Posts Tagged ‘Lech Walesa

09
Dec
08

On this Day, 12-9-2008: Lech Walesa

December 9, 1990

Walesa elected president of Poland

In Poland, Lech Walesa, founder of the Solidarity trade union, wins a landslide election victory, becoming the first directly elected Polish leader.

Walesa, born in 1943, was an electrician at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk when he was fired for union agitation in 1976. When protests broke out in the Gdansk shipyard over an increase in food prices in August 1980, Walesa climbed the shipyard fence and joined the thousands of workers inside. He was elected leader of the strike committee, and three days later the strikers’ demands were met. Walesa then helped coordinate other strikes in Gdansk and demanded that the Polish government allow the free formation of trade unions and the right to strike. On August 30, the government conceded to the strikers’ demands, legalizing trade unionism and granting greater freedom of religious and political expression.

Millions of Polish workers and farmers came together to form unions, and Solidarity was formed as a national federation of unions, with Walesa as its chairman. Under Walesa’s charismatic leadership, the organization grew in size and political influence, soon becoming a major threat to the authority of the Polish government. On December 13, 1981, martial law was declared in Poland, Solidarity was outlawed, and Walesa and other labor leaders were arrested.

In November 1982, overwhelming public outcry forced Walesa’s release, but Solidarity remained illegal. In 1983, Walesa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Fearing involuntary exile, he declined to travel to Norway to accept the award. Walesa continued as leader of the now-underground Solidarity movement, and he was subjected to continual monitoring and harassment by the Communist authorities.

In 1988, deteriorating economic conditions led to a new wave of labor strikes across Poland, and the government was forced to negotiate with Walesa. In April 1989, Solidarity was again legalized, and its members were allowed to enter a limited number of candidates in upcoming elections. By September, a Solidarity-led government coalition was in place, with Walesa’s colleague Tadeusz Mazowiecki as premier. In 1990, Poland’s first direct presidential election was held, and Walesa won by a landslide.

President Walesa successfully implemented free-market reforms, but unfortunately he was a far more effective labor leader than president. In 1995, he was narrowly defeated in his reelection by former communist Aleksander Kwasniewski, head of the Democratic Left Alliance.

“Walesa elected president of Poland.” 2008. The History Channel website. 9 Dec 2008, 11:49 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5586.

1608 – English poet John Milton was born in London.

1803 – The 12th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed by the U.S. Congress. With the amendment Electors were directed to vote for a President and for a Vice-President rather than for two choices for President.

1854 – Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem, “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” was published in England.

1917 – Turkish troops surrendered Jerusalem to British troops led by Viscount Allenby.

1940 – During World War II, British troops opened their first major offensive in North Africa.

1941 – China declared war on Japan, Germany and Italy.

1958 – In Indianapolis, IN, Robert H.W. Welch Jr. and 11 other men met to form the anti-Communist John Birch Society.

1965 – Nikolai V. Podgorny replaced Anastas I. Mikoyan as president of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet.

1985 – In Argentina, five former military junta members received sentences in prison for their roles in the “dirty war” in which nearly 9,000 people had “disappeared.”

1987 – West Bank Palestinians launched an intifada (uprising) against Israeli occupation.

1990 – Slobodan Milosovic was elected president in Serbia’s first free elections in 50 years.

1992 – Clair George, former CIA spy chief, was convicted of lying to the U.S. Congress about the Iran-Contra affair. U.S. President George Bush later pardoned George.

1992 – U.S. troops arrived in Mogadishu, Somalia, to oversee delivery of international food aid, in operation ‘Restore Hope’.

1993 – The U.S. Air Force destroyed the first of 500 Minuteman II missile silos that were marked for elimination under an arms control treaty.

1994 – U.S. President Clinton fired Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders after learning that she had told a conference that masturbation should be discussed in school as a part of human sexuality.

1999 – The U.S. announced that it was expelling a Russian diplomat that had been caught gathering information with an eavesdropping device at the U.S. State Department.

December 9, 1950

Harry Gold sent to prison for his role in atomic espionage

Harry Gold–who had confessed to serving as a courier between Klaus Fuchs, a British scientist who stole top-secret information on the atomic bomb, and Soviet agents–is sentenced to 30 years in jail for his crime. Gold’s arrest and confession led to the arrest of David Greenglass, who then implicated his brother-in-law and sister, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.

Gold’s arrest was part of a massive FBI investigation into Soviet espionage, particularly the theft of atomic secrets. Gold, a 39-year-old research chemist, made the acquaintance of British atomic scientist Klaus Fuchs during the latter’s trips to the United States during World War II. Fuchs worked at the Los Alamos laboratory on the Manhattan Project, the top secret U.S. program to develop an atomic weapon. David Greenglass was also employed at Los Alamos. In February 1950, Fuchs was arrested in Great Britain and charged with passing atomic secrets on to the Soviets. He was convicted and sentenced to 14 years in a British prison. Fuchs then accused Gold of having been the go-between with Soviet agents. Gold was picked up a short time later and eventually confessed to his part. He explained that, at the time, he did not believe that he was helping an enemy, but was instead assisting a wartime ally of the United States. Further questioning of Gold led him to implicate David Greenglass. Greenglass then informed on Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, claiming that both of them actively spied for the Soviet Union during World War II and after. The Rosenbergs were later convicted and executed for espionage.

“Harry Gold sent to prison for his role in atomic espionage.” 2008. The History Channel website. 9 Dec 2008, 11:43 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2509.

On This Day in Wisconsin: December 9

1844 – Milwaukee’s First Daily Newspaper Published
On this date Milwaukee’s first daily newspaper, The Daily Sentinel, was published. David M. Keeler served and manager and C.L. MacArthur was the editor. [Source: History of Milwaukee, Vol. II, p.49]

14
Nov
08

On This Day, 11-14-2008: Solidarność

November 14, 1982

Walesa released from jail

Lech Walesa, leader of communist Poland’s outlawed Solidarity movement, returns to his apartment in Gdansk after 11 months of internment in a remote hunting lodge near the Soviet border. Two days before, hundreds of supporters had begun a vigil outside his home upon learning that the founder of Poland’s trade union movement was being released. When Walesa finally did return home, on November 14, he was lifted above the jubilant crowd and carried to the door of his apartment, where he greeted his wife and then addressed his supporters from a second-story window.

Walesa, born in 1943, was an electrician at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk when he was fired for union agitation in 1976. When protests broke out in the Gdansk shipyard over an increase in food prices in August 1980, Walesa climbed the shipyard fence and joined the thousands of workers inside. He was elected leader of the strike committee, and three days later the strikers’ demands were met. Walesa then helped coordinate other strikes in Gdansk and demanded that the Polish government allow the free formation of trade unions and the right to strike. On August 30, the government conceded to the strikers’ demands, legalizing trade unionism and granting greater freedom of religious and political expression.

Millions of Polish workers and farmers came together to form unions, and Solidarity was formed as a national federation of unions, with Walesa as its chairman. Under Walesa’s charismatic leadership, the organization grew in size and political influence, soon becoming a major threat to the authority of the Polish government. On December 13, 1981, martial law was declared in Poland, Solidarity was outlawed, and Walesa and other labor leaders were arrested.

In November 1982, overwhelming public outcry forced Walesa’s release, but Solidarity remained illegal. In 1983, Walesa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Fearing involuntary exile, he declined to travel to Norway to accept the award. Walesa continued as leader of the now-underground Solidarity movement, and he was subjected to continual monitoring and harassment by the communist authorities.

In 1988, deteriorating economic conditions led to a new wave of labor strikes across Poland, and the government was forced to negotiate with Walesa. In April 1989, Solidarity was again legalized, and its members were allowed to enter a limited number of candidates in upcoming elections. By September, a Solidarity-led government coalition was in place, with Walesa’s colleague Tadeusz Mazowiecki as premier. In 1990, Poland’s first direct presidential election was held, and Walesa won by a landslide.

President Walesa successfully implemented free-market reforms, but unfortunately he was a more effective labor leader than president. In 1995, he was narrowly defeated in his reelection by former communist Aleksander Kwasniewski, head of the Democratic Left Alliance.

“Walesa released from jail.” 2008. The History Channel website. 14 Nov 2008, 10:39 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=7081.

On This Day

1851 – Herman Melville’s novel “Moby Dick” was first published in the U.S.

1881 – Charles J. Guiteau’s trial began for the assassination of U.S. President Garfield. Guiteau was convicted and hanged the following year.

1935 – U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed the Philippine Islands a free commonwealth after its new constitution was approved. The Tydings-McDuffie Act planned for the Phillipines to be completely independent by July 4, 1946.

1940 – During World War II, German war planes destroyed most of the English town of Coventry when about 500 Luftwaffe bombers attacked.

1956 – The USSR crushed the Hungarian uprising.

1968 – Yale University announced it was going co-educational.

1969 – Apollo 12 blasted off for the moon from Cape Kennedy, FL.

1969 – During the Vietnam War, Major General Bruno Arthur Hochmuth, commander of the Third Marine Division, became the first general to be killed in Vietnam by enemy fire.

1979 – U.S. President Carter froze all Iranian assets in the United States and U.S. banks abroad in response to the taking of 63 American hostages at the U.S. embassy in Tehran, Iran.

1989 – The U.S. Navy ordered an unprecedented 48-hour stand-down in the wake of a recent string of serious accidents.

1991 – After 13 years in exile Cambodian Prince Norodom Sihanouk returned to his homeland.

November 14, 1959

Kennedy publishes article on television and American politics

On this day in 1959, an article written by Massachusetts senator and presidential hopeful John F. Kennedy appears in an issue of TV Guide. In it, Kennedy examined the influence of television, still a relatively new technology, on American political campaigns.

In the article, Kennedy mused that television had the power to bring political campaigns—and scandals—immediately and directly to the public and illuminated the contrast between political personalities. Kennedy shrewdly noted that a “slick or bombastic orator pounding the table and ringing the rafters” fared poorly against a more congenial candidate and “is not as welcome in the family living room” as a candidate with “honesty, vigor, compassion [and] intelligence.” Kennedy strove to convey the latter image. He also compared Woodrow Wilson’s 1919 month-long cross-country railroad trek to promote his League of Nations proposal (an exhausting trip that ended when Wilson suffered a stroke) to then-President Eisenhower’s ability to reach millions of voters in a 15-minute television appearance.

A year after the publication of the article, Kennedy and his Republican opponent, Vice President Richard Nixon, faced off in the nation’s first-ever televised presidential campaign debates. A master at projecting the quintessential presidential image, Kennedy exhibited a calm demeanor and responded to questions with intelligence and decorum. While Kennedy appeared rested, well-groomed and in control, Nixon appeared flustered and his light beard, or “five-o’clock shadow,” created more of a stir than his responses to the moderator’s questions. As president, Kennedy continued to showcase his skill at handling the press on-camera and carefully cultivated a relationship with journalists by enlisting their direct involvement in balancing candor with secrecy.

Kennedy’s article also addressed the potential perils of marrying mass media to politics. He warned that political campaigns “could be taken over by public relations experts, who tell the candidate not only how to use TV but what to say, what to stand for and what kind of person to be.” He cautioned Americans to be vigilant about what they watched, and to be aware that, like game shows, political campaigns “can be fixed…It is in your power to perceive deception, to shut off gimmickry, to reward honesty, to demand legislation where needed.” Without the public’s acquiescence, he said, “no TV show is worthwhile and no politician can exist.”

“Kennedy publishes article on television and American politics.” 2008. The History Channel website. 14 Nov 2008, 10:48 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=52007.

On This Day in Wisconsin: November 14

1861 – Frederick Jackson Turner Born
On this date Frederick Jackson Turner was born in Portage. Turner spent most of his academic career at the University of Wisconsin. He published his first article in 1883, received his B.A. in 1884, then his M.A. in History in 1888. After a year of study at Johns Hopkins (Ph.D., 1890), he returned to join the History faculty at Wisconsin, where he taught for the next 21 years. He later taught at Harvard from 1910 to 1924 before retiring. In 1893, Turner presented his famous address, “The Significance of the Frontier in American History,” at the Chicago World’s Fair. Turner died in 1932. [Source: Bowling Green State University]

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.

02
Apr
08

On This Day, 4-2-08: Falklands Islands

Argentina invades Falklands

On April 2, 1982, Argentina invades the Falklands Islands, a British colony since 1892 and British possession since 1833. Argentine amphibious forces rapidly overcame the small garrison of British marines at the town of Stanley on East Falkland and the next day seized the dependent territories of South Georgia and the South Sandwich group. The 1,800 Falkland Islanders, mostly English-speaking sheep farmers, awaited a British response.

The Falkland Islands, located about 300 miles off the southern tip of Argentina, had long been claimed by the British. British navigator John Davis may have sighted the islands in 1592, and in 1690 British Navy Captain John Strong made the first recorded landing on the islands. He named them after Viscount Falkland, who was the First Lord of the Admiralty at the time. In 1764, French navigator Louis-Antoine de Bougainville founded the islands’ first human settlement, on East Falkland, which was taken over by the Spanish in 1767. In 1765, the British settled West Falkland but left in 1774 for economic reasons. Spain abandoned its settlement in 1811.

In 1816 Argentina declared its independence from Spain and in 1820 proclaimed its sovereignty over the Falklands. The Argentines built a fort on East Falkland, but in 1832 it was destroyed by the USS Lexington in retaliation for the seizure of U.S. seal ships in the area. In 1833, a British force expelled the remaining Argentine officials and began a military occupation. In 1841, a British lieutenant governor was appointed, and by the 1880s a British community of some 1,800 people on the islands was self-supporting. In 1892, the wind-blown Falkland Islands were collectively granted colonial status.

For the next 90 years, life on the Falklands remained much unchanged, despite persistent diplomatic efforts by Argentina to regain control of the islands. In 1981, the Falkland Islanders voted in a referendum to remain British, and it seemed unlikely that the Falklands would ever revert to Argentine rule. Meanwhile, in Argentina, the military junta led by Lieutenant General Leopoldo Galtieri was suffering criticism for its oppressive rule and economic management, and planned the Falklands invasion as a means of promoting patriotic feeling and propping up its regime.

In March 1982, Argentine salvage workers occupied South Georgia Island, and a full-scale invasion of the Falklands began on April 2. Under orders from their commanders, the Argentine troops inflicted no British casualties, despite suffering losses to their own units. Nevertheless, Britain was outraged, and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher assembled a naval task force of 30 warships to retake the islands. As Britain is 8,000 miles from the Falklands, it took several weeks for the British warships to arrive. On April 25, South Georgia Island was retaken, and after several intensive naval battles fought around the Falklands, British troops landed on East Falkland on May 21. After several weeks of fighting, the large Argentine garrison at Stanley surrendered on June 14, effectively ending the conflict.

Britain lost five ships and 256 lives in the fight to regain the Falklands, and Argentina lost its only cruiser and 750 lives. Humiliated in the Falklands War, the Argentine military was swept from power in 1983, and civilian rule was restored. In Britain, Margaret Thatcher’s popularity soared after the conflict, and her Conservative Party won a landslide victory in 1983 parliamentary elections.

“Argentina invades Falklands.” 2008. The History Channel website. 2 Apr 2008, 05:22 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=4884.

1513 – Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon landed in Florida.

1801 – During the Napoleonic Wars, the Danish fleet was destroyed by the British at the Battle of Copenhagen.

1865 – Confederate President Davis and most of his Cabinet fled the Confederate capital of Richmond, VA.

1902 – The first motion picture theatre opened in Los Angeles with the name Electric Theatre.

1917 – U.S. President Woodrow Wilson presented a declaration of war against Germany to the U.S. Congress.

1958 – The National Advisory Council on Aeronautics was renamed NASA.

1963 – Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King began the first non-violent campaign in Birmingham, AL.

1966 – South Vietnamese troops joined in demonstrations at Hue and Da Nang for an end to military rule.

1967 – In Peking, hundreds of thousands demonstrated against Mao foe Liu Shao-chi.

1972 – Burt Reynolds appeared nude in “Cosmopolitan” magazine.

1984 – John Thompson became the first black coach to lead his team to the NCAA college basketball championship.

1987 – The speed limit on U.S. interstate highways was increased to 65 miles per hour in limited areas.

1996 – Lech Walesa resumed his old job as an electrician at the Gdansk shipyard. He was the former Solidarity union leader who became Poland’s first post-war democratic president.

Democratic nations must try to find ways to starve the terrorist and the hijacker of the oxygen of publicity on which they depend.
Margaret Thatcher

09
Dec
07

On This Day 12-9: John Birch

1608 – English poet John Milton was born in London.

1884 – Levant M. Richardson received a patent for the ball-bearing roller skate.

1917 – Turkish troops surrendered Jerusalem to British troops led by Viscount Allenby.

1940 – During World War II, British troops opened their first major offensive in North Africa.

1941 – China declared war on Japan, Germany and Italy.

1955 – Sugar Ray Robinson knocked out Carl Olson and regained his world middleweight boxing title.

1958 – In Indianapolis, IN, Robert H.W. Welch Jr. and 11 other men met to form the anti-Communist John Birch Society.

1960 – Sperry Rand Corporation unveiled a new computer, known as “Univac 1107.”

1975 – U.S. President Gerald R. Ford signed a $2.3 billion seasonal loan authorization to prevent New York City from having to default.

1990 – Lech Walesa won Poland’s first direct presidential election in the country’s history.

1992 – U.S. troops arrived in Mogadishu, Somalia, to oversee delivery of international food aid, in operation ‘Restore Hope’.

1994 – U.S. President Clinton fired Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders after learning that she had told a conference that masturbation should be discussed in school as a part of human sexuality.

I belong to the generation of workers who, born in the villages and hamlets of rural Poland, had the opportunity to acquire education and find employment in industry, becoming in the course conscious of their rights and importance in society.
Lech Walesa

And for well over a hundred years our politicians, statesmen, and people remembered that this was a republic, not a democracy, and knew what they meant when they made that distinction.
Robert Welch

Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.
John Milton

A Brief History of John Birch found at:  http://www.jbs.org/node/4829

At the age of eleven, Birch expressed a desire to become a Christian missionary. Upon learning of the violence inflicted upon missionaries by Chinese communists, the youngster selected China as his mission field. When cautioned by his pastor that “more will be killed” in China, Birch replied: “I know the big enemy is communism, but the Lord has called me. My life is in his hands, and I am not turning back.”

Birch’s labors in China began in 1940, a time when the country was being ravaged by the Japanese military. After Pearl Harbor he dyed his hair black, adopted the garb of the local population, and continued his underground work behind enemy lines. While near the border of Japanese-occupied territory on the evening of April 19, 1942, Birch came upon Colonel James H. Doolittle and members of the raiding party that had just completed a dramatic bombing raid on Tokyo. With his encyclopedic knowledge of the language, customs, and geography of China, Birch was able to convey Doolittle and the crews of 12 American bombers to safety in free China.

Shortly thereafter, Birch became an intelligence analyst as a second lieutenant with the China Air Task Force — General Claire Chennault’s legendary “Flying Tigers.” Performing high-risk intelligence-gathering missions on the ground, Birch acted as “the eyes of the 14th Air Force,” devising an early warning system that enabled U.S. air units to come to the aid of Chinese units under enemy attack. He also organized a rescue system for pilots who were shot down by the Japanese. Chennault credited Birch with the fact that 90 percent of his downed flyers were rescued.

On August 25, 1945 — ten days after the end of WWII — Birch (by then a captain) was part of an official military mission to Suchow that was detained by Chinese communists. Captain Birch and another man were separated from their group and shot. An autopsy later demonstrated that after Birch had been immobilized by a gunshot to the leg, his hands were tied behind his back and he was shot execution-style in the back of his head. The communists had also desecrated Birch’s dead body.

In its desire to depict the Red Chinese as innocuous “agrarian reformers,” the U.S. government suppressed the news of the unprovoked murder of Captain Birch. It fell upon Robert Welch to rescue the memory of this selfless Christian patriot from the shameful oblivion to which it had been assigned. In December 1958, Welch named the new organization he created the John Birch Society to preserve the memory of this patriotic exemplar. Wrote Mr. Welch, “If we rediscover some of our sounder spiritual values in the example of his life … and learn essential truths about our enemy from the lesson of his murder, then his death at twenty-six ceases to be a tragedy.”




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