History

1 2 3 165

In the history of the United States, 4 presidents have been assassinated. Of course the ones we remember the most are Abraham Lincoln and John F Kennedy. The other two were William McKinley and James Garfield. With Lincoln and Kennedy, death was quick, even though with Lincoln it took until the next day. With McKinley, death came 7 days after he was shot, but with Garfield, death needn’t have come at all.

President James A Garfield had served as the president for just four months when he was shot on July 2, 1881, by Charles Guiteau in Washington DC. Guiteau had been stalking the president for about a month, and he shot him in the arm and the back. Guiteau wasn’t much of a shot I guess. Garfield didn’t die instantly, and in fact he didn’t die for 11 weeks. In the end, it wasn’t the wounds that caused his death, but rather that the wounds became infected which claimed the president’s life in the end. Had the doctors of that age known more about infection, I believe Garfield might have lived. Infection always comes from exposure to a bacteria or virus. Yes, it could have been introduced by the bullets, but with the proper treatment, the infection could also have been thwarted. Of course, I don’t know if President Garfield would have been able to walk, or move in any other way, because I don’t know how bad the wound in his back was. Nevertheless, a would that took 11 weeks to kill the man, could not have been an infection that could not be healed. Of course, I’m no doctor, but then modern medicine has many more tools in it’s belt now than it did then. Ironically, when you think about it Garfield was not the only one of the assassinated presidents who faced exposure and lost. The others were exposed to their assassins bullet, a sad but true fact. It’s just that Garfield suffered a much longer length of time than the others…and that is truly awful.

Apparently, Guiteau was angry because the president didn’t appoint him to the office he desired. That is an insane reason to kill a man, and Guiteau must have been a man who could not control his own emotions…sadly. While the assassinations of Lincoln, Kennedy, and McKinley are still steeped in conspiracy theories and political ideology, Guiteau’s motivations were simple…egomania, delusions of grandeur, and the belief that God had willed him to “remove” Garfield from office. Guiteau failed to become the “great man” he was striving to be, and after being convicted of murder, Guiteau was sentenced to death and was hanged in 1882.

War heroes come in many forms, and Colonel Ruby Bradley was one of the great ones. Born on December 19, 1907 in the small town of Spencer, West Virginia the daughter of Fred O Bradley and Bertha Welch. Bradley was the fifth of six children, and she was raised on a farm in Roane County, West Virginia. From a young age, she was taught to work hard on her parents farm. Farm kids are not strangers to hard work. The farm animals and the crops require that every member of the family had to do their part, meaning men, women, and children to assume many roles such as manual labor. From an early age, Ruby understood the worth of manual labor and hard work. She was a hard worker and she was not a quitter.

Bradley’s life took a drastic turn during World War II. Prior to World War II, as a career Army nurse, Colonel Ruby Bradley served as the hospital administrator in Luzon in the Philippines. When the Japanese invaded the Philippines, three weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor, she and a doctor and fellow nurse hid in the hills. Unfortunately, they were turned in by locals and taken to the base, which had been turned into a prison camp. In 1943, Bradley was moved to the Santo Tomas Internment Camp in Manila. It was there that she and several other imprisoned nurses earned the title “Angels in Fatigues” from fellow captives. For the next several months, she provided medical help to the prisoners and sought to feed starving children by shoving food into her pockets whenever she could, often going hungry herself. As she lost weight, she used the room in her uniform for smuggling surgical equipment into the prisoner-of-war camp. At the camp she assisted in 230 operations and helped to deliver 13 children. Bradley and her staff spent three years treating fellow POWs, delivering babies, and performing surgery. They also smuggled supplies to keep the POWs healthy, although Bradley herself weighed a mere 84 pounds when the Americans liberated the camp in 1945.

After the war, Bradley served in the Korean War as the 8th Army’s chief nurse on the front lines in 1950. During a heavy fire attack, Bradley managed to evacuate all of the wounded soldiers in her care, doing so without regard for her own safety. She was the last to jump aboard the evacuation plane just as her ambulance was shelled. After her actions during that attack, she was promoted to Colonel. She retired from the Army in 1963, but worked as a supervising nurse in West Virginia for 17 years. Ruby Bradley is known as the most decorated woman in US history, having received 34 medals and citations, including Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Bronze Star Medal with oak leaf cluster, Army Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, Prisoner of War Medal, Presidential Unit Citation with oak leaf cluster, Meritorious Unit Commendation, American Defense Service Medal with “Foreign Service” clasp, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with two campaign stars, World War II Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal with “Japan” clasp, National Defense Service Medal with star, Korean Service Medal with three campaign stars, Philippine Defense Medal (Republic of Philippines) with star, Philippine Liberation Medal (Republic of Philippines) with star, Philippine Independence Medal (Republic of Philippines), United Nations Service Medal, Korean War Service Medal (Republic of Korea), and Florence Nightingale Medal (International Red Cross). Colonel Ruby Bradley died of a heart attack on May 28, 2002. She received a hero’s funeral with full honors at Arlington National Cemetery. “Her coffin was escorted to the grave site by six white horses, and the symbolic riderless horse followed, while the Army Band played traditional hymns. “A riderless horse (which may be caparisoned in ornamental and protective coverings, having a detailed protocol of their own) is a single horse, without a rider, and with boots reversed in the stirrups, which sometimes accompanies a funeral procession. The horse follows the caisson carrying the casket.” A firing party of seven sounded three volleys in her honor, and the flag covering her coffin was presented to a relative.” Many family members and Army soldiers paid their respects by placing roses on top of the coffin and also saluting her resting place as they left. She was 94.

On this day, in 1787…the first Constitution Day, The Constitution of the Unites States of America was signed. It was a very important, and almost sacred day in our nations history. In fact, I believe that our nation was founded on Judeo-Christian values, and therefore our Constitution is a sacred document. The Constitution, which begins with “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, 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,” specifically “secures Liberty.” So many people these days don’t understand what it means to secure liberty, but the word is defined as “the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views.” When I read that definition, I am reminded of so many rules, regulations, and mandates we are currently living under, and I realize that as our current congress works very hard to tear down our Constitution, our nation is in danger of losing the Liberty we love so dearly.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like having someone tell me that I can’t attend church, because it is necessary to close down the churches. When the Covid-19 Pandemic started, the churches suddenly became non-essential, and that is criminal as per the First Amendment of our Constitution, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The closing of our churches (my church thankfully refused to comply, and we were one of the few churches that never shut down) was a criminal act imposed on the people of the United States by our own government, and most churches and people allowed it. I read somewhere that “If you allow the government to break the law because of an emergency, they will always create an emergency to break the law.” That is a true statement and really should be a scary statement. The old saying, “if you give them an inch, they will take a mile” comes to mind, when I think of our government.

The reality is that Covid-19, while a serious virus, is usually survivable, and we have lived through many other “serious” viruses without lockdowns or mask mandates. People need to be allowed to make their own choices. For those who want to wear a mask, it should be accepted by everyone around that person. I would further say that if a person has chosen to wear a mask, the common sense rule that should follow is…keep your distance from them, as a courtesy. If a person doesn’t choose to wear a mask, then we have to accept their right to make their own choices concerning their own health. On thing that has seriously confused me concerning the mask mandates is that children under two and those with medical reasons that make it hard for them to wear a mask, are exempt. Now I get that a person who has difficulty breathing with a mask should be able to say “no” to the mask, but when I see a masked parent with an unmasked child, I see a recipe for a case of Covid in the child. Now I could be wrong, but doesn’t that child breathe the same air as their parent does. Sorry folks, that one makes no sense to me. If the parent is concerned for their own health and therefore wears a mask, they should be just as concerned for their child’s health and either mask the child, or put them in a protective bubble or maybe like the little wagons people pull behind their bicycles. At least that way they are attempting to protect the child from the virus they are so very afraid of.

Whew!! I have a feeling that I am going to hear it on this blog, but before you go after my views, I would recommend that you take a few minutes to give some serious thought to what I am saying here. We have become so afraid of a “bug” that we are no longer thinking rationally. Our businesses are closing down…permanently, because they can’t have customers inside, and yet they are supposed to pay rent and taxes. Our children missed between two months and a year of school, and even with online classes they are clearly behind where they should be at this point in their schooling. Landlords are going under, because while their tenants are exempt from paying rent and cannot be evicted, the mortgage payment is still due. And the one that started it all in my rant, churches have been closed down for as long as a year, some never to re-open again.

We are a relatively healthy nation of relatively smart people, who have been taking care of ourselves successfully for most of our adult lives, so why is it that suddenly, we are incapable of making the decisions necessary to continue to live healthy lives? We have to stop allowing our government to rule over us like dictators…stealing our liberty. We have to wake up!! And I don’t mean “woke” up!! We have to take a stand for America and for the world. On this Constitution Day, I invite you to take a look at the document our forefathers wrote, and see what it really says for yourself. You will be amazed.

Johannes “Macky” Steinhoff was a fighter ace, flying a Luftwaffe fighter plane, during World War II. He was also a German general, and NATO official. Most of the Luftwaffe pilots did not survive to fly operationally throughout the entire World War II period of 1939 to 1945, but Steinhoff managed to do so. One of the highest-scoring pilots with 176 victories, Steinhoff was one of the first to fly the Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter in combat as a member of the Jagdverband 44 squadron led by Adolf Galland. Steinhoff received the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords, and later received the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany and several foreign awards including the American Legion of Merit and the French Legion of Honour. Steinhoff also played a role in the Fighter Pilots Conspiracy when several senior air force officers confronted Hermann Göring late in the war.

Steinhoff was born on September 15, 1913 in Bottendorf, Thuringia, the son of an agricultural mill-worker and his traditional housewife. He had two brothers, Bernd and Wolf, and two sisters, Greta and Charlotte. Steinhoff was promoted to Second Lieutenant on 1 April 1936. He married his wife Ursula on April 29, 1939 and they had a son, Wolf and a daughter, Ursula.

One would think that being one of the first pilots to fly a new airplane would be a huge honor, but flying the Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter was risky. It wasn’t necessarily that it crashed any more often than any other plane, but the Messerschmitt Me 262 had a rather huge flaw. The fuel tanks were located in front, under, and behind the pilot. That meant that in a crash situation with fuel on board, the pilot was immediately trapped in an inferno. As a member of Jagdverband-44 (JV-44), flying a Messerschmitt Me 262, Steinhoff was permanently disfigured after receiving major burns across most of his body when he crashed after a failed takeoff. It was such a strange situation. His flight leader’s left wheel had blown out causing him to turn and make a sharp left turn, careening into Steinhoff and causing him to run off the runway, at which point, the fuel tanks ruptured. On that fateful day, Steinhoff and the men he was going up with that day were armed with an experimental under wing rocket which among with the cannon ammunition Steinhoff was carrying. It made escape all the more difficult due to the amount ordnance exploding around him. According to ace fighter pilot and member of JV-44 Franz Stigler, “In a matter of seconds, Steinhoff had turned into a human torch.” Steinhoff was left with horrible scarring for the rest of his life and his chances of survival were slim. Against all odds, he pulled through in the end and retired as a four star general in the new German Air Force at age 59.

After his retirement, he joined the West German government’s Rearmament Office as a consultant on military aviation in 1952 and became one of the principal officials tasked with building the German Air Force during the Cold War. He became the German Military Representative to the NATO Military Committee in 1960, served as Acting Commander Allied Air Forces Central Europe in NATO 1965–1966, as Inspector of the Air Force 1966–1970 and as Chairman of the NATO Military Committee 1971–1974. In retirement, Steinhoff also became a widely read author of books on German military aviation during the Second World War and the experiences of the German people at that time. On February 21, 1994, Steinhoff died in a Bonn hospital from complications arising from a heart attack he suffered the previous December. He was 80, and had lived in nearby Bad Godesberg.

When we thing of people who were heroes for the Jewish people during World War II, we seldom think of true enemies of the Allied Nations. Still, there are people in all nations, no matter how evil the nation, who are good. One such man was Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat who served as vice-consul for the Japanese Empire in Kaunas, Lithuania. Sugihara was born on January 1, 1900 in Mino, Gifu prefecture, to a middle-class father, Yoshimi Sugihara and an upper-middle class mother, Yatsu Sugihara.

Sugihara became the vice-consul in 1939. His duties included reporting on Soviet and German troop movements, and to find out if Germany planned an attack on the Soviets and, if so, to report the details of this attack to his superiors in Berlin and Tokyo. As vice-consul, I’m sure he never expected to go against the orders of his superiors. I’m sure that he thought, as most of us do, that our country is the best one, and that our government is honorable and basically good…until we don’t. During the second world war, Sugihara made the decision…against orders from superiors…to help 6,000 Jews escape Europe by issuing transit visas to them, so that they could travel through Japanese territory. By doing this, he was risking his job and the lives of his family, but he knew that the things that were happening to the Jews were wrong, and he could not stand by and be a party to their deaths. The Jews that Sugihara helped were refugees from German-occupied Western Poland and Soviet-occupied Eastern Poland, as well as residents of Lithuania. I’m sure that Sugihara’s superiors didn’t want to anger their ally, Adolf Hitler, so they had told Sugihara to turn a blind eye to the fate of the Jewish people, and let the Nazis do what they wanted to do to them. But, Sugihara had a conscience, and he could not allow he Jews to be murdered in such a horrific fashion. He had to help as many as he could.

From July 18 to August 28, 1940, Sugihara being aware that Jewish visa applicants were in danger if they stayed behind, Sugihara decided to ignore his orders and issued ten-day visas to Jews for transit through Japan. Given his inferior post and the culture of the Japanese Foreign Service bureaucracy, this was an unusual act of disobedience. Sugihara spoke to Soviet officials who agreed to let the Jews travel through the country via the Trans-Siberian Railway…at five times the standard ticket price, of course. I guess there is no price too high…seriously. Sugihara continued to spend 18 to 20 hours a day writing hand-write visas, reportedly producing a normal month’s worth of visas each day, until September 4th, when he had to leave his post before the consulate was closed. While his time was cut short at that consulate, he had granted thousands of visas to Jews, many of whom were heads of households, thus permitting them to take their families with them. It is said that before he left, he handed the official consulate stamp to a refugee so that more visas could be forged, but his son, Nobuki Sugihara, insists that his father never gave the stamp to anyone. According to witnesses, he was still writing visas while in transit from his hotel and after boarding the train at the Kaunas Railway Station, throwing visas into the crowd of desperate refugees out of the train’s window even as the train pulled out. It was an insanely brave act, and it did not go unnoticed.

In 1985, the State of Israel honored Sugihara as one of the Righteous Among the Nations for his actions…the highest honor given to non-Jews.. He is the only Japanese national ever to receive it. The year 2020 was “The Year of Chiune Sugihara” in Lithuania. It has been estimated as many as 100,000 people alive today are the descendants of the recipients of Sugihara visas. When asked by Moshe Zupnik why he risked his career to save other people, he said simply, “I do it just because I have pity on the people. They want to get out so I let them have the visas.”

Chiune Sugihara died at a hospital in Kamakura, on July 31, 1986. Despite the publicity given him in Israel and other nations, Sugihara remained virtually unknown in his home country. I’m sure they didn’t consider him anything more than a criminal. Only when a large Jewish delegation from around the world, including the Israeli ambassador to Japan, attended his funeral, did his neighbors find out what he had done. His subsequent considerable posthumous acclaim contrasts with the obscurity in which he lived following the loss of his diplomatic career.

When we think of our mail carriers or even couriers, we generally think of someone who is mild mannered, and easy to get along with. Or some of us might think of someone who is lazy and slow, but we don’t often think of someone with “the temperament of a grizzly bear” and a quick hand on the draw. And if we do think of someone like that, we almost never think of it being a woman. Nevertheless, Stagecoach driver Mary Fields was one tough cookie, but it would be her devotion to her community that made her a legend across the Wild West.

Sitting aloft on a stagecoach pulled by a team of horses, Fields covered over 300 miles every week to deliver mail across the West. She was not a petite woman, but rather she stood six feet tall. Fields kept a revolver and a rifle on her person at all times, and even when she wasn’t on the road, she was still a tough lady. When she was off duty, this postwoman of the Wild West was usually seen at the saloon or smoking a cigar. Fields was the first black woman to ride for the US Postal Service, and she wasn’t just tough, but she was one of a kind. She wasn’t a typical girly girl of the Wild West, but she was very special. Fields was a woman of grit.

Fields was born a slave in 1832, and according to some biographers, her mother was a house slave and her father a field slave. When Fields was in her 30s, she became a free woman following the Civil War. Once she was freed, Fields left Tennessee, and headed for Mississippi where she worked as a maid on the steamboat Robert E Lee. She later took a job as a servant in the home of Judge Edmund Dunne in Ohio. While she worked for the judge, she was introduced to his sister, Mother Amadeus, who was the Mother Superior of the Ursuline Convent in Toledo. The Mother Superior brought Fields on to work at the convent as a groundskeeper, but that job didn’t go well. When one sister asked Fields about her journey to Toledo, Fields replied that she needed “a good cigar and a drink.” I’m sure that a woman wanting a cigar and a drink in a convent probably wasn’t your average situation. One of the other nuns complained, “God help anyone who walked on the lawn after Mary had cut it.” In addition, the fiery groundskeeper with a “difficult” nature even loudly complained about her pay.

Then, in 1885, Fields left Ohio behind to travel west to Saint Peter’s Convent in the wilds of Montana where Mother Amadeus had established a children’s boarding school. The Mother Superior had fallen ill with pneumonia. Her choice of a caregiver…Fields, so she personally called for Fields to serve the nuns and nurse her back to health. Fields decided to settle in at the new convent after Mother Amadeus’ recovery. At the convent, Fields was given a position for which she was far better suited…the convent’s wagon team, hauling supplies. In addition to hauling supplies, Fields transported visitors to and from the train station. She was very serious about her job, once guarding the supplies for an entire night, single-handedly fending off a wolf pack that had spooked the horses, causing the wagon to flip.

While Fields loves working with that nuns, things were not always smooth sailing. When she wasn’t assisting the nuns and students and seeing to the chickens and vegetables on the Ursuline Convent, Mary Fields could be found in the local saloons, getting into fistfights, and smoking cigars. She also trained with a revolver and rifle, earning a reputation as a crack shot. Her tough as nails temperament, would eventually be her undoing at the Convent. Fields got into a heated confrontation with a janitor at the convent. Because Fields and the Convent’s janitor had pulled guns on each other during the argument and Brondell had her removed from her position.

Mother Amadeus remained a strong ally to Fields, and so encouraged Fields to move to nearby Cascade, Montana, where she was the only black resident. At first, the nuns helped her start a restaurant, but it failed. In 1895, Mother Mary Amadeus helped Fields to apply for another job as a mail carrier for the US Postal Service. Now in her 60s, Mary Fields secured the position when she hitched a team of six horses to a postal coach faster than any other applicant. She then began her daily, 17-mile trek from Cascade to Saint Peter’s. She was the second woman in US history to ride a mail route. She earned the nickname Stagecoach Mary while working as a star route carrier, protecting the mail from bandits. Fields rode her stagecoach to the train station to pick up mail and then delivered it on several routes, some of which were more than 40 miles. Fields drove over 300 miles each week to deliver the mail. When winter snow blocked the roads, an undaunted Fields threw a mail sack on her shoulder and walked over 30 miles wearing snowshoes. The people of Montana applauded Mary Fields for her commitment…and for her kindness.

Everyone who is old enough to remember the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, remembers where they were when they heard about the attacks, and when we think about the attacks, we are still saddened for the 2977 people who lost their lives, and their families, who have had to go on without them. Every time a patriot thinks about 9/11, our hearts ache for those who were lost…whose lives were cut short, and their potential left unfulfilled. What I have also seen is that those who hate this nation, have said that we need to move on and get over it, but that is not possible for those of us who love this nation, those who have lost loved ones, and those who pray for those who have lost loved ones.

When the attacks of 9/11 took place, the American people promised that were would never forget, and many people have not forgotten, but there are those who didn’t keep that promise. They began talking about how we should all just “get along” and “coexist.” I know that there are those who will say I am being hateful, but they are wrong. It is not for me to judge those who did these terrible acts. God will be their judge. Nevertheless, it is my job to remember and be watchful. If we are not watchful, we open the doors to another attack in our nation. If we think it could never happen again, we open the doors for it to absolutely happen again. We cannot stick our heads in the sand in such a reckless fashion. Evil exists out there, and if we are not watchful, evil gets a foothold. It is up to us to stop evil from getting that foothold.

When we were complacent in 2001, evil was able to get a foothold. While the airline industry had not had a hijacking in a long time, we were all told always to cooperate with the hijackers. On 9/11 that advise would prove disastrous in three of the four hijacked airplanes. Because everyone cooperated, we watched three planes hit their intended targets. In the fourth hijacked plane, because people called their families, they knew that the hijackers were not going to take them to some foreign country, but rather that they had become a flying bomb. In a selfless act of heroism, they passengers decided to put a stop to the attack their plane was intended to inflict. They didn’t know what building their plane was headed for, but they suspected it was…the US Capitol. And they knew that they had to stop it, because no one else would. Shooting down a hijacked plane was unheard of, and so no order to shoot it down ever came. So in a selfless, heroic act, the passengers of Flight 93 attempted to take over the cockpit, knowing that it was very likely that they would have to crash the plane…which they did.

Unfortunately, we have once again forgotten. We have once again become complacent. We have once again begun to blindly take orders from those who do not have our best interests at heart. And…we have put our nation in a very precarious position…again!!! How could we have forgotten? Yes, we hold memorial ceremonies every year, but when things in our nation don’t seem right, we sit back and say that the government knows best…but do they? Really…do they?

When we think about the enemies of war, we usually think of two nations that unequivocally hate each other. It is thought that every member of teach nation totally hates every member of the other, but that is not even logical. It doesn’t matter what nation you are talking about, the people of those nations are thoughts to hate each other, and many of them do, but nt all of them do. Not everyone loved war, and not everyone loves killing.

World War II was the deadliest wars in world history. It seemed that everyone hated everyone else, or at least that those from the one side (the Allied Powers) hated the other (the Axis of Evil). That wasn’t true either. The leaders probably hated each other, but the people of the nations were caught in the middle of the hatred of their leaders. Many of the people, civilians and military alike were family people, they had a love of others. Many of the people who fought in World War II had no idea of the horrors that were taking place. When they finally found out about it, they were absolutely horrified.

Still, those who fought in the war, knew some of the casualties of the war. A fighter pilot can’t fly over an expanse of an ocean battlefield and not see the losses taking place. For a fighter pilot or a bomber crew, it was not only possible to see the devastation, but they could also imagine what was going on below them as ships sink so quickly that the men onboard cannot escape. To add to the horror, the fact that these ships were his by torpedoes, bombs from the planes, bullets from the planes, and the planes themselves brought the added horror of fire and burning bodies. If a pilot let himself think about it, I think it would be possible to become physically ill at the thought of the horrors going on below them.

One fighter pilot felt that very deeply. During a sea battle in the Pacific Ocean in December 1940, two Royal Navy ships, the HMS Prince of Wales and the HMS Repulse were sunk by Japanese fighters. The scene must have been horrific for the pilots above, whether they were British or Japanese, they knew that men were dying horrific deaths below them. The loss of life so impacted on Japanese fighter pilot that he came back to the spot the next day and dropped two wreaths on the water. His action was to commemorate the dead from both sides during WWII. Japanese Flight Lieutenant Haruki Iki flew to the location of the battle and dropped the two wreaths over the seas. It was a simple act, but it was also a profound act. It showed that while the nations were enemies, the people of the nations were not necessarily enemies too. It also showed that even enemies can have compassion on the other side. War is not all about hate, it is also about being caught in the middle, with no way out but to fight.

When we see a fire, we usually give little thought to the firefighter first responders who run into the scene. They usually give little thought to what dangers might lie in wait for them…or sometimes they already know what is inside. They know that dangerous chemicals and combinations of chemicals are very likely in the building, and that these chemicals might be dangerous, either during the fire, or even for years after the fire. Nevertheless, firefighter first responders run into the fire, and into serious danger every day.

Sometimes, the danger is far worse than the average fire, and when the firefighter first responders run into the building, they know that they are very likely running into a scene that will probably bring about their own demise. When the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster began on April 26, 1986, Vladimir Pravik was one of the first firefighters to reach the scene. Upon entering, he was hit with radiation so strong that it changed his eye color from brown to blue. I have no idea how it must have felt to be hit with that much radiation, or if that is something you would immediately feel at all. I can’t say that I know that much about radiation.

Whether Pravik felt anything or not, doesn’t really matter, nor is it something we can ever ask him, because like the majority of the first responders to the radioactive disaster, Pravik died 15 days later from severe radiation poisoning. When we look at the damage radiation can do to people, it is totally devastating. These firefighter first responders ran into the scene of a terrible disaster, and gave no thought how the situation was going to affect them. They very likely knew that it was going to kill them, but there were people inside the plant who were suffering, and even dying. These firefighter first responders set aside their own need to be safe, and ran into the radiation-filled plant anyway. For most of them, their equipment did not include any gear to protect them from radiation, hence the eye color change Pravik experienced. Some of them may not have known the dangers, but I believe that most of them did, and that makes them even more heroic and courageous. Their selfless actions probably didn’t save any lives inside the plant, but maybe it limited the wide-spread effects and possible saved a few lives outside the facility.

Some of the old west outlaw gangs were so bold that they would rob banks and such in broad daylight without even giving any thought about getting caught. They believed themselves to be invincible. One such gang, was the James-Younger gang. Many of the people in the towns in Minnesota were afraid of the James-Younger gang and rightfully so, but on September 7, 1876, the people of Northfield, Minnesota had had enough!! That morning, the James-Younger gang decided to make a bold daytime robbery of the Northfield Minnesota bank. Much to their surprise, the gang suddenly found itself surrounded by angry townspeople. The gang was nearly wiped out that day.

The gang started the robbery with a diversion. Five men galloped through the center of town, yelling and shooting their pistols in the air. In the old west, you might see such a display when cowboys got drunk. The men who worked on the cattle ranches would come to town, looking for a good time. Sometimes, things got out of hand, and the partying cowboys would ride through the streets whooping and hollering in a celebratory way…until the sheriff got tired of it anyway. However, this was different, because this was not after a hard day’s work, it was in broad daylight.

At first, the townspeople ran for cover from the five men, while three other men wearing wide-brimmed hats and long dusters took advantage of the distraction to walk unnoticed into the First National Bank. They pulled pistols on the bank cashier and ordered him to open the bank safe. The cashier recognized Jesse James, nevertheless, he stalled, claiming that the safe had a time lock and could not be opened. Somewhat thrown, Jesse James considered his next move, and the cashier took advantage of the moment. In a sudden move, he made a break for the back door. One of the robbers fired twice, hitting the cashier in the shoulder. Nevertheless, the man managed to stumble to safety and sound the alarm.

The citizens of Northfield were done being afraid. They ran to surround the bank and in their rage, they mercilessly shot down the robbers as they tried to escape. A 19-year-old medical student killed one gang member, Clell Miller, while the owner of the Northfield hardware store mortally wounded Bill Chadwell, peppering his body with bullets from a rapid-firing Remington repeater rifle. Jesse’s brother, Frank, was hit in the leg, while their criminal partners…Jim, Cole, and Bob Younger…were also badly wounded.

Jesse was the last one to leave the bank, stopping for a moment to shoot the uncooperative cashier in the head. Then he jumped onto his horse and joined the rest of the survivors as they desperately fled town. Jesse and his brother Frank decided to go their own way after the botched robbery, so they escaped to Dakota Territory. For them, it was a good decision, because the rest of the gang was pursued relentlessly for the next two weeks by a very determined posse. Eventually the posse killed or captured four more of the gang members. After things cooled down, Frank and Jesse James went to Nashville, Tennessee, where they started rebuilding their gang and planning new robberies. On April 3, 1882, a man named Robert Ford drew his weapon and shot the unarmed Jesse James in the back of the head. James’s original grave was on his family property, but he was later moved to a cemetery in Kearney. The original footstone is still there, although the family has replaced the headstone. James’s mother Zerelda Samuel wrote the following epitaph for him: “In Loving Memory of my Beloved Son, Murdered by a Traitor and Coward Whose Name is not Worthy to Appear Here.” James’s widow Zerelda Mimms James died alone and in poverty. Jesse’s older brother, Frank eventually ended his criminal activities. In his final years, he returned to the James Farm, giving tours for the sum of 25 cents. He died there at age 72 on February 18, 1915. He left behind his wife Annie Ralston James and one son. He is interred in Hill Park Cemetery, in the western portion of Independence, Missouri.

1 2 3 165

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Archives
Check these out!