A distant cousin still stands watch on the USS Arizona

“….. December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that Nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its Government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American Island of Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese Government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday the Japanese Government also launched an attack against Malaya.

Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.

Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam.

Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.

Last night the Japanese attacked Wake Island. And this morning the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our Nation.

As Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense.

But always will our whole Nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory. I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces—with the unbounding determination of our people—we will gain the inevitable triumph- so help us God.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.”

Thanksgiving:

A Harvest festival observed by the Pilgrims at Plymouth
The most prominent historic thanksgiving event in American popular culture is the 1621 celebration at the Plymouth Plantation, where the settlers held a harvest feast after a successful growing season. Autumn or early winter feasts continued sporadically in later years, first as an impromptu religious observance and later as a civil tradition.

The Plymouth settlers had settled in land abandoned by Patuxet indians when all but one had died in a plague. After a harsh winter killed half of the Plymouth settlers, the last surviving Patuxet, Squanto came in at the request of the Abenaki indian Samoset, the first native American to encounter the Pilgrims. Squanto taught the Pilgrims how to catch eel and grow corn and served as an interpreter for them until he too succumbed to plague a year later. The Wampanoag Chief Massasoit also gave food to the colonists during the first winter when supplies brought from England were insufficient.

The Pilgrims celebrated at Plymouth for three days after their first harvest in 1621. It included 50 people who were on the Mayflower  and 90 Native Americans.

Two colonists gave personal accounts of the 1621 feast in Plymouth.

Plymouth Plantation Governor William Bradford:

They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty. For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercised in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion. All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they can be used (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides, they had about a peck a meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to the proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports.

Assistant Governor, Edward Winslow:

Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruits of our labor. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which we brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.

The Pilgrims held a true Thanksgiving celebration in 1623 following a fast,and a rain which had broken a drought.

 

Have a Happy Thanksgiving 2019.

MILESFORTIS WILL RETURN

Today’s birthday: Eugene Stoner.

No, his design for the AR-10 was not gas ‘direct impingement’. Whoever came up with that was an ignoramus.
The design is a modified ‘Fixed piston, moving cylinder’ gas expansion and cut-off system  contained inside the bolt carrier assembly.
Direct impingement is where the gas blows directly onto the carrier to move it, as in the Rossignol & Ljungman designs.

 

On this day, in 1963 John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas Texas.

While I have no doubt Oswald was shooting, and his skill and the rifle he used were ‘adequate’ to the task, there’s been so much controversy in the several investigations that short of the Eschaton, I think we’ll never know the whole truth of it.

President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963 at 12:30 p.m. while riding in a motorcade in Dallas during a campaign visit. Kennedy’s motorcade was turning past the Texas School Book Depository at Dealey Plaza with crowds lining the streets—when shots rang out. The driver of the president’s Lincoln limousine, with its top off, raced to nearby Parkland Memorial Hospital, but after being shot in the neck and head, Kennedy was pronounced dead at 1 p.m. He was 46 years old…………

The first lady and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, who had been three cars behind Kennedy in the motorcade, returned to Air Force One at Dallas Love Field with Kennedy’s body, in a bronze casket.

Johnson was sworn in at 2:38 p.m. as the 36th president of the United States while aboard the airplane prior to takeoff. Jacqueline Kennedy, still in a pink suit splattered with blood, stood at Johnson’s side. An autopsy on Kennedy’s body was performed at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland.

“This is a sad time for all people. We have suffered a loss that cannot be weighed,” Johnson said in his first public statement as president. “For me, it is a deep personal tragedy. I know that the world shares the sorrow that Mrs. Kennedy and her family bear. I will do my best. That is all I can do. I ask for your help—and God’s,”

Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat traveled to Jerusalem on November 19th, 1977, to seek a permanent peace settlement with Israel after decades of conflict. Despite criticism from Egypt’s allies, Sadat & Menachem Begin eventually reached a peace agreement, brokered by U.S. President Jimmy Carter (one of few accomplishments); the Camp David accords, so called because the deal was made at the Naval Support Facility Thurmont, commonly called Camp David,  in Maryland.

While Sadat and Begin were jointly awarded the 1978 Nobel Peace prize for their efforts, the peace accord was not liked by many Arabs and eventually led to Sadat’s assassination. Despite that, peace between the two nations continues today.

On this day in 1978, Peoples Temple founder Jim Jones led hundreds of his followers in a mass murder-suicide at their Jonestown agricultural commune in the South American nation of Guyana. This introduced the term “…drink the Kool-Aid”, since drinking cyanide poisoned Flavor Aid caused most of the deaths.

For many years, I worked with a man who had a slight connection with the cult. But slight as it was, he was right concerned enough to violate company policy and start carrying a S&W .357 afterwards. Seems he was a HAM amateur radio operator who had DXed the Jonestown shortwave radio station. He showed me a QSL card mailed to him and from them knowing his name and address, he decided he wasn’t going to take any chances.
I didn’t blame him a bit.
Strange thing, we speculated had some gnostic religious aspect. The QSL card didn’t have the first letter of his first & last name on the address line. It had to be purposeful since those letters were used elsewhere in the address.

Weird.

November 11, 1918 11:00 Paris Time. (UTC+1) 05:00 EST

The cease fire to begin the Armistice for the cessation of hostilities and the withdrawal of German forces to behind the Rhine took effect, for all intents ending the First World War.

Since 1954, when the name was changed from ‘Armistice Day’, we celebrate today as ‘Veterans Day’.
So, if you’re one of us who raised your right hand and swore that oath:

Salute!

 

Navy Submarine, Missing for 75 Years, Is Found Off Okinawa

It was hidden from discovery all this time by a single errant digit.

The mystery began on Jan. 28, 1944, when the Grayback, one of the most successful American submarines of World War II, sailed out of Pearl Harbor for its 10th combat patrol. By late March it was more than three weeks overdue to return, and the Navy listed the submarine as missing and presumed lost.

After the war, the Navy tried to piece together a comprehensive history of the 52 submarines it had lost. The history, issued in 1949, gave approximate locations of where each submarine had disappeared.

The Grayback was thought to have gone down in the open ocean 100 miles east-southeast of Okinawa. But the Navy had unknowingly relied on a flawed translation of Japanese war records that got one digit wrong in the latitude and longitude of the spot where the Grayback had probably met its end.

The error went undetected until last year, when an amateur researcher, Yutaka Iwasaki, was going through the wartime records of the Imperial Japanese Navy base at Sasebo. The files included daily reports received by radio from the naval air base at Naha, Okinawa — and the entry for Feb. 27, 1944, contained a promising lead.

The report for that day said that a Nakajima B5N carrier-based bomber had dropped a 500-pound bomb on a surfaced submarine, striking just aft of the conning tower. The sub exploded and sank immediately, and there were no survivors.

“In that radio record, there is a longitude and a latitude of the attack, very clearly,” Mr. Iwasaki said. And it did not match what was in the 1949 Navy history, not by a hundred miles.

Mr. Iwasaki is a systems engineer who lives in Kobe, Japan, and who became fascinated as a teenager with the Japanese merchant ships of World War II — four-fifths of which were sunk during the war, he said. Uncovering the history of those ships necessarily brought him into contact with records on submarines. “For me, finding U.S. submarines is part of my activity to introduce the tragic story of war,” he said. “It is my hobby, and also my passion.”

His work brought him to the attention of Tim Taylor, an undersea explorer who has set out to find the wrecks of every American submarine lost in the war. In 2010 he found his first submarine, the U.S.S. R-12, off Key West, Fla., where it sank during a training exercise in 1943. He set up the privately funded Lost 52 Project to track down the rest, relying on technology that had become available only in the last 10 to 15 years.

Mr. Taylor says that of the 52 lost American submarines, 47 are considered discoverable; the other five were run aground or destroyed in known locations.

Mr. Taylor and his wife, Christine Dennison, have been searching for those 47, and have begun to focus on the ones that were probably sunk near Japan.

Through his work in undersea exploration, Mr. Taylor was introduced to Don Walsh, a former Navy submariner who, as a lieutenant in 1960, reached the deepest point of any ocean on Earth, in the Mariana Trench near Guam. Mr. Walsh gave Mr. Taylor his copy of the 1949 Navy history, “U.S. Submarine Losses, World War II.”

Armed with the information in that book and Mr. Iwasaki’s discovery, Mr. Taylor and the Lost 52 team decided to make a run at finding the Grayback.

The Grayback’s last patrol was its third under the command of Lt. Cmdr. John A. Moore, who had been awarded the Navy Cross for each of the first two. His third Navy Cross would be awarded posthumously, after the submarine sent 21,594 tons of Japanese shipping to the bottom on its last mission. In all, the Grayback sank more than a dozen Japanese ships. The Navy considers submarines like the Grayback to be “still on patrol.”

Like Commander Moore did 75 years before, Mr. Taylor launched his mission to Okinawa this spring from Hawaii. When they reached Japanese waters in June, he and his team fought through mechanical and electrical problems that bedeviled their mission.

They were searching an area where the ocean was 1,400 feet deep, and their main search tool was a 14-foot-long autonomous underwater vehicle weighing thousands of pounds that Mr. Taylor likened to an underwater drone. It would dive to just a few hundred feet above the sea floor and then spend 24 hours pinging with different sonars back and forth across about 10 square nautical miles. When the drone returned to the mother ship, technicians downloaded its data, using computer software to stitch all of the sonar imagery into one coherent picture that they could quickly review.

“When you’re on these sites, you feel like you’re one breakdown away from having to go home,” Mr. Taylor said of the search area. “So every day is precious.”

On the next to last day of the expedition, the drone reported a malfunction one-third of the way through a planned 24-hour mission. As they recovered the drone, Mr. Taylor said, half of his crew started getting the ship ready to return to port, thinking that the vehicle was likely to be beyond quick repair. But Mr. Taylor began reviewing the images captured by the drone.

He quickly spotted two anomalies on the sea floor, and readied another of the ship’s remotely operated vehicles to visit the bottom. Unlike the drone, this one was steered manually from the mother ship, and had high-definition cameras.

In a matter of hours, Mr. Taylor was looking at the hull of the Grayback and, lying about 400 feet away, was the submarine’s deck gun, which had been blown off when the bomb exploded.

“We were elated,” Mr. Taylor said. “But it’s also sobering, because we just found 80 men.” The next day, Mr. Taylor and his crew held a ceremony to remember the sailors lost aboard the ship and called out their names one by one.

One of those names was John Patrick King.

His nephew John Bihn, of Wantagh, N.Y., is named after him. Mr. Bihn, who was born three years after the Grayback went down, remembers him as a constant presence in his maternal grandparents’ home, where a black-and-white photo of the submarine hung in the living room near a black frame holding Mr. King’s Purple Heart medal and citation. But in his family, the subject of his uncle’s death was “too sad to ask about,” Mr. Bihn said. “My mother would cry very often if you spoke to her about it.”

With no body to bury, Mr. Bihn’s grandparents, Patrick and Catherine King, memorialized their son on their own headstone. Under their names, Mr. Binh said, they had engraved, “John Patrick King ‘Lost in Action.’”

Mr. Bihn got a text message from his sister Katherine Taylor (no relation to Tim Taylor) two weeks ago, saying the Grayback had been found. She had gotten the news from Christine Dennison. “I was dumbfounded,” he said. “I just could not believe it.”

“I wish my parents were alive to see this, because it would certainly make them very happy,” he added.

In a video taken by the vehicle that surveyed the wreck, Mr. Binh said, the camera tilted upward at one point to show the conning tower, and a plaque reading “U.S.S. Grayback” was plain to see.

“It’s like someone wiped it clean,” Mr. Bihn said. “It’s like it wanted to be found.”

November 10, 1775, by the Second Continental Congress :

Resolved, That two Battalions of marines be raised, consisting of one Colonel, two Lieutenant Colonels, two Majors, and other officers as usual in other regiments; and that they consist of an equal number of privates with other battalions; that particular care be taken, that no persons be appointed to office, or insisted into said battalions, but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve to advantage by sea when required: that they be insisted and commissioned to serve for and during the present war between Great Britain and the colonies, unless dismissed by order of Congress: that they be distinguished by the names of the first and second battalions of American Marines, and that they be considered as part of the number which the continental Army before Boston is ordered to consist of.

Happy Birthday to Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children.

Also, on this date in 1938, was “Kristallnacht”.

The name comes from the shards of broken glass that littered the streets after the windows of Jewish-owned stores, buildings and synagogues were smashed.
Historians view Kristallnacht as a prelude to the Final Solution and the murder of six million Jews during the Holocaust.

Be forewarned; Once a group in any society has been singled out for ridicule and persecution, then they can be systematically attacked. We here in the U.S. have an advantage. We still have arms. All we need to do is maintain the freedom to use them if necessary to make our own justice.

 

The story of Berlin Wall in pictures, 1961-1989

Erected in the dead of night on August 13, 1961, the Berlin Wall (known as Berliner Mauer in German) was a physical division between West Berlin and East Germany. Its purpose was to keep disaffected East Germans from fleeing to the West.

When the Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989, its destruction was nearly as instantaneous as its creation. For 28 years, the Berlin Wall had been a symbol of the Cold War and the Iron Curtain between Soviet-led Communism and the democracies of the West. When it fell, it was celebrated around the world.

On August 13, 1961, East Germany closed its borders with the west. Here, East German soldiers set up barbed wire barricades at the border separating East and West Berlin. West Berlin citizens watch the work.

Decades later, the Berlin Wall is a memory, pieces of it scattered around the world. Here, some original pieces of the wall are displayed for sale at the city of Teltow near Berlin, on November 8, 2013

 

 

British archaeologist finds the entrance to King Tut’s tomb, 4 November 1922

In 1907, Egyptologist and archaeologist Howard Carter was hired by George Herbert, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon to oversee excavations in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings. Carter had built a reputation for scrupulously recording and preserving discoveries.

Carter searched the valley for years with little to show for it, which drew the ire of his employer. In 1922, Lord Carnarvon told Carter that he had only one more season of digging before his funding would be ended.

Revisiting a previously abandoned dig site at a group of huts, Carter started digging again, desperate for a breakthrough.

On Nov. 4, 1922, his crew discovered a step carved into the rock. By the end of the next day, a whole staircase had been uncovered. Carter wired Carnarvon, imploring him to come at once.

Constantine’s Vision of the Cross ~ Early Accounts and Backstory

ΕΝ ΤΟΥΤΩ ΝΙΚΑ otherwise, IN HOC SIGNO VINCES

Constantine’s great victory at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge took place on October 28, AD 312. The day before — October 27 — is the date traditionally given for the miraculous vision and dream which Constantine experienced prior to the battle. This vision has been the subject of debate in both scholarly and popular imagination for hundreds of years. But what really happened on that day 1,705 years ago that changed forever the course of human history?

As a prelude to the famous accounts of this vision, it should be noted that Constantine also seems to have had pagan theophany in the early years of his reign. Writing sometime between AD 307 and AD 310, an anonymous Gallic panegyricist describes Constantine’s presence on the frontier as almost miraculous in restoring order after a barbarian incursion. He explains the reason why as follows:

“Fortune herself so ordered this matter that the happy outcome of your affairs prompted you to convey to the immortal gods what you had vowed at the very spot where you had turned aside toward the most beautiful temple in the whole world, or rather, to the deity made manifest, as you saw. For you saw, I believe, O Constantine, your Apollo, accompanied by Victory, offering you laurel wreaths, each one of which carries a portent of thirty years. For this is the number of human ages which are owed to you without fail—beyond the old age of Nestor.”
[In Praise of the Later Roman Emperors, page 248-50]

This reputed vision of Apollo took place at least two years prior to Constantine’s more famous vision of a cross in the sky. Interestingly, this vision fits in well with the Christian accounts of later events.

Lest we forget.

The Beirut Barracks Bombings (October 23, 1983, in Beirut, Lebanon) occurred during the Lebanese Civil War when two truck bombs struck separate buildings housing United States and French military forces—members of the Multinational Force (MNF) in Lebanon—killing 299 American and French servicemen. An obscure group calling itself ‘Islamic Jihad’ claimed responsibility for the bombings.

Suicide bombers detonated each of the truck bombs. In the attack on the building serving as a barracks for the 1st Battalion 8th Marines (Battalion Landing Team – BLT 1/8), the death toll was 241 American servicemen: 220 Marines, 18 sailors and three soldiers, making this incident the deadliest single-day death toll for the United States Marine Corps since World War II’s Battle of Iwo Jima, the deadliest single-day death toll for the United States military since the first day of the Vietnam War’s Tet Offensive, and the deadliest single attack on Americans overseas since World War II. Another 128 Americans were wounded in the blast. Thirteen later died of their injuries, and they are numbered among the total number who died. An elderly Lebanese man, a custodian/vendor who was known to work and sleep in his concession stand next to the building, was also killed in the first blast. The explosives used were later estimated to be equivalent to as much as 9,525 kg (21,000 pounds) of TNT.

In the attack on the French barracks, the nine-story ‘Drakkar’ building, 58 paratroopers from the 1st Parachute Chasseur Regiment were killed and 15 injured by a second truck bomb. This attack occurred just minutes after the attack on the American Marines. It was France’s single worst military loss since the end of the Algerian War. The wife and four children of a Lebanese janitor at the French building were also killed, and more than twenty other Lebanese civilians were injured.

These attacks eventually led to the withdrawal of the international peacekeeping force from Lebanon, where they had been stationed since the withdrawal of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) following the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982.

NYC Medical Examiner’s Office Identifies Remains of Another Sept. 11 Victim

The New York City medical examiner’s office has identified another person killed in the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, the 1,645th victim to be identified.

The name of the man is being withheld at the request of the family. His is the third new identification of a World Trade Center victim this year. The remains of a woman were identified in July, while a man was identified in June.

The identities of both those victims were also withheld.

Of the 2,753 people reported missing in the disaster, 1,108 victims (or 40 percent of the total number) still remain unidentified.

John Brown’s Raid

On October 16, 1859, John Brown led a small army of 18 men into the small town of Harper’s Ferry, (now West)Virginia. His plan was to instigate a major slave rebellion in the South. He would seize the arms and ammunition in the federal arsenal, arm slaves in the area and move south along the Appalachian Mountains, attracting slaves to his cause. He had no rations. He had no escape route. His plan was doomed from the very beginning. But it did succeed to deepen the divide between the North and South.

John Brown and his men stayed in a rented farmhouse in the days before the raid on Harper’s Ferry.
John Brown and his cohorts marched into an unsuspecting Harper’s Ferry and seized the federal complex with little resistance. It consisted of an armory, arsenal, and engine house. He then sent a patrol out into the country to contact slaves, collected several hostages, including the great grandnephew of George Washington, and sat down to wait. The slaves did not rise to his support, but local citizens and militia surrounded him, exchanging gunfire, killing two townspeople and eight of Brown’s company.

Troops under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Robert E. Lee arrived from Washington to arrest Brown. They stormed the engine house, where Brown had withdrawn, captured him and members of his group, and turned them over to Virginia authorities to be tried for treason. He was quickly tried and sentenced to hang on December 2.

Gun That Fired the First Shot at the Battle of Bunker Hill Goes to Auction

The gun that fired the first shot at the Battle of Bunker Hill is heading for sale Morphy Auctions in Denver later this month.

The Revolutionary War musket belonged to John Simpson, a Private in the 1st New Hampshire Regiment who fought during the historic battle in Charlestown, Massachusetts on June 17, 1775.

As the British troops advanced, Simpson fired his weapon prematurely – disobeying the famous order given to American soldiers not to fire “until you see the white of their eyes”.

Having been passed down by Simpson’s descendents for almost 250 years, the historic weapon will now be offered for sale for the first time, and is expected to sell for up to $300,000.

The musket will be sold along with John Simpson's original military commission dated March 17, 1778 (Image: Morphy Auctions)
The musket will be sold along with John Simpson’s original military commission dated March 17, 1778 (Image: Morphy Auctions)

“We have the privilege of auctioning a firearm that symbolizes one of the most important battles leading to American independence,” said Dan Morphy, President of Morphy Auctions.

“It will be exciting to see whether the Simpson musket ends up in a private or institutional collection.”

The battle of Bunker Hill was one of the most significant early battles of the Revolutionary War.

During the Siege of Boston, British troops attempted to fortify the hills surrounding the city, where they met with resistance from 1,200 colonial troops determined to defend the position.

Although the British eventually captured the hills, the victory cost them a large number of casualties – twice as many as the American troops – and proved that the inexperienced militiamen were more than a match for their experienced soldiers.

They remained more cautious in their tactics for the rest of the war, an approach which some historians believe helped the Americans forces to their eventual victory……..

Today October 3, is the 26th anniversary of the beginning of the ‘Battle Of Mogadishu’ during UNOSOM II, United Nations Operations in Somalia II.

I’ll bet everyone has seen the movie Blackhawk Down, at least once; so you’ve got a ‘not bad’ overview of what occurred. The book is a little better and I recommend it to your reading list.
As it was, 18 U.S. soldiers were killed and 73 were wounded during the battle.
I had the honor of later serving with one of the 160ths pilots who had been in the middle of that hell, so much so that he had been awarded a Silver Star for his actions. He was our unit’s Command Chief Warrant and it turned out, it was his last assignment as well as he retired about a year before I did.

How The Berlin Airlift Beat Back Communism 70 Years Ago Today
On September 30, 1949, the U.S. and her allies completed their mission to rescue the people of Berlin from starvation and stave off the spread of Communism.

“The buildings were bombed and it seemed like there weren’t many men around—all ladies. It was real poverty. It was pitiful,” 93-year-old Ralph Dionne recalls of Germany in 1948.

“There was a gate around our barracks area…the old women would come to the gate begging to help with your laundry. They would take the laundry back home and bring it back faithfully. You could trust them. And they would get paid in cigarettes. That was the money of that time.”

Like so many American men his age, he was called to Europe to serve. But unlike most, Dionne’s mission was not to fight Germans. It was to help them survive. This massive Allied undertaking, the first battle of the Cold War, later came to be known as the Berlin Airlift.

In honor of the 70th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift, Dionne recently shared his memories at the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. Along with Cold War scholar Hope Harrison and curator of the Allied Museum in Berlin Bernd von Kostka, they painted a vivid portrait of the volatile post-WWII world and why Americans should still care about the Berlin Airlift today.

Berlin, 1948: The Front Lines of the Cold War

After its devastating defeat in the Second World War, Germany was on the precipice of doom. Its cities were in ruin, the people were demoralized, and its enemies were at the gates. The nation was divided into four sectors, controlled respectively by the victorious Allies: France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States.

Losing a staggering 27 million people in the war, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin had little sympathy for the Germans in the Soviet-controlled sector. With the memory of Nazi occupation still fresh in their minds, the French were also understandably leery about helping Germany back on its feet. But although Great Britain and the United States both paid dearly in the war, as well, they were confident that a stable, reconstructed Germany was not only possible but essential to world stability.

By then, U.S. President Harry Truman and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill believed Stalin and the intellectual contagion of Communism presented a far greater threat than resurgent German fascism. The Western Allies knew that a stable, democratic German republic would be an essential barrier to halting the spread of Communism into Western Europe.

On the other hand, Stalin knew that poverty and chaos would only make the German people more open to Russia’s proxy or outright rule. An unstable world, still reeling from the agonies of two world wars, was up for grabs to whichever ideology offered people their best chance for stability and peace. By the spring of 1948, the stage for the first battle of the Cold War had been set.

The Showdown between East and West

Hoping to get the Germany economy back on its feet, the Western Allies introduced a new currency—the Deutschmark—to the Western-controlled sectors of Germany and Berlin. Rightfully, Stalin saw this as a challenge to his power. In protest, on June 24, 1948, he launched a blockade on land, sea, and rail, denying all supplies to the still-devastated city of Berlin.

With the bombed-out capital still in ruins and a bitter winter approaching, Berliners needed food, clothing, and, above all, coal to heat homes and power rebounding German industry. Americans like Dionne, the British, and the French were going to make sure they got it. “Operation Vittles,” which later became known as the Berlin Airlift, was under way.

With Berlin 110 miles deep into the Soviet sector, the Airlift posed an enormous logistical challenge. The C-54 aircraft that Dionne worked on required constant maintenance due to the Airlift’s round-the-clock flights with heavy cargo.

“The heavy loads of landing after landing just seared the tires,” Dionne explained to the audience. We had to change the tires all the time.” It’s no wonder. At the peak of the Airlift, on April 16, 1949, 1,398 flights carrying more than 12,940 tons were flown to Berlin within just 24 hours. That’s an average of one flight every 62 seconds.

By May 1949, it was clear that Stalin’s blockade had backfired; the Western Allies had proven that they could carry on the Airlift indefinitely. They had shown Stalin they were willing to fight for the fate of Berlin, Germany, and Western Europe.

Stalin lifted the blockade on May 12, 1949, but the Airlift continued to ensure Berlin would be well supplied for the winter. The United States made its final flight on September 30, 1949.

The Bill of Rights: A Transcription | National Archives

The Bill of Rights. The document on permanent display in the Rotunda is the enrolled original Joint Resolution passed by Congress on September 25, 1789, proposing 12-not 10-amendments to the Constitution.

On September 25, 1789, the First Congress of the United States proposed 12 amendments to the Constitution. The 1789 Joint Resolution of Congress proposing the amendments is on display in the Rotunda in the National Archives Museum. Ten of the proposed 12 amendments were ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures on December 15, 1791. The ratified Articles (Articles 3–12) constitute the first 10 amendments of the Constitution, or the U.S. Bill of Rights. In 1992, 203 years after it was proposed, Article 2 was ratified as the 27th Amendment to the Constitution. Article 1 was never ratified.

Transcription of the 1789 Joint Resolution of Congress Proposing 12 Amendments to the U.S. Constitution

Congress of the United States begun and held at the City of New-York, on Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.

(The preamble in the first paragraph that follows is most important. It explains that the Bill Of Rights was to be a restriction on the government, not on the people)

THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.

RESOLVED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all, or any of which Articles, when ratified by three fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution; viz.

ARTICLES in addition to, and Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the fifth Article of the original Constitution.

Article the first… After the first enumeration required by the first article of the Constitution, there shall be one Representative for every thirty thousand, until the number shall amount to one hundred, after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall be not less than one hundred Representatives, nor less than one Representative for every forty thousand persons, until the number of Representatives shall amount to two hundred; after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall not be less than two hundred Representatives, nor more than one Representative for every fifty thousand persons.

Article the second… No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.

Article the third… Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Article the fourth… A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Article the fifth… No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Article the sixth… The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Article the seventh… No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Article the eighth… In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Article the ninth… In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Article the tenth… Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Article the eleventh… The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Article the twelfth… The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

ATTEST,

Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg, Speaker of the House of Representatives
John Adams, Vice-President of the United States, and President of the Senate
John Beckley, Clerk of the House of Representatives.
Sam. A Otis Secretary of the Senate