History

Our instincts tell us not to leave a man down, or behind. That doesn’t just apply just to military personnel. Nevertheless, military personnel have had that concept ingrained into their being…probably more so than the rest of us. It is a code for them…never leave a man behind…whenever they have any say about it, they don’t. 1st Lieutenant James P Fleming was no different. In fact, Fleming was exceptional. Fleming was a helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War. On November 26, 1968, Fleming and four other UH-1F helicopter pilots were returning to their base at Duc Co, South Vietnam, for refueling and rearming when an emergency call for help was received from a Special Forces reconnaissance team.

While en route, they got a call that a six-man Special Forces team was pinned down by a large, hostile force not far from a river bank. The homebound force of two gunships and three transport helicopters immediately changed course and sped to the area without refueling. As the gunships descended to attack the enemy positions, one was hit and downed. The remaining gunship made several passes, rapidly firing with its miniguns, but the intense return fire from enemy machine guns continued. Finally, low on fuel, the helicopters were being forced to leave and return to base.

Lieutenant Fleming alone remained as the only transport helicopter left. He descended over the river to evacuate the team. Upon arrival, he found the area unsafe for landing because of the dense foliage, so he hovered just above the river with his landing skids braced against the bank. The lone gunship continued its strafing runs, but heavy enemy fire prevented the team from reaching the helicopter. Fleming’s leader advised him to withdraw. After pulling away, Lieutenant Fleming decided to make another rescue attempt before completely exhausting his fuel. He dropped down to the same spot and found that the team had managed to move closer to the river bank. The men dashed out and clambered aboard as bullets pierced the air, some smashing into the helicopter. The rescue craft and the gunship then returned to Duc Co where it was discovered that they were nearly out of fuel.

It was truly a miraculous rescue, in which not a single life was lost. Lieutenant Fleming was awarded the Medal of Honor for saving the lives of the special forces team that day. For his actions, Fleming received the Medal of Honor in May, 1970. Fleming remained in the Air Force serving a total of 30 years, becoming a colonel and a member of the Officer Training School staff at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, before his retirement in 1996 at the rank of Colonel.

The Indian Territory, which is now Oklahoma, in 1875, was populated by cattle and horse thieves, whiskey peddlers, and bandits who sought refuge in the untamed territory that was free of a “White Man’s Court.” There was one court with jurisdiction over Indian Territory was the U.S. Court for the Western District of Arkansas located in Fort Smith, Arkansas, which was situated on the border of Western Arkansas and Indian Territory. Judge Isaac Parker, who was often called the “Hanging Judge,” from Fort Smith, Arkansas ruled over the lawless land of Indian Territory in the late 1800s. He was determined to stop the pollution of the Indian Territory that was the outlaws who thought they could outrun the law.

Judge Isaac Parker was born in a log cabin outside Barnesville, Belmont County, Ohio on October 15, 1838. The youngest son of Joseph and Jane Parker. As a boy, Isaac helped out on the farm, but never really cared for that type of work. He attended the Breeze hill primary school and then the Barnesville Classical Institute. Knowing he wanted more, he decided to go for a higher education. To help pay for it, he taught students in a country primary school. When he was 17 he decided to study law, his legal training consisting of a combination of apprenticeship and self study. Reading law with a Barnesville attorney, he passed the Ohio bar exam in 1859 at the age of 21. During this period of his life, he met and married Mary O’Toole and the couple had two sons, Charles and James. Over the years, Parker built a reputation for being an honest lawyer and a much respected leader of the community.

After Parker passed the bar, he decided to head west, ending up in Saint Joseph, Missouri a bustling Missouri River port town. He went to work for his uncle, D.E. Shannon, becoming a partner in the Shannon and Branch legal firm. By 1861, he was working on his own in both the municipal and county criminal courts. In April of 1861, he won the election as City Attorney. He was re-elected to the post for the next two years. In 1864, Isaac Parker ran for county prosecutor of the Ninth Missouri Judicial District and in the fall of that same year, he served as a member of the Electoral College, casting his vote for Abraham Lincoln. During a political career that included a six-year term as judge of the Twelfth Missouri Circuit in 1868, Parker would soon gain the experience that he would later use as the ruling Judge over the Indian Territory.

After the Civil War, the number of outlaws had grown, wrecking the relative peace of the five civilized tribes that lived in Indian Territory. By the time Parker arrived at Fort Smith, the Indian Territory had become known as a very bad place, where outlaws thought the laws did not apply to them and terror reigned. Parker replaced Judge William Story, whose tenure had been marred by corruption, after arriving in Fort Smith on May 4, 1875. At the age of 36, Judge Parker was the youngest Federal judge in the West. Holding court for the first time on May 10, 1875, eight men were found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. Judge Parker held court six days a week, often up to ten hours each day and tried 91 defendants in his first eight weeks on the bench. He was determined to clean up the Indian Territory, single handedly if necessary. In that first summer, eighteen persons came before him charged with murder and 15 were convicted. Eight of them were sentenced to die on the gallows on September 3, 1875. However, only six would be executed as one was killed trying to escape and a second had his sentence commuted to life in prison because of his young age.

The day of the September 3, 1875 hanging was a media circus, and because of all the attention, everyone knew that the once corrupt court was functioning properly again. Parker’s critics dubbed him the “Hanging Judge” and called his court the “Court of the Damned.” They thought Judge Parker was too harsh. The Fort Smith Independent was the first newspaper to report the event on September 3, 1875 with the large column heading reading: “Execution Day!!” Other newspapers around the country reported the event a day later. These press reports shocked people throughout the nation. “Cool Destruction of Six Human Lives by Legal Process” screamed the headlines. Of the six felons, three were white, two were Native American and one was black. When the preliminaries were over, the six were lined up on the scaffold while executioner George Maledon adjusted the nooses around their necks. The trap was sprung all six died at once at the end of the ropes. The event solidified Judge Parker’s nickname for all time. In 21 years on the bench, Judge Parker tried 13,490 cases, 344 of which were capital crimes. 9,454 cases resulted in guilty pleas or convictions. Over the years, Judge Parker sentenced 160 men to death by hanging, though only 79 of them were actually hanged. The rest died in jail, appealed or were pardoned. Judge Parker died on November 17, 1896.

As winter arrived in Coburn Creek, West Virginia in 1950, a storm of epic proportions was about to set some serious records. From November 22 to 30, a slow-moving, powerful storm system dumped heavy snow across much of the central Appalachians. The storm would be remembered as as “The Great Appalachian Storm of 1950,” and it blanketed areas from western Pennsylvania southward deep into West Virginia with over 30 inches of snow. Several locations even received more than 50 inches of snow. Coburn Creek, West Virginia, reported the greatest snowfall total…a staggering 62 inches. Most towns can be shut own with 24 inches, so 62 inches was unthinkable. There is no way a car can get through that, in fact it will take hours to get a snowplow through it. For all intents and purposes, much of the Appalachian Mountains, and especially the Coburn Creek area were at a standstill.

The cold front was massive, with frigid air stretching from the Northeast into the Ohio Valley and all the way down into the far Southeast. Temperatures fell to 22°F in Pensacola, Florida, 5°F in Birmingham, Alabama, 3°F in Atlanta, Georgia, and 1°F in Asheville, North Carolina. This record cold led to widespread crop damage, particularly in Georgia and South Carolina. In the north, intense winds associated with the storm caused extensive tree damage, power outages, and coastal flooding in New England. In New Hampshire, Mount Washington observed gusts as high as 160 mph. And, onshore winds along the coast caused extreme high tides and flooding in New Jersey and Connecticut. The storm was fairly short lived, and the temperatures quickly returned to normal in the first week of December 1950, bringing a whole new problem with them. The rise in temperatures led to a fast snowmelt, flooding several tributaries and major rivers. The Ohio River reached 28.5 feet, 4 feet above flood stage, in Pittsburgh. In Cincinnati, it reached 56 feet, also 4 feet above flood stage.

At the time, the Great Appalachian Storm of 1950 was one of the costliest storms on record, and it contributed to at least 160 deaths. Overall, on the Regional Snowfall Index (RSI) this powerful storm ranked as a Category 5…the worst category, for the Ohio Valley, and a Category 4 for the Northeast of the 212 storms our scientists have analyzed for the region. The RSI value of 34.7 securely locks its first place rank, well above the 24.6 RSI value second worst storm in March 1993. Only four Category 5 storms have impacted the Ohio Valley since 1900, so it is highly uncommon. During the storm, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, received 30.2 inches of snow, and both Erie, Pennsylvania, and Youngstown, Ohio, received more than 28 inches of snow. Across the region, over 18 inches of snow affected more than 6.1 million people. Such high snowfall totals affecting so many people largely contributed to the storm’s high ranking on the RSI scale.

In the Northeast region, the Great Appalachian Storm ranks as the ninth worst storm to impact the area out of the 203 analyzed. That fact seems surprising given the severity of the storm. I would have expected a much higher ranking. Over 30 inches of snow affecting 1.3 million people in the region largely contributed to the regional RSI value of 14.5. With that value, it ranks just behind the more recent February 2003, February 2010, and January 2016 storms. The late February snowstorm of 1969 remains the strongest storm to hit the Northeast, with an RSI value of 34.0 making it a Category 5 or “Extreme” event. The March 1993 “Storm of the Century” remains the second strongest snowstorm to hit the Northeast, with an RSI value of 22.1 also making it a Category 5 event. As I look out my window at the light snow falling, I find myself feeling grateful that this storm is not expected to be anything like the Great Appalachian Storm of 1950.

For a number of years, my husband, Bob and I have dragged ourselves out of bed to jump into the Black Friday shopping,to get a head start on our Christmas shopping. Our morning started with a stop for much needed coffee, and a quick look at the ads to see where to start our shopping. While a lot of people have told us that we are crazy to enjoy this tradition, we really enjoyed it…until the stores changed it. Call me a traditionalist, but i don’t like the idea of shopping on Thanksgiving. That is a day to spend with family, and I see no sense in having the stores open at all. The people who are forced to work to keep the stores open, should be spending that time with their families, but instead they are working and I will not go out and shop when it means that those people are not able to spend Thanksgiving with their families, and that isn’t fair to them or their families.

When the stores started their “Black Friday” sales on Thanksgiving Day, it also eliminated the need to get up early on Friday to stand out in the cold and wait for the opening of the store, so you could try to be the first one to get in and get those “must have” gifts, that were on sale, starting at 6:00 in the morning. With the sale starting on Thursday, I would rather use the day to sleep in, and…maybe go shopping later in the day. I guess that we have just become disenchanted by the whole “Black Friday” event, because it starts on Thursday…and even on Wednesday in some stores, so that basically we are seeing the death of Black Friday. These days there are no crowds, even at the “Early Bird Sale.” If no one is rushing into the stores to buy, why should I get up at 4:00 in the morning to get there first?

Strangely, it seems like the sale items aren’t even that spectacular. I suppose there might be a few items that are must haves, but nobody seems to be rushing out to buy those, and the stores seem to have more than enough of them to go around. Suddenly, black Friday shopping is just like any other day, except that I refuse to go shopping on Thanksgiving, because that is just wrong. I’m sure there are those out there who do shop on Thanksgiving, but I have too many family members who have had to work on thanksgiving because the store they work in is pen that day. They missed out on that time with their families, because the stores thought it would bring in a few dollars more. To those stores I say…no thanks, I’ll wait until Friday, or better yet…shop online!! I won’t be part of the complete disregard, by the stores, of the need for their employees to have family time.

As the chief architect and minister for armaments and war production, Albert Speer designed many of the great buildings that Hitler craved. Hitler loved having the very best. Hitler was always impressed by academic credentials and any kind of artistic or technical talent, so he made Speer his personal architect. Albert Speer was born March 19, 1905, in Mannheim, Germany. At the age of 22, he received his architectural license, having studied at three German technical schools. He became an ardent Nazi after hearing Hitler speak at a rally in late 1930, and joined the party in January 1931. It was his decision to become a Nazi that gave him the opportunity to be noticed by Hitler.

It was the fact that he now worked for Hitler, that gave him the power he craved for himself. Hitler began a massive Berlin building program. Among the projects the Fuhrer entrusted Speer with was the design of the parade grounds for the Nuremberg Party Congress in 1934, which Leni Riefienstahl made famous in her famous propaganda film Triumph of the Will. As minister of armaments and munitions, Speer’s job description expanded to include not only armament production and transportation, but also the direction of raw material use and finally the conscription of slave labor, culled from concentration camps, for war material production. On this day, November 21, 1941, Speer approached Hitler, and asked for 30,000 Soviet prisoners to be slave labor for his projects,telling Hitler that these slave laborers would come in handy for his “new” Berlin. Speer wanted to begin construction even as the war waged. Despite the drain on resources Hitler agreed. Speer beguiled the Fuhrer with models of a Great Hall for the Chancellery and a grand office for Goering. I find it strange to think that someone finally pulled a few things over on Hitler, who always seemed to have the upper hand.

The program was going well, but the times were not in Speer’s favor, or Hitler’s. The war turned against Nazi Germany, the rebuilding plans were scrapped. When the war was over, Hitler was dead by his own hand, and Speer was tried as a war criminal at Nuremberg, the site of his grand parade, and sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role in the Nazi regime, principally for the use of forced labor. Despite repeated attempts to gain early release, he served his full sentence, most of it at Spandau Prison in West Berlin. Following his release in 1966, Speer published two bestselling autobiographical works, Inside the Third Reich and Spandau: The Secret Diaries, detailing his close personal relationship with Hitler, and providing readers and historians with a unique perspective on the workings of the Nazi regime. He wrote a third book, Infiltration, about the SS. Speer died of a stroke in 1981 while on a visit to London.

In the middle of a war, the people of a nation become concerned about anyone who might potentially be the enemy, especially if they are living inside the country’s borders. It is really a natural reaction to enemy personnel. After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the United states became quite concerned about the Japanese immigrants in our country, whether they were here legally or not. Much of the immigration to the United States from Japan began in 1884, when thousands of Japanese arrived in Hawaii to work the sugar cane fields. In the wake of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, which drastically restricted Chinese immigration, Japanese people began arriving and began to prosper and started small businesses or became farmers. Most of them settled along the West Coast, meaning roughly 13,000 people of Japanese descent lived in the Intermountain West prior to World War II. The attack on Pearl Harbor, heightened the level of concern about those people.

It was decided that, because their loyalties could not positively be confirmed, the Japanese immigrants needed to be rounded up and put in concentration camps. I suppose this might have seemed similar to what the Germans did to the Jewish people, but the Japanese people were not murdered in the camps, like the Jews were. And so it came to be that the people of Japanese descent from Oregon, Washington and California were incarcerated at the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Park County, Wyoming, by the executive order of President Franklin Roosevelt. The prisoners were held at the camp from August 12, 1942 to November 10, 1945, which was actually two months after the end of the war with Japan. The camp was populated with 10,000 people at its largest, making it the third largest town in the state at the time.

I have tried to imagine what it must have been like for those Japanese immigrants to be held in the Heart Mountain Relocation Center for as much as 2 years and 3 months. Of course, the illegal immigrants of our time immediately came to my mind, but there is a difference between these people and the illegal immigrants of today. These people were here legally, and most of them had already become citizens. Unfortunately, that did not calm the worried minds of the rest of the people of the United States. Our nation had been attacked, and the attackers looked just like the Japanese immigrants. Precautions had to be taken. I’d like to think that if it were me, in that position, that I would understand why this was happening, but I’m not so sure I would. After all, these people were not criminals. They were hard working Americans, and yet they were for a time…the enemy, or possibly the enemy.

Unfortunately, like many prior immigrant groups, the Japanese faced discrimination. Things aren’t always fair, and people aren’t always treated properly. Starting in the early 20th century, Japanese immigrants, as well as Chinese immigrants, were targeted by Alien Land Laws in western states including Wyoming. These laws prevented the Asian immigrants from buying land. In 1924, the United States Congress passed the Asian Exclusion Act, which all but cut off new immigration from Asia. In response, Japanese Americans formed organizations such as the Japanese American Citizens’ League to help address their shared challenges. Despite the attempts of Japanese Americans to fit in, some people expressed ongoing skepticism regarding the place of Asians in American society.

The Heart Mountain facility consisted of 450 barracks, each containing six apartments, when the first internees arrived on August 12, 1942. The largest apartments were simply single rooms measuring 24 feet by 20 feet. The barracks were covered with tar paper. While each unit was eventually outfitted with a potbellied stove, none had bathrooms. The people all used shared latrines. None of the apartments had kitchens. The residents ate their meals in mess halls. When the people first arrived, a barbed-wire fence to surround the camp was not yet complete. The internees protested the construction of this barrier and caused further work to be delayed. In November 1942, they submitted a petition containing 3,000 signatures to the War Relocation Authority (WRA) Director Dillon Meyer. The fence was completed by December, however, and further emphasized the sense of confinement among the internees. Shortly after the construction of the fence, 32 boys were arrested for sledding in the hills beyond the boundary. In response to the perceived overreaction on the part of the camp administration, Rikio Tomo, a Heart Mountain internee, placed an editorial in the Heart Mountain Sentinel asking for clarification about the internees’ citizenship status and constitutional freedoms. Schools were built at Heart Mountain, including a high school, to accommodate the children. These schools served students from elementary school through high school. Roughly 1500 students attended Heart Mountain High School, which included grades 8-12.

The internees provided most of the labor required to run the Heart Mountain camp, while WRA administrators oversaw its general operations. Wages ranged from $12 per month for unskilled labor to $19 per month for skilled labor, including teachers for the schools and doctors in the camp hospitals. In addition, Heart Mountain internees also worked as manual laborers on farms and ranches in Wyoming and nearby states from Nebraska to Oregon. The WRA administrators encouraged activities emphasizing American civics, such as scouting and adult English classes, as part of what they saw as an Americanization process. Committees composed initially of American-born internees provided much of the day-to-day governance of the camps. While these groups provided some measure of self-determination, they disrupted the generational hierarchy. American-born adults in their 20s and 30s were given a higher political status within the camps than their Japanese-born parents.

In 1943, General George Marshall approved the creation of the Japanese-American combat unit. As a result of the low turnout, the War Department extended the draft to the camps. It was decided that while they were not free to go where they chose, these people were needed to serve their country, so a draft was instituted. After they were drafted into the U.S. Army, soldiers from Heart Mountain occasionally returned to visit their families who were still held there. Somehow that doesn’t seem quite fair to me, and many of the prisoners agreed. They thought they should have been given their constitutional rights back before they were drafted. The organization of draft resistance distinguished Heart Mountain from the other relocation centers. The plan, which was given the endorsement of President Roosevelt, was to create an all-Japanese regiment, consisting of soldiers from a previously existing Hawaiian unit and volunteers from the camps. The response from within the camps fell far short of expectations, partly because of a loyalty questionnaire distributed by the WRA. The WRA form was used to determine eligibility for military service and permanent leave. Many of the questions were considered intrusive by prisoners. Others were not as straightforward as the WRA probably intended. Instead of serving as a neutral tool to determine someone’s suitability for service, the questionnaire further alienated many the men. To me it seems that the WRA was somehow not aware of how racist the entire situation really was. For example, question 27 asked about a person’s willingness to serve in the military. For prisoners who felt service should be contingent upon the restoration of constitutional rights to all Japanese Americans, a simple yes or no answer was insufficient. In each of the camps, the draft became a divisive issue. While some prisoners felt military service was an opportunity to exemplify patriotism, others felt that constitutional rights should be restored before agreeing to mandatory service. I doubt if the situation would have ever really been resolved, except that the war ended.

Edward Leedskalnin was a bit of an eccentric, which might have been caused by the sadness of lost love. When Edward was suddenly rejected by his 16 year old fiancée Agnes Skuvst in Latvia, just one day before the wedding, he decided to immigrate to America. Once there, he came down with allegedly terminal tuberculosis, but was spontaneously healed. He believed that magnets had some effect on his disease. I don’t know about that part, but he lived much longer that he was ever expected to.

Leedskalnin decided to build himself a home where he could live out his years in solitude. The resulting “home” was eventually names Coral Castle, but was originally named “Ed’s Place.” Leedskalnin originally built the castle in Florida City, Florida, around 1923. Florida City, which borders the Everglades, is the southernmost city in the United States that is not on an island. It was an extremely remote location with very little development at the time. Leedskalnin built the castle by himself, out of Oolite Limestone. Edward spent more than 28 years building Coral Castle, refusing to allow anyone to view him while he worked. A few teenagers claimed to have watched his work a few times and reported that he had caused the blocks of coral to move like hydrogen balloons. The only tool that Leedskalnin spoke of using was a “perpetual motion holder”. The stones are fastened together without mortar. They are set on top of each other using their weight to keep them together. The craftsmanship detail is so skillful and the stones are connected with such precision that no light passes through the joints. The 8-foot tall vertical stones that make up the perimeter wall have a uniform height. Even with the passage of decades the stones have not shifted.

Leedskalnin purchased the land from Ruben Moser whose wife had assisted him when he had a very bad bout with tuberculosis. The castle remained in Florida City until about 1936 when Leedskalnin decided to move and take the castle with him. He renamed it “Rock Gate.” The move was an even more amazing feat the the first building of the castle. Its second and final location has the mailing address of 28655 South Dixie Highway, Miami, FL 33033, which now appears within Leisure City but which is actually unincorporated county territory. He reportedly chose relocation as a means to protect his privacy when discussion about developing land in the original area of the castle started. He spent three years moving the component structures of Coral Castle 10 miles north of Florida City to its current location outside Homestead, Florida.

At Florida City, Leedskalnin allowed visitors to the castle, charging them ten cents apiece to tour the castle grounds, but after moving to Homestead, he asked for donations of twenty five cents. Nevertheless, he let visitors enter free if they had no money. There are signs carved into rocks at the front gate to “Ring Bell Twice.” He would come down from his living quarters in the second story of the castle tower close to the gate and conduct the tour. Leedskalnin never told anyone who asked him how he made the castle. He would simply answer “It’s not difficult if you know how.” When Leedskalnin became ill in November 1951, he put a sign on the door of the front gate “Going to the Hospital” and took the bus to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. Leedskalnin suffered a stroke at one point, either before he left for the hospital or at the hospital. He died twenty-eight days later of Pyelonephritis (a kidney infection) at the age of 64. His death certificate noted that his death was a result of “uremia; failure of kidneys, as a result of the infection and abscess.” While the property was being investigated, $3,500 was found among Leedskalnin’s personal belongings. Leedskalnin had made his income from conducting tours, selling pamphlets about various subjects (including magnetic currents) and the sale of a portion of his 10-acre property for the construction of U.S. Route 1. As Leedskalnin had no will, the castle became the property of his closest living relative in America, a nephew from Michigan named Harry. Coral Castle’s website reports that the nephew was in poor health and he sold the castle to an Illinois family in 1953. However, this story differs from the obituary of a former Coral Castle owner, Julius Levin, a retired jeweler from Chicago, Illinois. The obituary states Levin had purchased the land from the state of Florida in 1952 and may not have been aware there was even a castle on the land. The new owners turned it into a tourist attraction and changed the name of Rock Gate to Rock Gate Park, and later to Coral Castle. In January 1981, Levin sold the castle to Coral Castle, Inc., for $175,000. The company retains ownership today.

When people think of plastic surgery, the mind congers up images of everything from severe scar repair to vanity surgeries, but who originally came up with these procedures. Although the development of plastic surgery is popularly believed to have taken place in modern times, the origins of plastic surgery are very old. In the early part of the 1400s, the nose received the most attention from the early plastic surgeons. One of the first procedures for reconstructing the nose, a primitive precursor to the nose job, is attributed to a surgeon called Antonio Branca.

After that era, Plastic surgery had to wait until the late 18th century for the next significant advance in its history…the skin graft. And ironically the breakthrough came from rediscovering a procedure developed in ancient India. The severe-looking skin graft procedure was rediscovered in an ancient book called the “Sushruta Samhita,” dating back to 8th century BC. There hidden in the book’s 184 chapters was a technique using a leaf-shaped flap from the forehead to reconstruct the nose. The technique was published in the ‘Gentleman’s Magazine of Calcutta’ in October 1794 and it soon became widely used. It was known as the “Indian Method”.

While these methods undoubtedly had a great impact on the history of plastic surgery, it would be another event that would have one of the biggest impacts on plastic surgery, and its methodology. That event was World War I. Shrapnel was the cause of many facial injuries during world War I, and unlike the straight-line wounds inflicted by bullets, the twisted metal shards produced from a shrapnel blast could easily rip a face off. Harold Gillies, a surgeon, was horrified by the injuries he saw, and he immediately took on the task of helping these victims. He saw these men as more than victims. They were heroes, and that’s how he saw them. He knew he had to do something to help these men get back to a normal life. So, he pioneered early techniques of facial reconstruction in the process.

While these were great advances, it’s likely that the most significant improvements in the history of plastic surgery occurred in the last century. Several plastic surgery techniques were introduced during the world wars. Skin grafting techniques such as the “tubed pedicled graft,” were state of the art during World War I. Archibald McIndoe and Harold Gillies refined the techniques to treat severe facial burns. These staged procedures differed from earlier plastic surgery because they relied on the growth and development of a blood supply from the recipient bed into the grafted tissue over many weeks or months. While that all seems pretty normal these days, it was unheard of until then.

Called an Iron Lung, the negative pressure ventilator was a common tool used to treat polio when that disease was deadly and much feared. Poliomyelitis, which is often called polio or infantile paralysis, is an infectious disease caused by the poliovirus. In about 0.5 percent of cases there is muscle weakness resulting in an inability to move. This can occur over a few hours to a few days. The weakness most often involves the legs but may less commonly involve the muscles of the head, neck and diaphragm. Many people fully recover. In those with muscle weakness about 2 to 5 percent of children and 15 to 30 percent of adults die. Another 25 percent of people have minor symptoms such as fever and a sore throat and up to 5 percent have headache, neck stiffness and pains in the arms and legs. These people are usually back to normal within one or two weeks. In up to 70 percent of infections there are no symptoms. Years after recovery post-polio syndrome may occur, with a slow development of muscle weakness similar to that experienced during the initial infection. Polio is more common in infants and young children, occurring under conditions of poor hygiene.

Because of complete or partial loss of muscle usage, people with polio had a difficult time breathing, which can cause a myriad of problems, including pneumonia. Enter the Emerson iron lung. The affected patient lies within the chamber, which when sealed provides an effectively oscillating atmospheric pressure. A negative pressure ventilator, or iron lung, is a nearly-obsolete mechanical respirator which enables a person to breathe on their own in a normal manner, when muscle control is lost, or the work of breathing exceeds the person’s ability, as may result from certain diseases. Polio was not the only disease that called for the iron lung. In addition to Polio, botulism and certain poisons, such as barbiturates, tubocurarine, also benefited from its use.

Versions of the Iron Lung include both the Drinker respirator, the Emerson respirator, and the Both (Emerson-Drinker) respirator. The negative form of pressure ventilation…decreasing surrounding pressure to induce inhalation then re-pressurizing to 1 bar (15 psi; 750 mmHg)…has been almost entirely superseded by positive pressure ventilation (forcing air into the lungs with a pressure greater than 1 bar then allowing the body to naturally exhale before repeating) or negative pressure cuirass ventilation. While the iron lung is not used anymore, it served a useful purpose in its day.

When I think of people disappearing, my Christian mind automatically envisions the rapture of the church, but there have, of course, been other times when people have disappeared, and some of them were utterly horrifying. One such horrifying version of people disappearing is the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I have never been able to wrap my head around my feelings about the Atomic Bombs that were dropped on August 6 and August 9, 1945, respectively. Though we were at war, the Atomic Bomb seemed such an extreme weapon. Nevertheless, it was what was used those days to show that we meant business.

On August 6th, one of its B-29s dropped a Little Boy uranium gun-type bomb on Hiroshima. Three days later, on August 9th, a Fat Man plutonium implosion-type bomb was dropped by another B-29 on Nagasaki. The bombs immediately devastated their targets. Over the next two to four months, the acute effects of the atomic bombings killed 90,000–146,000 people in Hiroshima and 39,000–80,000 people in Nagasaki…roughly half of the deaths in each city occurred on the first day. Large numbers of people continued to die from the effects of burns, radiation sickness, and other injuries, compounded by illness and malnutrition, for many months afterward. In both cities, most of the dead were civilians, although Hiroshima had a sizable military garrison. While the bombings were met with mixed feelings worldwide, the plan worked. Just six days later, on August 15, 1945, Japan announced its surrender.

The atomic bombs were successful, but as I said, my feelings were similar to the rest of the world’s feelings. The devastation from the bombs was unbelievable. Those who survived the initial attack died a slow death, and in reality that was the worse way to go. Those who were killed instantly, were in reality obliterated…they simply disappeared. As shocking as that was to me, what I found even more shocking was what was left behind. The atomic bombs basically burned a picture of the victims onto whatever was near them…a wall, stairs, or the side of a building. That was difficult to wrap my head around. When I saw a nuclear shadow of a child playing jump rope that was flashed against the side of a building, my thoughts immediately went to the fact that this child had no idea that his life was about to be over. I don’t suppose there was time for him to feel any pain, and that was probably the most merciful part of the entire horrible event.

The nuclear shadows were everywhere, preserved as vivid reminders of what had taken place. For as long as ten years, the shadows were still there. Then they started to fade. As buildings were remodeled, some of the shadows were removed at preserved in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. One shadow, thought to be the outline of a person who was sitting at the entrance of Hiroshima Branch of Sumitomo Bank when the atomic bomb was dropped over Hiroshima, is known as Human Shadow of Death. According to the museum, “it is thought that the person had been sitting on the stone step waiting for the bank to open when the heat from the bomb burned the surrounding stone white and left their shadow. A black deposit was also found on the shadow. A piece of stone containing the artifact was cut from the original location and moved to the museum.” Also, according to museum staff, “many visitors to the museum believe that the shadow is the outline of a human vaporized immediately after the bombing. However, the possibility of human vaporization is not supported from a medical perspective. The ground surface temperature is thought to have ranged from 3,000 to 4,000 degrees Celsius just after the bombing. Exposing a body to this level of radiant heat would leave bones and carbonized organs behind. While radiation could severely inflame and ulcerate the skin, complete vaporization of the body is impossible.” Nevertheless, it appears to have happened, whether they believe it or not.

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