11
Aug
08

On This Day, 8-11-2008: The Evil Empire

Reagan jokes about bombing Russia

On this day in 1984, President Ronald Reagan makes a joking but controversial off-the-cuff remark about bombing Russia while testing a microphone before a scheduled radio address. While warming up for the speech, Reagan said “My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.”

Although the press throng and his aides in attendance laughed at the obvious joke, the comment unnerved Democratic opposition leaders and those already fearful of the hard-line posturing Reagan had displayed toward the USSR since assuming office in 1981. Others simply dismissed his remark, which came at a time of heightened tensions between the U.S. and Russia, as a moment of poor taste.

Although it is not known what Soviet leaders thought of Reagan’s joke, the comment did color some Americans’ opinion of Reagan, whose approval rating dropped in the aftermath of the incident, temporarily boosting the electoral hopes of Democratic presidential hopeful Walter Mondale. Reagan recovered and beat Mondale; he began his second term in 1984.

“Reagan jokes about bombing Russia.” 2008. The History Channel website. 10 Aug 2008, 03:43 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=50722.

 

On This Day

1860 – The first silver mill in America to be successful began. The mill was in Virginia City, NV.

1877 – The two moons of Mars were discovered by Asaph Hall, an American astronomer. He named them Phobos and Deimos.

1896 – Harvey Hubbell received a patent for the electric light bulb socket with a pull-chain.

1909 – The American ship Arapahoe became the first to ever use the SOS distress signal off the coast of Cape Hatteras, NC.

1924 – Newsreel pictures were taken of U.S. presidential candidates for the first time.

1934 – Alcatraz, in San Francisco Bay, received federal prisoners for the first time.

1945 – The Allies informed Japan that they would determine Emperor Hirohito’s future status after Japan’s surrender.

1954 – Seven years of fighting came to an end in Indochina. A formal peace was in place for the French and the Communist Vietminh.

1965 – Riots and looting took place in the Watts section of Los Angeles, CA. During the week that followed 34 people were killed. In addition, over 1,000 were injured, 3,000 were arrested and over $40 million in damage was done.

1990 – Egyptian and Moroccan troops joined U.S. forces in Saudia Arabia to help protect from a possible Iraqi attack.

1992 – In Bloomington, MN, the Mall of America opened. It was the largest shopping mall in the United States.

1995 – All U.S. nuclear tests were banned by President Clinton.

 

 

Weimar Constitution adopted in Germany

On August 11, 1919, Friedrich Ebert, a member of the Social Democratic Party and the provisional president of the German Reichstag (government), signs a new constitution, known as the Weimar Constitution, into law, officially creating the first parliamentary democracy in Germany.

Under vicious attack from both the militarist right and the radical socialist left and identified by both sides with the shame of Versailles, the Weimar government and its constitution—signed into law on August 11, 1919—seemed to have a dim chance of survival. In this atmosphere of confrontation and frustration, exacerbated by poor economic conditions, right wing elements began to take an ever more pervasive hold over the Reichstag. This process, intensified by the worldwide depression that began in 1929, would culminate in the rise to power of Adolf Hitler, who exploited the weakness of the Weimar system to lay the foundations for himself and his National Socialist German Workers’ (or Nazi) Party to dissolve the parliamentary government and take absolute control over Germany.

“Weimar Constitution adopted in Germany .” 2008. The History Channel website. 10 Aug 2008, 03:44 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=50625.

Last U.S. ground combat unit departs South Vietnam

The last U.S. ground combat unit in South Vietnam, the Third Battalion, Twenty-First Infantry, departs for the United States. The unit had been guarding the U.S. air base at Da Nang. This left only 43,500 advisors, airmen, and support troops left in-country. This number did not include the sailors of the Seventh Fleet on station in the South China Sea or the air force personnel in Thailand and Guam.

“Last U.S. ground combat unit departs South Vietnam.” 2008. The History Channel website. 10 Aug 2008, 03:45 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=1262.

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