Little Bits of History

Honor

Posted in History by patriciahysell on December 21, 2012
Medal of Honor

Medal of Honor

December 21, 1861: President Abraham Lincoln signs Public Resolution 82 into law. Those who serve in the military are at risk and their bravery is often tested. In order to acknowledge the heroism, bravery, and dedication of those who go beyond the call of duty, awards have been created. In 1780, the Fidelity Medallion was created. It was awarded to three militiamen from New York who captured spy General Benedict Arnold and saved West Point from capture. The Badge of Military Merit honored those in the Continental Army and ceased to exist after the Revolutionary War. The Certificate of Merit was used for those who went beyond the call of duty during the Mexican-American War. At the beginning of the US Civil War, there were no awards or medals in use.

Winfield Scott was the general-in-chief of the US Army during the fall of 1861. Lt. Colonel Edward D. Townsend was Scott’s chief of staff and he sent a memo to Scott mentioning the idea of a medal to honor bravery in the field. Scott was against it, but he retired in October and Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles adopted the idea. It was presented as Senate Bill 82 by Senator (Iowa) James W. Grimes “to promote the efficiency of the Navy” and included a provision for the Navy Medal of Valor. President Lincoln signed it into law on this date and the medal was printed at the Philadelphia Mint.

The next year, the Army Medal of Honor was approved by Congress and signed into law on July 12. It was not until 1956 that the US Air Force was given a separate design for their branch of the service. It took until 1960 for that medal to be authorized and it was officially adopted in 1965. Prior to their own design, they received the Army version of the medal. Today, members of the US Marine Corps and the Coast Guard are eligible to receive the Navy version of the Medal of Honor. Medals are awarded by the President only after a Citation is passed through Congress. Some mistaken call it the Congressional Medal of Honor as it is awarded “in the name of Congress” but the adjective is not part of the official name.

Today, it is a five pointed star with a neck ribbon. Only military personnel are eligible for this award. It is given for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty.” It is often awarded posthumously and more than half of those awarded since 1941 have been given to those brave men who died. Only one medal has been awarded to a woman, Mary Edwards Walker, who was a surgeon during the Civil War. There are 3,459 recipients of the Medal of Honor with 81 of them still living. The first time the award was given was to Private Jacob Parrott on March 25, 1863. The last Medal of Honor was bestowed upon Specialist Fourth Class Leslie H. Sabo, Jr. on May 16 2012. It was awarded posthumously as Sabo was killed in action on May 10, 1970.

The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war. – Douglas MacArthur

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checked by failure…than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat. – Theodore Roosevelt

I’m certainly overwhelmed. I don’t know about you guys. – Leonard Wood

Hopefully, we can beat up on them like they did to us. Instead of being down, we need to let (the loss) improve us. – Mike Pariso

Also on this day:

Can You Use Ink? – In 1913, Arthur Wynn invented the crossword puzzle.
Norway – In 1962, Norway established its first national park.
Four in One Year – In 69 AD, Vespasian became Emperor of Rome.

Just Wonderful

Posted in History by patriciahysell on December 20, 2012
It truly is a wonderful life for James Stewart and Donna Reed

It truly is a wonderful life for James Stewart and Donna Reed

December 20, 1946: It’s a Wonderful Life is released in New York City. The movie starred James Stewart as George Bailey and Donna Reed as his wife, Mary Hatch Bailey. Lionel Barrymore played Henry F. Potter while Henry Travers had the role of angel-to-be Clarence Odbody. The movie was produced by Frank Capra and Donna Reed (uncredited). The screenplay was written by Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Jo Swerling, and Frank Capra and based on “The Greatest Gift” by Philip Van Doren Stern. Music was by Dimitri Tiomkin. The 130 minute movie was a Liberty Films project and distributed by RKO Radio Pictures. Today, it is distributed by Paramount Pictures.

It cost $3,180,000 to film and the box office returns were $3,300,000. It was considered to be a box office flop. The break-even point was nearly $6.3 million, about twice the production cost, and it did not come anywhere near that in its initial release. However, it was nominated for five Academy Awards without winning any of them. Since then, it has become a Christmas holiday staple and is one of the yearly productions seen in December. It has made it to the list of the 100 best American films ever made and reached position 11 on the initial 1998 greatest movie list. It is also on a list of the most inspirational American movies.

The story begins on Christmas Eve with George Bailey troubled. The prayers of his friends reach Heaven and Angel Second Class Clarence Odbody is sent to earth to save George and earn his wings. There is a review of George’s life and it is noted that he often leaves his own dreams behind in order to help those around him. The local slumlord, Mr. Potter shows his true colors and George must give up his dreams to protect those who Potter would abuse. George takes on responsibilities he would rather not, but eventually gets to marry the love of his life, Mary. They raise four children together and come to this day when absent-minded Uncle Billy misplaced $8,000.

In his desperation, George believes the world would be better off without him and contemplates suicide by jumping into a freezing river. Clarence jumps first and George jumps in to save him. George tells his guardian angel that the world would be a better place had he never been born. Clarence shows him what Bedford would look like had George Bailey never existed and it is a horrid, wretched place. George is convinced that his life was not meaningless. All of his friends have also heard of his desperate plight and come to aid, bringing more than that $8,000 Uncle Billy had lost. George is saved and Clarence gets his wings.

Mr. Potter: [to George Bailey] Look at you. You used to be so cocky. You were going to go out and conquer the world. You once called me a warped, frustrated, old man! What are you but a warped, frustrated young man? A miserable little clerk crawling in here on your hands and knees and begging for help. No securities, no stocks, no bonds. Nothin’ but a miserable little $500 equity in a life insurance policy.
[Potter chuckles]
Mr. Potter: You’re worth more dead than alive! Why don’t you go to the riffraff you love so much and ask them to let you have $8,000? You know why? Because they’d run you out of town on a rail. Well, I’ll tell you what I’m going to do for you, George. Since the state examiner is still here, as a stockholder of the Building and Loan, I’m going to swear out a warrant for your arrest. Misappropriation of funds, manipulation, malfeasance…
[sees George runs off]
Mr. Potter: All right, George, go ahead, George! You can’t hide in a little town like this!

Uncle Billy: After all, Potter, some people like George HAD to stay at home. Not every heel was in Germany and Japan.

[George has discovered his brother Harry’s tombstone]
Clarence: [explaining] Your brother, Harry Bailey, broke through the ice and was drowned at the age of nine.
George Bailey: That’s a lie! Harry Bailey went to war! He got the Congressional Medal of Honor! He saved the lives of every man on that transport!
Clarence: Every man on that transport died. Harry wasn’t there to save them, because you weren’t there to save Harry.

Clarence: [In book inscription] Remember, George: no man is a failure who has friends.

Also on this day:

Secret Police – In 1917, Lenin forms the first of a series of secret police, used to terrorize the citizens of Mother Russia.
Cardiff, Wales – In 1955, Cardiff became the capital of Wales.
Petrol on Fire – In 1984, the Summit Tunnel fire began.

What’s Up, Doc?

Posted in History by patriciahysell on December 19, 2012
Dr. John Bodkin Adams

Dr. John Bodkin Adams

December 19, 1956: Dr. John Bodkin Adams is arrested. Adams was an Irish born general practitioner with his practice in Eastbourne, Sussex, England. The family belonged to an austere Protestant sect and his father was a preacher in the congregation. He died when John was fifteen and John’s only brother died just a few years later. John’s mother moved them to England only one year after John finished his medical training. He was not considered successful in his practice of medicine in Ireland prior to the move. He was 23 when the family arrived in England.

In 1929, Adams borrowed £2000 from William Mawhood, a patient, in order to buy an 18-room house in a very nice part of town. He stole from them repeatedly. Adams was considered “unconventional” by the mid-1930s. In 1935 he inherited £7,385 (£380,000 today) from a patient. The will was contested by the family but held up in court. He stayed in Eastbourne throughout World War II but was insulted when local doctors did not include him in a list of doctors called upon to treat those who had been called up. He got a diploma in anesthesia, but was considered a horrible practitioner. He would fall asleep, eat, or count money during cases. He was known to incorrectly administer the drugs allowing for patients to awaken during their cases or turn blue from lack of oxygen.

Adams’ mother died in 1943 and his cousin died of cancer in 1952, just thirty minutes after John administered an injection. Even with all this, Adams’ career was successful and he treated many influential people. One of them, Leslie Henson, died unexpectedly while being treated and his friend became suspicious. An investigation began under the auspices of Scotland Yard. They opted to just look at cases from 1946 to 1956. Of the 310 death certificates examined, 163 were suspicious. Many of those who died had been given “special injections” just prior to their deaths. Adams refused to say what was in the injection.

Letters from the British Medical Association went out to other Eastbourne physicians reminding them of “Professional Secrecy” or patient confidentiality. This was considered to be obstruction of justice especially since all the patients were now dead. Adams was arrested on this day and brought to trial. At the time, the 17 day trial was the longest trial in Britain. The verdict came back after 44 minutes of deliberation as not guilty. In a later trial, Adams was found guilty of prescription fraud, lying on cremation forms, and obstructing a police search along with not adequately documenting dangerous drugs in his possession. He died in 1983 at the age of 84. The murder cases were to be closed for 75 years but were instead opened in 2003.

Easing the passing of a dying person isn’t all that wicked. She [Morrell] wanted to die. That can’t be murder. It is impossible to accuse a doctor. – John Adams

Murder… murder… Can you prove it was murder? […] I didn’t think you could prove it was murder. She was dying in any event. – John Adams

Oh, that wasn’t done wickedly, God knows it wasn’t. We always want cremations to go off smoothly for the dear relatives. If I said I knew I was getting money under the Will they might get suspicious and I like cremations and burials to go smoothly. There was nothing suspicious really. It was not deceitful. – John Adams

The day before Bradnum died, she had been doing housework and going for walks. The next morning she woke up feeling unwell. Adams was called and saw her. He gave her an injection and stated “It will be over in three minutes”. It was. Adams then confirmed “I’m afraid she’s gone” and left the room. – Pamela Cullen

Also on this day:

Monumental – In 1960, the San Jacinto Monument was declared a National History Landmark.
Believe – In 1918, Ripley began his carton series.
Tiny Tim – In 1843, Charles Dickens published A Christmas Carol.

NFL Playoff

Posted in History by patriciahysell on December 18, 2012
Chicago Bears beat the Portsmouth Spartans at the Chicago Stadium

Chicago Bears beat the Portsmouth Spartans at the Chicago Stadium

December 18, 1932: The Chicago Bears beat the Portsmouth Spartans (later to become the Detroit Lions) at Chicago Stadium. The National Football League was formed on September 17, 1920 and is the highest level of professional football in America. There were eleven teams in 1920 coming together as the American Professional Football Association. Two years later, the name changed to the National Football League. Today, there are 32 teams from the US divided into two conferences – the AFC (American Football Conference) and the NFC (National Football Conference). Each conference has four divisions with each division having four teams.

In the beginning, league titles were awarded to the team with the best season record based on winning percentage (ties were excluded). Four out of the first six titles were disputed and once (in 1921) two teams tied for first place. Today, ties are given a half-a-win, half-a-loss credit in figuring out which teams are the winners of the season. However in 1932, that was not the case. Both the Bears and the Spartans had identical 0.857 winning percentages. The Green Bay Packers score was 0.769 winning percentage. Today, with scoring done differently, the Packers would have won the title of champion. Instead, it was decided that the tied teams would play against each other to break the tie.

The Bears’ home stadium was at Wrigley Field and that was to be the venue for the game. However, the weather that day was bitterly cold with sub-zero wind chill and a severe blizzard raging. Rather than play outside at Wrigley, the game was moved to Chicago Stadium. However, the indoor stadium had a smaller playing field and so special rules were adopted for the game. The field was only 80 yards long rather than the normal 100 and was 10 yards narrower than standard. The sidelines were against the stands. As soon as any play crossed the midline, the ball was automatically moved back to accommodate the shorter playing field.

The defense for both teams played hard and kept the game 0-0 for the first three quarters. In the fourth quarter, the Bears scored on a controversial play where Charles Brumbaugh handed off to Bronko Nagurski who passed to Red Grange in the end zone for a touchdown. It was argued that Nagurski’s pass was illegally made. Later the Bears scored a safety and took the victory with a score of 9 to 0. This playoff game was so popular that the League decided to divide itself into two divisions and have the top team from each division play a game to determine the NFL Championship. This game was also the first major indoor football game.

Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work. – Vince Lombardi

You have to play this game like somebody just hit your mother with a two-by-four. – Dan Birdwell

There is no defense against a perfect pass. I can throw the perfect pass. – Dan Marino

The only yardstick for success our society has is being a champion. No one remembers anything else. – John Madden

Also on this day:

The Grinch – The Dr. Seuss tales came to television for the first time.
Ancient Pueblo Housing – In 1888, Cliff Palace was discovered.
Nuke Power – In 1957, the first nuclear power plant in the US began producing power.

Hot Time in the Old Town

Posted in History by patriciahysell on December 17, 2012
Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia

Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia

December 17, 1837: A fire begins in the Winter Palace, home of the Tsar in St. Petersburg, Russia. The massive structure served as the official residence of Russian monarchs from 1732 to 1917. It is next to Peter the Great’s original Winter Palace. It was in a state of constant remodeling and updating from the 1730s until 1837. After this great fire, which burned for three days, a great rebuilding took place with such features as fire walls and stone or iron stairways. The exterior remained unchanged after the fire, but the interior was redesigned using a variety of styles which led to the palace being described as a “19th-century palace inspired by a model in Rococo style.”

The palace is 820 feet long and 100 feet high. There are 1,786 doors, 1,945 windows, 1,500 rooms, and 117 staircases. Smoke from an unswept chimney entered the Field Marshall’s Hall via an unchoked vent between the wooden and main walls. The walls began to superheat and smolder and fire broke out in the roof of the Peter the Great Hall. The dry, but highly polished and waxed floors and the oil painted fretwork fueled the fire. The Emperor was enjoying a performance at the Michael’s Theater and Prince Volkonsky ignored the first warning. Thirty minutes later, Emperor Nicholas was told about the conflagration. He immediately called for the galleries’ roofs to be dismantled. These roofs were contiguous with the Hermitage and it was hoped the fire would be halted.

The privy councilor of the Empress hindered the fighting of the fire with the command that “All here belongs to the Empress! Not a thing must be broken!” The Preobrazhensky Lifeguard Regiment’s battalion arrived at the scene first and they were able to save many of the precious artworks located inside the palace. Two men were able to save an image of Christ the Savior from an iconostasis already ablaze. An iconostasis is a walk of icons or religious painting or a portable icon stand, both of which are located in Eastern Orthodox churches. Both of the men involved were rewarded for their efforts.

At the time, it was reported there was no loss of life during the three days of firefighting. However, in 1882, an eyewitness by the name of Kolokoltsov reported there were thirty men killed during rescue and fire suppression efforts. After the fire, Vasily Stasov was in charge of restoring the facades and the parade halls while Alexander Briullov worked on the inner rooms. Installing fire prevention technology and replacing wood with iron, cast-iron, or brick made the building much safer. By the end of 1838, over 100,000 rubles had been spent on reconstruction.

Man is the only creature that dares to light a fire and live with it.  The reason?  Because he alone has learned to put it out. – Henry Jackson Vandyke, Jr.

A spark neglected makes a mighty fire.  – Robert Herrick

Each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor. – Edgar Allan Poe

We feel free when we escape – even if it be but from the frying pan to the fire.  – Eric Hoffer

Also on this day:

Wilbur and Orville – In 1903, the brothers take the Wright Flyer up to the skies.
D’oh – In 1989, The Simpsons premiered.
Decree – In 1807, Napoleon I issued the Milan Decree.

Protector

Posted in History by patriciahysell on December 16, 2012
Oliver Cromwell

Oliver Cromwell

December 16, 1653: Oliver Cromwell becomes the first Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland. Cromwell was born in 1599 into the middle gentry. The family’s money came from taking over monastery property during the Reformation. This was possible because Thomas Cromwell was a minister of King Henry VIII. When Oliver was born, his grandfather was one of the two wealthiest landowners in Huntingdonshire. However, Oliver’s father was only of modest means and Oliver himself remained in obscurity for the first forty years of his life. He married in 1620 and the couple had nine children, three of which died in childhood.

His early religious life is lost to history, but there is some suggestion that as late as the mid-1620s he was still not influenced by radical puritanism. By the late part of the decade and into the early 1630s, he was in crisis and treated for “valde melancolicus” or depression. He was called before the Privy Council in 1630 concerning a dispute among the gentry of Huntingdon’s new town charter. In 1631, he sold all his property and moved away, possibly as a result of this dispute. The entire event may have led to his spiritual awakening and by 1638 a letter sent to his cousin speaks to Cromwell’s new spiritual focus. Due to hard work and an inheritance, by the end of the 1630s, Cromwell was once again earning enough income to be considered part of the gentry.

Cromwell was a Member of Parliament from 1928-29 and again from 1640-42. In 1642 the First English Civil War broke out. Eventually, the conflict between the governed and the King led to the eventual trial and beheading of King Charles I. Cromwell had been an asset during the Civil War and after the death of the King, the English Interregnum began. The King was executed in 1649 and at first the Parliament ruled, having declared England to be a Commonwealth. In April of 1653, soldiers led by Cromwell forcibly dissolved the Rump Parliament since he deemed them ineffective and they would not dissolve themselves. They were replaced by the Barebones Parliament but this was also difficult for Cromwell to control.

This Barebones Parliament was also dissolved and a new constitution was put forth. Under this constitution, Cromwell was made Lord Protector for life and given the power to rule the land. His power wasn’t only personal ability as he also had the power of the army behind him. He served as Lord Protector until 1658 when he died on September 3. His son, Richard, succeeded him as Lord Protector and was able to hold power until May 25, 1659. The monarchy was restored in May 1660 with King Charles II taking up the throne. Interestingly, on January 30, 1661 Oliver Cromwell’s body was exhumed and he was ritually posthumously executed.

He who stops being better stops being good.

Not only strike while the iron is hot, but make it hot by striking.

Put your trust in God; but be sure to keep your powder dry.

I would have been glad to have lived under my wood side, and to have kept a flock of sheep, rather than to have undertaken this government. – all from Oliver Cromwell

Also on this day:

Mississippi River Flowed North – In 1811, after a series of earthquakes, the Mississippi river flowed in the opposite direction for a time.
Mr. Music – In 1770, Ludwig van Beethoven was born.
Tea for Two – In 1773, the Boston Tea Party took place.

Push Comes to Shove

Posted in History by patriciahysell on December 15, 2012
Pushkin House

Pushkin House

December 15, 1905: The Pushkin House is established. Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin was a Russian author of the Romantic era and is considered by many to be the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature. He was born into a noble family, tracing their roots back to the 12th century. He was born in Moscow in 1799 and published his first poem at the age of fifteen. He graduated from the first class of the Imperial Lyceum near St. Petersburg. He was already noted by the literary scene as a talented author. His first long poem, Ruslan and Lyudmila, was published in 1820 amid controversy over both the subject matter and the style.

Pushkin became involved in and the spokesperson for social reform. His group of literary radicals drew the attention of the government and he was transferred out of the capital. Even outside Moscow, he continued to work for his causes and joined Filiki Eteria, a secret organization for the overthrow of the Ottoman rule in Greece. Even as he was so heavily politically involved, he continued to write. Eventually that writing led to his exile at his mother’s rural estate. After two years, he petitioned and won his right to freely move about. However, some of his earlier political writings again got him into trouble. He married in 1831 and had four children with his wife. However, one of the most famous Russian love poems was written to his married mistress, Anna Petrovna. He died at the age of 37 after fighting his 29th duel and being shot in the spleen. He died two days after the duel.

Pushkin House was established on this day. That is the familiar name for the Institute of Russian Literature in St. Petersburg. It is part of a network associated with the Russian Academy of Sciences. It is the main center for Alexander Pushkin studies in Imperial Russia. It was set up to preserve the original manuscripts of the revered writer. The idea was put forth by Sergei Oldenburg and Aleksey Shakhmatov and supported by Grand Duke Constantine Constantinovich. The museum itself was to be built in the Neoclassical style but funding was short. Negotiations dragged on with Alexander Onegin who had amassed a great collection of Pushkin manuscripts and memorabilia. The museum was finally successful in acquiring the manuscripts along with other notable authors’ works.

In 1905, the museum was a non-government organization. However, the Russian Revolution shut down all non-government institutions. The Pushkin House was spared by being placed under the umbrella of the Russian Academy of Sciences. In order to keep it open, the scope of Pushkin House changed and later authors were also included. In 1927, the collection was moved from the Academy of Sciences building into the neo-Palladian Customs House where it remains today. Today, it houses many manuscripts from the 13th century onward as well as portraits and other documents from leading Russian authors.

The illusion which exalts us is dearer to us than ten thousand truths.

Always contented with his life, / and with his dinner, and his wife.

Like some magistrate grown gray in office, / Calmly he contemplates alike the just / And unjust, with indifference he notes / Evil and good, and knows not wrath nor pity.

Upon the brink of the wild stream  / He stood, and dreamt a mighty dream. – all from Alexander Pushkin

Also on this day:

James Naismith – In 1891, the game of basketball was invented.
Back Up Is Essential – In 1836, the US Patent Office’s records were lost in a fire.
JFK Assassination – In 1960, an attempt was made on President-elect Kennedy’s life.

Up, Up and Away

Posted in History by patriciahysell on December 14, 2012
Montgolfier brothers

Montgolfier brothers

December 14, 1782: The Montgolfier brothers finally achieve lift off. Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Étienne were born into a family of paper manufacturers in 1740 and 1745 respectively. Neither of these children were the eldest son of the sixteen children born into the family. In fact, Joseph was twelfth child and was also known as inventive, dreaming and scheming. He wasn’t practical in terms of his business or personal life, but he possessed an inventor’s soul. Étienne was the fifteenth child, and while he was also inventive, he was more even keeled with a better head for business. He was an annoyance to many of his older siblings and was sent to Paris to train as an architect.

Raymond, the eldest brother and heir to the family business, suddenly died in 1772 and Étienne was called back home to run the business. Making paper at the time was a high tech business and Étienne used his skills to include many innovations into the business. He brought in the latest technologies from the Dutch and in doing so gained recognition from the French government. It was Joseph, however, who was interested in building machines. Lore states that in 1777, Joseph observed laundry drying over a fire and noted how the heat would get entrapped in the billowing cloth and cause it to rise. He made his first experiments in November of 1782. It was his dream to be able to carry out air strikes during battle and to that effect, he worked on his invention.

First, Joseph built a 3.25 by 4 foot box out of light wood and covered the outside with taffeta cloth. He lit a fire using crumpled paper under the box and box rose. He next included Étienne in his quest to build a lighter than air balloon. The brothers worked together and built a larger model, three times the size (meaning 27 times greater volume). On this day, they brought their contraption outside and lit a fire beneath it. The device rose so quickly they lost control of it. It drifted in the wind and landed a little over a mile away, where it was destroyed by a passerby.

The brothers were thrilled with their experiment and held a public demonstration in order to establish claim to their invention. They built a globe-shaped balloon of sackcloth with a triple layer of paper within. It weighed 500 pounds and held 28,000 cubic feet of air. It was in four pieces and held together with buttons and a fishing net thrown over the top. On June 4, 1783 they flew this craft for ten minutes to a height of around a mile high and the flight covered a land distance of about 1.2 miles. Their fame spread and Étienne took this good news to Paris. The history of flight had begun. Étienne became the first human to experience flight on October 15, 1783 with Pilâtre de Rozier also rising in the still tethered balloon later on same day.

Get in a supply of taffeta and of cordage, quickly, and you will see one of the most astonishing sights in the world. – Joseph to Étienne Montgolfier, announcing his discovery

How posterity will laugh at us, one way or other! If half a dozen break their necks, and balloonism is exploded, we shall be called fools for having imagined it could be brought to use: if it should be turned to account, we shall be ridiculed for having doubted. – Horace Walpole

The balloon seems to stand still in the air while the earth flies past underneath. – Alberto Santos-Dumont

Half the art of ballooning is to make your crashes so gentle that you can fool yourself into calling them landings. – Richard Branson

Also on this day:

Queen of Gems – In 1656, the first fake pearl was made.
Strong Men; Great Leaders – In 1751, the first military academy was begun in Austria.
Bushidō  – In 1702, the 47 Ronin avenge their daimyo.

Tasman

Posted in History by patriciahysell on December 13, 2012
Abel Janszoon Tasman

Abel Janszoon Tasman

December 13, 1642: Abel Janszoon Tasman sites New Zealand, the first European to do so. Tasman was a Dutch explorer and merchant. He worked with the VOC (Dutch East India Company) and spent several years in Batavia (now Jakarta) with the company. In 1639, after 14 years with VOC, he was sent as second in command to explore the North Pacific. His two ships reached Fort Zeelandia (Dutch Formosa) and Deshima. After this success, he was chosen to lead an exploratory trip to find “all the totally unknown provinces of Beach”. The Beach is what we today call Australia.

Like explorers in the Americas looking for El Dorado, this expedition was on a mission to find gold in abundance as reported long ago by Marco Polo. Maps of the time were highly inaccurate and when Tasman set off for the location of Beach, his navigation was hampered by the sketched maps. He made his way on this treacherous journey claiming he was kept alive only by use of his compass. He arrived at Mauritus on September 5, 1642. There they could gather fresh water and timber. They stayed four weeks. Next stop was Van Diemen’s Land, named for the Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies. Today, we know it as Tasmania.

They left Tasmania on December 3 and due to unfavorable winds, ended up sailing east instead of north. On this day, Tasman sighted South Island, New Zealand. He named it Staten Landt, believing he had found land connected to Staten Island, Argentina. The ships found a place to stop and gather fresh water but his ships were attacked by Māori who were probably defending a prime agricultural area. Four Dutchmen and several Māori were killed. On the return voyage in 1643, Tasman also discovered the Fiji Islands and nearly wrecked his ships on the reefs there.

New Zealand is located in the South Pacific and is made up of two large land masses and several smaller islands. It is about 900 miles east of Australia and about 600 miles south of Fiji. (It is about 6,000 miles west of Argentina.) Because it is so remote, it was one of the last places on Earth to be inhabited. It has a rich biodiversity because of this isolation. The capital of New Zealand is Wellington while the largest city is Auckland. The language is English and almost 80% of the population is of European descent. The 103,483 square miles of land are inhabited by nearly 4.5 million people. They are a constitutional monarchy under Queen Elizabeth II with sir Jerry Mateparae as Governor-General and John Key as Prime Minister.

God bless America. God save the Queen. God defend New Zealand and thank Christ for Australia. – Russell Crowe

I myself prefer my New Zealand eggs for breakfast. – Elizabeth II

Maoris now own over half the commercial fishing industry in New Zealand. – Malcolm Fraser

New Zealand is a country of thirty thousand million sheep, three million of whom think they are human. – Barry Humphries

Also on this day:

Maximum Insecurity – In 2000, seven violent offenders escape from the John Connally Unit, a maximum security prison in Texas.
Cheaters – In 2007, the Mitchell Report was released.
Get Rael – In 1973, the Elohim reveal themselves to a human.

Ice, Ice, Baby

Posted in History by patriciahysell on December 12, 2012
Wreckage of Arrow Air flight 1285

Wreckage of Arrow Air flight 1285

December 12, 1985: Arrow Air flight 1285 crashes shortly after takeoff. The plane was a McDonnell Douglas DC-8-63CF jet. Registration number was N950JW and it operated as a charter flight. The plane was carrying US troops from Cairo, Egypt to their home base at Fort Campbell in Kentucky. Arrow Air was a cargo airline founded in 1947. Their base was in Miami, Florida. They maintained a strong charter business until June 29, 2010. On July 1, 2010 they filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and their current plans are to liquidate.

There were 248 passengers aboard the plane from the 101st Airborne Division of the US Army. They had just completed a six-month rotation in the Sinai, serving with the Multinational Force and Observers, a peacekeeping mission. They left Cairo International Airport and headed for Cologne, Germany. Next stop was at Gander International Airport in Newfoundland, Canada. From there, they were to reach Kentucky and be safe at home. There was a new flight crew that came aboard in Germany. The passengers got off the plane in Canada while the aircraft was refueled. It was noted that the flight engineer conducted an external inspection of the plane while the refueling took place. The passengers reboarded.

While on the ground, there was freezing rain falling. The plane took off and witnesses reported difficulty with the craft reaching altitude. Airspeeds are measured slightly different than ground speeds. The plane was at 167 KIAS at takeoff, reached 172 KIAS, and then began to lose speed again which caused the plane to descend. The plane cleared the Trans-Canada Highway, about 900 feet from the end of the runway. Witnesses reported a bright glow emanating from the plane just before it crashed before reaching Gander Lake. It struck an unoccupied building, broke apart, burst into flames, and killed all aboard.

Investigation was carried out by the Canadian Aviation Safety Board. Immediately after the crash, the Islamic Jihad, a wing of Hezbollah, claimed they had shot down the plane. However, the majority of the investigators blamed iced wings as the cause of the crash. The plane had not been de-iced before takeoff. Even so, a minority of investigators believed that an in-flight fire was the cause. That fire may have been due to “detonations of undetermined origin” and capable of disabling the plane. That claim has been rejected by both Canadian officials and those from the US who also helped with investigation.

A Purple Heart just proves that were you smart enough to think of a plan, stupid enough to try it, and lucky enough to survive. – unknown

Bravery is being the only one who knows you’re afraid. – David Hackworth

Everyone wants peace – and they will fight the most terrible war to get it. – Miles Kington

Teamwork is essential; it gives the enemy someone else to shoot at. – unknown

Also on this day:

Katzenjammer Kids – In 1897, the Katzenjammer Kids first saw print.
Dragon Master – In 1408, the Order of the Dragon was established.
Boom! – In 1862, the USS Cairo sunk.