Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Memoriam: Guernica

Today is 26 April 2006.

In the small town of Guernica, in the north of Spain in the Basque country, 26 April 1937 was Monday, a market day. This meant farmer families from the surrounding countryside had come to town.

The Fascists, led by Francisco Franco [who is still dead -- SNL ref I couldn't resist], had been trying to conquer Spain since the previous year, with the aid of German Nazi and Italian Fascist allies.

On this date in 1937, beginning at about 4:30 p.m., the "Condor Legion" of the Nazi Air Force, aided by their Italian Fascist allies, conducted the first experiment in mass aerial terror bombing at Guernica. From 5,000 to 10,000 were murdered, mostly children, the elderly, and women. Three-quarters of the town was destroyed by fire bombs.

The slaughter inspired one of the great modern paintings, Guernica, by Picasso. Your author highly recommends Picasso's War, by Russell Martin (2003), a history of the painting.

Today is also the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear melt-down. The Soviet bureacracy handled this disaster as if they had looked forward to the stylings of Bush-Cheney-Rummy-Rove-Rice.

BREAKING NEWS: So fitting that Rummy-Rice are visiting Iraq today, on the anniversary of Guernica. Franco and chums wish they could have been there.

26 April in History

121 - Birth of Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Rome and Stoic philosopher. Author of The Meditations. Sample: "Live each moment as if it were your last, and as if this moment were all by which you will be judged and remembered."

1984 - William "Count" Basie, jazz immortal, dies at age 79. Here, at the Museum of the Bourgeois, the Count never stops.

1989 - "Lou-ceeeee, I'm ho-ohm." Lucille Ball dies at the age of 77.

Thought for Today:

"For those who do not think, it is best at least to rearrange their prejudices once in a while." — Luther Burbank, American horticulturist (1849-1926).


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