Michael Ubaldi, October 21, 2004.
From Bill Federer:
On this day, October 21, 1805, in one of the greatest naval battles in history, British Admiral Horatio Nelson defeated the combined Spanish and French fleets — 33 ships with 2,640 guns — in the Battle of Trafalgar off the coast of Spain.
Canning: The cat sat on the mat. And now the Battle of Trafalgar... (on the screen behind him a contemporary picture of the Battle of Trafalgar flashes up) Tonight we examine popular views of this great battle. Was the Battle of Trafalgar fought in the Atlantic off southern Spain? Or was it fought on dry land near Cudworth in Yorkshire? Here is one man who thinks it was...
Michael Ubaldi, September 21, 2004.
On this day, September 21, 1924, America's 30th President, Calvin Coolidge, addressed the Holy Name Society in Washington, D.C. He stated: "The worst evil that could be inflicted upon the youth...would be to leave them without restraint...at the mercy of their own uncontrolled inclinations. Under such conditions education would be impossible, and all orderly development...hopeless. I do not need to picture the result."
Calvin Coolidge, a president of few words, was so famous for saying so little that a White House dinner guest made a bet that she could get the president to say more than two words. She told the president of her wager. His reply: "You lose."
Michael Ubaldi, September 14, 2004.
Read. And keep it with you.
Michael Ubaldi, September 11, 2004.
I was working on a flyer for the Ohio Aviation Association's fall conference, my cubicle drenched in light from that morning's blue-crystal sky everyone remembers when Germaine, our secretary — now deceased, God bless her soul — walked up to me from her desk. She never had and I don't believe ever did again.
"Did you just hear?"
"About the plane. On the radio. A plane hit the World Trade Center." Germaine always kept the local National Public Radio station playing softly. In those days before I turned to the internet for my news, I didn't have any reason for Internet Explorer to be running. I tried loading my home page — the Fox News website — and failed. What could the server load have been like?
"What kind of plane?" I asked. I was incredulous about the prospect altogether. What kind of plane? — Germaine didn't know. She went back to her desk, turning the volume dial on her radio a bit.
I will remember that moment — that time, gone forever — before I could wrap my mind around what we would all learn had happened. As Germaine relayed what she heard I made a steady descent into the impossible, each layer of disbelief peeled back to leave a grisly, naked horror, knives for teeth, grinning at me. I began with the scene that could fit in my mind. A small plane, of course. No? A — a prop plane, an airlink. Small. Not a jet. A jet? No. Yes. It couldn't have had passengers — men, women, dear God, no, not children — in it. It must have been a cargo plane. Or empty. I just couldn't believe it. All those people.
Fox News finally popped onto my screen and I saw the wounded North Tower for the first time.
Then the shock turned, on a dime, to fear. A third jet had hit the Pentagon; someone had reported a car bomb at the State Department. The attacks were well-coordinated, succeeding in terrorism's aim to make every man believe himself a painted target. In the rush to ground aircraft, several planes were reported nonresponsive, one of them heading towards Cleveland. For a moment, I believed it. Who and what was next? After the flash of terror, frustration came like a wave and I paced, praying, trying to comprehend the change of times that was upon us all.
It seems incredible now, but when the news came of first the South and then the North Tower collapsing, it was without details or images, and I again clung to the fathomable: surely the towers wouldn't simply fall. Today I strain to reassemble the concept of skyscrapers tumbling into city streets as absurd, apocalyptic science fiction — not a ghastly rent in downtown Manhattan that as a memory now settles, quietly and dangerously, into triviality. When I arrived at my parents' house for lunch — after a surreal drive through a beautiful, fall day in Ohio — I turned on the television and watched each tower disappear into thick, billowing clouds. Over and over the footage played, each run as unbelievable as the first.
The rest of the day I remember as an unending stream of news — radio, internet, television. The president had spoken; brief, defiant and prescient. Every nation — but Saddam Hussein's Iraq — had extended official condolences. Suspicion quickly centered al Qaeda and their host state of Afghanistan. That night the new world mingled with old. When CNN's Kabul feed depicted fires in the sullen city, word went out that the United States may have already begun to act — just as it had for eight years, firing missiles from afar with indeterminate results in stories that would soon slide off the newspaper pages. In those final hours of the day of September 11, 2001 some might have concluded that after a showy display of ballistics life would return to normal; Afghans would remain under Islamist oppression and Americans would ease back to the slow suffocation of complacent self-indulgence.
Today, Kabul is a capital on the verge of the first free and open election in its history. Baghdad is no longer the seat of the Near East's most mechanically cruel dictatorship but instead the region's greatest hope, the capital for a people defying the lethal vermin swarming from the rotten corpse that once was 20th-Century Arab Socialism.
Today, Americans are invited again to believe in the unfinished struggle against tyranny; and the power of freedom to defeat the enemy and bring peace.
From today's American Minute:
Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward, and freedom will be defended, spoke President Bush on September 11, 2001, after the most devastating terrorist attack upon America. Islamic radicals hijacked three passenger jets, flying two into New York's World Trade Center and one into the Pentagon. Another crashed in Pennsylvania.
Michael Ubaldi, September 3, 2004.
Politically, we are opposed. I never voted for you. I believe your two administrations to have been ineffectual, deleterious to American progress; and I do not trust you. But we are both Americans. God Bless, President Clinton, and a speedy recovery.
Michael Ubaldi, July 28, 2004.
Meanwhile, back on earth:
The President issued a final ultimatum to Saddam to relinquish power to avoid war. Saddam chose war instead.
LUCID: More Rumsfeld, talking about the truly important matters of life, national discourse, and November's election. This comes from the transcript of a Defense Department briefing, in which Joint Chiefs Chairman General Richard Myers details the growing Iraqi forces working hand-in-hand with the Allies to destroy terrorist forces.
Michael Ubaldi, July 26, 2004.
Today's American Minute:
On this day, July 26, 1775, Benjamin Franklin became the first Postmaster General of the United States. Before the Revolution he served in that position under the British Crown. Franklin also established the first volunteer fire department, a circulating public library and the lighting of city streets. He helped found the University of Pennsylvania, a hospital, an insurance company, a city police force, a night watch and the first militia. He was a printer, scientist, philosopher and statesmen.
Michael Ubaldi, July 23, 2004.
Reviewing Gallup Poll trend lines and compiling one of my own on Quattro Pro, a thought occurred to me: the citizens of the most powerful nation in the world struggle for control peacefully, and most of the rest of the world is either jealous or contemptuous, screaming about how unfair it all is.
Michael Ubaldi, July 20, 2004.
"'I am the vine, you are the branches. Whosoever abides in me will bring forth much fruit.'"
— Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 Lunar Module Pilot, quoting John 15:5 from the Lunar Module; July 20, 1969
Michael Ubaldi, July 16, 2004.
Bill Federer's American Minute:
Apollo 11 blasted off from Cape Kennedy this day, July 16, 1969, on the first mission to walk on the moon. Commenting on the Apollo program, President Richard M. Nixon stated in his Inaugural Address: "Only a few short weeks ago we shared the glory of man's first sight of the world as God sees it, as a single sphere reflecting light in the darkness. As the Apollo astronauts flew over the moon's gray surface...they spoke to us the beauty of earth — and in that voice so clear across the lunar distance, we heard them invoke God's blessing on its goodness."