Serb Hall

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Serb Hall

Postby jodon » Sun Feb 24, 2008 1:51 am

A couple of recent events have brought to mind some divergent ideas that might come together enough to be a rational topic. As I mentioned in last Friday's chat I saw John McCain briefly in person just shortly before signing in to the chat.
My daughter and I and a friend had gone to Boston Store for our weekly Friday fish dinner in their resturant. Best value in town I say, and as proof the place is crowded with old-timers who know a good deal. Afterwards I took my daughter to Special Olympics swim team practice. She was done at 7:15pm.
I remembered that McCain was supposed to be at Serb Hall for a speech at 7:00. It was not much out of the way so I drove past checking it out. There was one parking spot open only about a block away, so I thought what the heck, get a little more walking in for the day. Serb Hall was a good choice for McCain. A populur venue in the heart of working class neighborhoods. One that a long list of contenders for high office have stopped at to campaign. He would be Introduced by popular, populist, common man ex-governor and old fashioned republican Tommy Thompson. ... &Itemid=11
Slipping and sliding through the cold miserable evening we went past the long line of cars waiting for their carry-out fish fries. Serb Hall has about the biggest of this long standing Milwaukee tradition. The Friday fish fry of course, goes back to the days when the Catholic church forbade the eating of meat on Fridays. Since lent had started, a time when the Catholic church still forbids the eating of meat on Fridays the place is even busier than a usual Friday.
I go in a door that is closest to the big room where you can get a variety of fish dinners, including the popular all you can eat, and sit down in semi-caffeteria style. No McCain there, just customers eating. So I walk down the long hallway toward the Presidents room. Its a large Hall where I bet 4 out of 5 south siders have been to at least one event. It has large portraits of the last dozen or so presidents around the perimeter of the room. Just as I got to the corner of the short hall leading to the room, we stop and join a few other gawkers and just then Tommy Thompson comes out of a small room, and behind him is John McCain. Nothing dramatic, nothing momentus. He didn't look at me and give the thumbs up or anything. It cost $18 bucks to hear him speak so I didn't even go in.
So why this rather boring story? John McCain had to pass a wall of Portraits and plaques that he had to notice, and I'm sure, must have made him pause a moment. I hope he carries the memory with him. I'm sure the owners of the hall, the Serbian Orthadox Cathedral parish which sits at one end of the parking lot hope he does as well. If I am successful attaching the photos you will see for yourself but there is a long wall that has been made into a shrine to Serbian Americans that have given their lives in service to this country.
At the last two events that my daughters Exceptional Chorus group had in the presidents room, I was given the job of selling tickets and watching the door. Its a good job for me because I don't have a big table of family expecting me to join them like most of the other parents have. After everyone was in, I was sitting out there alone at a table facing the shrine wall just a few feet away.
The portraits are done much better than those almost comically bad ones of the presidents inside the room. In fact never were portraits of young men done so well. They look so strong and proud. Their personalities seem to come through in the almost photo realistic artwork. This one loud and outgoing in his bomber pilots cap, that one looking quiet and thoughtful in his midshipman's headgear. A long line of portraits of decorated officers on top. Underneath rows of shining brass plaques with the names and info on Serbian Americans in the enlisted ranks that made the ultimate sacrifice for us. They are superb representations of young men at the best, most noble time of their lives. As handsome and brave as any men could possibly be, while still being individual and real. At the center a local boy who grew up close by looks out at us. Captain Lance Sijan, shot down over North Vietnam, escaping capture for 6 weeks, then resisting torture in defiance of his captors, escaping again only to be beaten as punishment. His strength finally giving out, his last words as he died in his comrades arms were of new plans for escape. Awarded Medal of Honor.
As you face these portraits, you looking at them, they back at you... the effect with the lighting ...the flags ..the brass ... well its moving to say the least.
The other day there was a news story that probably escaped most peoples attention. Kosovo had declared its independance from Serbia. Kosovo was the reason for that wonderful little war we had carried out for a few weeks in the ninties. We wanted to stop the excesses of the Serbian army that had gone into Kosovo to stop the moslem majority from persecuting the serbian minority. They had become we thought excessively cruel in their methods of achieving that end.
It was a war that finally achieved the amazing result of victory without the lose of a single man. On our side that is. There were high fives and cheers all around as our bombs smashed them and they couldn't do anything to us. Bridges, railroads, warehouses and other
buildings in Serbia were destroyed by the score. Smoke was thick over Serbian cities and it is thought thousands died from our attacks.
They quit to stop our attacks and because we assured them that our troops would take over and insure the protection of the serbian minority and that yes Kosovo would always stay part of Serbia, nobody could dispute their claim to it. Kosovo was the ancient heart of Serbia, shrines and monuments to events in Serbian history are all over the countryside.
There were great battles in the middle ages where Serbs stood alone against the onslaughts of Moslem turks who had ambitions to conquer all of Europe for Islam. Entire serbian armies had been destroyed in the effort and populations of Christians turned into populations of moslems. In world war one they had fought the Austro-hungarian empire to a standstill alone, only to be devastated when Germany joined their allies to crush the small upstart nation. In world war two thousands of Serbians risked their lives to rescue hundreds of downed allied pilots and lead them to safety.
Now moslems from Albania that had migrated to Kosovo had become the majority. do in part to a high birthrate, and had undertaken a rebellion to make that part of Serbia their own. It would be like they had migrated to this country and eventually become the majority in New England and decided to remove that part of the country from the union and make it
their own. Sunday the effort reached its conclusion with their declaration and on Monday the major western nations recognized the new country. There are riots in Serbia of anger over the development and Russia and China refuse to recognize the new country, and are angry at us for going against our word again. This time to preserve Kosovo as part of Serbia.
I don't claim to know which side is more right or more wrong in this matter. It just seems like a big complicated mess with issues going back hundreds of years with only the local people involved having much of any "feel" or understanding of it, and what that understanding is depending on what side of the question you are on. The same could be said of most of the conflicts we get ourselves involved in around the world. Vietnam, Afganistan Iraq all the same complicated beyond our power to understand from half a world away.
If we try to super simplify like we did in Iraq by saying its Ok because the world is a better place without Saddam. We realize that if that is our justification for attack then 3/4 ths of the world would be justified in attacking us because they think the world would be a better place without George.
I just finished a book called "overthrow: America's century of Regime change, from Hawaii to Iraq". It documents how in the past 100 years the United States through covert means orchestrated the overthrow of 14 legitimate governments. Some of them democratically elected governments like in Chile, and Iran, which were replaced by dictators whose repressive regimes murdered thousands of opponents. and whose legacies are the foundation of anti-americanism to this day.
I remember during the Vietnam war when people tried but couldn't quite get why we were sending all those troops to the other side of the world to intervene in a small peasant country. The word always was that "it doesn't seem to make any sense but the big shots in Washington must know things that we don't know". They must have info that can't be divulged but if it could would make everything clear and plain to understand. Then in the last couple decades we read the memoirs of all these Washington genious's and find out they were as ignorant and clueless as any of us on the why's and wherefores of what they were doing.
The history and complex factors involved in the situation were of course known by some. The common people of ours on the ground in the area who were real experts who had devoted their lives to that part of the world and knew the score. The French also with their long history in the area try to warn us but these washington types love to dismiss the real
experts on the ground in the area as people who can't see the big picture. Near as I have ever been able to figure the ten years of Vietnam the millions of lives the vast suffering the great treasure wasted was because ...... Johnson didn't want to appear to be soft on Communism. A small personal neurotic characteristic of one man leads to.
Iraq was of course about the same thing. Lies starting the war, people misled but wanting to believe their President. Blunders, miscalculations, completely shocked and surprised again by the way things turn out because we didn't understand the dynamics of the situation. The complexities again befuddle us and lead to a big ugly mess. Again like in
Kosovo we get friends mixed up with enemies. One day fighting Sunni militias. The next day paying them. Clueless who is really on our side for real. The great decline of the United States can no longer be doubted all because why again? A person has to stop to think what is the latest of the ever changing rationals for the war.
702 bases in 120 countries for what?
An out of countrol military industrial complex that has taken over while we were busy trying to reassure ourselves how things were still pretty good. Is that it maybe? When war is so profitable to a few, reasons will be found for war. If people aren't strong enough to be the government then the special interests.... 70 lobbyists for every congressman have the money and the access to step in and take their place.
The Great empire of the United States has been tried and failed because we don't know what the hell we are doing. So lets quit trying to be god of the earth. I believe in Ron Paul's foreign policy agenda ... Bring our beloved service men and women home.... All of them ...not just from Iraq .. from all 702 bases in 120 countries. Let us be again for the people of the world, the shining example across the sea of a country where peace, prosperity, democracy and good will for all men, is the rule. Rather than the secret, ugly, barbed wire enclosure down the road, there for who knows what, and a temptation for the poor local woman who need some money for their families.
If other countries get themselves involved in violence let us help them with our heart felt prayers and by demonstrating the wisdom of the opposite.

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