Friday, August 23, 2013

This Day in History: August 23rd

This Day in History: Dolley Madison orders servants to remove the portrait of George Washington from the walls of the Executive Mansion before British troops occupy and burn the building, 1814; Texas Ranger John Armstrong arrests outlaw Joh...n Wesley Hardin for the killings of dozens of people, an event chronicled in Bob Dylan's album of the same name, 1877; following up on the success of her cookbook, which was among the first in the country to provide exact recipes using measured amounts of ingredients for a wide variety of dishes, Fannie Farmer opens her famous cooking school in Boston, 1902; the Battle of Mons pits British forces against the Germans in the early days of World War I, 1914; Hitler and Stalin make a pact to avoid aggression against each other at the outset of World War II, a move that the Soviets would renounce only after Hitler later attacked Russia, throwing them into the fold of the Allies, 1939See More

Sunday, July 28, 2013

This Day in History: July 28th

This Day in History: The 14th Amendment to the Constitution is passed by the Senate, giving blacks citizenship and equal treatment under the law, one of the three Amendments which resulted directly from the ending of the Civil War, 1868; Wo...rld War I begins as Austria-Hungray declares war on Serbia, to catastrophe to lead to over 40 million casualties around the world, 1914; the Senate approves the U.N. Charter, 1945; "Animal House" is relased, the film depicting college students in a mythical Midwest town who are members of a fraternity and try to disrupt the staid, conservative campus, the movie catapulting a young John Belushi to stardom, 1978

Thursday, July 25, 2013

This Day in History: July 25th

This Day in History: A young Jack London gets on a steamship to sail for the Klondike gold rush in Alaska, a trip which will set the stage for him to write one of his most famous novels- 'The Call of the Wild', 1897; Bob Dylan shocks his music fans by getting up onstage and playing electric guitar at the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island, a move many have called transformational as it heralded in the folk-rock era, with bands like The Byrds later playing his songs and other folk ballads with a new sound, changing the face of popular music, 1965; Louise Joy Brown is born as the world's first "test tube" baby via in vitro fertilization, starting a trend for infertile mothers to try a new approach to giving birth, 1978

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

This Day in History: July 24th

This Day in History: The future city of Detroit is founded as an outpost by a French fur trader, 1701; the ancient city of Machu Picchu in Peru- the lost city of the Incas- is discovered by British archeologist Hiram Bingham, the enclave on... a montainside high in the clouds abandoned for 400 years, its strikingly accurate stone buildings so well designed that the hundred-ton blocks fit together perfectly without any mortar, becoming a marvel to modern observers, 1911; Vice President Nixon and Premier Krushchev engage in a "kitchen debate", 1959; President Kennedy's dream of safely landing a man on the Moon is completed as the Apollo XI astronauts splash down in the Atlantic, 1969

Monday, July 22, 2013

This Day in History: July 22nd

This Day in History: The English settlement of Roanoke is established, with the small village later vanishing, being called the Lost Colony of Roanoke, a mystery never explained, 1587; Scottish explorer and fur trader Alexander Mackenzie be...comes the first European to cross North America above Mexico and reach the Pacific Ocean, a feat which President Thomas Jefferson would note in later sending Le...wis and Clark with their Corps of Discovery to do the same, 1793; President Lincoln tells his Cabinet about his plans to release an Emancipation Proclamation freeing the slaves in rebel territories which would become a brilliant strategy to help end the Civil War, 1862; General William Tecumseh Sherman fights the rebels in the Battle of Atlanta, 1864; Wiley Post becomes the first man to fly solo around the world, 1933; post-punk rocker Elvis Costello quits his day job and releases "My Aim Is True", a punchy, upbeat, energetic collection of songs which will help catapult him to the top of the pop charts, 1977; Army soldier Jessica Lynch is released and returns home to a hero's welcome in the United States after having been held hostage, her rescue from a hospital in Iraq catching worldwide attention, 2003

Friday, July 19, 2013

This Day in History: July 19th

This Day in History: French soldiers from Napoleon's Army find the Rosetta Stone in Egypt, a British researcher later breaking the code which was written in heiroglyphics that opened up the doors to the ancient culture, 1799; women's rights... take a major step forward as Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton hold their first suffragette convention in Seneca Fall, New York, 1848; Prime Minister Winston Churchill gives his now famous "V for Victory" sign as England fights the Nazi war machine during World War II, 1941; U.S. planes bomb the eternal city- Rome- hoping to force Italian citizens to turn against the dictator Mussolini during the Second World War, 1943;Eisenhower's Secretary of State- John Foster Dulles- makes a U-turn and withdraws the U.S. pledge of aid to Egypt for building the Aswan Dam, a move which was criticized by Britain and other countries and some feel led the country toward a closer relationship with Communist Russia... for a while... 1956See More

Thursday, July 18, 2013

This Day in History: July 18th

This Day in History: Naval hero John Paul Jones dies in Paris, the commander famous for fighting HMS Serapis on the USS Bonhomme Richard, named in honor of Benjamin Franklin when his ship was struck by cannon fire and taking on water, the B...ritish captain asked if he was ready to surrender, yet he bravely continued the fight and defeated the British, 1792; Robert Gould Shaw dies with hundreds of his U.S. Colored Troops (USCT) of the 54th Massachusetts in the assault on Battery Wagner, well portrayed in the movie "Glory", 1863; Britain introduces the secret ballot for elections, 1872; FDR is nominated for an unprecedented 3rd term, 1940; Senator Ted Kennedy leaves a cocktail party with young Mary Jo Kpechne and drives off Chappaquiddick Bridge into the water below, leaving the car and Mary Jo to die, for which he was never punished, an event that essentailly ended his chances of ever becoming President, 1969See More

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

This Day in History: July 17th

This Day in History: "Wrong Way" Corrigan pulls off an amazing stunt, being denied safe passage in his fragile plane by starting off in California, then turning around and 28 hours later ending up in Dublin, Ireland, saying "Where am I?" when he landed, 1938; Yankee slugger Joe DiMaggio ends his 56-game hitting streak, later confiding to a teammate that he could have gotten an extra $10,000 from the Heinze Company if he'd hit his 57th to match their logo on the ketchup bottle, 1941; President Harry Truman meets Soviet leader Joseph Stalin at the Potsdam Conference, 1945; Disneyland opens in Anaheim, California on a sour note with many problems, then later becomes the fantasyland all children grew to love, 1955

Sunday, July 7, 2013

This Day in History: July 7th

This Day in History: Due to her direct involvement in the assassination plot against President Lincoln, Mary Surratt is the first woman executed by the Federal government, 1865; after growing calls for recognition as a sovereign entity and the urging of large local business interests like the Dole Food company, President McKinley announces the annexation of Hawaii, 1898; in the early days of the Great Depression, President Hoover puts thousands of unemployed people to work building one of the greatest man-made structures in the world- Hoover Dam, which would go on to supply large portions of the southwest with electricity for decades, 1930; Frances Cabrini becomes the first U.S. citizen declared a saint by the Catholic Church, 1946; for the first time, female cadets are enrolled at West Point, 1976; President Reagan keeps a campaign promise and nominates Sandra Day O'Connor to become the very first female Supreme Court Justice, despite the calls from feminists who opposed nearly everything he stood for, in this case that she was too conservative to really "count" as a true representative for women, 1981

Saturday, July 6, 2013

This Day in History: July 6th

This Day in History: Samuel Langhorn Clemens begins his first real writing job as a reporter for the 'Territorial Enterprise', a frontier mining town rag in Virginia City, Nevada, the young author taking the pen name 'Mark Twain', which was a term he'd heard commonly used apprenticing as a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi, 1862; French scientist Louis Pasteur successful uses his vaccine against rabies, curing a young girl afflicted with the disease, 1885; a young John Lennon meets an even younger Paul McCartney after the elder boys' first set playing at the Woolton Parish Church Garden party, Paul later astonishing him with his guitar and songwriting skills which would get him invited into the band, their collaboration the most successful song writing team the world would ever see, 1957; 'Satchmo'- Louis Armstrong dies after a long and illustrious career, rising from poor, orphaned waif in New Orleans to the most successful jazz trumpet player in the world, 1971

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Walking Back In Time 150 Years to Pickett's Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg


There is something mystical about a battlefield- especially one where thousands of soldiers fought, dedicated to a cause for which they gave "the last full measure of devotion". Yesterday July 3rd, 2013 I drove out to Gettysburg which I've visited many times over the years... but this time it was a different place. It was the 150th Anniversary of Pickett's Charge, the final tumultuous assault which ended in disaster for Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia... and the spirits of those who fought there were all around me...

The Battle of Gettysburg and the Civil War in general has generated tens of thousands of books and dozens of movies. This devastating conflict nearly destroyed our nation; the 620,000 casualties is more than all other U.S. wars combined. Yet, as a people we are fascinated with this event- or series of events which tore apart the fabric of our country, spurring brother to fight brother, laying waste to billions of dollars of property, changing people's lives forever. Why is it that our nation continues to be fixated with a war which almost ended the idea we call... America? One answer lies in the hallowed grounds of Gettysburg.

Walking the battlefield at Gettysburg- up to the lookout point on Little Round Top, to the Wheat Field where thousands of soldiers fought in a brutal exchange which lasted for many hours and over to the "High Water Mark" of the Confederacy- the "copse of trees" enshrined now inside iron bars which protect the objects of the rebel advance- I felt a presence and could almost hear the voices of the men who fought there, yelling to "Charge!!"... and those of the wounded, their groans fading to a murmur as comrades left the field of battle. This is sacred ground- all of it- from Culp's Hill in the north to the Eternal Light Peace Memorial and the woods near McPherson's Ridge where Union General John Reynolds was killed early in the action, down to the Peach Orchard, Devil's Den and Big Round Top, standing guard over its smaller brother nearby. As I stopped and walked at each location, tears began to form in my eyes as I could sense the enormous struggle fought for the soil I was walking on, but then they stopped- as I gazed at the sculptures standing tall, stoic in their continuing fight to protect this ground, to "hold the line" at all costs...

I learned much more than I ever knew as I walked the battlefield at Gettysburg yesterday and I know that much of that understanding comes from the souls of the men who fought and died there... 150 years ago... on that day, their spirits still present within every inch of ground they fought to protect. I know that brave men like Joshua Chamberlain- depicted so well in the film "Gettysburg"- and others were there with me. Chamberlain's words reverberated inside me, as I recalled the scene in the movie where he is talking with the company of men from Maine who deserted and didn't want to fight. "This is a different kind of war... We are an Army out to set other men free... Gentlemen, I believe if we lose this fight, we lose the war..." His words re-charged the men from Maine, nearly all of whom agreed to pick up their rifles and fight for the Union again.

Chamberlain's voice from his visit back to the battlefield in 1889 were also resounding yesterday along the hills surrounding the bloody fields where thousands fell. He was there 124 years ago for the dedication of the new memorial to the 20th Maine regiment which defended Little Round Top on the second day of the battle. I stood yesterday at the exact same spot where Chamberlain stood... and could feel his presence... and even the fateful words he uttered when- looking down at the continuing rebel advance, he said: "Fix bayonets!!". Chamberlain's efforts were not limited to the Battle of Gettysburg; he was wounded several times and rose to the rank of Brigadier General. Later he was awarded the nation's highest accolade: the Congressional Medal of Honor. Chamberlain was given the solemn responsibility by General Ulysses S. Grant of accepting the Confederate troops surrender at Appomattox on April 9, 1865. His was a soul filled with devotion to a higher cause, one which knew the intrinsic value of each human being. An ardent opponent of slavery, he understood that the abominable practice must end- and he put his life on the line in that effort. It is because of the devotion of thousands of men like Chamberlain that we now have a more just society, one which comes closer to living up to the ideals spelled out in the Constitution. At the dedication ceremony in 1889, he said: "In great deeds, something abides. On great fields, something stays. Forms change and pass, bodies disappear, but spirits linger to consecrate the ground for the vision-place of souls..." His spirit was there yesterday as I stood at the peak of Little Round Top. It was everywhere I walked, everything I touched... the rock lying on the ground at the High Water Mark... the fragment of a tree limb I held at the spot where Reynolds was killed... the grass beneath my feet at the Wheat Field... and I know it will be there for generations to come.

This Day in History: July 4th

This Day in History: Robert E. Lee begins a steady retreat after the disastrous Battle of Gettysburg which destroyed over a third of his Army of Northern Virginia, the epic conflict coming to a crescendo the day before with Pickett's Charge- a focused assault on the center of the Union line which was executed with a two-hour cannonade that failed- partly because Lee's artillery commander didn't realize that most of his shots were going over and beyond the Union positions, leaving them largely intact and ready to decimate the rebel troops who later marched to their deaths thinking they'd be victorious, the survivors saddened as their leader rode away saying "It is all my fault...", 1863

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

This Day in History: July 2nd

This Day in History: The Continental Congress assembled in Philadelphia votes to approve Thomas Jefferson's document outlining independence from Great Britain, although the official vote tally is not done until two days later, 1776; President James Garfield is shot by a crazed assassin, but lives for two months before succumbing to his wounds, 1881; aviator Amelia Earhart disappears over the South Pacific on her flight around the world, never to be seen again, 1937; President Lyndon Johnson signs landmark civil rights legislation giving more freedoms to blacks, even though many members of the Democratic Party were strongly against it, LBJ having to rely on Republicans in Congress who cast the deciding vote to approve it despite Democratic objections, 1964; the one millionth Corvette rolls off the assembly line, giving hope to all those 'over- 40' men hoping to rekindle a bit of their youth, 1992

Monday, July 1, 2013

This Day in History: July 1st

This Day in History: The Battle of Gettysburg begins, a total of 160,000 soldiers assembled for a three-day battle which would see the "High Tide of the Confederacy" and General Robert E. Lee's dream of forcing President Lincoln to the bargaining table fade away as he realizes his cause is doomed, 1863; Teddy Roosevelt storms San Juan Hill in Puerto Rico with the Rough Riders during the Spanish-American War, 1898; General Rommel's chances of victory dwindle to nothing as his forces are defeated at El Alamein in North Africa during Wolrd War II, 1942; "Mr. X" (a.k.a. State Department official George Kennan) writes an article in the quarterly journal 'Foreign Affairs' warning about the rise of Soviet expansionism which will help guide U.S. policy toward Russia in the post-war years, 1947; the very last Ford Thunderbird rolls off the assembly line, the sleek, stylish car a favorite of both men and women who wanted a sporty, yet refined-looking automobile, 2005

Sunday, June 30, 2013

This Day in History: June 30th

This Day in History: The Continental Congress adopts Articles of War against Great Britain, 1775; Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia turns north heading into Pennsylvania towards a small crossroads town called Gettysburg in what he hopes will be a successful maneuver to crush the Union Army of the Potomac and bring President Lincoln to the bargaining table, 1863; Margaret Mitchell gets her first- and only novel- "Gone With the Wind"- published, winning her great acclaim, the Pulitzer Prize and the hearts and minds of millions around the world who called it one of the greatest novels ever written, later turned into a movie which won several Academy Awards- not bad for a first-time author, 1936; Hong Kong goes back to China from Great Britain, 1997

Friday, June 28, 2013

This Day in History: June 28th

This Day in History: James Madison dies- one of the last of the Founding Fathers, drafter of the U.S. Constitution, co-author of the Federalist Papers, recorder of the Constitutional Convention and fourth President of the United States- big accomplishments for a guy who was only 5 foot two, 1836; a crazed gunman starts the rumblings which would spark the fire that raged around the world by assassi...nating Archduke Franz Ferdinand and starting World War I, 1914; John Maynard Keynes- a Biritish economist- attends the treaty negotiations at Versailles which ended World War I and predicts disaster within a few years due to the overly harsh conditions imposed upon Germany, 1919; the very first "muscle car" rolls off of the assembly line in Flint, Michigan, the Chevrolet Corvette kindling a love affair with millions of young men trying to impress their girlfriends with a thrilling ride on the open road- and many more who'd passed 40 and were trying to find that energy they had 20 years earlier, 1953

Saturday, June 22, 2013

This Day in History: June 22nd

This Day in History: The Continental Congress presses its luck and issues $2 million in "bills of credit" to help finance the growing war effort, the notes being called "Continentals" due to their lack of any tie to the British Crown across the sea, 1775; Napoleon abdicates his throne for the second and last time and is banished from the French Empire to a remote island in the Mediterranean, 1815; Joe Louis becomes heavyweight champion of the world, a title he will retain for 12 years and defend successfuly 25 times, winning 21 times with knockouts that made him one of the greatest boxers of all time, 1937; FDR signs the G.I. Bill which will help rebiuld America after the end of World War II and the previous devastating Great Depression, allowing soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines to get low cost loans and go to college, earning degrees and learning skills with which to build their own lives and enjoy the American Dream, 1944

Friday, June 21, 2013

This Day in History: June 21st

This Day in History: King Charless III of Spain declares war on England, joining France in their assault against their decades-long enemy and helping the Americans greatly in their struggle for independence, spreading Britain's resources thin so that they would finally capitulate, 1779; the U.S. Constitution is ratified, 1788; General Pershing's troops are attacked by the Mexican Army as they try to find and capture the notorious villain Panch Villa, who'd escaped into the mountains of northern Mexico after crossing the U.S. border and slaughtering dozens in New Mexico, 1916; The Byrds hit #1 on the pop charst with a song by Bob Dylan- "Mr. Tambourine Man"- and change the world of music forever, Roger McGuinn's jangly 12-string electric Rickenbacker guitar forming the lush background which launched the folk-rock revolution, 1965

Thursday, June 20, 2013

This Day in History: June 20th

This Day in History: The Continental Congress adopts the "Great Seal of the United States", a blue shield with seven white and six red stripes along with an eagle clutching an olive branch signifying peace in one talon and arrows signifying war in another, 1782; 18-year old Queen Victoria starts her reign which will last 63 years and take the world into the 'Victorian Age', 1837; West Virginia 'secedes' from the rebellious state of Virginia and enters the Union as a supporter of the Federal government during the Civil War, 1863; people get scared as they enter the water at beaches everywhere as the movie "Jaws" is released, the thriller about a 30-foot long Great White Shark terrorizing the seasonal visitors to 'Amityville' shot in and around Martha's Vineyard becoming a blockbuster smash hit, 1975

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

This Day in History: June 19th

This Day in History: The Republican Party holds its first Presidential Convention in Philadelphia, nominating noted explorer John C. Fremont for President, their platform largely dedicted to abolishing the horrendous practice of slavery- a move which most Democrats vehemently opposed, as Democrats strongly supported and voted to continue the slave trade (especially in the South), 1856; the USS Kearsarge wins a big one for the Union and sinks the CSS Alabama off the coast of France, 1864; noted spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are executed for treason after a hotly debated trial, 1953; after more than ten years of writing songs for others which became pop hits, immensely talented songwriter/performer Carole King has a #1 record for herself, her album "Tapestry" going gold and launching King into a successful stand-alone musical career, 1970

Monday, June 17, 2013

This Day in History: June 17th

This Day in History: General William Howe attacks a well-entrenched American force at Bunker Hill in Boston, his troops suffering a blistering counter-attack with a barrage of bullets from the patriots who were told "Do not shoot until you see the whites of their eyes!", 1775; a wonderful present arrives in New York City- the Statue of Liberty, given to America by the French as a sign of our mutual friendhsip, 1885; aviator Amelia Earhardt becomes the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, 1928; Marshall Henri Petain becomes Prime Minister of France in what the public believes will be a strong move against the invading Nazis- but he later made overtures for peace with the Germans, becoming known as the "Vichy government" that appeased the brutal Axis Power, 1940; a "third-rate burglary" is unveiled as police arrest three men trying to break into the Democrtic Party campaign headquarters in Washington, D.C., causing a slow drip... drip... drip in the press from investigative journalists who will be instrumental in bringing down the Administration of Richard Nixon by exposing lawbreaking which was covered up at the highest levels, 1972

Sunday, June 16, 2013

This Day in History: June 16th

This Day in History: Two and a half years before he steps big onto the national stage, a young Abraham Lincoln warns the Illinois state Republicans assembled that "a house divided against itself cannot stand", 1858; the first roller-coaster in America opens at a place later to become famous again for its hot dogs- Coney Island, New York, 1884; Henry Ford finally gets it right after trying twice and failing both times, incorporating the Ford Motor Company, destined to become the largest producer of automobiles in America, churning out roughly half the cars on U.S. roads in the 1920's and 1930's and dominating the landscape until an upstart named General Motors came onto the scene, 1903; Robert Zimmerman (a.k.a. Bob Dylan) sheds his folkie clothes and takes on the garb of a bluesy rock musician, going into Columbia Records Studio A in New York City with other electric guitar players and an organ player to record what some have called one of the best rock songs of all time- "Like A Rolling Stone", changing the face of popular music and influencing bands like The Byrds and others in the late 1960's and onwards, 1965

Saturday, June 15, 2013

This Day in History: June 15th

This Day in History: King John puts his royal seal on a document which will change the course of history for people around the world, approving the Magna Carta, 1215; George Washington is unanimously voted to lead the Continental Army, 1775; Delaware- or "the lower counties of the Delaware below Philadelphia" as they were known then as part of Pennsylvania- vote to declare independence from not only the Keystone State, but also England, 1776; Charles Goodyear gets a patent for the vulcanizaion of rubber, thus allowing the future development of tires for hot rods, muscle cars, the family station wagon and every other sort of motorized contraption to ride smoothly even on rough roads, 1844; the U.S. and Great Britain sign the Oregon Treaty, finally establishing the American border with the northern territories (Canada) at the 49th parallel, 1846

Thursday, June 13, 2013

This Day in History: June 13th

This Day in History: A student of Aristotle is laid to rest following a life of great achievement as Alexander the Great dies in Babylon after presiding over the largest empire in the ancient world, 323 B.C.; aviator Charles Lindbergh gets the full treatment- a ticker-tape parade amongst adoring crowds in downtown New York City to welcome him home after his record-breaking solo flight across the A...tlantic Ocean, 1927; the U.S. Supreme Court sides with a dude named Miranda even after he confessed to committing a crime, stating that all those arrested must be read their rights and given notice that they can remain silent and have a lawyer assist them- at taxpayer expense, 1966; State Department employee Daniel Ellsberg- formerly a supporter of government policy who'd later grown disillusioned and frustrated- leaks portions of a top secret Pentagon study on the Vietnam War to the New York Times, which immediately publishes it, causing widespread shock and disbelief that the government under President Lyndon Johnson had been repeatedly lying to the American public about the events in and outlook for success in Vietnam, causing an uproar, leading to the "fortress mentality" which eventually was the downfall of Johnson's successor, 1971; former President George H.W. Bush goes for a thrill ride as he jumps out of an airplane to celebrate his 80th birthday, 2004

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

This Day in History: June 12th

This Day in History: Virginia adopts George Mason's Declaration of Rights, which is almost a blueprint for Thomas Jefferson to later pen the now immortal Declaration of Independence, 1776; the Boys of Summer get a home as the Baseball Hall of Fame opens in Cooperstown, New York, 1939; a young girl receives a diary for her 13th birthday and uses it to write down her fears as she and her family hide from the Nazis during World War II, 1942; President Reagan goes against his advisers recommendations and speaks the words which brought down the Soviet Union: 'Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall...', six words which ended the Cold War and relegated Soviet Communism to the dustbin of history, 1987

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

This Day in History: June 11th

This Day in History: British Captain James Cook discovers the Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest assemblage of living organisms, 1770; Allied forces converge after their successful D-Day assault, moving forward as a unified western front to liberate Europe, 1944; Hank Williams, Sr. makes his debut at the Grand Ole Opry, 1949; staging an amazing comeback after a near fatal car accident which nearly crippled him for life, Ben Hogan goes on to win at the Merion Golf Club outside Philadelphia, taking home one of his four lifetime U.S. Open victories, 1950; facing the threat of Federalized National Guard troops sent by President Kennedy, Alabama Governor George Wallace allows black students to attend the University of Alabama, 1963; Seattle Slew shocks audiences around America to become the second horse in the 1970's to win the Triple Crown, 1977; 'The Duke' rides off into the sunset after staging a long battle with health problems, John Wayne earning his place among the screen legends of Hollywood, later immortalized in a song by Jimmy Buffett, 1979

Monday, June 10, 2013

This Day in History: June 10th

This Day in History: Benjamin Franklin gets the shock of his life flying a kite with a metal key on it in a lightning thunderstorm, collecting the charge in a Leyden jar and changing the world of science, 1752; the Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia asks John Adams to write a declaration, but he refuses, knowing many of the members weren't too hot on the idea, saying (in effect) 'Half the group hates my guts... and the other half just don't like me', turning instead to a young man named Thomas Jefferson to pen the now immortal document, 1776; two men with serious drinking problems- a New York stockbroker and an Ohio physician- get sober for a while and form a group which will later help tens of millions around the world, Alcoholics Anonymous, 1935; Ike stands tall with a "'New Look' foreign policy, rejecting calls for isolationism and putting forth a pretty good doctrine- 1) have a multi-national (rather than unilateral) response to world crises and Communist aggression and 2) upgrade the military so that fewer planes, tanks and ships are needed, using the newest and strongest ones with a 'massive response' which can overwhelm the enemy, 1953

Sunday, June 9, 2013

This Day in History: June 9th

This Day in History: French navigator Jacques Cartier becomes the first European to explore the St. Lawrence River, 1534; Union and rebel cavalry clash at the Battle of Brandy Station, Virginia in a spirited skirmish which showed that Confederate General Jeb Stuart wasn't invincible, his team barely defeating the Union troops after a single cannon shot from a nearby hill scared them into thinking there was an entire artillery regiment behind it, a lead-in to the Battle of Gettysburg which occurred three weeks later, 1863; Charles Dickens dies of a stroke at the age of 58, the writer having penned some of the most outstanding works in English literature, including "A Tale of Two Cities", "Oliver Twist" and "A Christmas Carol", 1870; a flash flood on the Minnelusa River near Rapid City, South Dakota destroys the Pactola Dam, killing 238 people, 1972; Secretariat becomes the first horse in 25 years to win the Triple Crown of racing when he wins by a record-breaking 31 lengths against the field of challengers, 1973; Larry Bird is drafted by the Boston Celtics, soon to become one of the most successful players in the history of the game, his lightning-quick moves, superb ball-handling and superior shooting stunning audiences across the country, 1978

Saturday, June 8, 2013

This Day in History: June 8th

This Day in History: King George VI and his wife come to D.C. for a visit with FDR, the first time a Royal couple had visited the United States, 1936; the very first of a long series of performance machines rolls off the assembly line as "#1"- the first Porsche, a hand-built aluminum prototype is completed, 1948; Robert F. Kennedy is laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery three days after his death, the second of two very high profile brothers to be killed within five years, giving rise to many plausible conspiracy theories which abound today of how possibly the Mafia had a hand in both assassinations due to their anger over the policies and actions of the Kennedy's while in office which thwarted their underworld activities, 1968; Mick Jagger and Keith Richards do something unusual- ask a fellow band member to get help for HIS drug problems, telling multi-instrumentalist Brian Jones- one of the founding members of the band and the inspiration for many of the early songs which propelled them to stardom- to leave the band and enter rehab, the rock prodigy found dead in a swimming pool not long afterwards, 1969

Friday, June 7, 2013

This Day in History: June 7th

This Day in History: "Here comes the Sun King"- Louis XIV is crowned King of France, destined to have a very long reign over his kingdom, 1654; Richard Henry Lee of Virginia has a part in changing the world as he introduces his resolution for independence at a meeting of the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, 1776; an Alaskan missionary proves he has the right stuff as Hudson Stuck becomes the first man to complete a successful ascent of Mount McKinley, the highest point on the North American continent, 1913; the "blonde bombshell"- actress Jean Harlow dies at a hospital in Hollywood of uremic failure after a brief, but highly successful stint in the film industry punctuated by personal tragedies and three marriages, 1937; Japanese troops occupy the islands of Attu and Kiska in the Aleutian chain off Alaska during World War II, their brief stay ending a year later when American forces re-take the islands, 1942

Thursday, June 6, 2013

This Day In History: June 6th

This Day in History: Development of the city which would be the capital of Russia for 200 years- St. Petersburg- is begun, 1703; setting the stage for teenage romance, the very first drive-in movie theatre opens in Camden, New Jersey, 1933; the invasion during "the war to end all wars", Operation Overlord begins, the largest amphibious assault in human history with American and British troops coordinating a massive onslaught to defeat Nazi forces entrenched on the beaches of Normandy, France, the attack beguiled at first due to inclement weather, but later overwhelmingly successful due to the efforts of thousands of brave men who marched directly into oncoming fire and saved the world, 1944; George Orwell takes a look at the way the world will look decades later with his hauntingly surreal novel "1984" which raised eyebrows around America as the thought of "Big Brother" watching your every move disturbed readers, 1949

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

This Day in History: June 5th

This Day in History: FDR takes the U.S. off the gold standard in the midst of the Great Depression, 1933; George C. Marshall proposes a great startegy for rebuilding Europe after World War II which will be called the Marshall Plan that rejuvenated the war-torn region, 1947; British Secretary of War John Profumo resigns after admitting to having had sexual relations with a call girl- Christine Keeler, the announcement shaking up the normally staid British press, 1963; Israel defeats Jordanian, Egyptian and Syrian forces in the first skirmish of the Six Day War, 1967; Robert F. Kennedy is shot and killed after he gives a rousing speech at The Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on his way to running for President, 1968; President Ronald Reagan dies after serving his country and brining it out of a lingering "malaise" after the Presidency of a failed predecessor and becoming a hero to millions around the world, 2004

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

This Day in History: June 4th

This Day in History: Oxford and Cambridge meet for the very first time in a cricket match, beginning a long-standing rivalry which will become legend over the next two centuries, 1827; Henry Ford rides his four-wheeled gas-powered contraption which he calls a "quadricycle" around Detroit, the first step in what will seven years later become the Ford Motor Company, 1896; the U.S. Congress finally f...igures out that- yes- both sexes should be eligible to cast ballots and passes the 19th Amendment, allowing women to enter the voting booth and pull the lever on election day, 1919; Carson McCullers releases her very first novel- "The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter"- and something exceptional for a young, unknown writer happens- it's an instant hit, the story of misfits in a small Georgia town propelling her to success, 1940; the Battle of Midway- one of the turning points of World War II begins, the naval onslaught allowing the U.S. to destroy four Japanese aircraft carriers while only losing one- the U.S.S. Yorktown, 1942; Bruce Springsteen's album "Born in the U.S.A." goes gold, the album bringing him huge success and building on his already long-standing reputation of giving 3-hour marathon concerts to adoring crowds coast-to-coast, 1984; Chinese police and combat troops attack protesters in Tianenman Square, killing dozens, with one solitary man capturing the attention of the world as he stands solidly straight, unflinching in front of a tank, 1989

Monday, June 3, 2013

This Day in History: June 3rd

This Day in History: President Woodrow Wilson signs the National Defense Act, which greatly expanded the scope and mission of the U.S. National Guard in protecting and defending the security of the country, 1916; King Edward VIII makes a public announcement that he values love over power and intends to marry American socialite Wallace Simpson, thereby agreeing to abdicate the throne as King of England, shocking the British press, the Royal Family and people around the world, 1937; astronaut Edward White opens the hatch of the Gemini IV space capsule and becomes the first American to walk in space, the event and other launches giving rise to popular space-related programs like "Lost In Space" and "Star Trek", 1965

Sunday, June 2, 2013

This Day in History: June 2nd

This Day in History: The British Parliament enacts the Coercive and the Quartering Acts, both of which will ignite sparks of resentment across the Atlantic in the 13 Colonies whose settlers were already sewing the seeds of revolution, 1774; Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith surrenders his Army of the Mississippi in the last formal act of capitulation by the rebels, whose leader General Robert E. Lee had already signed the armistice treaty nearly two months before, 1865; 49-year Grover takes a very young bride and becomes the only President to get hitched while serving his term in the White House, marrying 21-year old Frances Folsom, 1886; the greatest baseball player ever to take to the field retires as Babe Ruth, a poor kid from Baltimore leaves the game after 22 seasons, 10 World Series, 714 home runs and the highest batting average (.690) of any player, 1935; a princess becomes a Queen as Elizabeth is coronated at Westminter Abbey in London, 1953

Saturday, June 1, 2013

This Day in History: June 1st

This Day in History: The first European explorers reach the magnetic North Pole, 1831; Lou Gehrig- "the Iron Man" of baseball- seps up to the plate to pinch hit for Pee Wee Wanninger, the first game in 2,130 consecutive games he played over 14 years which made him one of the greatest players ever to take the field, for which he later said to an admiring crowd "I'm the luckiest man in the world..."..., 1925; a British rock group changes the world of music forever with a long-playing (L.P.) album based on a Sergeant who was lonely, 1967; Helen keller dies- the deaf, dumb and blind woman an amazing example of what can be accomplished with a strong will and determination, having graduated cum laude from Radcliffe and going on a lecture tour around the world, writing several books about her life's journey, 1968; Cable News Network (CNN) debuts, bucking the establishment news channels ABC, NBC and CBS in doing news 24-hours a day, at first being ridiculed as the "Chicken Noodle Network" and later for its strongly liberal reporting as the "Commie News Network", the station set the tone for news in the 1980's and 1990's, especially during the Gulf War, when Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell said "The best coverage I've seen was on CNN...", 1980

Thursday, May 30, 2013

This Day in History: May 30th

This Day in History: The first major ceremony honoring our Veterans and fallen soldiers is held in the United States, first termed Decoration Day and later called Memorial Day, 1868; former President Taft dedicates a shrine to one of our greatest leaders as the Lincoln Memorial opens to the public, 1922; the Mariner 9 spacecraft departs for Mars in search of worlds unknown- and later sends back over 7,000 photographs of the alien planet, showing gigantic volcanoes, a 3,000-mile long canyon and what appear to be dry riverbeds, giving scientists an indication that the environment may once have contained water, possibly supporting some form of life, 1971

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

This Day in History: May 29th

This Day in History: Explorer John C. Fremont begins his second of four great western expeditions which reveal the grandeur of the Great Salt Lake and mountainous terrain throughout the southern Rockies, 1843; cheeseheads celebrate as Wisconsin enters the Union, 1848; Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay become the first people to climb to "the top of the world"- Mount Everest, a stunning accomplishment for which Hillary was later knighted by Queen Elizabeth, 1953; Igor shocks the world- not as a horror film character, but as a composer with Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" being performed for the first time in Paris, setting the stage for a dramatically different phase in modern music, 1913

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

This Day in History: May 28th

This Day in History: Lt. Colonel George Washington and his brigade fire the first shots of what will be termed the French and Indian War (Seven Years War) near the future city of Pittsburgh, 1754; the 54th Massachusetts Infantry- a black soldiers troop- leaves Boston to fight in the Civil War, their bravery at the Battle of Fort Wagner portrayed more than a century later magnificently in the movie "Glory", 1863; Owen Wister publishes his novel "The Virginian", the first serious western which will set the standard for other books and later movies of the Old West, 1902; John Steinbeck's novel "Tortilla Flats" is published, giving the struggling writer his first taste of success in what would become a long and very successful career, culminating with the Nobel Prize for Literature, 1935; U.S. ground troops and the storied 101st Airborne abandon Ap Bia Mountain after a long, brutal and bloody series of battles against North Vietnamese soldiers, the location getting the moniker "Hamburger Hill" due to people calling it a "meat grinder" of human destruction, 1969

Sunday, May 26, 2013

This Day in History: May 26th

This Day in History: President Lincoln gives us "Big Sky Country" by naming the Montana Territory to the Union, 1864; the country "gets down to business" as The Wall Street Journal prints its first edition, 1896; Bram Stoker gives the world a scare as his novel "Dracula" goes on sale to the public, 1897; Henry Ford and his son Edsel take a ride out the doors of the automobile plant on the last Model-T, which had become enormously popular, but was losing sales to other models such as the Chevrolet by an upstart company named General Motors, 1927; Harvey Haddix of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches 12 perfect innings of baseball- a feat that had never been done before- but still loses to Lew Burdette of the Milwaukee Braves- who had a no-hitter at that point- in one of the most exciting pitching duels ever seen by sports fans in America, 1959

Saturday, May 25, 2013

This Day in History: May 25th

This Day in History: The Constitutional Convention convenes in Phiuladelphia, with George Washington presiding over a group which will write the document that will change the world, 1787; Father Stephen Theodore Badin is ordained the first Catholic priest in America near Baltimore, Maryland, 1793; President Lincoln infuriates Southern sympathizers as he suspends the writ of habeas corpus (literally- "produce the body" of evidence for an arrest), in an effort to stem the massive insurrection during the Civil War, 1861; Babe Ruth hits his last home run, 1935; Luke Skywalker and his buddies soar across the heavens, fighting the forces of evil throughout the galaxy as 'Star Wars' opens in theatres around America, changing popular film forever, 1977

Friday, May 24, 2013

This Day in History: May 24th

This Day in History: John Hancock becomes President of the Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia, where he'll later inscribe his signature- the largest of anyone who signed- on the Declaration of Independence, 1775; the first passenger train service in the U.S. begins as a locomotive leaves Baltimore for Elliott Knolls, Maryland, 1830; an artist turns his creativity into a miracle of science as Samuel F.B. Morse sees his telegraph come to life and taps out the words "What hath God wrought?", 1844; the Brooklyn Bridge is completed connecting one of America's biggest neighborhoods with downtown New York, 1883; the master of jazz- Duke Ellington dies after a long and successful career where he broke down barriers due to his genius and enormous personal appeal, 1974

Thursday, May 23, 2013

This Day in History: May 23rd

This Day in History: King Henry VIII stirs up a controversy in the Church as he dissolves his marriage, 1533; Captain Kidd is led to an undesirable place- the "Executioner's Dock" in London- and hanged for his roles in piracy and murder, 1701; Sergeant William Harvey Carney, one of the black soldiers who fought bravely with the 54th Massachusetts regiment during the Civil War and who waged a courageous attack on Confederate Fort Wagner (depicted so well in the movie "Glory") is belatedly awarded the Medal of Honor- the nation's highest military decoration- for his efforts, 1900; one of the world's greatest places to relax with a good book is opened as the New York Public Library is dedicated, 1911; two wild and murdering outlaws are brought down as Bonnie and Clyde are shot with 160 bullets by police in Louisiana, 1934

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

This Day in History: May 21st

This Day in History: Clara Barton founds the American Red Cross, the helpers who give aid to people in desperate, tragedy-struck situations, 1881; Charles Lindbergh becomes the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic, 1927; Amelia Earhardt takes Charles' cue and does the same things five years later, becoming the first woman to fly solo across the Pond, 1932; a construction worker picks up his guitar and goes in to the doorway of Chess Records, recording a song that will become a major hit and inspire hundreds of others to create songs in this new thing- this thing called "rock and roll" as D.J. Alan Freed descrived it, Chuck Berry's tune being the first of many in a great musical career, 1955

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

This Day in History May 15th

This Day in History: The Seven Years War (also called the French and Indian War) begins between Britain and France (aided by the local Indian tribes) in North America, 1756; John Adams orders the Federal government to pick up and move- from Philadelphia to the new capital, Washington, D.C., 1800; air mail service begins in the U.S., but only between New York, Philadelphia and Washington, 1918; the "wonders of science" just keep on coming, with Du Pont's new nylon stockings going on sale, causing a sensation among women, 1940; Nolan Ryan- who'd been traded by the Mets to the Angels just a few years earlier- gets the first no-hitter of his very long career which would see him earn a total of six and launch him to the Baseball Hall of Fame, 1973; the Soviets realize that invading a mountainous, parched Middle Eastern country with tanks and rocket launchers, killing thousands of villagers and installing a puppet regime was not a good way to make friends- and start their withdrawal from Afghanistan, 1988

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

This Day in History: May 14th

This Day in History: Delegates begin to assemble in a spot which would gain recognition as the "cradle of liberty"- Philadelphia- preparing to attend a meeting which will change the world- the Constitutional Convention- the first time a society shook off the rule of an opposing nation and wrote its own laws to guide a country, many of them dining at another place that had become famous- the Old Ci...ty Tavern- where Thomas Jefferson had spent time while writing the Declaration of Independence, 1787; English physician Edawrd Jenner successfully tests his smallpox vaccine and later gets a town named after him, Jennersville in southern chester County, PA., 1796; Lewis and Clark start on an exciting road trip, 1804; a machine goes up in the heavens to bring back information on how the universe works, Skylab being launched to increase scientific knowledge, 1973; 'Ol Blue Eyes- Frank Sinatra- passes away at the age of 82, but his tunes live on forever, 1998

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day: "James Dean, James Dean...I know just what you mean

James Dean, you said it all so clean... And I know my life would look all right

If I could see it on the silver screen...

You were the low-down rebel if there ever was...Even if you had no cause

James Dean, you said it all so clean...And I know my life would look all right

If I could see it on the silver screen...

Little James Dean up on the screen

Wonderin' who he might be...Along came a Spyder and picked up a rider

Took him down the road to eternity..." --The Eagles, "James Dean"

This Day in History- May 11th

This Day in History: Roman Emperor Constantin names a city after himself, making Constantinople a major crossroads of Europe and Asia, 330 A.D.; the "Land of 10,000 Lakes" takes its place as the 32nd state as Minnesota enters the Union, 1858; horrendous dust storms sweep across the Great Plains all the way to the Eastern Seaboard carrying as much as 350 million tons of silt in one day, scattering it all over the countryside, forcing thousands to flee from devastated areas such as Oklahoma and neighboring states at a particularly bad time- the Great Depression, during which the entire nation felt the double effects of an economic downturn and natural disasters, 1934; Israel is admitted to the United Nations, 1949; machine beats man as "Deep Blue"- IBM's master mind of a computer tops World chess Champion Gary Kasparov at a game of chess, 1997

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

This Day In History: April 9th

This Day in History: Mark Twain gets his riverboat pilot's license, giving him the material which would make him famous in the coming decades when he publishes "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" and other books which became classics of American literature, 1859; General Robert E. Lee surrenders at Appomattox, effectively ending the Civil War- America's costliest, deadliest and most bitter internal struggle which claimed roughly 600,000 casualties- roughly 4% of the population- the equivalent of 12 million dead today, 1865; NASA introduces the very first astronauts to America who would go forward in Project Mercury, a story detailed in the wonderful movie (and book by Tom Wolfe before it) called 'The Right Stuff', 1959; Paul McCartney saddens the entire world and announces the break-up of the Beatles, ending "The Sixties", 1970 -Gene Pisasale, Author of "The Forgotten Star", "Abandoned Address- The Secret of Frick's Lock", "Lafayette's Gold- The Lost Brandywine Treasure" and the column "Living History" which runs bi-weekly in The Daily Local News and other Chester county, Pa. media outlets

Monday, April 8, 2013

This Day In History April 8th

This Day in History: Traders for the Dutch East India Company begin the settlement which will be named Cape Town, South Africa, a crossroads for voyagers going from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, 1652; the U.S. Congress approves President Rooselvent's Works Progress Administration (WPA), the massive Federal spending designed to put millions of unemployed people to work building roads, bridges and dams across America, many of which like the scenic and often photographed Bixby Bridge along the coast at California's Big Sur now a landmark destination, 1935; Hank Aaron breaks Babe Ruth's home run record, slamming his 715th run despite having received death threats from bigoted people who weren't fond of seeing the former Negro leagues player shatter their misguided and one-sided dreams, 1974

Saturday, April 6, 2013

This Day in History: April 6th

This Day in History: Tennessee becomes the stage for one of the bloodiest conflicts of the Civil War as the Battle of Shiloh rages, causing thousands of casualties on both sides, 1862; sports make a comeback in Greece as the Olympics return to Athens after a millennial hiatus, 1896; the U.S. Congress votes to approve President Woodrow Wilson's declaration of war against Germany after seeing American ships and vessels from other countries sunk by German submarines, killing thousands of people, the vote formally bringing the U.S. into World War I, 1917; Stanley Kubrick shakes things up a bit with his film "2001: A Space Odyssey", a ground-breaking movie which incorporated elements of sci-fi with special effects and a fascinating theme about the development of man, quickly becoming one of the most talked about films of all time, raising eyebrows as it pondered questions of human origin, the effects of technology and spiritual issues about man's nature, 1968

Friday, April 5, 2013

This Day in History April 5th

This Day in History: President George Washington casts the very first Presidential veto, setting a standard (as he did with so many other actions) for the framework of our governmental system, 1792; Charles Darwin sends the first chapter of what would become the groundbreaking scientific work "The Origin of Species" to his publisher, a book that would transform the study of science in so many disciplines and set off a firestorm of outrage as people on all sides of the political and social spectrum argued about the believability of his ideas, 1859; Winston Churchill resigns as Prime Minister for the second time after a long and steller career in which he switched from being a conservative to a liberal, served as a Member of Parliament, a soldier, First Lord of the Admiralty in World War I, suffered severe defeat and criticism of his policies, left government for ten years as he criticized the spread of Naziism, got back into government as a conservative again, successfully steered his ship of state and his nation safely through World War II, was fired from his job as Prime Minister after guiding Britain through the greatest conflict it had ever seen, then later knighted and awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, 1955; reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes dies, the eccentric having studied engineering after he inherited his father's fortune of $1 million dollars from his Hughes Tool Corporation and started his own aircraft and film companies, became a major land developer and owner of more real estate in Las Vegas than anyone, growing increasingly isolated with his bizarre behavior and finally dying aboard an aircraft on a flight between two of his many homes around the world, setting off a flurry of imposters who were determined to inherit his fortune, including one unusual hitchhiker who claimed Hughes had picked him up on the highway years before and willed his estate to him during the ride, 1976

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

This Day in History- March 27th

This Day in History: President Lincoln meets with Generals Grant and Sherman to plot the last stages of the Civial War; he would be dead a little over two weeks later after having successfully brought the nation through its greatest crisis in history, 1865; fingerprint evidence is used for the very first time to solve a brutal double murder case in England, 1905; Washington, D.C. gets a vibrant new look as lovely cherry blossom trees are planted along the Potomac, the gift of our friends to the East, 1912; one of the worst earthquakes in U.S. history measuring 8.4 on the Richter scale rocks Alaska, causing an enormous tsunami with 100-foot tidal waves, killing 125 people and destroying large parts of downtown Anchorage, 1964

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Going Around the Corner... and Going Back 30 Years...

Thought for the Day: "Last night I did something I haven't done in several years. I went out to see a friend's rock band play at a local club near West Chester, Pa. He's in his early 60's, as were most of the other band members (a banker, a funeral home director, etc.) They ran through a set which was all fun tunes- the Doobie Brothers, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Marhsall Tucker Band, the Rolling Stones- and it took me back 30 years to a time when I went out to hear live music on a weekly basis. Something else happened. As I watched these people in their 50's... 60's... some even around 70 dancing to these tunes, I realized how different this generation was from our parents and grandparents generation- who started looking frumpy and wrinkled and old beginning in their late 40's- many of whom sat on the couch watching T.V. or simply stayed home, rarely going out to do something really fun. Notwithstanding the ones whose figures had turned from slender and muscular to potato-like (most of them) as they jiggled across the dance floor, it was refreshingly fun to watch... and it brought a smile..."