Posts Tagged ‘Virginia Military Institute

18
Aug
08

On This Day, 8-18-2008: Soviet Coup

Soviet hard-liners launch coup against Gorbachev

On this day in 1991, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev is placed under house arrest during a coup by high-ranking members of his own government, military and police forces.

Since becoming secretary of the Communist Party in 1985 and president of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1988, Gorbachev had pursued comprehensive reforms of the Soviet system. Combining perestroika (“restructuring”) of the economy–including a greater emphasis on free-market policies–and glasnost (“openness”) in diplomacy, he greatly improved Soviet relations with Western democracies, particularly the United States. Meanwhile, though, within the USSR, Gorbachev faced powerful critics, including conservative, hard-line politicians and military officials who thought he was driving the Soviet Union toward its downfall and making it a second-rate power. On the other side were even more radical reformers–particularly Boris Yeltsin, president of the most powerful socialist republic, Russia–who complained that Gorbachev was just not working fast enough.

The August 1991 coup was carried out by the hard-line elements within Gorbachev’s own administration, as well as the heads of the Soviet army and the KGB, or secret police. Detained at his vacation villa in the Crimea, he was placed under house arrest and pressured to give his resignation, which he refused to do. Claiming Gorbachev was ill, the coup leaders, headed by former vice president Gennady Yanayev, declared a state of emergency and attempted to take control of the government.

Yeltsin and his backers from the Russian parliament then stepped in, calling on the Russian people to strike and protest the coup. When soldiers tried to arrest Yeltsin, they found the way to the parliamentary building blocked by armed and unarmed civilians. Yeltsin himself climbed aboard a tank and spoke through a megaphone, urging the troops not to turn against the people and condemning the coup as a “new reign of terror.” The soldiers backed off, some of them choosing to join the resistance. After thousands took the streets to demonstrate, the coup collapsed after only three days.

Gorbachev was released and flown to Moscow, but his regime had been dealt a deadly blow. Over the next few months, he dissolved the Communist Party, granted independence to the Baltic states, and proposed a looser, more economics-based federation among the remaining republics. In December 1991, Gorbachev resigned. Yeltsin capitalized on his defeat of the coup, emerging from the rubble of the former Soviet Union as the most powerful figure in Moscow and the leader of the newly formed Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

Soviet hard-liners launch coup against Gorbachev.” 2008. The History Channel website. 18 Aug 2008, 04:48 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=52838.

 

On This Day

1227 – The Mongol conqueror Ghengis Khan died.

1587 – Virginia Dare became the first child to be born on American soil of English parents. The colony that is now Roanoke Island, NC, mysteriously vanished.

1846 – Gen. Stephen W. Kearney and his U.S. forces captured Santa Fe, NM.

1914 – The “Proclamation of Neutrality” was issued by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. It was aimed at keeping the U.S. out of World War I.

1920 – Tennessee ratified the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Amendment guaranteed the right of all American women to vote.

1958 – Vladimir Nabokov’s novel “Lolita” was published.

1962 – Ringo Starr made his first appearance as a Beatle at a Cavern Club show.

1963 – James Meredith graduated from the University of Mississippi. He was the first black man to accomplish this feat.

1973 – The Doobie Brothers’ “China Grove” was released.

1997 – Beth Ann Hogan became the first coed in the Virginia Military Institute’s 158-year history.

 

 

Woman suffrage amendment ratified

The 19th Amendment to the Constitution, guaranteeing women the right to vote, is ratified by Tennessee, giving it the two-thirds majority of state ratification necessary to make it the law of the land. The amendment was the culmination of more than 70 years of struggle by woman suffragists. Its two sections read simply: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex” and “Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

“Woman suffrage amendment ratified.” 2008. The History Channel website. 18 Aug 2008, 04:49 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5271.

Australia and New Zealand decide to withdraw troops from Vietnam

Australia and New Zealand announce the end of the year as the deadline for withdrawal of their respective contingents from Vietnam. The Australians had 6,000 men in South Vietnam and the New Zealanders numbered 264. Both nations agreed to leave behind small training contingents. Australian Prime Minister William McMahon proclaimed that the South Vietnamese forces were now able to assume Australia’s role in Phuoc Tuy province, southeast of Saigon and that Australia would give South Vietnam $28 million over the next three years for civilian projects. Total Australian losses for the period of their commitment in Vietnam were 473 dead and 2,202 wounded; the monetary cost of the war was $182 million for military expenses and $16 million in civilian assistance to South Vietnam.

“Australia and New Zealand decide to withdraw troops from Vietnam.” 2008. The History Channel website. 18 Aug 2008, 04:51 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=1284.

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26
Jun
08

On This Day, 6-26-08: Berlin Airlift

Berlin Airlift begins

On this day in 1948, U.S. and British pilots begin delivering food and supplies by airplane to Berlin after the city is isolated by a Soviet Union blockade.

When World War II ended in 1945, defeated Germany was divided into Soviet, American, British and French zones of occupation. The city of Berlin, though located within the Soviet zone of occupation, was also split into four sectors, with the Allies taking the western part of the city and the Soviets the eastern. In June 1948, Josef Stalin’s government attempted to consolidate control of the city by cutting off all land and sea routes to West Berlin in order to pressure the Allies to evacuate. As a result, beginning on June 24 the western section of Berlin and its 2 million people were deprived of food, heating fuel and other crucial supplies.

Though some in U.S. President Harry S. Truman’s administration called for a direct military response to this aggressive Soviet move, Truman worried such a response would trigger another world war. Instead, he authorized a massive airlift operation under the control of General Lucius D. Clay, the American-appointed military governor of Germany. The first planes took off from England and western Germany on June 26, loaded with food, clothing, water, medicine and fuel.

By July 15, an average of 2,500 tons of supplies was being flown into the city every day. The massive scale of the airlift made it a huge logistical challenge and at times a great risk. With planes landing at Tempelhof Airport every four minutes, round the clock, pilots were being asked to fly two or more round-trip flights every day, in World War II planes that were sometimes in need of repair.

The Soviets lifted the blockade in May 1949, having earned the scorn of the international community for subjecting innocent men, women and children to hardship and starvation. The airlift–called die Luftbrucke or “the air bridge” in German–continued until September 1949, for a total delivery of more than 1.5 million tons of supplies and a total cost of over $224 million. When it ended, the eastern section of Berlin was absorbed into Soviet East Germany, while West Berlin remained a separate territory with its own government and close ties to West Germany. The Berlin Wall, built in 1961, formed a dividing line between East and West Berlin. Its destruction in 1989 presaged the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union and marked the end of an era and the reemergence of Berlin as the capital of a new, unified German nation.

“Berlin Airlift begins.” 2008. The History Channel website. 25 Jun 2008, 12:31 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=52635.

1096 – Peter the Hermit’s crusaders forced their way across Sava, Hungary.

1483 – Richard III usurped himself to the English throne.

1794 – The French defeated an Austrian army at the Battle of Fleurus.

1819 – The bicycle was patented by W.K. Clarkson, Jr.

1844 – John Tyler took Julia Gardiner as his bride, thus becoming the first U.S. President to marry while in office.

1900 – The United States announced that it would send troops to fight against the Boxer rebellion in China.

1917 – General John “Black Jack” Pershing arrived in France with the American Expeditionary Force.

1924 – After eight years of occupation, American troops left the Dominican Republic.

1945 – The U.N. Charter was signed by 50 nations in San Francisco, CA.

1959 – U.S. President Eisenhower joined Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II in ceremonies officially opening the St. Lawrence Seaway.

1961 – A Kuwaiti vote opposed Iraq’s annexation plans.

1963 – U.S. President John Kennedy announced “Ich bin ein Berliner” (I am a Berliner) at the Berlin Wall.

1996 – The U.S. Supreme Court ordered the Virginia Military Institute to admit women or forgo state support.

1997 – The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Communications Decency Act of 1996 that made it illegal to distribute indecent material on the Internet.

1997 – The U.S. Supreme Court upheld state laws that allow for a ban on doctor-assisted suicides.

1998 – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that employers are always potentially liable for supervisor’s sexual misconduct toward an employee.

Westmoreland given authority to commit U.S. forces

Gen. William Westmoreland, senior U.S. military commander in Vietnam, is given formal authority to commit American troops to battle when he decides they are necessary “to strengthen the relative position of the GVN [Government of Vietnam] forces.” This authorization permitted Westmoreland to put his forces on the offensive. Heretofore, U.S. combat forces had been restricted to protecting U.S. airbases and other facilities.

The first major offensive by U.S. forces under this new directive was launched two days later by 3,000 troops of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, in conjunction with 800 Australian soldiers and a Vietnamese airborne unit. These forces assaulted a jungle area known as Viet Cong Zone D, 20 miles northeast of Saigon. The operation was called off after three days when it failed to make any major contact with the enemy. One American was killed, and nine Americans and four Australians were wounded.

“Westmoreland given authority to commit U.S. forces.” 2008. The History Channel website. 25 Jun 2008, 01:09 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=1931.




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