I posted about Hillsborough’s Old Courthouse this past Tuesday. The first picture was a marker about the Kentucky Expedition, led by Daniel Boone in 1775. The information was fashioned out of metal from the USS Maine, the very ship sunk in Havana Harbor that touched off the Spanish-American War. Spain declared war on the U.S. one-hundred, twenty-two years, ago, today and, the U.S. declared war the following day. Historically, the day of declaration is retroactively moved to April 21 as that was the day Spain severed diplomatic relations and the U.S. Navy began a Cuban blockade (the first of two). At the time of my Town Tuesday post, I didn’t realize that I actually posted it on the same day as the corrected date.
After first landing on an island then called Guanahani, Bahamas (San Salvador), on [October 12], Christopher Columbus commanded his three ships […] to land on Cuba’s northeastern coast on [October 28], 1492. Columbus claimed the island for the new Kingdom of Spain and named it Isla Juana after Juan, Prince of Asturias.
The main issue was Cuban independence. Revolts had been occurring for some years in Cuba against Spanish rule. Hostilities began in the aftermath of the explosion of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor in Cuba, leading to U.S. intervention in the Cuban War of Independence.
The growing popular demand for U.S. intervention became an insistent chorus after the (still) unexplained sinking [of the Battleship Maine], which had been sent to protect U.S. citizens and property after anti-Spanish rioting in Havana. [P]olitical pressures from the Democratic Party pushed [President] McKinley into a war that he had wished to avoid. McKinley signed a joint Congressional resolution demanding Spanish withdrawal and authorizing the President to use military force to help Cuba gain independence […].
The ensuing, ten-week war, fought in both the Caribbean and the Pacific, was pathetically one-sided, since Spain had readied neither its army, nor its navy, for a distant war with the formidable power of the United States.
An army of regular troops, and volunteers, under General William Shafter, with Theodore Roosevelt (then, Assistant Secretary of the Navy) and his 1st Volunteer Cavalry, (The Rough Riders), landed on the coast, east of Santiago and, slowly advanced on the city […]. Madrid sued for peace after two Spanish squadrons were sunk in Santiago de Cuba and Manila Bay and a third, more modern, fleet was recalled home to protect the Spanish coasts.
The result was the 1898 Treaty of Paris. In it, Spain renounced all claim to Cuba, ceded Guam and Puerto Rico to the United States and, transferred sovereignty over the Philippines to the United States for $20 million.
♦ In 1976, Admiral Hyman G. Rickover commissioned a private investigation into the [USS Maine] explosion and, the National Geographic Society did an investigation in 1999, using computer simulations. All investigations agreed that an explosion of the forward magazines caused the destruction of the ship but, different conclusions were reached as to how the magazines could have exploded.
♦ [T]heodore Roosevelt, who eventually became Vice President and, later, President of the United States […] was, posthumously, awarded the Medal of Honor in 2001 for his actions in Cuba and, became the only U.S. President to win the award.
♦ The defeat and loss of the last remnants of the Spanish Empire was a profound shock to Spain’s national psyche […]. [There was a] philosophical and artistic re-evaluation of Spanish society known as the Generation of ’98.
Cuba: Population, History and Resources 1907 (Google Books)
Destruction of the Maine (PDF Library of Congress)
Spain Declares War Against The United States (On This Day Website)
Spanish-American War (The History Channel)
What Destroyed The USS Maine (The Spanish-American War Centennial Site)
Cuba: A New History (Web Archive)
Battle of San Juan Hill (Wikipedia)
Cuban War of Independence (Wikipedia)
Generation of ’89 (Wikipedia)
Spanish-American War (Wikipedia)
Treaty of Paris (1898) (Wikipedia)
The Story of the USS Maine
Smithsonian Channel Explosion of the USS Maine
History Channel Spanish-American War Documentary
In an address to the demonstrators, King declared that the Vietnam War was “a blasphemy against all that America stands for.” He also stated that “we must combine the fervor of the civil rights movement with the peace movement.” King first began speaking out against American involvement in Vietnam in the summer of 1965.
In addition to his moral objections to the war, he argued that the war diverted money and attention from domestic programs to aid the black poor. He was strongly criticized by other prominent civil rights leaders for attempting to link civil rights and the antiwar movement.
Dr. King had never been neutral on the war in Vietnam but, he had been silent. He felt, as did the leaders of most other civil rights organizations, that the movement should concentrate on the domestic struggle. They were concerned that opposition to President Johnson’s foreign policy would result in loss of support for passing and enforcing civil rights laws at home. On July 5 1965, Dr. King told a college audience in Virginia that “the war in Vietnam must be stopped.” His friends and contacts in the Johnson Administration told him he was treading in dangerous waters and should back off.
By 1967, Dr. King was ready to speak his mind publicly. His first statement was made on February 25 at an anti-war conference in California, along with several Senators who also opposed the war. He said it was immoral and, also, took money and attention from the anti-poverty program. After the walk down State Street on March 25, Dr. King addressed a rally.
There are videos of March 25, 1965 and videos of April 1, 1967 but, nothing for this date. ~Vic
Sources & Additional Reading:
MLK Leads Chicago Antiwar March (The History Channel)
Vietnam War (Stanford University King Institute)
Jack D. Speigel (Chicago Tribune)
Saturday, March 25, 1967 (Wikipedia)
King At Chicago (Jo Freeman’s Website)
One-hundred, three years ago, today, the HMHS Britannic, sister ship to the RMS Titanic, sank in the Aegean Sea. On its way to pick up more wounded soldiers near the Gulf of Athens, a loud explosion shook the ship at 8:12am.
In the wake of the Titanic disaster on April 14, 1912, the White Star Line made several modifications in the construction of its already-planned sister ship. First, the name was changed from Gigantic to Britannic and the design of the hull was altered to make it less vulnerable to icebergs. In addition, it was mandated that there be enough lifeboats on board to accommodate all passengers, which had not been the case with the Titanic.
The nearly 50,000-ton luxury vessel was launched in 1914 but, was requisitioned soon afterward by the British government to serve as a hospital ship during World War I. In this capacity, Captain Charlie Bartlett led the Britannic on five successful voyages bringing wounded British troops back to England from various ports around the world.
[Immediately after the explosion], Captain Bartlett ordered the closure of the watertight doors and sent out a distress signal. However, the blast had already managed to flood six whole compartments, even more extensive damage than that which had sunk the Titanic. Still, the Britannic had been prepared for such a disaster and would have stayed afloat except for two critical matters.
First, Captain Bartlett decided to try to run the Britannic aground on the nearby island of Kea. This might have been successful but, earlier, the ship’s nursing staff had opened the portholes to air out the sick wards. Water poured in through the portholes as the Britannic headed towards Kea. Second, the disaster was compounded when some of the crew attempted to launch lifeboats without orders. Since the ship was still moving as fast as it could, the boats were sucked into the propellers, killing those on board.
Less than 30 minutes later, Bartlett realized that the ship was going to sink and ordered it abandoned. The lifeboats were launched and even though the Britannic sank at 9:07, less than an hour after the explosion, nearly 1,100 people managed to make it off the ship. In fact, most of the 30 people who died were in the prematurely launched lifeboats.
In 1975, famed ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau found the Britannic lying on its side 400 feet below the surface of the Aegean.
“She dipped her head a little, then a little lower and still lower. All the deck machinery fell into the sea like a child’s toys. Then, she took a fearful plunge, her stern rearing hundreds of feet into the air until with a final roar, she disappeared into the depths, the noise of her going resounding through the water with undreamt-of violence…”
Britannic was the largest ship lost in the First World War.
The cause, whether it was a torpedo from an enemy submarine or a mine, was not apparent. It would later be revealed that the mines were planted in the Kea Channel on October 12, 1916, by SM U-73 under the command of Gustav Sieß (German language link).
From the TV Film
One-hundred, ninety-nine years ago, today, the real Daniel Boone passed away. Two days prior, I posted about the television show Daniel Boone that was hardly accurate in its portrayal or his frame of life despite being a popular show.
From The History Channel:
On September 26, 1820 the great pioneering frontiersman Daniel Boone dies quietly in his sleep at his son’s home near present-day Defiance, Missouri.
The indefatigable voyager was 86. Boone was born in 1734 (he has two different dates of birth due to the 1752 Gregorian calendar switch) to Quaker parents living in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Following a squabble with the Pennsylvania Quakers, Boone’s family decided to head south and west for less crowded regions and they eventually settled in the Yadkin Valley of North Carolina. There the young Daniel Boone began his life-long love for wilderness, spending long days exploring the still relatively unspoiled forests and mountains of the region. An indifferent student who never learned to write more than a crude sentence or two, Boone’s passion was for the outdoors, and he quickly became a superb marksman, hunter and woodsman. (It should be noted here that historian John Mack Faragher stated that Boone “acquired a level of literacy that was the equal of most men of his times. He was often the only literate person in groups of frontiersmen.”)
In May of 1769, Boone and five companions crossed over the Cumberland Gap and explored along the south fork of the Kentucky River. Boone returned in 1773 with his family, hoping to establish a permanent settlement. An Indian attack prevented that first attempt from succeeding (Boone’s eldest son James and, William Russell‘s son Henry were captured and tortured to death, a prelude to Dunmore’s War.) but, Boone returned two years later to open the route that became known as Boone’s Trace (or the Wilderness Road) between the Cumberland Gap and a new settlement along the Kentucky River called Fortress Boonesboro. Boonesboro eventually became one of the most important gateways for the early American settlement of the Trans-Appalachian West.
After the French and Indian War (1754–1763) broke out between the French and British, and their respective Indian allies, North Carolina Governor Matthew Rowan called up a militia, for which Boone volunteered. He served under Captain Hugh Waddell on the North Carolina frontier. Waddell’s unit was assigned to serve in the command of General Edward Braddock […].
Boone served in the North Carolina militia during [the] “Cherokee Uprising“. His militia expeditions went deep into Cherokee territory beyond the Blue Ridge Mountains and he was separated from his wife for about two years.
On December 22, 1769, Boone and a fellow hunter, Benjamin Cutbirth, were captured by a party of Shawnees, who confiscated all of their skins and told them to leave and never return.
[During the Revolutionary War], Boone’s daughter Jemima and two other teenaged girls were captured outside Boonesborough by an Indian war party on July 5, 1776. The incident became the most celebrated event of Boone’s life. James Fenimore Cooper created a fictionalized version of the episode in his classic novel The Last of the Mohicans (1826).
He lived quite an eventful life.
♦ In February 1778, Boone was adopted into the Shawnee tribe as a prisoner to replace a fallen warrior (a Shawnee custom) and was named Sheltowee (Big Turtle), eventually escaping.
♦ In September 1778, he was court-martialed due to misunderstandings during the Siege of Boonesborough.
♦ There is some indication that Boone crossed paths with Abraham Lincoln’s grandfather.
♦ In 1780, Boone was [a] Lieutenant Colonel in the Fayette County militia. In October, his brother Ned was killed by Shawnees and beheaded for a trophy, as the they thought they had killed Boone.
♦ In 1781, he was elected as a representative to the Virginia General Assembly.
♦ [Traveling] to Richmond to take his seat in the legislature, […] British dragoons under Banastre Tarleton captured Boone and several other legislators near Charlottesville. The British released Boone on parole several days later.
♦ In 1782, he was elected sheriff of Fayette County.
♦ By 1787, he owned seven slaves.
♦ In 1798, a warrant was issued for Boone’s arrest after he ignored a summons to testify in a court case, although the sheriff never found him.
♦ Also in 1798, the Kentucky assembly named Boone County in his honor.
♦ From 1799 to 1804, he served as syndic and commandant, appointed by the Spanish governor of Spanish Louisiana (now St. Charles County, Missouri).
♦ American painter John James Audubon claimed to have gone hunting with Boone in the woods of Kentucky around 1810 (some historians believe Boone visited his brother Squire near Kentucky in 1810).
♦ Boone died of natural causes at his son Nathan’s home. He was 85.
[May] brothers Ed, 13, and Freddie, 12, had been playing in their schoolyard with their 10-year-old friend Tommy Hyer. After noticing a pulsing red light streak across the sky and crash on a nearby farm, the three youngsters ran to grab the Mays boys’ mother, then high-tailed it up that hill to check out where the light had landed. A few other boys, one with a dog, showed up, too.
They ran back down, in sheer and credible terror.
“Seven Braxton County residents on Saturday reported seeing a 10-foot Frankenstein-like monster in the hills above Flatwoods,” a local newspaper reported afterward. “A National Guard member, [17-year-old] Gene Lemon, was leading the group when he saw what appeared to be a pair of bright eyes in a tree.”
Lemon screamed and fell backward, the news account said, “when he saw a 10-foot monster with a blood-red body and a green face that seemed to glow.” It may have had claws for hands. It was hard to tell because of the dense mist.
The story made the local news, then got picked up by national radio and big papers all over the country […]. Mrs. May and the National Guard kid ended up going to New York to talk to CBS […].
But, rattled eyewitnesses weren’t the only reason the story took off. Americans were truly frightened in 1952, made anxious by atomic bombs and what seemed like a new world made by mad scientists. Even LIFE magazine, probably the most popular publication in the nation at the time, had, just a few months earlier, published a seemingly credible trend story about flying saucers. Spook stories sprout best when the seed lands in a bed fertile with anxiety and that was 1952 Cold War America […]. [I]t prompted a U.S. Air Force UFO inquiry, part of a project called Project Blue Book that dispatched a handful of investigators around the country to look into such claims.
One writer who stoked the story (a lot) was Gray Barker, a Braxton County native who investigated the monster and, then, became one of the more prominent UFO myth makers, ever. It was Barker who wrote about Flatwoods, then introduced the mythology of government “Men in Black” after he heard that two Air Force investigators had “reportedly” shown up in Flatwoods, posing as magazine writers.
People grin about it now and take Monster souvenir money from hundreds of Monster tourists every week. But, it scared people plenty back then […]. “One of the boys peed his pants,” said John Gibson, a high-school freshman at the time, who knew them all. “Their dog (Rickie) ran with his tail between his legs.”
To this day, tourists come out of their way to Flatwoods to visit its monster museum and buy Green Monsters and t-shirts. Freddie and Ed are still alive and, still standing by their story. They are in their late 70s now. They are no longer talking to reporters. They got tired after 100,000 interviews […]. [T]he brothers did appear in a recent documentary about the Flatwoods Phantom.
[The Air Force] concluded that bright, but common, meteors had streaked across the eastern U.S. at dusk that night, seen by many in Baltimore, among other places. And, the monster with the claw-like arms? Likely an owl, they said.
And, so, the Flatwoods Monster, also known as the Green Monster, [or] the Phantom of Flatwoods, who was reportedly seven feet tall, or 10 feet tall, or 13 feet tall, or 17 feet tall, became that most peculiar American invention…a legend emblazoned on t-shirts. [Source]
[..] disco didn’t quite die a natural death by collapsing under its own weight. Instead, it was killed by a public backlash that reached its peak on this day in 1979 […]. That incident, which led to at least nine injuries, 39 arrests and, the cancellation and forfeit of a Major League Baseball game, is widely credited […] or, blamed for […] dealing disco its death blow.
The event was the brainchild of Steve Dahl and Garry Meier, popular disk jockeys on Chicago’s WLUP “The Loop” FM. […] many […] rock DJs were displaced by disco [but], only Dahl was inspired to launch a semi-comic vendetta aimed at “the eradication and elimination of the dreaded musical disease.”
On May 2, the rainout of a game between the Chicago White Sox and the Detroit Tigers led to the scheduling of a doubleheader on July 12. Dahl and Meier approached the White Sox with a rather unorthodox idea for an attendance-boosting promotion […]. […] allow Dahl to blow up a dumpster full of disco records between games of the doubleheader. White Sox executive Mike Veeck embraced the idea […].
[…] organizers […] grossly [underestimated] the appeal of the 98-cent discount tickets offered to anyone who brought a disco record to the park to add to the explosive-rigged dumpster. WLUP and the White Sox expected perhaps 5,000 more fans than the average draw of 15,000 or so […]. What they got, instead, was a raucous sellout crowd of 40,000+ and an even more raucous overflow crowd of as many as 40,000 more outside on Shields Avenue.
What followed was utter chaos, as fans by the thousands stormed the field, […] began to wreak havoc, shimmying up the foul poles, tearing up the grass and lighting vinyl bonfires on the diamond while the stadium scoreboard implored them to return to their seats. Conditions were judged too dangerous for the scheduled game to begin and the Detroit Tigers were awarded a win by forfeit.
In the weeks before the event, Dahl invited his listeners to bring records they wanted to see destroyed to Comiskey Park. Owner Bill Veeck was concerned the promotion might become a disaster […]. His fears were substantiated when he saw the people walking towards the ballpark that afternoon. […] many carried signs that described disco in profane terms.
Some leapt turnstiles, climbed fences and entered through open windows. Attendees were supposed to deposit their records into a large box [but], once the box was overflowing, many people brought their discs to their seats. Many of the records were not collected by staff and were thrown like flying discs from the stands. Tigers designated hitter Rusty Staub remembered that the records would slice through the air and land sticking out of the ground. He urged teammates to wear batting helmets when playing their positions. “It wasn’t just one, it was many. Oh, God almighty, I’ve never seen anything so dangerous in my life.” Attendees also threw firecrackers, empty liquor bottles and lighters onto the field. The game was stopped several times because of the rain of foreign objects.
Dozens of hand-painted banners with such slogans as “Disco Sucks” were hung from the ballpark’s seating decks. Dahl set off the explosives, destroying the records and tearing a large hole in the outfield grass. […] the first of 5,000 to 7,000 attendees rushed onto the field […]. The batting cage was destroyed and, the bases were pulled up and stolen. Among those taking to the field was 21-year-old aspiring actor Michael Clarke Duncan […]. Duncan slid into third base, had a silver belt buckle stolen and went home with a bat from the dugout. Some attendees danced in circles around the burning vinyl shards.
Chicago police in full riot gear arrived (9:08pm) to the applause of the baseball fans remaining in the stands. Those on the field hastily dispersed upon seeing the police. Tigers manager Sparky Anderson refused to allow his players to take the field […] due to safety concerns. Anderson […] demanded that the game be forfeited to the Tigers. He argued that, under baseball’s rules, a game can only be postponed due to an Act of God, and that, as the home team, the White Sox were responsible for field conditions.
After 59 years, the iconic Route 66 enters the realm of history on this day in 1985, when the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials decertifies the road and votes to remove all its highway signs. Measuring some 2,200 miles in its heyday, Route 66 stretched from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California, passing through eight states. According to a New York Times article about its decertification, most of Route 66 followed a path through the wilderness forged in 1857 by U.S. Navy Lieutenant Edward Beale at the head of a caravan of camels. Over the years, wagon trains and cattlemen eventually made way for trucks and passenger automobiles.
The idea of building a highway along this route surfaced in Oklahoma in the mid-1920s as a way to link the state to cities like Chicago and Los Angeles. Highway Commissioner Cyrus S. Avery touted it as a way of diverting traffic from Kansas City, Missouri and Denver. In 1926, the highway earned its official designation as Route 66. The diagonal course of Route 66 linked hundreds of mostly rural communities to the cities along its route, allowing farmers to more easily transport grain and other types of produce for distribution. The highway was also a lifeline for the long-distance trucking industry, which by 1930 was competing with the railroad for dominance in the shipping market.
Route 66 was the scene of a mass westward migration during the 1930s, when more than 200,000 people traveled from the poverty-stricken Dust Bowl to California. John Steinbeck immortalized the highway, which he called the “Mother Road”, in his classic 1939 novel The Grapes of Wrath. Beginning in the 1950s, the building of a massive system of interstate highways made older roads increasingly obsolete and, by 1970, modern four-lane highways had bypassed nearly all sections of Route 66. In October 1984, Interstate-40 bypassed the last original stretch of Route 66 at Williams, Arizona and, the following year, the road was decertified. According to the National Historic Route 66 Federation, drivers can still use 85 percent of the road and Route 66 has become a destination for tourists from all over the world.
Often called the Main Street of America, Route 66 became a pop culture mainstay over the years, inspiring its own song (written in 1947 [sic] by Bobby Troup, Route 66 was later recorded by artists as varied as Nat King Cole, Chuck Berry and The Rolling Stones) as well as a 1960s television series. More recently, the historic highway was featured prominently in the hit animated film Cars (2006).
One of four Admiral-class battlecruisers ordered in mid-1916, [she was] commissioned in 1920 [and] named after 18th-century Admiral Samuel Hood. Despite the appearance of new and, more modern ship designs over time, Hood remained the largest and most powerful warship in the world for 20 years after her commissioning. […] her prestige was reflected in her nickname, “The Mighty Hood”. She was scheduled to undergo a major rebuild in 1941 to correct [some] issues but, the outbreak of World War II in September 1939 forced the ship into service without the upgrades.
In May, [she and] the battleship Prince of Wales were ordered to intercept the German battleship Bismarck and, the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, which were en route to the Atlantic where they were to attack convoys. When Bismarck sailed for the Atlantic […], Hood, together with […] Prince of Wales, was sent out in pursuit along with several other groups of British capital ships to intercept the German ships before they could break into the Atlantic […]. Hood was commanded by Captain Ralph Kerr and was flying the flag of Vice-Admiral Lancelot Holland. The German ships were spotted by two British heavy cruisers (Norfolk & Suffolk) on 23 May and Holland‘s ships intercepted Bismarck, and her consort, Prinz Eugen, in the Denmark Strait between Greenland and Iceland.
On 24 May 1941, early in the Battle of the Denmark Strait, less than 10 minutes after the British opened fire, a shell from Bismarck struck Hood near her aft ammunition magazines. Soon afterwards, Hood exploded and sank within three minutes, with the loss of all but three of her crew. Prince of Wales continued to exchange fire with Bismarck but, suffered serious malfunctions in her main armament. The British battleship had only just been completed in late March 1941 and used new quadruple gun turrets that were unreliable. [She] soon broke off the engagement.
Due to [the] perceived invincibility of the Hood, the loss affected British morale.
From The History Channel:
On this day in 1941, Germany’s largest battleship, the Bismarck, sinks the pride of the British fleet, HMS Hood.
The Bismarck was the most modern of Germany’s battleships, a prize coveted by other nation’s navies, even while still in the blueprint stage (Hitler handed over a copy of its blueprints to Joseph Stalin as a concession during the days of the Hitler-Stalin Neutrality Pact). The HMS Hood, originally launched in 1918, was Britain’s largest battlecruiser (41,200 tons) but, also capable of achieving the relatively fast speed of 31 knots. The two met in the North Atlantic, northeast of Iceland, where two British cruisers had tracked down the Bismarck. Commanded by Admiral Gunther Lutjens, Commander-in-Chief of the German Fleet, the Bismarck sunk the Hood, resulting in the death of 1,500 of its crew. Only three Brits survived. Captain Kerr was one of the casualties.
During the engagement, the Bismarck‘s fuel tank was damaged. Lutjens tried to make for the French coast but, was sighted, again, only three days later. Torpedoed to the point of incapacity, the Bismarck was finally sunk by a ring of British war ships. Admiral Lutjens was one of the 2,300 German casualties.
In May of 1941 the war had just begun
The Germans had the biggest ship that had the biggest guns
The Bismarck was the fastest ship that ever sailed the sea
On her decks were guns as big as steers and shells as big as trees
Out of the cold and foggy night came the British ship the Hood
And every British seaman he knew and understood
They had to sink the Bismarck the terror of the sea
Stop those guns as big as steers and those shells as big as trees
We’ll find the German battleship that’s makin’ such a fuss
We gotta sink the Bismarck ’cause the world depends on us
Yeah hit the decks a runnin’ boys and spin those guns around
When we find the Bismarck we gotta cut her down
The Hood found the Bismarck and on that fatal day
The Bismarck started firing fifteen miles away
We gotta sink the Bismarck was the battle sound
But when the smoke had cleared away the mighty Hood went down
For six long days and weary nights they tried to find her trail
Churchill told the people put every ship asail
Cause somewhere on that ocean I know she’s gotta be
We gotta sink the Bismarck to the bottom of the sea
We’ll find the German battleship that’s makin’ such a fuss
We gotta sink the Bismarck ’cause the world depends on us
Yeah hit the decks a runnin’ boys and spin those guns around
When we find the Bismarck we gotta cut her down
The fog was gone the seventh day and they saw the morning sun
Ten hours away from homeland the Bismarck made its run
The Admiral of the British fleet said turn those bows around
We found that German battleship and we’re gonna cut her down
The British guns were aimed and the shells were coming fast
The first shell hit the Bismarck they knew she couldn’t last
That mighty German battleship is just a memory
Sink the Bismarck was the battle cry that shook the seven seas
We found the German battleship ’twas makin’ such a fuss
We had to sink the Bismarck cause the world depends on us
We hit the deck a runnin’ and we and spun those guns around
Yeah we found the mighty Bismarck and then we cut her down
We found the German battleship ’twas makin’ such a fuss
We had to sink the Bismarck cause the world depends on us
We hit the deck a runnin’ and we and spun those guns around
We found the mighty Bismarck and then we cut her down
Twenty-five years ago, today, according to most accounts, Kurt Cobain committed suicide. His body was discovered on April 8 by Gary Smith, an electrician that was there to install a security system. Seeing Cobain lying inside, Smith initially thought the singer was asleep until he saw blood oozing from his ear. He also found a suicide note with a pen stuck through it inside a flower-pot. A shotgun purchased for Cobain by his friend Dylan Carlson was found resting on Cobain’s chest. Cobain’s death certificate stated that he died as a result of a “contact perforating shotgun wound to the head” and concluded that his death was a suicide.
While it is true that Cobain suffered from stomach pains, drug addiction, clinical depression and bi-polar disorder, there are disputes to the official ruling. Courtney Love‘s own estranged father wrote a book and suggested that his daughter had her husband murdered.
Cobain was described as a “Generation X icon” and “the last real rock star“. He was only 27.
Twenty-seven appears to be a striking number. From The History Channel:
The untimely deaths of famous musicians at age 27 may be coincidence but, it is [a] tragic coincidence. The mythology of the 27 Club gained prominence with the death of Kurt Cobain in 1994 since he died at the same age as iconic rock musicians, including Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison, when they died in the 1970s. The premature death of Amy Winehouse at age 27 in 2011, again, renewed interest in the age’s apparent curse. This is a list of some of the artists and musicians who died at the far too young age of 27.
Robert Johnson…Blues singer-songwriter-musician (May 8, 1911 – August 16, 1938)
Brian Jones…The Rolling Stones founder (February 28, 1942 – July 3, 1969)
Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson…Canned Heat co-founder (July 4, 1943 – September 3, 1970)
Jimi Hendrix…Rock singer-songwriter-guitarist (November 27, 1942 – September 18, 1970)
Janis Joplin…Rock-soul-blues singer-songwriter (January 19, 1943 – October 4, 1970)
Jim Morrison…The Doors co-founder (December 8, 1943 – July 3, 1971)
Ron “Pigpen” McKernan…Grateful Dead founding member (September 8, 1945 – March 8, 1973)
Kurt Cobain (February 20, 1967 – April 5, 1994)
Amy Winehouse…Singer-songwriter (September 14, 1983 – July 23, 2011)
OH, the music we have lost. ~Vic
Fifty-one years ago, today, a powerful voice & soul was extinguished. I wasn’t even two years old when he was killed. He was only 39. He wasn’t a perfect person (who is?) but, his message was.
From The History Channel:
Just after 6:00p.m. on April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. is fatally shot while standing on the balcony outside his second-story room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. The civil rights leader was in Memphis to support a sanitation workers’ strike and, was on his way to dinner when a bullet struck him in the jaw and severed his spinal cord. King was pronounced dead after his arrival at a Memphis hospital.
As word of the assassination spread, riots broke out in cities all across the United States and, National Guard troops were deployed in Memphis and Washington, D.C. On April 9, King was laid to rest in his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. Tens of thousands of people lined the streets to pay tribute to King’s casket as it passed by in a wooden farm cart drawn by two mules.
The King family and others believe the assassination was the result of a conspiracy involving the U.S. government, Mafia and Memphis police, as alleged by Loyd Jowers in 1993. They believe that Ray was a scapegoat. In 1999, the family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Jowers for the sum of $10 million. During closing arguments, their attorney asked the jury to award damages of $100, to make the point that “it was not about the money.” During the trial, both sides presented evidence alleging a government conspiracy. The government agencies accused could not defend themselves or respond because they were not named as defendants. Based on the evidence, the jury concluded Jowers, and others, were “part of a conspiracy to kill King” and awarded the family $100. The allegations and the finding of the Memphis jury were later rejected by the United States Department of Justice in 2000 due to lack of evidence.
“For those of you who are black, and are tempted to be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed but, he was killed by a white man.
His speech has been credited as preventing riots in Indianapolis when the rest of the country was not so lucky.
On March 10, 1969, James Earl Ray pleaded guilty (on his birthday) and was sentenced to 99 years in the Tennessee State Penitentiary. He died in prison at the age of 70 on April 23, 1998, twenty-nine years and 19 days after King’s assassination.
Many documents regarding an FBI investigation remain classified and will stay secret until 2027.
I’ve seen the Promised Land.
I’ve posted for Veterans Day on November 11 and POW/MIA Recognition Day, the third Friday in September. Today is the national acknowledgement of the final pull-out of US troops in South Vietnam, ending our direct involvement.
From National Day Calendar:
[…] Veterans of this time period are gaining the respect that was not so freely given upon their return. Involving five U.S. presidents, crossing nearly two decades and 500,000 U.S.military personnel, it left an indelible mark on the American psyche. Returning Veterans did not always receive respectful welcomes upon their arrive on American soil. There were 58,000 killed, never to return. National Vietnam War Veterans Day recognizes the military service of these men and women who answered the call to service their country when she needed them. They didn’t make the decisions to go to war.
U.S. Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., introduced legislation in 2017 to honor Vietnam Veterans with a day on the anniversary of the withdrawal of military units from South Vietnam. President Donald Trump signed the Vietnam War Veterans Day Act on March 28, 2017, calling for U.S. flags to be flown on March 29 for those who served.
From The History Channel:
[…] in January 1973, representatives of the United States, North and South Vietnam and, the Vietcong signed a peace agreement in Paris, ending the direct U.S. military involvement in the Vietnam War. Its key provisions included a cease-fire throughout Vietnam, the withdrawal of U.S. forces, the release of prisoners of war and, the reunification of North and South Vietnam through peaceful means. The South Vietnamese government was to remain in place until new elections were held and North Vietnamese forces in the South were not to advance further nor be reinforced.
Two months after the signing of the Vietnam peace agreement, the last U.S. combat troops [left] South Vietnam as Hanoi [freed] the remaining American prisoners of war held in North Vietnam. In Saigon, some 7,000 U.S. Department of Defense civilian employees remained behind to aid South Vietnam in conducting what looked to be a fierce and ongoing war with communist North Vietnam. […] before the last American troops departed on March 29, the communists violated the cease-fire and, by early 1974, full-scale war had resumed. At the end of 1974, South Vietnamese authorities reported that 80,000 of their soldiers and civilians had been killed in fighting during the year […].
On April 30, 1975, the last few Americans still in South Vietnam were airlifted out of the country as Saigon fell to communist forces.
I live with a Vietnam Seabee Veteran. He was in-country at Camp Haskins, Red Beach, Da Nang harbor during Khe Sanh, Tet and the Battle of Hue. Thankfully, he was not directly affected but, he was nearly blown out of a guard tower when the USMC Da Nang Air Base was attacked in January 1968. He keeps a wad of shrapnel and an empty grenade in the office as a reminder of what nearly got him. He’s told me stories of returning home and being flipped off by civilians. He was never spit on, like some stories I’ve heard but, he certainly wasn’t welcomed back. ~Vic
“The battle began at 0730 on March 14th, and raged for nearly six hours.”
The Battle of New Bern (also known as the Battle of New Berne) was fought on 14 March 1862, near the city of New Bern, North Carolina, as part of the Burnside Expedition of the American Civil War. The US Army’s Coast Division, led by Brigadier General Ambrose Burnside and accompanied by armed vessels from the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, were opposed by an undermanned and badly trained Confederate force of North Carolina soldiers and militia led by Brigadier General Lawrence O’B. Branch. Although the defenders fought behind breastworks that had been set up before the battle, their line had a weak spot in its center that was exploited by the attacking Federal soldiers. When the center of the line was penetrated, many of the militia broke, forcing a general retreat of the entire Confederate force. General Branch was unable to regain control of his troops until they had retreated to Kinston, more than 30 miles (about 50 km) away. New Bern came under Federal control, and remained so for the rest of the war.
Hatteras Island, on the outer shore of North Carolina, fell to Union forces in August, 1861. Roanoke Island, just to the north, was captured on February 8, 1862. Elizabeth City on the mainland followed days later. With the freedom to navigate unmolested through Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds, Brig. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside’s command looked for other strategic targets of opportunity. The city of New Bern was a significant target, as the Atlantic and North Carolina Railroad that connected the coast with the interior passed through there. On March 11, 1862, Burnside’s force embarked from Roanoke Island to rendezvous with Union gunboats at Hatteras Inlet for a joint expedition against New Bern. On March 13th, the fleet sailed up the Neuse River and disembarked infantry south of the Confederate defenses, about 4,000 men behind breastworks at Fort Thompson. The defenders, a mix of North Carolina infantry, cavalry and artillery, were commanded by Brig. Gen. Lawrence Branch. On March 14th, the brigades of Brig. Gens. John G. Foster, Jesse Reno, and John G. Parke attacked along the railroad and after four [sic] hours of fighting, drove the Confederates out of their fortifications. The Federals captured several nearby gun positions and occupied a base that they would hold to the end of the war, in spite of several Confederate attempts to recapture it.
On March 13th 1862, 11,000 Union troops led by General Ambrose Burnside, along with 13 heavily-armed gunboats led by Commodore Stephen Rowan, landed at Slocum’s Creek, now part of the Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station. Their objective was [the] capture of the town of New Bern because of its strategic position and the fact that the Atlantic and North Carolina railroad was also located here. Union strategists hoped to use New Bern as a stepping off point to cutting off the main Confederate north-south railroad supply line at Goldsboro.
Awaiting the Union forces were about 4,500 inexperienced and ill-equipped Confederate troops commanded by General Laurence [sic] O’Bryan Branch, a politician with virtually no military experience. Branch positioned his infantry regiments, one cavalry regiment, local militia and three gun batteries to defend a line extending from Fort Thompson on the Neuse River and running approximately one mile west to the Weatherby Road at the eastern edge of Brice’s Creek. Extending Branch’s right wing to the railroad tracks was the 26th North Carolina Regiment commanded by Colonel Zebulon Vance, later governor of North Carolina.
Despite support from Commodore Rowan’s gunboats, this attack stalled. However, a regiment of General Parke’s brigade flanked the position of a militia battalion in the vicinity of Wood’s brickyard adjoining the railroad. Parke’s infantry drove these poorly armed, fresh militiamen from their position leaving the right flank of the 35th North Carolina Regiment exposed. The Confederate line was broken between the 26th and the 35th regiments, and the Union forces pushed through forcing the retreat of the Confederate troops.
The Battle of New Bern was the baptism of fire for the 26th North Carolina. Later, in July 1863, the 26th lost 588 of 800 men at the Battle of Gettysburg, sustaining the largest numerical losses of any unit, North or South, during the entire course of the war.
Estimated casualties for the battle: 1080 total. The fierce battle in the swamps and along the railroad five miles south of New Bern, proved to be a major victory for the Union and led to the ensuing occupation of New Bern for the remainder of the Civil War. Although Union forces never seized and held the rail line at Goldsboro, their presence in New Bern required the Confederacy to divert troops to the railroad’s defense that might have been used in the critical battles in Virginia. For General Ambrose Burnside, the New Bern victory was a factor in his subsequently being given command of the Army of the Potomac and leadership in the Union disaster at Fredericksburg.
One-hundred and fifty-seven years ago, today… ~Vic
There are SO many stories regarding the origins of the Valentine’s Day we celebrate. The most common story about this elusive man was that he was a priest and bishop in Rome in the 3rd century. The Roman Emperor of the time was Claudius Gothicus (Claudius II), the first of the tough, soldier emperors, that ruled with an iron fist and was known for his cruelty. From The History Channel:
Under the rule of Claudius the Cruel, Rome was involved in many unpopular and bloody campaigns. The emperor had to maintain a strong army but, was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join his military leagues. Claudius believed that Roman men were unwilling to join the army because of their strong attachment to their wives and families. To get rid of the problem, Claudius banned all marriages and engagements in Rome. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. Valentine was arrested and dragged before the Prefect of Rome who condemned him to be beaten to death with clubs and, to have his head cut off. The sentence was carried out on February 14, on or about the year 270. Legend also has it that while in jail, Valentine left a farewell note for the jailer’s daughter, who had become his friend, and signed it “From Your Valentine.”
From Science Direct:
[…] he was arrested and thrown in prison by Emperor Claudius II. He was put under vigilance of prefect Asterius, director of the confine who had challenged Valentine, before, regarding his alleged healing powers. Asterius, a ruthless man, requested Valentine to restore the gift of sight to his daughter, Julia, who was born a blind girl. Valentine placed his hands over her eyes, prayed to God and Julia was able to see. Asterius, in awe of Valentine’s power converted to Christianity, along with 46 members of his family. He, then, also freed all Christians who were confined in his prison. The emperor, aware of what had happened, ordered Valentine and Asterius to be beheaded. The penalty was probably executed, on February 14, 271 AD. Sometime before his execution, Valentine wrote a letter, signed “from your Valentine”, saying goodbye to Julia, the daughter of Asterius with whom he had fallen in love. This would become the first record in history of a “Valentine’s Day letter”.
From Catholic Online:
According to the popular hagiographical identity, and what is believed to be the first representation of St. Valentine, the Nuremberg Chronicle, St. Valentine was a Roman priest martyred during Claudius’ reign. […] A relationship between the saint and emperor began to grow, until Valentine attempted to convince Claudius of Christianity. Claudius became (en)raged and sentenced Valentine to death, commanding him to renounce his faith or be beaten with clubs and beheaded. St. Valentine refused to renounce his faith and, Christianity, and was executed outside the Flaminian Gate on February 14, 269. However, other tales of St. Valentine’s life claim he was executed either in the year 269, 270, 273 or 280. Another variation of the legend of St. Valentine says he refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, was imprisoned and, while imprisoned, he healed the jailer’s blind daughter. Whoever he was, Valentine did really exist, because archaeologists have unearthed a Roman catacomb and an ancient church dedicated to St. Valentine. In 496AD, Pope Gelasius marked February 14th as a celebration in honor of his martyrdom.
From Sowing The Seeds:
The Catholic Church’s official list of recognized saints, the Roman Martyrology, lists seven Valentines: a martyr (a possible Roman priest or Terni bishop) buried on the Via Flaminia (February 14); a priest from Viterbo (November 3); a bishop from Raetia who died in about 450 (January 7); a fifth-century priest and hermit (July 4); a Spanish hermit who died in about 715 (October 25); Valentine Berrio Ochoa, martyred in 1861 (November 24); and Valentine Jaunzarás Gómez, martyred in 1936 (September 18). Valentine did not appear in the official Church calendar for centuries, however “Martyr Valentinus the Presbyter and those with him at Rome” remains on the list of saints proposed for veneration by Catholics. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, Saint Valentine the Presbyter is celebrated on July 6, and Hieromartyr Saint Valentine (Bishop of Interamna, Terni in Italy) is celebrated on July 30. Clearly they are viewed as two separate people. Notwithstanding that, conventionally, members of the Greek Orthodox Church named Valentinos (male) or Valentina (female) celebrate their name on February 14th.
So, how did we get the day of celebration we have now? That is nearly as obscure as the saint that the day is based on.
English 18th-century antiquarians Alban Butler and Francis Douce, noting the obscurity of Saint Valentine’s identity, suggested that Saint Valentine’s Day was created as an attempt to supersede the pagan holiday of Lupercalia (mid-February in Rome). This idea has lately been dismissed by other researchers, such as Professor Jack B. Oruch of the University of Kansas, Henry Ansgar Kelly of the University of California, Los Angeles and Associate Professor Michael Matthew Kaylor of the Masaryk University. Many of the current legends that characterize Saint Valentine were invented in the 14th century in England, notably by Geoffrey Chaucer and his circle, when the feast day of February 14 first became associated with romantic love.
From Country Living:
[…] University of Kansas English professor, the late Jack B. Oruch, had a different theory […] Through research, he determined that the poet Geoffrey Chaucer linked love with St. Valentine for the first time in his 14th-century works “Parlement of Foules” and “The Complaint of Mars.” Therefore, Oruch claimed that Chaucer invented Valentine’s Day as we know it today. At the time, February 14 also happened to be considered the first day of spring since it was the beginning of birds’ mating season—perfectly appropriate for a celebration of affection.
According to Catholic Online and Catholic Saints, Saint Valentine is the Patron Saint of epilepsy, fainting, (a non-specific) plague, bee keepers, affianced couples, betrothed couples, engaged couples, love, lovers, happy marriages, young people and travelers. Whew! That is quite a lot to keep up with.
Enjoy the day! ~Vic