Since I have been harsh on the citizens of Brazil for their crass irresponsibility in electing Jair Bolsonaro, I’d like to recall a time when Brazil did the right thing. In August 1942, Brazil declared war on the Axis. 1,600 Brazilian sailors drowned in sinkings by U-boats during the conflict, and as many again in an undeclared naval war before it was made official. 948 soldiers of the 25,000-strong expeditionary force sent to Italy died in combat. (I’m not sure I am reading the Wikipedia article right on casualties, there may be some double counting. )
Brazil’s entry into the war resulted from strong American pressure, aided by the German own goal of U-boat attacks on merchant shipping when Brazil was still technically neutral. It was preceded by other Latin American countries: Cuba and the Dominican Republic (after Pearl Harbor); Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua in January 1942. Colombia and Bolivia followed in 1943. Still, it wasn’t a foregone conclusion, given Vargas’ quasi-fascist ideology, and Brazil’s military contribution was much the largest of any Latin America country.
The episode is remembered in Brazil, though it obviously does not loom large in the national myth. There is a rather bland but okay monument to the Brazilian war dead on Flamengo Beach in Rio.
So: Obrigado. There was a time when Brazil did the right thing, and 4,000 of its young men and women paid the price to join a very big club. If they play football (soccer) in the Elysian Fields, you can guess who wins.
A sea of 888,246 ceramic poppies at the Tower of London, one for each British, Irish and colonial servicemen killed in WWI. The only possible objection is that the artists Paul Cummins and Tom Piper did not find a way to bring in the roughly equal number of young Germans and Turks who died fighting them. A sea of black poppies?
While we are on the subject, guess where Queen Elizabeth of England etc etc was today? Showing up at the Cenotaph in Whitehall. The way she has shown up for work pretty much every day since she drove an Army truck in 1945. The famous tea at Windsor
Castle with Donald Trump does not seem to have taught him anything about the concepts of “dignity”, “duty”, “example”, and “showing up” as they apply to Heads of State. There is no photo of Donald Trump in the rain at Belleau Wood.