Archive for March 5th, 2008


Hiking Trail at Wyalusing









This hiking trail at Wyalusing starts at the Passenger Pigeon Monument and descends the bluffs until it reaches the Wisconsin River.  Wyalusing is located at the confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers.


On This Day, 3-5-08: The Cold War; Iron Curtain and NSC-68

March 5, 1946

Churchill delivers Iron Curtain speech

In one of the most famous orations of the Cold War period, former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill condemns the Soviet Union’s policies in Europe and declares, “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent.” Churchill’s speech is considered one of the opening volleys announcing the beginning of the Cold War.

Churchill, who had been defeated for re-election as prime minister in 1945, was invited to Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri where he gave this speech. President Harry S. Truman joined Churchill on the platform and listened intently to his speech. Churchill began by praising the United States, which he declared stood “at the pinnacle of world power.” It soon became clear that a primary purpose of his talk was to argue for an even closer “special relationship” between the United States and Great Britain-the great powers of the “English-speaking world”-in organizing and policing the postwar world. In particular, he warned against the expansionistic policies of the Soviet Union. In addition to the “iron curtain” that had descended across Eastern Europe, Churchill spoke of “communist fifth columns” that were operating throughout western and southern Europe. Drawing parallels with the disastrous appeasement of Hitler prior to World War II, Churchill advised that in dealing with the Soviets there was “nothing which they admire so much as strength, and there is nothing for which they have less respect than for military weakness.”

Truman and many other U.S. officials warmly received the speech. Already they had decided that the Soviet Union was bent on expansion and only a tough stance would deter the Russians. Churchill’s “iron curtain” phrase immediately entered the official vocabulary of the Cold War. U.S. officials were less enthusiastic about Churchill’s call for a “special relationship” between the United States and Great Britain. While they viewed the English as valuable allies in the Cold War, they were also well aware that Britain’s power was on the wane and had no intention of being used as pawns to help support the crumbling British empire. In the Soviet Union, Russian leader Joseph Stalin denounced the speech as “war mongering,” and referred to Churchill’s comments about the “English-speaking world” as imperialist “racism.” The British, Americans, and Russians-allies against Hitler less than a year before the speech-were drawing the battle lines of the Cold War.

When Churchill made this speech, the Truman administration had already received George Kennan’s “Long Telegram” in reply to a US State Department request for information on Soviet intentions.  The “Long Telegram” and the later leaked to the press “X Letter” would be debated within the National Security Council and turned into National Security Council #68 or NSC-68.  This top secret presidential document became the blueprint for American conduct toward the Soviet Union during the Cold War.  To view NSC-68 follow this link:

1953: Joseph Stalin dies

Joseph Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union since 1924, dies in Moscow. Stalin, the son of a poor cobbler, joined Vladimir Lenin’s revolutionary Bolshevik party in 1903. After 1917, Stalin held important posts in the revolutionary government and in 1924 seized power following Lenin’s death. As Soviet leader, Stalin enacted a brutal economic program that killed millions of peasants. In 1934, he purged Soviet society of suspected political opponents, killing thousands. In 1939, the USSR signed a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany, but it was only honored by Adolf Hitler for two years. In 1941, Germany invaded, and 22 million Soviets died before the Nazis were finally defeated. After the war, Stalin isolated the USSR and Eastern Europe from the rest of the world. Three years after his death, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev denounced Stalin at the 20th Party Congress.

On This Day:

1624 – In the American colony of Virginia, the upper class was exempted from whipping by legislation.

1770 – “The Boston Massacre” took place when British troops fired on a crowd in Boston killing five people. Two British troops were later convicted of manslaughter.

1836 – Samuel Colt manufactured his first pistol (.34-caliber).

1845 – The U.S. Congress appropriated $30,000 to ship camels to the western U.S.

1867 – An abortive Fenian uprising against English rule took place in Ireland.

1872 – George Westinghouse patented the air brake.

1901 – Germany and Britain began negotiations with hopes of creating an alliance.

1905 – Russian troops began their retreat from Mukden in Manchuria, China. Over 100,000 had been killed in 3 days of fighting.

1910 – In Philadelphia, PA, 60,000 people left their jobs to show support for striking transit workers.

1912 – The Italians became the first to use dirigibles for military purposes. They used them for reconnaissance flights behind Turkish lines west of Tripoli.

1933 – The Nazi Party won 44 percent of the vote in German parliamentary elections.

1943 – Germany called fifteen and sixteen year olds for military service due to war losses.

1956 – The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the ban on segregation in public schools.

1960 – Elvis is discharged from the army after a two year stint.

1982 – John Belushi died in Los Angeles of a drug overdose at the age of 33.

1997 – North Korea and South Korea met for first time in 25 years for peace talks.

1998 – It was announced that Air Force Lt. Col. Eileen Collins would lead crew of Columbia on a mission to launch a large X-ray telescope. She was the first woman to command a space shuttle mission.

After a hard day of basic training, you could eat a rattlesnake.
Elvis Presley

March 2008
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