Month: January 2015

February 25, 2015
Art Gottlieb, local historian on military history, will talk about the “Battle of the Bulge”.

Art GottliebThe Battle of the Bulge (16 December 1944 – 25 January 1945) was a major German offensive campaign launched through the densely forested Ardennes region of Wallonia in Belgium, France and Luxembourg on the Western Front toward the end of World War II in Europe. Hitler planned the offensive with the primary goal to recapture the important harbor of Antwerp. The surprise attack caught the Allied forces completely off guard. United States forces bore the brunt of the attack and incurred the highest casualties for any operation during the war. The battle also severely depleted Germany’s war-making resources.

The battle was known by different names. The Germans referred to it as Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein (“Operation Watch on the Rhine”), while the French named it the Bataille des Ardennes (“Battle of the Ardennes”). The Allies called it the Ardennes Counteroffensive. The phrase “Battle of the Bulge” was coined by contemporary press to describe the way the Allied front line bulged inward on wartime news maps and became the best known name for the battle.

The German offensive was supported by several subordinate operations known as Unternehmen Bodenplatte, Greif, and Währung. As well as stopping Allied transport over the channel to the harbor of Antwerp, these operations were intended to split the British and American Allied line in half, so the Germans could then proceed to encircle and destroy four Allied armies, forcing the Western Allies to negotiate a peace treaty in the Axis Powers’ favor. Once that was accomplished, Hitler could fully concentrate on the eastern theatre of war.

The offensive was planned by the German forces with utmost secrecy, minimizing radio traffic and moving troops and equipment under cover of darkness. Despite their efforts to keep it secret, the Third U.S. Army’s intelligence staff predicted a major German offensive, and Ultra indicated that a “substantial and offensive” operation was expected or “in the wind”, although a precise date or point of attack could not be given. Aircraft movement from the Russian Front and transport of forces by rail, both to the Ardennes, was noticed but not acted upon, according to a report later written by Peter Calvocoressi and F. L. Lucas at the code-breaking centre Bletchley Park.

Near-complete surprise was achieved by a combination of Allied overconfidence, preoccupation with Allied offensive plans, and poor aerial reconnaissance. The Germans attacked a weakly defended section of the Allied line, taking advantage of heavily overcast weather conditions, which grounded the Allies’ overwhelmingly superior air forces. Fierce resistance on the northern shoulder of the offensive around Elsenborn Ridge and in the south around Bastogne blocked German access to key roads to the northwest and west that they counted on for success; columns that were supposed to advance along parallel routes found themselves on the same roads. This and terrain that favored the defenders threw the German advance behind schedule and allowed the Allies to reinforce the thinly placed troops. Improved weather conditions permitted air attacks on German forces and supply lines, which sealed the failure of the offensive. In the wake of the defeat, many experienced German units were left severely depleted of men and equipment, as survivors retreated to the defenses of the Siegfried Line.

About 610,000 American forces were involved in the battle, and 89,000 were casualties, including 19,000 killed. It was the largest and bloodiest battle fought by the United States in World War II.

Art Gottlieb is a local historian on subjects of political and military history.  He was formerly a professional curator of naval history and the Technical Director of Exhibits at the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in New York City.  In these roles, Mr. Gottlieb worked regularly with veterans of all services towards the creation of exhibits accurately illustrating the history of 20th century warfare.

From 1989 through 1997, Mr. Gottlieb coordinated with all branches of the armed services and National Guard towards the preservation of historic ships, aircraft and armor from around the world, and has facilitated the recovery of scores of artifacts from warships slated for demolition from reserve fleets.

For the past 10 years Mr. Gottlieb has refocused his professional efforts towards reaching out and addressing the growing needs of aging veterans and their families.  In addition to maintaining a private practice as a Counselor and Certified Senior Advisor in Norwalk, CT, he is a field instructor for Sacred Heart University.  Mr. Gottlieb offers Pro Bono counseling services to soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mr. Gottlieb served as an Auxiliary Officer of the United States Coast Guard for 17 years and for 4 years was Commander of Flotilla 7-2, Division 1 (Southern Region), Sector Long Island Sound North.

Arranged by Alex Garnett

February 18, 2015
Speaker Eric Chandler will speak about Sheldon’s Horse, 2nd Regiment Light Dragoons “Washington’s Eyes” & “Watchdogs of the Highlands”

Sheldon's HorseMany people are unaware that the first commissioned cavalry in the history of the United States, one of four congressionally commissioned dragoon regiments, was formed in and consisted largely of men from Connecticut.

In addition to being the first commissioned cavalry, Sheldon’s Horse formed the first pony express; constituted part of the first organized spy ring under General Washington; executed the first cavalry charge by US forces on American soil; counted twenty of its members as part of Washington’s official entourage and who were with him at the Siege of Yorktown; was the only force to achieve victories on foot, on horse, and at sea; included one of the first recipients of the Order of Merit – the Purple Heart – for bravery in action against the enemy.

Commissioned December 12, 1776, the regiment operated extensively in the Hudson River Valley, the Mohawk Valley, lower New England and across Long Island Sound until its return to state control in 1783.

Sheldon’s Horse is credited with playing a significant part in winning the American War for Independence and a key role in unwinding the Arnold-Andre affair.

Eric Chandler is a resident of Norwalk, CT and has been involved in American Revolutionary War Living History since 1974. He has been a member of Sheldon’s Horse since 1996 and serves as the regimental adjutant. He has portrayed infantry, light infantry, whale-boat raider and both mounted and dismounted dragoons. He may also have been a spy. Come and find out.

Arranged by Andre Guilbert

February 11, 2015
Speaker David Shafer will talk about the Salk Polio Vaccine and the Story Behind the Story

aot20120068.inddIt was a scary time in America – commies under your bed and the McCarthy hearings, UFO sightings, the Cold War nuclear threat, and worst of all – the polio epidemic sweeping the country. Parents were terrified their kids would get it and end up in an Iron Lung. When Jonas Salk and his polio vaccine saved the day he was treated by a euphoric country almost like a god. But there is a largely unknown story behind this story that spoils this stirring narrative.   In the intense rivalry between Salk and Sabin, with different vaccines, Salk failed to properly credit his co-workers who did much of the work, a no-no in science.   Very few people ever got polio, despite the extreme media frenzy about it, and by the time the Salk vaccine was introduced the polio “epidemic” was largely over. Screw-ups like the Cutter Labs vaccine disaster actually gave people polio. 90 million Americans were given vaccine shots that contained a monkey virus that causes various cancers. And so on. This talk will explore this complex and messy picture and also address today’s vaccination controversies.

Dave Shafer has spent the last 49 years designing camera lenses, telescopes and microscopes and has had a one-man optical design and consulting company since 1980. The Cassini spacecraft took one of his unusual telescopes to Saturn a few years ago. Later a separate spacecraft took close-up photos of the asteroid Vesta and now a third spacecraft is using his telescope to help land on a comet. All of today’s state of the art computer chips for cell phones, tablets, and computers are made using a unique optical system that Dave invented about 10 years ago. He has over 125 patents for optical designs.   Dave once designed an unusual stereo viewing device for Salvador Dali.

Arranged by Andre Guilbert

February 4, 2015
Art Gottlieb, local historian on military history, will speak about the “Invasion of Normandy”

Art GottliebThe Invasion of Normandy was the invasion by and establishment of Western Allied forces in Normandy, during Operation Overlord in 1944 during World War II; the largest amphibious invasion to ever take place.

D-Day, the day of the initial assaults, was Tuesday 6 June 1944. Allied land forces that saw combat in Normandy on that day came from Canada, the Free French forces, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In the weeks following the invasion, Polish forces also participated, as well as contingents from Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece, and the Netherlands. Most of the above countries also provided air and naval support, as did the Royal Australian Air Force, the Royal New Zealand Air Force, and the Royal Norwegian Navy.

The Normandy invasion began with overnight parachute and glider landings, massive air attacks and naval bombardments. In the early morning, amphibious landings on five beaches codenamed Juno, Gold, Omaha, Utah, and Sword began and during the evening the remaining elements of the parachute divisions landed. Land forces used on D-Day deployed from bases along the south coast of England, the most important of these being Portsmouth.

Art Gottlieb is a local historian on subjects of political and military history. He was formerly a professional curator of naval history and the Technical Director of Exhibits at the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in New York City. In these roles, Mr. Gottlieb worked regularly with veterans of all services towards the creation of exhibits accurately illustrating the history of 20th century warfare.

From 1989 through 1997, Mr. Gottlieb coordinated with all branches of the armed services and National Guard towards the preservation of historic ships, aircraft and armor from around the world, and has facilitated the recovery of scores of artifacts from warships slated for demolition from reserve fleets.

For the past 10 years Mr. Gottlieb has refocused his professional efforts towards reaching out and addressing the growing needs of aging veterans and their families. In addition to maintaining a private practice as a Counselor and Certified Senior Advisor in Norwalk, CT, he is a field instructor for Sacred Heart University. Mr. Gottlieb offers Pro Bono counseling services to soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mr. Gottlieb served as an Auxiliary Officer of the United States Coast Guard for 17 years and for 4 years was Commander of Flotilla 7-2, Division 1 (Southern Region), Sector Long Island Sound North.

Arranged by Alex Garnett

Book Club Discussion – February 11, 2015
“Americanah” is a novel by the Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie that tells the story of a young Nigerian woman who emigrates to the United States for a university education and stays for work.

 

09peedSUB-articleInlineWhat’s the difference between an African-American and an American-African? From such a distinction springs a deep-seated discussion of race in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s third novel, “Americanah.” Adichie, born in Nigeria but now living both in her homeland and in the United States, is an extraordinarily self-aware thinker and writer, possessing the ability to lambaste society without sneering or patronizing or polemicizing. For her, it seems no great feat to balance high-literary intentions with broad social critique. “Americanah” examines blackness in America, Nigeria and Britain, but it’s also a steady-handed dissection of the universal human experience — a platitude made fresh by the accuracy of Adichie’s observations.

So an African-American is a black person with long generational lines in the United States, most likely with slave ancestors. She might write poetry about “Mother Africa,” but she’s pleased to be from a country that gives international aid rather than from one that receives it. An American-African is an African newly emigrated to the United States. In her native country, she didn’t realize she was black — she fit that description only after she landed in America. In college, the African-American joins the Black Student Union, while the American-African signs up with the African Students Association.

Adichie understands that such fine-grained differentiations don’t penetrate the minds of many Americans. This is why a lot of people here, when thinking of race and class, instinctively speak of “blacks and poor whites,” not “poor blacks and poor whites.” Many of Adichie’s best observations regard nuances of language. When people are reluctant to say “racist,” they say “racially charged.” The phrase “beautiful woman,” when enunciated in certain tones by certain haughty white women, undoubtedly means “ordinary-looking black woman.” Adichie’s characters aren’t, in fact, black. They’re “sable” or “gingerbread” or “caramel.” Sometimes their skin is so dark it has “an undertone of blueberries.”

Plot

As teenagers in a Lagos secondary school, Ifemelu and Obinze fell in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are leaving the country if they can. Ifemelu departs for the United States to study. Through her experiences in relationships and studies, she struggles with the experience of racism in American culture, and the many varieties of racial distinctions. Obinze, son of a professor, had hoped to join her in the US but he is refused a visa after 9/11. He goes to London, entering illegally, and enters an undocumented life.

Years later, Obinze has returned to Nigeria and become a wealthy man as a property developer in the newly democratic country. Ifemelu gained success staying in the United States, where she became known for her blog about race in America, entitled “Raceteenth or Various Observations About American Blacks (Those Formerly Known as Negroes) by a Non-American Black”. When Ifemelu returns to Nigeria, the two have to make tough decisions after reviving their relationship.

Reception

The book was well-received by critics, who especially noted its range across different societies and reflection of global tensions. The New York Times said, “‘Americanah’ examines blackness in America, Nigeria and Britain, but it’s also a steady-handed dissection of the universal human experience — a platitude made fresh by the accuracy of Adichie’s observations.”] The reviewer concludes, “Americanah” is witheringly trenchant and hugely empathetic, both worldly and geographically precise, a novel that holds the discomfiting realities of our times fearlessly before us. It never feels false.”

Awards:

  • Selected as one of the 10 Best Books of 2013 by the editors of the New York Times Book Review.
  • 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award(Fiction).
  • Shortlisted for the 2014 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction of the United Kingdom.

Book Group discussion meeting February 11th, 12:30 p.m. at the Darien Library Discussion Leader: Sunil Saksena

Minutes of Meetings for 2014-2015

Minutes of Member Meeting 01-21-2015 Speaker Les de Villiers regaled us with his exploits in Uganda and Rwanda tracking and observing mountain gorillas. Les, with a doctorate in economic history, finally realized his dream of seeing gorillas in the wild after postponing planned trips in 1994 and 1999 due to political upheavals. He is a long-time leader of South African safaris and author of numerous books.

Minutes of Member Meeting 1-14-2015 Speaker Stephen Roach whose opinions on global economy have been known to shape foreign policy in Beijing and Washington. In his recent book, “Unbalanced: the Codependency of America and China” he cogently presents the pitfalls and opportunities of both countries.

Minutes of Member Meeting 1-7-2015 – Speaker Jack Cavanaugh spoke  about Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside: World War II, Army’s Undefeated Teams, and College Football’s Greatest Backfield Duo.

Minutes of Member Meeting 12-10-2014 – Speaker Stuart Gibson discussed the famous Russian Hermitage and its 250th anniversary in St. Petersburg.

Minutes of Member Meeting 12-3-2014 – Bob Mazzone and Pam Dey from CT Challenge spoke about how their organization empowers cancer survivors to live healthier, happier and longer lives and in 2012 alone aided over 54,000 survivors.

Minutes of Member Meeting 11-19-2014 Speaker Lisa Wilson Grant discussed her new book titled, “Norwalk” which is a collection of vintage photographs from the mid-1800s through the 1960s.

Minutes of Member Meeting 11-12-2014 Speaker Sean Pica spoke about how he transformed himself from a 16 year-old convict in Sing Sing, who served sixteen years of a 24 year sentence, to his present post as the executive director of Hudson Link an organization that provides college education to inmates.

Minutes of Member Meeting 11-5-2014 –  Speaker Bob Patton, general George Patton’s grandson, spoke about his latest book, “Hell Before Breakfast”, a wildly entertaining tome describing America’s first war correspondents.

Minutes of Member Meeting 10-29-2014 – Speaker Catalina Horak, executive director of Neighbors Link in Stamford, talked on the immigrant population of our neighboring city of Stamford and how best to integrate them into our society.

Minutes of Member Meeting 10-22-2014 – Speaker Daryl Hawk, international documentary photographer, spoke about his solitary journey across the kingdom of Ladakh in northern India and the region of Kashmir.

Minutes of Member Meeting 10-15-2014 – Mike Santoli, Senior Columnist for Yahoo, spoke about his views on our present economy, the volatile stock market as well as corporate doings.

Minutes of Member Meeting 10-8-2014 – Speaker William Happer, the Cyrus Fogg Bracket Professor of Physics at Princeton University engagingly discussed the roles of natural forces and fossil fuel-generated CO2 in climate change.

Minutes of Member Meeting 10-1-2014 – Speaker Michael Dante, an award winning actor on TV, films, and stage, spoke about his life from Stamford to Hollywood.

Minutes of Member Meeting 9-24-2014 – Speaker Scott Kuhner, a DMA member, described his “Atlantic Circle” cruise with his wife on their 40 ft. sailboat, Tamure.

Minutes of Member Meeting 9-17-2014 – Speakers Dan Libertino and John Bulakowshi, members of the Igor Sikorsky Archives, spoke about the life of aircraft pioneer, Igor Sikorsky.

Minutes of Member Meeting 9-10-2014 – Speaker Art Gotttlieb, a local historian, spoke on the history of the aircraft carrier Intrepid.

Minutes of Member Meeting 9-03-2014 Speaker John Sanden, American Portrait Painter, spoke about the history of the portraits of presidents and his experience painting George W. and Laura Bush’s portraits for the White House.

DMA Newsletters for Program Year 2014-2015

September-October 2014 DMA Newsletter

November-December 2014 DMA Newsletter

January-February 2015 DMA Newsletter

March-April 2015 DMA Newsletter

May-June 2015 DMA Newsletter