Archive for July 20th, 2006

Where were you when … ?

July 20, 2006

All of us have times in our lives which were so special that we can remember details even after many years. Likewise, some events in history command our attention at the time so much that, even years later, we can tell others exactly where we were and what we were doing at the time.

My mother and grandparents told me many times about being gathered around the old battery powered radio and listening to the newscasts on Sunday afternoon, December 7, 1941. One of my uncles was home on leave from his Navy assignment at the New York Navy Yard where he was part of the crew preparing the new heavy cruiser “USS Atlanta” for her sea trials. He went back to his post, helped get her commissioned, and went down with her 11 months later in Iron Bottom Sound off Guadalcanal.

I was a Freshman at Harding College, coming down the stairs from my 2nd floor dorm room just after lunch when I heard someone yelling “President Kennedy’s been shot in Dallas.”

Those of you who were alive, do you remember where you were 37 years ago today?

My wife of one year and I were visiting my parents in Alma Arkansas, and I was sitting on the floor in front of their old Zenith console TV, watching the network coverage of the Apollo 11 mission. At 9:56pm CDT, we all watched the live feed coming from the camera mounted on one leg of the Lunar Excursion Module as Neil Armstrong hopped off the bottom step and become the first human being ever to set foot on another object in our solar system. It all seemed rather routine. Scientific “miracles” had become normal. It was hard to get the feeling that you were witnessing a unique event – a first in the entire history of mankind – but we were.

Comments on the Space Race of the late ‘50s and 60’s? Comments on the current Space Shuttle program and what comes next?

BTW This day has WAY too many good anniversaries to limit the comments to just one.

July 20, 1869 – Samuel Clemens, writing as Mark Twain, publishes his first full length effort, a travel book based on a series of newspaper articles written while he toured with a group who sailed from New York and visited Europe and the Holy Lands in 1867. He called it The Innocents Abroad: A New Pilgrim’s Progress, and it may have been America’s first popular “Best Seller.” In the first 18 months, it sold – door to door – over 82,000 copies at $4 apiece, netting Twain $16,500 in royalties, roughly equivalent to $218,000 today. At age 34, Twain became arguably the first “Rock Star” in American culture and remained so until his death in 1910.

July 20, 1881 – Sitting Bull, probably the most famous American Indian chief, surrendered to the US Army at Ft. Buford, Dakota Territory (near present day Williston, ND). Having eluded the American authorities for 5 years after the Little Bighorn fight (most of that time spent in Canada), he finally brought his starving little band of followers in to the reservation. Once the leader of thousands of what one Army officer termed “The best light cavalry in the world,” at the time of his surrender his band consisted of only 40 families – 44 men and 143 women and children.
After his surrender, Sitting Bull lived peacefully on the reservation and traveled a year with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Later, because of his supposed encouragement of the Ghost Dance movement which swept through the Sioux nation in 1890, Sitting Bull was ordered arrested by James McLauglin, the Indian Agent. On December 15, 1890, the Indian Police attempted to take Sitting Bull into custody, but a fight broke out. When it was over, Sitting Bull was dead, along with his son Crow Foot and 6 other of his followers. Six policemen, who were also Sioux, died as well.

July 20, 1944 – At 12:42pm, local time, at Hitler’s headquarters at Rastenburg, a bomb, hidden in a briefcase and planted by Colonel Claus Von Stauffenberg, detonated during a briefing. Four Nazi officers were killed, but Adolph Hitler, the bomb’s target, escaped serious injury. Hitler regarded his survival as a sign from fate. He later said:
“I regard this as a confirmation of the task imposed upon me by Providence”-and that “nothing is going to happen to me…. [T]he great cause which I serve will be brought through its present perils and…everything can be brought to a good end.”
The war in Europe continued for almost 10 more months.

Pick your subject and go for it.