Roger D. McGrath

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Battle of the Journeymen
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Battle of the Journeymen

The 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I has long been anticipated, judging by the publication of dozens of new books on what was called, until World War II, the Great War, although the Ghastly War might be

The Fighting Chaplain
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The Fighting Chaplain

Born in 1905 in Roxbury, Massachusetts, Joseph Timothy O’Callahan was reared in a devout Irish Catholic family.  He took to learning with a passion and earned his bachelor’s degree by the time he was 20, and his doctorate at the

Confiscating Liberty
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Confiscating Liberty

I first came upon Stephen P. Halbrook in 1984 when the University of New Mexico Press published his first book,That Every Man Be Armed: The Evolution of a Constitutional Right.  Since Halbrook had both a Ph.D. in philosophy

Chinese Exclusion
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Chinese Exclusion

Five years ago, the California state legislature voted to apologize to the Chinese for former laws that discriminated against them, including the federal government’s Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which California congressmen championed.  The apology bill was sponsored by

The Long Sadness
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The Long Sadness

William Ball was just shy of 19 and living in the town of Souris on the prairies of Canada when war erupted in Europe in August 1914.  The region was still something of a frontier, devoted to trapping and trading

Operation Tidal Wave
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Operation Tidal Wave

It seems that Benghazi is remembered today only for the 2012 attack on the American diplomatic mission there.  In the 1940’s and 50’s, though, it was known for launching the planes that conducted Operation Tidal Wave, a brilliant example of

Bear Flag Revolt
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Bear Flag Revolt

Most Americans have no idea that California was once an independent republic and came into the Union, like Texas, without going through a territorial stage.  This is symbolized by California’s state seal, which features Minerva, who sprang from Jupiter’s head

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The Mexican War

It’s popular in academe today to describe the Mexican War as an example of an aggressive and expansive colossus beating up on a weak neighbor, but that was not the case in 1846.  The war was really a second phase

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Japan’s Prelude to Pearl Harbor

Was Japan’s sneak attack on Pearl Harbor out of character for the chrysanthemum nation?  Her actions at Port Arthur, nearly 38 years earlier, suggest otherwise.

In 1898 Russia began leasing the Liaotung Peninsula, which juts into the Yellow Sea between

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A Different Hollywood

We’ve all heard it dozens of times after another disappointed moviegoer leaves the theater: “They don’t make ’em like they used to.”  One reason is the absence today of the kind of men who once made the movies.  Try this

Old Route 66
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Old Route 66

Now, I’m a poor Oakie

and I’m heading out west.

I’m pulling a long trailer

and my car’s doing its best.

We hit a long mountain

and she began to boil.

She blew a head gasket

and it started dripping

Bob Mathias
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Bob Mathias

One of the greatest Olympians of all time, Bob Mathias, is all but forgotten today.  He was born in 1930 in Tulare, in the heart of California’s San Joaquin Valley.  Robert Bruce Mathias was his name, but everyone called him

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Music That Stirs the Soul

A favorite time for me at John Randolph Club annual meetings is the songfest.  Invariably, there is someone in attendance who can sit down at the piano and play all the great, old American tunes that were once familiar to

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Tiburcio Vásquez

During the last four decades, California has been proving that demography is indeed destiny.  At an ever-accelerating rate the state is becoming Mexifornia.  So many Mexicans have flooded into California, nearly all illegally, that instead of the new arrivals

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The Patton You Didn’t Know

Thanks to the movie, most Americans are familiar with George Patton—the crusty, outspoken, and brilliantly aggressive general of World War II fame.  Yet few know of his exploits as a young officer.  There is nothing about Patton’s early career in

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John Wayne and World War II

Ever since I can remember, John Wayne has been the actor the left most loves to hate.  While the left’s criticisms of him are many, the one that seemed to have the most validity was his failure to serve his

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Ace of Aces: Richard Bong

He was an all-American boy who became an American hero in World War II.  Born in 1920 to a father who, at the age of five, had immigrated to the United States with his family from Sweden and an

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The Battle off Samar

One would think that a battle called the most gallant in the history of the U.S. Navy would be prominently featured in our textbooks.  Not only does the Battle off Samar in the Philippine Sea on October 25, 1944, go

Stand Your Ground
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Stand Your Ground

Bodie, July 1881—The early morning hours found deputy constables Richard O’Malley and James Monahan patrolling the streets of the mining town of more than 5,000 residents in mountains immediately east of the Sierra.  Bob Watson and George Center happened

The Shot Heard Round the World
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The Shot Heard Round the World

While nearly all my college students had heard of Lexington and Concord and the first battle of our Revolutionary War, only rarely did any of them know why the British were marching on the small Massachusetts towns.

During the summer

Man of Honor
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Man of Honor

Ralph Walker Willis was a fireman, the author of five books, including My Life as a Jarhead (1999), and a contributor to Chronicles, but most of all he was a Marine.  He was related to the famous mountain

Same Border, Different America
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Same Border, Different America

For the last several years Texas farmers and ranchers whose lands butt up against the Rio Grande have complained about cross-border raids by thugs of Mexican drug cartels.  “It’s a war.  Make no mistake about it,” said Texas Agriculture Commissioner

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The Tuskegee Airmen

If you think political correctness is a recent phenomenon in America, then the longtime promulgation and perpetuation of distortions and falsehoods concerning the Tuskegee Airmen should disabuse you of such a notion.

The very creation of the group was an

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Divine Wind

Many Americans today are left aghast at Adm. William F. Halsey’s admonition to U.S. forces in the Pacific: “Kill Japs.  Kill Japs.  Kill More Japs!  You will help to kill the yellow bastards if you do your job well.”  Yet

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Bombing the West Coast

The “Battle of Los Angeles,” or the Great Los Angeles Air Raid, occurred during the early morning hours of February 25, 1942.  It has been portrayed in Steven Spielberg’s 1979 slapstick comedy 1941, starring Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi. 

The Betsy Ross of California
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The Betsy Ross of California

Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed legislation requiring public schools to teach students about the contributions of “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.”  When I was young, we were taught about men and, yes, women in California, not because of their

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James Arness

Early in June, James Arness died.  Everyone thinks of him as Matt Dillon, the brave and incorruptible town marshal of Dodge City in the television series Gunsmoke.  I think of him as the father of one of my childhood

New Tricks
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New Tricks

Steven Farron, who earned a Ph.D. at Columbia University and was a professor of classics for many years at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, has produced a masterly volume on the thorny subject of what is

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Chuck Older

Recently, a younger acquaintance of mine, an actor on stage and screen, mentioned with disgust the circus-like atmosphere that pervaded the trial of O.J. Simpson for the murder of his ex-wife.  I noted that early on in the trial, Judge

Suicide by (Legal) Immigration
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Suicide by (Legal) Immigration

I was fortunate to grow up before the Immigration Act of 1965 began an incremental and insidious change in the ethnic composition of America.  I had friends whose parents were immigrants.  I thought nothing much of it because the parents

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Jumpin’ Jim Gavin

Like most kids I loved reading about Americans who rose from nothing to greatness.  When I got to college and encountered my first left-wing history professor, I learned that Horatio Alger characters were pure myth—except I had already read and

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The Fighting Marine: Gene Tunney

Though he beat Jack Demp­sey decisively the two times they met in the ring, was undefeated as a heavyweight, and retired as heavyweight champion, Gene Tunney is often forgotten when today’s era of fight fans or others discuss the greatest

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Dan Daly

A friend recently sent me an e-mail with a link to YouTube.  A click took me to a tribute to Col. Bob Howard, broadcast by NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams upon Howard’s death just before Christmas 2009.  Howard is

Celebrity Politicians, Savvy Sergeants
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Celebrity Politicians, Savvy Sergeants

“We need another Reagan.”

I’ve heard that too many times to count.  Don’t get me wrong: I think another Reagan would be a good start—but only a start.  Everyone should recall that Reagan, even during the six years that the

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The Man Who Won the Revolution

Every history textbook has a paragraph or more devoted to Crispus Attucks, who, besides being half black and half Indian and one of those killed in the Boston Massacre, was of little historical significance.  Nearly everything else said about him

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Red Cloud’s War

The Oglala Sioux chief Red Cloud is generally portrayed as someone who chewed up the U.S. Army in battle after battle.  He was, in the words of one author, “the first and only Indian leader in the West to win

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Arizona’s Got Sand

On October 26, 1881, a gunfight erupted in a vacant lot on Fremont Street in Tombstone, Arizona, that would go down in history as the Shootout at the OK Corral.  Virgil, Wyatt, and Morgan Earp and Doc Holliday stood on

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Double Down: Illegal Aliens and Crime

For too long now I have heard that illegal immigrants are not criminals and that they have come to America only to work.  Not really.  Whether or not they want to work, they have already committed a crime by illegally

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Lucky Lindy

Nearly everyone knows that in 1927 Charles Lindbergh made the first nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean, lifting off from a field on Long Island and touching down in Paris 33 hours and 3,600 miles later.  He instantly became

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The White Man’s Burden

Take up the White Man’s burden—

The savage wars of peace—

Fill full the mouth of Famine

And bid the sickness cease;

And when your goal is nearest

The end for others sought,

Watch sloth and heathen Folly

Bring all

The Great American Outlaw
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The Great American Outlaw

When Public Enemies was making the rounds in theaters across America last summer, doing nearly $100 million of business domestically, I was reminded that we Americans love our outlaws—not our criminals, mind you, but our outlaws.  It is a distinction

Pancho Villa
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Pancho Villa

There are hundreds of Mexican restaurants in the United States named for the revolutionary Pancho Villa.  Photos of the Durango native line the walls, and his raid on the small American hamlet of Columbus, New Mexico, is celebrated.  Nowhere is

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The Flying Tigers

The first “paper & stick” model airplane I ever made was a Curtiss P-40 Warhawk.  I painted it in the color scheme of the famed Flying Tigers, including the shark’s mouth on the cowl and air scoop.  Mine was powered

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The Noble Savage

A sequel to Dances With Wolves is reportedly scheduled for release in 2011.  Not only did Dances create a romantic American Indian who never existed, it reversed the roles of the Sioux and the Pawnee.  This kind of thing has

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Hiroshima and Nagasaki

I recently saw a video clip of a television talk-show host calling President Truman a war criminal for authorizing the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  I have heard others make similar comments.  During the late 1960’s it became almost

You Should Have Been Here Yesteryear
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You Should Have Been Here Yesteryear

California was imagined and named before it was discovered.  In 1510 in Seville there appeared a novel that would have Fabio on the cover today.  Written by Garcia Ordóñez de Montalvo, Las sergas de Esplandián is a romance of chivalry

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Mr. Outside: Glenn Davis

As the 20th century drew to a close lists of the century’s greatest figures in various fields of endeavor appeared regularly in newspapers and magazines.  Revealing that memories were short, the lists tended to be dominated by figures of recent

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Epic But Forgotten: Peleliu

Few Americans today know of Peleliu, a speck of an island in the southwest Pacific.  A part of the Palau group of the Caroline Islands, Peleliu is only six miles long and two miles wide.  It lies 550 miles due