FULLSCREEN FEBRUARY 18, 2010
THE PENTAGON AN AMERICAN LANDMARK
BOY SCOUTS CELEBRATE CENTENNIAL THE BATTLE FOR
AMERICAN PATRIOT THE PENTAGON AMERICAN LANDMARK
4 THE BATTLE FOR
8 THE ERIE CANAL A LITTLE SHORT OF MADNESS
BOY SCOUTS CELEBRATE A CENTENNIAL
PHILLY CHEESESTEAKS AMERICA’S FUN FOODS
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
17 THIS WEEK IN AMERICAN HISTORY
THE PENTAGON AMERICAN LANDMARK
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The Pentagon is the epicenter of American military power and strategy. Was its unique five sided shape built to maximize internal communications or to minimize possible attack or for some other weighty reason? Turns out the answer is no on all accounts. The building’s origin can be traced to a 1941 congressional hearing, when Congressman Clifton Woodrum demanded an “overall solution” to the Department of War's “space problem.” In response, the government purchased a parcel of land, a former dairy farm, that just happened to be pentagon-shaped. Thus, the unique shape. The Pentagon was approved and constructed at a rapid pace, in anticipation of the U.S. entering World War II. The contracts for construction were approved, ironically, on September 11, 1941 and the ground was broken the same day. A minimum of steel was used in its construction, due to the short supplies owing to the war effort. A reinforced concrete structure by necessity, the Pentagon was constructed using 680,000 tons of sand dredged from the Potomac River. A rarity among municipal buildings built during the 20th century, the Pentagon contains no marble; Italy, the main source of marble at the time, was an enemy of the U.S. Such an unremarkable birth seems unfitting for a building that has become an icon of American power, a landmark of modern architecture, headquarters to 23,000 top defense employees, and tragically, a target of terroristic aggression. The five-sided, five-storied building covers an area of about 6,500,000
square feet and houses 17.5 miles of corridors. Main floors are divided into five “rings,” senior most officials occupy the interior ring. The Pentagon is assigned six zip codes, has its own metro station, houses a mini-mall and a suburban style food court. A five acre courtyard sits in the center of the complex, known unofficially by its gallows-humor nickname, “Ground Zero.” The Pentagon has been actively at the center of history on several occasions. During the Vietnam War, it was the focal point of several prominent anti-war protests and sit-ins. At the close of the war, the fourth floor was bombed by the Weather Underground. As most people are aware, on September 11, 2001, terrorists flew an American Airlines Jet into the pentagon, killing 65 passengers and 125 occupants of the Pentagon. The site of the attack was quickly rebuilt, and a memorial and chapel now occupy the hallowed ground.
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT AND BOOK A TOUR OF THE PENTAGON AMERICAN PATRIOT 5
I WO J I M A UNCOMMON VALOR WAS COMMON
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This month marked the 65th anniversary of the battle for Iwo Jima in the Pacific, one of the bloodiest in World War II and a turning point in the Allied war against Japan. Before the fight was over, there were 26,000 American casualties including 6,800 dead. The Japanese fared even worse. Given the stakes, it was not surprising that the battle for the small island — just 4.5 miles by 2.5 miles — was fierce. Iwo Jima was “softened up” by bombing raids for more than two months before the actual amphibious assault. The 36-day assault resulted the death of 95 percent of the 20,000 Japanese defenders. As immortalized in the words of Admiral Chester W. Nimitz: “Among the Americans who served on Iwo Island, uncommon valor was a common virtue.” Twentyseven Medals of Honor were awarded to Marines and sailors, many posthumously, more than were awarded for any other single operation during the war.
For the U.S. war effort, Iwo Jima was an important step toward attacking the Japanese homeland. Four intense years after the disaster at Pearl Harbor, which had given the Japanese the run of the Pacific, American forces were poised for a final push to end the war, and they needed Iwo Jima as landing strip for B-29s returning from bombing runs on Tokyo and other Japanese cities. The seizure of Iwo Jima would allow for sea and air blockades, the ability to increase air bombardment, and undermine the enemy’s air and naval capabilities. For the Japanese, the capture of Iwo Jima by the Americans would mean more punishment from the air for the homeland, and the increased likelihood of an invasion of Japan itself.
An iconic photograph of Marines raising the American flag at the summit of Mt. Suribachi during the battle has become an enduring image of bravery and heroism. One consequence of the fierce and unyielding defense by the Japanese: the battle did show the Americans was how far the Japanese would go to defend their territory — a decision that was to influence the use of the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end the war and avoid a potentially cataclysmic invasion. SEE A DRAMATIZED VERSION OF THE FAMOUS IWO JIMA FLAG RAISING SCENE FOR THE MOVIE, SANDS OF IWO JIMA AMERICAN PATRIOT 7
THE ERIE CANAL A LITTLE SHORT OF MADNESS
When work was completed on the Erie Canal in October 1825, a “Grand Celebration” was marked by a massive cannonade, blasts were fired in succession the length of the waterway from Buffalo to New York City. The firing lasted 90 minutes, spanning the canal’s 360 miles. New York Governor Dewitt Clinton led a flotilla of boats down the canal to Port of New York in a remarkable ten days, then an unheard of speed for a cross-state trip. On arrival, the Governor poured a glass of Lake Erie water into New York Harbor, ceremonially marking a “Wedding of the Waters.” It was an unlikely celebration. Although the need to link the ports of the East with the rapidly growing West had been known for the better part of a century, the cost and engineering challenges were overwhelming. George Washington tried and failed a Potomac linked to the West; numerous other companies were chartered for similar ends, all declaring bank-
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ruptcy. It was a scandal when entrepreneur Jesse Hawley, a bankrupt grain shipper who envisioned the Erie Canal while in debtor's prison, gained Governor Clinton's support for a try in 1817. The project was mocked as “Clinton's Folly” and a "“Ditch.” President Jefferson called Hawley’s plan “a little short of madness” and rejected it outright.
The Canal would be built with seven million dollars from New Yorkâ€™s treasury, an unheard of sum. The engineering and construction would have to be accomplished by novices; the United States didn't have civil engineers and the laborers, mostly from Northern Ireland, lacked experience. Brilliant solutions were conceived on the fly, from soil excavation methods to devices built for the felling of trees. More than 1,000 men would die of Swamp Fever near Syracuse, stopping construction. Homes along the construction route were accidently crushed by falling trees and rocks. The completed canal had immediate impact. It cut transportation costs by 95 percent and instantly opened Eastern and European markets to the rich markets of the Midwest and vice versa. New York City became the national center of trade and commerce, Buffalo grew from a village to a bustling city, fortunes were made and new territory was opened. In the golden era for the canal, 360 boats were passed daily, helping develop dozens of cities along its path. Its legacy would be immortalized in the writings of Mark Twain, Herman Melville, and Harriet Beecher Stowe. For a brief moment in time, it was Americaâ€™s superhighway from the heartland to the coast.
The Canal would eventually succumb to the railroad system, and by the late 1800's the traffic fell to a fraction of what it was decades earlier. The modern Erie Canal is operated by New York State, and still remains a viable shipping route for objects to large for rail or highway. Along some portions of the old canal route, a tourism industry is growing, with small hotels and tourist spots catering to hikers, bikers, history buffs and boaters.
LISTEN TO THE FAMOUS ERIE CANAL SONG AMERICAN PATRIOT 9
A M E R I CA’ S F U N FO O D S
PHILLY CHEESESTEAKS At any given time, regardless of hour, weather or time of year, there will be two long lines formed at the intersection of 9th and Passyunk streets in downtown Philadelphia. That's where Pat's and Geno’s, archrivals in the cheesesteak trade, compete for the culinary affections of a calorie-loving clientele. For some, loyalty lies with the originator, Pat's (shown above), which first sold chopped steak on a hot dog bun in 1930 and has sold millions since. For others, it is the blindingly bright-lit Geno’s, an eatery which would appear more at home on the Jersey Shore than the gritty neighborhood immortalized in the classic movie “Rocky.” The debate has raged in the city of Brotherly Love for over half a century.
The cheesesteak is classic American cuisine, conceived by enterprising food vendors as a more satisfying solution than hot dogs or hamburgers for a workingman's lunch. It has been recreated, reinvented, and exported, there a numerous interpretations available from greasy spoons to high-brow eateries. In Philadelphia, one could start the day with a simple street-cart cheesesteak for breakfast, stop by a pizza shop for a pepperoni pizza cheese steak for lunch, and conclude the day at Barclay Prime for the kobe beef and taleggio cheesesteak (the last would cost upwards of $100 and comes with Champagne). But for a classic Philadelphia cheesesteak, the ingredients are straightforward and (mostly) agreed upon by the fundamentalists. It starts with the beef. The roll is important. But it is the choice of cheese that allows for the greatest leeway in interpretation: a classic cheesteak is topped with Kraft Cheez-Whiz; other acceptable cheeses include provolone or white American cheese. During the 2004 Presidential campaign, John Kerry, in a series of photo-ops attempting to counter his elitist image, attempted to order a Pat's Steak with Swiss cheese. He was roundly mocked. The Philadelphia cheesesteak ordering process follows a rigid structure, and is necessary to follow for adequate service and street cred. If one wanted a cheesesteak topped with cheez whiz and onions, for example, it is phrased “Cheesesteak With,” to subtract onions “Cheesesteak Without;” for provolone, “Provolone Steak With/ Without.” For the novice, directions are clearly posted at the ordering counter.
Though most visitors will flock to Pat's and Geno's (shown above), there are several other well-regarded spots to try, often off of the beaten path:
TONY LUC’S OLD PHILLY STYLE Oregon Avenue Between Front Street and I-95
The stadium favorite, this is a mandatory stop on the way to a Phillies or Eagles game. ISHKABIBBLE'S 337 South Street A renowned hole in the wall, Ishkabibbles boasts a broad menu and the best chicken cheesesteak in the city. JOHN'S ROAST PORK 14 East Snyder Avenue Little more than a shack in the middle of an industrial area, this is a blue collar favorite. LEO'S 1403 Chester Pike, Folcroft PA The king of the suburbs is famous for its massive portions and reputation.
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BOY SCOUTS CELEBRATE A CENTENNIAL
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The year 2010 is a major milestone for Boy Scouts of America, the 100th anniversary of the institution. Over the years the program, started by Chicago publisher William Boyce with support from Teddy Roosevelt and other outdoorsmen, has enrolled an estimated 112 million boys. Now one of the nation’s largest values-based youth development organizations, the Scouts provide a program that seeks to build character, train boys for the responsibilities of citizenship, and encourage personal fitness. Neil Armstrong, Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton, John F. Kennedy, Bill Gates, Bruce Jenner, Walter Cronkite, and Nolan Ryan are some of the group’s most notable products. Service to others has also always been a vital part of Scouting. Patrols and troops have organized to carry out worthwhile projects for their communities. They gave gathered food and clothing for needy neighbors, built playgrounds, and repaired parks and public building. In times of emergency, they have assisted fire and police departments, aided in the evacuation of flood victims, and cleaned up after storms Throughout 2010, the Boy Scouts are celebrating the centennial anniversary milestone with a rallying call heard across the nation as Scouts gather in their communities to pay tribute to a rich history and tradition. “This country needs strong leaders and healthy young people more than ever before, and that is what Scouting is all about,” said Bob Mazzuca, Chief Scout Executive. “This is our time in history to remind the nation that Scouting is more vibrant, more vital, and more relevant than ever before. Every day, millions of Scouts and adult leaders make a huge difference in our society. We look forward to continuing that commitment in the next century.” Though firmly rooted in a set of core values, the Scouts are committed to remaining current and relevant by adapting how it delivers programs and reaches its audiences. This includes environmentalism. In addition to publishing the first
“green” Boy Scout Handbook in 2009, BSA magazines Boys’ Life and Scouting have been certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. To honor 100 years of the U.S. scouting movement, the Postal Service has unveiled the Celebrate Scouting stamp. The design, created by illustrator Craig Frazier, depicts the spirit and outdoor adventure of scouting through a backpacking scout and a large silhouette of a scout surveying the landscape. Commented USPS Sustainability Vice President, Samuel M. Pulcrano: “I learned a great many things from scouting when I was a boy, and many of those lessons came from my father who served as my assistant scoutmaster. The experience made such an impression on me that I now serve as assistant scoutmaster for my sons’ troop.” In conjunction with the Celebrate Scouting announcement, the Boy Scouts of America announced it will begin a nationwide effort to support U.S. Armed Forces personnel serving overseas and veterans by sending letters and care packages through the Postal Service. Anyone who'd like to join in on the letter writing campaign is welcome.
LEARN MORE ABOUT SENDING CARE PACKAGES TO THE TROOPS AMERICAN PATRIOT 13
NORMAN LEAR TV GROUNDBREAKER
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Norman Lear is credited with broadening the scope of television content. With such groundbreaking television series as All in the Family, Maude, and Sanford and Son to his credit, Lear helped usher in an age of enlightenment in American entertainment, where sensitive social and political issues could be discussed in popular media. Lear was born in New Haven CT in 1922. He attended Boston's Emerson College, but dropped out in September 1942 to join the U.S. Air Force during World War II. Lear received a Decorated Air Medal for his wartime achievements and, upon leaving the service, married and started his career as a writer and producer in New York City making $40 dollars a week. In 1971, lightening struck. Lear created a situation comedy series that would change television programming. Based on a British comedy show about working class experiences and values, Lear and partner Bud Yorkin secured the American rights to the idea and introduced “All in the Family” on CBS. With Carroll O'Connor starring as Archie Bunker, the show’s episodes and dialog broke taboos, as it confronted and explored the ethnic, racial and sexual prejudices of the day, and tackled political and social issues. The conservative, illeducated and grumpy Bunker delivered conventional stereotypes, which were softened by the good-hearted common sense of his wife (Jean Stapleton was Edith Bunker), and the pointed arguments of his liberal son-in-law, perpetual student and Polish-American son-in-law Mike Stivic (played by Rob Reiner). In an interview years later, Lear said that he was trying to break through the blandness of popular entertainment: “The biggest problem in comedy was Mom's
dented the car, and how do we keep Dad from finding out, or the boss is coming to dinner and the lamb roast is ruined. We paid attention to our children. We paid attention to our marriages. We paid attention to the newspapers we read and the culture. And we chose our subjects from all these things that were influencing us.” Lear and Yorkin created several successful and edgy spin-off shows based upon characters that originally debuted on All in the Family. This included “Maude” as a thoroughly liberated modern woman, “The Jeffersons,” as an upwardly mobile African-American story with a bigot of its own in laundry owner George Jefferson, an Afro-centric comedy about a junkyard entitled “Sanford and Son,” and the suburban surrealist dark comedy “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.” Lear’s influence and political vision has carried way beyond television. As a philanthropist, humanitarian and advocate of generally liberal causes, Lear has founded several nonprofit organizations including People For the American Way; the Norman Lear Center at the USC Annenberg School for Communication; and the Business Enterprise Trust. In 1999, President Clinton bestowed the National Medal of Arts on him, stating: “Norman Lear has held up a mirror to American society and changed the way we look at it.”
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“The problem with winter sports is that — follow me closely here — they generally take place in winter.” — DAVE BARRY COLUMNIST AND HUMORIST, ON THE WINTER OLYMPICS
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THIS WEEK IN
1972. President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger arrived in China for historic meetings with Chairman Mao Tse-Tung. The dramatic ploy reopened official relations after years of friction between the Capitalist superpower and its Communist counterpart.
AMERICAN PATRIOT 17
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