August 25, 1945: John Birch is killed. His parents were missionaries and living in Landour, a hill station of the Himalayas and now part of the Indian state of Uttarakhand but at the time of his birth in 1918, it was part of the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh. The family returned to the US when John was two and he was raised in Georgia in the Fundamentalist Baptist tradition. He graduated from Georgia Baptist, now part of Mercer University, in 1939 with highest honors. He was noted to always be a zealot and angry and in his senior year of college, organized a group of students to identify cases of heresy perpetrated by the professors. He was devoted to scriptural basis for all doctrine.
While studying at Mercer, he decided to become a missionary and next went to J. Frank Norris’s Fundamental Baptist Bible Institute located in Texas. He completed a two year program in one year and was sent to China in 1940. He was working with the World Fundamental Baptist Missionary Fellowship and stationed in Shanghai. Once there, he learned Mandarin Chinese. After six months he was transferred to Hangzhou which at the time was not yet occupied by Japanese troops. After the bombing at Pearl Harbor, Japan issued troops to the area to arrest Birch as an enemy national. He and other missionaries fled inland and cut off from the outside world, Birch began to build missions in the Zhejiang province.
In April 1942, Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle and his crew crash-landed in China after a raid on Tokyo. Their mission originated on the USS Hornet but they did not return there. They bailed out over China and were rescued by civilians and smuggled away and ended up in Zhejiang province. Birch went to meet them and help them travel safely inside China. After Doolittle’s return to fighting, he told of Birch’s help. Colonel Claire Chennault, leader of the Flying Tigers, thought it would be helpful to have a Chinese speaking American on his team and made Birch a first lieutenant in the Fourteenth Air Force. Birch was later under the US Office of Strategic Services, but he assented only if he could function as he had prior to his military service.
Japan’s peace treaty was signed earlier in the month and under the terms of their surrender, the Japanese Army would occupy areas already controlled until power could be turned over to Nationalist governments. The Communists ruling in China were affronted and on this day, Birch was leading a party of Americans, Chinese Nationalists, and Koreans on a mission to reach Allied Personnel in a Japanese prison camp. They ran into Chinese Communists near Xi’an and Birch was ordered to disarm. He did not. Insults were exchanged followed by gunfire. Birch was killed and the people he was with were taken prisoner, although released shortly thereafter. The John Birch Society was formed 13 years after his death and named in his honor, although Doolittle said he would be horrified by the connection.
Every man is a missionary, now and forever, for good or for evil, whether he intends or designs it or not. – Thomas Chalmers
To be a human being means to possess a feeling of inferiority which constantly presses towards its own conquest. The greater the feeling of inferiority that has been experienced, the more powerful is the urge for conquest and the more violent the emotional agitation. – Alfred Adler
It is long accepted by the missionaries that morality is inversely proportional to the amount of clothing people wore. – Alex Carey
The missionaries go forth to Christianize the savages — as if the savages weren’t dangerous enough already. – Edward Abbey
Also on this day: Swimming the English Channel – In 1875, Matthew Webb became the first to swim the English Channel.
Men in the Moon – In 1835, the Great Moon Hoax articles first began to see print.
I See – In 1609, Galileo demonstrated his telescope.
National Parks – In 1916, the US National Park Service was formed.
Voyager 1 Left the Building – In 2012, the space probe left the Solar System.
* “John Birch” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:John_Birch.jpg#/media/File:John_Birch.jpg