The Pearl Harbor Memorial

There is still oil leaking from the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor…

The Arizona was one of the ships stationed at Pearl Harbor when the home of the US Pacific Fleet was attacked by hundreds of Japanese planes 77 years ago, during World War II. On that Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, the “date that will live in infamy”, as President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously said the next day when he asked Congress to declare war against Japan, 21 US warships were sunk or damaged, and more than 150 planes on nearby airfields destroyed. More than 2,300 Americans lost their lives.

Most of the ships were repaired and returned to service.  For three battleships, however, the destruction was too substantial. One of them was the USS  Arizona. 1,177 sailors and Marines were killed when she was attacked, over 900 of them could not be recovered and remain onboard. In 1962, a hull was placed on top of the shipwreck, but not touching it, to commemorate the crew, and other service members killed in the attack. The hull today is part of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. It is currently closed for repairs until March 2019.

USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor

When I was visiting the memorial seven years ago, the feeling of German collective guilt was very present, just  like when I would visit Hiroshima many years later. In a war, both sides lose.

“Never Again”, was what I was taught in school. Never again, the Germans must be the ones starting a war. Never again, there must be discrimination, xenophobia, and aggression.

Today, there is a fear that this historical mission is fading. That the lessons of the past are lost in history books, dying with those who lived to tell the story. Last week was the first time no USS Arizona survivor was present when officials commemorated the anniversary of the attack.

Therefore, it is even more important to preserve memorials like the ones in Pearl Harbor, and keep the memory alive by listening to the stories of those who’ve experienced history.

Burg Meersburg – The Old Castle at Lake Constance

If you are visiting Lake Constance in Germany, be sure to check out Burg Meersburg, the old castle. Built in the 7th century, it features sleeping and dining rooms, a kitchen, a dungeon among other fully furnished rooms, and a tower with a spectacular view. You can tour the castle on your own and join a guided tour to the top of the tower. The castle has been remodeled many times by kings and bishops since it was first built, and people still live there today. Oh, and poet Annette von Droste-Hülshoff died here.

Dresden’s Revival

Visiting Germany this summer, I spent two days in Dresden. And although it was raining cats and dogs the whole time, I was impressed by the beautiful buildings, all rebuilt or restored after the war or even after Germany’s reunification. The Semperoper was closed, unfortunately, but I could climb to the top of the Frauenkirche. And I could marvel at the old paintings in the Zwinger. The Elbe, however, did not have enough water after the long hot summer for a boat trip. But at the Panometer, I could get an impression of how the city looked during the Baroque in Yadegar Asisi’s impressive installation.

I stayed in the charming Hotel Smetana,  and had dinner one evening at the Restaurant Stresa, which has delicious food and an excellent wine selection.

Yesterday, a friend at the dinner table asked the question: Why does all progress (technical, medical, social…) seems to have happened in the last 100 years, or an even shorter period? In terms of IT, think of the Apollo Program and the much larger capacity your modern cell phone has. An interesting question, so I asked the internet… and came up with this: Continue reading

Mrs. Tang’s Beautiful Art

At the Rhode Island Avenue NE Fall Fest last Saturday, Oct 4, 2014, Xiufang Tang (right) was selling her art, and I was a happy customer. Her daughter Karen deGategno (left) helps her mom organizing the fair stand. Photo: Sabine Muscat

Yesterday, at the Rhode Island Avenue Fall Fest, I saw Xiufang Tang’s art for the first time – and immediately was fascinated by the delicacy and beauty of her work. Mrs. Tang, as everyone calls her, used to be an art teacher. After retiring, she started painting. She has been living in DC for a couple of years, taking care of her granddaughter, but still found time to paint. The paper and materials are from China, but most of her motifs are very Washingtonian: cherry blossoms, for example. Continue reading

German American Heritage Museum in Washington, DC, Foto: Christina Bergmann

Have you ever been to the German American Heritage Museum (GAHM) in downtown DC, close to Chinatown? It’s worth a visit, and it’s free. These days, the museum is hosting an exhibition about “idealistic 19th-century immigrants who wanted to create the 25th U.S. state” – German immigrants, that is. They came from Giessen, close to Frankfurt, to Missouri. Here is the Washington Post story about the GAHM exhibit with the name “Utopia: Revisiting a German State in America“.

And while you’re at it, check out this WP article about “How to view art” by Philip Kennicott. Worth reading – and doing.

 

Happy Birthday, Germany

Who would have thought 25 years ago, that in 2014, Germany would celebrate it’s first quarter century as a united nation (although we still have to wait another year for the “official” 25th anniversay). On Oct 3rd, 1989, a peaceful German unification seemed like a dream that would never come true.

So let’s celebrate like on Wednesday at the German Embassy in DC,by remembering what happened 25 years ago,  like in this DW report, and with pictures from my now united hometown: Berlin.