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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

History...

History, in general, only informs us what bad government is.
~~~~~Thomas Jefferson


Pondering the many complexities of our current war efforts in Afghanistan, I've often wondered how our history of this time will be written. And just who will write that history. Will it be the Generals who are in charge, or the men and women who were boots on ground during the years of conflict? The politicians in Washington, DC? The Afghans themselves? Or will it be some scholarly type who was never in the country where so many lives have been changed. And how will that history portray us to future generations?

Heavy thinking things like this. Yet, I know that there are revisionists who are re-writing our history from less than 100 years ago. Is it because it doesn't fit the story they want told of that time? Or is it due to some new found facts that changed the way the history should be viewed?

Much like today's history, each person has a view of the actions that make up their day, and even their closest friends will have different thoughts on them. So, do you consider one correct and the other not?

I've concluded that there are many layers to our county's history, each of those layers added by the people who played a part in any day's particular rendering. Some invisible, some at the forefront, others at the rear. All had roles that eventually led to the final outcome. Pieced together, the whole picture can be discerned. Still, each person is left to view the whole based on their own perceptions and beliefs.

Now, for a tidbit of unknown history facts... Okay, maybe I was the only one who didn't know it. Always be willing to learn something new every day.

Starting in 1941, an increasing number of British Airmen found
themselves as the involuntary guests of the Third Reich, and the
Crown was casting about for ways and means to facilitate their escape..
Now obviously, one of the most helpful aids to that end is a useful and
accurate map, one showing not only where stuff was, but also showing the
locations of 'safe houses' where a POW on-the-lam could go for

food and shelter.
Paper maps had some real drawbacks -- they make a lot of noise when
you open and fold them, they wear out rapidly, and if they get wet,
they turn into mush.

Someone in MI-5 (similar to America 's OSS ) got the idea of printing
escape maps on silk. It's durable, can be scrunched-up into tiny wads,
and unfolded as many times as needed, and makes no noise whatsoever.

At that time, there was only one manufacturer in Great Britain that
had perfected the technology of printing on silk, and that was John
Waddington, Ltd. When approached by the government, the firm was
only too happy to do its bit for the war effort.

By pure coincidence, Waddington was also the U.K. Licensee for the
popular American board game, Monopoly. As it happened, 'games and
pastimes' was a category of item qualified for insertion into 'CARE
packages', dispatched by the International Red Cross to prisoners of
war.

Under the strictest of secrecy, in a securely guarded and inaccessible
old workshop on the grounds of Waddington's, a group of
sworn-to-secrecy employees began mass-producing escape maps, keyed to
each region of Germany or Italy where Allied POW camps were regional
system).. When processed, these maps could be folded into such tiny
dots that they would actually fit inside a Monopoly playing piece.>

As long as they were at it, the clever workmen at Waddington's also
managed to add:
1. A playing token, containing a small magnetic compass
2. A two-part metal file that could easily be screwed together
3. Useful amounts of genuine high-denomination German, Italian, and
French currency, hidden within the piles of Monopoly money!
British and American air crews were advised, before taking off on
their first mission, how to identify a 'rigged' Monopoly set -- by
means of a tiny red dot, one cleverly rigged to look like an ordinary
printing glitch, located in the corner of the Free Parking square.

Of the estimated 35,000 Allied POWS who successfully escaped, an
estimated one-third were aided in their flight by the rigged Monopoly
sets.. Everyone who did so was sworn to secrecy indefinitely, since
the British Government might want to use this highly successful ruse
in still another, future war. The story wasn't declassified until
2007, when the surviving craftsmen from Waddington's, as well as the
firm itself, were finally honored in a public ceremony.

I can bet that little tidbit hadn't been added to the history books that our children are reading at schools nowadays. Which reminds me, Who the heck is writing our childrens' text books?

To throw in one last thought on how history can be viewed, another quote I read a few minutes ago.

It might be a good idea if the various countries of the world would occasionally swap history books, just to see what other people are doing with the same set of facts.
~~~~~Bill Vaughan



And so it goes......

2 comments:

Coffeypot said...

History will be written by many different writers. There will never be one true history. All the writers are writing from their experience and sadly, by some 'professors' who never served but know everything. Our liberal educational practices are what is wrong with the world today. Patriotism is not taught. There are many stories like the Monopoly thing that went on during WWII. Every war has had stuff like that going on, even today. There are many unsung heroes out there. And this is a good post, too.

Ky Woman said...

Yep, 'tis true that there are many who will write our history from their own experiences. Which leads to so much mis-information.
I've always heard "the victors write the history". I guess I'm seeing so much of the conflicting stories here lately. Sadly, much of it is just lies upon lies. But it will be taken as gospel and put down in the annuals of our time. Scary thought, that.

Thank you for the compliment, btw... :)