12
Oct
08

On This Day, 10-12-2008: Edith Cavell

October 12, 1915

British nurse Edith Cavell executed

On the morning of October 12, 1915, the 49-year-old British nurse Edith Cavell is executed by a German firing squad in Brussels, Belgium.

Before World War I began in 1914, Cavell served for a number of years as the matron of a nurse’s training school in Brussels. After the city was captured and occupied by the Germans in the first month of war, Cavell chose to remain at her post, tending to German soldiers and Belgians alike. In August 1915, German authorities arrested her and accused her of helping British and French prisoners-of-war, as well as Belgians hoping to serve with the Allied armies, to escape Belgium for neutral Holland.

During her trial, Cavell admitted that she was guilty of the offenses with which she had been charged. She was sentenced to death. Though diplomats from the neutral governments of the United States and Spain fought to commute her sentence, their efforts were ultimately in vain. The night before her execution on October 12, 1915, Cavell confided in Reverend Horace Graham, a chaplain from the American Legation, that “They have all been very kind to me here. But this I would say, standing as I do in view of God and eternity: I realize that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.”

Cavell’s execution led to a rise in anti-German feeling in the United States as well as in Britain, where she was idealized as a heroic martyr to the cause and was honored with a statue in St. Martin’s Place, just off London’s Trafalagar Square. “What Jeanne d’Arc has been for centuries to France,” wrote one Allied journalist, “that will Edith Cavell become to the future generations of Britons.”

“British nurse Edith Cavell executed .” 2008. The History Channel website. 12 Oct 2008, 01:22 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=51430.

On This Day

1492 – Christopher Columbus, an Italian explorer, sighted Watling Island in the Bahamas. He believed that he had found Asia while attempting to find a Western ocean route to India. The same day he claimed the land for Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain.

1792 – The first monument honoring Christopher Columbus was dedicated in Baltimore, MD.

1810 – Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The royalty invited the public to attend the event which became an annual celebration that later became known as Oktoberfest.

1892 – In celebration of the 400th anniversary of the Columbus landing the original version of the Pledge of Allegiance was first recited in public schools.

‘I pledge allegiance to my Flag and (to*) the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.’  [ * ‘to’ added in October, 1892. ]  For a brief history of the pledge see the following: http://history.vineyard.net/pledge.htm

1915 – Former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt criticized U.S. citizens who identified themselves by dual nationalities.

1933 – John Dillinger, bank robber, escaped from a jail in Allen County, OH. The sheriff was killed by his gang as they helped Dillinger escape.

1933 – The U.S. Department of Justice acquired Alcatraz Island from the U.S. Army.

1945 – Private First Class Desmond T. Doss was presented with the Congressional Medal of Honor for outstanding bravery as a medical corpsman. He was the first conscientious objector in American history to win the award.

1964 – The Soviet Union launched Voskhod 1 into orbit around the Earth. It was the first space flight to have a multi-person crew and the first flight to be performed without space suits.

1972 – During the Vietnam War, a racial brawl broke out aboard the U.S. aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. Nearly 50 sailors were injured.

2000 – In Aden, Yemen, the USS Cole, a U.S. Navy destroyer, experienced a large explosion while refueling. The explosion was the result of a terrorist attack using a small boat. 17 crewmembers were killed and at least 39 were injured.

October 12, 1960

Nikita Khrushchev throws a tantrum at the United Nations

In one of the most surreal moments in the history of the Cold War, Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev removes his shoe and pounds a table with it in protest against a speech critical of Soviet policy in Eastern Europe.

During a debate over a Russian resolution decrying colonialism, a representative of the government of the Philippines charged the Soviets with employing a double standard, pointing to their domination of Eastern Europe as an example of the colonialism they were criticizing in their resolution. In response, Khrushchev took off one of his shoes and began to furiously pound the table. The chaotic scene finally ended when General Assembly President Frederick Boland (Ireland) broke his gavel calling the meeting to order, but not before the image of Khrushchev as a hotheaded buffoon was indelibly etched into America’s collective memory.

“Nikita Khrushchev throws a tantrum at the United Nations.” 2008. The History Channel website. 12 Oct 2008, 01:18 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=2450.

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