NOW is the time to discuss gun control and universal health care, including mental illness, in the U.S.
This is one of my favorite stories from Christmas past. I am reposting this from the archives of November, 2005.
WWI veteran, 109, was Scotland’s oldest man
LONDON, England (AP) — Alfred Anderson, the last surviving soldier to have heard the guns fall silent along the Western Front during the spontaneous “Christmas Truce” of World War I, died Monday at age 109.
More than 80 years after the war, Anderson recalled the “eerie sound of silence” as shooting stopped and soldiers clambered from trenches to greet one another December 25, 1914.
His parish priest, the Rev. Neil Gardner, said Anderson died in his sleep early Monday at a nursing home in Newtyle, Scotland. His death leaves fewer than 10 veterans of World War I alive in Britain.
Born June 25, 1896, Anderson was an 18-year-old soldier in the Black Watch regiment when British and German troops cautiously emerged from the trenches that Christmas Day in 1914. The enemies swapped cigarettes and tunic buttons, sang carols and even played soccer amid the mud, barbed wire and shell-holes of no man’s land.
The informal truce spread along much of the 500-mile Western Front, in some cases lasting for days — alarming army commanders who feared fraternization would sap the troops’ will to fight. The next year brought the start of vast battles of attrition that claimed 10 million lives, and the Christmas truce was never repeated.
“I remember the silence, the eerie sound of silence,” Anderson told The Observer newspaper last year.
“All I’d heard for two months in the trenches was the hissing, cracking and whining of bullets in flight, machine-gun fire and distant German voices,” said Anderson, who was billeted in a French farmhouse behind the front lines.
“But there was a dead silence that morning, right across the land as far as you could see. We shouted ‘Merry Christmas,’ even though nobody felt merry. The silence ended early in the afternoon and the killing started again. It was a short peace in a terrible war.”
During the war, Anderson served briefly as batman — or valet — to Capt. Fergus Bowes-Lyon, brother of the Queen Mother Elizabeth. Bowes-Lyon was killed at the Battle of Loos in 1915.
Prince Charles said he was “deeply saddened” by Anderson’s death and recalled meeting him several times. “We should not forget him, and the others of his generation who have given so much for their country,” the heir to the British throne said.
Anderson fought in France until 1916, when he was wounded by shrapnel. In 1998, he was awarded France’s Legion of Honor for his war service.
Anderson was Scotland’s oldest man. The country’s First Minister, Jack McConnell, said he “represented the generation of young Scots who fought in the First World War, and endured unimaginable horrors.”
“Many of them made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and we must never forget what they have given to us.”
Lt. Col. Roddy Riddell, regimental secretary of the Black Watch, said Anderson’s death marked “the end of the epoch.”
“The entire regiment is in mourning and we are all the sadder for his passing,” he said.
Gardner said Anderson “was quite philosophical about his wartime experiences.” Anderson himself said he tried to put them out of his mind.
“I think about all my friends who never made it home,” he said once. “But it’s too sad to think too much about it. Far too sad.”
In later years, Anderson spoke often of the guilt he felt over the loss of friends and comrades.
“I felt so guilty meeting the families of friends who were lost,” he told The Times newspaper this month. “They looked at me as if I should have been left in the mud of France instead of their loved one. I couldn’t blame them, they were grieving, and I still share their grief and bear that feeling of guilt.”
PORTLAND, OREGON — November 17, 2011 — A police officer deployed pepper spray at SW Yamhill, between the JP Morgan Chase bank and Pioneer Courthouse Square. The photo was taken from the southeast corner of the square, looking toward the intersection of 6th and Yamhill after a day of marching through downtown Portland, Ore., by Occupy Portland participants. People gathered on the east side of the Steel bridge earlier in the morning to demonstrate in support of the Occupy movement, on the day known as N17. Several people were arrested and the march continued over the lower span of the bridge into downtown, where a rally was planned. Later in the day people were arrested in a Wells Fargo branch downtown.
What’s it like when your grandpa is the richest man in the world? For Nicole Buffett, it means forgoing cable TV and health insurance and making do on $40,000 a year. Here, she dishes on her upbringing and why her grandfather Warren Buffett disowned her.
Nicole Buffett is at home among the neo-hippies who shuffle along the laid-back, tree-lined streets of Berkeley, CA. At an elfin 5 feet tall, clad in a flowing peasant dress and sandals adorned with peace signs, her long hair cascading in ropy dreadlocks to her waist, the 32-year-old abstract painter is just another of the city’s free-thinking, granola-crunching denizens. And yet, she’s a walking oddity. “The first thing most people think of when they hear my last name is money,” she laughs.
Not just money — gobs of it. Nicole Buffett’s grandfather is the legendary investor Warren Buffett, whose $58 billion fortune made him the richest man on the planet, a mantle he seized from Bill Gates last fall. So deep are Buffett’s pockets that when the financial markets cratered in September, the so-called Oracle of Omaha single-handedly buoyed Wall Street (at least for a day) by plunking down $5 billion on troubled investment bank Goldman Sachs. (“Canonize Warren Buffett,” cried one headline on CNBC’s Website.) But there’s a bitter irony to Buffett’s beneficence. Wall Street’s white knight is also an unforgiving hardhead when it comes to his own granddaughter, whom he cut off two years ago after a falling-out. “For him to discard me like that was devastating,” Nicole says matter-of-factly. “It permanently divided our family.”
When Nicole was 4, her singer-songwriter mother married Warren Buffett’s youngest child, Peter, a composer for commercials and films. He later adopted Nicole and her identical twin sister, who were embraced as kin by the larger Buffett family — especially Susan, Warren’s first wife, an avid music lover and cabaret performer. “A lot of people don’t realize that my family is full of artists,” says Nicole. (Susan Buffett, who died in 2004, was an early buyer of Nicole’s art and named Nicole one of “my adored grandchildren” in her will.)
A mother tries to talk to her daughter who has been isolated for signs of radiation after evacuating from the vicinity of Fukushima’s nuclear plants, at a makeshift facility to screen, cleanse and isolate people with high radiation levels in Nihonmatsu, northern Japan, March 14, 2011.
By Taiga Uranaka and Ki Joon Kwon
Sun Mar 13, 201 – FUKUSHIMA, Japan (Reuters) – Japan battled on Monday to prevent a nuclear catastrophe and to care for millions of people without power or water in its worst crisis since World War Two, after a massive earthquake and tsunami that are feared to have killed more than 10,000 people.
A badly wounded nation has seen whole villages and towns wiped off the map by a wall of water, leaving in its wake an international humanitarian effort of epic proportions.
“The earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear incident have been the biggest crisis Japan has encountered in the 65 years since the end of World War Two,” a grim-faced Prime Minister Naoto Kan told a news conference on Sunday.
“We’re under scrutiny on whether we, the Japanese people, can overcome this crisis.”