Little Bits of History

June 22

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 22, 2017

1944: The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act is signed into law by Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  After World War I, servicemen returning to the United States were supposed to have benefits available to them as gratitude for their service. However, things did not go smoothly and it became a political issue throughout the 1920s and 1930s. As benefits to all veterans of military service, both men and women, were delayed, those veterans formed into Veterans’ organizations with the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the American Legion as the two main pillars seeking redress from Washington, D.C. When World War II came along, knowing the dismal record of taking care of veterans, the older generation set out to ensure the Greatest Generation would be properly cared for should they return home.

Harry Comery, former National Commander of the American Legion, has been credited with writing the first draft of what we call today the GI Bill. Senator Ernest McFarland (D-Arizona) was helped by Warren Atherton, a lawyer and then-current National Commander of the Legion, and they are considered to be the “fathers of the GI Bill”. Congresswoman Edith Rogers (R-Massachusetts) was co-sponsor and she was the “mother of the GI Bill”. These four people helped to write and get the bill through both houses of Congress. Roosevelt had proposed a bill as a test to help poor veterans returning home and he sought to limit that help to just one year of funding. Only top scorers on a test would get four years of paid college.

The Bill as presented went beyond Roosevelt’s plan and applied to all veterans regardless of wealth. They were to be offered a low interest, zero down payment home loan with better deals available for new construction rather than older homes. This had the effect of spurring many returning veterans to move out of urban apartments into newly built homes in the suburbs. Unemployment benefits were to be paid out for those actively looking for work for up to 52 weeks. Monies set aside for this went unused as many returning servicemen were able to find better jobs or were pursuing higher education upon their return. This was also covered under the Bill. High school, college, and vocational/technical schools were all covered.

By 1956, about 2.2 million returning vets had used the Bill to attend college or university while another 5.6 million vets were able to gain further training for better employment opportunities. The law has been updated several times over the years. Vietnam veterans were even more willing to use the Bill to finance college (71%) when compared to World War II vets (51%) and Korean War vets (43%). A 1952 adjustment began to send tuition help directly to veterans since it was discovered colleges and universities were overcharging veterans to acquire more cash. President Obama also signed Executive Order 13607 to ensure predatory colleges did not aggressively target veterans and their families to exploit this law designed to help veterans re-assimilate into civilian society.

Twenty-five million veterans are living among us today. These men and women selflessly set aside their civilian lives to put on the uniform and serve us. – Steve Buyer

I want people to take the initiative to find veterans that need help, veterans that are suffering and in need of assistance reintegrating from combat back into society, into normal family lives and jobs. We need to take a real ‘boots on the ground’ approach to helping veterans in need. – Max Martini

The sacrifices made by veterans and their willingness to fight in defense of our nation merit our deep respect and praise – and to the best in benefits and medical care. – Sue Kelly

When the peace treaty is signed, the war isn’t over for the veterans, or the family. It’s just starting. – Karl Marlantes

Summer Exercises

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 22, 2015
HMS Victoria sinking in 1893

HMS Victoria sinking in 1893

June 22, 1893: HMS Camperdown and HMS Victoria collide near Tripoli, Lebanon. Victoria was a Victoria-class battleship launched on April 9, 1887. She was 340 feet long and 70 feet wide at the beam. Her displacement was 11,200 tons. Camperdown was an Admiral-class battleship launched on November 24, 2885. She was 330 feet long and 68.5 feet wide at the beam. Her displacement was 10,800 tons. Both ships were operated by the British Royal Navy. The Admiral class was preceded by the Colossus class and replaced by the Victoria class. There were six ships in the Admiral class while there were only two of the Victoria class. Trafalgar class came next. All the ships were powered by steam engines.

The Royal Navy had a huge presence in the Mediterranean Sea during this period of time. It was a vital route for trade with India and Britain felt compelled to defend passage from against French and Italian fleets. On this day, with most of the fleet participating in annual summer exercises, there were 11 ironclads which included 8 battleships and 3 large cruisers near Tripoli. Vice-Admiral Sir George Tryon was in charge of the British Mediterranean Fleet. He was aboard the Victoria on this day. It was his belief that the best way to keep crews efficient was by continuous fleet evolutions. Since this was before the use of wireless communication, movements were signaled by flags, semaphore, and signal lamp. Tyron had earned a reputation for daring as well as being proficient at handling ships.

He was known for his use of a new system of maneuvers whereby only a few simple signals could be used for complex movement. The system needed all ship captains to use initiative, something blunted after years of peace. Tryon was known for being taciturn and used limited communication as a training method. This forced his captains to think quickly. Tryon and Victoria were at the head of one column of six ships and traveling at 8 knots. Rear-Admiral Albert Markham was in the lead ship of the second column, Camperdown. The two had broken with tradition and Markham had been apprised of Tryon’s intention of anchoring the fleet in close formation. While under discussion, others under Tryon’s command noted the close quarters were too close. He was not swayed.

As they practiced their maneuver, the two lead ships collided with Camperdown ramming the starboard side of the Victoria about 12 feet below the waterline and penetrating about 9 feet into the other ship. Camperdown reversed engines, which allowed more water to pour in. Two minutes after colliding the ships were separate again. This left a 100 square foot hole in the ship. The shore was five miles distant and Tyron headed toward it. Other ships launched rescue boats. Five minutes after the collision the bow had already sunk. Eight minutes later, water was lapping the main deck. Thirteen minutes after, the ship rotated to starboard and then slipped under the water. Rescue efforts managed to save 357 crew, but 358, including Tryon, died.

The Royal Navy of England hath ever been its greatest defense and ornament; it is its ancient and natural strength; the floating bulwark of the island. – William Blackstone

I’m a huge fan of the Navy. My father was a Naval historian, and I’ve been studying Naval battles forever. – Peter Berg

There were gentlemen and there were seamen in the navy of Charles the Second. But the seamen were not gentlemen; and the gentlemen were not seamen. – Thomas Babington Macaulay

The head of a ship however has not always an immediate relation to her name, at least in the British navy. – William Falconer

Also on this day: Deke – In 1844, the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity was founded.
No Fun – In 1918, the worst circus train wreck took place.
Burn, Baby, Burn – In 1969, the Cuyahoga River caught fire.
Sweden – In 1906, Sweden adopted a new/old national flag.
In the House – In 1633, Galileo was put under house arrest.

In the House

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 22, 2014
Galileo Galilei

Galileo Galilei

June 22, 1633: Galileo Galilei is handed his sentence from the Inquisition. The Galileo affair was a sequence of events beginning in 1610 when Galileo and the Catholic Church were in disagreement. Galileo supported Copernican astronomy and heliocentrism. He also supported secular philosophers while disagreeing with Aristotelianism. In 1610 Galileo published Starry Messenger in which he described what he had seen through his telescope. He had witnessed the phases of Venus and some of the moons of Jupiter. With these observations in hand, he promoted the Copernican theory of a heliocentric system which had been put forth in 1543. This displeased the Church and in 1616 the Inquisition proclaimed heliocentrism heretical.

Galileo proposed a theory of tides in that same year which were evidence of the motion of the Earth. He went on to propose a theory on comets in 1619. In 1632, the Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems was published and implicitly defended the theory stating the Sun was the center around which the Earth turned. The book, published in Italian, was a best seller and was dedicated to Galileo’s patron, Ferdinando II de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. The Inquisition was faced with the growing popularity of a system of thought they had declared heretical and Galileo came under investigation.

The offending book was originally called Dialogue on the Tides, but the Inquisition refused approval for this since tides were explained by the Earth’s movement and they insisted the Earth was immovable and the center of the universe. The title was changed. The book is presented as a series of discussions taking place over four days. The participants are two philosophers and a layman. One philosopher agrees with Copernicus, one with Ptolemy and Aristotle, and the layman is at first neutral. The discussions range over most of the science of the day and present rebuttals to traditional philosophers as well as observations which are inconsistent with the Ptolemaic model. Arguments for an elegant unified theory of the Heavens which proved the Earth was stationary were simply incorrect.

Galileo was found “vehemently suspect of heresy” since he refused to budge on his theory stating the Sun was stationary and Earth traveled around it. He was sentenced to formal imprisonment and was put under house arrest for the rest of his life. His Dialogue was banned and not announced, but enforced, was forbidding all future printing of any of his works including those he might write in the future. Although unable to publish, he continued to study science until his death on January 8 1642 at the age of 77. The ban on printing Galileo’s books was lifted in 1718. Several Popes since that time have praised his scientific work. Both Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein have called him the father of modern science.

All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.

I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.

In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual.

It is surely harmful to souls to make it a heresy to believe what is proved. – all from Galileo Galilei

Also on this day: Deke – In 1844, the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity is founded.
No Fun – In 1918, the worst circus train wreck took place.
Burn, Baby, Burn – In 1969, the Cuyahoga River caught fire.
Sweden – In 1906, Sweden adopted a new/old national flag.

No Fun

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 22, 2013
Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus train wreckage

Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus train wreckage

June 22, 1918: At 3:56 AM a private train pulls into a railroad siding. The 26-car Hagenbeck-Wallace train stopped in order to check a hot box (an overheated axle bearing) on one of the flat cars. Behind the first train was a Michigan Central Railroad troop train. This train was moving 20 empty Pullman cars. Alonzo Sargent, the engineer of the troop train, fell asleep at the throttle. He was already suffering from a lack of sleep when he took some “kidney pills.” The lulling movement of the train caused the engineer to drift off.

Sargent missed the warning signals and his train, running at full throttle or about 35 mph, slammed into the stopped train. The stopped train was bringing the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus, the second largest circus in the country, to town. There were ≈ 400 performers and roustabouts on the old wooden train. The impact of the troop train crushed the caboose and 4 wooden sleeping cars. The kerosene lanterns on board ignited the wreckage. It was the worst circus train accident in the US with 86 people dead and 127 more injured.

Many of those killed in the crash perished within the first 35 seconds. The fire spread through the train burning many of the bodies beyond recognition. On June 26, most of the dead were buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Forest Park, Illinois. A section of the cemetery, called Showman’s Rest, had been purchased by the Showman’s League of America only a few months prior to the accident. The area is surrounded by elephant statues depicted in a symbolic mourning posture.

Crowds had assembled nearby awaiting the circus coming to town and these people rushed to the scene of the crash. It took days for the wreckage to be cleared. The Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus cancelled just two performances – the one in Hammond and the one scheduled at their next stop in Monroe, Wisconsin. Competing circuses sent performers to help the bereaved troupe, believing in the adage, “The show must go on.” Alonzo Sargent was found to be the cause of the accident, but criticism was also heaped on the outdated, wooden circus train, as the deteriorated condition of the cars helped to spread the fire.

“This accident was caused by Engineman Sargent being asleep, and from this cause, failing to observe the stop indication of automatic signal 2581, and the warnings of the flagman of the circus train, and to be governed by them.” – finding of the Interstate Commerce Commission

“When I woke up this morning my girlfriend asked me, ‘Did you sleep good?’ I said ‘No, I made a few mistakes.'” – Steven Wright

“There are worse things than looking stupid. Sleeping through life is one of them.” – Laura Preble

“To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub.” – William Shakespeare

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: The Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus was founded in 1907. It was at that time that Benjamin Wallace (founder of The Great Wallace Show in 1884) purchased from Carl Hagenbeck (founder of the Carl Hagenbeck Circus in 1903) his eponymous circus and combined the two. Carl was born in 1844 and the running of the combined circus fell to Wallace. Carl sued to get his name removed from the combined venture but lost his case. This was not the only disaster to befall the circus. Just five years earlier, they lost 8, elephants, 21 lions and tigers, and 8 performing horses in the Wabash River flood. The circus was sold to others and changed hands as well as combined with a variety of other circuses. Eventually, it ceased operation in 1938 after splitting from Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey. The Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus former winter home in Peru, Indiana (birthplace of Wallace) is now the Circus Hall of Fame.

Also on this day: Deke – In 1844, the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity is founded.
Burn, Baby, Burn – In 1969, the Cuyahoga River caught fire.
Sweden – In 1906, Sweden adopted a new/old national flag.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 22, 2012

Swedish flag

June 22, 1906: Sweden re-adopts their national flag. The flag is a rectangle of blue with a gold cross, offset but reaching to all edges. It is modeled on the Danish flag. Blue and yellow have been used as Swedish colors since King Magnus Birgerson first used them at his court in 1275. He was the first Magnus to rule Sweden and did so from 1275 until his death in 1290. According to mythology, in the 12th century, King Eric the Holy saw a yellow cross in the sky as his troops landed in Finland, on their way to the First Swedish Crusade. He adopted the golden cross on a field of blue, believing it to be a sign from God.

If the mythology is incorrect, it has also been suggested the flag may have been created as a resistance flag against the Danish standard. The Danish flag is red with a white cross. That flag has been in use since at least 1219. It is unknown when the Swedish flag was first used and there are several other starting dates. The 1275 date as discussed, or possibly a combination of that flag and the coat of arms for King Albert of Mecklenburg from 1364. It may have been introduced by King Charles Knutsson in 1442. It varied in design as coats of arms were added or subtracted. The cross was white prior to 1420. King Gustaf Vasa liberated Sweden from Danish rule in 1521 and the cross turned to gold.

There is a second flag – the war flag and naval ensign. It is also blue background with a yellow cross, but it is a triple tailed flag with the top and bottom triangles in blue and the middle tail reaching out in a continuation of the golden cross. On March 7, 1815 Sweden and Norway were united under one flag. In 1844, new flags were designed to give each of the two nations equal status in the union they shared. On this day, the new flag of Sweden was adopted with a lighter blue background than had been previously used.

There are several national flag days in Sweden. New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, May Day, Pentecost, and Christmas Day are holidays in other countries as well, However, Sweden also celebrates National Day of Sweden, Midsummer Day, Election Day to the Riksdag, United Nations Day, Gustavus Adolphus Day, and Alfred Nobel Day. Then there are six days based on the Royal family’s important days. There are two flags in the US modeled after the Swedish flag. The one for Wilmington, Delaware and the one for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Argentine football team’s flag was also based on the Swedish standard.

For you are the makers of the flag and it is well that you glory in the making. – Franklin Knight Lane

I am not the flag: not at all. I am but its shadow. – Franklin Knight Lane

If I fall, pick up the flag, kiss it, and keep on going. – Omar Torrijos Herrera

If you want a symbolic gesture, don’t burn the flag; wash it. – Norman Thomas

Also on this day:

Deke – In 1844, the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity is founded.
No Fun – In 1918, the worst circus train wreck took place.
Burn, Baby, Burn – In 1969, the Cuyahoga River caught fire.

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Burn, Baby, Burn

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 22, 2011

Extinguishing the fire on the Cuyahoga River

June 22, 1969: The Cuyahoga River in Northeastern Ohio catches fire. The river meanders through the Cuyahoga Valley for 100 miles and empties into Lake Erie. Moses Cleaveland, a surveyor, found the mouth of the river in 1796 and liked the area so much he settled there and established his eponymous town. For a very short time, the Cuyahoga River was the western border of the United States.

Industrial pollution wasn’t new in the 20th century. The river had caught fire several times before. In 1868, 1883, 1887, 1912, 1922, 1936, 1941, 1948, 1952, and in 1969. The fire in 1952 did between $1 and $1.5 million in damages to boats and riverfront property. The 1969 fire was much smaller. It was under control and extinguished within 30 minutes and did only $50,000 in damages. It is thought the fire started from a passing train throwing sparks that set fire to an oil slick. It was rather a non-event in Cleveland at the time with only the local fire patrol acting to put out the fire.

Small stories were buried in the local papers. However, Time Magazine ignited national interest when they carried the story about the burning river. The same problem was found in the Baltimore Harbor, the Buffalo River in New York, and the Rouge River in Michigan. The Cuyahoga River fire was the one to make it into the August 1, 1969 Time article.

In 1963 the Cleveland area was already concerned with cleaning up the river when they instituted the Cuyahoga River Basin Water Quality Committee. In 1968 the city of Cleveland passed a $100 million bond with the money going to clean up the river. In that same year, the federal government spent $160 million for the entire nation. Businesses were encouraged to clean up their effluvium and many did so voluntarily or due to pressure from the community. The river was improving, as can be inferred from the differences in damages between the 1952 fire and this one. Efforts have continued to improve the beautiful river and in 1998 the Cuyahoga River was one of 14 listed as American Heritage Rivers. While the river is beautiful in spots, the EPA continues to monitor problem areas – areas of stagnation and with unsafe levels of pollution.

“Some river! Chocolate-brown, oily, bubbling with subsurface gases, it oozes rather than flows. ‘Anyone who falls into the Cuyahoga does not drown,’ Cleveland’s citizens joke grimly. ‘He decays.'” – Time Magazine, August 1969

“The lower Cuyahoga has no visible life, not even low forms such as leeches and sludge worms that usually thrive on wastes.” – The Federal Water Pollution Control Administration

“I will never forget a photograph of flames, fire, shooting right out of the water in downtown Cleveland. It was the summer of 1969 and the Cuyahoga River was burning.” – EPA Administrator, Carol Browner

“What a terrible reflection on our city.” – ClevelandMayor, Carl Stokes

Also on this day:
Deke – In 1844, the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity is founded.
No Fun – In 1918, the worst circus train wreck took place.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 22, 2010

Original fraternity crest

June 22, 1844: Delta Kappa Epsilon [DKE or Deke], an influential North American fraternity is founded at Yale University by fifteen sophomores. The fifteen men had applied to Alpha Delta Phi and Psi Upsilon and some of them had been accepted. However the fifteen chose to form a new fraternity where all of them were welcome. They were looking for a candidate who was equal parts of each: “gentleman, the scholar, and the jolly good fellow.” The open motto of the fraternity is “Friends from the Heart Forever.”

Within three years, chapters were founded at four other institutions. To date, there are 63 chapters with more than 85,000 members in the US and another 6 chapters in Canada. Deke became an international fraternity in 1889 with the founding of the Alpha Phi chapter at the University of Toronto.

DKE’s influence is interwoven into American history. Five presidents have been part of the fraternity, the latest being George W. Bush [his father is a member, too]. Franklin D. Roosevelt held memberships in two fraternities and DKE revoked his status in the 1890s. The first Union officer killed in the Civil War was a Deke.

Vice Presidents, Governors, Justices of the US Supreme Court, other politicians, newspaper publishers, powerful businessmen, sports and entertainment figures, and other high achievers have all been members of this influential fraternity.

“Our main purpose is to make sure fraternities are cooperating and making sure the Greek community is healthy.” – Jeff Jenkins

“It’s just fun to go home and watch your old school. I still got some guys that I played with that are still there. Plus, I’m a fraternity guy. I go back and see the guys.” – Kevin Jones

“It’s rush for fraternities and it’s rush for bookstores too.” – Robert Hall

“We always prided ourselves in being a fraternity that did not take just one kind of kids.” – Jason Kassoy

“Grab a brew, don’t cost nuthin’.” – John Belushi in Animal House

Also on this day:
In 1918, the
Heganbeck-Wallace train disaster occurred.
In 1969, the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio caught fire.

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