Wednesday, December 7, 2011

DAYS OF INFAMY

Today is December 7 and as every American should know, although with today's education system it is in question as to whether every American does indeed know, this is the day that President Franklin Roosevelt declared as a "Day that will live in infamy."  On December 7, 1941 the Japanese Imperial Army bombed a military base in the Hawaiian Islands called Pearl Harbor.  It was a surprise attack that destroyed most of the United States Naval fleet.  It was a day though, that would forever live in the annuls of American History.  The United States rebuilt the Navy and it was at this point, I think, That the United States did become a world power.  A day that will indeed live in infamy.

I was thinking last night as I pondered the annual arrival of December 7 that this country has had many "days that have lived in infamy".  There have been points in our history that have changed the course that the country was on and changed history in the blink of an eye.  These are some of the days that I think deserve that special place in American history.  It isn't a complete list, just some of the days that came to my mind.

The first day that I thought of was back in the year 1770.  On March 5 of that year a group of British soldiers fired into a crowd of Bostonians out side of the Old State House causing casualties.  March 5 is not the day of infamy though.  It is the day that sets up the day of infamy.  If you know about my love of history then you also know that I think John Adams is probably the most underrated founding father of our country.   I admire the things that John Adams did and they way he stood for what he believed.  This was one of those times.  John Adams acted as defense lawyer for Captain Preston of the British Army.  It was not a popular stance but Adams believed that every man deserved a trial by jury and believed deeply in the innocent until proven guilty theory of justice.  The trial began on October 24 and lasted until October 30.  That was the day of infamy for on October 30 twelve men from Boston found Captain Preston innocent of all charges.  John Adams had set a mark to shoot for through the rest of the history of our nation.  It was a turning point that is still carried down through to this day.

Another day of infamy happened on April 12, 1861.  Confederate forces led by Brigadier General 
Beauregard fired upon Fort Sumter in South Carolina.  It would turn this country into a bloody battlefield across the entire nation.  It took four years and hundreds of thousands of lives to bring this country back together under the Presidency of Abraham Lincoln.  It was a day in infamy because it was the beginning of strengthening this country as one.  Almost four years to the day of the Fort Sumter battle, another day of infamy occurred.  On April 14, 1865 with the war being over due to Lee's surrender to Grant, John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Lincoln.  It was a day in infamy because it truly marked the end of the civil war in a way that a piece of paper could never do.  Today, our country is united and strong and it is because we came out of the civil war and learned to grow together, work together and hammer out differences with peaceful transistion of power.

One of the biggest days of infamy that effected the entire world happened on August 6, 1945.  On that day President Harry S. Truman ordered that the world's first atomic bomb be dropped on Japan.  This action along with a second atomic bomb dropped a few days later changed the entire landscape of history and modern warfare.  This is a day that surpasses any other day of infamy.  We have seen what these weapons can do, now it takes leaders of countries that have these weapons a great deal of self control not to use them again.  So far we have been lucky.

The East Germans being a part of the communist block of nations built the Berlin Wall on August 13, 1961.  It became a symbol of freedom versus State run country.  for many years, people tried to escape the wall, some being lucky and making it past the border guards but many hundreds losing their life as they strived for freedom.   The day of infamy happened on November 9, 1989.  President Reagan taking ad.vantage of a failing economy in the communist block of nations challenged the East Germans to unify and tear down the wall.  On the night of November 9 people from all over the world watched as Germans from both sides of the wall tore it down without military challenge.  It marked the end of the Cold War, a true turning point not only for our country but for the world

Another day of infamy happened in 1961.  On January 20, 1961 John F. Kennedy took the oath of office as President of the United States.  The infamy here is the fact that President Kennedy was a Catholic and many in the country thought that he would give a certain amount of power to the Catholic Pope during his administration.  He did not.  For the first time religion truly became an issue in a national campaign and in the same election, religion was set aside as a requirement for the Presidency.  Lately however with a Mormon seeking a nomination for the Presidency, the issue of religion has again raised it's head.  Hopefully we can look back on history and remember the day when a Catholic was sworn into the nation's highest office.  Sadly another Day of infamy followed this one a few years later when on November 22, 1963 President Kennedy was assassinated.  Again the death of a President brought together the country and we remained more determined to be a unified and strong country.

The next day of infamy that comes to mind happened not too long ago.  On September 11, 2001 terrorists hijacked four planes to carry out the worst attack on American soil since the Civil War.  Over 3,000 people gave their lives in these attacks.  Two planes hit each of the World Trade Center towers in New York City.  One plane slammed into the Pentagon while the fourth plane was over taken by the passengers and failed to reach it's target, which was either the White House or the Capitol Building in Washington D.C.  Once again the country was brought together nad strengthened.  I think by the time that September 11 came around, Americans had forgotten what a day of infamy was like.  I remember talking to my wife on the phone when the second Tower was hit.  I immediately knew it was a terror attack and that it would change our way of living for a very very long time.
There are probably other "days of infamy" I am sure.  These are just a few that crossed my mind.  Hopefully we won't have any more of these kind of days, at least for a very long time.

The thing that all of these days have in common is that they have strengthened the American will and the American ideal.  We are a stronger country because we worked through and survived those days from the past that still effect us today.

(I left out President Nixon's resignation.  Many of you will see this as a day of infamy when it came about that not even the President was above the law.  I can agree with that.  The part I can't agree with is that it was never proven beyond a reasonable doubt the the President broke the law to begin with.  Many of you will shake your heads at this, but that is where I stand on the Watergate scandal.)



2 comments:

  1. Bill,
    I contemplated the Watergate issue for 19 minutes.....oh wait that is the exact time that's missing from the tapes. Richard M. Nixon was no Bill Gates with electronics but guilty he probably was.
    Another day that I would add is March 8, 1965, the day that combat troops landed on the shores of Vietnam to join the advisors, this begins a war that ultimelatly tore a country apart and ended the bond created after the That Infamous Day in Dallas

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  2. Actually it was a 17.5 minute gap. Technology may one day provide what was said during that gap.

    The key word you use here is "probably". Probably is not beyond a reasonable doubt. President Clinton, on the other hand committed perjury to a federal grand jury. He admitted that he did. That is a felony. He should have been impeached except partisanship ruled the day in his case.

    I do agree with adding March 8th to the list. As I said in the piece, however, this wasn't a complete list and not meant to be one. That day certainly does deserve to be included though. Thanks for the input !!

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