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