Posts Tagged 'Cold War'

The World is Much Poorer Today

I awoke this morning to read of the deaths of two people who enriched my life greatly, albeit in very different ways.

Skip Caray had been the voice of the Atlanta Braves since 1976.  Henry Aaron was gone by then, and greatness was dangled in front of the club like a stringy toy in front of a catnip-influenced kitten for a decade and a half before the Bravos finally snagged it.  He was the son of the immortal Harry (“Holy Cow!”) Caray, the only person other than Skip to show such devotion to a club that had lifetime membership in the “Charlie Brown” association)  Much as the Houstonians near where I live like to remind the world that it was the now-semi-retired Astros commentator (and Skip’s predecessor), Milo Hamilton who called Henry Aaron‘s 715th Home Run for the Braves in 1974, it was Skip’s voice (“along with Don Sutton and Pete Van Wieren“) I always associated with the Braves.

Do not mourn the Caray broadcasting legacy, though:  it lives on in the forms of Skip’s sons.  Chip and Josh are both in the Braves organization broadcasting booths.  Chip calls the games for cable Superstation TBS, while Josh does radio broadcasts for the Braves’ Class A minor league affiliate in Rome, GA.

And now for what may be the most diametrically-opposite segue in the history of blogging…

I was also greatly saddened to learn late last night of the passing of Nobel laureate Alexander Solzhenitsyn at his home in Moscow.  His widow, Natalya, said of his passing:

“He wanted to die in the summer — and he died in the summer,” she said. “He wanted to die at home — and he died at home. In general I should say that Alexander Isaevich lived a difficult but happy life.”

If you were not culturally aware during the Cold War and want to know what all the fuss was about, or if you think the Cold War was just about nukes, you very much need to read Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. It is a brief read, less than 200 pages, but OH! so profound.  It gives a gripping account of a single day in the desperate life of a criminal (His crime?  Escaping from the Germans in WWII rather than dying for the Motherland) in a Soviet gulag in Siberia that was not too different from the one in which Solzhenitsyn himself was imprisoned.  This book will explain in no uncertain detail what it was the West feared most should Communism expand.

With Solzhenitsyn’s passing, we lose another link to the cautionary tale of everyday life in a totalitarian regime.  He was one of the lucky ones, he got out.  Solzhenitsyn took full advantage of the freedom his new life in the West afforded him, much to the consternation of his US “handlers” in charge of setting him up in New York and protecting him from covert Soviet retaliation (a very real threat).  Just as he wasn’t afraid to speak out in Soviet Russia, neither was he afraid to rail against injustices he observed in the US and elsewhere in the free world.  If only more of us were this brave.

When I studied Russian in the mid-1980’s, I learned that they have many ways to say goodbye to one another depending on social status, familiarity (or lack thereof), or even the likelihood (or not) of ever seeing one another again. Their word for “farewell” seems fitting now, more so than saying so in the tongue of his adopted land, for the word in Russian is only used when one expects never again to see the other.

Прощайте, Алекса́ндр Иса́евич.

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