Attila was the ruler of the Huns from 434 until his death in March 453. He was also the leader of a tribal empire consisting of Ostrogoths, Alans and Bulgars, among others, in Central and Eastern Europe. He is also considered one of the most powerful rulers in world history.
Attila [invaded] and [ravaged] Italy on June 8, 452, one-thousand, five hundred and seventy years, ago, today. Communities became established in what would later become Venice as a result of these attacks when the residents fled to small islands in the Venetian Lagoon. His army sacked numerous cities and razed Aquileia so completely that it was afterwards hard to recognize its original site. Aëtius lacked the strength to offer battle, but managed to harass and slow Attila’s advance with only a shadow force. Attila finally halted at the River Po. By this point, disease and starvation may have taken hold in Attila’s camp, thus hindering his war efforts and potentially contributing to the cessation of invasion.
Attila, by-name Flagellum Dei (Latin: “Scourge of God”) [ruled] jointly with his elder brother Bleda until 445. In legend, he appears under the name Etzel in the Nibelungenlied and under the name Atli in Icelandic sagas. The empire that Attila and his elder brother Bleda inherited seems to have stretched from the Alps and the Baltic in the west to somewhere near the Caspian Sea in the east.
In 452, the Huns invaded Italy and sacked several cities, including Aquileia, Patavium (Padua), Verona, Brixia (Brescia), Bergomum (Bergamo), and Mediolanum (Milan). Aetius could do nothing to halt them but, the famine and pestilence raging in Italy in that year compelled the Huns to leave without crossing the Apennines.
Attila, King of the Huns
Attila invaded northern Italy in 452 but, spared the city of Rome due to the diplomacy of Pope Leo I and the rough shape of his own troops. Legend has it that St. Peter and St. Paul appeared to Attila, threatening to strike him dead if he did not settle with Pope Leo I. Attila died the following year, in 453, before he could try once again to take Italy.
Attlia the Hun
One thousand, five hundred and sixty-seven years ago, today…
In the 440s, the Vandal king Genseric and the Roman Emperor Valentinian III had betrothed their children, Huneric and Eudocia, to strengthen their alliance, reached in 442 with a peace treaty (the marriage was delayed as Eudocia was too young). In 455 Valentinian was killed and Petronius Maximus rose to the throne. Petronius married Valentinian’s widow, Licinia Eudoxia and had his son Palladius marry Eudocia. [In] this way, Petronius was to strengthen his bond with the Theodosian Dynasty. Unhappy, however, with her husband’s murder and the usurpation of Maximus, Eudoxia turned to aid from the Vandals to remove Maximus from his undeserved throne. The overture was favorably met because Maximus’ revolution was damaging to Genseric’s ambitions. The king of the Vandals claimed that the broken betrothal between Huneric and Eudocia invalidated his peace treaty with Valentinian and set sail to attack Rome, landing at Ostia at the mouth of the Tiber.
On this day in 455, the Vandals sacked Rome. It wasn’t too awful, as sackings go, because the Vandal king Genseric agreed to refrain from slaughtering all the inhabitants and burning down the entire city if the Romans didn’t put up any military resistance…which, they didn’t. They just threw the gates right open. So, for the next two weeks, the Vandals merely drank all the wine, stole all the treasure, enslaved an unlucky few thousand locals and generally vandalized the place. A few hundred of the impromptu wine-tastings, as it were, got out of hand and some buildings, or some people, ended up on fire but, hey…relatively speaking, the Romans got off pretty easy.
Jeannette Rankin was an American politician and women’s rights advocate and, the first woman to hold federal office in the United States. She was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as a Republican from Montana in 1916 and, again, in 1940. As of 2022, Rankin is still the only woman ever elected to Congress from Montana.
Each of Rankin’s Congressional terms coincided with initiation of U.S. military intervention in the two World Wars. A lifelong pacifist, she was one of 50 House members who opposed the declaration of war on Germany in 1917. In 1941, she was the only member of Congress to vote against the declaration of war on Japan following the attack on Pearl Harbor.
A suffragist during the Progressive Era, Rankin organized and lobbied for legislation enfranchising women in several states including Montana, New York and North Dakota. While in Congress, she introduced legislation that eventually became the 19th Constitutional Amendment, granting unrestricted voting rights to women nationwide. She championed a multitude of diverse women’s rights and civil rights causes throughout a career that spanned more than six decades.
Rankin was born on June 11, 1880, to John and Olive Rankin at Grant Creek Ranch near Missoula, in what was then the Montana Territory. She was the first of seven children […] in a prosperous family. Her father […] was a rancher and builder who had come to Montana from Canada. Her mother […] had moved from New Hampshire to teach before marrying John Rankin and becoming a housewife. Jeannette attended Montana State University in Missoula (now the University of Montana) and graduated in 1902 with a degree in biology. [Her] career in politics began as a student volunteer with a local women’s suffrage campaign in Washington State, preparing for a referendum on voting rights. [In] February 1911, she became the first woman to address the Montana legislature when she testified in support of women’s suffrage.
History, Art & Archives
United States House of Representatives
Rankin held office in her first term from March 4, 1917, one-hundred and five years, ago, today, to March 3, 1919. Her second term was from January 3, 1941 to January 3, 1943. Powerful enemies made sure she could not get re-elected. Twenty-four years later, she reclaimed her seat. She never married and passed away May 18, 1973 at the age of 92. ~Vic
Jeannette Rankin (Biography/February 27, 2018)
Montana’s Women Candidates Are Out To Set Another Record (Billings Gazette/Web Archive/October 25, 2016)
Seven Things About Jeannette Rankin (History Channel/Jesse Greenspan/September 1, 2018)
Yes, a new heading. Phil suggested that I try to write more so…
I lived in Virginia Beach for a year (July 2001 – July 2002) with my, then, Marine Corps husband. I don’t remember the exact date but, one evening, we happened to be wandering the streets of Norfolk, near Norfolk Harbor. We saw a neon sign in a window of a bar: O’Malley’s. The place was full of what appeared to be sailors but, they weren’t Americans. They were busy drinking and singing Irish drinking songs. The Marine and I did manage to find a couple of empty bar stools, way at the end of the bar, deep into the establishment. The Marine took the very last stool to my left and I tried to position myself into the remaining empty stool. It was a tight squeeze and I began to think to myself… “How in the hell am I going to get my big ass thru that narrow space to get onto that stool?” For the split-second pondering it took, the full-bearded gentleman to my right, turned to me and said “Do you not want to sit next to me for some reason? I know I look rough but…” I immediately jumped in to reassure him that, that was not the case and shared my “OMG, I won’t fit…” fears, out loud, right there in front of God and everybody. He threw his head back and roared. “Have a seat, my dear…and, have drink.” He turned out to be the COTB (Chief of the Boat) of the Canadian Frigate HMCS St. John’s, that was in Norfolk for degaussing. It was a fun evening and that COTB invited us to tour the ship the next day.
We arrived around 4:00pm and I noticed that a Canadian Frigate really stands out next to American Navy vessels. It’s an odd green color, next to the blue of the American ships and I was told that it doesn’t have any right angles on it. We boarded the ship and asked for the Chief. They retrieved him and he rolled out looking like he’d been on a three day drunk. He was clearly hung over. He called for a much younger seaman to give us the tour of the ship and joined us later.
One neat thing aboard a Canadian vessel is…the bar. They had a beautiful, stained wooden bar and, a full stock of beer and wine. They also had a few women on board, which I found odd, even though women were allowed on board American war ships, beginning in 1994. It was still a rare sight back then.
We were invited to stay for dinner. It was a simple meal for sailing men but, I’m pretty sure that, not many people can say that they dined with the entire crew of a Canadian Frigate…and not been a crew member. It was really cool. I wish I could remember the name of that COTB. He offered me a St. John’s sweatshirt and I declined because I didn’t have any money. I intended to return to the ship with money but, we never made it back. That would have been a cool souvenir.
The Athenian Coup of 411 BC was a revolutionary movement during the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta that overthrew the democratic government of ancient Athens and replaced it with a short-lived oligarchy known as The Four Hundred. The movement was led by a number of prominent and wealthy Athenians who held positions of power in the Athenian army at Samos, in coordination with Alcibiades (and Antiphon) who promised to deliver Persian support to Athens if the democracy was overthrown. Negotiations with Alcibiades eventually broke down as he proved incapable of delivering his promise. Nevertheless, the leaders of the oligarchic movement went forward with their plans to overthrow Athenian democratic government.
The Four Hundred government in Athens suffered from instability as conflict soon arose between moderates and extremists among the oligarchs. The moderates, led by Theramenes and Aristocrates, called for the replacement of The Four Hundred with a broader oligarchy of “the 5,000” […]. After the leader of the extremists Phrynichus was assassinated, the moderates grew bolder and arrested an extremist general in Piraeus. A confrontation ensued, which ended with the hoplites in Piraeus tearing down the new fortification. Several days later, the Four Hundred were officially replaced by “the 5,000”, who ruled for several more months until after the Athenian victory at Cyzicus.
The Oligarchic Coup in Athens (Brewminate Blog)
Council of the Four Hundred (Britannica)
The Oligarchic Coup of 411 (Thomas R. Martin/Tufts University)
Athenian Coup of 411 (Wikipedia)
One hundred, fifty-seven years ago, today, President Abraham Lincoln gave his famous speech at the dedication of the Soldier’s National Cemetery in Gettysburg. The Battle of Gettysburg had just been 4 1/2 months prior. Lincoln was in the early stages of a mild case of small pox.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Sixty-five years ago, today, the war film To Hell and Back was released, originally in San Antonio. Directed by Jesse Hibbs and based on the book of the same name, it starred Audie Murphy, Marshall Thompson, Charles Drake, Jack Kelly, Gregg Palmer, Paul Picerni, David Janssen, Denver Pyle, Brett Halsey (Admiral’s great-nephew) and Gordon Gebert as a young Audie.
Biopic of the wartime exploits of Audie Murphy (played by himself), the most decorated US soldier in World War II. Starting with his boyhood in Texas, where he became the head of his family at a young age, the story follows his enrollment in [the] Army where he was assigned to the 3rd Division. He fought in North Africa, Sicily and Italy, before landing in southern France and, eventually, fighting in Germany. A Medal of Honor recipient, he also received battle honors from the French and Belgian government.
The highly variable Audie Murphy delivers his best screen performance as “himself” in Universal‘s To Hell and Back. Based on the star’s autobiography, this is the story of how Murphy became America’s most-decorated soldier during WW II. After dwelling a bit on Murphy’s hard-scrabble Texas upbringing, the story moves ahead to 1942, when, as a teenager, Audie joined the army. Within a year, he was a member of the 7th Army, serving in North Africa, Italy, France and, ultimately, Germany and Austria. One by one, the members of Murphy’s Company B are killed in the war, until only three men from the original company are left. [The] others appear at the finale as ghostly images […]. The bulk of the film is given over to Murphy’s conspicuous acts of combat bravery and his killing of 240 enemy soldiers. Highlighted by excellent battle sequences, To Hell and Back is a serviceable tribute to a most complex individual.
♦ Filmed at Fort Lewis, WA, Yakima River, WA, Oak Creek Wildlife Area, WA and Universal Studios.
♦ Audie Murphy originally declined the opportunity to portray himself in the movie, not wanting people to think that he was attempting to cash in on his role as a war hero. Murphy initially suggested his friend Tony Curtis to play him.
♦ Audie Murphy’s war buddy Onclo Airheart was slated to play himself, but he declined due to the fact that the movie was to be shot during planting season.
♦ [Author] David Morell [sic] cites Audie Murphy as the inspiration for the character of John Rambo.
♦ In the movie, […] Murphy does his one-man standoff on top of a medium M-4 Sherman tank. [In] real life it happened on top of an M10 Wolverine tank destroyer.
♦ Audie Murphy’s feats of heroism and his much decorated status have been compared to those of his counterpart during World War I, Sgt. Alvin C. York […].
Murphy […] wrote poetry and songs, and, himself a sufferer, was among the first advocates for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He died on May 28, 1971, when the private airplane in which he was riding crashed.
One-hundred, ten years ago, today…
The Duigan […] biplane was an early aircraft which made the first powered flight by an Australian-designed and built machine when it flew in Victoria in 1910. The aircraft was constructed by John Duigan, with help from his brother Reginald, on their family farm at Mia Mia. The effort was especially significant in that the brothers built the aircraft almost entirely by themselves and without input from the pioneering aviation community. [A] photo-postcard of the Wright Flyer inspired the design and Sir Hiram Maxim‘s book Artificial and Natural Flight provided the theoretical basis. The only components not built by the Duigans themselves were the engine, made by the J. E. Tilley Engineering Company of Melbourne and the propeller. However, both of these components were extensively modified by John before they could be used.
The aircraft flew for the first time on July 16, 1910, taking off under its own power and flying [24 feet] (7 meters). Within two months, this had been extended to [300 feet] (90 meters) and, soon thereafter, to [590 feet with an altitude of 12 feet] (180 meters [with] an altitude of 3.5 meters). By the end of the year, Duigan had made a flight of [nearly a mile] (1 km) at an altitude of [100 feet] (30 meters).
Duigan informed the Department of Defence of his achievements, hoping to claim a £5,000 prize that had been offered in September 1909 for the construction of an aircraft suitable for military purposes. Duigan was ineligible for the prize, which had expired at the end of March 1910 but, was asked to demonstrate his aircraft for the military anyway. He also flew it in a public demonstration in front of a crowd of 1,000 spectators at Bendigo Racecourse in January 1911. In 1920, Duigan donated the aircraft to the Industrial and Technological Museum of Victoria, which was later absorbed into Museum Victoria.
Museum Victoria also preserves a flying replica of the Duigan biplane built by Ronald Lewis and flown in 1990. It was donated to the museum in 2000.
Additional Reading & Sources:
John Duigan Truths Uncovered (Australian Flying)
A Flying Life (Museums Victoria)
Australian Aviator (Trove: National Library of Australia)
Duigan Biplane (Web Archive)
Duigan Centenary Of Flight (Web Archive)
Flight Global Archive (Web Archive)
Genesis of Military Aviation (Web Archive)
Duigan Pusher Biplane (Wikipedia)
Sixty-four years ago, today…
Also known as the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 (Public Law 84-627), [it] was enacted on June 29, 1956, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the bill into law. With an original authorization of $25 billion for the construction of 41,000 miles (66,000 km) of the Interstate Highway System, supposedly over a 10-year period, it was the largest public works project in American history [at] that time.
The addition of the term defense in the act’s title was for two reasons. First, some of the original cost was diverted from defense funds. Secondly, most U.S. Air Force bases have a direct link to the system. One of the stated purposes was to provide access in order to defend the United States during a conventional or nuclear war with the Soviet Union and its communist allies. All of these links were in the original plans, [though] some, such as Wright Patterson AFB, were not connected […] in the 1950s but, [were] later.
The money for the Interstate […] and Defense Highways was [drawn from] a Highway Trust Fund that paid for 90% of highway construction costs, with the states required to pay the remaining [10%]. It was expected that the money would be generated through new taxes on fuel, automobiles, trucks and tires. As a matter of practice, the federal portion of the cost of the Interstate Highway System has been paid for by taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel.
Eisenhower‘s support of the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 can be directly attributed to his experiences in 1919 as a participant in the U.S. Army’s first Transcontinental Motor Convoy across the United States on the historic Lincoln Highway, which was the first road across America. The convoy was memorable enough for a young Army officer, 28-year-old Lieutenant Colonel Dwight David Eisenhower, to include a chapter about the trip, titled Through Darkest America With Truck and Tank in his book At Ease: Stories I Tell to Friends (Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1967).
Following completion of the highways, the cross-country journey that took the convoy two months in 1919 was cut down to five days.
Additional Reading & Sources:
Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956: Creating The Interstate System (Federal Highway Administration)
Federal Highway Act of 1956 (Web Archive of the Class Brain Site)
Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 (Wikipedia)