Showing posts with label Memorial. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Memorial. Show all posts

March 31, 2019

Meeting The Honorable Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called "Remembering Amos Oz."

Wow, this was so awesome today--I got to shake hands with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. 

We went to the memorial today for famous Israeli author, Amos Oz. 
I love Oz’s literary works–he is a genius–even as I find myself disagreeing with some of his ideology: Yes, I agree with his humanism and the need to have peace with the Palestinians, but also I am steadfast that Israel must remain strong in the face of the numerous threats it faces, especially after the terrible lessons of the Holocaust. However, as much as I came to honor Oz, I felt is was a dishonor to him that the memorial was in great part turned into a political discourse for leftists (even as it was stated that Oz himself separated his pens for literature and politics).

I am convinced that in the end, it will be the moderates, and not the proliferating extremists (left or right) that bring peace, security, and justice to Israel and the Palestinians. 

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

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December 10, 2017

Foreboding GW Masonic Memorial


So I took this photo of the George Washington Masonic Memorial. 

On one hand, it is quite a large and impressive structure (9 floors and 333 feet sitting atop Shooter's Hill).

It is fashioned after the ancient Lighthouse of Alexandria, the 7th wonder of the world, that was built after 290 BC, and which guided trade ships into the busy harbor of Alexandria, Egypt.

On the other hand, this memorial is quite spooky in its shape of narrowing ascending floors over a protruding larger base, as well as the noticeable pentagram (often used to signify paganism and the occult) that sits at the top. 

There is also the Freemason square and compass with a big G in it built and displayed in the ground in front of the building. 

The symbols and the building itself just seem more than a little eerie--whatever the rituals are that go on there. 

In a way, I can't stop looking at the photo of this building...it's sort of mesmerizing.  

But I feel it somehow has the draw of a dark and foreboding place. 

Like the Lighthouse of Alexandria that was destroyed by three earthquakes between the 10th and 14th centuries, I have an unsettling feeling about this as well. 

Maybe it's just a feeling...or maybe it's something more. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 5, 2016

Ending Up As A Rock

So some people would say ending up as a rock is not a bad thing. 

A rock symbolizes strength and something that weathers time itself. 

However, it's one thing being alive and a rock and another being dead as one. 

Fidel Castro, the authoritarian Cuban President of 50 years, the revolutionary who defied the United State and brought us and the Soviet Union to the brink of nuclear war, the dictator who violated the human rights of millions of the Cuban people...and where does he end up?

Dead at age 90, cremated, with his ashed placed inside a 15-foot tall rock. 

That's what's left of the man. 

Of course, there is his legacy in Cuba that includes high literacy, universal health care, environmentalism, and competitive sport's teams. But there is also mass poverty and economic dysfunction, gross repression and human rights abuses, and Island isolationism. 

So perhaps with Fidel gone, over time, Cuba will find itself on a path of greater moderation and reform. 

In the meantime, Fidel is gone--like every other living thing comes and goes--no matter how strong he acted or how repressive he ruled, what is he now but a big useless rock with a nameplate affixed.

(Source Photo: Associated Press Via Wall Street Journal)
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November 12, 2014

Everything Else Is Anticlimactic

We went to a Veterans Day Concert yesterday, and it was quite moving.

Before the music--60's and 70's (and some dancing)--started, there were a number of heartfelt speeches by distinguished veterans of the Vietnam War.

One lady was a nurse in Saigon working 16 hour days tending to the wounded and dying from the battlefield. She joined the army after 8 of her high school friends from her small hometown were killed in the war. The nurse told us how on the flight to Nam, they were told to look to the person on the immediate right and left of you, becuase one of you will not be coming home.

Another speaker was a special forces Army Ranger who was fighting in North Vietnam on very dangerous covert missions. He led many draftees, who he said had only minimal training, yet fought bravely on missions with bullets flying overhead and mortars and rockets pounding their positions. He described one situation where he knelt down to look at a map with one of his troops, and as they were in that psition half a dozen bullets hit into the tree right above their heads--if they had not been crouched down looking at the map, they would've both been dead. 

A third speaker was a veteran who had been been hit by a "million dollar shot" from the enemy--one that didn't kill or cripple him, but that had him sent him to a hospital for 4-6 weeks and then ultimately home from the war zone. He told of his ongoing activities in the veterans community all these years, and even routinely washing the Veteran's Wall Memorial in Washington D.C. 

Aside from the bravery and fortitude of all these veterans, what was fascinating was how, as the veterans reflected, EVERYTHING else in their lives was anticlimactic after fighting in the war. The nurse for example read us a poem about the ladies in hell (referring to the nurses caring for the wounded) and how they never talked about the patients in Nam because it was too painful, and when they returned home, they had the classic symptoms of PTSD including the hellish nightmares of being back there. 

Indeed, these veterans went through hell, and it seems that it was the defining moment in (many if not most of) their lives, and they are reliving it in one way or another every moment of every day. 

Frankly, I don't know how they did it being dropped on the other side of the world with, as the special forces Vet explained, maps that only told you in very general terms wherer you even where, and carrying supplies for at least 3 days at a time of C-rations, water, ammo, and more--and with the enemy all around you ("there were no enemy lines in this war; if you stepped out of your units area, it was almost all 'unfriendly.'"). One Vet said that if you were a 2nd Lt., like she was, your average lifespan over there was 20 minutes. 

The big question before we go to war and put our troops in harms way is what are we fighting for and is it absolutely necessary. For the troops being sent to the battlezone, everything else is just anticlimactic--they have been to hell. 

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)
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October 28, 2014

^^^To The Six Million^^^

I am dedicating my 2001st blog post to my 6 million! Jewish brothers and sisters who were murdered in the Holocaust. 

May G-d have mercy on their souls and in their name bless us, the survivors, to do his holy bidding and good deeds. 


Thank you G-d for bringing me to this time and for all your enduring kindness. 


May you give me the strength and inspiration to carry on as a hopefully positive influence in this world. 


(Source Photo of Miami Holocaust Memorial: Andy Blumenthal)

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January 15, 2014

Eulogy For My Beloved Mother, Gerda Blumenthal

We are here today to remember and honor my mother, Gerda Blumenthal, who passed away on Monday.  

My mother was my personal heroine, even as just two days earlier, a great hero of the Jewish people died as well--Ariel Sharon, a former Prime Minister of the State of Israel and a hero general who fought militarily to defend his people, but who also disengaged the State of Israel unilaterally from Gaza to make peace. 

Sharon’s role in history to secure the Jewish people came on the heels of the Holocaust where 6 million Jews were murdered – one of every three in the entire world!

To my mother, the holocaust was one of the defining moments in her life. She was just 5 years old, when the murderous Nazi secret police, the Gestapo, came up behind my mother and her father on the street in Germany, grabbed him and dragged him off to the concentration camps. My mother, a child, was left alone crying on the streets, until some neighbors found her and brought her home to her mother. Miraculously, her father was one of the few to actually be let out a number of weeks later, as he had already received visas for the family to come to America. He had lost 20-30 pounds in just those few weeks of brutal slave labor and beatings, but he and the family were free to come to this country and start anew. 

Like many of the immigrant families who were forced to flee persecution, my mother and her family arrived here penniless, and her father who didn't even know the language, worked as a tailor to try and support the family. My mother had wanted to pursue her education—and to be a nurse—but when she graduated high school, she was asked to immediately go to work to help the family earn a living in those difficult days. She did this dutifully and worked—mostly doing secretarial work, which was popular in those days—while raising my sister and I and taking care of my dad. My mom would put me on the school bus, rush off to work, and be home in time to make dinner for all of us. Mom was unwavering in her commitment to taking care of us. Mom taught me what family was, what it was to put family first, and what it was to work hard, very hard, always being there to take care of us, even when at times, it seemed like too much for any human being. 

My older sister and I are eight years apart. But there was another sibling, Susie, born between us. However, she died as a baby leaving my mother and father bereaved of their 2nd child still in the early years of their marriage. Despite this new challenge in their lives—and what seemed like another personal test—my mother carried on with my father to build the family, and I came along four years later.  I have always tried to make my mother and father proud of me, especially in light of the loss of their other child. 

My mother and father—were best friends, but like all loving couples, they also argued—but they always came back together again to make up and bond. And I learned well from them that in relationships, we can argue, but we can work things out—even though it’s not always easy to say I’m sorry or I was wrong, but we come back together because we are a family--we love each other and have that commitment. The loss of my mom is magnified, because of that deep love, but also because we are a small family that has always lived a hop, skip, and jump from each other—like one extended family. 

My mother and father put my sister and I through private Jewish school, all the years, and then through college and graduate school—so that I was able to get my MBA and my sister her PhD. Even in later years, she helped babysit for my children and was like a second mother to them, so that my wife, Dossy could get her PhD as well. She loved my daughters—Minna and Rebecca, and my niece, Yaffa, so much.  My mother and my father even moved here to Silver Spring in 2000—soon after we relocated here to work for the government—so they could be with us and the grandchildren—even though my mother really loved living in Riverdale, NY and the community and friends there, and would otherwise never have left there. 

I will never forget the endless sacrifices made for us, which contrasts to many other families in modern times, when people seem more focused on career, their own interests and happiness, and mired in the world of the Internet and social media. But my mom taught me that while we may want a lot of different things, we need to put our priorities in order and focus on what is really important—family, friends, and faith. 

Like Ariel Sharon who suffered a stroke eight years ago, my mother was diagnosed with the horrible disease of Parkinson’s—also eight years ago. My mother went from being the one who took care of everyone to where my father, in his own old age, and his own illness, had to take care of her. He did this with unbelievable courage and tirelessly, he did everything for her—everything! Even when we all thought she needed to go to the nursing home, he brought her home and cared for her himself for two years under extremely trying circumstances. Until this last April, when my mother was hospitalized again and was too ill to go home again. She went to the Hebrew Home In Rockville, and later because of her severe pain was put under hospice care. My mom unfortunately suffered horribly—more than we have ever seen anyone suffer. When she passed this week, I was horrified to lose my mother, as anyone would be, and at the same time, I was grateful to G-d that perhaps she now had some rest from the all the terrible illness and suffering and was finally at peace. 

She died on Monday almost immediately after the Rabbi said the final prayers with her, and so I hope that the prayers and good wishes of the Rabbi and all of us—her family and friends—are heard in heaven and usher her in as a righteous soul, loving wife, mother, and grandmother—and grant her everlasting peace and reward from the Almighty. 

Mom, we will always remember everything you have done for us. You taught us what a good traditional Jewish home and values are. Thank you for the love, care, and endless sacrifices. You will live on in the children and grandchildren and hopefully, our lives will be a merit for you. We love you always, and miss you. May G-d welcome you back, grant you peace, and bless you.

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February 5, 2013

From Holocaust To Holograms


My father told me last week how my mom had awoken in the middle of night full of fearful, vivid memories of the Holocaust. 

In particular, she remembers when she was just a six year-old little girl, walking down the street in Germany, and suddenly the Nazi S.S. came up behind them and dragged her father off to the concentration camp, Buchenwald--leaving her alone, afraid, and crying on the street. And so started their personal tale of oppression, survival, and escape. 

Unfortunately, with an aging generation of Holocaust survivors--soon there won't be anyone to tell the stories of persecution and genocide for others to learn from.

In light of this, as you can imagine, I was very pleased to see the University of Southern California (USC) Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) and the USC Shoah Foundation collaborating on a project called "New Dimensions In Testimony" to use technology to maintain the enduring lessons of the Holocaust into the future.

The project involves developing holograms of Holocaust survivors giving testimony about what happened to them and their families during this awful period of discrimination, oppression, torture, and mass murder.

ICT is using a technology called Light Stage that uses multiple high-fidelity cameras and lighting from more than 150 directions to capture 3-D holograms. 

There are some interesting videos about Light Stage (which has been used for many familiar movies from Superman to Spiderman, Avatar, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) at their Stage 5 and Stage 6 facilities. 

To make the holograms into a full exhibit, the survivors are interviewed and their testimony is combined with natural language processing, so people can come and learn in a conversational manner with the Holocaust survivor holograms. 

Mashable reports that these holograms may be used at the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. where visitors will talk "face-to-face" with the survivors about their personal experiences--and we will be fortunate to hear it directly from them. ;-)

(Photo from USC ICT New Dimensions In Technology)

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August 14, 2011

Ten Years After 9/11

This video on the 9/11 memorial in NYC opening on 9/11/11 speaks for itself.

Enjoy and remember!

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