We Are The World

TODAY IN HISTORY, APRIL 5, 1985:

We are the World.

“Check your ego at the door.” This was the sign that Quincy Jones placed on the door to the studio in Los Angeles on January 28, 1985 as a warning to the 46 celebrity vocalists who arrived to record “We are the World.” The single was produced to benefit starving people experiencing famine in Africa.

The album was a run away success, and on April 5, 1985, approximately 6,000 radio stations around the world coordinated to play the single at the same time, 11:50 A.M.

President Reagan, who had not heard the song prior, had it piped through Air Force One and was duly impressed.

I know we aren’t to April 5 yet, but I felt we could use this right now.

I noticed in 1985 they were not afraid to invoke God’s name. May he bless us in the coming times.

Honor and Dishonor

Today in History, March 27, 1836:

The Goliad Massacre.

In the preceding days, several battles had been fought between the Mexican Army and Texians fighting for their independence.

Among others, James W. Fannin had to surrender his forces faced with overwhelming Mexican force and artillery. He and his men had been promised surrender terms that included good treatment and “parole” back to the United States.

They were not aware that in December of the previous year Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna had asked for and received from the Mexican Congress a law declaring that any Texian or American soldiers that were captured would be treated as pirates and executed. In spite of pleas from one of his generals, Santa Anna ordered the men executed. Deprived of the ability to fight to the end by false promises of parole (parole was a common military practice – those that surrendered simply promised not to take up arms again), 303 men that were ambulatory were marched out of Fort Defiance in Goliad along three separate roads.

They were told that they were to gather wood, or that they were being taken to a port to shipped to New Orleans. Many of the men joined in a chorus of “home sweet home” the night before. After marching about 3/4 of a mile, they were halted. Their Mexican guards turned and, on a prearranged signal, shot the unarmed men down. Only 28 managed to play dead and survive. 40 more, including Fannin, were too injured to join the march and were executed within the fort.

The Mexicans saved Fannin for last, setting him on a chair in the courtyard due to his injuries. He asked only that his property be returned to his family, that he be shot in the heart, not the face, and that he be given a Christian burial.

The Mexicans shot him in the face, shared his effects, and burned his body where it lay. The other murdered soldiers were piled up and set afire, their remains left for the vultures.

After the Battle of San Jacinto and Santa Anna’s surrender, they returned and attempted to destroy the evidence. The Massacre did a great deal to gain support for the Texian cause for independence from the United States.

NYC Rapid Transit Railroad

Today in History, March 24, 1900:

New York City Mayor Robert Anthony Van Wyck uses a silver spade to turn the first shovel-full of dirt on a new project: The first underground “Rapid Transit Railroad” in NYC. The first leg would run from Manhattan to Brooklyn. What is now known as the subway would get someone from downtown to Harlem in 13 minutes.

“When Mayor Van Wyck, silver spade in hand, lifted the first shovel of dirt from a small excavation in the flagging in front of the City Hall yesterday, the rapid transit tunnel was officially begun. Around New York’s Chief Magistrate were grouped the men whose persevering work of years had at last made rapid transit a certainty in New York, city officials who have aided them more-or-less in their efforts, financiers who came to the rescue when their aid was most needed, citizens whose names are a power in the professional and commercial world. and beyond all these, banked in almost solid phalanx from the sidewalks of Broadway across the park to the tall buildings in Park Row, were thousands of citizens of all degrees of life, who fought and struggled for position to witness one of the most important events in the history of the city.” –The New York Times, March 25, 1900

A Hero Lost

Today in History, March 22, 1820:

Stephen Decatur, Naval hero of the first and second Barbary Pirate wars, and of the War of 1812, hero and example to many of the U.S. Navy, is killed in a senseless duel.

In 1807 Commodore James Barron refused to defend his ship, Chesapeake, against British attack and was court-marshaled; Decatur, an old friend had to sit on the court-marshal board.

Suspended from the Navy for 5 years, Barron chose to wait until after the War of 1812 to be recommissioned. His cowardice was called, and he challenged Decatur, former comrade, to a duel.

Decatur, U. S. Navy hero, was mortally wounded. Such a shame. Decatur was a swashbuckler, a fierce fighter for his country.

Only 41-years-old, Decatur had untold potential remaining in his life. Such a waste.

New Orleans Burns

Today in History, March 21, 1788:

Have you ever visited the French Quarter in New Orleans? Did you know that the vast majority of those buildings in the “French” Quarter are actually…Spanish?

On this date in 1788 the Army Treasurer in New Orleans, Don Vincente Jose Nunez, and his family were celebrating Good Friday in their home less than a block from the Plaza de Armas (later Jackson Square).

They apparently lit a few too many candles while immersed in prayer and caught their home on fire. Before the day was over, 856 of the 1,100 buildings in the city were destroyed, most of the city. Spain had control of Louisiana at that time, and during a subsequent fire in 1794 that took 212 buildings. So the structures that replaced those of wood that were lost were made of stucco or brick, and of Spanish architecture.

Louisiana Governor Miro’s report: If the imagination could describe what our senses enable us to feel from sight and touch, reason itself would recoil in horror, and it is no easy matter to say whether the sight of an entire city in flames was more horrible to behold than the suffering and pitiable condition in which everyone was involved. Mothers, in search of a sanctuary or refuge for their little ones, and abandoning – their earthly goods to the greed of the relentless enemy, would retire to out-of-the-way places rather than be witnesses of their utter ruin. Fathers and husbands were busy in saving whatever objects the rapidly spreading flames would permit them to bear off, while the general bewilderment was such as to prevent them from finding even for these a place of security. The obscurity of the night coming on threw its mantle for a while over the saddening spectacle; but more horrible still was the sight, when day began to dawn, of entire families pouring forth into the public highways, yielding to their lamentations and despair, who, but a few hours before, had been basking in the enjoyment of more than the ordinary comforts of life. The tears, the heartbreaking sobs and the pallid faces of the wretched people mirrored the dire fatality that had overcome a city, now in ruins, transformed within the space of five hours into an arid and fearful, desert. Such was the sad ending of a work of death, the result of seventy years of industry.

“Carrier Combat” by Lt. Frederick Mears

I wanted to read this book because Lt. Mears served in Torpedo 8 aboard the carrier Hornet at Midway. I have no indication at this point that we are directly related. The book is a first edition and has a note written by a relative. Boy does that appear to be a minimization.

Follow-up:

First, Lt. Mears’ account of his combat service covers not only Midway, but the USS Entrrprise and Guadalcanal. His matter of fact prose described the conditions there. He pays homage to his comrades who were shot down or went down with their ships, and writes about his buddies who got to go home with him on leave. That is where the book stops; not because he intended it to, but because those buddies would be attending HIS funeral. Read the last page of the book, which I have included.

The book does not describe it, but online research indicated he died in an aircraft accident while flying out of the San Diego Naval Air Station in June of 1943.

The book was published with an admonition to “Buy War Bonds.”

There is much more. I had difficulty reading the “relative’s” handwriting. However my online research put it together.

The note is written gifting the book to someone on the event of another person coming home from the war in September, 1945, in honor of Freddy, who won’t be coming back.

My research indicated Lt. Mears’ parents were Colonel Frederick Mears II and Jane Wainright Mears.

Colonel Mears served the Army on the frontier, in WWI, and was instrumental as an Army Engineer in the construction of the Alaska Railway. After retirement he continued on with the railroad. He died in 1939 of natural causes.

Mrs. Jane Mears was apparently a big deal in Anchorage, Alaska society during her husband’s career there. They have schools and/or streets named after them.

There’s more! If you’ve read about General Douglas MacArthur and the Philippines in WWII, you know that when he was ordered out of the Philippines, he left his second in command behind to face the surrender to the Japanese. General Jonathan M. Wainwright had to surrender and survived 3+ years as a prisoner under brutal conditions. He stood with MacArthur on the USS Missouri to accept the Japanese surrender.

The note in the book is by Jane Wainwright Mears…Lt. Mears’ mother, and General Wainwright’s sister. She is commemorating the return of her brother and the loss of her son.

If the note is authentic (more research ahead) then I do have an interesting find and some fascinating history!