Monday, November 9, 2009

Today In History - November 9th - A Significant Day For Germany

In 1989, recent history for most of us, those words - earlier spoken by President Ronald Reagan to Soviet President Gorbachev - were finally brought to fruition when the Berlin Wall was toppled. It was a great day for Germany - it meant reunification of the east and west portions of the country and of the east and west sections of the city of Berlin. There was joy all around on both sides of the wall.

The strange thing, maybe just by coincidence, or maybe by design of some higher power, is that November 9th had a lot of significance in the events that ultimately led to the fall of Germany and to the division of both the country and the city of Berlin at the end of hostilities in WWII. I will not go into it all that much except to list for you other events of historical significance that also took place on November 9th and either directly involved Germany or indirectly did so through actions of her allies or enemies. Look at the other events that took place, the most notable, but maybe not the most significant, probably being

November 9, 1918 Bavaria proclaims itself a republic

November 9, 1918
Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicates after German defeat in WW I

November 9, 1918 Germany declares itself a republic (known by historians as the
Weimar Republic)

November 9, 1923
Beer Hall Putsch-Nazis fail to overthrow government resulting in 16 deaths and Hitler going into hiding and ultimately leading to his arrest during which time he wrote Mein Kampf.

November 9, 1925 German NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers' Party (better known as the Nazis) form the
Schutzstaffel - the SS.

November 9, 1935 Japan invades Shanghai China

November 9, 1936 Albanian govt of Frasheri falls

November 9, 1937 Japan's army conquers Shanghai

November 9, 1938 - Death of
Ernst vom Rath who was shot by a German born Jew, Herschel Grynszpan, in Paris two days before

November 9, 1938 -
Kristallnacht - German pogrom against the Jews as called for by Joseph Goebbels in retaliation for the assassination of vom Rath

November 9, 1939 -
Venlo-incident: German Abwehr kills 2 English agents

November 9, 1940 - German Invasions of Norway & Denmark

November 9, 1941 - Hitler threatens
Clemens August Graf von Galen of Munster who will then endure virtual house arrest from 1941 on due to his anti-Nazi sentiments

November 9, 1942 - German occupiers put
Erik Scavenius as Danish premier

November 9, 1942 - Transport nr 44 departs with French Jews to Nazi-Germany (part of Hitler's attempt to exterminate all Jews worldwide - something he decided on only in 1942)

November 9, 1989 - East Berlin opens its borders (Finally some good on this day for Germany - the wall comes down!)

It all sort of makes you wonder - or at least makes me wonder - what is it about 11/9 and Germany! I suppose it is all only coincidence but I really do wonder if that is all. Then again, what is it about November 9 th in general? Heck, this was the day of the discovery of the body of Mary Jane Kelly the last murder victim of Jack The Ripper, the day that John List killed his family and fled to Colorado, the day that Sherman first planned his March to the Sea, the day of the Great Fire of Boston and the day Napolean became the 1st Consul of France (as in dictatorial ruler)!

Of course, throughout history, lots of good and bad things happen on each and every day. So I suppose in the years of Nazi influence and rule in Europe lots of other days were significant too - but again I wonder - did any others have as many as significant events take place as did this one day for Germany?

All the best,
Glenn B


Wikipedia (see various links above)

Ballseye's Gun Shots 34 - The Lesson of the Lanyard

Practical fireams use is something not all of us get to do all that often. Yeah we go to the range maybe once or twice a year, maybe even once a month. We may even take part in competitions that have the word "practical" in the name of the match now and then but is there any real practicality to any of that.

Real life practical shooting and firearms handling, at least to me, means you are using a gun for something for which you have practiced and not just solely in practice. So how can I use mine practically here in New York amid the likes of Bloommberg, Patterson and the huge anti-gun crowd that resides in this state. Well besides carry it and being at the ready to defend myself with it (I did shoot a guy once way back then just along those lines), and besides having it at the ready when working in law enforcement, there is another thing I do with it that meets my idea of Practical Use of a Firearm. I hunt.

This weekend, I have a quick day (maybe two day) trip planned with my son. We are going to go upstate New York to scope out our deer hunting area. I have a couple of areas selected, but we want to get a better feel for the one we are most likely going to hunt. So off we will be going. Now firearms deer hunting season will not yet be open but we will take along at least one 22 rifle and a 12 gauge shotgun. No - we are not about to go poaching deer out of season, but if an old Tom Turkey crosses our path or if a gray ghost with a bushy tail chucks down nutshells at us from the swaying treetops - well then, you can bet we will be shooting. Of course, with our luck, chances are we will only see one of Pepe Le Pew's cousins and wind up getting skunked but we will be ready for putting some game on the table should the opportunity arise.

The thing is though, some other things will get accomplished by way of our armed walk through the woods this weekend. All of those things will be hunting oriented in one way or another, and some will be more specifically sighted in on firearms and their practical application. If you know anything about me and my use of firearms then you know that safety is one of the preeminent things on my mind when handling guns. It has been since I was about 9 or 10 years old. That is a long story - but here goes the nutshell version:

I well remember learning how to make lanyards by braiding and twisting and tying brightly colored strips of vinyl or plastic covered string when I was in summer camp as a youngster. It was the neatest thing, besides anything to do with monsters, that you could make in Arts and Crafts class. We all vied for the attention of the camp counselors (Marist Brothers) by giving them a finished lanyard. They only accepted the good ones so we all strove to make them well. I finally got one right and one of the brothers who was a range instructor took possession of my masterpiece. I was thrilled. My thrill was not diminished by the fact I had to make about 10 of them before one was acceptable, nor was it lessened by the fact that the brothers only accepted the good one. (Imagine that in today's politically correct nanny society - heck back then you had to prove yourself worthy even for them to accept a gift - and that really was a good thing because it instilled an ethic of doing well within us.) It was just great, the neatest thing that mine made the grade. I will admit though, that even back then I had to wonder at least a little why I had gone to those great lengths to make an acceptable lanyard, but I do not still wonder about it - I know the reason - he is in the picture above. You see the reason I wondered, back then, was because I of the the zapping electrical like sting of that very same lanyard as it was swiped across my thighs with great force like a whip. That was when I did something that was unsafe at the range. I was in the prone position (the one we shot from most) and was wearing the uniform of t-shirt and camp shorts. A cease fire or something was called for and I guess I was not quick enough - so when I finally got it right after a it of loud talking down to from the range brother - I was whipped with my own handiwork. Imagine it if you can but to tell you the truth it was an honor to be disciplined with what I had made myself. I do not know if I realized it then, though there must have been some realization of it in my mind, that it was almost as if I had agreed that if I step out of line I should in some way be responsible for my own discipline! The lanyard that I made made it so. Thus was born a deeply rooted in respect for a few things. I gained respect for adults, for authority, for firearms, and for firearms safety, and at the same time self respect and the knowledge that I had to become responsible for my own actions. That was The Lesson of the Lanyard. It was a practical lesson I have never forgotten and strangely enough it was enmeshed in Art and Crafts class! I am not an artsy guy, I do not do well with my hands building or making things, but I will never forget that lanyard or the lessons it taught me and the most important one was respect for firearms' safety.

Okay - so what does all that have to do with our planned trip this coming weekend and our practical use of firearms. Well, Brendan and I will be out in the woods together. It will be the first time in about a year. We will both be carrying firearms. We will both need to exercise firearms' safety to the maximum, not only for our own safety but for anyone with range of a fired shot. A scouting trip like this one then will allow each of us to assess our own and each others attention to firearms safety. It will give each of us a chance to practice it and to refine it before the deer hunting season opens while at the same time giving us the potential to bag a turkey or some squirrels for Sunday's dinner. I am pretty sure Brendan will be safe although he may need a reminder or two about firearms safety when afield instead of in the house or at the range. It is a truly different world out there when you are hiking through the woods with loaded firearms. Heck, he may not be the only one who needs a reminder, I am far from perfect and I can use a reminder now and then just like anyone else. I'll accept it from him as he does from me - with an open mind at staying safe and keeping out sport fun for years to come. The thing is, when I taught him to shoot, I never taught him how to make a lanyard first but I did instill firearms safety into his head above anything else to do with guns and ammo and hunting. I attended his hunter safety course and even took the test with him to show him an old dog needs to keep brushed up on things too. I also sent him to summer camp one year. I don't know if they used a lanyard on him, but I do know one of the Marist Brothers from way back when I went to camp, one of the range brothers at that, was in charge of the camp to which my son went. I imagine they also instilled a bit of respect into him as they did into me with the Lesson of the Lanyard; if they did then it was good thing.

Truth be told, I think one of the biggest reasons that there are as many accidents each year as there are during hunting season is that some hunters, while having passed a hunter safety course, just do not have as much respect for firearms safety probably due to their lack of practical experience with firearms during times of the year other than hunting season. What I mean is they only handle their guns a couple to a few times a year - at most - usually right before and during hunting season. Imagine that you drove a car only for a week or two a year and that when you did the roads were crowded with other drivers who drove as little as you and all came out at the same time of the year to drive! This is a lot like those using firearms during hunting season. The few times a year they handle guns, with one exception, are at the range or in the home - and they do not go to the range often enough at that - maybe once or twice to sight in the hunting rifle right before opening day. The first day of deer season is about the only time they handle a firearm in the field. Thus they have little experience doing so and they are the poorer sportsman and firearms handler for it - there skills are rusty and they have probably not thought of some of the basic rules of firearms safety for awhile let alone other hunter safety concerns. It can be a scary time.

How do you overcome that tendency to get rusty. Getting out to the range a at least 5 or 6 times a year (or better yet monthly) then going out afield a time or two before the opening of the main season for the animal you intend to hunt would be a good way to assure that you are less likely to do something costly on opening day in all the excitement of the hunt. I would rather take the time and effort to be a bit better prepared to get off a good and safe shot if I do wind up seeing (in other than my dreams under an apple tree) a huge 14 pointer, a flock of Canada Geese, a big Tom Turkey, or a fat cottontail zigging and zagging - what about you. So this weekend my son and I are going to go out and make practical use of some of our firearms in order to hone our handling and possibly our shooting skills, while a the same time making sure we have the safety issues right. Practical not only in that we may bag game with them but in that we will help assure that we maintain proper firearms safety etiquette during our main hunt and that we come home in one piece and help to assure that others afield do likewise.

All the best,
Glenn B

Wish I'd Had My Camera Handy Today... I drove up the west side of Manhattan and got a good look at the USS New York! It is an impressive and very modern looking ship. Besides that it is partly made from steel that came out of the World Trade Center. I only got a brief glimpse and it was enough to assure me I need to see more of it. Maybe Thursday for lunch or after work when I am back in NYC for my job. I'll be out in the field tomorrow and off on Wednesday - hmm maybe that makes Wednesday a good day too - especially since it will be Veterans' Day!

All the best,
Glenn B