July 26, 2013

Robert Rosen

July 23, 2013  - Attorney and local author Robert Rosen spoke to the Rotary Club about an important initiative of the Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie Trust, of which he is currently serving as President.  This year, the Trust will be working to provide trips to Fort Sumter for local children, many of whom “have never laid eyes on this important National Historic site”.  He went on to say that Fort Sumter, as a Civil War site is second only to perhaps Gettysburg in importance.  “Many of the members of this Historic Rotary Club can trace their ancestors to the Civil War” he remarked to a chuckle by the audience.  Club members were then treated to a lively and entertaining discussion of some of the historical aspects of Charleston’s role in the War.  Mr. Rosen not only attended the University of Virginia and University of South Carolina School of Law, he received a Master of Arts in History from Harvard University.

First, was a discussion of the state of the City when shelling began by Union Troops. With tongue -in-cheek he noted that Mayor Riley was the Mayor at that time, and then Mr. Rosen explained that Charlestonians truly did not believe that the North would fight following Succession.  In addition, Robert E. Lee had designed the coastal defense strategy for the area and it included many, many (more than 100) fortifications which made Charleston very hard to attack.  However, soon many Charlestonians left the City, or moved above Calhoun Street where the shelling could not reach them.  He noted that many Victorian homes that you see today were most likely replacements for homes that were damaged during the bombardment.  This bombardment, he explained, at the time, was the largest ever seen in history.  He also noted that other than establishing the defenses, the two most important things that Lee did in Charleston were “grow his beard and buy his horse”.

While Charleston did not have a significant strategic military value in the war, the psychological value was large.  Northerners “hated” Charleston for inciting the war, and they wanted to “make her pay”.  One Northern politician was quoted as saying “She deserves it all”.  Charlestonians, with the bombardment raging on, did find time for many lively parties.  It was noted in a letter from a Middleton girl that the girls of Charleston were enjoying the parties and “round dancing”.  Emma Holmes in a letter remarked “once considered modest and refined – she had met fast girls, but none more so than those in Charleston”.

At the end of the war, it was clear that it had taken its toll upon the City.  Sidney Andrews was quoted as describing it as “a City of ruins” with “miles of grass grown streets”.  Mr. Rosen ended his discussion with the assertion that the Confederacy really did come close to winning the war, much more so than regularly believed.  He explained that the enlistment of over 200,000 African American men in the Union Army late in the war definitely had an impact when the South at that time was losing men.  He noted the recent dedication of a monument to the Massachusetts 54th by the City of Charleston, to honor their service and sacrifice should it not be forgotten.

Mr. Rosen is the author of several books on Charleston history, including: A Short History of Charleston, Confederate Charleston, The Jewish Confederates, Charleston a Crossroad to History

Submitted by Christine Wilkinson, Keyway Committee

July 19, 2013

Senator Fritz Hollings

 July 16, 2013 - The tall, stately bearing….the shock of white hair….the quick-wink humor….that voice….it can only be our former Governor and Senator Fritz Hollings.  This truly remarkable South Carolina political icon who never fails to enlighten, entertain, agitate and amaze, wowed the Rotary crowd with his astonishing recall and mastery of complex economic facts and figures, both current and historical.

Andy Brack introduced our nationally recognized speaker, noting that the Senator had taught him long ago to always “do your duty” and to “engage in lifelong learning.”  Immediately upon taking the podium, Senator Hollings expressed his exasperation over the lack of effective Congressional and Presidential action addressing the US economic condition, noting that “we’ve got a hole in the economy boat” and positing that it has been long-term policies supporting free trade that have caused it.  In fact, says our 6+ term Senator, the only thing that Congress and the President can agree on is “off-shoring our economy” by resisting policies of protectionism.  Recalling that the founding of the United States occurred during a trade war (the Boston Tea Party), Sen Hollings stated that trade wars are a constant and continuing fact of international economic life. Only through dynamic and unyielding enforcement of existing legislation and regulation such as the 1950 Defense Protection Act to protect new American technology, processes and manufacturing can we re-gain and re-grow our once unparalleled manufacturing base.  Sen. Hollings believes that had effective and targeted protectionism policies like President Reagan’s in 1984, been enforced during the last 2 Presidential administrations, Detroit would have been saved without a federal bailout.  “Thank God I’m not a free-trader,” said Sen. Hollings, channeling President Teddy Roosevelt.

Sen. Hollings believes that the quickest most impactful approach to reducing the federal deficit and spurring economic growth would be the elimination of the 35% corporate tax, replacing it with a 7% Value Added Tax (VAT.)  Noting that last year’s corporate tax generated $236 billion in revenues, Sen. Hollings claims that the VAT he describes would have produced over $900 billion and that if implemented, future VAT revenues could balance the budget in 2 years instead of ten.

For most of us, Sen. Hollings has been a life-long fixture in national and SC politics, leadership and discourse, always well armed with facts, figures and with an unmistakable gift of oratory and persuasion.  At  91,using no notes,  citing more specific information than most of his audience could follow, Sen. Hollings proved that he has well followed the advice he gave Andy Brack so many years ago. Clearly, 60 years of public service has only improved Fritz Hollings’ razor sharp intellect, dedication and charm.
Submitted by Cheryl Kaynard, Keyway Committee

July 12, 2013

Club Presidential/Board Transition

 July 9, 2013:   It was a big day for our club as we said farewell to our wonderful President, Tom Clymer and installed our new President and Board.  Tom gave a tearful goodbye as he will not only be leaving his position as President, but he and his wife, Alma, will be leaving Charleston to be nearer to their new grandchild.  Tom paid special thanks to many members.  He also paid special tribute to members Tom Brown and Tommy Taylor and the Education, Membership, and Program Committees.  Tom noted that we gained 21 new members during his tenure.  He also gave great praise to the wizard behind the whole operation, Carroll Schweers.  Carroll’s role was acclaimed by all during a standing ovation.  Some of the many major accomplishments during Tom’s tenure include $12k in grant money being awarded to 13 organizations through RCCF and $24k being raised at the yearly Gala.  The Education Committee also coordinated the donation of 213 jackets to keep children warm during winter at James Simmons Elementary School. 

This was followed by the installation of our new President, John Tecklenberg, and his new Board.  John was sworn into his new position by Kyra Morris, Assistant District Governor.  His new Board will consist of  Digit Matheny, President-Elect; Leon deBrux, Treasurer; Alissa Collins, Secretary; Patterson Smith, Immediate Past President; Herb McGuire, Sergeant-At-Arms; Board members Catherine Jones, Kathy Jones, Don Oswalt, Steve Coe, Dan Ravenel, Michael Saboe, Paul Stoney; and Carroll Schweers, Executive Secretary. 
Once sworn in, John’s first duty was to present outgoing President with the highly coveted Past President Pin and Gavel.  John then chose to share with us his recent trip to the Rotary International yearly meeting held this year in Lisbon, Portugal.  We got a visual tour of his trip thanks to John’s new camera.  He and his wife, Sandy, also ventured into Spain during the trip.  They didn’t let the language barrier stop them from meeting many interesting people along the way.  Of course, it wasn’t all sight seeing. They did attend the Rotary International Meeting and got to visit many interesting booths and exhibits along with Kyra Morris and the other 30k attendees.  It all makes one tempted to attend next year’s meeting in Sydney Australia.  Finally, John shared with us the vision of the new International Rotary President, Ron Burton, to Engage Rotary and Change Lives.             
Submitted by Doug Holmes, Keyway Committee