Earlier today, the first Viet Nam veteran ever elected to congress, died. John Murtha (as of this past Saturday, Pennsylvania’s longest serving congressman) was the 19 term representative of Pennsylvania’s 12th district, most notably the home of Johnstown, and which for most of his service included Shanksville. He was a hawkish, conservative Democrat, infamous for his involvement in the Abscam controversy, and most recently the FBI’s inquiry into the lobbying firm PMA. He could be said to have been very representative, and certainly very supportive of his blue collar district—Pro-gun, anti-abortion, and at first a supporter of the invasion of Iraq, but eventually one of its greatest critics. But that criticism came at a price. John Murtha was 77. [more inside]
Night of the Johnstown Flood. "There was no larger news story in the latter nineteenth century after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The story of the Johnstown Flood has everything to interest the modern mind: a wealthy resort, an intense storm, an unfortunate failure of a dam, the destruction of a working class city, and an inspiring relief effort." Curious about about a line in this song, I went looking for information and found this story and this monument and the wonder/horror of this playground, where a giant force played with masses of iron, weighing scores of tons each, as a child might play with pebbles.