History

Why Do We Celebrate Veterans Day?

Why Do We Celebrate Veterans Day

Veterans Day actually began on November 11, 1919 but was called “Armistice Day”. The word “Armistice” means “a suspension of hostilities by agreement between the opponents” and referred, in this case, to the end of World War I. On May 13, 1938 Armistice Day became a legal Federal holiday dedicated to the idea of world peace and also became an occasion to honor the veterans who served in World War I.

On May 26, 1954 President Eisenhower signed a bill declaring that Armistice Day be expanded to honor all U.S. Veterans, not just those from World War I. In November of the same year Congress officially amended that bill by changing the word “Armistice” to “Veterans” and we still honor the service of all U.S. Veterans on Veterans Day each year.

Veterans Day is celebrated each year on November 11th unless that day falls on a weekend. If it’s a Sunday, we celebrate it on the 12th (Monday). If it falls on a Saturday, it can either be held on Saturday or the 10th (the preceding Friday).

While the name of the holiday is often written as “Veteran’s Day” (with an apostrophe), that is not the official spelling which contains no apostrophe. That makes sense if you consider that the holiday is not technically the Veteran’s day. It is a day for all of us to honor and thank Veterans for their service to us. For risking (and giving) their lives for our freedom.

Many countries have a moment of silence at 11:00 AM on November 11th as the Armistice of World War I was signed on November 11th at 11:00 AM (the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month)!

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Posted by admin - January 7, 2012 at 10:33 am

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Why Did the Revolutionary War Start?

Why Did the Revolutionary War Start

In order to answer the question, “Why did the revolutionary war start?”, we have to begin even further back in time. In the summer of 1747, a French expedition into their territories in the New World found that the native Indians were very friendly and actively trading with the British merchants. The leader of the expedition told the Indians and British Merchants to end their relationships and recognize French ownerships of the land. Both the native Americans and the new British Americans pretty much told them to “buzz off”!

During 1752 and 1753, the French sent Marines into “their” territory to punish British traders for not stopping their business with local Indians. Many British citizens were killed. In October of 1753, the Governor of Virginia sent Major George Washington of the Virginia militia to tell the French to leave Virginia territory.

Anyway, this disagreement over who had a right to trade in those territories evolved into the “French and Indian War” of 1954-1763. The years 1756-1753 saw it magnify into a world-wide war known as the “Seven Years War”. The British colonist and British troups fought together in this war so how did it start the Revolutionary War?

As in most things political, the answer is money! The war was extremely expensive. The British people and government felt that the American colonies should pay the bulk of the cost since the war was to protect their lands. Of course, the vast bulk of those lands were actually owned by the Crown and rich British citizens and the French never intended to harm the colonists unless they were infringing on what the French considered to be their territory. Far, far fewer than 1% of the colonists lived in those lands.

In most cases the taxes were huge and on items that the typical person of that day felt they had no choice but to buy. The three best known examples were sugar, paper, and tea. The American colonists formed a “Stamp Act Congress” that constructed a letter of protest to the British Government and actually got the tax repealed!

The long, drawn out process of getting that tax repealed, however, only made the Americans more aware of how little control they had over their lives. A government in London made all of their decisions and no colonist sat in that government. The colonists began insisting on no taxation without representation. King George and the Parliment wondered who those upstarts thought they were! To demand anything of your King was unthinkable! But, of course, it wasn’t unthinkable to the colonists. Their destruction of shiploads of Tea in Boston harbor was the last straw.

So the rulers in England and their representatives in the colonies cracked down hard on the colonists. In 1770, unarmed colonial tax protesters were shot and killed by British troops. The Intolerable Acts of 1774 pushed the colonists to their limits. The worst one was the “Administration of Justice Act” which made it easy to move a trial against any Royal official to another venue including all the way to Great Britain! George Washington called this act the “Murder Act” because it allowed British officials to do just about anything they wanted to do and then have their trial where no colonial witness could afford to go due to long travel times. About all the Intolerable Acts did was motivate the colonists to form the “First Continental Congress” to organize a protest to the acts. Of course, eventually that same Continental Congress would declare independence from Britain!

There were many other Acts including the “Boston Port Act” that closed the port of Boston until the cost of the Tea dumped at the Boston Tea Party was repaid and the “Massachusetts Bay Regulating Act” that said all law officers had to be appointed by the royal governor. Local colonial governments could no longer choose their own cops!

By the end of 1774, relations between the colonies and the British officials were almost non-existant. Britain passed laws and the colonists said no! At some point, a majority of colonists wanted a war to drive their oppressors out of the new world! It became obvious to the British that a large military force would be necessary to bring the colonists back under their control.

On April 19, 1775, Paul Revere made his famous ride to warn the people of Concord and Lexington that the “Britist Are Coming” and the Revolutionary War started with the battle of Lexington Green!

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Posted by admin - January 7, 2012 at 10:29 am

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Who Signed the Declaration of Independence?

Who Signed the Declaration of Independence

The U.S. Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776 by 56 members of the Continental Congress. John Hancock got to sign first with his huge signature because he was the President of the Congress. It’s commonly believed that John Hancock said, “There, I guess King George will be able to read that!” when he signed, referring to the King’s bad vision, but there’s no actual proof that he really said that.

The youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence (Edward Rutledge of South Carolina) was only 26-years-old and the oldest (Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania) was 70-years-old! Two of the signers would go on to be Presidents of the United States. They were John Adams (the 2nd President from Massachusetts) and Thomas Jefferson (the 3rd President from Virginia).

Most of the members of the Continental Congress had notable achievement of their own but their connections to other famed historical characters were often almost unbelievable! One of the best examples of this is Benjamin Harrison. Besides his intense involvement in the development and execution on the American Revolution, Harrison also was the Governor of Virginia from 1781-1784. He went on after that to be elected to the Virginia State Legislature and rose to the Speaker of the House!

But the really interesting stuff about Harrison that is so common with many Continental Congress members is not his great personal achievements. Harrison’s son was William Henry Harrison, the ninth President of the United States, and his great-grandson, Benjamin Harrison VI, was the 23rd President! Harrison’s father was also an ancestor of civil war General Robert E. Lee. The fellow who succeeded Harrison as the Governor of Virginia was Patrick Henry, famed for his “Give me liberty or give me death” speech.

In any case, these wonderful characters from U.S. history have a nearly unlimited number of tantilizing stories that should make delightful reading for any history buff! Below find a list of all 56 Continental Congress members who signed the Declaration of Independence.

Connecticut

Samuel Huntington
Roger Sherman
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott

Delaware

Thomas McKean
George Read
Caesar Rodney

Georgia

Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton

Maryland

Charles Carroll
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone

Massachusetts

John Adams
Samuel Adams
John Hancock
Elbridge Gerry
Robert Treat Paine

New Hampshire

Josiah Bartlett
Matthew Thornton
William Whipple

New Jersey

Abraham Clark
John Hart
Francis Hopkinson
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon

New York

William Floyd
Francis Lewis
Philip Livingston
Lewis Morris

North Carolina

Joseph Hewes
William Hooper
John Penn

Pennsylvania

George Clymer
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Morris
John Morton
George Ross
Benjamin Rush
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson

Rhode Island

William Ellery
Stephen Hopkins

South Carolina

Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton
Edward Rutledge

Virginia

Carter Braxton
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Jefferson
Richard Henry Lee
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
George Wythe

The original Declaration of Independence is badly faded but it is on view in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom in Washington, DC. There are also twenty-four copies of the Declaration that were printed by John Dunlap and are known today as “Dunlap Broadsides”.

Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence in less than three weeks at the “Declaration House” located at 7th and Market Streets in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The house was nearly new, built in 1775 and was rebuilt from original photographs in 1975. Jefferson often complained about the numerous houseflies that were coming from the stable across the street but soothed his soul after work each day at the City Tavern where he had an account! Jefferson took pride in his writing abilities and wasn’t thrilled when the Continental Congress made changes to “his” declaration in June of 1776.

The common U.S. citizen did not get to see the Declaration of Independence until July 6, 1776 when it was printed in the Pennsylvania Evening Post. It was then officially read to the public on July 8th in Philadelphia.

By the way, despite what you saw in the exciting 2004 and 2007 National Treasure movies, there is no mysterious message on the back of the Declaration of Independence. The only thing written on the back is “Original Declaration of Independence / dated 4th July 1776”. It was originally rolled up for storage and that was most likely written on the back so it could be identified without unrolling it.

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Posted by admin - January 7, 2012 at 10:02 am

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How Did Hitler Die?

How Did Hitler Die

After six horrible years of war, Hitler was finally forced to retreat to an underground bunker in Berlin on January 16, 1945. The Fuhrer was also forced to admit that all hope for Germany’s resurgence in the war was gone. Hitler’s enemies were closing in on all sides and would soon storm the bunker.

Hitler may have lost all hope of winning World War II but he hadn’t lost his damnable pride. The thought of being taken prisoner by people he considered his inferiors was more than he could handle. On April 22nd, Hitler had what most historians agree was a nervous breakdown during which he decided to deny his enemies the pleasure of capturing him by taking his own life.

Despite all of the pain Adolf Hitler had caused the world, he was concerned about suffering during his suicide so he summoned his physician for advice about how to die using the most certain and painless method. The doctor suggested that he take the poison, “Cyanide” which is extremely lethal so death would be certain. Hitler decided that he would also shoot himself in the head immediately after taking the cyanide as a cyanide poisoning death is very painful.

When Hitler woke on the morning of April 30, 1945, the Soviet Army was literally “a stone’s throw” from the bunker. Hitler realized that he would be taken prisoner within 24 hours if he didn’t die soon. At around 1:00 PM, Hitler, Eva Braun/Hitler, Dr. Joseph Goebbels, Mrs. Goebbels, the Goebbels children, and others sat down for a final lunch together. Around 2:30 in the afternoon, Adolf Hitler and his wife Eva (who he had married the previous day) entered Hitler’s study and closed the door.

At around 3:30, the bunker’s occupants heard a loud “bang” from the study. Of course, everyone realized that was Hitler’s 7.65 mm Walther pistol. Hitler’s valet and a few others ran into the study and found Adolf and Eva dead on the sofa. Hitler had a wound from the gunshot on his right temple and there was blood dripping from his mouth.

Hitler had ordered the other occupants to ensure that the Soviets did not get his body to parade in the newsreels so they took his body above ground, doused it with gasoline, and set it afire. They showed their ongoing loyalty by saluting his flaming corpse!

The world has probably never seen a death that was rejoiced more than that of Adolf Hitler. By the end of the war, Germany was so covered in ruins and so many soldiers and civilians had died that the German people were perhaps more relieved than any others at Hitler’s death!

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Posted by admin - January 6, 2012 at 10:13 am

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