Tuesday, August 25, 2009
In starting this blog, I was uncertain whether I should just dive
right into it and attempt to write a new posting every single
calender day, simply adding the ones that I already had written
as those came up. But if I am to do this really well - that is
research each topic carefully, then the goal of one-posting -per-
day, however admirable as a goal, would not be practical.
Besides, I will certainly wish to duck out of the historian's role
on occasion, and make some comment on something regarding
history that may come up in the news, or just something
regarding this blog and it's arrangement. So what I am going to
do is over the next few days publish what I have already
written and then go back and try to catch up by filling in the
holes. And hopefully, by August 23, 2010, I will have a full
year's worth of postings for "Today in History", as well as an
explanation for why I started on that date.
I will center in on some topic for each day of the calender year,
and write as accurately about it as I can. That means that I will
research each topic as fully as I can, and say nothing of my own
that I cannot back up with a reference to the factual record that
I have at my disposal. I will illustrate every single topic with
some remark or observation of an eyewitness to, or a participant
in the event in discussion. There will be some instances where
I quote a historian's view (as with the death of Queen Victoria -
Jan.22) in order to illustrate the importance of the topic. But
most of the time I will use something from a contemporary (or
A word (or several!) about my choice of topics: the fact that I
choose a particular event is in no way an indication that I
consider that event to be THE most important event on that
day. One of the main reasons I find history so facinating is the
fact that it is so filled with fascinating stories of so many kinds!
For example on February 19, three events occurred which
would be well worth the attention of anyone interested in
history. In 1777, Benedict Arnold was passed over for promotion
to a higher rank. This was a key event in what would go on to
become a truly major historical story. In 1807, on that date
Aaron Burr was arrested for treason. This is a very important
story - the Vice President being arrested for treason and
eventually fighting a duel with and killing the former Secretary
of the Treasury - Alexander Hamilton. Imagine if you will, Dick
Cheney being arrested for treason and later killing Lloyd
Bensten in a duel! It really is a fascinating story. But on
February 19 of a much later year - 1945 to be exact - United
States Marines invaded the island of Iwo Jima. This
an event much closer to our own time, but more importantly, it
has a very personal significance for me: my father was a
participant in that operation as a member of the Fourth Marine
Division. So for that reason, I will write about Iwo Jima for that
date. Other dates - December 7 and Sepetember 11 for example,
simply demand attention for an event that outweighs all others.
But for the most part, I will be choosing events as much for the
story they tell as for their historical importance, and the closer
that I can get to the story, the better I can tell it. The web
address for this blog is afterall "historys story".
One final point on my choice of topics. As I say - history is replete
with storys - of poignance, adventure, and even romance. Further,
there is much to be written about that is mysterious - did Frank
Morris really escape from Alcatraz? What really became of Amelia
Earhardt? And there is much that can be legitimately questioned -
what DID Nixon really know and when did he know it? How much
did FDR know about Japanese plans prior to Pearl Harbor? And
there are things that are far less important but which continue to
fascinate - DID William Shakespeare really write all of those plays?
What ever became of the $500,000,000 worth of artworks which
were purloined from the Gardner Museum in the early morning
hours of the day after St. Patrick's of 1990? All of these are points
of history which can and likely will be looked into here on this site.
I have little patience for and no tolerance of conspiracy theories
or theorists! Regardless of where they are coming from or why -
I just will not put up with them or their paranoid delusions. So on
my right, if you STILL wish to question whether Barak O'Bama
was actually born in the United States, fine, but do NOT attempt
to waste my time with such nonsense. And on my left, if you are
one of those "Bush lied", and "9/11 was an inside job" hacks, again
fine, but clutter up someone else's blog with it. I will not waste a
moment of my time with you. And there are matters that WERE
questionable, but which are becoming clearer with time's passage.
The death of JFK was a singular tragedy, of great importance. But
it has supported a veritable industry of conspiracy theories. And
with the passage of time and the development of modern methods,
it is becoming clear that their mistakes notwithstanding, the
Warren Commision got it right: one worthless, wife-beating little
punk with a chip on his shoulder because the world hadn't taken
him as seriously as he thought it should was behind it all. ALONE.
And he, in turn was done in by another loser who was acting for
the same reason. I will deal with that shortly, but I've had enough
of the Oliver Stones of the world. George F. Will has said that
Oliver Stone school of conspiratorial thought holds that the
complete and total absence of any proof of a conspiracy is itself
proof of how successful the conspiracy was. Mr. Will is right, Mr.
Stone is not, and I have no space here for Mr. Stone. So be warned.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
THE WAY I GOT STARTED WITH THIS was by taking part in a
small club at the University of Texas at Austin wherein I was then
employed as a staff member in the School of Music. The club was
"the University History Society". It was basically a club where
special speakers and presentations would be arranged for
members of the history faculty (or others who had an interesting
topic to discuss), and they would lecture or otherwise ruminate
on a subject not directly related to, or included in their classes.
They would then take questions, and this would all be done in a
more infomal setting than one would normally have in the class
-room. This club was open to anybody in the University
community - you did not have to be a history major, or even a
UT student to take part. You had only to be interested in history,
and to show up and listen politely. I'll go into more about the
University History Society (UHS), and it's ups and downs at
some future point. But I ran for and was elected to the office of
"Secretary" of the club after being in it for a couple of years. I
decided that it might be interesting, fun and a good way to keep
people interested in the club between meetings to put out a
weekly sort of e-mail/ newsletter called "This Week in History"
which would focus on some event that had happened that week
and tell it's story. It turned out to be semi-weekly, as my duties
in the School of Music did not always permit me the necessary
time to research my topic.
I Am Back in Cincinnati and.......
Well flash-forward to the present time. I left Austin Texas and
returned to the Cincinnati area where I had been born and
raised. By the time I left UT Austin, I had written about 55 or 60
such letters, and I was looking for some way to put it all together...
maybe into a BOOK! But various things kept getting into the way
of that. Then during a trip to visit my sister and brother in law in
San Francisco a few weeks ago, my brother in law suggested that I
should do "a blog". I had heard of this medium, but had never
really considered seriously the idea of doing it until then. I
discussed the idea with my sister and continued to think about it
upon my return to Cincinnati. Then I went and saw the movie
"Julie & Julia" and well , here I am! For those who have seen that
fine and fun film, then you know what I am talking about. And if
you have NOT seen it, then DO, and you will understand why I am
here. So much for how and why I got started with this! Tomorrow
- if I can still figure out how to do this, I will go into what I plan to
write, and how I plan to approach it.