Remembering my ancestor at Gettysburg, on the anniversary of the battle

I hadn’t been posting as much on the blog lately, and after writing about Aunt Donna I feel like I should distract myself a bit by writing about Civil War history.  So indulge me, if you will.

Among the Union troops at Gettysburg was a middle-aged French-Canadian soldier who had enlisted at the beginning of the war in the Boston Volunteers, a unit that later became the 11th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment.  His name was Moses Beaulieu, and he was a widower who had left his 4 year old daughter in the care of the woman who ran the boarding house where they lived in South Weymouth, Massachusetts.  He was one of the first members of his family (my mother’s family) to move from Quebec to Massachusetts, where he had found work as a bootmaker in the booming shoe industry.

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Goodbye to my Aunt Donna, my godmother

This past week, my Aunt Donna, who had been suffering from vascular dementia for the last couple of years, passed away.  She was 72 years old.

Aunt Donna was one of those relatives of mine who helped shape me into the person I am today, in many ways.  I loved her very very much.  I wish I had been able to be there for her more often, especially in the last few months.  They were particularly difficult for her, as her ability to have a conversation and organize her thoughts was eroded away by the ravaging disease acting in conjunction with her other health issues.  Before I met Kelly, she was one of the biggest reasons I wanted to move back to Massachusetts, so I could be there for her when she needed me.  And in some ways I was, and I am all too glad to have done those things like help her get her house ready for the big hurricanes a few years ago.  It was the least I could do.  I wish I had done more.

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She went with me to my first live Red Sox game, which was such a treat as I had been a fan most of my life but, living far away, was unable to attend any games, even in childhood.  Kelly (who was also there) snapped this picture of us, which is my favorite pictures of her and I.  It reminds me of how she was always so full of fun, so full of life.  She was a truly good person, with an endless supply of empathy and compassion for other people.  She donated to all sorts of liberal causes.  She befriended so many people from different walks of life.  Although she did not have any pets of her own as an adult (at least, of which I am aware), she loved animals, and loved to have our dogs sit with her or on her lap.

Even as a kid, she indulged me with things like books and models and taking me places.  She was the one who introduced me to the science fiction of Isaac Asimov.  She also got me interested in political writers like Molly Ivins and Robert Reich.  She was a huge supporter of President Obama, and we had many great conversations about politics.  She always encouraged my intellectual curiosity.  And as a lifelong music teacher, she always encouraged passion for music.

I will miss her greatly, possibly more than I am capable of uttering or showing, at least in public.  I think the world is lesser without her.

~Geoff

 

Last American Slave Ship Has Been Found

A remarkably low tide has revealed the remnants of a ship in a river delta near Mobile Alabama.  Historians believe that this may be the wreck of the Clotilda, a schooner used to bring some 110 slaves from West Africa to Alabama in 1860.  The Clotilda is believed to be the last ship to bring slaves to the United States.

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Seventy-five years ago this week… a “miracle” changes the course of the war

This week is the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Midway, one of the most decisive naval battles in American history, and possibly in world history.  It was certainly the first major Allied victory against the Japanese fleet in World War Two.

Why is this American victory called a “miracle”, most notably by renowned historian Gordon Prange in his bestseller Miracle at Midway? Because the possibility of an American victory seemed so remote, and the circumstances of the American victory were so unlikely.

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Oh #Portugal, I love you SO MUCH

As anyone who knows me well already knows, I am half Portuguese on my father’s side.  His family came from the Azores, and as it turns out we also have converted Portuguese Sephardic Jews on his mother’s side of the family.  Anyway, I have always loved Portuguese cuisine, and as I have gotten older I have come to appreciate Portuguese culture and history a lot more.  Kelly and I originally planned to visit Portugal and France (my mother’s family is French-Canadian) on our honeymoon, but circumstances and finances prevented it.  Perhaps one day we will get to go.  I hope so.

Anyway, recently the Netherlands released a tourism promotional video that poked a lot of fun at our new President.  It’s easier if you see it rather than me try to explain what they did.  But it is hilarious. See the original below.

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Today is the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor

I haven’t done a lot of posts lately, much less history posts.  But today is an important anniversary, and will probably be the last major anniversary for this event in which there are still a number of people alive who remember it.

The attack on Pearl Harbor was one of those events that defined my grandparents’ generation, and virtually everyone could tell you where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news.  And of course, President Roosevelt’s speech  to Congress the following day is one of the most famous in American history.

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A terrible anniversary today – the Freedom Summer Murders

Fifty two years ago tonight, three young men were murdered by a group of white Mississippians in the Ku Klux Klan.  Among the men complicit in this crime were members of the Neshoba County Sheriff’s office and the Philadelphia (Mississippi) Police Department.

This was a mere six years before I was born.  Many people of my generation are familiar with this event through the 1988 film Mississippi Burning, although the film doesn’t even cover everything that happened that awful summer.

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