Washington Burns

The invading British burned the public buildings of Washington 202 years ago today.

On August 24, 1814, as the War of 1812 raged on, invading British troops marched into Washington and set fire to the U.S. Capitol, the President’s Mansion, and other local landmarks. The ensuring fire reduced all but one of the capital city’s major public buildings to smoking rubble, and only a torrential rainstorm saved the Capitol from complete destruction. The blaze particularly devastated the Capitol’s Senate wing, the oldest part of the building, which was honeycombed with vulnerable wooden floors and housed the valuable but combustible collection of books and manuscripts of the Library of Congress, then located in the Capitol building. Heat from the intense fire reduced the Senate chamber’s marble columns to lime, leaving the room, in one description, “a most magnificent ruin.”

Source: U.S. Senate Art & History

After 26 hours in Washington, the British moved toward Baltimore, where they met with resistance and the Star-spangled banner still waved.

Independence Day

The Declaration of Independence was approved by the Second Continental Congress on this date in 1776. The name of the holiday today is Independence Day. July 4th is a date.

Independence itself was voted two days earlier, July 2, 1776. We celebrate the anniversary of the birth announcement, not the birth. The signing of the embossed copy we recognize as THE Declaration of Independence began on August 2nd.

Today’s Photos

Omaha Beach. Photos by Jill, 2009. Click for larger versions.

Nothing Less Than Full Victory

Eisenhower Message

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Forces:

You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to victory.

I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!

Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Memorial Day

According to the Library of Congress:

In 1868, Commander in Chief John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic issued General Order Number 11 designating May 30 as a memorial day “for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

The first national celebration of the holiday took place May 30, 1868 at Arlington National Cemetery … Originally known as Decoration Day, at the turn of the century it was designated as Memorial Day. In many American towns, the day is celebrated with a parade. …

In 1971, federal law changed the observance of the holiday to the last Monday in May and extended it to honor all soldiers who died in American wars. A few states continue to celebrate Memorial Day on May 30.

Jill thanked her grandfather for his service in the U.S. Navy when we visited the World War II Memorial 10 years ago. He said it was the first time anyone had ever thanked him — in 60 years.

Remember all who served — and today particularly those who gave their life.