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Osaka, Japan.

For nearly half a year in 2005, I fulfilled a dream and lived in Japan. People always ask me what my time there was like. If there was ever on spot in all of my travels which defies description it just might be this distant island. I have tried to portray it as a trip into the future, where solutions existed to problems that you never knew you even had, such as toilets with speakers that concealed the coarse sounds of their human users or street-corner vending machines selling entire bottles of Suntory Black Jack whiskey.

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March 20, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Limes Germanicus

For years I had been trying to get to Rome. I wanted to see all the temples, ruins, the roads and the walls. Man, the big walls where the Romans fought their enemies to protect their glorious city. Rome is a long way away, even from Germany. I was frustrated. I was also wrong. Continue reading

August 15, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Berlin Now and Then-Part One: Unter den Linden

Around the middle of the 16th century the Elector/Prince of Brandenburg, Berlin at the time, had a horse path connecting his residence to his royal hunting grounds in what is today the Tiergarten (Animal Garden). Unter den Linden (Under the Limes) got its name in 1647 when Elector Frederick William lined the avenue with lime trees. Since then Unter den Linden has become one of Berlin’s greatest attractions. In the past it was home to a royal residence, military buildings and arsenals. Later large churches, opera houses, national libraries and a university were added. In more modern times, Unter den Linden was a government district, where you could find all of the most important embassies in the world. Today, the avenue, which runs on an east-west axis through the middle of the city starts at Alexanderplatz and goes all the way through to the Brandenburg Gate. Here you can find some of Germany’s most recognizable landmarks as well as enough History to fill many pages. Not surprisingly, during the Second World War, Unter der Linden was the spot for parades, demonstrations as well as the target of bombs and some of the fiercest fighting of the Battle for Berlin. Continue reading

July 17, 2010 Posted by | History, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

German Russian Museum Karlshorst, Berlin

On May 8, 1945 the Nazis surrendered to the Allies in Reims. However, at the time the Soviet Union’s Supreme Command was not included in the proceedings.This outraged Stalin, he believed the official surrender should occur in Berlin, the lair of the Fascist Beast, not in newly liberated France under the Western Allies’ authority.

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June 20, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fayetteville and Soc Trang United?

Fayetteville and Soc Trang United?

Monday, April 26, 2010 at 12:49pm

Fayetteville, North Carolina is a true-blue military town. Fort Bragg, one of the US’s largest military installations, is in Fayetteville and some of the US’s most famous units, the 82 Airborne and US Special Forces call Fayetteville, home.

The city also has a special connection to the Vietnam War. As many as 200,000 US soldiers destined for the jungles of Vietnam passed through here in the 1970s earning the town the nickname, “Fayettenam”.

No doubt, military pride and tradition run deep there, so when Fayetteville Mayor Tony Chavonne proposed re-establishing ties with Soc Trang, a Vietnamese city, more than a few eyebrows were raised.

Many in this military town still suffer from the wounds of the bitter Vietnam War and oppose the union with a nation where some 60,000 US service members lost their lives. Local Fayetteville message boards provide some insight. Don Talbot, a retired Green Beret and Vietnam veteran, feels the move “puts salt in the wounds of the Vietnam military that fought there.” One Vietnam veteran known only as 20596323 still bears scars saying, “Fayetteville should be ashamed of its self for even suggesting such a thing!” Razorback Pilot wrote “That country is solely communist and we shouldn’t have any ties with a communist country.”

Yet many more have offered their conciliatory tones. DSALthuas wrote,
“As far as the Vietnam War goes, it’s over and well past time to make peace with the Vietnamese and with our own ghosts. I think Fayetteville is doing the right thing and I’ll go back if they ask me.”
Chavonne sees the sister-city relationship as a way to highlight Vietnamese culture, pursue economic development and give veterans the thanks they deserved but didn’t receive four decades ago.

Some US cities already have connections with Vietnamese cities, Pittsburgh has paired with Danang and San Francisco with Ho Chi Minh City. Also called “twinning’, cities link up with each other to promote understanding and fellowship. According to the Sister Cities International website, “The sister cities program seeks to creates and strengthens partnerships between U.S. and international communities.” The program strives to build global cooperation at the municipal level, promote cultural understanding and stimulate economic development.

• Develop municipal partnerships between U.S. cities, counties, and states and similar jurisdictions in other nations.
• Provide opportunities for city officials and citizens to experience and explore other cultures through long-term community partnerships.
• Create an atmosphere in which economic and community development can be implemented and strengthened.
• Stimulate environments through which communities will creatively learn, work, and solve problems together through reciprocal cultural, educational, municipal, business, professional and technical exchanges and projects.
• Collaborate with organizations in the United States and other countries which share similar goals.

United States Re-established ties in 1995 and exchanged ambassadors in 1997. Let’s hope Mayor Chavonne and the officials in Soc Trang can see these two cities united.

May 19, 2010 Posted by | Politics, Uncategorized | Leave a comment