atlantic ocean

I think most people have heard of Charles Lindbergh, who was born on February 4, 1902, in Detroit, Michigan, was an American aviator celebrated for conducting the first solo, non-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean. We all like to think about the amazing accomplishments that have marked our history books. When airplanes were invented, there was little chance that records wouldn’t be set and advances made. Man has always tried to improve on things.

Lindbergh’s famous flight took place in 1927, when he flew the Spirit of Saint Louis from New York to Paris. The flight took 33.5 hours and made Lindbergh an international hero, but I can only imagine how he felt as he was flying along. He was doing something no one had ever done before!! I suppose there is always that first time for everything new, but Lindbergh had 33.5 hours to think about that.

Fame has a way of giving a person a lot of pull in whatever area they might try to use that influence, and Lindbergh was interested in promoting commercial aviation and air mail services. He was especially instrumental in the development of transatlantic flights, pushing for the establishment of routes and infrastructure that would enable commercial aviation to thrive.

Unfortunately, fame also makes people into targets. For Lindbergh, being a target came in the form of his son, Charles Lindbergh Jr being kidnapped and, while Lindbergh paid the $50,000 ransom, his son was found murdered in 1932, which resulted in what was known as the “Crime of the Century.” Lindbergh’s influence now took a different turn, in the form pushing for the Lindbergh Law or Federal Kidnapping Act, making kidnapping a federal crime in the United States.

While debated by the loss of his son, Lindbergh knew that he must go on…life must go on. He went on to make contributions to various fields, including conservation and literature. He also developed a keen interest in environmental issues and worked with various institutions to advocate for the protection of wildlife and habitats. In addition to those things, he authored several books, including “The Spirit of Saint Louis,” which recounts his historic flight. That book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1954. Charles Lindbergh passed away on August 26, 1974, of Lymphoma at the age of 72.

Rolf Mengele was born in March 16, 1944 in Freiburg, Germany to Irene Schoenbein and Dr Joseph Mengele…also known as the Angel of Death, but his father went into hiding after the war, and escaped to Argentina in 1949. Because of this, Rolf grew up in a loving home with his grandparents and his mother. He didn’t meet his father until he was a teenager, because he was told that he was dead.

When he turned 16, Rolf learned that his father was actually alive when Joseph made contact with him. It was an unhappy revelation for him. His father made attempts to bond with him through letters, even writing and illustrating a children’s book for him, but to no avail. His father’s attempts didn’t stop the feelings of disgust he felt about his father’s beliefs and actions. Still, at 16, he felt a curiosity about his dad, and wanted to meet him. Since Joseph Mengele was still wanted by Nazi-Hunters, for his war crimes, it took Rolf 5 years to arrange a trip to Brazil to visit his father.

Rolf had to travel under a stolen passport, but he wanted to go, because he wanted to understand how his father could have been an active participant in the Nazi death machine. He didn’t wait long, after his arrival, to bring up the subject of Auschwitz. His dad immediately became defensive, denying any responsibility for the atrocities, but actually admitting to participating in the nightmare “experiments” that the Jewish people were subjected to. He acted like he was doing them a favor, saying, “What was I supposed to do with those people? They were sick and half-dead when thy arrived.” He tried to tell his son that all he was doing was to determine who was fit to work. He actually claimed to have saved several thousand people by allowing them to work.

After his visit, Rolf found it “impossible to betray his father’ location,” but his feelings of disgust remained with him for the rest of his father’s life. Rolf says, “I didn’t even bother to listen to him or think of his ideas. I simply rejected everything he presented. I will never understand how human beings could do those things. That my father was one of them doesn’t change my opinion.”

Joseph Mengele’s health began to deteriorate in 1972. In 1976 he suffered a stroke. Then on February 7, 1979, he had another stroke while swimming in the Atlantic Ocean off of Bertioga, Brazil during a visit with friends. He drown and was buried under the alias of Wolfgang Gerhard, which he had been using since 1971. Rolf abandoned the Mengele name in 1980, taking his wife’s last name to spare his children the burden of their grandfather’s past. Rolf and his family live in Freiburg, Germany, where he is an attorney.

Two years after the sinking of the Titanic, the world was still very aware of the dangers of travel by ship. The Titanic was supposed to be unsinkable, and yet on April 14, 1912, it took more than 1500 people to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean with it. Many safety precautions had changed since Titanic went down. The ship’s radio room had to be manned at all times, crews were trained extensively in emergency procedures, and ships were equipped more than enough lifejackets and lifeboats. Every precaution that they knew to take had been taken, making The Empress of Ireland one of the safest ships on Earth.

On May 29, 1914, The Empress of Ireland left Quebec Harbor on a transatlantic journey to Liverpool England. She was sailing in heavy fog down Canada’s Saint Lawrence River, carrying 1477 passengers and crew. The Norwegian freighter Storstad was also sailing on the Saint Lawrence River on that fateful day. Sailing in heavy fog, without the modern GPS equipment to keep everyone informed of the ships’ positions, is a seriously dangerous undertaking. I don’t know that the normal protocol was for sailing in fog, but it would make sense to me that they should drop anchor and wait for the fog to lift before continuing on. I’m sure that these days, the ships would have some kind of protocol.

The Empress and the Storstad spotted each other several minutes before the inevitable collision, but altered courses and confused signals brought them into the fateful moment of impact. I suppose that if each ship hadn’t moved in the same direction, they might have been able to avoid the collision, but unfortunately they did move in the same direction. The Storstad penetrated 15 feet into the Empress of Ireland‘s starboard side, and the vessel sunk within 14 minutes, drowning 1,012 of its passengers and crew in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. It was one of the worst ship disasters in history. Only seven lifeboats escaped the rapidly sinking vessel, but thanks to the efforts of the crew of the Storstad, scores of survivors were pulled out of the icy waters.

On June 1, 2009, Air France Flight number 447 went down in the Atlantic Ocean. The flight took off from Rio de Janeiro on May 31, 2009.It was on it’s way to Paris, but nose-dived into the ocean long before reaching it’s destination. All 228 people on board were killed. A combination of bad weather, pilot error, and the captain’s extra-marital affair contributed to the deadliest crash in Air France history. Junior co-pilot Pierre-Cedric Bonin, 32, was piloting the Airbus A330 when it hit a thunderstorm over the sea. Bonin and fellow co-pilot David Robert, 37, pitched their craft sharply up instead of down, a fatal error that caused the plane to stall and and then pitch down, leading to the nose-dive into the ocean. Complicating the situation, Marc Dubois, the 58-year-old captain, had left the cockpit to take a nap, because he had been up all night with his mistress, and by the time he returned, it was too late to avoid catastrophe. Dubois had more than 11,000 flight hours compared to Bonin, who had logged a little less than 3,000.

Dubois and the rest of his crew had arrived in Rio three days before Flight 447’s departure. The probe’s lead French investigator believes that the pilot, Dubois could have properly navigated the storm, but he was napping. “If the captain had stayed in position . . . it would have delayed his sleep by no more than 15 minutes, and because of his experience, maybe the story would have ended differently,” chief French investigator Alain Bouillard said. A search was quickly organized, but the plane sank to the ocean floor and wasn’t found for nearly two years. An oil slick thought to have been left by the downed Air France flight was spotted on June 3, 2009. Search and rescue was the toughest part in trying to solve the mystery of Flight 447’s disappearance over the Atlantic Ocean back on June 1st, 2009. Some wreckage was found a few days after the crash, but the probable cause couldn’t properly be determined until they found the black box, which took was about two years later. Of the bodies of the 228 passengers and crew, 74 remain lost in the water after the search was finally called off.

When the black box was finally found, the investigation into the crash could really begin. Flight 447 was going from Rio de Janeiro to Paris when it encountered a thunderstorm. It is now believed that the probable cause was a disconnect from autopilot due to ice crystals in the pitot tubes. With an aerodynamic stall, the crew couldn’t recover and eventually it led to the plane falling into the ocean. The inexperienced pilots did what most people would have in a stall, they pulled up. This only made the situation worse. By the time the experienced pilot got to the cockpit, it was too late to save the plane.

scan0077grandpa spencer044Lots of people do it, but some people don’t. What…you might ask. The answer is to photograph the family whenever they cross the border into a new state, country, or sometimes even county. When my sisters and I were kids, our parents took us on vacation every year. We were quite blessed in that way, and have been to almost all the states, as well as Canada and Mexico, with some of us traveling even further away than that. All through those years, one of the big memories is the Border Crossings. I’m sure many people might think that sounds silly, but it was proof that was had been in that place. Anyone can say they have been to many places around the world, but if you have no pictures to prove it, how do people know that you aren’t just a braggart.

For me it is about owning that place, I suppose. It’s not that I purchased land in every place I’ve been, but rather that each place that have put my feet on the ground in has been permanently fixed in my memory files. I have those pictures and many others in my memory to remind me of the great trip we took to this or that place. I carry those pictures in my memory files, just like my Kindle carries the assorted books I have purchased in its memory files. The items stored there can be accessed at a moment’s notice. I can see the Chantel posing on top of the Texas state line with the familyDad and Michelle at Mt Rushmorearea, remember the sights we saw, remember who we were with, and the wonderful time we had there. Those memories are mine forever.

There are many kinds of border crossings, both good and bad, but the ones I choose to carry with me are the crossings from state to state as we wandered across this great nation. If you haven’t traveled much you just can’t understand how amazing this country is. There is beauty from coast to coast. So many people think that only their dream location has beauty, but that is so untrue. Every place on this Earth has some form of beauty. We must simply look for it. I feel so blessed to have been given the opportunity to see so many places, and discover the beauty in each one. Our parents wanted that for their girls. They were those people who would drive miles out of their way to see this or that historical site, and because of their willingness, and the fact that they considered each place important, my sisters and I can say that we have seen things like the Oregon Trail, old West Jailhouses, wagon ruts in rocks made by years of wheels going across them chipping away grain after grain of the rock, and canyons carved in rocks by rivers that have wandered through there for centuries. We have seen a crater formed by a meteor, a lake formed by an earthquake, and mountains formed by volcanoes. We have seen the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and the Gulf of Mexico, as well as the Great Lakes, and the Great grandpa spencer104grandpa spencer107Salt Lake. We have seen the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State building, and the World Trade Center. We have seen the faces of the Presidents on Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Monument, ridden the 1880 Train, and some of us have hiked much of the Black Hills, including Harney Peak. We have seen the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Warf, and Alcatraz, as well as The Space Needle, many lighthouses, and countless beaches. So many places fill my memory files, and they all started with the first border crossing, as we left home on one of our wonderful family vacations.

The Bismarck sinks the HoodGrowing up, our house was often filled with country music. Some of it my sisters and I liked, and some we didn’t. We were, after all, a part of the Rock and Roll era. Of those songs, I really liked the ones that told a story the best…still do in fact, especially when it concerns historical events. One song that we heard many times was called, “Sink the Bismarck” by Johnny Horton. It was a song with words that were easy to learn, and I quickly knew it by heart. I’ve never forgotten that song. At the time the words really meant nothing to me, but I’m sure they meant something to my dad.

The Bismarck was a German battleship. It was the first of two Bismarck class battleships built for Nazi Germany’s Kriegsmarine. Its sister ship was the Tirpitz. The two ships were the largest battleships ever built by Germany, and two of the largest built by any European power. The Bismarck was named for Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, the primary force behind the unification of Germany in 1871. It was commissioned on August 24, 1940. These ships had huge guns…according to the song, “guns as big as steers Explosion of the Hoodand shells as big as trees.” The Bismarck had been dubbed the “Terror of the Sea.” The British generals had heard all about this ship, and there was serious cause for concern, because it could do horrible damage.

At this point in World War II, the only way move through the war zone with relative safety was to be on a U-Boat. In May 1941, the Bismarck was ordered to break out into the Atlantic. Once it was safely in the open ocean, it would be very hard to track. Then it could wreak havoc on the Allied ships. The British heard of the plans, and sent the battle cruiser Hood and the battleship Prince of Wales in hot pursuit. They caught up to the Bismarck near Iceland and a battle ensued. The Bismarck sunk the battle cruiser Hood…it would be the only ship it would ever sink. The Hood was hit, exploded, and sank, taking with it all but three of the 1,421 crewmen. The Bismarck was hit but escaped. Nevertheless, it was leaking fuel and so it fled trying for occupied France. It was spotted by British aircraft and crippled. On May 27, three warships descended on it and sunk it.

The Wreckage of the BismarckJust as the song had said, “We gotta sink the Bismarck ’cause the world depends on us.” The British navy knew that this ship had to go, because if it was left alone, it would be repaired and it would once again wreak havoc on the Allied ships. The song has always remained in my head, but once I knew about the ships and the real battle that had taken place, it meant something to me, just like it had always meant something to my dad. I knew of the sacrifices, the lives lost, and the ship lost. This song was not just about some long ago battle that the world has forgotten, but rather it is about one battle in a war that can never be forgotten. And a war that would eventually draw my dad and many of my uncles into it before it was over, because the world depended on them too.

Wedding 3The morning was beautiful, calm, peaceful, and clear. The perfect day for a Valentine Wedding. The national day of love has become a day to always remember for Lindsay and Shannon. The background was the Atlantic Ocean with the Deerfield Beach Pier stretching out into the calm waters. They couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day. All the guests gathered, as well as the addition of curious onlookers, who wanted to share in the moment they had stumbled upon. They only served to add to the special beauty of the occasion. Lindsay’s dress was stunning, and was only outshined by the beauty of the bride herself. Shannon was handsome and very happy, as he looked lovingly at the bride, whom he had waited for all his life. They are the picture of a perfect couple, and their long and happy life stretches out into the future. For them, Valentine’s Day will always mean much more than it does for the average couple, because it is the day that they will celebrate as the most wonderful day of their lives…the day the two became one.

Wedding 2As we all know, Valentine’s Day is the day that we celebrate love, and for my niece, Lindsay and her now husband, Shannon, nothing could be more true. This morning began with their wedding on Deerfield Beach in Miami, Florida and will end with them celebrating their love on a ship bound for the Bahamas. When Lindsay told us of their plan to be married in Florida, I must say that I was a bit surprised, because they lived in South Dakota, but they wanted something a bit different when they said, “I do.” Their wedding was certainly something different for this family, but little did they know as they planned their wedding on that beach so far away from their home, that it would now end up being quite near their home. As it turns out, Shannon was offered a job at Florida International University, and they will be living just a few miles from the beach where they were married this morning.

It is hard for me to believe that my cute little niece, who has always had a wonderful, bubbly Wedding 5 editedpersonality is all grown up and married now. Time goes by so fast. She has been a go getter all her life, and I always knew she would go far, I just didn’t expect it to be far away.Nevertheless, I can’t be sad, because she is going to live in a beautiful place, and the beach where they got married, will most likely become a favorite hangout for them. The years ahead hold so much promise for Lindsay and Shannon, and I am so happy for both of them. Congratulations Mr and Mrs Moore, on your marriage today!! I know God will bless you with all the best things He has. We love you!!

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