Today in History: Nov. 9

Us versus them. It was served with our breakfast cereal, our school lunches, and the nightly news watched during dinner. The Cold War was a fact, a background noise, a tinnitus-like hum heard 24/7, sometimes from far away and sometimes next door. Its removal seemed to make us aware that it had always been there, how loud it was, and that it had been driving us all insane.

The Cold War’s end could be said to have started on this date in 1989 as citizens of East Berlin started to spontaneously destroy the Berlin Wall (photo at top), a barrier erected in 1961 to divide that beautiful city.

* * * *
Kristallnacht took place on this date in 1938 in Germany. The Holocaust started that night. More than 1000 synagogues and 10,000 Jewish businesses, homes, doctor’s offices, schools, and cemeteries were vandalized, looted, even destroyed. Any Jew who attempted to defend property or lives was arrested and accused of inciting violence; of course, this meant they were being accused of inciting the violence that was being done to them. No one stood to defend the Jewish population, no one defied the Nazi authorities. This silence was interpreted by the regime as acceptance of what was going to follow in the following, black, years.

* * * *
Dylan Thomas died on this date in 1953. Charles de Gaulle died on this date in 1970. Stieg Larsson died 12 years ago today. Ed Bradley died 10 years ago today.

* * * *
Hedy Lamarr was born on this date in 1914. Anne Sexton was born on this date in 1928. “Her Kind” by Anne Sexton:

I have gone out, a possessed witch,
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
I have been her kind.
I have found the warm caves in the woods,
filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,
closets, silks, innumerable goods;
fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves:
whining, rearranging the disaligned.
A woman like that is misunderstood.
I have been her kind.
I have ridden in your cart, driver,
waved my nude arms at villages going by,
learning the last bright routes, survivor
where your flames still bite my thigh
and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.
A woman like that is not ashamed to die.
I have been her kind.
—Anne Sxton, “Her Kind”

The late Imre Kertész was born on this date in 1929. (He died in March.) Carl Sagan was born on this date in 1934. “Pale Blue Dot”:

Mary Travers was born on this date in 1936. Tom Fogerty was born in 1941 on this date.

* * * *
Robert Frank is 92 today. Whitey Herzog is 85. Bob Gibson is 81 today. Lou Ferrigno is 65. Senator Sherrod Brown is 64. Tony Slattery is 57. Bryn Terfel is 51 today.

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  1. Anton Wills-Eve · November 9, 2016

    Your finest post, Mark, a fitting ending to the last year of my life. But I know you”all keep on fighting for all I believe in when I no longer can. God bless. Anton.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. loisajay · November 9, 2016

    Whitey Herzog…so wonderful to see his name again.

    Liked by 1 person

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