Battle of Valcour Island

A roadside sign marks this little-known naval battle on Lake Champlain, which delayed the British advance for months and allowed American colonists time to rebuild their forces and eventually win the Battle of Saratoga.

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The Battle of Valcour Island was fought on October 11, 1776 between American naval forces commanded by Benedict Arnold and British naval forces commanded by General Guy Carleton in Lake Champlain near Valcour Island, New York during the American Revolutionary War. The battle was a tactical British victory, but delayed their overall military campaign until spring.

Roads in Northern New York were too primitive in the eighteenth century to move large numbers of troops and supplies by land, so control of Lake Champlain was key to gaining access to the Hudson Valley. Controlling this corridor was key to the British plan for linking their forces in Canada with those in New York City, severing New England from the rest of the colonies.

The Americans cobbled together 16 vessels to oppose a naval invasion. Benedict Arnold had experience as a ship captain, so he was put in charge of the American fleet. In August 1776, he sailed to the northern end of the lake, where he encountered a much larger British fleet. On September 30, he retreated to Valcour Island with 15 ships, while one left to be resupplied. On October 11, a British fleet of 5 ships and 22 gunboats appeared north of the island and sailed south to cut off the American’s retreat.

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Diners Through the Decades: 1940s

The 1940s saw the end of the Great Depression but the beginning of America’s involvement in World War 2. Diners continued to roll off assembly lines, and after the war ended, expanded from industrial centers of the northeast to suburbs and smaller towns as well. They retained their train car appearance and were almost entirely made from steel, with Art Deco architectural elements.

Photo by Michael Kleen

The Modern Diner at 364 East Avenue in Pawtucket, Rhode Island is a 1940 Sterling Streamliner built by the John B Judkins Company. It was the first diner to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is one of two Sterling Streamliners still in operation. I love this unique Art Deco design.

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A Trip to the White House

Home to our chief executive, the White House is a treasure-trove of historic artifacts and artwork rivaling the country’s best museums.

I recently had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tour the White House in Washington, DC. Its simple neoclassical architecture and humble name hide the beauty within. Inside is a treasure trove of history and art rivaling the best museums in the country. Getting in, of course, is difficult but only requires submitting a request through your Member of Congress. Tours are free and security is tight–I couldn’t even bring my regular camera and had to settle for using my cell phone camera.

The self-guided tour starts in the East Wing, which was built in 1942, and goes past the presidential movie theater and a small gift shop into the ground floor. Visitors are allowed to view but not enter the Vermeil Room, China Room, and Library, before heading upstairs.

On the ground floor, visitors walk through the East Room, which is a large open hall, to the Green, Blue, and Red rooms (all decorated in their respective colors), through the State Dining Room, to the Entrance Hall. The Cross Hall, where the President sometimes holds press conferences or makes announcements, was roped off during our visit.

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Nancy Pelosi was Right about Impeachment

In hindsight, Speaker Pelosi should have stayed the course and not given into her worst instincts.

As the dust settles on our third presidential impeachment in U.S. history with President Donald Trump’s acquittal, we can finally look back and analyze what went wrong. Democrats went into the impeachment process confident President Trump would be convicted and removed from office. After all, that’s the goal of the whole process. With that effort defeated, it looks like Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) original reservations about impeachment were correct.

If Pelosi succumbed to her worst political instincts by handing out commemorative pens after signing the authorization to transmit the Articles of Impeachment, she was at her best when trying to restrain the most militant members of her party. Pelosi knew that once impeachment left the House, she had no control over where it would lead. Trump was unlikely to be convicted and removed from office by a Republican majority in the Senate.

After Democrats won a majority in the House of Representatives in November 2018, there were four failed attempts to launch an impeachment inquiry, on Jan. 3, March 27, May 22, and July 17, 2019, none of which had Speaker Pelosi’s support. Pelosi had publicly come out against impeachment, telling the Washington Post in March 2019: “Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country.”

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Cimetière Notre-Dame-des-Neiges in Montreal, Quebec

Cimetière Notre-Dame-des-Neiges, at 4601 Côte-des-Neiges Road in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, is a Catholic cemetery established in 1854 on the slopes of Mount Royal. It is the largest cemetery in Canada, with nearly one million interments, and was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1999. The sloping grounds are home to many stunning examples of funerary art and sculpture.

Emile Orsini (1912-1971)

Lovely monument to Emile (1912-1971) and Louis (1916-1984) Orsini. The flowers are fake, but they perfectly compliment the unspoiled white marble monument of a woman grieving over their headstone. She holds a palm, symbolizing hope of resurrection.

Michel Cotroni (1928-1986)

This loving monument to Palmina Cotroni (1915-1997), her brother Michel Cotroni (1928-1986) and his wife Mariette Rondeau hides a dark secret. The Cotronis were Canada’s most prominent mafia family, led by Boss Vincenzo “the Egg” Cotroni and Frank “The Big Guy” Cotroni. Palmina and Michel were siblings to Vincenzo.

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Ox Hill Battlefield Park in Fairfax, Virginia

This small park preserves the spot where a Union general fell during the American Civil War.

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The Battle of Ox Hill (aka Battle of Chantilly) was fought on September 1, 1862 between Union forces commanded by Maj. Gen. Philip Kearny and Brig. Gen. Isaac Stevens and Confederate forces commanded by Maj. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson in Fairfax County, Virginia during the American Civil War. The battle was technically a draw. Union forces retreated, but succeeded in stopping Jackson’s advance. It concluded the 1862 Northern Virginia Campaign.

After being soundly defeated at the Second Battle of Bull Run, Union Maj. Gen. John Pope faced pressure to turn and attack Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. To retain the initiative, Lee directed Maj. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s corps to flank Pope and cut off his army’s lifeline to Washington, D.C. Jackson’s exhausted men, however, moved uncharacteristically slowly.

Pope sent two Union divisions under Maj. Gen. Phillip Kearny and Brig. Gen. Isaac Stevens, totaling approximately 6,000 men, to block Jackson’s advance. On September 1st, though severely outnumbered, Stevens’ division attacked Jackson’s corps on Ox Hill. The attack was initially successful, but Brig. Gen. Jubal Early’s brigade counter-attacked and drove them back. Stevens was killed leading his men in a spirited charge.

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