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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

By Leah Price, Daily Press (Newport News, Virginia) (TNS)

Monday is Memorial Day. Many will participate in the annual custom of decorating the graves of war dead with flowers, a tradition that began in 1868. Others will attend special commemoration events, or spend time with family remembering loved ones who were lost.

Another way to recognize their sacrifice might be to read about the wars and conflicts that took their lives. I asked several folks for book recommendations and was amazed at the diversity and depth of their selections.

Wilford Kale, Williamsburg, Virginia, author of a number of nonfiction books of local interest, was in the U.S. Army from July 1968 to June 1970. He served with the 1st Signal Brigade in Vietnam from May 1969 to June 1970 as a 1st Lieutenant and received a Bronze Star medal. He recommends the following reading:

Pulitzer Prize-winning author James M. McPherson wrote Hallowed Ground: A Walk at Gettysburg in 2003, published by Crown. Still in print and also available through a variety of used-book sources, it is a compact look at the Battle of Gettysburg when thousands of Blue and Gray soldiers died in the three-day conflict. The Union casualties were 23,049 (3,155 dead, 14,528 wounded and 5,365 missing); the Confederate casualties totaled 28,063 (3,903 dead, 18,735 injured and 5,425 missing). An illustrated edition of the book was published May sixth by Zenith Press and is packed with significant photographs and illustrations along with McPherson’s original text.

Beyond the Call by Lee Trimble with Jeremy Dronfield was published three months ago by Berkley Caliber of New York. It is a wonderful story of a World War II pilot’s secret spying and recovery mission behind the Eastern Front to rescue Allied prisoners of war from right under the noses of the Russians. Captain Robert Trimble’s son researched and co-authored the inspiring narrative.

Lastly, well-known award-winning historian and author Stanley Weintraub takes the reader to the Korean War and recounts the slaughter of and epic survival of members of the U. S. Marine Corps and the Army as they battled the Chinese Communists and North Koreans during the disastrous winter of 1950. The book, A Christmas Far from Home: An Epic Tale of Courage and Survival During the Korean War, was published last fall and is available in hardcover and newly released paperback.

Shana Gray, Daily Press deputy night editor, grew up in Fayetteville, N.C., home to the 82nd Airborne Division and Special Operations Command, and is known in the newsroom as a World War II buff. She took a look through her extensive collection and suggested these titles:

Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo by Ted Lawson. The book tells the inside story of the training and aftereffects of the famous raid over Japan, a mission in retaliation for the attack on Pearl Harbor, by one of the Doolittle Raiders himself. Written shortly after the raid, the book is the definitive account of the mission.

The Bedford Boys by Alex Kershaw. On D-Day, 19 servicemen from one small town in Virginia were killed in the first wave of troops going onto Omaha Beach in Normandy. Full of anecdotes with those who survived, family, friends, letters, and more, the book examines the men who died and the town of Bedford, which lost more men in one day than any other U.S. city.

Day of Infamy by Walter Lord. Filled with the history and facts of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the author keeps the narrative personal, from the point of view of people who were just going about their Sunday when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Including photos and maps, the book provides a comprehensive look at the attacks and the losses.

Daily Press reporter Hugh Lessig, who covered the Hampton Roads military beat for a number of years for the Daily Press, offered the following recommendations:

Look Away, from William C. Davis. A perceptive history of the Confederacy from the political side. It shows how the Confederacy did some things that a strong central government would do — such as nationalize the salt industry.

Wired For War by P.W. Singer. It examines the growth of drones in warfare and raises important ethical questions that still haven’t been answered.

Agent Garbo by Stephan Talty. A profile of a man from Spain who became one of the most famous double agents in World War II. From his post in England, he fed the Nazis all kinds of information about troop movements and ship strength — all of it wrong. He was instrumental in getting the Germans to believe that D-Day would not happen at Normandy.

President Trump and former Vice President Biden at first 2020 presidential debate

Screenshot from C-Span YouTube

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Donald Trump is claiming that he will still debate despite the rule change that will cut off the candidates' microphones while their opponent delivers his initial two-minute response to each of the debate's topics. But everything else Trump and his campaign are saying sounds like they're laying the groundwork to back out.

"I will participate," Trump told reporters Monday night. "But it's very unfair that they changed the topics and it's very unfair that again we have an anchor who's totally biased." At his Arizona rally Monday, Trump attacked moderator Kristen Welker as a "radical Democrat" and claimed she had "deleted her entire account," which is false. Trump's campaign manager, Bill Stepien, went further in his whining about the debate.

Stepien touted a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates as "Our letter to the BDC (Biden Debate Commission)." That letter came before the CPD announced that it would mute microphones for portions of the debate in response to Trump's constant interruptions at the first debate, though Stepien knew such a decision was likely coming, writing, "It is our understanding from media reports that you will soon be holding an internal meeting to discuss other possible rule changes, such as granting an unnamed person the ability to shut off a candidate's microphone. It is completely unacceptable for anyone to wield such power, and a decision to proceed with that change amounts to turning further editorial control of the debate over to the Commission which has already demonstrated its partiality to Biden."

Shooooot, here I thought it was generous to Trump that the microphones will only be cut to give each candidate two uninterrupted minutes, leaving Trump the remainder of each 15-minute debate segment to interrupt.

But what did Stepien mean by "other possible rule changes," you ask? What was the first rule change? Well, it wasn't one. Stepien wrote to strongly complain that "We write with great concern over the announced topics for what was always billed as the 'Foreign Policy Debate' in the series of events agreed to by both the Trump campaign and the Biden campaign many months ago." Welker's announced topics include "Fighting COVID-19, American families, Race in America, Climate Change, National Security, and Leadership," Stepien complained, using this as a launching pad to attack Biden on foreign policy.

Except this debate was never billed as a foreign policy debate. It's true that in past years, the third debate has sometimes focused on foreign policy, but here in 2020, the CPD's original announcement of debate formats and moderators said of the third debate, "The format for the debate will be identical to the first presidential debate," and the first debate "will be divided into six segments of approximately 15 minutes each on major topics to be selected by the moderator."

So even before the CPD finalized the decision to prevent Trump from interrupting for two minutes in each of six segments, so 12 minutes out of a 90-minute debate, Team Trump was falsely complaining that the debate was rigged. No wonder—as a Biden campaign spokesman noted, the Trump campaign is upset "because Donald Trump is afraid to face more questions about his disastrous Covid response."

Trump has lost one debate and backed out of one debate. If he goes into this one with the attitude he's showing now—attacking the moderator, attacking the topics, enraged that he can't interrupt for two entire minutes at a time—he's going to lose this one, badly, once again hurting his already weak reelection prospects. So which will it be? Back out and have that be the story, or alienate one of the largest audiences of the entire presidential campaign by showing what kind of person he is?