Sunday, September 22, 2013

War is a fearful thing



Before "Super Storm" Sandy, there was The Great New England Hurricane of 1938. Also nicknamed "the Long Island Expressway" and "the Yankee Clipper", this Category 3 storm traveled 47 mph from Long Island to Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Quebec, claiming 682 lives (Sandy killed 268).

Meteorology has come a long way since 1938. When the Great Hurricane hit, residents had no warning. Standing in her yard discussing the storm with her neighbor, Mrs. Fred Carlson of North Easton was killed by a shower of bricks from the her falling chimney. In East Hampton, a newspaper boy was electrocuted by a downed wire while making his rounds. Ten women in Mispaumicut, Rhode Island drowned when a wave engulfed a cottage in which they were attending a church social.

The storm was so severe, it permanently reshaped the land. Gone, too, were centuries old trees. The famed East Hampton locust and elms, many planted before the Revolutionary War, were uprooted and tossed against homes and cars. The Times reported their destruction brought "tears to the eyes of some of the older residents."

The storm's devastation was dwarfed only by the conflict brewing on the other side of the Atlantic. On September 24, Chancellor Hitler issued his memorandum demanding the Sudeten area of Czechoslovakia be returned to the German race, or he will take it by force. Eventually, his demands were met. Reich Bankers, however, were not impressed. The New York Times reported:

"Serious bankers here were infuriated by Chancellor Hitler's memorandum to Czechoslovakia as they considered it to be an absurd piece of vanity. Although he gained more territory than he expected, he lost prestige, they feel."

Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain still worried about the prospect of war.

"Armed conflict between nations is a nightmare to me. But if I were convinced that any nation had made up its mind to dominate the world by fear of its force, I should feel that it must be resisted. Under such domination life for people who believe in liberty would not be worth living; but war is a fearful thing and we must be very clear before we embark on it that it is really the great issues that are at stake."

View remarkable footage of the 1938 hurricane and its aftermath from WSJ.com.


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Flannery O'Connor

You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you odd.