False Flags

Tattered Flag photo

On August 30, 2006, I received a “don’t break the chain” email from a relative, apparently by mistake. Appropriately it had no subject line because it had no substance. Nevertheless its sentimentalism compelled my response. I offer this as a snapshot in time with which to compare the present discourse.

Continue reading “False Flags”

The Old Normal

Amazing Grace in Olney Hymns

I was annoyed Tuesday when the Biden-Harris tribute to the 400,000 fallen included that old, mm…, warhorse “Amazing Grace.” I muttered to my wife Andrea Carney, “Well, as long as they don’t trot out ‘Hallelujah’…,” which of course they did. “Amazing Grace” showed up time and again during the inaugural spectacle. Continue reading “The Old Normal”

Death be not proud: We’ve Been Here Before

Oriental Mourning

There were varied responses to an earlier pandemic, and I first read the following poem in a 1989 collection, Poets for Life: 76 Poets Respond to AIDS. David Kalstone was James Merrill’s friend whose study of Elizabeth Bishop, Marianne Moore, and Robert Lowell was cut short by his death in 1986. Caro is an Italian endearment.

There were varied responses. What are our varied ways today? How to be in solidarity in a time of distancing? Continue reading “Death be not proud: We’ve Been Here Before”

Rosenberg Resistance

Léger - Mockup for a scarf

The year 2003 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. Their killing had a great impact on my wife Andrea Carney (see Part 1 and Part 2 of our trilogy). Somehow I learned that a major commemoration would be held in New York City on June 19, the same day they were killed. It was produced by the Rosenberg Fund for Children, founded in 1990 by the Rosenbergs’ son Robert, who was grateful for the support he and his brother Michael had been shown during the jailing of, and after the killing of, their parents. The fund’s purpose is “to find and help children today who are enduring the same kind of nightmare he endured as a child.”1 Continue reading “Rosenberg Resistance”

Reopening the Rosenbergs

Helen Sobell FBI Document image

Note: This is the second in a series of my recollections about Julius and Ethel Rosenberg who were executed in 1953. See Part 1 and Part 3. My husband David Hughes contributed much research and text to what follows.

On February 2, 1975 my then-husband and I were given tickets to an event titled The Julius & Ethel Rosenberg Case: Reopening the Past in Light of the Present at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.1 One month before, Congress had passed—over Gerald Ford’s veto—the Privacy Act of 1974, which amended the original Freedom of Information Act of 1966. “This [new] law,” the Christian Science Monitor reported, “provides, among other things, for judicial review of classified national security data to decide if it should be held from public view.” The hope was that—via judicial intervention if need be—previously withheld exculpatory information about the Rosenbergs would be forthcoming from the FBI, CIA, and AEC.2 Continue reading “Reopening the Rosenbergs”

Observing the Sabbath: Killing the Rosenbergs

Ethel and Julius Rosenberg photo image

Note: See also Part 2 and Part 3 of this trilogy.

As early as I can remember I was placed in front of the radio (we had no television). I was exposed to music, advertisements, dramas, and news. At age three I tried to read newspapers. I simply wanted to read about what I’d heard.  By the age of five I was reading the “briefs” in the back pages because they were easier for me, but they also could lead me to bigger stories. In particular I remember reading briefs about spies.

I was eight years old in 1950 when Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were arrested on an eventual charge of—not espionage—but rather conspiracy to commit espionage. Their co-conspirator Morton Sobell also was arrested (while in Mexico during which time Julius was arrested).1 Julius had been implicated by Ethel’s brother, David Greenglass, who said at trial that in September 1945 he’d given Julius a nuclear bomb diagram as well as verbal scientific secrets, typed up by Ethel,2 which presumably were transferred to the Soviet Union. Continue reading “Observing the Sabbath: Killing the Rosenbergs”