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April 2017

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whatever happens

A while back, I subscribed to Smithsonian Magazine. I tried to read it about 20 years ago, but it was way too erudite for me when I was in my 30s. Now, it's just right, although I'm not sure if I'm smarter or they've dumbed down the magazine. *g*

One of the things I love best is that it gives me a look at historical things that I wouldn't otherwise be exposed to, and which I shall, on occasion, share with you guys. Because I'm nice that way. *eg*

The most recent of these articles was about an obscure hero named Hiram "Harry" Bingham III. Harry was a diplomat in the Foreign Service in Marseille when World War II spread to France. I read (to my horrified disgust) that US policy was not to allow refugees from Europe into the US if it was possible to keep them out, usually by means of red tape and bureaucratic delays. This policy - which, incidentally, was opposed by the estimable Eleanor Roosevelt - was justified with the specious reason that German spies might be among them, but mostly it was a combination of anti-Semitism and isolationism at work. Anyway, Harry, faced with the Vichy government's internment camps (which were bad enough, although not as bad as the horrors that would follow), worked steadily and in every way possible against official State Department policy, and expedited the escape of more than 2500 people out of France. It trashed his career, and he ended his life on the family farm, broke. He told no one why his career hit the skids, not even his children. It only came to light a few years ago when some of his papers were found by one of his sons, and since then, many of the people he saved have written to his children.

Talk about an unsung hero!

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