriotic ditty It’s a Grand Old Flag came from Broadway composer George M. Cohan, simultaneously proud of his Irish heritage and his status as the original Yankee Doodle Dandy.

German-Americans count as even more numerous than Irish-Americans (with 49 million claiming German ancestry, compared with 35 million saying they’re Irish). But Ireland never became a rival world power or fought the United States in two brutal wars — preventing any contradiction between loyalty to origins and unquestioned love of the new homeland. John Ford, the legendary filmmaker whose classic westerns forever defined our cowboy heritage, proudly claimed that he began life as Sean Aloysius O’Feeny, the son of immigrants from County Galway. In addition to all the soul-stirring John Wayne horse-operas, Ford also made magnificent films (The Quiet Man, The Last Hurrah) celebrating Ireland and Irish-Americans.

That same blend of heartfelt Americana and Emerald Isle nostalgia characterizes the annual revelry on St. Paddy’s Day. Unlike other ethnic holidays, the festivities seem more familiar than exotic, more mainstream than multicultural. Irish names, accents and melodies have become inescapably American — not some demonstration of diversity or distinctive difference. Irish-ness feels comfortable, even cozy, in part because the sons of the Shamrock have been here so long (the first St. Patrick’s Day Parade took place in New York in 1762) and most of them had arrived speaking English.

For other immigrants

It’s impossible to imagine a sentimental hit song called When German Eyes Are Smiling, despite the countless contributions of German-Americans to our culture.

Sports teams choose their names to convey a sense of classic American pluck, so it’s unthinkable that the legendary Notre Dame football ….

The “Golden Dome” at the University of Notre Dame; home of the “Fighting Irish.”

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