SAN DIEGO (Press Release)—Last Friday the US Senate and on Monday, July 26th US Congress unanimously approved “Spirit of ’45 Day” a new National Day of Remembrance to recall the victory celebrations at the end of WWII.
This year “Spirit of ’45 Day” coincides with the 65th anniversary of Victory over Japan or VJ Day on August 14, 2010, but in future years will occur on the second Sunday every August. Everyone asks, “Why wasn’t this done before?”
A Victory celebration will be held at the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center in Balboa Park with activities from 10 AM until 2 PM Saturday that include: WWII-era music, concessions, and the opportunity to meet and talk with WWII Veterans and hometown heroes.
At noon, there will be presentations by Congressman Bob Filner, the author of the Bill, California Assembly member, Nathan Fletcher, a County Proclamation by Supervisor Greg Cox; WWII Veterans Stu Hedley Pearl Harbor Survivors Assoc. San Diego, BGen. Robert Cardenas Air Force retired, Jerry Kranz, Marine in 1st Wave Iwo Jima, and a City Proclamation will be read by Ron Lacey, representative from Mayor Jerry Sanders.
The public is welcome to attend and celebrate the victory brought about by sacrifices made by the Veterans of World War II and their families. “We are celebrating the success of this Bill recognizing the anniversary of a day in our calendars that has been overlooked for decades,” says Dan DeMarco, event chair. Hundreds of cities are set to take part in launching the Spirit of ’45 Project, a result of a year-long national initiative to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the end of WWII. The hub of the San Diego celebration will be at the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center and similar event is planned at the Chula Vista Veterans Home. At 7PM, at the Kiss Statue, now a memorial to Edith Shain, the Nurse, there will be a 1 hour event Buglers will sound Taps which will be played across the USA from the East to West Coast in a rolling pattern for the first time in history. This is the final place of celebration for the day across the continental USA.
“This celebration encourages all veterans and hometown heroes to tell us about their experiences that day. We want our young citizens to appreciate what they will learn from our elders and pass this along to future generations,” says Capt. Will Hays, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Veterans Museum. The Spirit of ’45 Day honors the legacy of service of America ‘s “greatest generation” and is mobilizing youth to help men and women who remember the day WWII ended to submit their memories to a Web site where they will become part of the nation’s permanent memory.
The Veterans Museum and Memorial Center ‘s celebration event will be the first annual event. Many WWII Veterans including Pearl Harbor Survivors, Purple Heart, POW, and hometown heroes including Rosie Riveters and Nurses will attend and share their stories. All WWII Veterans, their families, friends, and patriots are invited.
Preceding provided by Dan DeMarco, event chairman
SAN DIEGO (SDJW)–Two Jewish public officeholders—Congressman Bob Filner and San Diego City Councilwoman Marti Emerald – have endorsed fellow Democrat Ray Lutz, 52, in his effort to unseat incumbent Republican Congressman Duncan D. Hunter.
The endorsements of these and other prominent Democrats were announced in connection with a fundraiser for Lutz in the Gaslamp Quarter.
Preceding based on materials provided by Ray Lutz
SAN DIEGO (Staff Report)–Erez Strasburg, former Israeli shaliach assigned to the Jewish Federation offices in San Diego, is now offering personalized tours of Israel for English speakers. He can be reached through his “Personal Tourism” company website.
Congressman Bob Filner, whose own political career began when he decided to run for the San Diego City School Board, has picked his favorite in San Diego’s District B race to succeed School Board Trustee Katherine Nakamura. He’s given his endorsement to Kevin Beiser, who previously taught in the Sweetwater School District and has been honored as a “math teacher of the year.”
The public is invited to attend groundbreaking ceremonies for San Diego’s new central library at 11th and K Streets at 10 a.m., Wednesday, July 28. Mayor Jerry Sanders will be among the speakers. Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs was one of the major donors to the project.
For the cooks among us, there’s a new website offering some classic Jewish recipes. Bob Hiller is calling it “My bubby’s kitchen” in honor of Molly Dembo Losick.
Preceding culled from emails and press releases sent to San Diego Jewish World
By Donald H. Harrison
SAN DIEGO – Jewish incumbents on San Diego County ballots won election or renomination to their seats in California’s primaries on Tuesday, but most Jewish candidates running for open seats fell short of the mark, or placed second for runoff spots. San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis won outright reelection in a nonpartisan race. U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, Congress Members Susan Davis and Bob Filner, and State Assembly member Marty Block all won renominations in their respective Democratic party primaries. Howard Katz, in an unopposed Democratic primary, won the right to oppose Republican Congressman Darrell Issa, setting up a contest between members of the Jewish and Lebanese-American communities.
Among Jewish hopefuls falling by the wayside were State Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner who lost in an expensive Republican primary contest for governor to Meg Whitman; Orly Taitz, who sought the Republican nomination for Secretary of State; Mike Schmier who placed way back in the GOP race for attorney general; and David Nussbaum who was well behind the pack in the nonpartisan contest for State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
That trend held up in local contests as well: In the 36th State Senate District, Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone came in second to Assemblyman Joel Anderson for the Republican nomination; in the 76th Assembly District, Naomi Bar Lev placed third for the Republican nomination, and in the 6th San Diego City Council District race, Howard Wayne placed behind Lorie Zapf. Because neither Wayne nor Zapf had a majority, they will have a runoff election in November to replace termed-out City Council Member Donna Frye.
In contests in which major Jewish figures played behind-the-scenes roles, there were mixed results. Former County Sheriff Bill Kolender saw his hand-picked successor, Bill Gore, win easy election as sheriff. On the other hand, San Diego City Council member Marti Emerald was unsuccessful in persuading the voters to block the proposal to make the “strong mayor” system of government permanent and to return instead to having a city manager serve as the chief executive of the municipality.
Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World
By Donald H. Harrison
SAN DIEGO—Miramar National Cemetery was dedicated Saturday, January 30, 2010, by two members of Congress and ranking officials of the military and Veterans Administration with promises that San Diego will once again be able to bury the bodies of its veterans—and not only their ashes—before the end of the year.
Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery which has served San Diego since the mid 19th century ran out of room in 1966 for gravesites, although inurnments in the columbarium continue to this day. That has meant that any San Diego veteran or spouse desiring to be buried in a casket, and not cremated, had to go to another national cemetery with the closest one being in Riverside, California.
This has worked a hardship on all veteran families in San Diego, who had to choose between a gravesite somewhere else or an urn here in San Diego. In particular, this caused a hardship for Jewish veteran families desiring to observe the religion’s traditional prohibition against cremation.
Alan Miliefsky, California commander of Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A., said another feature of the cemetery – pre-location in the gravesites of crypts—will make it easier for military burials to be accomplished within the quick time frame of 24 to 48 hours that is typical of a Jewish funeral. Having the cemetery on Miramar Marine Corps Air Station also will mean that buglers from the Marine Corps Band such as the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Band, which played at the dedication ceremonies, will be available to sound the customary “Taps” at military burials.
U.S. Rep. Bob Filner, chairman of the Veteran Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives, said that the plans for the cemetery include “a combination of natural and man-made designs” using California native plants in such a way that the cemetery will be considered “a garden of heroes.”
The congressman paid special tribute to Retired Air Force Brigadier General Robert Cardenas, board chairman of the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery Support Foundation, who helped organize a 10-year-drive to build a new national cemetery in San Diego County. Joking that the general was “a general pain in the butt,” he said that Washington would never have responded as it did without his prodding.
The congressman also surprised many in the audience by thanking a disgraced former colleague, Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham, who now is serving a term in federal prison following conviction in a bribery trial. Filner and Cunningham—respectively a liberal Democrat and a Conservative Republican—had many clashes, sometimes even bitter ones, but Filner said it was important to remember that Cunningham, who previously had been an ace pilot in the Vietnam War, had initiated the effort to have a new national cemetery built in San Diego. Acknowledging that Cunningham made mistakes for which he is serving the sentence, Filner added that Cunningham also did some good, especially for veterans. Filner’s impromptu comments, though controversial, were received with applause.
Congresswoman Susan Davis, a Democrat who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, commented that with the construction of Miramar National Cemetery, San Diego, with one of the highest veteran populations in the country, will again have a choice “when it comes to their funeral arrangements.”
The two Congressional representatives preceded to the podium Kirk K. Leopard, whose job as director of the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery will be expanded to include the directorship of both cemeteries.
Leopard said the 313-acre cemetery on the west tip of Miramar Marine Corps Air Station near the Nobel Drive exit of Interstate 805 will be built in phases, with the first phase to include approximately 11,500 conventional gravesites, 4,500 in-ground cremation sites, and 10,000 colambarium niches. Eventually, he added in an interview, there will be combined space for 162,000 caskets and urns, which he estimated will be filled within seven decades.
Fort Rosecrans just this last December recorded its 100,000th funeral. One of the reasons that Miramar will be able to accommodate more burials than Fort Rosecrans, said Leopard, is that the ground will be dug 10 feet deep, instead of five feet deep, and each site will be able to accommodate two caskets.
Although the first phase of cemetery construction is not expected to be completed until 2012, a portion of the first phase is planned to be ready by September of this year, when the first burials will occur, according to Leopard.
Part of the reason it took a decade for the cemetery to reach this point was the presence of two endangered species on Miramar Marine Corps Air Station — the California gnatcatcher and the fairy shrimp. Land was set aside for both the gnatcatcher, a bird known for its catlike mewing call, and the shrimp which breeds during the rainy season in vernal pools, remaining dormant the rest of the year.
The keynote speaker of Saturday’s ceremony was Steve L. Muro, acting undersecretary for memorial affairs. He said that Miramar will have a memorial wall constructed to honor soldiers who were lost at sea, missing in action, and are prisoners of war, so that their families will have a place to symbolically visit them. He paid tribute to Gold Star Mothers and Gold Star Wives, who received a standing ovation from fellow members of the audience, and also remembered John Ibe, a strong local advocate, now deceased, for the Miramar National Cemetery.
One of the names most mentioned during the ceremony was that of Abraham Lincoln, whose famous Gettysburg Address in 1863 dedicated one of what today is a 131-unit system of national cemeteries. It was Lincoln who ordered cemeteries to be set aside to honor those who would give their lives defending their country. In his Gettysburg Address, the 16th President also predicted that the world would little remember what was said that day – but in that he was mistaken.
Among other speakers was Anthony Principi, who had served as Secretary of Veterans Affairs during President George W. Bush’s administration and who, Muro noted, was one of the top administration officials who had pushed for locating a cemetery at Miramar.
A former U.S. Navy officer, Principi, a resident or Rancho Santa Fe, said he anticipated that he might someday be buried in this cemetery himself – a sentiment also expressed by another speaker, Maj. Gen. Anthony L. Jackson, who is commanding general for the Marine Corps installations in the Western United States.
In the ceremony emceed by KGTV/ Channel 10’s Bob Lawrence, there were numerous other dignitaries who did not speak, but who were recognized, including San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, and two Medal of Honor recipients: Jay Vargas, who fought in Vietnam, and Walt Ehlers, who was decorated for his bravery on D-Day during World War II.
The dedication ceremony began with a musical prelude by the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Band under the direction of Staff Sgt Victor Ney, and ended with Marines rendering a three-volley rifle salute and the playing of “Taps” by Sgt. Austin Hunt, bugler. In between there was a presentation of the colors by an honor guard from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar; the playing of the Star Spangled Banner followed by a medley of the songs of the various branches of the Armed Services; a prayer of dedication by Chaplain Ronald Ritter, a symbolic groundbreaking ceremony in which the dignitaries donned hard hats and wielded shovels; and the unveiling of a plaque by Jackson, Principi and Muro. The plaque said:
“Miramar National Cemetery Dedicated to the Memory of All the Patriotic Men and Women Who Answered Their Country’s Call to Service.” Below that inscription were the names of Barack Obama, President of the United States; Eric K. Shinseki, Secretary, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and Steve L. Muro, Acting Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs, National Cemetery Administration. The plaque carried the Dedication date of January 30, 2010.
Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World
WASHINGTON, DC (Press Release) – U.S. Congressman Bob Filner recently joined his colleagues on a letter to the House Appropriations Committee calling for text in the Fiscal Year 2010 State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations bill that would block aid to Saudi Arabia.
“I don’t understand why we are giving aid to Saudi Arabia when they are one of the richest nations in the world,” said Filner. “This is a country that continues to train terrorists, fund terrorism and export hate. We need to stop sending aid to Saudi Arabia and use that money to invest in creating jobs here at home!”
Preceding provided by Congressman Bob Filner
Once A Marine by Nick Popaditch (with Mike Steere), Savas Beatie LLC, 2008, ISBN 13 978-1-932713-47-0; 293 pages, $25.
By Donald H. Harrison
SAN DIEGO—This book has what might be considered an elliptical title: “Once A Marine…. (Always A Marine.)” And even were this book solely a glimpse into the proud Marine Corps and its traditions, it would be worth a place on the library shelves, particularly in our Marine-friendly county which is home to three major Marine Corps installations.
However, the book takes on even more currency as the autobiography of a man who is seeking the Republican nomination in the 51st Congressional District to oppose Congressman Bob Filner (D-San Diego). Ironically, Filner as chairman of the House Committee on Veteran Affairs has a large base of support in the very veterans community which Popaditch no doubt will court.
The book written two years ago never mentions the prospect of a congressional race. Popaditch, a Silver Star awardee and gunnery sergeant who was forced by a head wound that nearly blinded him to retire from the Marine Corps, at the time of publication was considering pursuing a career as a teacher. Perhaps heartened by the victory in a neighboring congressional district of another veteran of the Iraq War—Duncan Hunter Jr.—Popaditch decided to oppose Filner in what is considered a decidedly Democratic district.
Of course, the now freshman Congressman Hunter had a famous name and a Republican edge to carry him to victory in the 52nd Congressional District. His father Duncan Hunter was the long time congressman from the district, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and an unsuccessful Republican presidential candidate in 2008. It is possible many people who voted for Duncan Hunter Jr. thought they were simply sending his father back to Congress for another term.
Popaditch won some name recognition as a result of a photo that was taken by a French photographer and carried all over the world after American tank corpsmen entered Baghdad and participated with gleeful Iraqis in pulling down a statue of Saddam Hussein. In the photograph, now on the cover of his book, Popaditch is seen in the cupola of his tank, smoking a cigar with the silhouette of Saddam’s statue in the background.
In that Popaditch also had served as a recruit and later as a drill instructor at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, and later as a tank commander at Camp Pendleton, San Diego County is familiar ground to the Indiana native. The 51st Congressional District, stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the Arizona State line along California’s border with Mexico, lies well south of both Marine Corps installations.
While Popaditch portrays the can-do mindset of a Marine, statements he makes in the book are certain to cause political controversy. In particular, the following two paragraphs may prove disturbing:
“In three combat deployments, I have killed, by my best estimate, something like 200 enemy combatants. Such is the nature of tank warfare, where a single main-gun hit on a vehicle can kill a dozen men, and the machine guns do to dismounted infantry what weed whackers do to crab grass. A tank kills ugly, guys cooked alive in armored vehicles and bunkers, vaporized by main gun rounds, chopped to pieces by machine gun fire, smashed under the tracks. Such things are not good to look upon, and nobody in his right mind would derive any enjoyment. I never feel bad, not when it happens and now now.
“Putting down enemies feels pretty much like shooting up plywood targets. Now and again things have seemed ridiculously unfair—Marines versus Shitville High School—but that’s too bad for them because they’re on the wrong side. I know, in my head, that they’re somebody’s sons and brothers and maybe husbands and fathers just like me. What I know in my heart, however, is nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zip. Not in a fight. I never connect in a human way to the enemy in my gun sights—no passion, no bloodlust, no pity, no recognition that these are, in fact, human beings…”
Popaditch describes his former job as a tank commander as being a “trigger puller” and he takes pride in how well he did it. When he lost an eye, sense of balance, and most of the sight in his other eye, his biggest regret was being knocked out of the fight. He spent months trying to get back in it, attempting to prove that he was still Marine Corps fighting material. Ultimately he realized the truth, that his pride notwithstanding, he no longer had the physical ability to lead others into battle. How could others in a tank formation count on someone who would not be able to see the target, except perhaps with the help of the most sophisticated optics?
In separating from the Marine Corps, Popaditch became alienated from the bureaucrats who evaluate the percentage of injury suffered by a wounded warrior. These estimations set the standard for calculating the amount of medical benefits the wounded warrior will receive. When Popaditch felt that Marine Corps colonels back east were fudging his numbers, he became enraged, and almost began a letter writing campaign to the White House and to Congress. But then he felt ashamed that he had almost gone around the chain of command, and decided to tell the people at his base what was happening to him. The Marine Corps takes care of its own, with even the commandant and a past commandant going to bat for him.
He said that the Veteran Affairs Administration did a wonderful job for him helping to improve his limited sight, adding that the agency often gets a bum rap for bureaucratic problems that happen in the services, even in his beloved Marine Corps.
What voters will have to decide is whether Popaditch’s love for the Marine Corps will trump his determination to serve his constituents. Will his solution to international conflicts tend to mirror his desire as a Marine to go in there and kick some ass? In a toss up between greater spending on military equipment for the Marine Corps or increased social services for his district, where would Popaditch land?
There is a wide philosophical distance between Filner, who is a considered a liberal member of Congress, and Popaditch, who trumpets his credentials as a conservative. There also is a religious difference, with Filner being a Jew unaffiliated with any congregation and Popaditch a Protestant who proclaims his religious beliefs to be part of his core values. Filner is a former Freedom Rider of the Civil Rights era, who went to jail for his beliefs. Before entering politics, he served as a history professor at San Diego State University.
Filner will ride into the race with the benefit of incumbency, support of veterans groups and Democrats, and a record of serving as an advocate and ombudsman for his constituents through three important public offices: San Diego Unified School District member, San Diego City Councilmen, and a member of Congress.
If this book is a guide, Popaditch will be an exponent of his core values and the Corps’ values.
Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World