Heroes of the Past

Too often we forget the names and stories of people who have helped shape the American character in an inspiring way. Other times, we know who they are but their true story gets lost in myth and Hollywood dramatization.

Please enjoy these snippets from our past. As a history buff, the people I add mean a lot to me and I hope they do to you as well.

~

FOR WEEK ENDING JUNE 1, 2013:

~

FOR WEEK ENDING MAY 25, 2013:

~

FOR WEEK ENDING MAY 18, 2013:

~

FOR WEEK ENDING MAY 11, 2013:

~

FOR WEEK ENDING MAY 4, 2013:

~

FOR WEEK ENDING APRIL 27, 2013:

~

FOR WEEK ENDING APRIL 20, 2013:

~

FOR WEEK ENDING APRIL 13, 2013:

~

FOR WEEK ENDING APRIL 6, 2013:

~

FOR WEEK ENDING MARCH 30, 2013:

~

FOR WEEK ENDING MARCH 23, 2013:

~

FOR WEEK ENDING MARCH 16, 2013:

~

FOR WEEK ENDING MARCH 9, 2013:

~

FOR WEEK ENDING MARCH 2, 2013:

~

FOR WEEK ENDING FEBRUARY 23, 2013:

~

FOR WEEK ENDING FEBRUARY 16, 2013:

~

FOR WEEK ENDING FEBRUARY 9, 2013:

~

FOR WEEK ENDING FEBRUARY 2, 2013:

~

FOR WEEK ENDING JANUARY 26, 2013:

~

FOR WEEK ENDING JANUARY 19, 2013:

~

FOR WEEK ENDING JANUARY 12, 2013:

 

~

FOR WEEK ENDING JANUARY 5, 2013:

American Black Inventor

While not exactly a ’round number anniversary’ of any sort–he was both born and died in January, George Washington Carver is well worth mentioning at any time as a hero of the past for all of his achievements. Born at the end of slavery in 1864, this extraordinary man overcame great obstacles to invent products and agricultural practices  still in use or influence today. Please read more:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Washington_Carver

http://www.biography.com/people/george-washington-carver-9240299

http://www.nps.gov/gwca/index.htm

~

FOR WEEK ENDING DECEMBER 29, 2012:

Heroism during a Shooting

In a season that seems to be riddled with heartbreak over the shootings rather than the joy that Christmas is supposed to bring, I wanted to pay tribute to a man who helped stop the shooting at the University of Texas in 1966. He recently died. I didn’t want to let his passing go unnoticed:

http://www.dallasnews.com/news/local-news/20121227-austin-officer-who-stopped-sniper-at-university-of-texas-tower-in-1966-dies.ece

~

FOR WEEK ENDING DECEMBER 22, 2012:

Antarctic Exploration

One hundred years ago, the age of exploration and discovery extended to the Antarctic. Please take the time to read more about these incredible and daring men:

http://www.south-pole.com/

http://phys.org/news/2012-12-team-site-heroic-age-antarctic.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Falcon_Scott

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roald_Amundsen

~

FOR WEEK ENDING DECEMBER 15, 2012:

Savior of Civilians from Terrorists

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict will not be solved here. End of story; I’m not interested in doing battle over that on my website. So regardless of anyone’s position, I wanted to highlight an Israeli commando that gave his life to save civilians hijacked and flown to Uganda by terrorists more than 35 years ago. If you’ve seen the movie Raid on Entebbe, you’ll know what a perilous situation and an amazing rescue it was. Yoni Netanyahu (brother of the prime minister) is the subject of a new film and book. Read more about this fascinating man here:

http://www.wnd.com/2012/12/heroic-midnight-rescue-frees-israeli-hostages/

http://www.yoni.org.il/

~

FOR WEEK ENDING DECEMBER 8:

Women on Defense in the Wild West

Wars are fought by men, and are the heartbreak of women and children. Untold thousands of women and children were the victims on both sides of battles between the US government and the Indian tribes as the US population moved west. While I hope to highlight heroic Indians at a later point of my website, today I want to post an example of some of the brave women settlers who were caught in the crossroads of the raids:

http://www.postbulletin.com/news/stories/display.php?id=1515190

http://www.texasbeyondhistory.net/forts/frontier.html

~

FOR WEEK ENDING DECEMBER 1:

Band of Brothers

The term Band of Brothers is used to describe men, both biologically and emotionally, that are linked through some sort of action or event, in particular, during war. Here is a wonderful true story I came across about one of the many ‘band of brothers’ that served during WWII:

http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/News/Son-discovers-his-familys-heroic-Band-of-Brothers-15112012.htm

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2233512/The-real-Band-Brothers-Family-tree-researcher-discovers-father-EIGHT-siblings-served-World-War-Two.html#ixzz2CLgnWqq8

~

FOR WEEK ENDING NOVEMBER 24, 2012:

A Daring Escape

The hot, new movie this season is Argo, which is based upon the rescue/escape of 6 Americans by Canada, Britain and New Zealand from Iran in 1980, following the hostage takeover of our embassy in Tehran. Read the CIA’s  account of the event, the heroes involved with this daring incident and the background to the movie:

https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/winter99-00/art1.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argo_(2012_film)

~

FOR WEEK ENDING NOVEMBER 17, 2012:

A Journey to the Promised Land

Many people are unaware that, prior to WWII and the creation of Israel, Jewish people lived throughout the Middle East. After 1948, tension increased and Jewish citizens within now-hostile neighbors of Israel were arrested and detained without due process. Read more about a great woman who who worked for nearly three decades to secure the release of over 3000 people from Syria to freedom:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judy_Feld_Carr

~

FOR WEEK ENDING NOVEMBER 10, 2012:

A Sharpshooter’s Story

Tomorrow is Veterans Day. In salute of our veterans, please take the time to learn about one of our greatest heroes during WWI, Sgt. Alvin York. Sgt. York was a reputed pacifist who ultimately served honorably during the war. Please read more here about him as well as Veteran’s Day (and, take time to watch the movie Sergeant York,  starring the delish Gary Cooper):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alvin_C._York

http://www.firstworldwar.com/bio/york.htm

http://www.army.mil/article/90953/History_of_Veterans_Day/

~

FOR WEEK ENDING NOVEMBER 3:

Freedom of The Press

In much of the world, the freedom of the press, for which we take for granted, is severely curtailed or controlled by the authorities. Hitler was no exception to controlling the press in Nazi Germany. The group that gave his most pains was one he derisively called “The Poison Kitchen,” which was a group of writers, editors and publishers who wrote disparagingly against the dictator. Read more about these protectors of our right to speak freely:

http://www.history.ucsb.edu/projects/holocaust/Research/Proseminar/saratwogood.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poison_Kitchen

~

FOR WEEK END ING OCTOBER 27, 2012:  

Heroic WWI Nurse

It’s not only soldiers that die during war. Often it is their caregivers as well. Please read about Edith Cavell, British nurse during WWI, who helped Allied soldiers recover, and later escape to safety. She was captured by the Germans and executed, much to the anguish her Allied supporters. I’ve added not only her Wiki bio, but a bio written by Gordon Brown, former Primer Minister of Great Britain:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edith_Louisa_Cavell

http://www.nightingaledeclaration.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=126&Itemid=57

~

FOR WEEK ENDING OCTOBER 20, 2012:

A Young Historic Re-enactor

Earlier this week, I posted a story about a young lady that dresses as a historical figure every day. I’m not sure if she is a hero of the past , of the present, or a little bit of both, but if you didn’t get a chance to read about her, please do so now:

http://www.omaha.com/article/20121016/NEWS/710169942

~

FOR WEEK ENDING OCTOBER 13, 2012: Recently, WWII hero Raoul Wallenberg was posthumously honored with the Congressional Gold Medal for his efforts in saving thousands of Jews from certain death during the war. Read more about this extraordinary man:

http://www.raoulwallenberg.org/index.htm.html

~

FOR WEEK ENDING OCTOBER 06, 2012:

Semper Fi!

From the Halls of Montezuma, to the Shores of Tripoli. I wonder how many people have heard the Marines’ hymn, but had no idea what who or what the lyrics meant. The ‘Shores of Tripoli’ refers to America’s first war on terror, as it has been described as of late, the wars with the Barbary Pirates off the coast of modern-day Libya (sounds familiar?). Read more about the heroic efforts made by American sailors and soldiers, in particular, Presley O’Bannon, to defeat piracy against our merchant ships in the Mediterranean:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Barbary_War

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Barbary_War

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presley_O’Bannon

http://www.victoryintripoli.com/ Book for sale.

http://history1800s.about.com/od/americanwars/tp/barbarywars.htm

~

FOR WEEK ENDING SEPTEMBER 29, 2012:

The Flying Tigers

The Flying Tigers are a part of WWII lore like few other air units. Their signature shark-face emblem on the nose of the plane, coupled with their ability to bring down enemy planes in impressive numbers made them heroes to the folks back home. Several movies have been made about or reference to, most notably Flying Tigers with John Wayne. Read more about this extraordinary group of pilots:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Tigers

http://www.flyingtigerhistoricalorganization.com/ Link to a memorial site in Guilin, China.

http://www.warbirdforum.com/avg.htm Lots of links for this as well as other WWI info.

~

FOR WEEK ENDING SEPTEMBER 22, 2012:

Midnight Riders

Listen my children and you shall hear, the midnight right of Paul Revere. Most of remember these lines from Longfellow’s poem about Paul Revere’s heroic ride that we learned as children. But Paul Revere was not the only person that risked his life to warn fellow Americans about the British; there was even a woman! Read and learn a bit about some of the other riders:

Paul Revere: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Revere

http://www.paulreverehouse.org/ Bio & museum info

Sybil Ludington: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sybil_Ludington

http://www.anb.org/articles/20/20-01901.html

Isreal Bissell: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israel_Bissell

http://www.connecticutsar.org/patriots/israel_bissell.htm There are additional links on this page.

Samuel Prescott: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Prescott

http://www.concordma.com/magazine/julaug01/samuelprescott.html

http://www.samuelprescott.net/ This is a link to buy the the book online.

William Dawes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Dawes

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/patriotsday/peopleevents/p_dawes.html

~

FOR WEEK ENDING SEPTEMBER 15, 2012: Japan and China have been in the news quite a bit as of late, due to disputes regarding ownership of the islands in the East China Sea, which has been highlighted in the Spot of Tea newswire. The animosity between these two countries goes back generations. The most infamous atrocity committed by the Japanese against the Chinese was the Rape of Nanking, the 1937-38 occupation and slaughter of Chinese civilians by Japanese soldiers in the city of Nanking, China. I wanted to make my heroes of the week some of the missionairies that protected the Chinese people against the gruesome treatment by the Japanese:

John Rabe, German businessman best known for his establishment of a “safety zone” in Nanking which protected thousands from torture and death: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Rabe

Minnie Vautrin, American missionary who saved many girls at the college she founded from almost certain harm: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnie_Vautrin

Gladys Aylward, British missionary who escorted orphans to safety during 1938 attacks by the Japanese.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gladys_Aylward   http://www.heroesofhistory.com/page46.html

There are also movies related to all three: The Inn  of the Sixth Happiness, not historically accurate by some accounts, but enjoyable and relatively family-friendly;  Nanking and John Rabe, both visually brutal and heart-wrenching. do not watch with young children.

~

FOR WEEK ENDING SEPTEMBER 8, 2012: John and Abigail Adams hold a unique place in American history. As partners in both marriage and politics, they charted a course which helped lay the foundations towards the rights of minorities and women as a matter of public policy. Abigail was raised in the Quaker tradition and was anti-slavery, as was her husband John. For his part, John consulted his wife on matters pertaining to governance and public policy, at a time when men typically did not regard their wives’ opinions as relevant in this regard. Go to your favorite source to rent the movie John Adams (2008),  or read more about them here:

http://www.biography.com/people/groups/abigail-and-john-adams

http://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/aea/letter/

~

FOR WEEK ENDING SEPTEMBER 1, 2012: There is a great misconception about the foundations of our nation and the role women played in the early years. Anne Bradstreet and Anne Hutchinson were two 17th century women who rebelled against the role imposed upon them by society, a very common American theme. Both educated and independent-minded, Bradstreet is known as one of America’s first authors and Hutchinson was tried, and later banished, for “subversive” religious practices and thoughts. Read more about these two remarkable women and the roles they played in shaping early America:

http://www.annebradstreet.com/

http://annebradstreet.org/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Bradstreet

http://www.annehutchinson.com/Default.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Hutchinson

~

FOR WEEK ENDING AUGUST 25, 2012: I just finished reading (as part of my summer reading) a fantastic book called The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York. The book is, for a lack of a better term, the professional biography of Charles Norris and Alexander Gettler, two New York toxicologists, as well as the biography of popular poisons. I like reading books by Wisconsin authors, so I came across this rather bewitching novel quite by accident.

Set in the years just prior to and just after Prohibition, Norris and Gettler were on the cutting edge of forensic science as both a discipline and as a matter of legal application. A fascinating book, even for those of you that failed high school chemistry! To buy a copy, go to any of your standard booksellers: Amazon, Alibris, etc.

~

FOR WEEK ENDING AUGUST 18, 2012: Most people know the name Florence Nightingale, but how many know the name Clara Barton? You should–she was the founder of the American Red Cross. Read more about this great lady and the organiztion she spearheaded in the United States:

http://clarabartonbirthplace.org/site/

http://www.nps.gov/clba/index.htm

http://www.redcross.org/

~

FOR WEEK ENDING AUGUST 11, 2012: Just short of the 11th anniversary of 9/11, I wanted to salute the first responder. While 11 years is not the distance past, in light of the shootings in Aurora and more recently, in the Sikh Temple Oak Creek, WI, I want to remind people that there are people out there willing to put their lives on the line so that they might save yours. I have related information on the Modern Heroes page.

http://www.911memorial.org/

~

FOR WEEK ENDING AUGUST 4, 2012 Few things define the American character more than the cowboy and cowgirl. Hardworking and independent, the cowboy and cowgirl appear time and again in movies, songs and literature. In a recent visit to Fort Worth, Texas, I had the opportunity to visit the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame. It was an eye-opening visit, and I learned a lot of things I did not know about cowgirls. It should be something every mom should take her daughter to while in Texas. The museum tells the story of women’s struggles for equality within a male-dominated industry, but does so without the “feminazi” sentiments of modern feminism:

http://www.cowgirl.net/

http://www.nationalcowboymuseum.org/info/ContactUs.aspx  While in Oklahoma, please visit The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.

~

FOR WEEK ENDING JULY 28, 2012: Prior to the Civil War, my home state of Wisconsin had a strong anti-slavery sentiment. As students, we learned about an abolitionist named Sherman Booth and a runaway slave names Joshua Glover. Please read about these two persons that helped define the spririt of freedom in Wisconsin. Their story also sheds light on the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 and states rights:

http://www.library.wisc.edu/etext/wireader/WER1124.html

http://www.burlingtonhistory.org/joshua_glover.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sherman_Booth

~

FOR WEEK ENDING JULY 21, 2012: The history of the Pony Express is a short, but indelible one in the annals of America’s push westward. Caught between a sliver of time where the world was transitioning into new technologies (the telegraph and the transcontinental railroad), the story of the Pony Express offers another glimpse into a bygone era of the American West:

http://www.ponyexpress.org/history

http://www.xphomestation.com/2011%20Re-Ride.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pony_Express

~

FOR WEEK ENDING JULY 14, 2012: John Wesley Powell was an extraordinary man during America’s westward expansion. A Civil war veteran, Powell lost his arm during the war but continued to live as though he was fully-abled. While he has many accomplishments, including his positive works on behalf of the American Indians, he is best known for being one of the first white man to successfully navigate the brutal rapids of the Colorado River. Did I mention one arm? Read about this and much more:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/canyon/peopleevents/pandeAMEX05.html

http://www.powellmuseum.org/museum_powell.php

~

FOR WEEK ENDING JULY : In honor of our founding fathers, I wanted to link you with the website for the original tea party museum. I’ve featured a few stories on the news section regarding it’s opening. Opened in June 2012, the museum offers visitors a glimpse of life at the period leading up to the American Revolution. Even if you cannot visit the museum anytime soon, check out their website. They provide a nice timeline and background regarding the events that led to the original tea party:

http://www.bostonteapartyship.com/

~

FOR WEEK ENDING JUNE 30, 2012: Harriet Tubman is one of the most amazing women in American history. Born into slavery, Tubman freed herself and hundreds of others through the Undreground Railroad. Her story is worth knowing and preserving. While most American know her name, few know her story. Take the time to read more about her:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harriet_Tubman Wikipedia gets a bad rap, and it is sometimes deserved, but they have a better bio than the website below. However, it is bizarre that her “employer” is listed as her former slaveowner.

http://www.harriettubman.com/

~

FOR WEEK ENDING JUNE 23, 2012: One of the unfortunate by-products of our modern age is a laziness of mind, body and spirit among too many Americans. To many people have come to “expect” things that they feel they “deserve.” Coupled with this feeling of self-entitlement is a shameful lack of understanding of American history and how hard people worked in order to succeed in America. Most Americans will not have heard of Madam CJ Walker, but they should. Born in the Reconstruction era of the South, she became one of the first black millionaires in this country at the turn of the 20th century. Read more here and check out the HGTV video on her bio page:

http://www.madamcjwalker.com/

~

FOR WEEK ENDING JUNE 16, 2012: This is one of those war stories that are about ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Violette Szabo was a British citizen that was inspired to join the underground movement in France upon the death of her husband Etienne, at El Alamein. The book and movie, Carve Her Name With Pride, was based upon her life and the recollections of those that served with her:

http://www.violetteszabo.org/

http://www.violette-szabo-museum.co.uk/foyer.htm

~

FOR WEEK ENDING JUNE 9, 2012:

D-Day Tribute

To honor D-Day, I wanted to add this story about a WWII vet that was honored with the Medal of Honor for his service during the Battle of the Bulge, a battle that would be the Germans final stand in the waning days of the war. His story is representative of the millions who fought against the specter of Fascism and Naziism:

http://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120528/NEWS/205280325

~

FOR WEEK ENDING JUNE 2, 2012:

Hollywood Patriotism

Patriotism is a scarce character trait in modern Hollywood. But during WWII, many actors and actresses served, and sometimes died, in the service of their country.

Clark Gable, President Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Stewart served in various branches of the military. Glenn Miller served in the Air Corps and was shot down over the English Channel. Errol Flynn, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., and Leslie Howard were all reputed to have spied for the Allies, with Howard losing his life after his plane was shot down. Carole Lombard died in a plane crash during a bond tour.

But the most famous, and most decorated, did not even enter Hollywood until after his service. Audie Murphy was 17 when he enlisted in the Army and was awarded 33 awards and decorations during his three years of service . Many of you may know him from westerns he made in the 1950’s and 60’s. During this Memorial Day, read more about this rare and distinguished American:

http://www.audiemurphy.com/

~

FOR WEEK ENDING MAY 26, 2012:

A Revolutionary Spy

This young lady was one of my favorite stories from childhood. My dad was a history buff and instilled in me a love for learning about the past. Emily Geiger was a courier for Gen. Nathaniel Greene during the Revolutionary War. Please enjoy the stories of her adventure, as well as a brief bio from Wikipedia:

http://www.historyswomen.com/earlyamerica/EmilyGeiger.html A synopsis of the event.

http://swtwin2.hubpages.com/hub/The-Midnight-Ride-of-Emily-Geiger A longer verion of Emily tribulations.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emily_Geiger

~

FOR WEEK ENDING MAY 19, 2012:

America’s First All-Woman Town Council

Only the third week into  my history lesson and a theme is occurring: pioneering women of the American West. I found out about these women a few years ago doing research on another topic. In 1911, a group of five women ran for–and won–the town council election in Kanab City, Utah.

The history of women is being erased by people who want you to believe that women’s struggles for equality began in the 1960’s. There are those who would have you believe that, with a few rare exceptions, women were barefoot, pregnant and subservient until about 50 years ago. Here are five women with guts and determination:

http://www.kanabguide.com/articleDetails.cfm?recordID=44

Here is the Kanab City, Utah, home page which has an announcement of the 100th anniversary of the election, plus a photo of re-enactors:

http://kanab.utah.gov/

~

FOR WEEK ENDING MAY 12, 2012:

The Smith Rebellion of 1765–Precursor to the American Revolution

How often do you watch a movie and wonder, “is any of this based on the truth?” John Wayne’s 1939 adventure movie Allegheny Uprising is one such movie which is loosely based upon actual events.

If you would like to read a great story about a group of (future) Americans that stood up against government oppression and manipulation, read these websites:

http://smithrebellion1765.com/

http://savesmithhouse.com/

~

FOR WEEK ENDING MAY 5, 2012:

Dr. Susan Anderson “Doc Susie”

I chose “Doc Susie” as my inaugural historical “hero” because I think she typifies the pioneering spirit of the American woman at the turn of the last century. I discovered her a few years ago on a trip to Colorado. I was browsing gift shops and came across a biography about her. I’ve not only added a link to a short bio about her, but have also added an Amazon.com link to the book that I read and enjoyed.

http://www.legendsofamerica.com/we-drsusy.html

http://www.amazon.com/Doc-Susie-Virginia-Cornell/dp/0804109567