Daily Update: Friday, June 17th, 2016

06-17 - Battle of Bunker Hill

There are no Saints to honor today, but on this date in 1775 the Battle of Bunker Hill took place during the Siege of Boston early in the American Revolutionary War.

On June 13th, 1775, the leaders of the colonial forces besieging Boston learned that General Thomas Gage was planning to send troops out from the city to occupy the unoccupied hills surrounding the city. In response to this intelligence, some twelve hundred colonial troops under the command of William Prescott stealthily occupied Bunker Hill and Breed’s Hill, constructed an earthen redoubt on Breed’s Hill, and built lightly fortified lines across most of the Charlestown Peninsula. When the British were alerted to the presence of the new position the next day, they mounted an attack against them. After two assaults on the colonial lines were repulsed with significant British casualties, the British finally captured the positions on Breed’s Hill on the third assault, after the defenders in the redoubt ran out of ammunition. The colonial forces retreated to Cambridge over Bunker Hill, suffering their most significant losses on Bunker Hill. While the result was a victory for the British, they suffered a large amount of losses: over 800 wounded and 226 killed, including a notably large number of officers. The battle is seen as an example of a Pyrrhic victory; while their immediate objective (the capture of Bunker Hill) was achieved, the loss of nearly a third of their forces did not significantly alter the state of siege. Meanwhile colonial forces were able to retreat and regroup in good order having suffered few casualties. Furthermore, the battle demonstrated that relatively inexperienced colonial forces were willing and able to stand up to regular army troops in a pitched battle. The first Bunker Hill Monument was erected in 1794. On June 17th, 1825, the fiftieth anniversary of the battle, the cornerstone of the current monument was laid by the Marquis de Lafayette and an address was delivered by Daniel Webster. (When Lafayette died, he was buried next to his wife at the Cimetière de Picpus under soil from Bunker Hill, which his son Georges sprinkled over him.) The capstone was laid on July 23, 1842 with the monument being dedicated on June 17 of the following year, again with a Daniel Webster oration. The Bunker Hill Monument Association maintained the monument and grounds until 1919, when it was turned over to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In 1976 the monument was transferred to the National Park Service and became a unit of Boston National Historical Park. The monument was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1961, in part for its architectural significance as a major early war memorial, and the nation’s largest-scale memorial prior to the construction of the Washington Monument. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966, and was included in the Monument Square Historic District in 1987 – and it is, of course, on Breed’s Hill.

I did my Book Devotional Reading, and on our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading. When we clocked in, Richard was the Relief Dealer for Mini Baccarat and Pai Gow, and I was on Pai Gow. On my breaks I continued reading Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King, and I also started reading the May 16th, 2016 issue of my Jesuit America magazine.

On our way home from work Richard stopped at the Superette for boudin, and after I read the morning paper and ate my lunch salad we watched episodes of Bones on TV. At 4:3o pm we watched Jeopardy!, then I came to the computer to do today’s Daily Update; and when I finish this Daily Update, I will read a bit in A Sea of Words: A Lexicon and Companion to the Compete Seafaring Tales of Patrick O’Brian by Dean King before going to sleep.

Tomorrow is another Saintless day, although tomorrow is the day that the United States Congress declared war on Great Britain, Canada, and Ireland in 1812, starting the War of 1812. We will work our eight hours at the casino, and I will read my Jesuit America magazines, even though I seem to be missing a few issues (I can read those on my Galaxy Note 4) on my breaks. In the afternoon Richard will pay bills and go grocery shopping, and I will go to the Adoration Chapel to do my Weekly Hour of Eucharistic Adoration; when I come home I will do my Daily Update and go to bed.

Our Parting Quote this Friday afternoon comes to us from Arnold S. Relman, American internist and professor of medicine and social medicine. Born in 1923 in Queens, New York City, New York, he was educated at Cornell University and the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University. He was first professor at Boston University School of Medicine, then Frank Wister Thomas professor of medicine and chair of the department of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (now the Perelman School of Medicine). Relman was editor of the Journal of Clinical Investigation from 1962 to 1967. He was editor of The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) from 1977 to 1991. At NEJM, he instituted two important policies: one asking the popular press not to report on articles before publication, and another requiring authors to disclose conflicts of interest. Relman was the only person to have been president of the American Federation for Clinical Research, the American Society for Clinical Investigation, and the Association of American Physicians. In 1988 he was awarded Honorary Fellowship by the New York University School of Medicine. Relman was a decided skeptic regarding the Alternative, Complementary and Integrative Medicine movement. He was also was an uncompromising critic of the American health care system as a profit-driven industry. He coined the term “medical–industrial complex”. He deplored the increasing treatment of health care in the US as a “market commodity”, distributed according a patient’s ability to pay, not medical need. The solution, in his view, would come only through two fundamental structural reforms: (1) implementation of a single-payer financing system, like Medicare, without investor-owned private insurance companies, and (2) provision of a non-profit delivery system, consisting of multi-specialty groups of physicians paid by salary within a pre-set budget. In 1999 Relman participated in a Harvard Medical School debate on the subject of unionization of physicians and for-profit health care. He ended his career as professor emeritus at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts (died 2014): “There are not two kinds of medicine, one conventional and the other unconventional, that can be practiced jointly in a new kind of “integrative medicine.” Nor…are there two kinds of thinking, or two ways to find out which treatments work and which do not. In the best kind of medical practice, all proposed treatments must be tested objectively. In the end, there will only be treatments that pass that test and those that do not, those that are proven worthwhile and those that are not. Can there be any reasonable “alternative”?”

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