Monday Memories: Engineering Marvels

This poem was originally published in October, 2018, making it one of my earliest poems.  The content drives the poem, and the format has been updated from its original style. 

brooklyn bridge new york

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Designed to carry a road or cross a ravine or river

Bridges are constructed to carry a load to deliver

 

Bridge designs range from very simple to complex

Some look very basic and daunting from the rest

 

More primitive bridges make one’s legs tremble and shake

Crossing them seems like a journey, certainly not to make

 

Scaling Everest, the world’s tallest and best known peak

Climbers use a crevasse bridge for the thrills they seek

 

Relishing a drive along many of America’s roads, without despair

Crossing a covered bridge that is unique and kept in good repair

 

More complex types are designed with beauty it seems

Trestle, arch, suspension, girder, drawbridge, and beam

 

Famous bridges are found nearly everywhere

Nearly all are built with a great amount of care

 

Sadly, a small number of bridges weaken and collapse

Due to flooding, earthquakes, or an engineering lapse

 

Pittsburgh proclaims to be the “City of Bridges” at last count

But, New York City possesses more bridges, without a doubt

 

Some bridges are named after people of notable fame

Benjamin Franklin and Andy Warhol, a couple to name

 

Other bridges are found in legends, films, and books

Golden Gate, Mackinac, and Brooklyn—take a look!

 

European designers have been busy in many places

Hamburg and Amsterdam’s bridges fill their spaces

 

Bridges comprise some of man’s grandest monuments of all

Designing impressive engineering marvels that shouldn’t fall

 

As some plan to demolish an old, downtrodden bridge

Expect others to stand and cry out, “Save Our Bridge”

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Monday Memories: Never Taken for Granted

Here is another edition of “Monday Memories.”  This poem was written back in December, 2018, and its message may be even more relevant today than nearly a year ago.   May America or any nation never take anything for granted.

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Never taken for granted

 

A young nation moves forward to be brave and free

To remove the shackles of oppression so others see

 

A soldier takes a bullet in a far, distant land

To protect freedoms that will always stand

 

Thomas Jefferson will never have to write a sequel

To state for all to read, “All men are created equal”

 

A minister preaches to a racially divided nation

To envision “free at last” will be his final station

 

A newspaper criticizes the government with much to say

To reinforce freedom of the press is always here to stay

 

A hesitant nation awakens while its other allies fight

To bring her vast resources in a victory full of might

 

A mother takes a stand at a school board meeting

To support a worthy novel that is taking a beating

 

A crowd protests peacefully in a city very near

To bring attention to issues without any fear

 

A writer uses his words to bring an issue to light

To encourage all to make a difference and fight

 

A President hides behind the sins of Watergate

To shamefully resign from office will be his fate

 

Workers strike to protest low wages and more

To organize labor unions to even up the score

 

A young politician inspires and leads the way

To become a worthy leader with much to say

 

Other nations come to the aid of a valued friend

To bring support with the troops that they send

 

Students stare into TV cameras with one voice

Violence in schools is truly not about a choice

 

A former republic declines and fades away

To witness freedom’s erosion without delay

 

Christ’s red blood stains an old rugged cross

To bring a second chance for all who are lost

 

Never taken for granted

 

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Forever Proud

woman wearing red and black feather hat

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His warrior image endures over the years

Witnessing a proud life, without any fears

 

His Native American culture continues to live on

Keeping rich and spiritual memories, never gone

 

Life’s simple ways will always shine bright

Displaying warrior bravery at every sight

 

Man and horse unite together as one

Riding his pony into the setting sun

 

Fierce in battle, defending his vast land

Adding to his legend, he does all he can

 

Younger men look up to him and follow in battle

Counting coup, his bravery becomes his mantel

 

This storied warrior transitions to an old man

Looking back proudly, honoring his last stand

 

His weathered face reveals a mighty, brave past

Lighting up eyes, with proud memories that last

 

The buffalo have disappeared for good

Ending a way of life, once proudly stood

 

Many of the old traditions are now gone

Reliving them through legend and song

 

The old warrior passes down past tribal history

Teaching a new generation, his ancient journey

 

The warrior no longer meets foes in battle today

Remembering his legacy, forever proud to say

selective focus photo of brown dreamcatcher

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Montana is home to seven Native American reservations:  Flathead, Blackfeet, Crow, Cheyenne, Fort Peck, Rocky Boy, and Fort Belknap.  Across the United States, these proud people make up a “quiet” minority, often forgotten in the mainstream of the American way of life.  Here are two previously published poems about Native Americans:

Distant Beating Drum

One can hear a distant drum beating as Native American culture faces an neverending onslaught upon their way of life.  It all begins in 1607 with the settlement of the Jamestown colony.  Listen closely, do you hear . . .

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A distant beating drum . . .

 

Europeans sail to a pristine land

Fixated with ways of the Red Man

Ignoring these Native Americans

They push inland because they can

 

A distant beating drum . . .

 

Wealth and greed motivate the White Man

Appropriating riches found by his hands

Native Americans outnumber these men

Unaware of the many more to be sent

 

A distant beating drum . . .

 

Native Americans trade land for peace

Hoping the greed and violence will cease

A new American culture lusts for more

Their hunger for more continues to soar

 

A distant beating drum . . .

 

Slowly Native Americans sadly retreat

Heartbroken, their culture faces defeat

Maintaining their language and traditions

Now experiencing life with new conditions

 

Where has the silent beating drum gone?

selective focus photo of brown dreamcatcher

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Native American culture struggles to hold on to its footprint of life in today’s world.  In Maryland, the Choptank nation long ago assimilated into the European-based culture.  Out West, a system of reservations have failed to provide a stable way of life.  The lands set aside in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Oklahoma have created a setting for poverty and a lack of sufficient opportunities for the Native people.

If you enjoyed reading this poem and hunger for more about Native American history and the life out West, feel free to check out these previously published poems.

 

 

 

What’s in a Name?

adolescent adult black and white casual

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“What’s in a name” people frequently ask

Let’s explore some just for fun, as our task

Their names represent fame and success

Bringing inspiration to people, nothing less

 

The Belle of Amherst crafts amazing prose

Emily Dickinson pens magnificent poems

With beauty as exquisite as a painted rose

 

The Little Corporal conquers many, from his view

Napoleon leads armies across the continent

Only to sustain decisive humiliation at Waterloo

 

The Yankee Clipper glides across center field

Joe DiMaggio calmly leads the baseball Yankees

Winning nine World Series, never one to yield

 

The Little Tramp generates many laughs

Charlie Chaplin affixes his comic genius

To a motherlode of silent films that last

 

The Wizard of Menlo Park perfects light

Thomas Edison invents much to enhance life

With amazing innovations, forever bright

 

The King of Rock ‘n Roll carries us into a new age

Elvis Presley flips the music world upside down

With singing and dancing from a jailhouse cage

 

The Lady with the Lamp takes up her cause

Florence Nightingale demonstrates her resolve

To improve nursing and health without pause

 

The Chairman of the Board conquers Hollywood

Frank Sinatra sings, dances, and acts his way to fame

Entertaining as few other performers ever could

 

The Wizard of Westwood toils at his craft for many years

John Wooden finishes his coaching career with a flourish

Winning ten basketball championships, incredible to hear

 

The Maid of Orleans becomes a French heroine

Joan of Arc, during a time of extreme conflict

Restores hope and boosts morale for all within

 

Nicknames bring admiration to people of fame

But even ordinary folks enjoy their nicknames

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Do you know other famous people (past or present) with nicknames?  Feel free to write a comment.

Here are some links to previously published writings that relate in some way to this poem.  All of these are non-poetry posts.

 

Engineering Marvels

 

brooklyn bridge new york

Photo by Chris Molloy on Pexels.com

Designed to carry a road or cross a ravine or river

Bridges are constructed to carry a load to deliver

 

Bridge designs range from very simple to complex

Some look very basic and daunting from the rest

 

More primitive bridges make one’s legs tremble and shake

Crossing them seems like a journey, certainly not to make

 

Scaling Everest, the world’s tallest and best known peak

Climbers use a crevasse bridge for the thrills they seek

 

Relishing a drive along many of America’s roads, without despair

Crossing a covered bridge that is unique and kept in good repair

 

More complex types are designed with beauty it seems

Trestle, arch, suspension, girder, drawbridge, and beam

 

Famous bridges are found nearly everywhere

Nearly all are built with a great amount of care

 

Sadly, a small number of bridges weaken and collapse

Due to flooding, earthquakes, or an engineering lapse

 

Pittsburgh proclaims to be the “City of Bridges” at last count

But, New York City possesses more bridges, without a doubt

 

Some bridges are named after people of notable fame

Benjamin Franklin and Andy Warhol, a couple to name

 

Other bridges are found in legends, films, and books

Golden Gate, Mackinac, and Brooklyn—take a look!

 

European designers have been busy in many places

Hamburg and Amsterdam’s bridges fill their spaces

 

Bridges comprise some of man’s grandest monuments of all

Designing impressive engineering marvels that shouldn’t fall

 

As some plan to demolish an old, downtrodden bridge

Expect others to stand and cry out, “Save Our Bridge”

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The Great River Bridge spans the Mississippi River at the Iowa-Illinois border.

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Entering Burlington, Iowa, a closer view of the Great River Bridge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Journey to America

statue of liberty new york

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Images of immigrants arriving at America’s shores

Families hope the United States offers much more

 

Huddled and crowded together on ships bound for another  land

Dreaming of moving forward and receiving an outstretched hand

 

Most Americans trace immigrants back to their family roots

Their ancestors arrived ready to energize lives with a boost

 

 

 

Singer Neil Sedaka proclaims the immigrants’ anxious arrival

“The Immigrant” sings of America waiting, without any denial

 

Coming to America is immortalized as Neil Diamond sings

“America” tells a fascinating story that only his lyrics bring

 

Both Sedaka and Diamond write beautiful and appropriate text

America can do better than people shouting, “You are not next”

 

 

 

Imagine the excitement felt upon seeing Lady Liberty

She has welcomed people to America for an eternity

 

Her torch offers a brilliant beacon of new hope and light

America extends a welcoming hand, ending their plight

 

This openhearted Lady, gifted from France, stands solemn

She invites the less fortunate to disembark in long columns

 

 

 

Emma Lazarus, an offspring of immigrants, expresses it best

Her poetic words in “The New Colossus” surely pass the test

 

Her inspiring words paint an ironic and emotional image for all

To see how a mighty Lady and America will forever stand tall

 

 

 

America’s melting pot overflows from a gentle and peaceful place

Tales from immigrants deserve to be heard without undue haste

 

Immigration has recently become a passionate, national debate

America’s history shows patience in opening its welcome gate

 

The lyrics of “The Immigrant” can be found at Neil Sedaka.

The lyrics of “America” can be found at Neil Diamond.

The verses of “The New Colossus” can be found at Emma Lazarus.

Spirits Haunt the Land

Montana 2016 108

Their spirit soars across the brilliant Big Sky

Like an eagle spreading wings, ready to fly

 

Enriching man’s dreams in this last best, special place

Montana spirits continue to haunt the Treasure State

Following the sacred buffalo across the vast land

Native Americans roam the plains in small bands

Setting traps in beaver-rich streams during wintertime

Fur trappers pursue thick pelts for men’s hats very fine

Panning for gold along streams such as Alder Gulch

Miners rush to another strike on Last Chance Gulch

Building tracks for iron horses that seem to go forever

Railroads build mighty empires for men rich and clever

Pushing the unselfish Native Americans brutally aside

Their culture slowly fades away, but never their pride

Riding the cattle range from dawn until dusk

Cowboys work tirelessly in a life they trust

Toiling in an arid, unforgiving land that feels hostile

Homesteaders struggle and sometimes feel futile

Digging around the clock in copper mines deep underground

Miners work where safety is not much and accidents abound

Cutting the western forests’ tall pines down to size

Loggers harvest miles of timber as their final prize

Looking back at Montana’s past with much to relive and say

Many memories of the past fade, but a few remain today

 

Their spirit soars across the brilliant Big Sky

Like an eagle spreading wings, ready to fly

 

Montana uses two nicknames, Big Sky Country and Treasure State.  Montana became the 41st state admitted to the Union in 1889.  

Twin Aviation Miracles

air air travel airbus aircraft

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Nearly 29 years apart, two miracles in airline transportation occurred on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean.  One amazing landing and rescue happened along the northwest African coast while the other made history on the American side at New York City.

The Romanian Miracle

In 1980, a TAROM (Romanian Air Transport) aircraft enroute from Bucharest and piloted by a Romanian with 168 crew and passengers on board, landed in the Atlantic Ocean under total darkness.  Not many people know that Captain Paul Mitu and his crew miraculously saved all but one of the passengers and crew on board a Tupolev 154 airplane.

Because of defective routing equipment at the airport in Mauritania, on the northwest African coast, the TAROM aircraft landed in the ocean, almost half a mile short of the runway.  Fortunately, the airplane landed aground on a sand bank just off the shoreline.

On August 7, 1980, at approximately 3:00 a.m., TAROM’s Tupolev aircraft, attempted to land at the Nouadhibou airport in Mauritania.  Most of the 152 passengers on board were Romanian fishermen working the Atlantic Ocean near Mauritania.  Captain Mitu contacted the flight controllers, and guided by ground equipment, landing began.  Mitu, realizing that the plane’s approach was well below the proper flight path, thundered the engines trying to correct the flight track of the aircraft as the pilots could not see the runway.

The most affected areas of the plane were the business class passengers and the section back to the wing of the aircraft.  Here two serious injuries, a flight attendant and a security officer, were reported. One of the three engines on the airplane continued to run after the collapse on the sand.  This may have been a good point as the running engine probably kept hungry sharks away from the downed aircraft.

Passengers who had seats in the wrecked portion of the plane gathered on its wings while all the people at the rear of the aircraft continued to sit terrified in the darkness. The airplane was broken into two pieces with the cockpit and forward area partially submerged in the water.

For an hour and a half, the flight crew and passengers waited for Mauritania Coast Guard boats to appear. Some passengers took it upon themselves to swim to safety instead of waiting for help.  The rescuers found a dead passenger on the plane, and a later investigation revealed that the passenger had died from a heart attack before impact.

Aurelia Grigore, one of the flight attendants, was busy helping passengers exit the plane.  She and the entire crew were worried that the plane might slide back into the ocean.  Later, she heroically stayed with an injured flight attendant, who was thought dead.  Her neck injury prevented her from being able to escape without medical assistance.  Grigore stayed with her for nearly three hours in the dark and dangerous setting.

Upon investigation following the incident, authorities determined that the Tupolev aircraft crashed due to failure of ground guidance.  TAROM collected 36 million dollars in insurance payments for the damaged plane, which never flew again.

Following this accident, Paul Mitu initially faced close scrutiny as some investigators blamed his incompetence for the accident.  His pilot credentials were stripped, and he was not allowed to fly any aircraft.  After facing a relentless investigation and court proceedings, Mitu was eventually exonerated of any wrongdoing, and he returned to flying commercial aircraft once again.  Today, he is recognized for his skill in saving the lives of nearly 170 people.

Captain Mitu would continue flying until 1993 as he completed a distinguished 34-year career.  In a translated quote, he recalls the harrowing accident, “In moments of this kind, see how death approaches you . . . Develop force that helps you get over it . . . .”  Facing overwhelming odds, Mitu and his crew turned a negative situation into one filled with much hope and a positive ending.  He has remained an inspiration to many pilots in his country.

Initially, very little was publicized in Romania about this incident because of the strict regulation of the press by the Romanian government.  Following the Romanian Revolution in 1989, more of the facts, without Communist Party censorship, came to light.  The story of this incredible night off of the West African coast is now known to many Romanians as well as the rest of the world.

The American Miracle

Many Americans, as well as the others around the world, have heard of the “Miracle on the Hudson” in some way.  Certainly, the passengers and crew will remember the fateful, yet heroic day of January 15, 2009 forever.

With an Airbus 320 nearly filled to capacity, US Airways Flight 1549 welcomed 155 passengers and crew for a routine flight to Charlotte, North Carolina.  Before taking off from New York City’s LaGuardia Airport, Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and his crew prepared to make this flight as comfortable and hassle-free as possible for the passengers.

Seated in the climate-controlled cabin of the aircraft, the passengers had forgotten about the winter weather outside and an air temperature of 20 degrees Fahrenheit.  The nearby Hudson River’s freezing water looked serene and innocent along mid-Manhattan.

With the reliable aircraft in the capable hands of a veteran pilot and seasoned crew, the flight seemed as safe as any being made on this January day.  Upon take-off, the plane made a rapid ascent from LaGuardia.  Suddenly without warning, the engines began to lose thrust.  A flock of geese impacted the plane near its engines, and the wounded Airbus was now in desperate straits.

In less than four minutes, 208 seconds to be exact, Flight 1549 faced almost insurmountable odds for survival.  When a plane takes off, the moment is one of the most critical times for any flight.  For anyone who has flown, think of sitting in one’s seat, feeling the thrust of the plane moving rapidly forward and upward, and then nothing!

Instinctively, Captain Sullenberger lowered the aircraft’s nose to enable a more controlled, gliding speed.  The pilots radioed air traffic control that the plane had been struck by birds, and they were declaring an emergency.

With only precious seconds available, Sullenberger quickly weighed his options:  (1) turn back to LaGuardia, (2) attempt to reach nearby Teterboro Airport on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River, or (3) use the Hudson as an emergency runway.  Due to the total loss of power, there would be little time to mull over an escape plan to prevent eminent disaster.

Making his decision, Sullenberger’s final words to air traffic were, “We’re gonna be in the Hudson.”

The crippled aircraft made a gradual, controlled descent as it cleared the nearby George Washington Bridge by less than 900 feet.  Passengers were praying, expecting the worse, and all were told to brace for impact.  Facing so much agonizing suspense and uncertainty, some passengers worried that the plane might flip over and break apart at impact.

As Flight 1549 made an approach to its frigid, watery runway, witnesses along the Hudson recalled no aircraft engine noise as the disabled plane glided lower and lower.  The Airbus proved its maneuverability and control as it made a slow contact with the river’s surface.

As the aircraft floated to a stop on the river, it immediately began filling with the Hudson’s freezing water.  The passengers’ ordeal seemed far from over, but heroic help was on the way.  Assisting Sullenberger with evacuating the plane as quickly as possible, was his very capable co-pilot Jeffrey Skiles as well as the rest of the flight crew.  With the calmness and professionalism of the well-trained pilots and flight crew, the passengers exited the sinking plane to the wings.  People along the Hudson’s shoreline watched the rescue developing . . . awestruck!

Water had now filled the inside of the abandoned Airbus up to its windows.  With amazing speed and skill, various boats from the Coast Guard, police, fire, and local ferries reached the very cold and wet passengers.  Amazingly, everyone on board was rescued.

Final Remarks

Both of these incidents can be classified as a “near miss.”  This means that serious error or mishap had the potential to cause an adverse event, but it failed to do so.  Obviously, more of the world is probably familiar with the “Miracle on the Hudson” of Flight 1549 because of the worldwide coverage of the event in the press.  The “African Miracle” was much less publicized due to the closed society at the time in Romania.  Today, Romania is free of the restricted press so that much more information is available to read and research from.

Both aircraft never flew again.  The Romanian Tupolev 154 was damaged beyond repair as the plane had nearly been severed upon impact.  The American Airbus 320 was rescued from the Hudson’s watery grasp, and it now sits on display in Charlotte, North Carolina at the Carolinas Aviation Museum.

Both pilots, Mitu and Sullenberger, were hailed as heroes, but both men faced careful deliberations about their actions as part of the usual investigations into an aircraft accident.  While Sullenberger emerged from the investigation unscathed, Mitu had to deal with much graver threats of prosecution and prison time.  Eventually, he was cleared of any wrongdoing, and he returned to fly for many more years.  Sullenberger was nearly at the end of a distinguished flying career, and he would retire a year after Flight 1549’s fateful flight.

In both incidents, aircraft personnel—pilots and flight crew—showed amazing poise and skill in preventing greater loss of life.  This is the crowning achievement because each of these “near miss” opportunities concluded with an extraordinary and amazing ending.