Tragedy for Christmas

Today in History, December 15, 1944:

Think of any of your favorite singers, musicians, or groups, roll them altogether, and they aren’t as popular as Glenn Miller and his band were from 1937 to 1944.

In September of 1942 Miller, at the apex of his popularity, gave up the luxuries of home and entered the US Army Air Corps as a Captain to lead the US Army Air Corps Band. He and the band went to England and gave concerts to the troops, which was richly received.

On this date in 1944, Miller took off in a single engine aircraft from England en route to Paris to set up a show for the troops who had just taken that city back from the Nazis. Its the last time Miller was heard from, his plane went down over the English Channel; his remains nor his plane were ever found.

I can’t listen to this song without picturing all of the men and women…girls and boys…who put their lives on hold and saved the world during World War II, from Normandy to Iwo Jima to the Homefront.  Glenn Miller represented them, they were listening to his music before the war at High School dances and on radios before they went into combat.  Thank you, Mr. Miller.

  https://youtu.be/FhZ-yTIXXYI

The Flying Banana Goes to War

Today in History, December 11, 1961:

The first helicopters (H21C Shawnees) arrive in Vietnam, with the mission of transporting South Vietnamese troops into combat.

Helicopters had been used in Korea to transport wounded soldiers, but by Vietnam they had developed to the point that they could be used to move troops quickly into combat areas. This was a marked change in combat operations.

The decendants of the Shawnee would of course play an ever more important role in Vietnam and beyond.

When to Hold Your Move – Kentucky in the Civil War

Today in History, December 10, 1861:

Kentucky is accepted into the Confederacy by the Confederate government. However the act didn’t mean much.

When the war had begun, both sides very much wanted Kentucky, a well-positioned border state, contiguous with the Mississippi River, on their side.

However, it’s citizens were pretty evenly split in their allegiances between the North and the South, so they declared themselves neutral in the conflict.

President Lincoln very much wanted the state and it’s resources, but what he wanted even more was not to push them to the South, so he accepted their neutrality.

In September of 1861 the Confederacy, in the form of Gen. Leonidas K. Polk, violated that neutrality by ordering the occupation of Columbus and setting up a fort there.

Union Gen. U. S. Grant responded by occupying Paducah; Union assets had to be defended, and a strategic Confederate presence could not go unopposed.

The Kentucky assembly responded by issuing a proclamation ordering the Confederates out and the US flag to be flown over the capitol. Polk had chosen a side for them.

Soon a shadow government of Confederate sympathizers was formed, elected a governor, and applied for entry into the Confederacy, which was granted.

While Kentucky did have regiments on both sides of the conflict, the Confederate government of the state was impotent, soon having to leave the state, finishing the war by trailing the Army of the Tennessee around the South. Their elected governor was killed at Shiloh.

“The American People, in Their Righteous Might, Will Win Through to Absolute Victory…”

Today in History, December 8, 1941:

As the Japanese continued their invasion of the Philippines, Malaysia, Hong Kong and other Allied interests in the Pacific, President Franklin Roosevelt gives his famous “Day of Infamy” speech asking Congress to declare that a state of war had existed since the bombs began to fall on Pearl Harbor the day before.

“Get off my Lawn!!” – The Roosevelt Corollary

Today in History, December 6, 1904:

The Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine. The Monroe Doctrine had been established to tell European powers to stay out…no Emperialism in the Western Hemisphere. When it was declared, the US didn’t really have the forces to back it up. But, conveniently the Royal Navy agreed and enforced it for their former adversaries.

In 1904 President Roosevelt made an addition to the Doctrine. There had been recent incidents in which European powers threatened actions against South American nations that they felt owed them money. In his annual message to the Congress, TR stated that, should any developing nations in the Western Hemisphere require intervention due to unrest or an inability to handle their financial affairs, it would be the US that would intervene, not foreign nations. This time TR had the Navy to back it up.

Many criticize Roosevelt’s assumption of police powers in the Americas as expansionist, and with the events surrounding the building of the Panama Canal, there is likely some validity to that view. However the primary objective was to ensure that foreign powers knew the US would not tolerate their use of military force in our backyard. And it kept the big kids from taking advantage of the still developing countries in the Western Hemisphere.

http://www.theodoreroosevelt.org/life/rooseveltcorollary.htm

All Hail the Glorious Potato!

Today in History, December 3, 1586:

Sir Thomas Harriott introduces the potato, previously only found in Columbia in South America, to England and Ireland. Sir Walter Raleigh pursued farming of the new staple in Ireland and before you knew it, they were every where.

This would become very important to American development as well. The potato became a staple food for the impoverished Irish populace. In the 1840’s a potato blight ruined the crops of potatoes in Ireland, resulting in a devastating famine. The famine caused approximately a million deaths and also approximately one million emigrants to America. The burgeoning Irish population in America would have a long lasting effect on our country, in labor, the military services and police forces.

Potatoes! Baked, French Fried, Potato soup, Potato Chips, Sweet Potato Pie, Potato Cakes, Mashed Potatoes, Scalloped Potatoes, Potatoes au Gratin….