Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #259

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #259

…The Japanese have attacked the naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, making it impossible for us to return on an eastward course. We are to make our way west until we reach New York…

Pearl Harbor by Chuck Hamrick

Pearl Harbor by Chuck Hamrick

In the cockpit of the Pacific Clipper, they are ignoring whales as well…  and anything but what is coming through to them on their radio. They are being told to proceed to Auckland and await further instruction there. Upon landing, they are instructed to head west and return the Clipper to La Guardia Field, New York. The regular return route is not safe.

braceT LFT“TO:              CAPTAIN ROBERT FORDbracket rt

FROM:         CHIEF, FLIGHT SYSTEMS

SUBJECT:  DIVERSION PLANS FOR NC18602

NORMAL RETURN ROUTE CANCELED STOP PROCEED AS FOLLOWS COLON STRIP ALL COMPANY MARKINGS COMMA REGISTRATION NUMBERS COMMA AND IDENTIFIABLE INSIGNIA FROM EXTERIOR SURFACES STOP PROCEED WESTBOUND SOONEST YOUR DISCRETION TO AVOID HOSTILITIES AND DELIVER NC18602 TO MARINE TERMINAL LAGUARDIA FIELD NEW YORK STOP GOOD LUCK STOP

It is Captain Ford’s unsavory duty to explain the situation and their dilemma. “The United States has declared war on Japan,” he begins, eliciting a gasp from the assembled two-score interested parties. “The Japanese have attacked the naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, making it impossible for us to return on an eastward course. We are to make our way west until we reach New York. To do so, we must research a possible route and make sure we are prepared to make any repairs to the aircraft along the way. This is going to take some time.”

Robert Ford-001

Most everyone is in a state of stunned disbelief. Individual inconveniences aside, these events mean that the war has hit home and it is the world’s second such in the span of two-plus decades. Leaders have come and gone, but the results are the same, which makes it hard for Americans to understand. None of these conflicts have taken place on our soil, at least until now. Could the Japanese be on their way to California?

“We will be returning to Noumea to pick up supplies and make sure that all Pan American employees are taken care of. From there we will stop at Gladstone, Australia. Anyone, who wants to get off, can do so there. In fact, I cannot make you stay aboard the Clipper, or prevent you from departing, from anywhere we land. But you will be responsible for your own passage home after we leave Queensland, Australia. I can tell you that none of our stops will exactly be exotic ports of call.

          “In the meantime, we at Pan American Airways will do everything we can to make this journey as comfortable as possible. You will be reimbursed for any personal funds that you use.” That last statement is pure speculation, be is sure that Trippe would be so pleased to see his aircraft return, that he will make good that remote promise.


Alpha Omega M.D.

“The full-throat-ed roar of the four engines filled the cabin as NC 18602 moved forward into the takeoff run.  The slap-slap of  the water under the hull became a staccato drum beat.  Spray whipped higher over the sea wings.  After a few seconds the hull began to rise out of the water but was not quite free.  Ford held the yoke steady as the airspeed indicator displayed the increasing speed: 40 knots…  50…  60…  70…

Pacific Clipper Take-off

Episode #259

“At 70 knots Ford brought the yoke back gently.  The Clipper nosed up.  Passengers seated in the aft compartments might have thought they were about to submerge as the tail came close to the water and the spray hurtling back from the sea wings splattered the windows.  At 75 knots Ford eased up a little on the yoke then immediately brought it back.  This rocking motion was necessary to raise the ship “on the step” – that area of the hull which would be the last to break free from the clinging suction effect of the water now hurtling along underneath the ship.  As the airspeed went to 80 knots the sound of the water abruptly ceased.  The thrumming beat against the hull was replaced by a sudden smoothness as the great ship broke free and began climbing.”  — from Ed Dover’s The Long Way Home


page 243

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Contents 5-2016

Bermuda Triangle Trap – WIF Mysteries

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Bermuda Triagle2

Sail (or fly) into the

Bermuda Triangle

at Your Own Risk!

 A Voyage into the past…

On March 4, 1918, the USS Cyclops kept a date with destiny!

waybac-machine

WABAC to 1918… and beyond

arrow-downBelow the surface…

Cyclops, a US Navy coal carrier (collier) heading to Baltimore with a load of manganese ore.

The Cyclops had left from Rio De Janeiro on February 16, 1918 and was supposed to arrive in Baltimore on March 13, 1918.  Mysteriously, she disappeared without a trace in the Bermuda Triangle and nothing of her or her crew has ever been found.

Chalk it up to the Bermuda Triangle?  Or was she sunk by a U-Boat?  Well, no U-Boat ever reported such a sinking and the German navy has repeatedly said they did not sink the Cyclops.  At 542 feet long, the Cyclops would be a victim worth bragging about.

It is speculated by US Navy investigators that the cargo of manganese ore may have become wet and sloshed back and forth in the ship creating an uneven load and causing the ship to turn over, but without a wreck or survivor’s account no one can know.

The Captain of the ship,  Capt. George Worley was not who he said he was!  He was actually Johan Wichmann born in Germany and an illegal alien in the United States!  He had snuck off a ship in San Francisco in 1878 and had changed his name to George Worley.  Compounding the bizarre story is the Captain’s behavior.  Tyrannical and petty, Worley was said to have run around the ship with a pistol in pursuit of one of the ensigns!  Even creepier, he was known to make his rounds of the ship wearing long underwear and a Derby hat!  His obvious pro-German bias also made him hated by non-German members of his crew.

Another twist to this incident, a passenger on this final voyage of the Cyclops was the US Consul General in Rio, Alfred Gottschalk, another well known and roundly disliked pro-German.  Investigators speculated the Captain and Gottschalk may have turned the ship over to Germany, but this allegation is still denied by the German government.

The USS Cyclops AC-4 has also made its way into popular culture, becoming the star of Clive Cussler’s novel Cyclops, featured in the video game Dark Void, and appearing in television episodes of Quantum Leap and Scooby-Doo! Pirates Ahoy!

The loss of the Cyclops, a 20,000 ton ship over 500 feet long and carrying 306 people still stands as the worst US Navy non-combat disaster ever.  As such, the Navy took a long hard look into what had happened, and came up empty!


Bermuda Triangle3

The Bermuda Triangle has captured our imagination with mysterious vanishings of ships, planes, and people and become a world-class legend for a surprisingly short period of time. Only several decades has passed since the first oceanic enigma has been reported. Atlantic Ocean has always been a mysterious and very deadly place to humans. The nature of the ocean gives people plenty of ideas to speculate about mysterious circumstances, unknown forces, unexplained disappearances, such as extraterrestrial capturing humans; the influence of the lost continent of Atlantis; vortices that suck ships into other dimensions; and other imaginative ideas. The fact remains, Bermuda was once known as the Isle of Devils. Dangerous reefs that have skunked ships sailing too close to its shores surround Bermuda islands, and there are hundreds of shipwrecks in the waters that surround it.

However, let’s honor and list the real triangle catastrophes. Vanished or abandoned ships 1918-67 in Bermuda Triangle4chronological order: Meta renamed Ellen Austin; USS Cyclops, collier; Carroll A. Deering, five-masted schooner; SS Cotopaxi; USS Proteus (AC-9); USS Nereus (AC-10); SS Marine Sulphur Queen; Witchcraft, cabin cruiser. There has been several missing aircrafts as well: Flight 19 (five TBF Avengers pictured right); Avro Tudor G-AHNP Star Tiger; Douglas DC-3 NC16002; Avro Tudor G-AGRE Star Ariel. The only one narrative of the surrounding environment during the disappearing was recorded as a flight leader saying “We are entering white water, nothing seems right. We don’t know where we are, the water is green, no white.” Officials at the Navy board of inquiry stated that the planes “flew off to Mars.” As more incidents occurred, the triangle’s reputation grew and past events were reanalyzed and added to the legend. Articles, books, and movies have appeared, suggesting theories ranging from, hurricane tornados, and alien abductions to a giant octopus.


Bermuda Triangle Trap

WIF Mysteries-001

– WIF Mysteries

Controversial Presidential Candidates – WIF Politics

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WIF Politics-001

10 Controversial

Presidential Candidates

in US History

America’s political system is designed to always pull toward the center. You have two parties who can’t get much done without compromise, a rigorous primary system to weed out the fringe candidates, and an electorate which has more Independents than any other affiliation.

Yet things don’t always work out that way. Sometimes, a controversial candidate manages to slip through the system and launch a genuine White House bid. This year, it’s Donald Trump. Next election, it might be Bernie Sanders or Ron Paul. But, no matter how polarizing these names might seem, none of them could hold a candle to some of America’s historical candidates. All of the below were nominated to lead genuine political parties. And all of proved mind-blowingly controversial.

10. Earl Browder

browder

In American politics, the idea that anyone who self-describes as a socialist could get a party’s nomination seems ridiculous. That’s why in 2016, Bernie Sanders is losing to Hillary Clinton. But Sanders is far from the most left wing candidate in history. In 1936 and again in 1940, Earl Browder ran as a pro-Moscow Communist.

A WWI draft dodger, Browder was rabidly anti-Hitler, rabidly pro-Stalin, and connected to Soviet spies who were monitoring FDR’s government. His stated policies were to overthrow capitalism and turn America brick red. He received direct funding from Moscow and was married to a suspected Russian agent. When he was nominated to run as the Communist Party’s candidate, he posed for photographers with a giant hammer and sickle.

Browder was controversial for more than just his super-left beliefs. At the time of his nomination, he was under bail for forging passports. Before the election, he was sentenced to four years in jail. Nonetheless, he managed to pull down 48,557 votes – a mere 0.1% of all those cast, but still more than you’d expect a common criminal to get.

9. John Charles Frémont

fremont

In 1856, the newly formed Republican Party was looking for someone respectable to catapult their anti-slavery positions into the mainstream. John Fremont could have been that man. One of California’s first two senators ever elected, he was known for his absurdly heroic expeditions into places like Utah and the route West from Wyoming. To top it off, he was a self-made millionaire and had appeal in both Northern and Western states. What possible problems could there be?

Cannibalism. Cannibalism could be a problem.

Back in 1848-49, Fremont had led an expedition into the Sierras. When their guide got lost, the group had nearly starved. Some resorted to cannibalism to survive. When election time rolled round, you better believe Fremont’s opponents made use of this.

Fremont was publicly labelled a cannibal in the press. While we don’t actually know whether Fremont engaged in cannibalism to survive, the public definitely thought he had. The controversy lost the Republicans the election, although Fremont still managed to net around 33% of the vote. If the accusations were ever found by historians to be true, it’d mark the only time in US (and likely world) history that a known cannibal attempted to run for high office.

8. Barry Goldwater

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It’s often said that you can judge a man by the company he keeps. It’s a phrase that would come to define Barry Goldwater’s run against Lyndon Johnson in 1964. A vocal conservative at a time when most of America was made up of New Deal liberals, Goldwater was more like a modern Republican: anti-taxes, anti-government spending, and hawkish on defense.

Unfortunately, Goldwater was also a political opportunist. Hoping to hoover up Southern votes from the Democrat administration, he voted against the Civil Rights Act. This won him the official endorsement of the Ku Klux Klan.

To the non-racists sitting at home, this made Goldwater look like the Klan candidate (Klandidate?). While some Southerners lapped it up, nearly everyone else was appalled the Republicans were offering up an apparent racist for election.

Goldwater only got more controversial when LBJ successfully painted him as a warmonger intent on causing a nuclear confrontation with Russia. The famous ‘Daisy’ ad screened before the election showed a little girl getting obliterated by a nuclear fireball as the result of a Goldwater presidency. The ad had the desired effect. By November, Goldwater was so controversial that he only picked up six states and 38.5% of the vote.

7. Eugene V. Debs

debs

A socialist in the truest sense of the word, Eugene V. Debs is today a cultural icon. Kurt Vonnegut loved him. Bernie Sanders has called him his hero. Yet in his heyday (roughly 1900-1920), Debs was more controversial than Sanders could ever dream of being. In 1920, he ran for president while languishing in prison.

A former union member who’d done time for leading a large strike in the late 19th century, Debs became the Socialist Party’s standard bearer in 1900. He kept that position for the next five presidential elections, convinced that America’s workers would one day hear the siren call of socialism and rise up against the system. In the 1912 election, he even picked up six percent of the popular vote – equivalent to nearly one million votes.

But his most controversial election came in the aftermath of WWI. A conscientious objector, Debs had refused the draft and been thrown in jail. Many in the country now saw him as no better than a traitor. Yet Debs still ran for president from the confines of his cell. Impressively, he picked up another million votes, showing just how much of a hero to some people this supposed ‘traitor’ was.

6. George Wallace

wallace

If Barry Goldwater aligned himself with racist causes out of political miscalculation, George Wallace was the real deal. A man so committed to the separation of whites and blacks that he physically tried to block two black students from enrolling at the University of Alabama. A man who famously declared “segregation forever.” There was no way a presidential run couldn’t be controversial.

In 1968, Wallace launched the American Independent Party and announced his bid for the White House. He was the most openly racist candidate to run in a generation, and his bid sent America into meltdown. Wallace publically railed against hippies, the Supreme Court, and the government. At his rallies, supporters surrounded black protestors and chanted “kill ’em, kill ’em, kill ’em!” As his running mate, Wallace chose a guy who wanted to use nukes tobomb America’s enemies into oblivion.

Amazingly, Wallace’s campaign almost did the impossible: not win the presidency, but blur the results so badly that neither Republicans nor Democrats could claim an outright victory. He carried five states, nearly carried two others, and netted 13.5% of the popular vote (equivalent to nearly 10 million votes).

5. Huey P. Long

long

Huey Long is unique on our list in that he didn’t actually run for president. He was fully planning to go for the White House in 1936, but was shot dead by assassin Carl Weiss in September 1935, only a month after announcing his bid.

Yet in the short period of time between his announcement and his death, Long (known in his native Louisiana as the ‘Kingfisher’) still managed to be one of the most controversial candidates in American history. Many thought he was deliberately modelling himself on Benito Mussolini.

A brash populist who surrounded himself with openly anti-Semitic advisors, Long’s campaign had associations with fascist sympathizers like Father Charles Coughlin. He went everywhere with state troopers, who dressed in uniforms that recalled Mussolini’s Black Shirts. While some of his policies were to the left of FDR, his demagogic tendencies meant plenty in the establishment feared he was a fascist dictator-in-the-making. Had he not died, Long would likely have been more controversial as a candidate than anyone else on this list.

However, Weiss killed him before America got a chance to find out. The movement Long had inspired dissipated soon after. In sign of how divisive the Kingfisher was, both his funeral and the funeral of his assassin attracted huge crowds.

4. Victoria Woodhull

woodhull

Everything Victoria Woodhull did seemed designed to offend the sensibilities of the American mainstream in the 1870s.

At a time when women still didn’t have the vote nationally, she ran to be America’s first female president. At a time when slavery had only recently been abolished and Jim Crow was just around the corner, she put former slave Frederick Douglass on her ticket. She advocated free love, the legalization of prostitution, the practice of eugenics, and giving women the vote. When she was made head of the Equal Rights Party in 1872, the country’s media lost its mind.

Woodhull’s ideas were so out of whack with the 19th century that members of the public vowed to murder her. People wrote to her and her party, saying they would poison her or burn her alive – the sort of threats modern candidates get every day on Twitter, but were significantly rarer back then. By the time of the election, she’d even been imprisoned for “using the mail for the circulation of questionable literature.”

Unlike some on our list, Woodhull’s divisiveness didn’t translate to votes. The Equal Rights Party received so few it worked out as statistically less than 0.1% of the popular vote.

3. Pat J. Buchanan

buchanan

The most recent candidate we’re going to cover, Pat Buchanan ran on the Reform Party ticket in 2000 after failing to get on the Republican one in ’92 and ’96. There was a good reason for this failure. Buchanan supported some positions that went beyond being merely controversial, and into out-and-out bigotry.

One aspect of Buchanan’s platform was to halt non-white immigration. The move won him support amongst white nationalists and far-right extremists, but alienated nearly everybody else. He was also openly anti-gay, calling AIDS “nature’s retribution” against gays and labelling homosexuality a “disorder.” Finally, Buchanan was also widely regarded as anti-Semitic, not least because he’d once praised Adolf Hitler as “an individual of great courage, a soldier’s soldier in the Great War, a leader steeped in the history of Europe.”

With such views, Buchanan would have been controversial at the best of times. But he additionally ran on a platform that would have essentially banned abortion and loosened gun rights even more than George W. Bush did. His candidacy was so extreme it was later called the final nail in the Reform Party’s coffin.

Interestingly, Buchanan’s campaign continued to be controversial even after the election. In Florida, around 3,000 Jewish retirees were found to have accidentally voted for him, due to poor design of the state’s ballots. Many claimed these people were intending to vote for Al Gore and Bush’s election should thus have been nullified.

2. George Edwin Taylor

taylor

If you want the definition of bravery, look no further than George Edwin Taylor. The Liberty Party candidate in 1904, Taylor’s shot at the presidency was history in the making. Not because he was running for a recently revived party (the original Liberty Party had stopped fielding candidates in 1848). Not because his platforms included reparations for ex-slaves at a low point in US race relations. No, what was incredible about Taylor was that he was the first African-American in history to run for president.

The son of a former slave who had been left homeless and uncared for as a child, Taylor had used his natural talents and fierce drive to work his way up the ranks at a newspaper, eventually becoming editor. Although he was incredibly sharp and a gifted speaker, the mere color of his skin sent most of the US into meltdown. Taylor was considered a dangerous, extremist candidate and shunned by most of the media. Ultimately, he would receive less than 2,000 votes. But for the sheer brass of being a black man running for president at a time of Jim Crow, racial violence and race hostility, he deserves to be remembered.

1. Grover Cleveland

cleveland

Many presidents have been more controversial than Grover Cleveland. But few have had to deal with such big scandals before they even won the election. During his time on the campaign trail, Cleveland found himself at the center of a controversy that utterly shocked the public of the day. It was discovered the Democratic nominee had been hiding a secret love child.

If that doesn’t sound particularly scandalous, you have to remember this was 1884 – a time when Victorian morals were an everyday reality. On top of that, there’s some evidence to suggest Cleveland impregnated the mother through rape, then abused his power to have her thrown in a mental asylum so she couldn’t tell anyone about it. Even if this was embellished, it was dynamite stuff. The modern equivalent would be the FBI finding an email on Hillary Clinton’s server headlined WHY BENGHAZI WAS MY FAULT.

In other words, Cleveland should’ve been sunk. The public hated him, and Republicans were turning up at his rallies and shouting “Ma, ma, where’s my pa?” The press branded him a libertine. Unfortunately for the Republicans, their guy – James G. Blaine – was openly corrupt and had traded congressional favors for cash. The vote came down to a knife-edge count in New York, with only one state separating the two candidates. New York went Cleveland by a mere 2,000 votes. As a result, one of the most-controversial candidates in the 19th century wound up becoming the 22nd president.


Controversial Presidential Candidates

– WIF Politics

Stories of Charitable Christians – WIF Religion

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Inspiring by Karen Grenfell

Inspiring Stories

of

Charitable Christians

We recently told you about ten of the most-inspiring stories in history featuring Muslims. Awesome as that article was, no one single religion has a monopoly on virtue. Just as there are inspiring tales of Muslims out there, so are there inspiring tales of Jews, Hindus, Buddhists…and Christians.

Since the foundation of their religion, Christians have implored one another to ‘love thy neighbor’ and ‘turn the other cheek.’ While not everyone who calls themselves a Christian manages to uphold these ideals, those who do are capable of some extreme acts of inspiring selflessness. Here are ten Christians who didn’t let themselves be blinded by prejudice…but instead dug deep into themselves and found the strength to do the most-amazing things possible.

10. The Orthodox Serb Who Gave His Life to Save a Muslim

srdjan

When the soldiers came for shopkeeper Alen Glavovic, he knew his time was up. A Muslim shopkeeper in the Bosnian-Serb town of Trebinje, he had the misfortune to be living at the time of the vicious 1991-95 Bosnian civil war. It was a time when mainly-Orthodox Serbs went on the rampage, slaughtering hundreds of thousands of Bosniak Muslims, and Trebinje was no exception. On this bleak day in 1993, Glavovic was to be the Serbs’ latest victim.

At least, that was how things were meant to go. But the three Serb soldiers who arrived to kill Glavovic hadn’t reckoned with one man: Srdjan Aleksic.

A Christian Orthodox Serb who was a reservist in the army, Aleksic fit the profile for a Muslim-hater to a T. But Aleksic was a little different from his fellow Serbian soldiers. He was first and foremost a Christian. So when he saw three men beating an unarmed shopkeeper to death, he bravely decided to step in.

In the resulting scuffle, the three soldiers murdered Aleksic. Yet his intervention allowed Glavovic to escape. He literally gave his life for his fellow man. Aleksic’s good deed was not forgotten. Years later, the citizens of the Serbian city of Belgrade named a street in his honor – to remind themselves that even in their darkest hour, some of their soldiers were still capable of amazing acts of compassion.

9. The Latvian Janitor Who Saved Liepaja’s Jews

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It’s a cliché that some men are born to greatness, while others have greatness thrust upon them. In Robert Seduls’ case, though, it’s extremely apt. A lowly janitor living out his life in Latvia’s third-largest city, Seduls probably assumed his name would never be praised around the world.

Yet Seduls just happened to be living his life at the same time Hitler was annexingevery country he could get his grubby hands on. He also just happened to be a Christian who took ‘love thy neighbor’ seriously…even when that neighbor was a Jewish man wanted by the occupying Nazis.

Under Germany’s control, punishments in Latvia for sheltering a Jew were horrifying. Nonetheless, when the Nazis liquidated the ghetto, Seduls offered shelter to his former neighbor David Zivcon, along with Zivcon’s wife and two friends. The janitor built them a shelter in the cellar behind a fake wall. He kept them hidden there for 500 days.

Over time, word got out to surviving Jews about Seduls’ efforts. More and more people turned up on his doorstep. Seduls offered shelter and food to them all. By 1945, there were 11 people hidden in the cellar, and you better believe feeding them all on a janitor’s wage in occupied Latvia at the height of the war while death squads roamed the streets was hard and dangerous work.

But Seduls stuck at it. Although he tragically died only days before Liepaja was liberated by the Red Army, all 11 Jews he was sheltering survived. Before the war, Liepaja’s Jewish population had been 7,000. After, it was a mere 30. Sedul alone had saved over a third of them.

8. The Irish Priest Who Stuck it to the Nazis

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You’ve probably heard of Oskar Schindler. The former-Nazi turned humanitarian managed to save 1,200 Jewish lives during WWII. That’s a lot of people, but even that pales in comparison to the work of Hugh O’Flaherty. An Irish priest working at the Vatican during WWII, he is estimated to have single-handedly saved around 6,500 Jews and Allied soldiers from the Nazi death machine.

How he did this should be a Hollywood movie in its own right. During WWII, Mussolini’s fascist state got increasingly more, well, fascist, before finally being fully taken-over by the Nazi regime. In other words, it was far from safe ground from which to operate a mercy mission. Yet O’Flaherty managed it. Setting up base deep in the heart of the Vatican, he devised a system of safe houses and clandestine smuggling operations that stretched as far away as Malta. When the fascists came for the country’s Jews, he got them into hiding. When they later came for Allied soldiers stuck behind enemy lines, O’Flaherty saved them, too.

The best part? O’Flaherty lived to see the difference he’d made. In the aftermath of WWII, he was honored by the US, UK, France, and Italy. As the priest was fond of saying: “God has no country.”

7. The Janitor Who Saved 200 Girls from a Suicide Bomber

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If there’s one strange fact we’ve taken from writing this article, it’s that Christians who are also janitors tend to be some of the bravest people on Earth. Like Robert Seduls in Latvia, Pervaiz Masih was just a regular guy working a regular job. A cleaner at the International Islamic University’s female-only campus in Islamabad, Pakistan, he probably never expected his name to hit the news. But when death came calling in 2009, the Christian was the only one with the guts to stand in its way.

In this case, death came in the form of an extremist jerk who decided to bomb the university. Unhappy at the thought of women learning, he strapped himself into a suicide vest, disguised himself under a burka and tried to walk into the campus’s cafeteria. At the time, the room was packed with around 400 girls. The bombers vest was filled with ball-bearings. A successful attack could have killed hundreds and wounded even more. Luckily for those girls, Pervaiz Masih just happened to be cleaning nearby.

As the bomber approached, Masih seems to have realized what was about to happen. Rather than call for help, he ran to the cafeteria’s door and physically blocked the bomber’s path. Like the jerk he was, the bomber detonated his vest, killing Masih. Yet Masih’s sacrifce wasn’t in vain. By intercepting the bomber, he caused the force of the explosion to rebound backwards into the empty parking lot instead of into the cafeteria. Thanks to his bravery, hundreds of girls who should have died that day lived instead.

6. The Priest Who Taught His Students the Greatest Lesson

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The name Lucien Bunel should probably be known by everyone on Earth. A Carmelite priest, he ran the Petit Collège des Carmes, in Avon, near Fontainebleau. When the Germans invaded France, Bunel (also known as Father Jacques) made the decision to admit three young Jewish boys into the school to shelter them. What happened next will break your heart.

Although Bunel succeeded in keeping the children safe for most of the war, his luck finally ran out in January 1944. Some anonymous scum who knew about the boys turned informer, and gave the Gestapo details about Bunel’s heroic deed. The Nazis duly arrived and arrested the three children. Bunel, his mother, his sister, and the three Jewish boys were deported to Auschwitz or Mauthausen. They all died.

So why are we including this in an article on inspirational Christian stories? Well, shortly before his arrest, Bunel was heard to say, “I am sometimes accused of imprudence; I am told that since I am responsible for the children at the Petit College, I do not have the right to expose myself to possible arrest by the Germans. But do you not think that, if that happened and, if per chance I should be killed, I would thereby bequeath to my students an example worth far more than all the teaching I could give.”

It turned out he was right. The day the Gestapo took him, all the students at the school flocked to see. As the good father vanished into the morning mist, he turned and called out “Au revoir et a bientot”  (Goodbye and see you soon). Immediately, all the watching boys erupted into thunderous applause. Even as the Gestapo shouted at them to be quiet, they kept defiantly applauding, giving Bunel the send-off he deserved.

5. The Priest Who Sheltered 1,500 Muslims from Ethnic Violence

kinvi

Not all heroic Christians lived long ago. Father Bernard Kinvi of the Central African Republic (CAR) is every bit as modern as you or us. Yet his heroism is every bit as impressive as those who lived during WWII.

In 2013, Muslim rebels overthrew the CAR’s government and began a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Christians, killing men, women, and children. Fast forward to January 2014, and the Christians forced the Islamist rebels from power. Only rather than focus on promoting peace and turning the other cheek, they immediately began their own campaign of sectarian violence. An anti-balaka Christian militia rose up and went on the rampage, murdering Muslim men, women and children. Against this bloodshed stood one man: Father Bernard Kinvi.

In the small town of Bossemptele, the Father threw open the doors of his mission to those fleeing violence. Up to 1,500 Muslim civilians poured in. When the Christian militias turned up, Father Kinvi refused to hand them over. Despite being unarmed and facing the constant threat of death, he managed to stare down the killers. Through sheer force of personality, he kept the anti-balaka at bay until nearly every Muslim was safely over the border.

Most-impressively, Father Kinvi didn’t just help Muslims. When anti-balaka members were wounded, he treated them just as he would those fleeing them. His attitude directly contributed to spreading peace in Bossemptele. At one point, he even managed to convince anti-balakas to help him evacuate Muslims peacefully – something that should have been impossible.

4. The Man Who Made it His Christian Duty to End Slavery

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William Wilberforce was one of the most-awesome men of the 18th century. How awesome? At a time when the vast majority of people thought it was cool to sell Africans into slavery, he took one look at the whole rotten system and said “no.” He was an ardent abolitionist, motivated by a deep-seated Christian belief that all men should be equal before God. And he used that belief to change the world.

Back in 1790, most Brits thought enslaving Africans was doing them a favor. Although there were some abolitionist movements – like the Quakers – no-one took them seriously. But Wilberforce was connected. He was friends with the Prime Minister, Pitt. Wilberforce used those connections to get himself a chance to make the case against slavery in the House of Commons. Boy, did he go for it.

For three hours, he bludgeoned everyone present with facts about slavery’s cruelties; about how many died during the voyage, about conditions in the Caribbean, about the sadism of slave masters. He ended his speech with a rhetorical flourish to the lawmakers that’s still remembered to this day: “Having heard all of this you may choose to look the other way but you can never again say that you did not know.”

This was the speech that got the ball rolling on the abolitionist movement in Britain. Although it would take nearly another 20 years for slavery to be outlawed in Britain, and another 20 after that for the ruling to be implemented in the colonies, Wilberforce was instrumental in it all. He even lived long enough to see the end of British slavery. He died exactly two days after slavery was abolished throughout the Empire for good.

3. The Forgotten Chaplains of WWII

chaplain

WWII was carnage for pretty much everyone involved. Even as a latecomer, the US lost nearly half a million men. Although the exploits of the US and other Allied armies have since become the stuff of legend, there’s one branch of the military who deserve to be remembered more: US Army chaplains.

Per capita, more chaplains were killed in WWII than any other military group, bar the Army Air Corps. This wasn’t due to there being a low number of chaplains, or a spate of accidents mysteriously targeting men of the cloth. It’s because the chaplains were driven by a deep sense of duty to go right into the heat of battle.

One representative example is an unnamed Catholic priest who was present at the infamous Battle of the Bulge. An injured officer witnessed him running full pelt towards the Ardennes, where the fighting was thickest. Apparently, he called out “Chappie, what in the world do you think you’re doing? People up there are dying by the scores!” The chaplain said, “That’s precisely why I need to be there!”

Incredibly, this story is not unique. Across the entire arena of war, chaplains from all denominations put themselves into deadly danger just to bring a tiny bit of comfort to dying men. If that isn’t heroism, we don’t know what is.

2. The Christians (and Muslims) of Albania Defy the Holocaust

albania

This entry is split between both Albania’s Christian and Muslim communities. Yet it’s so amazing and inspiring that there’s no way we could leave it off.

During WWII, Albania was swiftly occupied by Axis troops. At the time, the country was home to a mere 200 Jews. Nonetheless, the Nazis decided to bring the Final Solution to Albania, too, like the big jerky jerks they were. It was a decision that should have resulted in 200 more deaths added to the total of the worst genocide in history. Instead, something amazing happened.

Albania’s Christian and Muslim communities decided they weren’t going to let their Jewish neighbors die on their watch. Across the country, Albanian Jews, along with 400 Jewish refugees from Austria and Germany, were taken into hiding and protected. When word got out, hundreds more Jews poured in from across the Balkans seeking shelter. And Albania’s two major religious groups provided it. Even when the Germans took over ruling the country from the Italian fascists, they kept the country’s Jews safe.

In fact, Albania’s Christians and Muslims did such a good job, that Albania became the only occupied European country to end the war with more Jews that it started it with.

1. The Polish Priest Who Made the Ultimate Sacrifice

kolbe

How far would your compassion take you? Would you sacrifice yourself to save 100 others? What about 10? What about just 1? Polish priest and Auschwitz prisoner Maximillian Kolbe didn’t even have to think twice. When Nazi guards randomly selected 10 prisoners to starve to death as reprisal for an escape attempt, he did something most of us could only dream of doing.

It was August 14, 1941, a hot and bitter day in the death camp. The Nazis had rounded up the 10 men and were making an example of them. Just before they were sent to their deaths, one of them men,  Franciszek Gajowniczek, fell to the ground and cried out My wife! My children! I will never see them again! Moved by his grief, Maximillian Kolbe stepped forward and did something unthinkable. He offered to die in Gajowniczek’s place.

The Nazis granted his request.

Over the next two weeks, Kolbe and nine other men enduring mind-numbing agony as they died of starvation and dehydration. Yet Kolbe tried his best to keep their spirits up, singing psalms and offering prayers. He was the last of the group to expire, executed by lethal injection after the Nazis decided he was taking too long to die.

But there’s a truly amazing twist to this story. See, Kolbe didn’t die for nothing. Franciszek Gajowniczek was so moved by his offer that he swore to survive Auschwitz and honor the dead man’s memory. And he did. Gajowniczek finally expired in 1995 aged 93. Maximillian’s Christian charity had saved his life.


Stories of Charitable Christians

WIF Religion-001

– WIF Religion

Mass Extinction Handbook – WIF Science

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Facts about the Earth’s

Greatest Mass Extinction

Their causes are somewhat varied, but we’ll be focusing on the greatest mass extinction that has ever taken place here on Earth. It happened some 252 million years ago, during the Permian period, and paved the way for the Triassic one. Also known as The Great Dying, the planet witnessed a huge cataclysmic event, so devastating that 75% of all land creatures and over 95% of all marine life went extinct. What caused it, what exactly happened and what can we learn from it, we’ll be discussing in this article down below.

10. The Permian Period

permian-extinct

In order to properly understand what happened back then, we first need to look at the Permian period itself. It lasted for about 47 million years, from 299, up until 252 million years ago and was part of the larger, Paleozoic Era. By the beginning of this period, all current continents were pushed together and formed a single large super continent, known as Pangaea. Life in the interior of this huge continent was harsh, as it had a much cooler, drier climate than around its coast. Fern-like plants and forests, which dominated the previous Carboniferous period, began to give way to the first seed-bearing plants, the gymnosperms, which in turn evolved to present-day conifers, cycads and gingkoes.

Two types of land animals began to evolve during this time, the Synapsids and Sauropsids. The first, which seemed to be the dominant of the two, or at least at the beginning, were the ancestors of all present-day mammals. In the later part of the Permian period, these evolved into the Therapsids, with some of them exhibiting evidence of whiskers and a possible indication of fur.Sauropsids on the other hand, went on to become the reptiles, birds and dinosaurs that would follow the Permian. Insects began to diversify, with cicadas and beetles making their appearance at this time.

Marine life is a bit harder to identify as there is little exposed fossil evidence available. Nevertheless, the shallower coastal waters around Pangaea indicate that reefs were large and diverse ecosystems with numerous sponge and coral species. Bony fish began to make their presence felt, while sharks and rays continued to multiply as they’ve done for millennia. Life in all its prehistoric shapes and sizes seemed to be stable, with evolution following its normal path. But then something happened; something that would shake the entire course of evolution from its very core.

9. A Massive, Earth-shaking Eruption

volcano-extinct

Many have speculated that the trigger for all these species to simply die off was a meteorite slamming into the Earth, similar to the one that may have wiped off the dinosaurs millions of years later. According to the evidence however, this seems to not have been the case. Since fossil records don’t indicate a sudden and all round extinction (like the one you would see with an asteroid impact), paleontologists have come to the conclusion that something else was the cause. And that cause can still be seen today in modern-day Siberia.

Hidden beneath the Arctic tundra, lies one of the world’s largest expanse of lava flows, forming a bleak landscape known as the Siberian Traps. What happened back then can only be described as a huge supervolcanic eruption, the likes of which have not been seen on Earth for over 500 million years. During the Permian period, Siberia was located at the northern part of Pangaea and when the volcano erupted, it engulfed an area roughly the size of the US (almost 1.7 million sq. miles) in a one mile deep sea of molten rock. Today only about 500,000 sq. miles of it are still visible. The type of lava found here indicates that there wasn’t a big explosion (but given its size, it was huge compared to ordinary volcanoes), but rather a prolonged flow of basaltic lava which spread for millions of sq. miles, in a process which maybe lasted for 500,000 years or more.

And now, even if these immense lava flows may have killed anything in their path over a large area of land, it still doesn’t account for the greatest mass extinction in Earth’s history. What came after it however, managed to do the job.

8. First Came Acid Rain

acid-extinct

Besides the tremendous amounts of ash and dust that came from an eruption such as this, there was also a huge quantity of sulfur dioxide; a gas that has a huge negative impact on the environment. This gas rose high up into the atmosphere where it condensed into tiny droplets. If mixed with water however, you get sulfuric acid. It is estimated that the air in the northern hemisphere of this ancient Earth had a pH level so low, it was comparable to undiluted lemon juice in its acidity. Research shows that within the first year after the eruption, the volcano was able to produce about 1.46 billion tons of sulfur dioxide, enough to completely devastate the northern half of the world. Around 4,000 billion tons of sulfur dioxide may have escaped Siberia in total.

Back in 1783, Iceland witnessed one such similar volcano and subsequent lava flows (but incomparable in size), around Mount Laki. After the eruption people reported their eyes burning, impossibility of breathing, livestock suffocating and suffering lesions and burning of their skin, with plant life getting the worst of it. The same thing happened 252 million years ago, but at a much, much larger scale. The whole food chain began to collapse as acid rain was burning plants and animals alike. These toxic gases also created some chemical reactions that destroyed the overall protective ozone layer to levels lower than those observed in the Antarctic ozone hole in the 1990’s.

7. Then Came a Volcanic Winter

winter-extinct

After a while these acid rains began to stop, but not all sulfur dioxide managed to be washed off from the air. Some of it remained high in the atmosphere, way above rain-forming clouds, and as minute sulfuric acid droplets. These reflected sunlight away from the planet, cooling its surface. Together with the insane amounts of ash and dust which quickly encircled the globe by high stratospheric winds, the planet began to witness an abrupt drop in all-round temperatures. The same thing happened in Iceland in 1783. Here the cooling was catastrophic as it killed more people than the acid rain and volcano combined. For a period of two or three years, much of Northern Europe reported crop failures, death and unrest as a result. The infamous French Revolution started because of it.

In a virtual simulation made on the last eruption at Yellowstone, some 640,000 years ago, ash and dust completely covered the northern hemisphere in just one month’s time and dropped temperatures in 18 months by 10 degrees Celsius. This blanket brought on a quick rise in Arctic ice, reflecting even more of the sun back into space. Rain stopped falling altogether with the oceans and land retaining more CO2. This made food supplies last for only weeks in some areas. It took the planet about 20 years to come back to its pre-eruption temperature. But our eruption from 252 million years ago was 1,600 times larger than this one and lasted for over half a million years. The winter itself certainly didn’t last as long, but it most certainly sent global temperatures plummeting for decades if not centuries. With the food chain in disarray, 10% of the world’s species had perished by this point.

6. Quickly Followed by a Massive Global Warming

warming-extinct

All the while the dust settled, our supervolcano continued on pumping lava over the landscape, as well as tons upon tons of CO2 into the air. Fossil records from the time following the eruption indicate a sudden rise of carbon in the atmosphere. Scientists calculate that CO2 levels during the eruption were 20 times higher than they are today, and more than enough to seriously affect the planet. It was a sort of global warming on steroids. In 10,000 years the volcano released 24,000 gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere and temperatures spiked by more than 5 degrees Celsius. However much 24,000 gigatons sound, if divided by the time it took to be released, it comes down to only 2.4 gigatons per year. We currently emit slightly over 4 times that (about 10 gigatons), with even more being foreseen to be pumped in the future.

While this 5 degree increase doesn’t seem that much to us, it has some seriously devastating effects on the climate. In equatorial regions it simply stopped raining and lush forests quickly became scorched deserts. If these regions were least affected by the previous volcanic winter, the massive global warming that followed severely changed that. This is the moment in time when the last of the Permian herbivores like the Dicynodon, as well as 35% of all land life, perish. And if things looked like they couldn’t get any worse, they did. This “rapid” global warming unleashed a deadly chain reaction, but this time in the oceans.

5. Leading to the Oceans Turning to Acid from Above

carbonic-extinct

All the while extinction ruled over the land above the surface, nature was brewing an even more atrocious fate for the oceans. Life here remained mostly unscathed by the previous apocalyptic events, but things were about to take a turn for the worse; much, much worse. All throughout this time, the oceans were absorbing about half of the CO2 from the air (similar to what it’s doing today). Scientists have deduced that, over the course of the previously mentioned 10,000 years during the eruption, the pH levels in the oceans dropped by 0.6 to 0.7 units. In comparison, modern ocean pH levels have fallen by 0.1 pH units since the Industrial Revolution, a 30 percent increase in acidity. Depending on the future trend of carbon dioxide emissions, this value could fall by another 0.3 to 0.4 units by the end of this century, which will bring us extremely close to what happened 252 million years ago.

And what happened was disastrous for all marine life. As CO2 combines with water, it turns into carbonic acid. In seawater, this acid can have some really negative effects on the formation of carbonate minerals; the ones that mussels, corals, sea urchins and plankton use to make their shells. As acidity grew, these marine species died off and with them the whole marine food chain system collapsed. Scorpion-like predators called Eurypterids, to various types of Trilobites as well as all shell-forming beings died off because of this event. Some other less resistant marine species were also extinguished. Matthew Clarkson, a geochemist at the University of Otago in New Zealand said that it took life another 5 million years to diversify once more.

4. And Oxygen-depleted from Below

pyrite-extinct

As marine life was being killed by the growing water acidity, an equally devastating killer was rising from the depths. With temperatures surging worldwide, so did the water. This in turn led to the oxygen-depleted watersfrom the ocean floor to expand and rise to the surface. Not being allowed to sink to larger depths due to suffocation, fish and invertebrates were stuck between a “rock and a hard place”, dying en masse as a result. Evidence of thiswas found in Greenland, by paleontologist Paul Wignall from the University of Leeds, where the ancient seabed, now raised, show signs of a large amount of fool’s gold (pyrite). This element can only be created if there is no oxygen around.

Evidence of this rising, oxygen-depleted, water can be seen today. As the oceans warm up, less oxygen is carried in the water, thus leaving the ocean sequestered in layers. Already naturally low in oxygen, these deep regions keep growing, spreading horizontally and vertically. Vast portions of the eastern Pacific, almost all of the Bay of Bengal, parts near Central America, and an area of the Atlantic off West Africa as broad as the United States are such “dead zones”. Since 1965, these low-oxygen areas have expanded by more than 1.7 million square miles. Further studies have indicated that during the Permian extinction, this low oxygen in the water has halted recovery in the oceans by at least one million years.

3. With Water Turning Pink and Poisonous as a Result

purple-extinct

Besides no oxygen, fool’s gold also needs hydrogen sulfide (H2S) to be produced. And according to the large amounts of it found all over the world, and dating from that period, it is evident that the oceans were full of the stuff. In order to get that much H2S into the water however, something drastic must have happened. As temperatures rose, ocean currents stopped and water became low in oxygen. Once this occurred, organisms which hate oxygen began to thrive. The purple sulfur bacteria is one such organism. Often found in stagnant water, these bacteria have a waste product (H2S) which is poisonous to all air-breathing life. With the rise of oxygen-depleted waters, so did the environment for this organism grew, resulting in poisoning of the entire Permian ocean.

There was so much H2S in the water, that, if seen from space, the ocean would have looked pink in areas where it now looks green, due to the large number of bacteria present. But besides its aesthetics, some scientists believe that there was so much toxic gas produced, it could no longer be contained in seawater solution. As a result, large oily bubbles of hydrogen sulfide came out of the pink-stained sea and entered the atmosphere with some truly devastating results. Besides poisoning the few remaining plants and animals at the surface, H2S also significantly added to the shrinking of the ozone layer, left behind by the sulfur dioxide from the eruption.

2. And Then Came the Final Blow

methane-extinct

At this point in time, almost all marine life was gone. It was the closest our planet ever came to achieving an aquatic extinction such as this. Land life on the other hand was only halfway there. What caused the other 25% to die was another subsequent heat wave. This time however, it didn’t come from the volcano itself, but rather from the depths of the ocean. And CO2 wasn’t to blame this time either, but rather methane.

Methane is 25 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2, and there is currently an estimated of 30 trillion tons of methane hydrate locked on the ocean floor. If for any reason, water temperatures rise, this methane is released, as it is ultrasensitive to heat, and flows to the surface in the form of bubbles. This in turn will heat up the planet even further, leading to even more methane escaping, in a sort of a positive feedback cycle. This is exactly what happened 252 million years ago, killing off the remainder of land animals and plants, “fortunate” enough to escape the previous cataclysms. Earth’s temperature rose by another 5 degrees Celsius as a result.

Even if it took the Siberian Traps more than 10,000 years to reach this point, we today have begun to experience this phenomenon. As of 2014, researchers have found more than 500 bubbling methane vents being activated off the US east coast alone. There are an estimated 30,000 other such hidden methane vents worldwide. While this methane doesn’t reach the surface yet, it is however dissolved into the ocean at depths of hundreds of meters and being oxidized to CO2, which leads to further acidification of the water.

1. The Aftermath

cyondont-extinct

Huge catastrophes such as this one can reset the evolutionary clock, meaning that the whole course of evolution will change. As the dominant species disappear, less significant ones take their place. As Gorgonopsians died off due to the scorching heat and hunger, the smaller Cynodonts took their place. Since these creatures burrowed underground, it offered them protection from both their dying predators as well as the harsh climate outside. After the mass extinction was over, and over the course of millions upon millions of years, these Cynodonts went on to become one of the dominant species of the new world. Without them we, as well as all other mammals, wouldn’t be here today.

Thoroughly understanding what happened during the end of the Permian, can help us tremendously in dealing with our current Anthropogenic Extinction. As we have observed up to this point, we are presently experiencing many of the effects felt millions of years ago, but which take place at a much faster pace than they did back then. For the first time in Earth’s history, the dominant species on the planet is upsetting the delicate balance of its ecosystem. Our massive production of CO2 has a catastrophic impact on Earth’s systems and we are able to shorten the time from tens of thousands of years, to mere centuries… some of which have already passed.

Many will say that this is just a way for the planet to “reboot” itself in terms of life. It happened before so it can happen again, right? Well, not necessarily. While it is true that we are the result of this Permian extinction, as well as the others that followed, this doesn’t automatically mean that life will happen again if Earth goes through another massive die-off. Venus is one such example. Even if it never had life, at one point in its evolution, these two planets were quite similar. But since Venus is closer to the Sun, it was a bit warmer. Because of this, our sister planet went through a process known as a runaway global warming, which made it into the hellish place it is today. Its closer proximity to the Sun was just the catalyst needed to ignite this global warming which, after 4 billion years, is still going on. Are we really that proud as to put all life we currently know exists into such a dangerous and risky predicament?


Mass Extinction Handbook

Explore with me

Explore with me

– WIF Science

Independence Day – Let Freedom Ring

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Independence Day

– Let Freedom Ring

The Declaration of Independence is the usual name of a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies,then at war with Great Britain, regarded themselves as thirteen newly independent sovereign states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. Instead they formed a new nation—the United States of America. John Adams was a leader in pushing for independence, which was unanimously approved on July 2. Acommittee of five had already drafted the formal declaration, to be ready when Congress voted on independence. The term “Declaration of Independence” is not used in the document itself.

Adams persuaded the committee to select Thomas Jefferson to compose the original draft of the document, which Congress would edit to produce the final version. The Declaration was ultimately a formal explanation of why Congress had voted on July 2 to declare independence from Great Britain, more than a year after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. The national birthday, Independence Day, is celebrated on July 4, although Adams wanted July 2.

After ratifying the text on July 4, Congress issued the Declaration of Independence in several forms. It was initially published as the printedDunlap broadside that was widely distributed and read to the public. The source copy used for this printing has been lost, and may have been a copy in Thomas Jefferson’s hand. Jefferson’s original draft, complete with changes made by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, and Jefferson’s notes of changes made by Congress, are preserved at the Library of Congress. The best known version of the Declaration, a signed copy that is popularly regarded as the official document, is displayed at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. This engrossed copy was ordered by Congress on July 19, and signed primarily on August 2.

The sources and interpretation of the Declaration have been the subject of much scholarly inquiry. The Declaration justified the independence of the United States by listing colonial grievances against King George III, and by asserting certain natural and legal rights, including a right of revolution. Having served its original purpose in announcing independence, references to the text of the Declaration were few for the next four score years. Abraham Lincoln made it the centerpiece of his rhetoric (as in the Gettysburg Address of 1863), and his policies. Since then, it has become a well-known statement on human rights, particularly its second sentence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

This has been called “one of the best-known sentences in the English language”, containing “the most potent and consequential words in American history”. The passage came to represent a moral standard to which the United States should strive. This view was notably promoted by Abraham Lincoln, who considered the Declaration to be the foundation of his political philosophy, and argued that the Declaration is a statement of principles through which theUnited States Constitution should be interpreted.

It provided inspiration to numerous national declarations of independence throughout the world. Historian David Armitage, after examining the influence of the American “Declaration” on over 100 other declarations of independence, says:

The American Revolution was the first outbreak of the contagion of sovereignty that has swept the world in the centuries since 1776. Its influence spread first to the Low Countries and then to the Caribbean, Spanish America, the Balkans, West Africa, and Central Europe in the decades up to 1848…. Declarations of independence were among the primary symptoms of this contagion of sovereignty.

Thirteen Colonies
United States
Coat of arms or logo
Type
Type
History
Established May 10, 1775
Disbanded March 1, 1781
Preceded by First Continental Congress
Succeeded by 1st Confederation Congress
Seats Variable; ~60
Meeting place
1775–1777: Pennsylvania State House,Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1775–1781: Variable
Footnotes
Though there were about 50 members of the Congress at a given time, it was the states that had votes, so there were effectively only 13 seats.

 


Independence Day

– Let Freedom Ring


 

Memorial Day Beginnings – WABAC to The Old South

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Memorial Day Beginnings

"Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?

“Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?

“We will go back to the American south and the birth of a national holiday to honor our fallen soldiers.”

The practice of decorating soldiers’ graves with flowers is an ancient custom. Soldiers’ graves were decorated in the U.S. before and during the American Civil War. A claim was made in 1906 that the first Civil War soldier’s grave ever decorated was in Warrenton, Virginia, on June 3, 1861, implying the first Memorial Day occurred there. Though not for Union soldiers, there is authentic documentation that women in Savannah, Georgia, decorated Confederate soldiers’ graves in 1862. In 1863, the cemetery dedication at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, was a ceremony of commemoration at the graves of dead soldiers. Local historians in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, claim that ladies there decorated soldiers’ graves on July 4, 1864. As a result, Boalsburg promotes itself as the birthplace of Memorial Day.

by Erni Vales

Following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in April 1865, there were a variety of events of commemoration. The sheer number of soldiers of both sides who died in the Civil War, more than 600,000, meant that burial and memorialization took on new cultural significance. Under the leadership of women during the war, an increasingly formal practice of decorating graves had taken shape. In 1865, the federal government began creating national military cemeteries for the Union war dead.

The first widely publicized observance of a Memorial Day-type observance after the Civil War was in Charleston, South Carolina, on May 1, 1865. During the war, Union soldiers who were prisoners of war had been held at the Hampton Park Race Course in Charleston; at least 257 Union prisoners died there and were hastily buried in unmarked graves. Together with teachers and missionaries, black residents of Charleston organized a May Day ceremony in 1865, which was covered by theNew York Tribune and other national papers. The freedmen cleaned up and landscaped the burial ground, building an enclosure and an arch labeled “Martyrs of the Race Course”. Nearly 10,000 people, mostly freedmen, gathered on May 1 to commemorate the war dead. Involved were about 3,000 school children, newly enrolled in freedmen’s schools, as well as mutual aid societies, Union troops, black ministers and white northern missionaries. Most brought flowers to lay on the burial field.

David W. Blight described the day:

This was the first Memorial Day. African Americans invented Memorial Day in Charleston, South Carolina. What you have there is black Americans recently freed from slavery announcing to the world with their flowers, their feet, and their songs what the war had been about. What they basically were creating was the Independence Day of a Second American Revolution.

However, Blight stated he “has no evidence” that this event in Charleston inspired the establishment of Memorial Day across the country.

On May 26, 1966, President Johnson signed a presidential proclamation naming Waterloo, New York as the birthplace of Memorial Day. Earlier, the 89th Congress had adopted House Concurrent Resolution 587, which officially recognized that the patriotic tradition of observing Memorial Day began one hundred years prior in Waterloo, New York. Other communities claiming to be the birthplace of Memorial Day include Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, Carbondale, Illinois, Columbus, Georgia, andColumbus, Mississippi. A recent study investigating the Waterloo claim as well as dozens of other origination theories concludes that nearly all of them are apocryphal legends.

Thank You to WIKIPEDIA


Memorial Day Beginnings

Holidays-001

– WABAC to The Old South