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Days Of Miracle And Wonder - Events and Voices

Historic moments in history. Historic moments in history. << Show Less
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May 18, 1987 - Pentagon: "28 American Sailors Are Dead" - Aftermath Of The USS Stark Incident. May 18, 1987 – News from the Persian Gulf and the aftermath of the attack on the USS Stark, a Navy Frigate that sustained considerable damage and the loss of 28 sailers. The USS Stark was part of the Middle East Task Force assigned to patrol off the Saudi Arabian coast near the Iran–Iraq War exclusion boundary. It was learned that two Exocet missiles were fired by an Iraqi jet and hit the ship. The first Exocet missile struck the port side of the ship near the bridge. Although it failed to detonate, rocket fuel ignited and caused a large fire that quickly spread throughout the ship’s post office, storeroom, and the critical combat operations center (where the ship’s weapons are controlled). The second Exocet also struck the port side, 30 seconds later. This missile detonated, leaving a 10 by 15 ft. hole in the frigate’s left side. The Pentagon confirmed that, as of news time, 28 sailers were dead. In addition, six were injured seriously enough to require hospitalization. Next of kin were being contacted. The White House reported Iraq’s ambassador in Washington expressed regret and indicated Sadaam Hussein ordered a full investigation of the incident. Meanwhile, in Fiji: Five days after a military coup, people are still wondering who’s in charge, and with good reason; the local radio was putting out conflicting statements – one from the Governor General saying the military coup was illegal and unconstitutional and at the same time a statement from the Rebel military leader that he had been sworn in by the Governor General as the head of the country. And this day in South Korea marked the seventh anniversary of riots in Kwanju, scene of government crackdowns on dissent and seven years later the issues were strikingly similar. The decision by the nation’s ruling party to literally shut out opposition when a new President was slated to be selected later on in the year. Police were on the highest state of alert and arrested thousands of dissidents before the weekend in an attempt to diffuse the expected demonstrations. It didn’t work completely. The riots in Kwanju seven years earlier took over 200 lives and anger was still palpable. And that’s a little of what happened, this May 18th in 1987 as reported by the CBS World News Roundup.
May 16, 1938 - "Prague Calling . . ." Dark Clouds Gathering. May 16, 1938 – It didn’t seem so ominous at the time, but news from Prague over the situation in Czechoslovakia was becoming one of concern throughout Europe. The issue of lands under Czech control which originally belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, were handed over to the newly established Czechoslovakia at the end of World War 1, as the result of the breakup of the Empire were now in dispute. Since the German population in the area was some 3 million Germans at the time, many felt the area should rightly go to Germany. As early as 1931, a movement was afoot to regain those contested lands, but it wasn’t until 1938 with Hitler making more overt claims that area, known as the Sudetenland, be returned to Germany, that the situation took on a more crisis tone than before. Observers in London noted the recent elections had passed without incident and perhaps a peaceful settlement could be reached. With municipal elections over the day before, and the Sudeten-German Party of Konrad Henlein winning handily, demands for German control of those lands was now increasing. A meeting was called between Henlein and Prime Minister Hodza to discuss the situation, or as Radio Prague put it; “to inaugurate the informative conversations which are to serve the purposes of the immediate gratification and pacification of the political situation”. On this day tensions were building, but no demands had been issued – and no reactions were forthcoming from allies who pledged to come to Czechoslovakia’s aid in, should the situation spiral out of control into a military one. Everyone was taking a “wait-and-see” approach. Still, preparations were being made for what could be a military confrontation, and on this day it was a matter of diplomacy to try and calm the situation down. Here is a news bulletin in English from Radio Prague, outlining the situation as it stood on this May 16, 1938.
May 12, 1945 - The Morning After - The UN Conference Meets For The First Time. As the V-E Day celebrations died down, the grim reality of what was left of Europe now had to be addressed. The San Francisco Conference, which began in April, days after the death of President Roosevelt, was busy setting up methods and plans to deal with the issue. There was still a war on, and attention needed to be focused on that. But the immediate needs of millions of displaced, uprooted refugees, the destroyed cities and the overwhelming task of rebuilding had to be addressed. So the task of setting up committees, formulating a plan and beginning the process of rebuilding fell on members of the newly formed United Nations at what was initially known as The San Francisco Conference. Chairman of the Conference was assistant Secretary of State Archibald MacLeish. Alger Hiss was Secretary General of the newly formed United Nations. The general feeling at the Conference was, even though VE Day signaled the end of fighting in Europe, it didn’t mean a time for relaxation or relief, but an added obligation to speed an end to the War in the Pacific. There was also caution and a sense of cynicism among some of the delegates, that this United Nations would be no different than the League of Nations formed after World War 1, which failed so badly to prevent World War 2. All of these factors were confronting the San Francisco Conference. But the prevailing attitude was the process had to begin and some way of insuring peace in the future had to start. So on this May 12, 1945 – a discussion was presented, outlining the goals of what the San Francisco Conference was hoping to achieve and what was taking place. No easy answers, and much convincing, assuring and cajoling. At the same time mindful that the war wasn’t over, and it was very possible the worst was yet to come. Amid celebration, uncertain times. And that’s what was going on, this May 12th 1945 as presented by NBC Radio as part of their daily Report From San Francisco.
May 11, 1941 – The Allies And The Latin-America Question – Past Daily Reference Room Even before America officially entered the War, there was deep concern that a possible invasion of the U.S. could come from either Alaska or Latin-America. Alaska because the Aleutian islands were the closest point and an invasion could be easily staged. South America by way of Axis sponsored overthrows of certain key Latin and South-American countries; countries who may have seemed ripe to be persuaded to abandon any alliances with the U.S. and instead align themselves with Berlin, Rome and Tokyo. Uruguay was already the scene of a certain amount of sympathy toward the Axis by supplying safe-harbor for the German Battleship Graf Spee, and German submarines were active near the Caribbean and off the Eastern coast of South America, sinking British supply ships at an increasing rate. A plot had already been uncovered laying plans for an overthrow of the Uruguay government, replacing it with a pro-Berlin one. So it was crucial that the U.S. shore up any diplomatic cracks with Latin-America to ensure the Western Hemisphere was solidly behind the Allied effort to defeat the Axis. This lecture, given by John I.B. McCullogh editor of the Foreign Policy Association’s Pan-American News tells of the debate going on, not only in Washington but in the Capitols of Latin-American countries over the possibilities of forming an alliance; one of mutual aid and security with the Allies. A proposal was made at the conference in Havana in July of 1940, but the events taking place between July 1940 and May of 1941 were dramatically altering the direction which the war was taking and the issue of how Latin America was feeling about the War in Europe and was there in fact solidarity among the South American countries. That was the big issue since the political makeup of Latin America was running the gamut from Democratic to Authoritarian. Like everything, it was a delicate maneuver hampered only by time and events. Here is that lecture, given on May 11, 1941 by the Foreign Policy Association in Washington D.C.
May 11, 1974 – An Impeachment Trial Begins – A Wave Of Defections – “A Swift And Merciful Termination Of This Agony” May 11, 1974 – The end of a tumultuous and historic week. The Watergate Impeachment Trial began and it would capture the attention of the country and most of the world over the next several weeks. And as the Impeachment trial was getting underway, a wave of defections from within the ranks of Republicans who had supported Richard Nixon and who wanted to “put the whole thing behind us and move on” were now having second thoughts and calling for Nixon’s removal from office. And even those who were vocal in their support were now in favor of putting an end to the Nixon Presidency. And those staunch supporters of Richard Nixon; the press, were now changing their opinions, almost en masse, calling into question the fitness of the President to continue. The arch-conservative Mid-West newspaper, The Chicago-Tribune published the complete Watergate transcripts and publicly called for a “swift and merciful termination of this agony”. Vice-President Gerald Ford was now treading a delicate balance between criticism and support as he went on a nationwide speaking tour. At a rally in Charleston Illinois he spoke of a loss of confidence and in Houston he said the President was not guilty and would be exonerated of Impeachment. President Nixon, for his part indicated he had released all the Watergate material he intended to release. And while America was knee-deep in Watergate and the Impeachment trial, France was knee-deep in election fever. So far it was a clear indication that the policies of former President Charles de Gaulle were being rejected by the French voters and the race was now between the conservative d’Estaing and the Liberal Mitterrand. And the year wasn’t even half over. All that, and a lot more for this May 11, 1974 as reported on The World This Week from CBS Radio.
When Birth Control Was Illegal - 1961 - Past Daily Reference Room For those of you wondering the significance of the latest SCOTUS proposal/ruling on overturning Roe v. Wade and the issue of legal abortion in the U.S., looking at the history of what got us here and what we were like before that landmark decision changed women’s lives and why overturning it is such a complete disaster and a giant step back in the area of Women’s Rights. In 1961 it was illegal in most states to have access to Birth Control Pills. In some states it was even illegal to offer alternatives to pregnancy because contraception itself was considered illegal and the only form of contraception that was accepted was one that the Catholic Church approved: The Rhythm Method. Nothing which prevented pregnancy or protected a woman from becoming pregnant were available, save Condoms for men and the aforementioned Rhythm Method. Not a lot of choices. Abortions, of course, were illegal and were not even brought up as something to be considered a legal alternative in the early 1960s. Which was why many women either gave birth and offered for adoption or took a chance on a “backroom” abortion which was risky and came with a high percentage of fatalities to the mother. The laws, some dating as far back as the 1800’s were primitive and draconian at best. Many of the laws making contraception illegal were, for the most part, church sponsored and carried with them heavy moral baggage to go along with severe restrictions. This program, a discussion on the topic of Birth Control was in connection with the issue of the then-recent arrest of Dr. C. Lee Buxton and Estelle Griswold, a doctor and an activist who were placed under arrest for opening a Planned Parenthood clinic and offering Birth Control pills to young women for free in New Haven Connecticut, a state which cited a state law in 1879 banning any kind of contraception and placing under arrest anyone who tried. The irony of course, is that everyone on the panel is male and they couldn’t find anyone to actually support the law – on the one hand, it’s the same old problem while at the same time, illustrating that laws against contraception were wildly unpopular even in 1961. But in case you were wondering what the big deal Roe V. Wade is, just realize this was a hard-fought piece of legislation that was passed fifty years ago and the notion of going back to the days of outlawed contraception and birth control, punitive laws, back-room abortions, sky-rocketing abandoned and abused children is something no rational human being wants to visit again. Here is that episode of The Open Mind featuring Fowler B. Harper, professor of Law at Yale – James O’Gara, managing editor of Commonweal Magazine and Dr. Allen Guttmacher of Mt. Sinai Hospital and President-Elect of Planned Parenthood as broadcast on November 15, 1961.
Annexation Of Austria - 1938 - When Your Neighbor Makes Unwanted Advances - Past Daily Reference Room. With the latest series of events taking place in Eastern Europe and another land-grab masquerading as a rightful claim to territory, there’s a history – and it goes back to 1938 and the eve of World War 2 and why allowing unreasonable actions over questionable motives don’t end well. On March 12, 1938, Nazi Germany annexed Austria in what has popularly referred to as Anschluss. The idea of forming a “Greater Germany” by uniting Austria and Germany began immediately after the Unification of Germany in 1871. The unification had excluded German Austrians and Austria from the German Empire. Austria is a sovereign country in Central Europe divided into nine federated states. The land-locked country is bordered by Germany to the north. It is a predominately German-speaking country with the majority of the population communicating informally in several Bavarian dialects. The idea of Austria joining Germany had become popular and would have occurred through a democratic process had had the Austrian Nazi not begun a terrorist campaign. In early 1938, the Nazi Austrians conspired to forcefully seize the Austrian Government and unite Austria with Nazi Germany. When Kurt Von Schuschnigg (Austrian Chancellor) heard of the conspiracy, he reached out to Hitler with the hope of protecting his country’s independence. Instead, he was forced into naming a cabinet that included Austrian Nazis On March 9, 1938, the chancellor called for a referendum to try and solve the annexation problem. However, the growing pressure from Hitler forced him to resign on March 11, before the vote. The following day (March 12), Hitler led his troops into Austria where he was received by a cheering crowd. He appointed a new Nazi government and proclaimed Anschluss on March 13 and Austria effectively became a federal state of Germany. While those who warned this action was heading down a slippery slope were largely met with shrugged shoulders and passive head shaking. However, by the time September 1938 rolled around and the same was about to happen to a portion of Czechoslovakia known in Germany as Sudetenland, wary eyes were starting to wonder if this wasn’t leading somewhere where no happy ending would be found. By September the following year, it would be too late. Not particularly drawing any comparisons between the current situation between Russia and Ukraine to what went on between Nazi Germany and Austria and Czechoslovakia, it does beg the question if what is currently happening isn’t also destined to have the same dire outcome as the others had over 80 years ago. That thing about not learning from history . . . Here is a commentary given by Historian and journalist Hendrik Willem van Loon over the Red Network of NBC on March 25, 1938.
May 10, 1975 - South Vietnam - Cambodia - That Was The Week That Was. https://pastdaily.com/2022/05/10/south-vietnam-cambodia-that-was-the-week-that-was-may-10-1975/
V-E Day - The View From Moscow - May 9, 1945 Even after the initial surrender documents had been signed on May 6, Moscow was slow to respond to the news that the War in Europe was in fact, over. But finally, in the early hours of the morning on May 9, 1945, official news reported that the Germans had signed the surrender documents in Berlin and the celebrations got started. The German Instrument of Surrender was signed twice. An initial document was signed in Reims on 7 May 1945 by Alfred Jodl (chief of staff of the German OKW) for Germany, Walter Bedell Smith, on behalf of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, and Ivan Susloparov, on behalf of the Soviet High Command, in the presence of French Major-General François Sevez as the official witness. Since the Soviet High Command had not agreed to the text of the surrender, and because Susloparov, a relatively low-ranking officer, was not authorized to sign this document, the USSR requested that a second, revised, instrument of surrender be signed in Berlin. Joseph Stalin declared that the Soviet Union considered the Reims surrender a preliminary document, and Dwight D. Eisenhower immediately agreed with that. Another argument was that some German troops considered the Reims instrument of surrender as a surrender to the Western Allies only, and fighting continued in the East, especially in Prague. [Quoting Stalin:] “Today, in Reims, Germans signed the preliminary act on an unconditional surrender. The main contribution, however, was done by Soviet people and not by the Allies, therefore the capitulation must be signed in front of the Supreme Command of all countries of the anti-Hitler coalition, and not only in front of the Supreme Command of Allied Forces. Moreover, I disagree that the surrender was not signed in Berlin, which was the center of Nazi aggression. We agreed with the Allies to consider the Reims protocol as preliminary.” A second surrender ceremony was organized in a surviving manor in the outskirts of Berlin late on 8 May, when it was already 9 May in Moscow due to the difference in time zones. Field-Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, chief of OKW, signed a final German Instrument of Surrender, which was also signed by Marshal Georgy Zhukov, on behalf of the Supreme High Command of the Red Army, and Air Chief Marshal Arthur Tedder, on behalf of the Allied Expeditionary Force, in the presence of General Carl Spaatz and General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny, as witnesses. The surrender was signed in the Soviet Army headquarters in Berlin-Karlshorst. Both English and Russian versions of the instrument of surrender signed in Berlin were considered authentic texts. And now V-E Day was official. The revised Berlin text of the instrument of surrender differed from the preliminary text signed in Reims in explicitly stipulating the complete disarmament of all German military forces, handing over their weapons to local Allied military commanders. Both the Reims and Berlin instruments of surrender stipulated that forces under German control to cease active operations at 23:01 hours CET on 8 May 1945. However, due to the difference in Central European and Moscow time zones, V-E Day is celebrated on 9 May in the USSR and most post-Soviet countries. To commemorate V-E Day, the ceremonial Moscow Victory Parade was held in the Soviet capital on 24 June 1945. And 77 years later, it’s still a different VE Day depending on where you are. Here are a series of reports which were fed to the respective news outlets from Moscow on May 9, 1945. They are all reporting different aspects of the Russian reaction to the surrender news, but the universal opinion was that the war with Nazi Germany was over at last.
Getting An Education In The South - May 6, 1956 - Past Daily Reference Room In 1954, the landmark Brown v. Board Of Education paved the way for school desegregation in the U.S. – compliance was slow. But nowhere as slow as the South, where the Supreme Court proviso of “in all due haste” was loosely translated to mean Never. And as deadlines for enacting this decision drew nearer, the resistance grew and turned to defiance. Integration in public schools was not going to happen any lifetime soon, in the eyes of many. The flimsy excuses of “they’ve got just as good schools as white people do” and the argument that the NAACP was a Communist front group weren’t holding water in Washington. Sooner or later, a showdown was imminent. 1956 was an election year, and there was also the beginning of a planned Civil Rights bill designed to add voting rights and public places to the list of desegregation plans to be introduced in Congress shortly. The stage was set for what would eventually become a violent confrontation over the question of Civil Rights and integration in public schools. In this discussion, featuring Congressman James Davis (D-Georgia) and Congressman Kenneth Keating (R-New York), who was co-sponsor of the pending Civil Rights Bill. It’s an eye-opening discussion and one that, from the perspective of 2022, casts an interesting light on the reversals of thought our political parties have taken in recent years. Keating, a Republican is a vocal advocate for Civil Rights and school desegregation, while Davis, a Southern Democrat (or Dixiecrats as they were sometimes referred), was a vocal opponent of Civil Rights and School desegregation. It may seem odd but yes, things were a bit different then. In any event, this discussion sums up the state of Civil Rights in America in the mid-1950s, and gives some indication how long the Civil Rights struggle has been going on. Here is that discussion, as it was broadcast over NBC Radio as part of the American Forum series from May 6, 1956.
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