All posts by syllib

D-Day: 75 Years Ago Today

D-Day: On June 6, 1944 the Allies launched Operation Overlord. This was the largest amphibious invasion in history. It began with the landing overnight of 18,000 British and American parachutists in occupied France. There were 4,000 ships, 11,000 warplanes, and 156,000 Allied troops involved. They landed on the Normandy beaches: the British and Canadians at Gold, Juno and Sword and the Americans at Utah and Omaha. The accepted number of Allied deaths on that day is 4,414.

Allies faced the German Atlantic Wall, a system of fortifications, obstacles and mines in the water and along the shore. But the Germans could not guard every place along the coast. They had troops in the East fighting the Russians and in Italy fighting the Allied troops. They had to guess where the Allies would land. They guessed wrong. For months there had been an elaborate campaign of disinformation and deception including dropping dummies, fake radio broadcasts, even an actor portraying Montgomery was “seen” in Algiers!

The library has a book display on the third floor commemorating D-Day. There are DVDs in our collection to borrow, such as The Longest Day or Overlord. From the comfort of home you can follow four veterans in a Library of Congress Story Map : Preston Earl Bagent, Army combat engineer; Robert “Bob: Harlan Horr, a glider pilot; Edward Duncan Cameron, a rifleman; and John William “Bill” Boehne, III, a sailor. Their stories make the momentous days very personal.

-posted by Brenda, Reference Services

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Celebrating Walt Whitman on the 200th Anniversary of his Birth

Walt Whitman, perhaps best known as the poet of the Leaves of Grass, was born in Huntington on May 31, 1819. He was the second of nine children born to Walter and Louisa Whitman. The family soon moved to Brooklyn where Whitman attended the local schools. He was a voracious reader and was largely self-educated.

Of course, most of us know him as a poet. America’s poet. The poet of democracy. But did you know that he was also a printer, carpenter, civil servant, the founder and editor of the Huntington-based Long Islander newspaper and a teacher in several one-room schools? During the Civil War he traveled to Washington, DC to care for his wounded brother and then stayed to nurse and comfort other wounded soldiers, even writing letters home for them. Out of these varied experiences came many poems and prose works.

There is a rich online archive of his original works as well as commentary, criticism of his writings and biographical information at the Walt Whitman Archive. The Library of Congress  has a treasure trove of Whitman material. Would you like to be part of the effort by the Library of Congress to make accessible more of Whitman’s work? You can! There is a crowdsourcing campaign where you can transcribe drafts of his poetry, prose and correspondence.

After suffering a stroke in 1873, Whitman moved to Camden, NJ where his brother lived.

Maybe his poem, “Song of the Open Road,” will inspire you to take a drive to NJ to visit the home he bought in Camden (1884) and where he eventually died (1892).

“Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,

Healthy, free, the world before me,

The long brown path before me, leading me wherever I choose…

Allons! whoever you are! come forth!

You must not stay sleeping and dallying there in the house, though you built it, or though it has been built for you….

Allons! be not detain’d!…

Allons! the road is before us!”

Closer to home is the Walt Whitman Birthplace, the house his father built and where he was born. Call the library to reserve the museum pass. And come to the third floor to see the display of books celebrating Whitman’s life and influence.

On May 31 the library is showing a documentary about his life, followed by a discussion led by librarian Sonia Grgas.

-posted by Brenda, Reference Services

 

Dreaming of Faraway Places

Some children hear “Rock-a Bye Baby’ as they drift into sleep. I heard “Far Away Places!” Yes, the song with lyrics: “Far away places with the strange sounding names, far away over the sea, those far away places with the strange sounding names are calling, calling to me.” I caught the travel bug early. I love the planning and anticipation almost as much as the actual journey. And when I am stuck at home and work, it’s fun to read about the experiences of other travelers.

If you find yourself in that situation now, I suggest you visit our third floor display of books about some far away (and not so far away but interesting) destinations. Travel through Africa with Betty Levitov and her students in Africa on Six Wheels. Or visit some hidden natural wonders in Wild Caribbean with author Michael Bright. For a classic road trip closer to home check out Route 66 Still Kicks by Rick Antonson. Bill Geist presents some unusual small towns in Way off the Road.

For more suggested books about travel consult Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust to Go. After you have dreamed perhaps it is time to plan a trip! Patricia Schultz’s 1,000 Places to See Before You Die will provide you with many suggestions.

-posted by Brenda

Commemorating the Centennial of the Death of Theodore Roosevelt Today

January 6, 1919. Theodore Roosevelt died around 4 a.m. at his beloved home, Sagamore Hill home. He had been a NYS Assemblyman, NYC Police Commissioner, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Colonel of the Rough Riders, NY Governor and U.S. Vice President assuming the office of President when William McKinley was assassinated. And he won the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating peace after the Russo-Japanese War. These were his official roles. He was also a rancher, a hunter, a conservationist, and an author (more than 30 books and somewhere around 150,000 letters).

Hard to believe that he was only 60 when he died. He left a legacy of civic engagement, conservation and an active lifestyle.

The Bismarck (North Dakota) Tribune eulogized him on its front page: “In the passing of Theodore Roosevelt the world loses a man. No matter how widely opinions may differ as to his politics and his methods, there is universal appreciation of those sterling qualities of virile manhood …. The life of Theodore Roosevelt marks an epoch in the development of America. He lived earnestly and sincerely. …His memory will be cherished for his genuine Americanism, his unswerving loyalty and his devotion to the public weal.”

Some Theodore Roosevelt related activities:

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    Visit our first floor book display of his life and work.

  • Join the Syosset library for a book discussion of Mark Lee Gardner’s Rough Riders January 8 at 7:30 p.m.
  • On Thursday January 17 at 2 we will have a lecture on “Roosevelt’s Life and Legacy”.
  • Roosevelt’s Oyster Bay home, Sagamore Hill, is a short drive away.
  • A train ride away is the NYC American Museum of Natural History (of which his father was a founder) where he contributed many species of birds, mammals, and amphibians he had collected during a 1914 trip to the Brazilian jungles.
  • Or start planning a summer vacation to see his profile at Mount Rushmore and his Elkhorn cabin at the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Be careful of the bison out there!

-posted by Brenda, Reference Services

50 Years Ago…

The library has a display on the third floor commemorating the 50th anniversary of the watershed year 1968. In a Time magazine article earlier this year historian Jon Meacham compared the year 1968 to 1776, 1861 and 1941 as a time when everything in U.S. history changed http://time.com/5107482/50-years-after-1968-still-living-in-its-shadow/

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It was indeed a turbulent year. It was a sad year marked by the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy. There was anger. In January the Viet Cong launched the Tet Offensive. Protests against the Vietnam War escalated with demonstrations on university campuses and at the Democratic National Convention. Olympic runners Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists in a Black Power salute during the Olympic medal ceremony in Mexico City.

Lyndon Johnson surprisingly announced he would not run for reelection. Richard Nixon was elected as the 37th President in November.

 

The Prague Spring began the year with hope when Alexander Dubcek was chosen as the Czech leader promising a government of “socialism with a human face.” But when members of the Warsaw Pact invaded Czechoslovakia with tanks and troops the period of liberalizing reforms quickly ended and totalitarian Soviet rule was reinstated.

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But there were lighter notes that year. Some cultural highlights included the first TV broadcast of “60 Minutes” and “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.” In the movies “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Planet of the Apes” were popular. And “Hair” opened in London. The year also saw the introduction of Hot Wheels toy cars and McDonald’s Big Mac. The Beatles started Apple records with “Hey Jude” as its first single.

The year ended on a high note with the successful Apollo 8 mission. Astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William A. Anders became the first humans to see the far side of the moon.

Visit the library and choose a book (or two!) from the display to increase your understanding of this time period.

-posted by Brenda, Reference Services

November is American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month

It is a time to celebrate the rich and diverse culture, traditions and histories, and to acknowledge the contributions, of Native Peoples.

The library has a display of books on the third floor. But if you can’t visit the library and want to expand your understanding of the First Peoples, there are many informative websites.

Check out a collaborative effort from the Library of Congress, the National Gallery of Art, the National Park Service, and the Smithsonian and others paying tribute to the rich heritage of Native Americans. You can see a selection from these institutions from the comfort of your home. The online offerings span a wide range of topics from photographs by Edward Curtis to efforts to save the Cherokee language to the music of the Omaha and a selection from the National Gallery of ArtNative Languages  has compiled information about many aspects of Native culture. There is a list of internet resources for everything from biographies to technology and crafts and histories and you can  search by name of tribe for stories and legends too.

The website of the National Congress of the American Indian  has an online guide outlining the governance of tribes in the United States, Tribal Nations and the United States . You can also search for tribes by name or by location. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (with physical locations in DC and NYC) allows you to visit its exhibitions right from your computer. Fittingly, during this month when we celebrate Veterans’ Day, the museum has an online exhibit detailing the contributions of Native Americans who have fought in every war. Take a look at the valuable contributions of the Code Talkers during World War II.

And it’s not just history. Native culture is alive and well! Take a look at the current exhibit at the Museum of the American Indian’s New York space. Titled “Transformer: Native Art in Light and Sound”, it joins traditional art with current media using light, digital projection and experimental media.

-posted by Brenda, Reference Services