Segregation

Today in History, June 11, 1963:

“In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”

Democrat Governor of Alabama George Wallace stands in a door way of the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa in an attempt to prevent the enrollment of two African-Americans as students.

Democrat President John F. Kennedy had Federalized the Alabama National Guard to ensure that the enrollment occurred. American politics are often more nuanced that we realize. Wallace would run for President 4 times without success.

Nazi Atrocities

Today in History, June 10, 1944:

Oradour-sur-Glane, France. Elements of the Nazi SS, acting on belief that one of their officers had been captured by members of the French Resistance, rounded up every citizen of the town and 6 hapless passersby. They locked all of the women and children in a church, then took all of the men to barns, where machine gun nests were already set up. The men were intentionally shot in the legs so that they would die more slowly…once they were all unable to move, the Nazis poured gasoline over them and set the barns afire.

They then returned to the church, where they set off an incendiary device inside. As the church burned, women and children tried to climb out of windows…where they were machine-gunned. 642 innocent civilians were slaughtered.

1944 – Distomo, Greece. In retaliation for a partisan attack, German SS troops go house to house in the village (whose residents had nothing to do with the attack), killing every man woman and child, totaling 218 dead in the end. They disemboweled one infant in front of his family and committed numerous other atrocities before burning the village.

The Antiquities Act

Today in History, June 8: 1906 – The Antiquities Act of 1906 is signed into law by President Theodore Roosevelt after being passed by Congress. In the preceding years historic sites had been discovered in the west, and of course, they were soon raided by thieves, vandals and historians from other countries. The Act was designed to protect these places as National Monuments, to be named either by the President or Congress. Roosevelt, a historian, quickly took advantage of the new power, naming 18 Monuments before his Presidency ended, including (first) Devil’s Tower, Muir Woods, The Grand Canyon, Chaco Canyon and the Petrified Forest. The Act has become more controversial in the years since FDR named The Grand Teton National Monument (near Jackson Hole, Wyoming) in 1943.

The Lee Resolution – and You Can’t Pick Your Family

Today in History, June 7, 1776:

The Lee Resolution.

“Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved. That it is expedient forthwith to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign Alliances. That a plan of confederation be prepared and transmitted to the respective Colonies for their consideration and approbation.”

Continental Congress member Richard Henry Lee, reperesentative from the Virginia Colony, proposes independence from Great Britain after receiving orders to do so from the Virginia Convention. It would take until July, after efforts by John Adams, Sam Adams, and Lee, to gather enough votes to pass the resolution as the Declaration of Independence.

The Lee family would fight in the revolution for Union and Independence. All families are complicated. I would love to know what Richard would have to say about his great-nephew Robert E. Lee fighting so hard to dissolve the Union Richard and his family fought so hard to create.

D-Day, the 6th of June

Today in History, June 6, 1944:

The skies overhead filled with aircraft…thousands of bombers, transports, fighters. The British populace watched the boys board transport ships bound for France…and wept. Their towns, so long filled with those damned Americans were now quiet and empty. They wouldn’t be coming back. Many would fill cemeteries across Europe; others would be headed home for the US after fighting their way to Germany.

In America, as the news was broadcast that the invasion had begun at long last, businesses, theaters, and other workplaces emptied and closed…and the churches filled to capacity.

Americans prayed for their sons, husbands and fathers. I’m sure they prayed not to see the Western Union courier on their street in the coming days.

The Allies had been planning, working for and arguing over this day since America had entered the war. Americans had wanted to make the assault on Europe as early as 1942. Stalin in Russia had been pushing for another front to be opened to relieve pressure on his country which had suffered incredible losses.

The British General Staff and Churchill had won the argument, which saw to fighting in Africa, Sicily and Italy first.

By 1944, as America provided more and more supplies…and troops…to the war, the invasion of France was planned.

The largest, most complex invasion in history began on June 6, 1944 with Americans, British, Canadians and troops from the occupied nations of Europe.

The world was saved by boys who should have lived long, happy lives.

We owe a debt we cannot possibly repay.

On that day, my father would be recognizing his 17th birthday. I don’t know when he shipped out, but that is the year he began his service in the Pacific.

War to Peace…Gen. George Marshall

Today in History, June 5, 1947:

George Catlett Marshall, Jr, who as Chief of Staff of the US Army during WWII was instrumental in defeating the Axis powers, is now US Secretary of State.

On this date he gives a speech at Harvard University and outlines the reasons that the US should provide monetary and physical support to the European nations decimated by the war. Germany and the other nations of Europe were struggling to rebuild their economies, their infrastructure and their ability to operate as governments.

These same countries had been left to fend for themselves after WWI, and radicals like Hitler took advantage of their desperation to bring the world into WWII. The new “bad influence” was communism and Marshall recognized that the same thing could happen all over again. Congress acted on his recommendations and passed the Economic Cooperation Act, or The Marshall Plan. By 1952 the US had spent over 12 Billion dollars to rebuild Europe, likely preventing another global conflict.

The US Camel Corps – In New Mexico – The USS Supply – A Bizarre Adventure

Today in History, June 4, 1855:

US Army Major Henry C. Wayne sails aboard the USS Supply (commanded by US Navy Lt. David Dixon Porter) for the Middle East to purchase camels that would become part of the US Camel Corps. Either he or Gen. Edward Beale had convinced US Secretary of War Jefferson Davis that the animals would be perfect for transportation in the American Southwest.

70 camels would eventually be part of the Corps, and they WERE perfect for transporting supplies long distances…but they were also cranky and difficult to manage, and scared the Army’s horses. When the US Civil War began, the project was largely forgotten as the new Union Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton, didn’t support it. Feral camels were seen roaming the Southwestern United States as late as 1941 as a result.

You may have noticed some other interesting names mentioned. David Dixon Porter was part of an already famous naval family…Farragut. David would serve with distinction in the Civil War.

The USS Supply. If her planks could have talked. The Mexican-American War….she was instrumental. Through her life she make numerous trips to the Levant…served in South Africa, South America, Brazil…she was part of two Expeditions Commodore Mathew C. Perry made to Japan, sailing into Odo Harbor on the Historic dates.

Then Supply returned and became part of the swashbuckling adventures during the Civil War Blockading Squadrons.