Best Line of This or Any Other Day


We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Constitutional Convention, September 17, 1787


Geronimo

The chief himself was in his late fifties and perhaps decided that it was time to retire from the more athletic activities of his career. Nonetheless, when he finally gave up once and for all, on September 4, 1886, it was a negotiated surrender, and not a capture.

Geronimo and Naiche (son of Cochise) surrendered to Gen. Nelson Miles on this date in 1886 at Skeleton Canyon, near the Arizona-New Mexico line just north of the border with Mexico. It was the fourth time Geronimo had surrendered — and the last. With them were 16 men, 14 women and six children. The band was taken to Fort Bowie and by the 8th were on a train to Florida as prisoners of war.

“General Miles is your friend,” said the interpreter. The Indian gave Miles a defoliating look. “I never saw him,” he said. “I have been in need of friends. Why has he not been with me?”

This photograph was taken at a rest stop along the route to San Antonio. Naiche is third from left, Geronimo third from right (with the straw hat) in the front row.

After time in Florida and Alabama, Geronimo and the other Chiricahua Apaches were moved to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in 1894. Geronimo, despite remaining a prisoner of war, became a marketable celebrity, paid to appear at expositions and fairs. He died at Fort Sill in 1909, about age 80.

Also pictured are Geronimo at his third surrender in March 1886 (above) and Geronimo on exhibit at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair (below).

Quotations are from Geronimo! by E. M. Halliday, published in American Heritage in June 1966.


The Indianapolis

If you saw Jaws or read it, you will remember the harrowing story Quint (Robert Shaw) tells of surviving the sinking of the cruiser Indianapolis.

It was on this date in 1945 that the ship, which had carried the Hiroshima atomic bomb and was out of communication, was torpedoed by the Japanese. According to the USS Indianapolis CA-35 web site:

At 12:14 a.m. on July 30, 1945, the USS Indianapolis was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in the Philippine Sea and sank in 12 minutes. Of 1,196 men on board, approximately 300 went down with the ship. The remainder, about 900 men, were left floating in shark-infested waters with no lifeboats and most with no food or water. The ship was never missed, and by the time the survivors were spotted by accident four days later only 316 men were still alive.

The ship’s captain, the late Charles Butler McVay III, survived and was court-martialed and convicted of “hazarding his ship by failing to zigzag” despite overwhelming evidence that the Navy itself had placed the ship in harm’s way, despite testimony from the Japanese submarine commander that zigzagging would have made no difference, and despite that fact that, although over 350 navy ships were lost in combat in WWII, McVay was the only captain to be court-martialed. Materials declassified years later adds to the evidence that McVay was a scapegoat for the mistakes of others.

Shark attacks began with sunrise of the first day (July 30) and continued until the survivors were removed from the water almost five days later.

The Navy web site includes oral histories with Indianapolis Captain McVay and Japanese submarine Captain Hashimoto.

The site dedicated to the Indianapolis is perhaps the best source.

In Harm’s Way: The Sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors (2001) by Doug Stanton is a book on the voyage, the sinking, the survivors and McVay’s court martial.


Free and Independent States

It was on June 7 in 1776 that the idea of independence was first officially proposed in the Continental Congress. Richard Henry Lee of Virginia introduced and John Adams seconded the following:

Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.

That it is expedient forthwith to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign Alliances.

That a plan of confederation be prepared and transmitted to the respective Colonies for their consideration and approbation.

The vote on the resolution was set aside until July 1st — it actually occurred on July 2nd. On June 11th Congress appointed the Committee of Five to draft a formal declaration of independence — John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, Robert R. Livingston of New York, and Roger Sherman of Connecticut.

June 7: Resolution introduced
July 2: Resolution approved (12 colonies for; New York abstained, later voted for)
July 4: Declaration of Independence approved

On the Fourth of July we celebrate the birth announcement, not the birth.

Lee Resolution


Daniel Boone

… first looked west from Cumberland Gap into what is now Kentucky on this date in 1769. The Kentucky Historical Society celebrates June 7 as “Boone Day.”

Cumberland Gap

Boone was not the first person through Cumberland Gap; he wasn’t even the first European-American. He was, however, instrumental in blazing a trail, which became known as the Wilderness Road.

Cumberland Gap Trail

According to the National Park Service:

Immigration through the Gap began immediately, and by the end of the Revolutionary War some 12,000 persons had crossed into the new territory. By 1792 the population was over 100,000 and Kentucky was admitted to the Union.

During the 1790s traffic on the Wilderness Road increased. By 1800 almost 300,000 people had crossed the Gap going west. And each year as many head of livestock were driven east. As it had always been, the Gap was an important route of commerce and transportation.

NewMexiKen photos 2006.

First Wave at Omaha Beach

Unlike what happens to other great battles, the passing of the years and the retelling of the story have softened the horror of Omaha Beach on D Day.

. . .

In everything that has been written about Omaha until now, there is less blood and iron than in the original field notes covering any battalion landing in the first wave. Doubt it? Then let’s follow along with Able and Baker companies, 116th Infantry, 29th Division. Their story is lifted from my fading Normandy notebook, which covers the landing of every Omaha company.

“First Wave at Omaha Beach” by S.L.A. Marshall