Ya#8217; gotta keep reading

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 3, 2006

Even a paragraph can be insufficient to describe an incident, maybe not even a book. In fact, relevant news can come to light many years later. An example would be an imprisoned man serving a long sentence is released when DNA proves his innocence.

And there are examples of national and international history being changed after interested citizens examine the alleged facts.

I recently read an article pointing out that what I believed back in 1945 was incorrect, according to biased military historians. The subject was General George Patton. Sixty years ago he had saved our behinds from defeat during the Battle Of The Bulge in Germany. You’ve seen it on TV real, or imagined by moviemakers. We were retreating, scared, nearly all the way back to Belgium when German armor attacked in force.

Email newsletter signup

Patton wisely took the initiative and cut off their assault with his tanks. We continued our march to the Rhine River, when the Germans literally ran out of fuel. I became a fan of Patton.

I believed Patton understood we should take Berlin and not let the Russians near it. (Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower) decided we would suffer too many casualties taking the city and stopped Patton cold.

‘Ike’ was right in that the Russians did suffer thousands of killed and wounded. But that was because the Germans fought furiously so as not to be captured by the Russians.

Patton calculated that the Germans would have surrendered easily to the Americans to escape the wrath of the communists. Ike did not listen. If Ike had listened to other of his generals, we wouldn’t have even been in the Hurtgen Forest in the first place and there would have been no disastrous ‘Bulge.’

Ike had his way, Berlin was split up between the Allies and caused serious problems for decades.

Patton insisted that by allowing the Russians into Berlin, they would soon be at war with us. He was right; Ike was wrong, but it took years for military quarterbacks to admit it. Historians now heap praise upon Patton’s intellect.

I’ve also been reading about our own Civil War. If you want exciting narrative try ‘One Day Of The Civil War,&uot; or &uot;The Lightning Mule Brigade&uot;

by Robert Willet Jr. Both are revealing.

But most intriguing is to read what some believe was the main reason for that conflict. Stephen Arnold Douglas, elected in 1847 as senator from Illinois, considered slavery OK. By 1852, at 39, he was assumed to be the strongest leader of the Democratic Party that had support from both north and south.

The Republican Party was organized in opposition to the spread of slavery. Douglas proclaimed he was the champion of &uot;Popular Sovereignty,&uot; which would permit the people of each territory to admit or exclude slavery as they might wish. He professed himself unconcerned about the moral issues. He introduced the so-called Kansas-Nebraska Bill to repeal the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which had excluded slavery from all the territory of the Louisiana Purchase. This caused uproar in the north. But Douglas figured he was morally right, and claimed so, because this appealed to more people. While defending his policy of popular sovereignty, he was forced to make state-ments that turned even some of the south against him.

Did Lincoln believe slavery was repugnant? There are quotations floating about in history indicating he did and others that he did not. You know the rest. I await Thomas Cohoon’s, wise spokesman for the Confederates, version. If I’m wrong he will correct me.

So I continue to read on, not declaring who or why war ensued. There have been plenty of different answers, somewhat like the argument between creation and evolution, the Bible, truth or fiction.

Millions do not believe that only one man assassinated President (John F.) Kennedy. We insist John Wilkes Booth murdered Lincoln, but don’t bet on it. DNA might yet change everything. I mean, who really killed Elvis?