Tag Archives: anniversary

Obama’s essay ties Gettysburg Address to modern rights

President Barack Obama is connecting the legacy of President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address to gay rights, women’s rights and modern technological transformations.

On the 150 anniversary of Lincoln’s speech, Obama said Lincoln understood that individual efforts aren’t what matter, but rather the accumulated toil and sacrifice of ordinary men and women to preserve freedom.

In a hand-written essay released by the White House, Obama said Americans have shared in that toil and sacrifice through war, industrial revolutions, and movements for workers’, women’s and gay rights.

Obama said those changes sometimes strain the union. But he says, quote, “Lincoln’s words give us confidence that whatever trials await us, this nation and the freedom we cherish can, and shall, prevail.”

Obama’s essay is 272 words – the same length as Lincoln’s address.

The president’s essay: 

In the evening, when Michelle and the girls have gone to bed, I sometimes walk down the hall to a room Abraham Lincoln used as his office.  It contains an original copy of the Gettysburg address, written in Lincoln’s own hand.

I linger on these few words that have helped define our American experiment: “A new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

Through the lines of weariness etched in his face, we know Lincoln grasped, perhaps more than anyone, the burdens required to give these words meaning.  He knew that even a self-evident truth was not self-executing; that blood drawn by the lash was an affront to our ideals; that blood drawn by the sword was in painful service to those same ideals.

He understood as well that our humble efforts, our individual ambitions, are ultimately not what matter; rather, it is through the accumulated toil and sacrifice of ordinary men and women – those like the soldiers who consecrated that battlefield – that this country is built, and freedom preserved.  This quintessentially self-made man, fierce in his belief in honest work and the striving spirit at the heart of America, believed that it falls to each generation, collectively, to share in that toil and sacrifice.

Through cold war and world war, through industrial revolutions and technological transformations, through movements for civil rights and women’s rights and workers’ rights and gay rights, we have.  At times, social and economic change have strained our union.  But Lincoln’s words give us confidence that whatever trials await us, this nation and the freedom we cherish can, and shall, prevail.

So it goes: Resentment still smolders over 1973 book burning in small N.D. town

Forty years ago, a small North Dakota town became famous — or infamous — when its school board decided to dispose of books it deemed “objectionable” in a particularly incendiary way.

It burned them.

In November 1973, a media firestorm descended on Drake, a town of 650, when news broke that the school district had burned 32 copies of “Slaughterhouse-Five” in the school furnace. The work by Kurt Vonnegut is considered a classic.

The person at the center of the controversy was a new high school English teacher named Bruce Severy. He and his family had moved to Drake the previous year from California. In news reports at the time, much of the town considered them outsiders who hadn’t much tried to fit in with the more traditional, church-going insiders, The Bismarck Tribune reported.

Severy, young and idealistic, decided to assign a couple of more contemporary novels, thinking they would resonate with his students — “Slaughterhouse-Five,” published in 1969, and “Deliverance” by James Dickey, published in 1970.

It worked, for the most part. However, one student found the material distasteful and showed her mother, who then complained to the school board. From there, things got out of hand.

The idea of book burning evokes a very visceral response in many. It is a highly symbolic gesture, reminiscent of censorship in Nazi Germany.

Of course, the Drake School Board is a far cry from a fascist regime, though the chairman at the time was — in a fantastic coincidence that further fueled the media — a man with the last name of McCarthy. But he was no Joe, the man known for the Red Scare.

And no one seemed to realize the provocative effect of burning the books. For the next few weeks, the small town battled to reclaim its reputation.

In the words of the now-famous refrain from “Slaughterhouse-Five”: “So it goes.”

Three books were set aside to be burned: “Slaughterhouse-Five,” “Deliverance,” and a short story anthology with works by William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck, among others. The objection to the first had to do with profanity, the second with some gay-themed material and the third because the first two rendered all of Severy’s choices suspect.

According to reports at the time, then-Superintendent Dale Fuhrman said the burning was simply how the school got rid of any unwanted material or waste. If the books weren’t going to be used, it seemed practical to burn them. In retrospect, Fuhrman said then, it would have been better to just store them.

Students were asked to hand in the offending books. If they didn’t, the books were confiscated from lockers.

Reports vary on who alerted the media. Muryl Olson, who had younger siblings attending Drake High School at the time and whose family was friends with Severy’s, said his mother told a friend at The Minot Daily News. Other Drake residents say Severy told the media himself, working “the sympathy vote.”

There is no love lost, even after four decades, between Severy and some Drake residents who remember the burning.

“He never made a real effort anyway, but this just made it worse,” said Shirley Neuharth, who was secretary at the school at the time.

“I don’t think the town was against them,” said Bernice Smith, whose son, Dale, was in Severy’s class and who ran the local drugstore with her husband. “They just didn’t want to participate.”

Smith, along with other parents, petitioned the school board to hire another English teacher for the remainder of the year, which it did. Most students transferred into the new teacher’s class — many at the behest of their parents — while about five stayed in Severy’s.

Severy’s contract was not renewed after that year. He and his family moved to Fargo and eventually back to California. In 1975, with the help of the ACLU, he settled a case against the Drake School Board, awarding him $5,000 and stipulating the books could be taught in the school. He died a few years ago.

Katie Olson, one of his students at the time and sister to Muryl Olson, said Severy was different and so he was ostracized.

“I loved his classes because they were interesting and challenging and he was opening us up to new things,” she said.

Katie Olson’s family was solidly in Severy’s camp. She and her brother Mark staged a sit-in at the school and both stayed in his class after the new teacher was hired.

Then again, she said, she and her siblings were already known in the school for questioning authority — getting in trouble for wearing their hair too long (her brothers) or for wearing pants to school (she and her sister).

Another firmly on Severy’s side? Kurt Vonnegut himself. As the book burning made national news, Vonnegut wrote a biting letter to the Drake School Board, saying, “If you are an American, you must allow all ideas to circulate freely in your community, not merely your own.”

For other students, the national media was exciting, if not particularly relevant to their lives.

“To me, a book is a book,” said Allen Martin, a former student and current Drake resident. “It never bothered me what was in it.”

“(The national media) was a big deal,” said former student and Drake resident Mary Gange Field. It also was, she said, mostly parents taking sides and students pretty much continued with their lives.

Very few actually thought the books were particularly problematic. The lasting bitterness and resentment are aimed at Severy himself and at the national media.

“You were scared to talk to anyone because everything was taken out of context,” Smith said.

“It was not the way it was portrayed at all,” Neuharth said.

Looking back since 1973, Dave Senechal, another student of Severy’s, said the town got sort of a raw deal.

It’s not like people were burning books in the street, dancing and cheering, he said.

“They were decent people from a small town and they were not interested in politics,” he said. “They thought they were doing the right thing.”

Neuharth said the media were there under “false pretenses” — if Severy hadn’t alerted them, she said, no one would even have known it had taken place.

“I didn’t talk to the man after it happened,” she said.

A number of current or former Drake residents approached by The Tribune refused to talk, said they didn’t remember or avoided talking by suggesting others to talk to. One point many agreed on: The book burning cast a noticeable pall over the town.

“It put a dark shadow over this town for a while,” said Noel Hanenberg, a longtime resident.

These days, Drake’s population is down by half and the school has integrated with nearby Anamoose. The coal-burning furnace stoked with Vonnegut all those years ago still heats the school.

The high school’s two English teachers, Kim Meckle and Jean Bartz, don’t teach any of the three books. In the course of five and 21 years teaching in Drake, respectively, neither has ever had a parent question any of their novel choices.

The school library, which also is now the town’s public library, does not contain “Slaughterhouse-Five” or “Deliverance,” although a student once ordered “Slaughterhouse-Five” on inter-library loan, said Meckle, who is also the librarian.

Meckle said she doesn’t censor anything in teaching or in the library, but is wary of igniting long-dormant embers. After all, the incident is still a bit of a sore spot among some.

It is 40 years later and the memory has mostly receded from national consciousness, even as it lingers for Drake.

So it goes.

Amid an evolving print market, we gratefully ring in our fifth year

Just as we were preparing this fourth anniversary issue of Wisconsin Gazette for print, we learned that The Onion will cease publication in Milwaukee, Chicago and Providence, R.I., on Dec. 12. The satirical news weekly had already ended its print edition in Madison, where it began, so the news was not surprising.

The Onion will be missed. It lambasted the news culture, taking journalism to outlandish extremes that often illuminated society more than the most carefully processed legitimate news. The Onion’s AV Club offered some of the most insightful cultural interviews and local performing arts content appearing in southeastern Wisconsin. Fortunately, that content will continue to appear online at avclub.com.

It would be wrong to dismiss The Onion’s action as another nail in the coffin of the print industry. There are many factors behind the failure of any business, and some of them are invariably the result of issues unique to that particular business.

While advertising at The Onion had noticeably declined over the past several years, new publications, including this one, have launched locally during the same period — and some appear to be thriving. We’ve experienced steady annual growth in distribution, gross and net revenue and industry recognition for each of the past four years. 

In fact, the print publication industry as a whole is well-positioned for growth, which is why Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway has acquired 28 daily newspapers at a cost of $344 million during past two years. Highly niched and hyper-local news sources serve informational purposes that nothing else can fulfill.

Print publications, with headlines that scream at you from boxes on the streets, racks in grocery stores and the hands of the patron seated next to you at a coffee shop, remain an integral part of the informational landscape. They’re too convenient in format, intuitive in style and accessible to disappear.

But the most encouraging development for newspapers today is the variety of formats in which people access them. According to the Newspaper Association of America, 69 percent of Americans read newspaper media content in print or online in a typical week, or access it on mobile devices in a typical month. Mobile newspaper readership is growing fast — up 58 percent each month for 2012 over 2011.

We’re always searching for new ways to get WiG in the hands of the most readers possible, by offering features with broader appeal and expanding our accessibility through technology. We reached a print circulation high this year, distributing 20,000 copies of our May 31 Pride issue. We also launched an e-newsletter in the spring that’s already drawn nearly 7,000 subscribers. Our social media engagement has leaped upward this year.

As we begin our fifth year, we invite you to become more involved with WiG by joining us on Twitter and Facebook — and by registering for our newsletter and .pdf versions. If there’s a grocery store, restaurant or retail shop where you see the Shepherd Express but not the Gazette, the odds are good that we’ve tried but failed to convince the owners to join our distribution network. Let them know that you’d like to be able to pick up the Gazette at their establishment.

And please thank and support our advertisers. They make it possible for us to keep you informed about news that would otherwise go overlooked locally.

Pope Francis blesses thousands of Harley-Davidson bikes, riders

Biker culture came to the Vatican on June 16 as Pope Francis blessed thousands of Harley-Davidsons and their riders celebrating the manufacturer’s 110th anniversary with a loud parade and plenty of leather.

Thundering Harley engines nearly drowned out the Latin recitation of the “Our Father” prayer that accompanied Francis as he greeted the crowd before Mass. Standing in his open-top jeep, Francis drove up the main boulevard leading to St. Peter’s Square, blessing the thousands of people in what was a giant Harley parking lot.

Once the service got underway, bikers in their trademark leather Harley vests sat in the square alongside nuns and tens of thousands of Catholics taking part in an unrelated, two-day anti-abortion rally.

Francis addressed them both afterward, giving a blessing to the “numerous participants” of the Harley gathering.

Tens of thousands of Harley owners from around the world descended on Rome for the four-day anniversary of the American manufacturer.

The main events were the Vatican blessing and a parade on June 15 past the Colosseum and other historic landmarks – adding color, traffic and noise to an already colorful day in downtown Rome, thanks to a gay Pride march.

Earlier in the week, the Milwaukee-based Harley gave Francis two white classic motorcycles for the Vatican police force to use.

There was something a bit incongruous about the Harley crowd – known for its “Freedom” motto, outlaw image and adventuresome spirit – taking part in a solemn papal Mass to commemorate a 1995 encyclical on the inviolability of human life.

“Evangelium Vitae” is a roadmap of the church’s teaching against abortion, euthanasia and murder. Harley’s advertising for its 2013 bike collection reads “Live life on your own terms. More than 30 ways to defy the status quo.”

The Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, noted that there were probably quite a few Catholic riders in the crowd and that regardless, anyone is welcome to a papal Mass.

“I know great people who have big bikes,” Lombardi quipped.

In his comments to the pro-life crowd, Francis offered prayers “for every human life, especially the most fragile, defenseless and threatened.” But he stayed away from saying anything more polarizing about abortion or contraception.

He then spent a good half-hour after the Mass caressing, kissing and chatting with a few dozen sick or disabled people in the square, including one on a motorcycle wearing Harley garb.

Watch Nights mark Emancipation Proclamation’s 150th

As New Year’s Day approached 150 years ago, all eyes were on President Abraham Lincoln in expectation of what he said 100 days earlier would be coming – his final proclamation declaring all slaves in states rebelling against the Union to be “forever free.”

A tradition began Dec. 31, 1862, as many black churches held Watch Night services, awaiting word that Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation would take effect amid a bloody Civil War. Later, congregations listened as the president’s historic words were read aloud.

The proclamation would not end slavery outright and at the time couldn’t be enforced by Lincoln in areas under Confederate control. But the president made clear from that day forward that his forces would be fighting to bring the Union back together without the institution of slavery.

Lincoln issued his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation in September 1862, after the Battle of Antietam, announcing that if rebel states did not cease fighting and rejoin the Union by Jan. 1, 1863, all slaves in rebellious states or parts of states would be declared free from that date forward.

This year, the Watch Night tradition will follow the historic document to its home at the National Archives with a special midnight display planned with readings, songs and bell ringing among the nation’s founding documents.

The official document bears Lincoln’s signature and the United States seal, setting it apart from copies and drafts. It will make a rare public appearance through Tuesday – New Year’s Day – for thousands of visitors to mark its anniversary. On New Year’s Eve, the display will remain open past midnight as 2013 arrives.

“We will be calling back to an old tradition,” said U.S. Archivist David Ferriero, noting the proclamation’s legacy. “When you see thousands of people waiting in line in the dark and cold … we know that they’re not there just for words on paper.

“On this 150th anniversary, we recall those who struggled with slavery in this country, the hope that sustained them and the inspiration the Emancipation Proclamation has given to those who seek justice.”

The National Archives allows 100 visitors at a time into its rotunda, where the Emancipation Proclamation will be displayed along with the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. On the busiest days, 8,000 people file through for a glimpse of the founding charters.

Performances and re-enactments are scheduled to continue throughout New Year’s Day. The U.S. Postal Service will unveil a new Emancipation Proclamation stamp as well.

This special display is just one of many commemorations planned in Washington and in churches nationwide to mark the anniversary of Lincoln’s actions to end slavery and end the Civil War.

President Lincoln’s Cottage in Washington, where the 16th president spent much of his time and where he began drafting the proclamation, is displaying a signed copy of the document through February. It also will host its own New Year’s Eve celebration. 

The Library of Congress will display the first draft handwritten by Lincoln. It will be on display for six weeks beginning Jan. 3 in the library’s exhibit, “The Civil War in America,” which features many personal letters and diaries from the era.

Also, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture just opened its newest exhibition, “Changing America,” to recount the 1863 emancipation of slaves and the 1963 March on Washington for Civil Rights. It includes a rare signed copy of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution that ultimately abolished slavery.

The Watch Night tradition also continues at many sites Monday night.

In Washington, the Metropolitan A.M.E. Church, where abolitionist Frederick Douglass was a member, will host a special 150th anniversary service.

History lovers say this is a chance to remember what the Emancipation Proclamation actually signified.

Lincoln wrote in part: “I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward, shall be free.”

He went on to say the military would recognize the freedom of slaves, that freed slaves should avoid violence and that freed slaves could enlist in the U.S. armed forces. It did not immediately free a single slave, though, because Lincoln didn’t have the power to enforce the declaration in the Confederacy. Still, many slaves had already been freeing themselves, and the document gave them protection, said Reginald Washington, an archivist of African-American history at the National Archives.

“It was a first, important step in paving the way for the abolishment of slavery with the ratification of the 13th Amendment,” he said.

It also brought “a fundamental change in the character of the war,” Washington said. “With the stroke of Lincoln’s pen, a war to preserve the union had overnight become a war of human liberation.”

The proclamation became a symbol of hope for nearly 4 million slaves and a confirmation that the war should be fought to secure their freedom, said Washington, who is retiring from the Archives after nearly 40 years. Some historians and scholars have come to view to proclamation as one of the most important documents in U.S. history.

The final proclamation has been rarely shown because it was badly damaged decades ago by long exposure to light. After it was signed at the White House, it was kept at the State Department for many years with other presidential proclamations. In 1936, it was transferred to the National Archives.

Records show it was displayed between 1947 and 1949 in a “Freedom Train” exhibit that traveled the country. Then it was shown briefly in January 1963 to mark the 100th anniversary of its signing.

It wasn’t until 1993 that the Emancipation Proclamation has been shown more regularly to the public. In the past decade, it has been shown in 10 other museums and libraries nationwide for no more than three days at a time to limit its exposure to light. A 2011 exhibition at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich., that was open around the clock drew lines amounting to eight-hour waits to see the document.

Conservators rotate which of the five pages are shown to limit their light exposure. In Washington, they will display pages two and five, which is Lincoln’s signature page. High-quality copies are shown in place of the other original pages.

“It’s rarely shown, and that’s part of our strategy for preserving it and making it accessible,” said Catherine Nicholson, an archives conservator. “Our goal is to keep its current condition so that it can be enjoyed not only by people today, but by future generations.”

On the Web…

http://www.archives.gov 

One year later, no problems with DADT repeal

A year after the full repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, researchers say they see only favorable results from gays and lesbians serving openly in the U.S. Armed Forces.

“The U.S. military has set an international standard with the smooth transition to openly gay service,” said Aaron Belkin, lead author of “One Year Out: An Assessment of DADT Repeal’s Impact on Military Readiness.”

The Palm Center in California released the report, prepared with help from professors at the U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Air Force Academy and U.S. Marine Corps War College, to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the repeal on Sept. 20.

DADT, implemented in the early years of Democrat Bill Clinton’s first term, earned its nickname because it banned military officers from asking about a servicemember’s sexual orientation and prohibited servicemembers from coming out as gay. The policy was a compromise – Clinton had wanted to lift the longtime ban on gay servicemembers, but the GOP-controlled Congress wanted to keep the prohibition.

In the 2008 presidential election, every Democrat running for the White House pledged to repeal DADT. President Barack Obama made repeal a White House priority in 2010. The process proved lengthy – with studies and surveys, debates and decisions required by the Defense Department, Congress and the administration.

Opponents of repeal included more than 1,000 retired generals and admirals who signed a statement predicting that open service would “break the all-volunteer force.”

But Belkin said the review of the first year found that repeal has not compromised security, readiness or unit cohesion.

The researchers found:

• Only two servicemembers, both chaplains, were identified as having left the military as a result of DADT repeal.

• A Pentagon spokesperson told the study’s co-authors that she was not aware of a single episode of violence associated with repeal.

• Pentagon data show that recruitment and retention remained robust after repeal.

• Survey data revealed that service-wide, the troops reported the same level of morale after repeal as they did before repeal.

• Survey data revealed that service-wide, the troops reported the same level of readiness after repeal as they did before repeal.

The researchers, who surveyed officers, servicemembers, veterans, scholars, and activists for and against repeal, also found that trust among troops improved following the lifting of the ban.

Servicemembers and LGBT civil rights advocates celebrated the one-year anniversary of repeal with small events around the United States and with a gala in New York City hosted by Barbara Walters, with Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as a special guest.

Meanwhile, the issue of gays serving in the military remains politically charged.

Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan of Wisconsin voted against repealing DADT, while GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has said he opposed the repeal but reinstatement of the policy would be unnecessary. The Republican Party platform adopted at the national convention in Tampa, Fla., in late August states, “We reject the use of the military as a platform for social experimentation and will not accept attempts to undermine military priorities and mission readiness.”

In their platform, Democrats referred to the lifting of the ban as a civil rights achievement, and numerous speakers celebrated the repeal.

A year after the full repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, researchers say they see only favorable results from gays and lesbians serving openly in the U.S. Armed Forces.

“The U.S. military has set an international standard with the smooth transition to openly gay service,” said Aaron Belkin, lead author of “One Year Out: An Assessment of DADT Repeal’s Impact on Military Readiness.”

The Palm Center in California released the report, prepared with help from professors at the U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Air Force Academy and U.S. Marine Corps War College, to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the repeal on Sept. 20.

DADT, implemented in the early years of Democrat Bill Clinton’s first term, earned its nickname because it banned military officers from asking about a servicemember’s sexual orientation and prohibited servicemembers from coming out as gay. The policy was a compromise – Clinton had wanted to lift the longtime ban on gay servicemembers, but the GOP-controlled Congress wanted to keep the prohibition.

In the 2008 presidential election, every Democrat running for the White House pledged to repeal DADT. President Barack Obama made repeal a White House priority in 2010. The process proved lengthy – with studies and surveys, debates and decisions required by the Defense Department, Congress and the administration.

Opponents of repeal included more than 1,000 retired generals and admirals who signed a statement predicting that open service would “break the all-volunteer force.”

But Belkin said the review of the first year found that repeal has not compromised security, readiness or unit cohesion.

The researchers found:

• Only two servicemembers, both chaplains, were identified as having left the military as a result of DADT repeal.

• A Pentagon spokesperson told the study’s co-authors that she was not aware of a single episode of violence associated with repeal.

• Pentagon data show that recruitment and retention remained robust after repeal.

• Survey data revealed that service-wide, the troops reported the same level of morale after repeal as they did before repeal.

• Survey data revealed that service-wide, the troops reported the same level of readiness after repeal as they did before repeal.

The researchers, who surveyed officers, servicemembers, veterans, scholars, and activists for and against repeal, also found that trust among troops improved following the lifting of the ban.

Servicemembers and LGBT civil rights advocates celebrated the one-year anniversary of repeal with small events around the United States and with a gala in New York City hosted by Barbara Walters, with Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as a special guest.

Meanwhile, the issue of gays serving in the military remains politically charged.

Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan of Wisconsin voted against repealing DADT, while GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has said he opposed the repeal but reinstatement of the policy would be unnecessary. The Republican Party platform adopted at the national convention in Tampa, Fla., in late August states, “We reject the use of the military as a platform for social experimentation and will not accept attempts to undermine military priorities and mission readiness.”

In their platform, Democrats referred to the lifting of the ban as a civil rights achievement, and numerous speakers celebrated the repeal.

“Whose leadership, whose judgment, whose values do you want in the White House when that crisis lands like a thud on the Oval Office desk? A person who wanted to keep ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ or a president who believes that who you love should not keep you from serving the country you love?” asked Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in his convention speech.

New York City honoring Ms. magazine

The city of New York is honoring Ms. Magazine today as the landmark publication celebrates its 40th anniversary.

The national feminist magazine was launched in New York in July 1972.

To celebrate, a city hall ceremony, “Born in New York,” is taking place at 1 p.m.

New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Council Member Gale A. Brewer will present a Proclamation to Ms. founders, staff and friends.

“For the generations of women who created 40 years of Ms. magazine, it’s especially moving to be honored by this city of its birth,” said Gloria Steinem, a founder and editor. “We thank Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn and Council Member Gale A. Brewer and all who made this happen and, I thank my beloved New York itself. As E. B. White wrote, ‘This city, this mischievous and marvelous monument which not to look upon would be like death.’”

Of the magazine’s name, Steinem has said, “We were going to call it ‘Sojourner’, after Sojourner Truth, but that was perceived as a travel magazine. Then we were going to call it ‘Sisters’, but that was seen as a religious magazine. We settled on ‘Ms.’ because it was symbolic and also it was short, which is good for a logo.”

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Milwaukee PrideFest recruiting volunteers

The PrideFest volunteer team is seeking workers for the Milwaukee LGBT celebration that takes place June 8-10.

The team’s recruitment announcement said, “We have so many opportunities to take part in and some special benefits which come with being a Pridefest volunteer. Now, we understand that lives are busy and you may not have a lot of spare time, well don’t worry, if you can sign up for one shift, great!  We value and appreciate whatever time you can give.”

PrideFest is celebrating its 25th anniversary in June.

For more, go to www.pridefest.com or e-mail

Send community announcements to Lisa Neff at .

White House commemorates DADT repeal

A year ago this week, President Barack Obama signed into law legislation repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the policy banning gays from open service.

An anti-gay restriction had been in place in the United States, in some form, since the Colonial era, and servicemembers would wait another 10 months before the ban was lifted.

This week, the White House commemorated the bill signing with a re-release of the transcript from the Dec. 22 event, at which Obama said, “For we are not a nation that says, ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says, ‘Out of many, we are one.’ We are a nation that welcomes the service of every patriot. We are a nation that believes that all men and women are created equal. Those are the ideals that generations have fought for. Those are the ideals that we uphold today. And now, it is my honor to sign this bill into law.”

The White House also released a series of videos featuring former servicemembers commenting on the ban and it’s repeal, including:

Zoe Dunning – Until her retirement in 2007, Retired Navy Cmdr.  Zoe Dunning was one of the only openly gay service members in the country, having successfully fought an attempted discharge in 1993. For many of those years, she served on the board of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network as an advocate for the repeal of DADT. 

Watch Zoe’s video

Eric Alva – Retired Staff Sergeant Eric Alva joined the U.S. Marine Corps when he was 19 years old. He served honorably for 13 years until 2003, when he became the first American soldier wounded in Iraq. Alva was subsequently medically retired, and for his heroism, received a Purple Heart.

Watch Eric’s video

Grethe Cammermeye – Retired Col. Grethe Cammermeyer is a Vietnam Veteran and Bronze Star recipient who spent much of her life advocating against the original ban on gays in the military and later against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Her autobiography, “Serving in Silence,” was recognized by the National Education Association and later made into an Emmy Award winning movie starring Glenn Close and produced by Barbra Streisand. Today, Cammermeyer also serves on the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services.

Watch Grethe’s video

Jonathan Hopkins – Former Army Capt. Jonathan Hopkins graduated at the top of his West Point class and was deployed three times to Iraq and Afghanistan, earning three Bronze Stars, including one for valor. Fourteen months after being outed, he was honorably discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in August 2010.

Watch Jonathan’s video

Sue Fulton – Former Army Capt. Sue Fulton graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1980 – the first class to include women. Today, she is the executive director of Knights Out – an organization of West Point LGBT alumni, staff, and faculty – and she also serves as a member of the West Point Board of Visitors.

Watch Sue’s video

Anniversary editions bring back fond cinematic memories on DVD and Blu-ray

Among new DVD releases are selections that are destined to bring back fond cinematic memories.

Colorful assortment

With an additional 50 minutes of previously unseen footage, the 25th anniversary Blu-ray edition of David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet” is one of the season’s must-haves. Lynch’s classic portrayal of a suburban underworld not only revived the careers of Dennis Hopper, Dean Stockwell and Hope Lange, but also made stars of Kyle McLachlan, Laura Dern and Isabella Rosselini. Blu-ray special features include the original “Siskel & Ebert” review and more.

The late Gwen Welles (“Desert Hearts,” “Nashville”) headlined Henry Jaglom’s “Eating,” described as “a very serious comedy about women & food.” The 20th-anniversary edition DVD reissue features commentary by Jaglom and the cast’s appearance on “The Phil Donahue Show.”

Originally released theatrically 40 years ago, “The Secret of Dorian Gray/Il Dio Chiamato Dorian” is Italian filmmaker Massimo Dallamano’s modern retelling of Oscar Wilde’s classic novel. Starring the stunning and often half-undressed Helmut Berger as the ageless Dorian, the film is a campy, sexy, queer period piece that’s finally found its way onto a domestically released DVD.

Disney delights

Just in time for his 70th birthday, the beloved animated flying circus elephant “Dumbo” is feted with a double-disc, digitally restored edition on DVD and Blu-ray. Dumbo was one of Disney’s earliest and most inspirational celebrations of being different.

“Bambi,” who turns 70 in 2012, and “Bambi II,” who turns 5, also are getting the reissue treatment. The “Bambi: Diamond Edition” and “Bambi II: Special Edition” include newly enhanced, digitally restored Blu-rays and DVDs, as well as an array of bonus features.

The 30th-anniversary edition of “The Fox and the Hound,” featuring the voices of Sandy Duncan, Kurt Russell and the late Pearl Bailey, comes in a triple-disc combo pack. The Blu-ray disc includes “The Fox and the Hound” and its 2006 sequel “The Fox and the Hound II,” plus bonus material. The two DVDs contain the films individually.

War stories

“Dances with Wolves” commemorates its 20th anniversary with a double-disc, extended-cut, Blu-ray debut in 7.1 audio and new hi-def transfer. Directed by and starring Kevin Costner as a Civil War hero who befriends the Sioux Indians while stationed at a desolate American frontier outpost, “Dances with Wolves” won seven Academy Awards, including best picture of 1990.

Oliver Stone’s Oscar-winning 1986 classic “Platoon” featured a young, pre-breakdown Charlie Sheen, along with Johnny Depp, Forest Whitaker and Willem Dafoe. The 25th-anniversary Blu-ray/DVD edition is loaded with special features, including audio commentary from Stone, deleted and extended scenes.

“West Side Story,” the film based on Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s acclaimed musical that transported the “Romeo and Juliet” story to New York City in the mid-20th century, is 50 years old. The limited edition, four-disc set (including two Blu-rays, one DVD and a CD of cover songs from the soundtrack) gives the 10-time Academy Award winner a chance to be discovered by a whole new generation. Special features include choreographers explaining the film’s famous dance sequences and a look back at the iconic film and its impact on the world.