All posts by Richard K. Munro (Auld Munro)

Like Russell Kirk, I am a great admirer of the late Gilbert Highet. I am the president and founder of the Gilbert Highet Society (on Facebook) which includes many scholars and authors. I was intensely homeschooled as a boy learning English phonics, drama, and oratory as well as the history of the Raj and British Empire where my people prominently served as Empire builders in the Merchant Marine, Indian Civil Service or Highland Regiments. I learned to read and write at home before I went to school. My people specialized in building ships, trains, bridges and were soldiers, interpreters or scouts for the British Army or Navy for generations. For many generations, it was the desire of each son of Munro, Fraser, MacFarlane or MacKenzie to go a-soldiering far "frae the hame" and to return to marry a woman of his faith "and race and line" and by that was meant to marry a woman of the Gaeltacht (Gaidhealteachd). Two things changed this pattern forever. 1) the depopulation of the Highlands from 1790-1890 meaning there was no place to go home to and 2) the Catastrophe of what we called An Cogadh Mòr (the Big War) and An An Cogadh Hitler (the Hitler War) 1914-1945. This led to the biggest catastrophe of all -the British Empire went smash and so we became "Orphans of Empire." Victory did not bring economic or political security and many Scots (particularly Highlanders) we scattered to the four winds. And the old Highland prophecy sang "Is gearr gach reachd ach riaghailt Dhe" (Each realm is short but the Kingdom of God. " We have seen many Empires rise and fall. We have as Auld Pop used to say, "served the Yoke." I am a teacher of English, Spanish.& history. I am principally a teacher of English and history to English learners though I taught AP Spanish for twelve years and was very successful. I Have taught Spanish for Native Speakers, AP US HISTORY, AP Spanish as well as English for Learners in the USA and Spain. I am the author of some short non-fiction articles and one-act plays. Author of Spying for the Other Side, KIM PHILBY &The Historic El CID. I have authored one-act plays such as "Euripides' Trojan Women (Calliope),"Romans on the Rhine", "Clad in Gold Our Young Mary" "Beneath Alexandria's Sapphire Sky" among others. I am a California Certified teacher in history, Spanish and English. MA Spanish Literature. BA with Honors (NYU '78) winner of Helen M. Jones Prize for History. ISI Fellow UVA 2004-2005. I am on the Board of PRO-ENGLISH. I have edited galleys of several books but especially CHURCHILL WALKING WITH DESTINY for my dear friend Andrew Roberts with whom it was my honor to serve. I consider this biography to be the greatest biography of our time both for history and as literature. To have been associated with it only in a minor capacity was a great honor. Recently I have helped research and edit his forthcoming book GEORGE III coming out in October 2021 My specialty is English literacy for newcomers (emphasizing phonics, diction, and grammar) and sheltered English immersion Social Studies (history) for English learners. I believe in sheltered English immersion for newcomers (English language books, notes, tests and quizzes with some translation and bilingual glossaries available.) I believe in high-quality Dual Immersion instruction but I do not believe (generally speaking) that NENLI is a good idea, in most instances. NENLI is Non-English Native Langauge Instruction. Schools should be very honest about what they are doing. If they are NOT teaching the core curriculum in English they should say so. The temptation to retain students (i have seen it) and create alternative pathways without requiring students to study their core subjects in English is ultimately, in my opinion, harmful to students. Bilingual programs must have rigor. History, science and math classes must have rigor. If students only accumulate hollow credits then ultimately they are cut off from the satisfaction of higher academic endeavors. But I do believe local communities should have some choice as to what kind of educational programs they want to provide and what languages they teach. However, I believe English should be the official language of the United States. I do not believe we can or ought to be an officially bilingual nation. I have a New Wine Credential. I am married with three children. Two of our children are teachers (Spanish and Dual Immersion k-6) and one is an engineer. I am proud to have served as a peacetime "Ice Cream" Marine (reserves) and to hold an honorable discharge from USMCR. My parents emigrated to the USA when young in 1923 and 1927. The war destroyed the fragile economic communities from which they came and essentially no one ever returned. They became US citizens and were Americans by choice. Both graduated from public high school in New York and were the first and only members of their families to graduate from high school and go on to college. My mother was an RN and came from a strict Free Church Calvinist family. My father had a BA in English and French Comparative Literature and was a Roman Catholic. They were married in two separate Catholic and Anglican ceremonies. Needless to say, from a young age I was exposed to great sectarian hatreds and prejudices and this almost destroyed my Christian faith altogether. As a young man, I tended towards agnosticism. What saved me? The love of good Christians; the forgiveness of good Christians. In the 20th Century, my family emigrated to the Americas (Chile, Canada, and the USA) My uncle worked in Chile and Argentina circa 1914-1936 and my father was an American officer in Texas, Louisiana, and the Pacific Theater during WWII. My father was a notable amateur linguist ( reading ancient Greek, Latin, speaking Tagalog, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Russian). I grew up in a multilingual cosmopolitan household and cannot remember a time when I spoke, sang or heard only English. My mother played the piano and sang in five languages. I lived and studied in Spain and got my MA in Spanish Literature there via the University of Northern Iowa under the legendary Adolfo Franco Pino. I first visited Spain and Italy in 1964. My primary interest is in classical literature (chiefly English and Spanish), history, music, and poetry particularly the music and literature of the Scottish Highlands and Lowlands. Cuimhnich air na daoine bhon tainig mise (I remember the people I came from...the Gaels of Cioch Mhor in Ferindonald My people lived there for over one thousand years). Most of my family today is Spanish-speaking (Spain, Mexico, Chile and the USA). Most of us follow the faith of St. Maelrubha, St. Columba, St. Patrick and St. Mungo. Of course, no Highlander ever recognized St. Andrew as a patron per se as he was later accretion of lowlanders as worthy as St. Andrew is. I was married in Spain on St. Columba's Day and my son was married in Mexico. It is a cognate fact that every marriage in our family for centuries has a direct or indirect connection to Spain either through marriage in Spain or marriage by priests educated in the Scots College in Spain or Rome. La fuerza del sino? (The Force of Destiny?) I believe in the policy of the Buen Vecino (the Good Neighbor) and in la conviviencia (peaceful coexistence) of different cultures, languages, and religions. I realize I am the very last of my race but I am glad to be the father of a new race of Americans whose blood comes from the peoples and races of four continents. Hyphenations can be good descriptors but they are usually a temporary condition like bilingualism. Monolingualism, cultural diffusion, and assimilation are the natural tendencies of the human race. From where I stand the melting pot bubbles on. To deny this phenomenon exists is really irrational.

GREAT ROMANTIC MOMENT

Odysseus embraces Penelope as the Soldier Returns and his Odyssey is over

“Now from his breast into the eyes the ache

of longing mounted, and he wept at last,

his dear wife, clear and faithful, in his arms,

longed for as the sunwarmed earth is longed for by a swimmer

spent in rough water where his ship went down

under Poseidon’s blows, gale winds and tons of sea.

Few men can keep alive through a big serf

to crawl, clotted with brine, on kindly beaches

in joy, in joy, knowing the abyss behind:

and so she too rejoiced, her gaze upon her husband

,her white arms round him pressed as though forever.”

― Homer, The Odyssey

POEM: LOCH NA GARR

Lord Byron (1788–1824).  Poetry of Byron.  1881.
 
I. Personal, Lyric, and Elegiac
Loch Na Garr essentially about childhood, what the Gael calls ancestry (dualchas), heritage (dualchas) sense of place (duthchas).
Byron contrasts the green landscaped civilized fields of southern England, with the wild, windswept craggy East Highlands
Byron himself wrote:
“I allude here to my maternal ancestors, “the Gordons,” many of whom fought for the unfortunate Prince Charles, better known by the name of the Pretender. This branch was nearly allied by blood, as well as attachment, to the Stuarts. George, the second Earl of Huntley, married the Princess Annabella Stuart, daughter of James I. of Scotland. By her he left four sons: the third, Sir William Gordon, I have the honour to claim as one of my progenitors.”
Byron also referred to  Lochnagar in The Island:

The infant rapture still survivied the boy,
And Loch-na-gar with Ida looked o’er Troy.[7]
— The Island: Canto II, stanza XII, lines 290-291

As the Penguin Book of Scottish Verse says:
“There are few major English poets who can be heard sung in peasant bothies among the more native fare, but Byron’s Lachin A Gair is a popular favourite, and those sophisticated critics who sneer at the poem but don’t know the tune should hear it sung by a farm-labourer’s ‘tenore robusto. “

Or I daresay David Solley or Kenneth McKellar
 AWAY, ye gay landscapes, ye gardens of roses!  
In you let the minions of luxury rove;
Restore me the rocks, where the snow-flake reposes,  
Though still they are sacred to freedom and love:
Yet, Caledonia, beloved are thy mountains,       
 5  Round their white summits though elements war;
Though cataracts foam ’stead of smooth-flowing fountains, 
 I sigh for the valley of dark Loch na Garr. 

Ah! there my young footsteps in infancy wander’d;  
My cap was the bonnet, my cloak was the plaid;       
 10On chieftains long perish’d my memory ponder’d, 
 As daily I strode through the pine-cover’d glade:I
sought not my home till the day’s dying glory 
 Gave place to the rays of the bright polar star
;For fancy was cheer’d by traditional story,        
15  Disclosed by the natives of dark Loch na Garr.

 “Shades of the dead! have I not heard your voices  
Rise on the night-rolling breath of the gale?”
Surely the soul of the hero rejoices,  
And rides on the wind o’er his own Highland vale.        
20Round Loch na Garr while the stormy mist gathers, 
 Winter presides in his cold icy car:
Clouds there encircle the forms of my fathers;  
They dwell in the tempests of dark Loch na Garr. 

“Illstarr’d, though brave, did no visions foreboding        
25  Tell you that fate had forsaken your cause?”
Ah! were you destined to die at Culloden,  
Victory crown’d not your fall with applause:
Still were you happy in death’s earthy slumber,  
You rest with your clan in the caves of Braemar;      
  30The pibroch resounds, to the piper’s loud number, 
 Your deeds on the echoes of dark Loch na Garr. 

Years have roll’d on, Loch na Garr, since I left you,  Years must elapse ere I tread you again:
Nature of verdure and flow’rs has bereft you,       
 35  Yet still are you dearer than Albion’s plain.
England! thy beauties are tame and domestic  
To one who has roved on the mountains afar:
Oh for the crags that are wild and majestic!  
The steep frowning glories of dark Loch na Garr!        40 

ZOOM STUDENTS GO ZOOM, ZOOM ZOOM….

by Richard K. Munro

Until last year I had never heard of “Zoom” as teaching tool or “Canvas.” I had done some online training classes and some correspondence classes via email and via snail mail with the occasional phone call. I remember writing an illustrated poem in elementary school that went like this “THE PLANE WENT ZOOM, ZOOM, ZOOM then crashed and went BOOM, BOOM, BOOM! ” I thought it was exciting and realistic but I remember it did not that the approval of the classroom teacher.

I am a classroom teacher in the trenches. Now of course I am teaching students as if they were on a distant moon or Mars or in the Space Lab. I have done virtual teaching since March 18 2020. All I will say is that it is better than in March 2020 and it is better than nothing.

But it should go without saying that online technology creates a barrier or affective filter that discourages and impedes comprehension and learning. No one would think to try to teach a foreign language by phone or merely via emails. Students who do not hear well, comprehend aural English and who do not type or word process quickly and accurately are at severe disadvantage.

All that side we are doing VIRTUAL testing of the English Proficiency Tests this year (via ETS) https://www.elpac.org/ We teachers have to learn a test interface for distant testing.
Students have to use a special ten digit student # for the ELPAC they cannot past this number nor can it be sent via email. Students must have the APP for the secure test browser on their Chromebook or computer
If they don’t they are out of luck. Even so even with a school

Chromebook technical difficulties are not unusual especially due to the quality of the internet connection. The Secure Test Browser requires a fast and continuous Internet speed.


Then students have to use their first name (first letter capitalized)
type in there unique student ID # for the ELPAC
then type in a unique session # for their grade level or the reading, writing and listening test they are doing. Believe me this is complicated If one thing goes wrong or the internet is slow everything crashes.
So far 40 % of students in my class have not been able to log on even to begin a test.
Of those who have tested only about 30% have finished all the required tests. Some are incomplete because the test froze while they were testing. Some are incomplete because despite numerous attempts day after day during class and after school they could not log on via their Chromebooks.

I am a good soldier. I try to do my best. I monitor for HOURS (often after my regular school day) WITHOUT ANY PAY to make sure the students can finish tests. Sometimes I have to spend 3, 4, 5, 6 hours monitoring ELPAC my camera and their camera MUST BE ON and IS RECORDED so that students can finish the test. I have taken to having my ,lunch and coffee during testing because it is too much trouble to log off or pause the test.

And of course the students have to sign a form that they can’t use any materials or phones or aides during the test. But let’s be honest I can see the person who is front of the camera and I recognize that person. I montior what they are doing and how long they do it. But such a test is NOT SECURE. Really it should be considered INVALID.

It is HORRIBLE how much school time is spent merely on test prop for EL PAC all readings all assignments mimic the ELPAC and that is all we do. But don’t forget we have to give other tests like the STAR READING test (fortunately a snap to take and administer just a link no layers of “security”)

But the word is the State of California has paid millions for these tests and ETS is desperate that they tests be given because they want them to be renewed for next year and the year after that.

It would be logical to suspend this testing in this plague year. We could have easily done practice tests to familiarize students for a future year and left it at that.

But soon my journey of the cross will be over and so will the Calvary of the students. We will begin to meet in person April 6-April 12th. But with a difference. Some students will still be at home since attendance in person is voluntary. So teachers have to do distance learning and in person learning simultaneous. We will be equipped with additional cameras, speakers and a Plexiglas protector on our desks. We will have to wear a mask at all times while teaching. In April and May we will dedicate ourselves to literature (Homer) and poetry (including Shakespeare). I have Audible books on tape and electronic versions of all the books and poems. Students will listen and recite proverbs and poems to improve their diction and they will write short responses to literature and keep vocabulary notebooks.

But it appears they will remain on a distant moon and I on my distant spaceship. Some students will report to classrooms (computer labs) with teacher aides but many will continue distance learning from home.

As I said , it is better than nothing but the truth is the Matthew effect is quite evident. The Rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

Without constant supervision and close encouragement, many students are distracted and demoralized. For many the entire year has been a loss. Poles and Jews in forced labor camps during WWII have learned more. And I am sure that you are away how disastrous it was for youth to lose out on education from 1940-1945.

Covid 19 has been as bad as war and worse than the Great Depression.

I only hope schools will return to normal by Fall. There is a future for distance learning, of course. But it works best with fluent, motivated mature and highly motivated students.

It is a poor choice for k-6, for English Learners, for neophyte foreign language learners, immature, easily distracted and marginally motivated students. If a student has a poor home environment then that student does not even have the advantage of a bright, clean, secure environment

YES, BY ALL MEANS STANDARDIZED TESTING SHOULD BE SUSPENDED UNTIL FURTHER
NOTICE.

But no one pays any attention to me. So I carry on as in the Ypres Salient and do my duty.

But I mourn the massive casualties all about me.

Some students are being destroyed have been discouraged and have dropped out. Many are working in the field, in packing sheds in kitchens etc. The Plague Year has been a sad year. A year of suffering, loss and tragedy.

On Brad Birzer’s 9/11 Talk

https://spiritofcecilia.com/2020/09/13/19-years-after-9-11/?replytocom=138#respond

Wonderful, Brad. Thanks for sharing your talk with us. Of course, I knew of 9/11 and flight 93 -93 is a mystical number symbolizing courage as it was the Regimental number of the Thin Red Line of Heroes at Balaklava the 93rd Highlanders. Let’s Roll indeed. I like to think in the deep heartland of America there are still brave souls who will say Let’s Roll when big things are at stake. And of course, I know of Gettysburg (I have visited three times in my life the first time in 1961) but never thought or even knew about the connection of Hillsdale to Gettysburg -that is a great particular fact to know and one that shines credit on the heritage of Hillsdale. 9/11 remains strongly in my memory. I used to live in New York City (when I was at NYU) and I had been to the WTC numerous times. In 1993 I bought a Library of America book on the Debates on the Constitution there. It is strange and frightening that all those strong, powerful places were obliterated. Our bodies are fragile vessels but we forget civilization itself is also vulnerable and fragile. Nothing is permanent. Except perhaps the fame of our forefathers so I say NE OBLIVISCARIS….DO NOT FORGET the men who were SAN PEUR (without fear) who fought not for conquest or domination but for liberty.

Some years ago Andrew Roberts was going on a series of talks to promote his book WALKING WITH DESTINY. I asked him how many in total and he said 93. I told him that was a lucky number. He asked why then I said ask Kipling the 93rd were the Thin Red Line of Heroes. He laughed. He understood immediately (he knew my grandfather won the Military Medal at 2nd Ypres while serving with the Argylls and that my grandfather knew Willie Gallacher -the Scottish Communist and Major Ricketts (the man who composed the River Kwai March- Col.Bogey).

So old Highlanders have old memories. 42nd Highlanders (Black Watch) 91st Highlanders (Spain) 93rd Highlanders (India/Russia/South Africa). By the way, Scottish veterans of Balaklava fought at Bull Run, Antietam and Gettysburg also The 79th Highlanders was a Union Regiment. Of course, the Auld Regiments are part of family and clan history. To some historians, a regimental number is just a number on a map. To those of us who remember it is a story of the Teuchters (the Tough Ones) fighting it out with mire cath (the ancient battle frenzy). When Wallace and Bruce fought we were there. We were there at Guadalcanal, El Alamein, Dunkirk, D-Day, Korea.

“Heroes’ blood and tears bid us hold our ancient glory of free lands and of bold lands HIGHLANDS and LOWLAND ye ancient and ye free lands. Faith that dare not lie but would die for home and kithland….”.. Our splendid ancient heritage is something we shall never forget. We are not ashamed to have pride of name and descent. We face firmly towards the future and never forget the past. We contribute our measure of courage and character to the American melting pot.

A Time for WhisKY

Spirit of Cecilia

By Richard K. Munro

Thomas Munro, Srto his left “AMERICAN JOHNNY Robertson to his right the young boy is his nephew Jimmy Quigley 16 at the tjme.

It’s Five O’Clock. “Whisky is liquid sunshine.” said Shaw.

Like most Highland natives, Auld Pop had a vague knowledge of a thing called barbecue, but had never actually eaten any. He was, however, intimately familiar with whiskey. In fact from 1914-1933 he often made his own. I do not know and have no knowledge if he ever sold any of his poteen. I do know he used to say, “Prohibition? What’s that? No excise officer ever kept a Highland man from his dram.” “Does love make the world go around? Well aye, mon. “Strrruth! . But whiskey makes it go around twice as fast. Aye! An’ gies a mon a sonsie gizz, aye! ThAAt’s a sonsie face – a jolly, smiling face!.

He…

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Spanish memorieS: anchovies and coca cola

I used to listen to this MY FAIR LADY in Spanish. I taught Pygmalion for years in my Spanish AP class (in Spanish) The kids loved shaw and Mi Bella Dama. I played it in both languages
Ruth Munro, Richard K Munro and Mrs. Munro on St. Columba’s Day June 9, 1982 the happiest day of my life Soria , Spain. Auld Pop was not there and Don Benigno was not there. I like to think they met in heaven on that day for a dram or too.

Spanish memories; my wife and used to listen to this at her Grandparent’s house in July 1973 and drink Coca Cola and eat anchovies. Don Benigno was a very cultivated man . He was the only Spaniard I ever met who knew immediately Munro was a Scottish Highland name (and not Italian). I said how did he know that? He got up and got a book from his shelf and started to read to me THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS (in Spanish) Three of the main characters were Scottish Munros. He said, in a joke, that all his life he was waiting to meet an authentic Scottish Munro. We all laughed. Later my wife gifted me the book which I still have. I now think that Don Benigno hoped I would marry his granddaughter. Many happy memories of visiting his house, listening to classical music and playing chess. The tapas were always great! He never served me alcohol though I was only 17.

In memory I can taste the rich old cane sugar Coca Cola (I haven’t tasted the like in many years) and the salty anchovies. In memory I hear the ghost of a tune. What is the greatest distance between two points?

Time of course.

another old favorite I used to sing with my mother. She said it was true in my case as I only found love outside the Anglosphere. Why? Perhaps because the Spanish lassies were a little more traditional. They helped me survive the 20th century which was not easy for me despite my massive “privilege”

THE cANCEL CULTURE AND MORALITY and caring about all black lives

BY RICHARD K. MUNRO

https://www.news-journal.com/opinion/navarrette-cancel-culture-means-more-freedom-not-less/article_810809d4-cdca-11ea-84f5-bf300465f179.html?fbclid=IwAR1mZX7uohK4i9DdfqgIpDzHkO6DZMALCm_E9X9HXUL_wIyqIzv__6gC0wQ

It’s all good. If you want to spout off in ways that some folks are going to find offensive, you have to pay the piper.” So Ruben Navarrette is not worried about the cancel culture.

Yes, Ruben Navarrette except for one thing. The foul lines are being constantly moved. I believe in sacramental tradition marriage; even five or ten years ago this would not have been a radical statement (President Obama claimed his supported this view until he “evolved”). But today, in many quarters just to say this is homophobic and yet I have never opposed the legality of Gay Marriage or ever written or said anything anti-Gay. I just believe that secular marriage offered by the government is meaningless to me. I am a Christian traditionalist and I believe “God made man in his own image in the image of God created he him, man and woman alike.” I believe marriage means openness to children.

So I can peacefully coexist with Gay Marriage or “marriage equality” just like I peaceably exist with the legality of abortion on demand. I have a strong reverence for life so my personal beliefs are to sympathize with the Pro-life side but I don’t think we will ever have a constitutional amendment abolishing or prohibiting abortion because 1) abortion exists in nature (miscarriage) 2) many people if not most belief abortion is an acceptable form of birth control and fanatically support their individual right to have one. 3) new drugs and abortifacients will make abortion a private matter no longer practiced in clinics. The only thing I can do is pray for and support a pro-family pro-life culture (especially in our personal family life). But I know people have to choose to have reverence for life. I just believe that life is a better choice than death.

Nothing I can say or do will dissuade them but I still believe that inducing an abortion of a healthy child is morally selfish and evil. To me it is a great tragedy -a far worse tragedy than the death of a single African-American by an overzealous policeman. All black lives matter born and unborn. That’s a slogan you will never see. And If I publicized it I would come under withering attack. Yet Martin Luther King jr. would probably have agreed with me.

So perhaps you don’t agree with my point of view but 1) I have no desire to force my opinion on others 2) it is my right to freely express my opinion and to practice my private religion and teach that morality to my children and grandchildren by my words and by my example. Right is right and wrong is wrong. The killing of a prisoner by overzealous policemen is wrong and those responsible should be brought to justice. But there is so many more African-Americans being snuffed out in abortion clinics by far and killed by gang shootings. So in my view, focusing on the relatively few (9 last year) of police killings of unarmed Black men is doing nothing to help America or the African-American community.

Caring about all black lives is not, and cannot be construed as supporting White Supremacy. I am not a White Supremacist and I have opposed White Supremacy my entire life. I believe in the melting pot. It is not by chance my godson is African-American and none of my grandchildren are white but all are Mexican-American. My daughter dated an African-American man in college and I never said a single thing about it. I was happy he treated my daughter with respect and provided her with a certain security when she went on long car trips. She broke up with him but not because of his race but because of his character. He was superficially charming but undisciplined he couldn’t finish school or hold down a job. But my daughter followed what I taught her: judge each person as they come as an individual not by their race or class. I taught my children to be “color blind” but today of course even that notion comes under attack as “racist” something I find unbelievable. My Catholic faith teaches me than we are all one human family. Being obsessed with race and believing racial differences are important is the mark of a racist person (such as a White Supremacist). But my conscience is clear. People can call me any name they want but I stand justified with my maker and know I do not teach nor support evil.

My father’s angel mother:Mary Munro

My father was educated in Scotland up to age 12 1/2. When my father finished the sixth grade in Scotland in 1927 his mother was told he had only two choices “the Army or the docks.” She was so horrified at this news that she reportedly answered angrily, “Och no, there is a third choice, America!.” So she decided finally to immigrate in October 1927 and they came on the SS Transylvania via Ellis Island. My father said, “All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to America and to my angel mother.” Love wins out and endures.

I like to think if Mary Munro were looking down from heaven would see my wife and my daughter and daughter in law and say,:


    “Love conquers all. Faith never dies.
    One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh; but the earth abideth forever… The sun also ariseth….”

Mrs. Munro (Mary Munro) circa 1915 in Glasgow Scotland. She volunteered to work in a munitions factory after her two broths and brother in law were killed on the Western Front serving with the Highland Light Infantry.
Mary Munro circa 1920’s
family portrait March 17, 1915 St. Anthony’s. Her husband THOMAS MUNRO, SR was served in the trenches at Ypres. My grandfather had been listed as missing in action when my father was born on March 10. Mary Munro held off the baptism a few days until she heard the news her husband had been saved by Indian soldiers and his friend American Johnny Robertson.

The greatest day of my young, innocent happy life

Spirit of Cecilia

By Richard K. Munro

Hank Aaron in the early 1960’s

When I was a kid (about 12) I wrote a short essay: “THE GREATEST DAY IN MY LIFE” It was about my friendship with Hank Aaron from afar. He knew me, in a way, I always had the same banner out there “NAIL ‘EM DOWN Hammerin’ Hank.” He always waved at us when he went out to right field.

And when the cop said, “This kid has your book on its first day out! What do you think? Could you sign it for the kid? ” Hank said, “What’s the kid’s name?”Rickey” , said the big good natured cop. The game was about tobegin. He signed it and they passed to book down the dugout from player to player and back to the cop and then to my dad and me. He signed it with my Dad’s scorecard pencil.

My…

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Of Fallen statues and father Serra: the radical “cancel” iconoclastic movement of 2020

by Richard K Munro:

Personally, I have no trouble with renaming military bases whose time has come. Most of those bases in the South and elsewhere were named circa 1917-1920 to appease White Democratic segregationists. For the same reasons many federal institutions remained segregated until President Kennedy.. I have no problem with town councils or state governments deciding to remove pubic statuary if it is done in a democratic way with due process. Statues could be placed in museum and given additional context. But destroying the original inscription and defacing the statue or plaque seems sinister to me. Something out of 1984. For example many old Civil War monuments refer to “Negros” or “Colored troops”. In some cases these monuments were put up by ex-slaves themselves. At the time, “Negro” and “Colored” were the accepted and popular terms. Sometimes (in Winslow Homer paintings ) the word Ethiopian is used for African-American but that was not common. It makes no sense to go back and destroy every book, every document, every monument which uses non PC languages.

I am totally opposed however for iconoclastic mobs to deface and destroy in the dead of the night historical monuments and displays which are also public art.

This is not totally new. There have been attacks of Columbus Statues and the statues of Spanish missionaries before usually with red paint accusing them as colonizers killers and slavers. Columbus was certainly a master mariner and a colonizer but he never held a single black slave in his entire life not did he introduce Black slavery to the Americas. Similarly, Father Serra never held a Black slave either, in fact he prohibited slavery at the California Missions.

There was a controversy about the Mohave Cross a number of years ago not far from where I live. It was a World War One memorial to fallen local soldiers. It was shamefully in a box during the back and forth trials because people said they could see it from a public highway and that was offensive to them . The Mohave Cross finally triumphed like some other public war memorials or crosses but it was vandalized and destroyed by opponent AFTER the court case. It has been restored (and is on private land) but it is sad the original monument from 80 years ago was destroyed. The Supreme Court has upheld the legality of public crosses as memorials to the fallen. There are many many crosses in Arlington also but also symbols of other religions and some graves have no symbol at all. The reason is every soldier, sailor, airman or Marine designates his or her preferred religious affiliation. If the fallen warrior is Jewish it would have a Jewish symbol if Muslim a crescent moon etc. et. The reason there are so many white crosses at Arlington, Normandy, Anzio, Bastogne, Salerno is because the majority of the Americans who fell there were from Christian communities. Allowing them to be honored by crosses is free exercise of religion and in any case the cross has for many a non-religious meaning just the acknowledgement of the fallen warrior.

I am totally against destroying or defacing WWII, WW, Civil War monuments in cemeteries or National Park battlefields. I am totally against the Spanish missions being destroyed or defaced. I am totally against all public art as to Spanish missionaries being destroyed or defaced. In San Francisco not only was Francis Scott Key statue toppled but a statue of Miguel de Cervantes was also vandalized (I am not sure of the extent of its damage). I also see in newspapers noble souls like Father Kino, Father Crespi and Father Serra being trashed as cruel slave holders who brutalized and exterminated the native Americans.

The fact is Father Serra -and we know a lot about his service and actions BECAUSE of his letters and the notes of Father Crespi did not allow any slavery at all in the Spanish Missions. Escaped black slaves in the Spanish Missions in Florida or New Mexico or California were considered free men Father Serra personally baptized Black persons in the Catholic church and married them to White Californios or Native Americans.

The most famous example is PIo Pico was the last Mexican governor of California. Pio Pico was legally “Spanish/Mexican” when California joined the Union but was of African descent. So Serra helped free slaves and did no allow for slavery in the Spanish Missions while he was the president of the missions.

We know from his own accounts and the accounts of Father Crespi that he disciplined Native Americans who broke Mission rules -stealing, getting drunk in one instance entering the sleeping quarters of the female neophytes (some as young as nine years old) and sexually assaulting and raping them. On this occasion -it was very rare for Father Serra himself to administer punishment -he did not like but on this occasion (well documented ) Serra publicly flogged the “renegade’. They had a strict discipline at the Missions those who stayed had to work and contribute and had to follow the rules. But it isn’t true that the Indians were press-ganged into the Missions. Many came because water (due to wells and irrigation) and food was more readily available.

Father Serra (St. Junipero) dedicated his life to defend the Indians and to teach them. He and the Franciscan Fathers taught them pottery, leatherwork, metallurgy, ranching, candle making, preserving foods in oil. He introduced many new plants and crops to California like citrus -lemons and oranges. He vastly increased food production through ranching of sheep and cattle. He vastly improved agricultural production by introducing irrigation. He taught the natives music and sophisticated musical instruments were constructed at the missions. He established the first libraries in the history of California. He instructed the Indians in religion and helped assimilate them to Spanish society by learning Spanish. Father Serra, St. Junipero, was a good man in his time. This does not mean he was a perfect person who advocated for woman’s suffrage, self-government, universal abolition of slavery, preservation of the environment and all native languages and customs. We have no knowledge if he advocated the independence of California or Mexico. As far as we know he was a loyal Spanish Subject who expected his missions to continue indefinitely under Spanish rule and under the Spanish monarchy. At the time he lived there was no Mexican nationality. The world Latin American did not even exist. We do know that Serra seemed to sympathize with the American Revolution but he was mostly concerned with his own region.

Very importantly Serra and the Spanish fathers saw to it that local women (Native Americans and Californios) married foreign immigrants and marred Spanish soldiers. So immigrants and mixed race people became Spanish citizens (subjects). The Spanish Empire was not a democracy nor a perfect society but it was a humane society where local peoples had rule of law, relative peace and prosperity. It was never a society that practiced strict segregation of the races. What evidence is there that the Spanish missions were not Nazi-style concentration camps of extermination?

I can think of two powerful pieces of evidence. One was this: when the Mexican government dissolved the Spanish Missions the Indians who lived there did not want to leave and wanted to stay with the Spanish fathers. Why would they stay if they thought they were being ruled tyrannically? And another is this. Why are there so man Mexicans, Peruvians (and Filipinos also?) Because the Indian/or native mestizo populations thrived and increased hugely in the years of Spanish rule.

It is true that the Spanish did not, usually (the Jesuits are an exception) teach or preserve the native customs or dialects. The Franciscans, in general, were not great scholars but practical workers and farmers. But what we know of ancient native languages and civilizations is almost entirely because of what Spanish missionaries documented and preserved. The native tribes of California would not have survived independently as hunter gatherers as California’s economy and agriculture developed. Their only hope for survival as individuals and families was in an around the Spanish missions and ranches. The native Americans and Filipinos had hundreds, probably thousands of languages and dialects. Some have survived Quecha, Aymara , Guarani and Tagalog have survived precisely because Spanish missionaries created grammars and dictionaries in those tongues (this was chiefly the work of Jesuits) and evangelized using those languages as well as Spanish. It is wrong to characterize Spanish rule as equivalent to Nazi rule and to compare Spanish Missions to Nazi concentration camps. It is wrong, it is unjust, it is a calumny to do so. It is a historical falsehood. In short much of the criticisms of Spanish rule and Spanish missionaries are just propaganda. They give a completely false, incomplete and distorted. view of Spanish culture and history.