January 31, 1917: Germany Announces the Resumption of Unrestricted Submarine Warfare

 

In a letter dated January 31, 1917 the German ambassador to the United States,  Count Johann von Bernstorff, informed Robert Lansing, the US Secretary of State, that Germany was resuming unrestricted submarine warfare: (more…)

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Resquiescat in Pace: Mary Tyler Moore

 

 

Mary Tyler Moore dead at 80?  Impossible! One of the favorite actresses of my youth, she was a master of comedy, perhaps not greatly appreciated for it because she made it look so easy.  To me she will always be associated with the years of my childhood in the sixties and seventies.  A reluctant icon of feminism, she was clear that she did not agree with radical feminists and that the most important role for any woman was that of mother.  A moderate liberal in her youth, she became politically conservative as she grew older.  Unlike many in her industry she did not seek to inflict her political opinions on her fans.  One of the treasured memories of her life was when she and her mother had a private audience with Pope John Paul II.  Like many comediennes and comedians, she had much sorrow in her life.  May she know the Joy Eternal in the world to come.

Published in: on January 30, 2017 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Resquiescat in Pace: Mary Tyler Moore  
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Ronald Reagan: January 28, 1986: The Future Doesn’t Belong to the Faint Hearted

And I want to say something to the schoolchildren of America who were watching the live coverage of the shuttle’s takeoff. I know it is hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen. It’s all part of the process of exploration and discovery. It’s all part of taking a chance and expanding man’s horizons. The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we’ll continue to follow them.

                                              President Ronald Reagan, January 28, 1986

As regular readers of this blog know, I am honored to share my birthday, February 6, with the greatest president of my lifetime:  Ronald Wilson Reagan.  One aspect of his Presidency was the power of his oratory:  Mr. Reagan being a master of giving voice to sentiments with verbal images that could move and inspire his listeners.  One of the best short samples of his skill, is the speech that he gave on the day of the Challenger disaster.  Reagan, obviously filled with grief himself, did not allow his speech to be a mere lament.  While honoring the dead he pointed to the future, and told the hard truth that loss and disaster are the inevitable price to be paid for exploration and new frontiers.  Here is the text of his speech: (more…)

Published in: on January 29, 2017 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Ronald Reagan: January 28, 1986: The Future Doesn’t Belong to the Faint Hearted  
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Winter War

Something for the weekend.  Finlandia Hymn.  My Bride and I are off to Winter War 44, a war gaming and rpg convention that I have been attending since 1976.  Go here to read about it.  We usually pick up some new games from the vendors and more at the game auction.  Twenty-five years ago we brought our four month old twin baby boys through a blizzard to their first war game convention.  Ah, time is a river and the current runs fast.

For the more venturesome, or crazed, among you, here is a link to Open General, a free computer game that has dozens of campaigns and hundreds of scenarios set in various time periods in which you command various military units to achieve the victory conditions of the scenario you are playing.  If you choose to download it, follow the installation instructions carefully.  Happy gaming!

Published in: on January 28, 2017 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Winter War  
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January 27, 1967: Apollo I Tragedy

 

 

Hard to believe it has been fifty years.  I was ten years old and watching the television show Time Tunnel when a news flash interrupted the show to convey the grim news that Apollo 1 astronauts Pilot Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, Senior Pilot Edward H. White II, and Pilot Roger B. Chaffee had died in a fire in the space capsule during a simulated practice launch.  Subsequent investigation indicated that the fire probably started due to faulty electric wiring in the capsule, but the exact cause of the fire ignition has never been pinpointed, which has created a fertile ground for conspiracy theorists usually centering around an alleged plot to kill Grissom.  A sad day for the American Space Program fifty years ago.

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January 26, 1945: Audie Murphy Earns Medal of Honor

The real heroes are dead.

Audie Murphy

When Audie Murphy starred in his aptly titled World War II biopic, To Hell and Back, his battlefield exploits were downplayed.  Partially this was due to Murphy’s modesty, he had not wanted to appear in the movie and did so only after he was promised that much of the focus of the film would be on his buddies who died during the War, and partially due to the fact that what he did during the War was so unbelievably courageous that film audiences might have refused to believe it.  Here is his Medal of Honor citation that he earned in truly hellish fighting near Holtzwihr, France on January 26, 1945:

 

General Orders No. 65

WAR DEPARTMENT

Washington 25, D.C., 9 August 1945

MEDAL OF HONOR – Award

Section
1
* * * * *

I. MEDAL OF HONOR. – By direction of the President, under the provisions of the act of Congress approved 9 July 1918 (WD Bul. 43, 1918), a Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty was awarded by the War Department in the name of Congress to the following-named officer:

Second Lieutenant Audie L. Murphy, 01692509, 15th Infantry, Army of the United States, on 26 January 1945, near Holtzwihr, France, commanded Company B, which was attacked by six tanks and waves of infantry. Lieutenant Murphy ordered his men to withdraw to a prepared position in a woods while he remained forward at his command post and continued to give fire directions to the artillery by telephone. Behind him to his right one of our tank destroyers received a direct hit and began to burn. It’s crew withdrew to the woods. Lieutenant Murphy continued to direct artillery fire which killed large numbers of the advancing enemy infantry. With the enemy tanks abreast of his position, Lieutenant Murphy climbed on the burning tank destroyer which was in danger of blowing up any instant and employed its .50 caliber machine gun against the enemy. He was alone and exposed to the German fire from three sides, but his deadly fire killed dozens of Germans and caused their infantry attack to waver. the enemy tanks, losing infantry support, began to fall back. For an hour the Germans tried every available weapon to eliminated Lieutenant Murphy, but he continued to hold his position and wiped out a squad which was trying to creep up unnoticed on his right flank. Germans reached as close as 10 yards only to be mowed down by his fire. He received a leg wound but ignored it and continued the single-handed fight until his ammunition was exhausted. He then made his way to his company, refused medical attention, and organized the company in a counterattack which forced the Germans to withdraw. His directing of artillery fire wiped out many of the enemy; he personally killed or wounded about 50. Lieutenant Murphy’s indomitable courage and his refusal to give an inch of ground saved his company from possible encirclement and destruction and enabled it to hold the woods which had been the enemy’s objective.
* * * * *

BY ORDER OF THE SECRETARY OF WAR:
OFFICIAL:

EDWARD F. WITSELL
Major General
Acting the Adjutant General

G.C. MARSHALL
Chief of Staff

 

During his post war screen career Audie Murphy played many heroes, but in his real life he had earned that title many times over.

 

Published in: on January 26, 2017 at 4:13 am  Comments Off on January 26, 1945: Audie Murphy Earns Medal of Honor  
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January 25, 1890: Nellie Bly Completes 72 Day Trip Around the Globe

Born in 1864, Elizabeth Jane Cochran, better known by her journalism pen name of Nellie Bly, began her career when she wrote an angry rebuttal to an anti-woman piece in the Pittsburg Dispatch entitled What Girls are Good For.  The editor offered her a job and Bly never looked  back, becoming an internationally known reporter.  Perhaps her most famous exploit started in November 1889 when she embarked on an around the world trip to beat the fictional journey of Phineas Fogg’s  depicted in Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days.  Her paper, the New York World, offered a contest for their readers to guess how long the trip would take her.  During the trip she met Jules Vernes and developed a global following as she filed stories throughout her journey.  She set a world record when she arrived back in New York on January 15, 1890, seventy-two days after she set out.

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January 24, 1972: Sergeant Shoichi Yokoi is Captured

If there were any question as to the fanaticism, or raw courage and determination if one prefers, of the Japanese military during World War II, the tale of Sergeant Shoichi Yokoi would have answered it.  For 28 years after the liberation of Guam he survived in the jungles, initially with nine other soldiers.  He learned in 1952 that Japan had lost the War, but he did not surrender because Japanese soldiers did not do that.  On January 24, 1972 he was discovered by two local villagers on Guam who subdued him and brought him from the jungle with minor bruising.  On returning to Japan he said, “It is with much embarrassment, but I have returned.”

Two Japanese soldiers of World War II surrendered in 1974 and none since then.  Shoichi Yokoi married, became a popular television personality and advocated leading an austere lifestyle.  He passed away in 1997, his tombstone being the one purchased by his mother in 1955 under the assumption that he was dead.

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Theodore Roosevelt and The Curse of Meroz

 

 

Theodore Roosevelt had long been a harsh critic of the neutrality policy of the Wilson administration.  On January 29, 1917 he gave a memorable response to the January 22, 1917 speech to the Senate of President Wilson in which Wilson called for Peace Without Victory:

“President Wilson has announced himself in favor of peace without victory, and now he has declared himself against universal service-that is against all efficient preparedness by the United States.

Peace without victory is the natural ideal of the man too proud to fight.

When fear of the German submarine next moves President Wilson to declare for “peace without victory” between the tortured Belgians and their cruel oppressors and task masters;  when such fear next moves him to utter the shameful untruth that each side is fighting for the same things, and to declare for neutrality between wrong and right;  let him think of the prophetess Deborah who, when Sisera mightily oppressed the children of Israel with his chariots of iron, and when the people of Meroz stood neutral between the oppressed and their oppressors, sang of them:

 

 

“Curse ye Meroz, sang the angel of the  Lord, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof, because they came not to the help of the Lord against the wrongdoings of the mighty.”” 

Published in: on January 23, 2017 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Theodore Roosevelt and The Curse of Meroz  
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January 22, 1917: Peace Without Victory

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The United States was two months from entering the Great War when President Wilson addressed the Senate a century ago, calling for Peace Without Victory and laying out the beginnings of what would eventually be his Fourteen Points as the basis of peace:

Gentlemen of the Senate:

On the 18th of December last, I addressed an identical note to the governments of the nations now at war requesting them to state, more definitely than they had yet been stated by either group of belligerents, the terms upon which they would deem it possible to make peace.  I spoke on behalf of humanity and of the rights of all neutral nations like our own, many of whose most vital interests the war puts in constant jeopardy.

The Central Powers united in a reply which state merely that they were ready to meet their antagonists in conference to discuss terms of peace.  The Entente powers have replied much more definitely and have stated, in general terms, indeed, but with sufficient definiteness to imply details, the arrangements, guarantees, and acts of reparation which they deem to be the indispensable conditions of a satisfactory settlement.  We are that much nearer a definite discussion of the peace which shall end the present war.  We are that much nearer the definite discussion of the international concert which must thereafter hold the world at peace.

In every discussion of peace that must end this war, it is taken for granted that the peace must be followed by some definite concert of power which will make it virtually impossible that any such catastrophe should ever overwhelm us again.  Every love of mankind, every sane and thoughtful man must take that for granted.

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Published in: on January 22, 2017 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on January 22, 1917: Peace Without Victory  
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