Saturday, October 31, 2009
Michelangelo Buonarroti's masterpiece, the fresco on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel was first presented to the public. It received rave reviews at the time and still does today.
Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the door of the Wittenburg Palace church marking the beginning of the Protestant Reformation in Germany, and eventually some of the bloodiest wars in Europe to that point. As it was said, with so many thinking God was on their side, the question was who was on God's side?
800 Troopers of the 4th Australian Light Horse (mounted infantry) took part in what many historians consider the last cavalry charge in history. They assaulted and captured the Turkish fortress town of Beersheba, Palestine. After a 4 mile gallop, under constant artillery, machine gun and rifle fire, the Australians got through the barbed-wire barricades and crossed two trench lines before entering the town. In the assault the Australians lost 31 men K.I.A. and 36 wounded. In return, they captured 750 Turks, 9 artillery pieces, 3 machine guns and large quantities of munitions and supplies. This action also served to turn the flank of Turkish defenses in Palestine, leading to the fall of Jerusalem two months later. The rest of Palestine fell soon after.
Just goes to show you what a highly motivated individual with a rifle, bayonet and horse can accomplish.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Now I get the commander-in-chief thing, and he has the authority to render the salute, but damn, I don't think that he has truly earned that right. As far as I know he has never even been a Boy Scout or even worn a uniform before, nor has he supported the military. (at least like I think he should have) I think that perhaps it might be appropriate if he placed his hand over his heart rather than salute.
Of course, I could be wrong. What do you guys out there in blog land think?
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
The declaration of eradication came on May 8th 1980.
Monday, October 26, 2009
In Tombstone, Arizona Territory one of the West's most notorious gunfights took place. Wyatt Earp, his brothers Morgan and Virgil and John "Doc" Holliday met the Clanton "Gang". The fight ended with three of Clanton partisans dead.
Chevrolet introduces the V-8 engine to the public.
The World Health Organization declared Smallpox to be extinct world wide. The last case recorded in the world occurring naturally was in the country of Somalia that same year. Smallpox which had been the scourge of mankind since the beginning of time had killed and maimed countless millions up until that time. This was a international effort that succeeded beyond the organizers wildest dreams.
However, Smallpox is not totally gone. The U.S. holds samples of Smallpox at the labs of the C.D.C. in Atlanta, GA. and other samples are held in a lab in Moscow. There is also very strong evidence that some countries also hold Smallpox to be used as a Bio weapons.
We can only hope that this "spotted demon" is never introduced to humanity again.
Friday, October 23, 2009
In Beirut, Lebanon a truck bomb exploded in a building that was being used by U.S. Marines as a barracks. 241 Marines and Sailors died in the explosion.
The Marines involved were based out of Camp Lejeune here in North Carolina, so this loss was strongly felt here in the Old North State.
May the Lord keep watch over their souls.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
The Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union came very close to becoming very hot indeed when President John Kennedy announced to the American people that Soviet offensive ballistic missiles had been placed in Cuba. In the speech he made on that night on national television, he clearly and calmly stated the facts of the case and announced a naval "quarantine" of Cuba. Here is a copy of the speech he made that fateful night. Please take a moment and read it.
Good evening, my fellow citizens:
This Government, as promised, has maintained the closest surveillance of the Soviet military buildup on the island of Cuba. Within the past week, unmistakable evidence has established the fact that a series of offensive missile sites is now in preparation on that imprisoned island. The purpose of these bases can be none other than to provide a nuclear strike capability against the Western Hemisphere.
Upon receiving the first preliminary hard information of this nature last Tuesday morning at 9 A.M., I directed that our surveillance be stepped up. And having now confirmed and completed our evaluation of the evidence and our decision on a course of action, this Government feels obliged to report this new crisis to you in fullest detail.
The characteristics of these new missile sites indicate two distinct types of installations. Several of them include medium range ballistic missiles, capable of carrying a nuclear warhead for a distance of more than 1,000 nautical miles. Each of these missiles, in short, is capable of striking Washington, D. C., the Panama Canal, Cape Canaveral, Mexico City, or any other city in the southeastern part of the United States, in Central America, or in the Caribbean area.
Additional sites not yet completed appear to be designed for intermediate range ballistic missiles -- capable of traveling more than twice as far -- and thus capable of striking most of the major cities in the Western Hemisphere, ranging as far north as Hudson Bay, Canada, and as far south as Lima, Peru. In addition, jet bombers, capable of carrying nuclear weapons, are now being uncrated and assembled in Cuba, while the necessary air bases are being prepared.
This urgent transformation of Cuba into an important strategic base -- by the presence of these large, long-range, and clearly offensive weapons of sudden mass destruction -- constitutes an explicit threat to the peace and security of all the Americas, in flagrant and deliberate defiance of the Rio Pact of 1947, the traditions of this nation and hemisphere, the joint resolution of the 87th Congress, the Charter of the United Nations, and my own public warnings to the Soviets on September 4 and 13. This action also contradicts the repeated assurances of Soviet spokesmen, both publicly and privately delivered, that the arms buildup in Cuba would retain its original defensive character, and that the Soviet Union had no need or desire to station strategic missiles. on the territory of any other nation.
The size of this undertaking makes clear that it has been planned for some months. Yet, only last month, after I had made clear the distinction between any introduction of ground-to-ground missiles and the existence of defensive antiaircraft missiles, the Soviet Government publicly stated on September 11 that, and I quote, "the armaments and military equipment sent to Cuba are designed exclusively for defensive purposes," that there is, and I quote the Soviet Government, "there is no need for the Soviet Government to shift its weapons for a retaliatory blow to any other country, for instance Cuba," and that, and I quote their government, "the Soviet Union has so powerful rockets to carry these nuclear warheads that there is no need to search for sites for them beyond the boundaries of the Soviet Union."
That statement was false.
Only last Thursday, as evidence of this rapid offensive buildup was already in my hand, Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko told me in my office that he was instructed to make it clear once again, as he said his government had already done, that Soviet assistance to Cuba, and I quote, "pursued solely the purpose of contributing to the defense capabilities of Cuba," that, and I quote him, "training by Soviet specialists of Cuban nationals in handling defensive armaments was by no means offensive, and if it were otherwise," Mr. Gromyko went on, "the Soviet Government would never become involved in rendering such assistance."
That statement also was false.
Neither the United States of America nor the world community of nations can tolerate deliberate deception and offensive threats on the part of any nation, large or small. We no longer live in a world where only the actual firing of weapons represents a sufficient challenge to a nation's security to constitute maximum peril. Nuclear weapons are so destructive and ballistic missiles are so swift, that any substantially increased possibility of their use or any sudden change in their deployment may well be regarded as a definite threat to peace.
For many years, both the Soviet Union and the United States, recognizing this fact, have deployed strategic nuclear weapons with great care, never upsetting the precarious status quo which insured that these weapons would not be used in the absence of some vital challenge. Our own strategic missiles have never been transferred to the territory of any other nation under a cloak of secrecy and deception; and our history -- unlike that of the Soviets since the end of World War II -- demonstrates that we have no desire to dominate or conquer any other nation or impose our system upon its people. Nevertheless, American citizens have become adjusted to living daily on the bull's-eye of Soviet missiles located inside the U.S.S.R. or in submarines.
In that sense, missiles in Cuba add to an already clear and present danger -- although it should be noted the nations of Latin America have never previously been subjected to a potential nuclear threat. But this secret, swift, extraordinary buildup of Communist missiles -- in an area well known to have a special and historical relationship to the United States and the nations of the Western Hemisphere, in violation of Soviet assurances, and in defiance of American and hemispheric policy -- this sudden, clandestine decision to station strategic weapons for the first time outside of Soviet soil -- is a deliberately provocative and unjustified change in the status quo which cannot be accepted by this country, if our courage and our commitments are ever to be trusted again by either friend or foe.
The 1930's taught us a clear lesson: aggressive conduct, if allowed to go unchecked and unchallenged, ultimately leads to war. This nation is opposed to war. We are also true to our word. Our unswerving objective, therefore, must be to prevent the use of these missiles against this or any other country, and to secure their withdrawal or elimination from the Western Hemisphere.
Our policy has been one of patience and restraint, as befits a peaceful and powerful nation which leads a worldwide alliance. We have been determined not to be diverted from our central concerns by mere irritants and fanatics. But now further action is required, and it is under way; and these actions may only be the beginning. We will not prematurely or unnecessarily risk the costs of worldwide nuclear war in which even the fruits of victory would be ashes in our mouth; but neither will we shrink from that risk at any time it must be faced.
Acting, therefore, in the defense of our own security and of the entire Western Hemisphere, and under the authority entrusted to me by the Constitution as endorsed by the Resolution of the Congress, I have directed that the following initial steps be taken immediately:
First: To halt this offensive buildup a strict quarantine on all offensive military equipment under shipment to Cuba is being initiated. All ships of any kind bound for Cuba from whatever nation or port will, if found to contain cargoes of offensive weapons, be turned back. This quarantine will be extended, if needed, to other types of cargo and carriers. We are not at this time, however, denying the necessities of life as the Soviets attempted to do in their Berlin blockade of 1948.
Second: I have directed the continued and increased close surveillance of Cuba and its military buildup. The foreign ministers of the OAS [Organization of American States], in their communiqué' of October 6, rejected secrecy on such matters in this hemisphere. Should these offensive military preparations continue, thus increasing the threat to the hemisphere, further action will be justified. I have directed the Armed Forces to prepare for any eventualities; and I trust that in the interest of both the Cuban people and the Soviet technicians at the sites, the hazards to all concerned of continuing this threat will be recognized.
Third: It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.
Fourth: As a necessary military precaution, I have reinforced our base at Guantanamo, evacuated today the dependents of our personnel there, and ordered additional military units to be on a standby alert basis.
Fifth: We are calling tonight for an immediate meeting of the Organ[ization] of Consultation under the Organization of American States, to consider this threat to hemispheric security and to invoke articles 6 and 8 of the Rio Treaty in support of all necessary action. The United Nations Charter allows for regional security arrangements, and the nations of this hemisphere decided long ago against the military presence of outside powers. Our other allies around the world have also been alerted.
Sixth: Under the Charter of the United Nations, we are asking tonight that an emergency meeting of the Security Council be convoked without delay to take action against this latest Soviet threat to world peace. Our resolution will call for the prompt dismantling and withdrawal of all offensive weapons in Cuba, under the supervision of U.N. observers, before the quarantine can be lifted.
Seventh and finally: I call upon Chairman Khrushchev to halt and eliminate this clandestine, reckless, and provocative threat to world peace and to stable relations between our two nations. I call upon him further to abandon this course of world domination, and to join in an historic effort to end the perilous arms race and to transform the history of man. He has an opportunity now to move the world back from the abyss of destruction by returning to his government's own words that it had no need to station missiles outside its own territory, and withdrawing these weapons from Cuba by refraining from any action which will widen or deepen the present crisis, and then by participating in a search for peaceful and permanent solutions.
This nation is prepared to present its case against the Soviet threat to peace, and our own proposals for a peaceful world, at any time and in any forum -- in the OAS, in the United Nations, or in any other meeting that could be useful -- without limiting our freedom of action. We have in the past made strenuous efforts to limit the spread of nuclear weapons. We have proposed the elimination of all arms and military bases in a fair and effective disarmament treaty. We are prepared to discuss new proposals for the removal of tensions on both sides, including the possibilities of a genuinely independent Cuba, free to determine its own destiny. We have no wish to war with the Soviet Union -- for we are a peaceful people who desire to live in peace with all other peoples.
But it is difficult to settle or even discuss these problems in an atmosphere of intimidation. That is why this latest Soviet threat -- or any other threat which is made either independently or in response to our actions this week-- must and will be met with determination. Any hostile move anywhere in the world against the safety and freedom of peoples to whom we are committed, including in particular the brave people of West Berlin, will be met by whatever action is needed.
Finally, I want to say a few words to the captive people of Cuba, to whom this speech is being directly carried by special radio facilities. I speak to you as a friend, as one who knows of your deep attachment to your fatherland, as one who shares your aspirations for liberty and justice for all. And I have watched and the American people have watched with deep sorrow how your nationalist revolution was betrayed -- and how your fatherland fell under foreign domination. Now your leaders are no longer Cuban leaders inspired by Cuban ideals. They are puppets and agents of an international conspiracy which has turned Cuba against your friends and neighbors in the Americas, and turned it into the first Latin American country to become a target for nuclear war -- the first Latin American country to have these weapons on its soil.
These new weapons are not in your interest. They contribute nothing to your peace and well-being. They can only undermine it. But this country has no wish to cause you to suffer or to impose any system upon you. We know that your lives and land are being used as pawns by those who deny your freedom. Many times in the past, the Cuban people have risen to throw out tyrants who destroyed their liberty. And I have no doubt that most Cubans today look forward to the time when they will be truly free -- free from foreign domination, free to choose their own leaders, free to select their own system, free to own their own land, free to speak and write and worship without fear or degradation. And then shall Cuba be welcomed back to the society of free nations and to the associations of this hemisphere.
My fellow citizens, let no one doubt that this is a difficult and dangerous effort on which we have set out. No one can foresee precisely what course it will take or what costs or casualties will be incurred. Many months of sacrifice and self-discipline lie ahead -- months in which both our patience and our will be tested, months in which many threats and denunciations will keep us aware of our dangers. But the greatest danger of all would be to do nothing.
The path we have chosen for the present is full of hazards, as all paths are; but it is the one most consistent with our character and courage as a nation and our commitments around the world. The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender or submission.
Our goal is not the victory of might, but the vindication of right; not peace at the expense of freedom, but both peace and freedom, here in this hemisphere, and, we hope, around the world. God willing, that goal will be achieved.
Thank you and good night.
I can't help but wonder what would have happened if this had occurred with the current administration in office......
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
All hands shall splice the mainbrace today in memory of the Immortal Nelson and the Gallant British Tars who fought and won against the combined French and Spanish fleets at the battle of Trafalgar.
If you know it, a chorus or two of "Heart of Oak" wouldn't hurt either...........
Monday, October 19, 2009
Great Britain declared war on Spain in what was called "The War of Jenkin's Ear". This war was so named after English ship's Captain Richard Jenkins who having his ship boarded by Spanish coastal guardians was assaulted and had his ear cut off. The Spaniard who did this, told Jenkins "Take this to your King and tell him I would do him likewise" Jenkins took the ear to show to the English Parliament and it served to fan the flames of hatred for Spain. This war was little more than a continuation of the multiple wars for empire going on in the world at the time. It was notable since it did serve to finalise the boarder between Spanish Florida and the English colony of Georgia as well as allowing American colonist to serve in the British forces. One notable Virginian, thinking so highly of the British naval commander at the battle of Cartagena resolved to name his home after him. The British commander, was Edward Vernon. The Virginian, was Lawrence Washington, brother of George. George later inherited from his brother the home and plantation named Mount Vernon.
General Charles Lord Cornwallis surrendered his command on the Yorktown peninsula in Virginia to his excellency George Washington commander of the Continental Army and Count de Rochambeau commander of the French expeditionary forces. The British surrendered 7152 army personnel as well as 840 seamen and while it was a significant lost, it did not end the war, which dragged on for two more years. The final treaty was signed in 1783.
Napoleon Bonaparte leading the Army of France began the long cold nightmarish retreat from Moscow. The Russians had followed a scorched earth policy which prevented the French from living off the land as they had done in other countries. Combined with the distance back to France as well as the cold of the Russian winter this served to destroy the cream of the French Army.
It was a lesson that the German Army would learn only too well in 1941. General Winter controls the battles on the steppes.
On reflection however, I think I learned a great deal in the almost two years that I worked there. Mostly about myself, as well as about my fellow man. I was lucky enough to be able to bring that knowledge with me as I continued my career and I firmly believe that it made me both a better cop as well as a better man.
In small towns, you have contact with what you could consider a "cast of characters", locals that you had dealings with day-in, day-out. Most of these interactions were harmless, and happened so frequently that you learned the names of the people and they learned yours. Let me tell you a story of one of these folks, a fellow named "Big Boy" Mason.
Big Boy was a African-American street person, who as you have no doubt figured was a fairly good sized individual. He stood about 6'2" and seemed to be as wide as he was tall. I never learned his first name. Every one, including his only living kin, a aunt he stayed with when it got cold called him Big Boy. As I said, he was big but he was a gentle giant. In a cruel twist of fate that nature sometimes plays on us, Big Boy was mildly retarded. Not enough to stop him from being able to get along, but it did give him a child like quality. I guess these days he could have been put into a program or have a social worker to keep a eye on him. But in those days, we didn't have any thing like that.
Big Boy would spend his days on main street looking for work to do. He would either work for cash or food and did a good job on whatever he took on. He washed dishes, swept, picked up trash, whatever anyone would let him do. When he swapped his labor for food, he always had one of two meals, either three fried fish sandwiches or four hotdogs "all the way" (mustard, slaw, chilli and chopped onions) washed down with a quart of chocolate milk. Big Boy also liked his wine. He was just as happy as a clam when he had a bottle of Richard's Wild Irish Rose wine. But he never let it get the better of him, nor did he ever drink in public. He always went into the bushes or behind buildings. So I never had any problems with him, he was fairly harmless and as I said, just a part of main street.
Big Boy did have one habit that made him stand out. Every one or two weeks he would take whatever money he had earned and saved and go down to a small mom and pop hardware store we had in town on Friday afternoon and buy himself a "Let's go fishing!" kit. I seem to remember it had a Zebco 303 fishing rod with various other odds and ends in it. The idea was that you could buy the kit and have everything you needed to fish but the bait. With that kit and a tub or two of nightcrawlers Big Boy would announce to all that he was "goin' fishing" and would disappear for the entire weekend, only to return to his routine on Monday morning, sans rod. I have no idea what happened to all those rods, but he would always have to pick up another one when the urge to go fishing struck him.
I was patrolling the town about 2 AM on a Saturday morning and it was very quiet, nothing going on but rain. I ain't talking about mist or sprinkles, I am talking good ol' Baptist gullywasher. I cut through a strip mall parking lot and saw a hulking figure standing in the middle of the lot. Now this parking lot was know for it's settling so every time it rained real hard, a big puddle would form. Of course, the hulking figure was Big Boy out in the driving rain, fishing in the puddle. I rolled down my car window and yelled at him inquiring as to" just what the ever loving hell he thought he was doing?" Big Boy very calmly replied "Fishing, Boss"
Now I knew that if a taxpayer saw Big Boy and called it in, that I would be forced to take formal action so I thought real fast and told Big Boy that hole had been fished out for a while, but that if he would come with me, I would take him to a place where I thought that he would have better luck. That seemed to make him happy so he piled into my patrol car and I drove him to a small creek about 1/2 a mile from main street. I put him out and told him to be careful, he thanked me multiple times and that was that. Or so I thought.
Fast forward about a month or so. There was a fellow named Shorty who ran a boarding house in town. Well, I call it a boarding house, he just emptied out two rooms and put in a bunch of army cots and rented them out to drunks, street people, people on the run from the law or anything or anyone else that had the cash for a place to crash. Shorty was a real piece of work. He took out insurance policies on the street folks, (Naming himself as the beneficiary) just in case anything MIGHT happen to them while they were his guest. He also had a refrigerator on his back porch full of beer, wine or anything else a person might want. Of course he also had a log chain padlocked around the fridge, because Shorty was strictly a cash and carry kind of guy. He was also one of the biggest fences around which led to our interest in him. One of our investigators had real good information that Shorty had several handguns that had been stolen from a local gun store and obtained a search warrant for the premises.
This was my first raid/search warrant so the powers that be, posted me watching the back yard. Again I was a young pup and fell into the same trap that new fighter pilots sometimes fall into. I focused on the threat to my front, not my surroundings. I forgot to check my six, as they say.
This fact was brought to my attention when I heard a loud "thump" behind me. I spun around and saw a man laying on the ground with a busted beer bottle in his hand and standing over him was Big Boy with a big piece of wood in his hand. Big Boy was looking down at the individual on the ground and said "Mutha F***a, don't you try to hurt that white boy, he's my fishin' buddy."
Believe you me, from that point on, Big Boy didn't have to worry about getting rides to the fishin' hole or working too hard for hotdogs. Strangely enough he never ever mentioned saving my ass, he seemed to have forgotten all about it. But I never did.
I left that agency about a year later. Bigger and better things I figured. The little town continued on, since it was real close to where my new job was and where I lived, I sorta kept up with what was going on. Then one night I ran into one of my old co-workers and was catching me up with the latest news and he told me that Big Boy was dead. His aunt had gone out of town to visit some relatives and it had turned cold. Big Boy went to the local junk yard where he sometimes slept in the wrecked cars, took a hubcap and filled it with charcoal, lit it and took it into a car with him. Carbon Monoxide got him.
To this day, when I go to Walmart or any other place where they sell fishing gear and I spot one of those "Let's go fishing" sets, I think about Big Boy and how someone on we consider the fringes kept a still wet behind the ears kid in a uniform from getting seriously hurt or worse. Maybe I will see him again in the beyond.
If so, I owe him a fishing trip.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
"There was a demon that lived in the air. They said whoever challenged him would die. Their controls would freeze up, their planes would buffet wildly, and they would disintegrate. The demon lived at Mach 1 on the meter, seven hundred and fifty miles an hour, where the air could no longer move out of the way. He lived behind a barrier through which they said no man could ever pass. They called it the sound barrier."
From the movie "The Right Stuff"
On this date Captain Charles "Chuck" Yeager confronted the demon and bested it by becoming the first man to break the sound barrier in the X-1 rocket.
Prisoners in the Sobibor death camp in Poland rose up in revolt killing 11 members of German S.S. who ran the camp as well as a number of Ukrainian guards. There were 600 prisoners held in the camp of which over half escaped. Only 50 of the escapees survived the war. Once again, history shows us that it is better to die on your feet than live on your knees as a slave.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
"All MY heroes have always been killed by Cowboys"
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Corporal Alvin C. York, ( later promoted to Sgt.) in battle near Chatel-Chehery, France performed acts of heroism that were later to result in the award of the Congressional Medal of Honor. The citation states:
"After his platoon had suffered heavy casualties and 3 other noncommissioned officers had become casualties, Cpl. York assumed command. Fearlessly leading 7 men, he charged with great daring a machinegun nest which was pouring deadly and incessant fire upon his platoon. In this heroic feat the machinegun nest was taken, together with 4 officers and 128 men and several guns."