Posts Tagged ‘Emperor Hirohito

06
Dec
08

On This Day, 12-6-2008: Mont Blanc

December 6, 1917

Munitions ship explodes in Halifax

At 9:05 a.m., in the harbor of Halifax in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, the most devastating manmade explosion in the pre-atomic age occurs when the Mont Blanc, a French munitions ship, explodes 20 minutes after colliding with another vessel.

As World War I raged in Europe, the port city of Halifax bustled with ships carrying troops, relief supplies and munitions across the Atlantic Ocean. On the morning of December 6, the Norwegian vessel Imo left its mooring in Halifax harbor for New York City. At the same time, the French freighter Mont Blanc, its cargo hold packed with highly explosive munitions–2,300 tons of picric acid, 200 tons of TNT, 35 tons of high-octane gasoline, and 10 tons of gun cotton–was forging through the harbor’s narrows to join a military convoy that would escort it across the Atlantic.

At approximately 8:45 a.m., the two ships collided, setting the picric acid ablaze. The Mont Blanc was propelled toward the shore by its collision with the Imo, and the crew rapidly abandoned the ship, attempting without success to alert the harbor of the peril. Spectators gathered along the waterfront to witness the spectacle of the blazing ship, and minutes later it brushed by a harbor pier, setting it ablaze. The Halifax fire department responded quickly and was positioning its engine next to the nearest hydrant when the Mont Blanc exploded at 9:05 a.m. in a blinding white flash.

The massive explosion killed more than 1,600 people, injured another 9,000–including blinding 200–and destroyed almost the entire north end of the city of Halifax, including more than 1,600 homes. The resulting shock wave shattered windows 50 miles away and the sound of the explosion could be heard for hundreds of miles.

“Munitions ship explodes in Halifax.” 2008. The History Channel website. 6 Dec 2008, 07:19 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6.

On This Day

1865 – The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified. The amendment abolished slavery in the U.S.

1884 – The construction of the Washington Monument was completed by Army engineers. The project took 34 years.

1907 – In Monongah, WV, 361 people were killed in America’s worst mine disaster.

1917 – Finland proclaimed independence from Russia.

1921 – The Catholic Irish Free State was created as a self-governing dominion of Britain when an Anglo-Irish treaty was signed.

1926 – In Italy, Benito Mussolini introduced a tax on bachelors.

1947 – Everglades National Park in Florida was dedicated by U.S. President Truman.

1957 – AFL-CIO members voted to expel the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. The Teamsters were readmitted in 1987.

1998 – In Venezuela, former Lieutenant Colonel Hugo Chavez was elected president. He had staged a bloody coup attempt against the government six years earlier.

December 6, 1941

Roosevelt to Japanese emperor: “Prevent further death and destruction”

On this day, President Roosevelt-convinced on the basis of intelligence reports that the Japanese fleet is headed for Thailand, not the United States-telegrams Emperor Hirohito with the request that “for the sake of humanity,” the emperor intervene “to prevent further death and destruction in the world.”

The Royal Australian Air Force had sighted Japanese escorts, cruisers, and destroyers on patrol near the Malayan coast, south of Cape Cambodia. An Aussie pilot managed to radio that it looked as if the Japanese warships were headed for Thailand-just before he was shot down by the Japanese. Back in England, Prime Minister Churchill called a meeting of his chiefs of staff to discuss the crisis. While reports were coming in describing Thailand as the Japanese destination, they began to question whether it could have been a diversion. British intelligence had intercepted the Japanese code “Raffles,” a warning to the Japanese fleet to be on alert-but for what?

Britain was already preparing Operation Matador, the launching of their 11th Indian Division into Thailand to meet the presumed Japanese invasion force. But at the last minute, Air Marshall Brooke-Popham received word not to cross the Thai border for fear that it would provoke a Japanese attack if, in fact, the warship movement was merely a bluff.

Meanwhile, 600 miles northwest of Hawaii, Admiral Yamamoto, commander of the Japanese fleet, announced to his men: “The rise or fall of the empire depends upon this battle. Everyone will do his duty with utmost efforts.” Thailand was, in fact, a bluff. Pearl Harbor in Oahu, Hawaii was confirmed for Yamamoto as the Japanese target, after the Japanese consul in Hawaii had reported to Tokyo that a significant portion of the U.S. Pacific fleet would be anchored in the harbor-sitting ducks. The following morning, Sunday, December 7, was a good day to begin a raid.

“The son of man has just sent his final message to the son of God,” FDR joked to Eleanor after sending off his telegram to Hirohito, who in the Shinto tradition of Japan was deemed a god. As he enjoyed his stamp collection and chatted with Harry Hopkins, his personal adviser, news reached him of Japan’s formal rejection of America’s 10-point proposals for peace and an end to economic sanctions and the oil embargo placed on the Axis power. “This means war,” the president declared. Hopkins recommended an American first strike. “No, we can’t do that,” Roosevelt countered. “We are a democracy and a peaceful people.”

“Roosevelt to Japanese emperor: “Prevent further death and destruction”.” 2008. The History Channel website. 6 Dec 2008, 07:18 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6635.

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15
Aug
08

On This Day, 8-15-2008: Woodstock

Woodstock begins in upstate New York

The Woodstock Music and Art Fair, “An Aquarian Exposition,” opens at Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in upstate New York. Promoters expected the music festival, modeled after the famous Monterey Pop Festival, to attract up to 200,000 for the weekend, but nearly a half a million people converged on the concert site. Promoters soon realized that they could not control access to the site and opened it up to all comers free of charge. Because of the unexpected size of the audience, volunteers were needed to help alleviate many of the logistics problems, while helicopters were used to fly in food, doctors, and medical supplies, as well as many of the musical acts that performed during the three-day festival. Despite rain and mud, the audience enjoyed non-stop performances by singers like Richie Havens, Janis Joplin, Arlo Guthrie, Joe Cocker, and Joan Baez, as well as the bands Creedence Clearwater Revival; The Grateful Dead; The Jefferson Airplane; Sly and the Family Stone; and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Although many different types of people attended the festival, many were members of the counterculture, often referred to as “hippies,” who rejected materialism and authority, experimented with illicit drugs, and actively protested against the Vietnam War. Much of the music had a decided anti-war flavor. Representative of this genre was the “Fixin’ to Die Rag” by Country Joe and the Fish. This song and its chorus (“And it’s one, two, three, what are we fighting for…Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn, next stop is Vietnam….And it’s five, six, seven, open up the pearly gates…There ain’t no time to wonder why…Whoopie, we’re all gonna die!”) became an anti-war classic. Jimi Hendrix closed the concert with a freeform solo guitar performance of “The Star Spangled Banner.” Woodstock became a symbol of the 1960s American counterculture and a milestone in the history of rock music.

On Aug. 12, 1994, the much-publicized Woodstock II music festival takes place in Saugerties, New York, near the site of the legendary Woodstock concert of 1969. An estimated 300,000 people attended the event, marked–as was the original–by bad weather and pervasive mud. Some 50 bands and singers performed, including the Neville Brothers, Nine Inch Nails, Bob Dylan, Green Day, Jimmy Cliff, and Crosby, Stills and Nash.”Woodstock begins in upstate New York.” 2008. The History Channel website. 15 Aug 2008, 04:22 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=1271.

Jimi Hendrix:  The Star Spangled Banner

 

The Japanese emperor speaks

On this day in 1945, Emperor Hirohito broadcasts the news of Japan’s surrender to the Japanese people.

Although Tokyo had already communicated to the Allies its acceptance of the surrender terms of the Potsdam Conference several days earlier, and a Japanese news service announcement had been made to that effect, the Japanese people were still waiting to hear an authoritative voice speak the unspeakable: that Japan had been defeated.

That voice was the emperor’s. In Japan’s Shinto religious tradition, the emperor was also divine; his voice was the voice of a god. And on August 15, that voice-heard over the radio airwaves for the very first time–confessed that Japan’s enemy “has begun to employ a most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is indeed incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives.” This was the reason given for Japan’s surrender. Hirohito’s oral memoirs, published and translated after the war, evidence the emperor’s fear at the time that “the Japanese race will be destroyed if the war continues.”

A sticking point in the Japanese surrender terms had been Hirohito’s status as emperor. Tokyo wanted the emperor’s status protected; the Allies wanted no preconditions. There was a compromise. The emperor retained his title; Gen. Douglas MacArthur believed his at least ceremonial presence would be a stabilizing influence in postwar Japan. But Hirohito was forced to disclaim his divine status. Japan lost more than a war-it lost a god.”The Japanese emperor speaks.”2008. The History Channel website. 15 Aug 2008, 04:33 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6552.

 On This Day

1057 – Macbeth, the King of Scotland, was killed by the son of King Duncan.

1848 – The dental chair was patented by M. Waldo Hanchett.

1914 – The Panama Canal was officially opened to commercial traffic as an American ship sailed from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.

1918 – Diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Russia were severed.

1935 – Will Rogers and Wiley Post were killed in an airplane crash in near Point Barrow, AK.

1939 – “The Wizard of Oz” premiered in Hollywood, CA. Judy Garland became famous for the movie’s song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

1944 – The Allied forces of World War II landed in southern France.

1947 – India became independent from Britain and was divided into the countries of India and Pakistan. India had been under British about 200 years.

1948 – The Republic of Korea was proclaimed.

1961 – East German workers began construction of the Berlin Wall.

1971 – U.S. President Nixon announced a 90-day freeze on wages, rents and prices.

1986 – The U.S. Senate approved a package of economic sanctions against South Africa. The ban included the importing of steel, uranium, textiles, coal, and produce from South Africa.

1997 – The U.S. Justice Department decided not to prosecute FBI officials in connection with the deadly 1992 Ruby Ridge siege in Idaho. The investigation dealt with an alleged cover-up.

2001 – Chandra Levy’s parents appeared on CNN’s “Larry King Live.” They discussed Levy’s disappearance on April 30, 2001. 

1968 — Heavy fighting erupts in and around the DMZ

Heavy fighting intensifies in and around the DMZ, as South Vietnamese and U.S. troops engage a North Vietnamese battalion. In a seven and a half hour battle, 165 enemy troops were killed. At the same time, U.S. Marines attacked three strategic positions just south of the DMZ, killing 56 North Vietnamese soldiers.”Heavy fighting erupts in and around the DMZ.” 2008. The History Channel website. 15 Aug 2008, 04:41 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=1272.

1969 — Regional Forces victorious

South Vietnamese officials report that regional forces killed 308 Communist troops in four days of heavy fighting along a coastal strip south of the DMZ. This was one of the biggest victories of the war for the regional forces in the war and was extremely significant since one of the prime objectives of Nixon’s Vietnamization policy was the strengthening of the regional/popular forces so that they could help secure the countryside.”Regional Forces victorious.” 2008. The History Channel website. 15 Aug 2008, 04:48 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=1273.

1970 — North Vietnamese capture Vietnamese marine base

In South Vietnam, North Vietnamese troops increase operations along the DMZ. This activity had begun on August 12 and continued until the 15th. The North Vietnamese captured the South Vietnamese marine base at Ba Ho, two miles south of the DMZ; most of the defenders were killed or wounded, but the Communists suffered 200 dead in taking the base.”North Vietnamese capture Vietnamese marine base.” 2008. The History Channel website. 15 Aug 2008, 04:43 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=1274.

 

You don’t have to teach people how to be human. You have to teach them how to stop being inhuman.
Eldridge Cleaver 

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

The Declaration of Independence

14
Aug
08

On This Day, 8-14-2008: Japan Surrenders

Japan’s surrender made public

On this day in 1945, an official announcement of Japan’s unconditional surrender to the Allies is made public to the Japanese people.

Even though Japan’s War Council, urged by Emperor Hirohito, had already submitted a formal declaration of surrender to the Allies, via ambassadors, on August 10, fighting continued between the Japanese and the Soviets in Manchuria and between the Japanese and the United States in the South Pacific. In fact, two days after the Council agreed to surrender, a Japanese submarine sank the Oak Hill, an American landing ship, and the Thomas F. Nickel, an American destroyer, both east of Okinawa.

In the afternoon of August 14, Japanese radio announced that an Imperial Proclamation was soon to be made, accepting the terms of unconditional surrender drawn up at the Potsdam Conference. That proclamation had already been recorded by the emperor. The news did not go over well, as more than 1,000 Japanese soldiers stormed the Imperial Palace in an attempt to find the proclamation and prevent its being transmitted to the Allies. Soldiers still loyal to Emperor Hirohito repulsed the attackers.

That evening, General Anami, the member of the War Council most adamant against surrender, committed suicide. His reason: to atone for the Japanese army’s defeat, and to be spared having to hear his emperor speak the words of surrender.

“Japan’s surrender made public.” 2008. The History Channel website. 13 Aug 2008, 12:46 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6551.

 

On This Day

1248 – The rebuilding of the Cologne Cathedral in Cologne, Germany, began after being destroyed by fire.

1756 – Daniel Boone married 16-year-old Rebecca Bryan.

1805 – A peace treaty between the U.S. and Tunis was signed on board the USS Constitution.

1848 – The Oregon Territory was established.

1873 – “Field and Stream” magazine published its first issue.

1880 – The Cologne Cathedral in Cologne, Germany was completed after 632 years of rebuilding.

1917 – China declared war on Germany and Austria during World War I.

1935 – U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law. The act created unemployment insurance and pension plans for the elderly.

1941 – U.S. President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill issued the Atlantic Charter. The charter was a statement of principles that renounced aggression.

1947 – Pakistan became independent from British rule.

1980 – People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) was incorporated.

1995 – Shannon Faulkner became the first female cadet in the history of The Citadel, South Carolina‘s state military college. She quit the school less than a week later.

1997 – Timothy McVeigh was formally sentenced to death for the Oklahoma City bombing.

2000 – A Russian submarine Kursk sank to the bottom of the Barrent Sea. There were 118 sailors on the nuclear-powered vessel. All of the crew were pronounced dead on August 22.

 

Peking relieved by multinational force

During the Boxer Rebellion, an international force featuring British, Russian, American, Japanese, French, and German troops relieves the Chinese capital of Peking after fighting its way 80 miles from the port of Tientsin. The Chinese nationalists besieging Peking’s diplomatic quarter were crushed, and the Boxer Rebellion effectively came to an end.

“Peking relieved by multinational force.” 2008. The History Channel website. 13 Aug 2008, 12:42 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6989.

Confederate invasion of Kentucky begins

Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith begins an invasion of Kentucky as part of a Confederate plan to draw the Yankee army of General Don Carlos Buell away from Chattanooga, Tennessee, and to raise support for the Southern cause in Kentucky.

“Confederate invasion of Kentucky begins.” 2008. The History Channel website. 13 Aug 2008, 12:44 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2283.

U.S. bombing of Cambodia ceases

After several days of intense bombing in support of Lon Nol’s forces fighting the communist Khmer Rouge in the area around Phnom Penh, Operations Arc Light and Freedom Deal end as the United States ceases bombing Cambodia at midnight. This was in accordance with June Congressional legislation passed in June and ended 12 years of combat activity in Indochina. President Nixon denounced Congress for cutting off the funding for further bombing operations, saying that it had undermined the “prospects for world peace.” The United States continued unarmed reconnaissance flights and military aid to Cambodia, but ultimately the Khmer Rouge prevailed in 1975.

“U.S. bombing of Cambodia ceases.” 2008. The History Channel website. 13 Aug 2008, 12:47 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=1270.

Massive labor strikes hit Poland

Workers in Gdansk, Poland, seize the Lenin Shipyard and demand pay raises and the right to form a union free from communist control. The massive strike also saw the rise to prominence of labor leader Lech Walesa, who would be a key figure in bringing an end to communist rule in Poland.

“Massive labor strikes hit Poland.” 2008. The History Channel website. 13 Aug 2008, 12:45 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2759.

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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