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18 December
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The Mayflower Arrives

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Cape Cod Bay

Cape Cod Bay

The Mayflower represents a lot to many different people.  On this day, December 18, 1620, it docked for the first time at Plymouth harbor.  The group on the ship was for the most part reform-minded puritans that had tried their own church in Nottinghamshire, England, but were forced out to Netherlands, where after struggling for a few years they finally got the financial backing they needed to travel to America.

In September 1620, 102 passengers started out for Plymouth.  A brutal winter hit the new colonists that year, and 50 of the original 102 Mayflower passengers died within months.  The Mayflower and its crew left the new colony to return to England on April 5th, 1621 after a very harsh winter that took the life of half the colonist.

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17 December
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Wright Brothers Fly!

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1904 Wright Flyer

1904 Wright Flyer

December 17, 1903, 110 years ago, the Wright brothers (Orville & Wilbur) make the first human flight.  Although they were not the first to make and test an experimental plane, they were the first to create controls that made fixed-wing flight possible.  The control, called three-axis control, allowed the brothers to both steer and maintain equilibrium of the plane.  Many of us know that the brother’s gained their skills while working in a bike shop, but how many of you know they also worked at a printing press?  Who among you knows the name Charlie Taylor?  He was another employee at the bike shop that the brother’s worked at.  He was the one responsible for creating the engine in the plane.

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Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wright_brothers

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16 December
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240th Anniversary of the Boston Tea Party

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The Destruction of Tea at Boston Harbor

The Destruction of Tea at Boston Harbor

On December 16, 1773 a group of colonist that called themselves the Sons of Liberty dressed themselves in Indian disguises, boarded a ship belonging to the East India Company and through the barrels of tea the ship was delivering into the Boston harbor ruining the tea.  The group was upset because the tea had recently been taxed without their agreement.  Their non violent action was a political protest designed to show their displeasure with the British government.  The government then took action that would ultimately lead to the American Revolution.  Monday will be the 240 anniversary of this historic event.

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Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boston_Tea_Party

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15 December
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Glenn Miller Disappears

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U.S. Army Air Force UC-64

U.S. Army Air Force UC-64

On December 15, 1944 Glenn Miller the American big band musician with hits like “In the Mood”, “Moonlight Serenade”, Pennsylvania 6-5000”, and the Chattanooga Choo Choo”, was lost over the English Channel.  Miller was heading out to Paris before the rest of the band to get things situated for them.  Miller’s status is actually missing in action. The plane and all aboard were never found.  According to Wikipedia there are three theories of what occurred:

  1. The Royal Air Force (RAF) may have dropped bombs on his plane by accident.
  2. Clarence B. Wolfe a gunner with the RAF may have fired on his plane.
  3. Lastly, another source says that Miller arrived safely, but while consorting with a Parisian prostitute he had a heart attack and the American military covered the incident up.

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There is also the movie The Glenn Miller Story. I couldn’t find this on Netflix instant or Amazon Instant.  But you can purchase on Amazon.

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14 December
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Amundsen Reaches South Pole First

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Roald Amundsen and his team of 5 (not including 16 dogs) reached the South Pole (90°, 0′S) on December 14,1911.  They named their South Pole camp Polheim, “Home on the Pole.”  He was born in 1872 and died in 1928.  Another explorer, Robert Scott, reached the South Pole just a month later, only to find a tent and note that Amundsen’s team had left letting Scott know that he was second to the prize.  Scott died trying to get back home from that journey.

As a youth he insisted on sleeping with the windows open even during the frigid Norwegian winters to help condition himself for a life of polar exploration. – PBS

I may say that this is the greatest factor—the way in which the expedition is equipped—the way in which every difficulty is foreseen, and precautions taken for meeting or avoiding it. Victory awaits him who has everything in order — luck, people call it. Defeat is certain for him who has neglected to take the necessary precautions in time; this is called bad luck. — from The South Pole, by Roald Amundsen

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12 December
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Marconi’s Wireless Transatlantic Communications

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Guglielmo Marconi

Guglielmo Marconi

On December 12, 1901 Guglielmo Marconi sent a wireless signal from Signal Hill in St John’s, Newfoundland to Poldhu, Cornwall a distance of 2,200 miles.  There was, and still is today considerable skepticism about this claim he made.  There was no independent confirmation of the reported reception.  Upset by the skeptics, Marconi did another test in February of the following year.  In that test he was able to get up to 2,099 miles.  On January 18, 1903 he sent a message   from President Roosevelt to King Edward VII, making the first transatlantic radio transmission originating in the United States.

Marconi’s invention would go on to save many lives including those aboard the famous Titanic.  Britain’s postmaster-general summed up, referring to the Titanic disaster,

 ”Those who have been saved, have been saved through one man, Mr. Marconi…and his marvelous invention.”

Learn More:

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guglielmo_Marconi

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11 December
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History Lovers Gift Guide 2013

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I hope you find some gems here. I really had fun looking into this. Click on the links below to learn more about each gift.  There is still plenty of time to give a great gift before Christmas!  Whoever you favorite history buff, nerd or geek is.  If you are worried you don’t have time to purchase online try Amazon Prime.  I was skeptical at first but now that we have it, I love it!

History Magazine

A magazine subscription gives all year long. This is one of the best and least expensive.

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10 December
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Frank Sinatra Jr. Kidnapping

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Frank Sinatra Jr

Frank Sinatra Jr, Image credit: Officer Phil

Son of famous Frank Sinatra, Frank Wayne Sinatra was 19, when he was kidnapped on December 8, 1963 from the Harrah’s Lake Tahoe.  He was released two days later on December 10, when his father paid the $240,000 (1.8 million in 2013 dollars) ransom. His kidnappers, Barry Keenan, Johnny Irwin, and Joe Amsler were soon captured and convicted for the crime.

 The kidnapping of Frank Sinatra Jr. was a half-baked act poorly executed by witless amateurs — and the second most infamous kidnapping in American history, after that of the Lindbergh Baby  in 1932.  –trutv

While on a pay phone with the kidnappers, Sinatra Sr. ran out of money.  This incident lead to the life long tradition of always carrying a roll of dimes in is pocket.

This American Life (one of my favorite podcast) interviewed Barry Keenan in an episode still available for download.

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09 December
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Charge of the Light Brigade Published

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Tennyson Statue

Tennyson Statue, Image credit: Lincolnian (Brian)

Published on this day (December 9) in 1854.  The Charge of the Light Brigade is a poem written by Alfred Lord Tennyson about the Charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War.  When the poem was written Tennyson was the poet laureate of the United Kingdom.  That means that he was officially appointed by the government to white for special events.

The Charge of the Light Brigade

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death,
Rode the six hundred.
‘Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns’ he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

‘Forward, the Light Brigade!’
Was there a man dismay’d?
Not tho’ the soldiers knew
Some one had blunder’d:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

Flash’d all their sabres bare,
Flash’d as they turned in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army while
All the world wonder’d:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro’ the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel’d from the sabre-stroke
Shatter’d and sunder’d.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro’ the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wonder’d.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred!

According to his grandson Sir Charles Tennyson, Tennyson wrote the poem in only a few minutes after reading an account of the battle in The Times.

The charge itself was by the British light cavalry lead by Lord Cardigan against the Russian forces on October 25, 1854.  Due to a miscommunication the light calvary charged into heavily defended gunnery position.  Although, the made it even though they encountered direct fire.  They did have to retreat right away though.  The charge is hailed as being brave and following orders even though they knew they had no hope of completing their mission.

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08 December
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John Lennon Killed

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On December 8, 1980 John Winston Ono Lennon MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire)  was shot by Mark David Chapman at the footsteps of his building in New York City at 10:50 pm local time.  He was 40 years old.  If you have been under a rock your whole life you may not know that John Lennon was famous for being on the the founders of the Beatles.  The Beatles are generally recognized as being one, if not the, most influential rock band ever.

The shooter Mark David Chapman, fired five times.  Four of the bullets hit Lennon in the back.  While Lennon died on the steps of the Dakota, Chapman calmly read The Catcher in the Rye, waiting for the police.  Today Chapman is imprisoned in the Wende Correctional Facility in New York.  He is serving a sentence of 20 years to life.  In 2000 Chapman was eligible for Parole, however after numerous parole hearings he has been denied every time.  His next hearing will be in 2014.

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In His Own Write

In His Own Write

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