Archive for August, 2008



10
Aug
08

A Classic Wisconsin Farm

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10
Aug
08

On This Day, 8-10-2008: Japan Accepts Potsdam Declaration

Japan accepts Potsdam terms, agrees to unconditional surrender

On this day in 1945, just a day after the bombing of Nagasaki, Japan submits its acquiescence to the Potsdam Conference terms of unconditional surrender, as President Harry S. Truman orders a halt to atomic bombing.

Emperor Hirohito, having remained aloof from the daily decisions of prosecuting the war, rubber-stamping the decisions of his War Council, including the decision to bomb Pearl Harbor, finally felt compelled to do more. At the behest of two Cabinet members, the emperor summoned and presided over a special meeting of the Council and implored them to consider accepting the terms of the Potsdam Conference, which meant unconditional surrender. “It seems obvious that the nation is no longer able to wage war, and its ability to defend its own shores is doubtful.” The Council had been split over the surrender terms; half the members wanted assurances that the emperor would maintain his hereditary and traditional role in a postwar Japan before surrender could be considered. But in light of the bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, Nagasaki on August 9, and the Soviet invasion of Manchuria, as well as the emperor’s own request that the Council “bear the unbearable,” it was agreed: Japan would surrender.

Tokyo released a message to its ambassadors in Switzerland and Sweden, which was then passed on to the Allies. The message formally accepted the Potsdam Declaration but included the proviso that “said Declaration does not comprise any demand which prejudices the prerogatives of His Majesty as sovereign ruler.” When the message reached Washington, President Truman, unwilling to inflict any more suffering on the Japanese people, especially on “all those kids,” ordered a halt to atomic bombing, He also wanted to know whether the stipulation regarding “His Majesty” was a deal breaker. Negotiations between Washington and Tokyo ensued. Meanwhile, savage fighting continued between Japan and the Soviet Union in Manchuria.

“Japan accepts Potsdam terms, agrees to unconditional surrender.” 2008. The History Channel website. 10 Aug 2008, 02:21 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6546.

 

On This Day

1792 – King Louis XVI was taken into custody by mobs during the French Revolution. He was executed the following January after being put on trial for treason.

1846 – The Smithsonian Institution was chartered by the U.S. Congress. The “Nation’s Attic” was made possible by $500,000 given by scientist Joseph Smithson.

1856 – In Louisiana, a hurricane came ashore and killed about 400 people.

1869 – The motion picture projector was patented by O.B. Brown.

1914 – Austria-Hungary invaded Russia.

1921 – Franklin D. Roosevelt was stricken with polio.

1927 – Mount Rushmore was formally dedicated. The individual faces of the presidents were dedicated later.

1944 – U.S. forces defeated the remaining Japanese resistance on Guam.

1954 – Construction began on the St. Lawrence Seaway.

1969 – Leno and Rosemary LaBianca were murdered. Members of the Charles Manson cult committed the crimes one day after the killing of Sharon Tate and four other people.

1977 – The “Son of Sam,” David Berkowitz, was arrested in Yonkers, NY. Berkowitz, a postal employee, had shot and killed six people and wounded seven others.

1988 – U.S. President Reagan signed a measure that provided $20,000 payments to Japanese-Americans who were interned by the U.S. government during World War II.

1994 – In Germany, three men were arrested after being caught smuggling plutonium into the country.

2003 – Ekaterina Dmitriev and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko were married. Malenchenko was about 240 miles above the earth in the international space station. It was the first-ever marriage from space.

 

New state west of the Mississippi

Missouri enters the Union as the 24th state–and the first located entirely west of the Mississippi River.

Named for one of the Native American groups that once lived in the territory, Missouri became a U.S. possession as part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. In 1817, Missouri Territory applied for statehood, but the question of whether it would be slave or free delayed approval by Congress. In 1820, the Missouri Compromise was reached, admitting Missouri as a slave state but excluding slavery from the other Louisiana Purchase lands north of Missouri’s southern border. Missouri’s August 1821 entrance into the Union as a slave state was met with disapproval by many of its citizens.

In 1861, when other slave states seceded from the Union, Missouri chose to remain; although a provincial government was established in the next year by Confederate sympathizers. During the war, Missourians were split in their allegiances, supplying both Union and Confederate forces with troops. Lawlessness persisted during this period, and Missouri-born Confederate guerrillas such as Jesse James continued this lawlessness after the South’s defeat. With the ratification of Missouri’s new constitution by the citizens of the state in 1875, the old divisions were finally put to rest.

“New state west of the Mississippi.” 2008. The History Channel website. 10 Aug 2008, 02:21 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5247.

Battle of Wilson’s Creek, Missouri

The struggle for Missouri erupts with the Battle of Wilson’s Creek, where a motley band of raw Confederates defeat a Union force in the southwestern section of the state.

“Battle of Wilson’s Creek, Missouri.” 2008. The History Channel website. 10 Aug 2008, 02:23 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2279.

Truman signs National Security Bill

President Harry S. Truman signs the National Security Bill, which establishes the Department of Defense. As the Cold War heated up, the Department of Defense became the cornerstone of America’s military effort to contain the expansion of communism.

In 1947, the National Security Act established the Cabinet-level position of secretary of defense, which oversaw a rather unwieldy umbrella military-defense agency known as the National Military Establishment. The secretary of defense, however, was just one of a number of military-related cabinet positions, including the pre-existing secretaries for the Army, Navy, and Air Force. The growing complexity of the Cold War, a war in which the mishandled application of military force could lead to a world war of cataclysmic proportions, convinced U.S. officials that the 1947 act needed to be revised.

In 1949, the National Security Bill streamlined the defense agencies of the U.S. government. The 1949 bill replaced the National Military Establishment with the Department of Defense. The bill also removed the cabinet-level status of the secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, who would henceforth be subordinate to the Secretary of Defense. The first person to hold this position was Louis Johnson. Finally, the bill provided for the office of chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in an effort to bring an end to the inter-service bickering that had characterized the Joint Chiefs in recent years. World War II hero General Omar Bradley was appointed the first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The National Security Bill of 1949 was the result of the realization that more coordination and efficiency were needed for America’s military-defense bureaucracy, which had experienced tremendous growth during and after World War II. The Cold War was a new and dangerous kind of war for America, and the 1949 reorganization was recognition of the need for a different approach to U.S. defense.

“Truman signs National Security Bill.” 2008. The History Channel website. 10 Aug 2008, 02:24 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2755.

09
Aug
08

American Bomber: B-29 Superfortress Bockscar

Stored in the Arizona desert at the end of World War II and flown to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in 1961, the B-29 Bockscar went on permanent display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.  Piloted by Major Charles Sweeney, Bockscar was the B-29 that committed the second atomic attack on Nagasaki, Japan on August 9, 1945.

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Restored to original condition the plane appears as it did on the morning it carried out the second atomic attack on Nagasaki, Japan.

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The tail towers nearly thirty feet above ground.

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The streamlined fuselage set the standard for future bombers, which would not bristle with machine guns like the bombers before the B-29.

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The nose-art of World War II planes usually reflected something about the pilot.  This B-29 is named after its pilot Frederick Bock.  However, Bock would not pilot the bombing mission on August 9, instead he piloted Major Sweeney’s bomber the Great Artiste carrying instruments to measure the bombs effects, while Major Sweeney piloted Bockscar.

For more information follow this link: http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=527

09
Aug
08

Fat Man Atomic Bomb

Atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki

On this day in 1945, a second atom bomb is dropped on Japan by the United States, at Nagasaki, resulting finally in Japan’s unconditional surrender.

The devastation wrought at Hiroshima was not sufficient to convince the Japanese War Council to accept the Potsdam Conference’s demand for unconditional surrender. The United States had already planned to drop their second atom bomb, nicknamed “Fat Man,” on August 11 in the event of such recalcitrance, but bad weather expected for that day pushed the date up to August 9th. So at 1:56 a.m., a specially adapted B-29 bomber, called “Bock’s Car,” after its usual commander, Frederick Bock, took off from Tinian Island under the command of Maj. Charles W. Sweeney. Nagasaki was a shipbuilding center, the very industry intended for destruction. The bomb was dropped at 11:02 a.m., 1,650 feet above the city. The explosion unleashed the equivalent force of 22,000 tons of TNT. The hills that surrounded the city did a better job of containing the destructive force, but the number killed is estimated at anywhere between 60,000 and 80,000 (exact figures are impossible, the blast having obliterated bodies and disintegrated records).

General Leslie R. Groves, the man responsible for organizing the Manhattan Project, which solved the problem of producing and delivering the nuclear explosion, estimated that another atom bomb would be ready to use against Japan by August 17 or 18-but it was not necessary. Even though the War Council still remained divided (“It is far too early to say that the war is lost,” opined the Minister of War), Emperor Hirohito, by request of two War Council members eager to end the war, met with the Council and declared that “continuing the war can only result in the annihilation of the Japanese people….” The Emperor of Japan gave his permission for unconditional surrender.

“Atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki.” 2008. The History Channel website. 8 Aug 2008, 04:20 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6545.

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The thing I have always found morbidly fascinating about this bomb is that it doesn’t explode.  It implodes.  Inside the bomb is a central core of plutonium 239 and formed around that core is a soccer ball-like shaped charge of alternating fast and slow burning detonators.  When it detonates the soccer ball collapses in on the plutonium core compressing it until it implodes.  A split second after imploding a massive release of energy results in devastating destruction, which, when used on August 9, 1945, convinced Emperor Hirohito that Japan faced annihilation if it continued the war.

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The Fat Man atomic bomb can be found at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.

For more information about this weapon and others follow these links:  http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/exhibits/

or: http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=1016

09
Aug
08

On This Day, 8-9-08: Jesse Owens

Owens wins 4th gold medal

At the 1936 Berlin Olympics, African American track star Jesse Owens wins his fourth gold medal of the Games in the 4×100-meter relay. His relay team set a new world record of 39.8 seconds, which held for 20 years. In their strong showing in track-and-field events at the XIth Olympiad, Jesse Owens and other African American athletes struck a propaganda blow against Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, who planned to use the Berlin Games as a showcase of supposed Aryan superiority.

Despite the embarrassment of seeing his best Aryan runners bested by African Americans, Adolf Hitler hailed the Berlin Olympics as a great success. He commissioned a German architect to design a colossal, 400,000-seat stadium at Nuremberg that would host Olympics for “all time to come.” The outbreak of World War II in 1939 prevented the building of the stadium, and by 1945 Hitler’s plans for Nazi world domination had ended in absolute defeat. In the decades of Cold War that followed, the United States and the Soviet Union exploited the propaganda potential of the Olympic Games as freely as the Nazis did at Berlin in 1936.

Although only 23, Jesse Owens retired from amateur competition shortly after the Berlin Olympics in order to capitalize on his fame. This effectively brought his athletic career to an end. He later engaged in boys’-guidance activities, made goodwill visits to Asia for the U.S. Department of State, and served as secretary of the Illinois State Athletic Commission. He died in 1980.

“Owens wins 4th gold medal.” 2008. The History Channel website. 8 Aug 2008, 04:04 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6984.

 

On This Day

1678 – American Indians sold the Bronx to Jonas Bronck for 400 beads.

1854 – “Walden” was published by Henry David Thoreau.

1859 – The escalator was patented by Nathan Ames.

1910 – A.J. Fisher received a patent for the electric washing machine.

1942 – Mohandas K. Gandhi was arrested Britain. He was not released until 1944.

1944 – The Forest Service and Wartime Advertising Council created “Smokey the Bear.”

1945 – The U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki. The bombing came three days after the bombing of Hiroshima. About 74,000 people were killed. Japan surrendered August 14.

1945 – The first network television broadcast occurred in Washington, DC. The program announced the bombing of Nagasaki, Japan.

1956 – The first statewide, state-supported educational television network went on the air in Alabama.

1969 – Sharon Tate and four other people were found murdered at Tate’s residence in Los Angeles, CA. Charles Manson and several members of his cult were later convicted of the crime.

1985 – Arthur J. Walker, a retired Navy officer, was found guilty of seven counts of spying for the Soviet Union.

2001 – U.S. President Bush announced he would support federal funding for limited medical research on embryonic stem cells.

 

Arthur Walker found guilty of spying for Soviet Union

Arthur Walker, a retired U.S. Navy officer, is found guilty of espionage for passing top-secret documents to his brother, who then passed them to Soviet agents. Walker was part of one of the most significant Cold War spy rings in the United States.

“Arthur Walker found guilty of spying for Soviet Union.” 2008. The History Channel website. 8 Aug 2008, 04:06 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2754.

Unusual succession makes Ford president

In accordance with his statement of resignation the previous evening, Richard M. Nixon officially ends his term as the 37th president of the United States at noon. Before departing with his family in a helicopter from the White House lawn, he smiled farewell and enigmatically raised his arms in a victory or peace salute. The helicopter door was then closed, and the Nixon family began their journey home to San Clemente, California. Richard Nixon was the first U.S. president to resign from office.

Minutes later, Vice President Gerald R. Ford was sworn in as the 38th president of the United States in the East Room of the White House. After taking the oath of office, President Ford spoke to the nation in a television address, declaring, “My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.”

Ford, the first president who came to the office through appointment rather than election, had replaced Spiro Agnew as vice president only eight months before. In a political scandal independent of the Nixon administration’s wrongdoings in the Watergate affair, Agnew had been forced to resign in disgrace after he was charged with income tax evasion and political corruption. In September 1974, Ford pardoned Nixon for any crimes he may have committed while in office, explaining that he wanted to end the national divisions created by the Watergate scandal.

“Unusual succession makes Ford president.” 2008. The History Channel website. 8 Aug 2008, 04:08 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5246.

08
Aug
08

Sunset at Lake Kegonsa State Park

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