Commentary Series

When History Rhymes

Jul 2, 2018

In troubled times, people often turn to history for guidance: surely, they think, the past has some instructive message for the present.

Brooke Wilkinson

Vermont rarely sees temperatures in the triple digits.

I’m a lawyer, so of course I think a lot about the U.S. Supreme Court, commonly referred to by its social media generated abbreviation as SCOTUS.

Ron Chernow’s biography on Ulysses S. Grant is long – and for good reason. The big moments in Grant’s life span nearly 20 years, from the start of the Civil War in 1861 to the end of his presidency in 1879.

Betty Smith / VPR

As I walked out onto the boardwalk that crosses Eshqua Bog in Hartland, the trees opened out above me, a broad sky appeared, and the idea of trolls peeping up from under the resounding boards began to seem distinctly possible.

Ira Schwartz / AP

Recently, as my eight year old son was walking through the family room, I heard him chanting something unusual: “Build a Wall! Build a Wall!”

Julie Jacobson / AP

When I heard that the Miss America Pageant was ditching its swimsuit competition, I thought … it’s about time.

One of my favorite activities is go on bird watching trips and hang out with knowledgeable folks who can identify birds before seeing them – simply by their calls.

After the violence along the border with Gaza, where an estimated 120 Palestinians protesting the relocation of the American Embassy to Jerusalem were killed and more than 3,800 wounded by Israeli army fire, the UN issued a strong rebuke to Israel.

It all depends on how you look at it. That’s what a friend was saying about how the telling of history shapes the way we see things.

President John F. Kennedy and Prime Minister John Diefenbaker detested each other and made little effort to conceal it. Like today, trade was the contentious issue.

Brooke Wilkinson

It’s music festival season in Vermont. For those of you who recently caught any of the nine days of opera in Middlebury or the ten days of jazz in Burlington, you’re among the lucky crowd who got to partake in the unofficial start of it all.

Weis: Our Liquid Assets

Jun 20, 2018
Emily Alfin Johnson

My family and I live across from a marsh and down the road from a pond.

Steve Schmida met his wife Nazgul Abdrazakova in Kyrgyzstan where they worked for foreign assistance programs. Nazgul had never heard of Vermont when Steve suggested they move here, but its values have worked for them. Together, they run a company that helps bring the financial power of the private sector into partnership with government agencies and NGOs to alleviate poverty and increase security in more than 60 countries. Matchmaking common goals is key to their success.

One of the great privileges I had this year was meeting outgoing Mayor Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans. He recently received the Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for being the first Southern mayor to reckon with the Confederate legacy of his city and take down monuments of those who were allegiant to the Confederacy. In reflecting on actions he’s now had to defend many times over, he says, “There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it.”

Neighbors in an upscale condo development were speculating about what the guy in the end-unit must do for a living to afford a sailboat, motorcycle, and camper. Curious, one strolled over and asked.

“Plumber,” came the answer.

It was a good turnout for something that had so little apparent relevance in a town with such a small Jewish community and so few people of color.

It’s the start of another year’s hurricane season, and the effects of Maria’s devastation in Puerto Rico still loom large – as hundreds of empty pairs of shoes in front of the capitol in San Juan stand as a mute display of mourning and protest.

A couple of my students just completed a documentary about a police corruption case in western Massachusetts. But in the movie, people who spoke on camera were either unwilling – or maybe too afraid – to condemn a police chief jailed for embezzlement.

A black-and-white illustration of people of all ages standing in a line.
A-Digit / iStock

With Father’s Day just a couple days away and Mother’s Day only a few weeks gone, it’s a time when most people take a moment to reflect on parental love and care.

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