Category Archives: Patriotic

Congress adopts the Stars and Stripes

During the American Revolution, the Continental Congress adopts a resolution stating that “the flag of the United States be thirteen alternate stripes red and white” and that “the Union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.” The national flag, which became known as the “Stars and Stripes,” was based on the “Grand Union” flag, a banner carried by the Continental Army in 1776 that also consisted of 13 red and white stripes. According to legend, Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross designed the new canton for the Stars and Stripes, which consisted of a circle of 13 stars and a blue background, at the request of General George Washington. Historians have been unable to conclusively prove or disprove this legend.

With the entrance of new states into the United States after independence, new stripes and stars were added to represent new additions to the Union. In 1818, however, Congress enacted a law stipulating that the 13 original stripes be restored and that only stars be added to represent new states.

On June 14, 1877, the first Flag Day observance was held on the 100th anniversary of the adoption of the Stars and Stripes. As instructed by Congress, the U.S. flag was flown from all public buildings across the country. In the years after the first Flag Day, several states continued to observe the anniversary, and in 1949 Congress officially designated June 14 as Flag Day, a national day of observance.

D-Day

D DayJune 6, 1944
Flag at Half Mast

Happy Memorial Day!

Flag at Half Mast

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. men and women who died while in the military service. First enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War (it is celebrated near the day of reunification after the civil war), it was expanded after World War I to include American casualties of any war or military action.

It Has Always Been The Soldier

First Allied Jet Flies

FIRST ALLIED JET FLIES:
May 15, 1941

On May 15, 1941, the jet-propelled Gloster-Whittle E 28/39 aircraft flies successfully over Cranwell, England, in the first test of an Allied aircraft using jet propulsion. The aircraft’s turbojet engine, which produced a powerful thrust of hot air, was devised by Frank Whittle, an English aviation engineer and pilot generally regarded as the father of the jet engine.

Whittle, born in Coventry in 1907, was the son of a mechanic. At the age of 16, he joined the Royal Air Force (RAF) as an aircraft apprentice at Cranwell and in 1926 passed a medical exam to become a pilot and joined the RAF College. He won a reputation as a daredevil flier and in 1928 wrote a senior thesis entitled Future Developments in Aircraft Design, which discussed the possibilities of rocket propulsion.

From the first Wright brothers flight in 1903 to the first jet flight in 1939, most airplanes were propeller driven. In 1910, the French inventor Henri Coanda built a jet-propelled bi-plane, but it crashed on its maiden flight and never flew again. Coanda’s aircraft attracted little notice, and engineers stuck with propeller technology; even though they realized early on that propellers would never overcome certain inherent limitations, especially in regard to speed.

After graduating from the RAF college, Whittle was posted to a fighter squadron, and in his spare time he worked out the essentials of the modern turbojet engine. A flying instructor, impressed with his propulsion ideas, introduced him to the Air Ministry and a private turbine engineering firm, but both ridiculed Whittle’s ideas as impractical. In 1930, he patented his jet engine concept and in 1936 formed the company Power Jets Ltd. to build and test his invention. In 1937, he tested his first jet engine on the ground. He still received only limited funding and support, and on August 27, 1939, the German Heinkel He 178, designed by Hans Joachim Pabst von Ohain, made the first jet flight in history. The German prototype jet was developed independently of Whittle’s efforts.

One week after the flight of the He 178, World War II broke out in Europe, and Whittle’s project got a further lease of life. The Air Ministry commissioned a new jet engine from Power Jets and asked the Gloster Aircraft Company to build an experimental aircraft to accommodate it, specified as E 28/39. On May 15, 1941, the jet-propelled Gloster-Whittle E 28/39 flew, beating out a jet prototype being developed by the same British turbine company that earlier balked at his ideas. In its initial tests, Whittle’s aircraft–flown by the test pilot Gerry Sayer–achieved a top speed of 370 mph at 25,000 feet, faster than the Spitfire or any other conventional propeller-driven machine.

As the Gloster Aircraft Company worked on an operational turbojet aircraft for combat, Whittle aided the Americans in their successful development of a jet prototype. With Whittle’s blessing, the British government took over Power Jets Ltd. in 1944. By this time, Britain’s Gloster Meteor jet aircraft were in service with the RAF, going up against Germany’s jet-powered Messerschmitt Me 262s in the skies over Europe.

Whittle retired from the RAF in 1948 with the rank of air commodore. That year, he was awarded 100,000 pounds by the Royal Commission on Awards to Inventors and was knighted. His book Jet: The Story of a Pioneer was published in 1953. In 1977, he became a research professor at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. He died in Columbia, Maryland, in 1996.

Peace Officers Memorial Day

Flag at Half Mast

Flags at half-staff today to honor fallen officers

Flags are to fly at half-staff today for Peace Officers Memorial Day. Gov. Rendell has ordered Pennsylvania flags at state facilities to be flown at half-staff, and President Obama directed the same for U.S. flags.
“On this day, we pay tribute to the local, state, and federal law enforcement officers who provide a vital public service and, too often, pay the ultimate sacrifice to safeguard the rights and freedoms of our citizens,” Rendell said in a statement. “We honor them for their character, leadership, and courage.”

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy and Congress designated May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day. The calendar week in which May 15 falls is National Police Week.

1961 : The first American in space

From Cape Canaveral, Florida, Navy Commander Alan Bartlett Shepard Jr. is launched into space aboard the Freedom 7 space capsule, becoming the first American astronaut to travel into space. The suborbital flight, which lasted 15 minutes and reached a height of 116 miles into the atmosphere, was a major triumph for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Founding of the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress was established on April 24, 1800, when President John Adams signed an Act of Congress providing for the transfer of the seat of government from Philadelphia to the new capital city of Washington. Part of the legislation appropriated $5,000 “for the purchase of such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress …, and for fitting up a suitable apartment for containing them….” Books were ordered from London and the collection, consisting of 740 books and 30 maps, was housed in the new Capitol. Although the collection covered a variety of topics, the bulk of the materials were legal in nature, reflecting Congress’ role as a maker of laws.

Thomas Jefferson played an important role in the Library’s early formation, signing into law on January 26, 1802 the first law establishing the structure of the Library of Congress. The law established the presidentially appointed post of Librarian of Congress and a Joint Committee on the Library to regulate and oversee the Library, as well as giving the president and vice president the ability to borrow books. The Library of Congress was destroyed in August 1814, when invading British troops set fire to the Capitol building and the small library of 3,000 volumes within.

Within a month, former President Jefferson offered his personal library as a replacement. Jefferson had spent 50 years accumulating a wide variety of books, including ones in foreign languages and volumes of philosophy, science, literature, and other topics not normally viewed as part of a legislative library, such as cookbooks, writing that, “I do not know that it contains any branch of science which Congress would wish to exclude from their collection; there is, in fact, no subject to which a Member of Congress may not have occasion to refer.” In January 1815, Congress accepted Jefferson’s offer, appropriating $23,950 to purchase his 6,487 books.

Wikipedia Article

Houston, We’ve Had A Problem…

April 17th, 1970 the capsule from the Apollo 13 mission splashed down in the Pacific Ocean, and the whole world breathed a sigh of relief.

Quote


Apollo 13 launched from Cape Canaveral on April 11, intended to be the third manned lunar landing. The crew — James A. Lovell Jr., John L. Swigert Jr. and Fred W. Haise Jr. — experienced a slight vibration shortly after launch, but things were going normally until 55 hours, 55 minutes into the flight.

Oxygen tank No. 2 exploded, causing No. 1 to fail and start leaking rapidly. Warning lights started blinking. The astronaut’s supplies of air, water, light and electricity were imperiled … 200,000 miles from Earth.


 

Abraham Lincoln Assassinated

On this day in 1865, John Wilkes Booth, an actor and Confederate sympathizer, fatally shoots President Abraham Lincoln at a play at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. The attack came only five days after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered his massive army at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, effectively ending the American Civil War.

Booth, a Maryland native born in 1838, who remained in the North during the war despite his Confederate sympathies, initially plotted to capture President Lincoln and take him to Richmond, the Confederate capital. However, on March 20, 1865, the day of the planned kidnapping, the president failed to appear at the spot where Booth and his six fellow conspirators lay in wait. Two weeks later, Richmond fell to Union forces. In April, with Confederate armies near collapse across the South, Booth hatched a desperate plan to save the Confederacy.

Learning that Lincoln was to attend a performance of “Our American Cousin” at Ford’s Theater on April 14, Booth masterminded the simultaneous assassination of Lincoln, Vice President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William H. Seward. By murdering the president and two of his possible successors, Booth and his conspirators hoped to throw the U.S. government into disarray.

On the evening of April 14, 1865, conspirator Lewis T. Powell burst into Secretary of State Seward’s home, seriously wounding him and three others, while George A. Atzerodt, assigned to Vice President Johnson, lost his nerve and fled. Meanwhile, just after 10 p.m., Booth entered Lincoln’s private theater box unnoticed and shot the president with a single bullet in the back of his head. Slashing an army officer who rushed at him, Booth leapt to the stage and shouted “Sic semper tyrannis! [Thus always to tyrants]–the South is avenged!” Although Booth broke his leg jumping from Lincoln’s box, he managed to escape Washington on horseback.

The president, mortally wounded, was carried to a lodging house opposite Ford’s Theater. About 7:22 a.m. the next morning, Lincoln, age 56, died–the first U.S. president to be assassinated. Booth, pursued by the army and other secret forces, was finally cornered in a barn near Bowling Green, Virginia, and died from a possibly self-inflicted bullet wound as the barn was burned to the ground. Of the eight other people eventually charged with the conspiracy, four were hanged and four were jailed.

Anniversary of Apollo 13

Apollo 13 was the seventh manned mission in the American Apollo space program and the third intended to land on the Moon. The craft was launched on April 11, 1970, at 13:13 CST from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, but the lunar landing was aborted after an oxygen tank exploded two days later, crippling the Service Module (SM) upon which the Command Module (CM) depended. Despite great hardship caused by limited power, loss of cabin heat, shortage of potable water, and the critical need to jury-rig the carbon dioxide removal system, the crew returned safely to Earth on April 17.

The flight was commanded by James A. Lovell with John L. “Jack” Swigert as Command Module Pilot and Fred W. Haise as Lunar Module Pilot. Swigert was a late replacement for the original CM pilot Ken Mattingly, who was grounded by the flight surgeon after exposure to German measles.

Apollo 13: Lovell, Swigert, Haise

Apollo 13: Lovell, Swigert, Haise

Original crew photo. Left to right: Lovell, Mattingly, Haise

Original crew photo. Left to right: Lovell, Mattingly, Haise

This is the insignia of the Apollo 13 lunar landing mission.

This is the insignia of the Apollo 13 lunar landing mission.

Mercury 7

Mercury 7

On this day in 1959, NASA announced The Mercury Seven: the seven men to make up their first astronaut class.

The Mercury Seven were chosen in Washington, DC from a body of 69 candidates. The name comes from Mercury, a Roman mythological god who is seen as a symbol of speed. Because of the small space inside the Mercury capsule, candidates could be no taller than 5 feet 11 inches and weigh no more than 180 pounds. The initial flights took off throughout the early 1960s, though some astronauts were active in later decades. Here are the guys:

Malcolm Scott Carpenter (1925 – 2013) was a US Navy piolot aviation cadet who flew missions during the Korean War. He was on board the MA-7 (Aurora 7) and was the first American astronaut to eat solid food in space. He successfully overcame an overexpenditure of fuel due to hardware problems on his one and only mission. Carpenter was forced to retire from spaceflight after sustaining a motorbike accident. After retiring from the Navy, he founded Sea Sciences Inc., a corporation for developing programs for utilizing ocean resources and improving environmental health.

Leroy Gordon (Gordo) Cooper Jr. (1927 – 2004) was very active in the Boy Scouts of America and achieved the second highest rank of Life Scout. Prior to joining NASA, Cooper also served in the US Air Force and Marine Corps. He was on board the MA-9 (Faith 7) and Gemini 5, and developed a personal survival knife for astronauts to carry. Cooper was the first American to sleep in orbit. Interestingly, he took photos of and reported UFO sightings to the Pentagon, but they swept the incident under the rug.

John Herschel Glenn Jr. (1921 – 2016) began his career as a US Marine Corps fighter pilot. He was on board the MA-6 (Friendship 7) and STS-95. Noticed for his heroics in space, Glenn became friendly with the Kennedys and a prominent public figure. After retiring from NASA, he ran as a Democrat and represented the state of Ohio in the United States Senate from 1974 to 1999.  Glenn returned to space on the Space Shuttle on October 29, 1998, as a Payload Specialist on Discovery‘s STS-95 mission, becoming, at age 77, the oldest person to go into space. According to The New York Times, Glenn “won his seat on the Shuttle flight by lobbying NASA for two years to fly as a human guinea pig for geriatric studies”, which were named as the main reasons for his participation in the mission.

Virgil Ivan (Gus) Grissom (1926 – 1967) was a US Air Force pilot before joining NASA. He was on board the MR-4 (Liberty Bell 7), Gemini 3, and Apollo 1. Grissom was tragically killed along with fellow astronauts Ed White and Roger Chaffee during a pre-launch test for the Apollo 1 mission. After death, his family was involved in a spacesuit controversy: NASA insisted Grissom got authorization to use his spacesuit for a show and tell at his son’s school and never returned it, but his family claimed the he had rescued the spacesuit from a scrap heap and that it rightfully belonged to them.

Walter Marty (Wally) Schirra Jr. (1923 – 2007)’s father was a pilot, and his mother performed wing walking stunts when he was on duty. Schirra served as an officer in the US Navy, and was later dispatched to South Korea as a pilot on loan to the US Air Force. On board the MA-8 (Sigma 7), Gemini 6A, and Apollo 7, he was the only person to fly in all of America’s first three space programs. Schirra gained notoriety for playing “Jingle Bells” on a harmonica he smuggled on board Gemini.

Alan Bartlett Shepard Jr. (1923 – 1998) began as a US Navy as test pilot. He was the first American in space, and flew on board the MR-3 (Freedom 7) and Apollo 14. It’s said that shortly before one launch, Shepard blurted out “Please, dear God, don’t let me fuck up.” This has since become known among aviators as “Shepard’s Prayer.” A successful businessman, Shepard was the first astronaut to become a millionaire while still in the program. His hometown of Derry, NH almost changed its name to “Spacetown” in honor of Schirra’s career.

Donald Kent (Deke) Slayton (1924 – 1993) was also a US Air Force pilot before joining NASA. He was grounded from space flight by a heart condition, but served as NASA’s Director of Flight Crew Operations. Slayton served as head of Astronaut selection. In 1972 he was granted medical clearance to fly as docking module pilot of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. At the time of the flight, he became the oldest person to fly into space.

Navy Decommisions “The Big E”

In Remembrance – Space Shuttle Columbia & Crew

On February 1, 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated during re-entry on its 28th mission; all seven crew members aboard perished.

Columbia Launch STS-107

Columbia launches on its final mission, STS-107.

Columbia STS-107 Crew

The crew of STS-107. L to R: Brown, Husband, Clark, Chawla, Anderson, McCool, Ramon.

Columbia STS-107 Mission Patch

Columbia STS-107 Mission Patch.

Wikipedia Link

In Remembrance – Space Shuttle Challenger & Crew

On January 28, 1986 at 11:39 EST, the Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrated 73 seconds into its flight after an O-ring seal in its right solid rocket booster (SRB) failed at liftoff.  All seven astronauts on board were lost.

Challenger STS-51 at Launch

Challenger launches on its final mission, STS-51.

Challenger STS-51 Crew

The crew of STS-51. Front row, from left to right: Smith, Scobee, and McNair. Back row, from left to right: Onizuka, McAuliffe, Jarvis, and Resnik.

Challenger STS-51 Mission Patch

STS-51 mission patch.

Wikipedia Link

50th anniversary of Apollo 1 fire

Grissom, White, and Chaffee in front of the launch pad.

Grissom, White, and Chaffee in front of the launch pad.

On January 27, 1967, Command Pilot Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, Senior Pilot Edward H. White II, and Pilot Roger B. Chaffee lost their lives when a flash fire consumed the Apollo 1 capsule they were in.

Apollo 1 Wikipedia Article

RIP John Glenn – Go join your Mercury 7 teammates

And then there were none

John Glenn (July 18, 1921 – December 8, 2016)

John Herschel Glenn Jr. was an American aviator, engineer, astronaut, and United States Senator from Ohio. In 1962 he became the first American to orbit the Earth, circling three times. Before joining NASA, he was a distinguished fighter pilot in both World War II and Korea, with five Distinguished Flying Crosses and eighteen clusters.

He was one of the “Mercury Seven” group of military test pilots selected in 1959 by NASA to become America’s first astronauts. On February 20, 1962, Glenn flew the Friendship 7 mission and became the first American to orbit the Earth and the fifth person in space. Glenn received the Congressional Space Medal of Honor in 1978, and was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in 1990. Glenn was the last surviving member of the Mercury Seven after the death of Scott Carpenter.

Glenn resigned from NASA in 1964 and announced plans to run for a U.S. Senate seat from Ohio. A member of the Democratic Party, he first won election to the Senate in 1974 where he served through January 3, 1999.

He retired from the Marine Corps in 1965, after twenty-three years in the military, with over fifteen medals and awards, including the NASA Distinguished Service Medal and the Congressional Space Medal of Honor. In 1998, while still a sitting senator, he became the oldest person to fly in space, and the only one to fly in both the Mercury and Space Shuttle programs as crew member of the Discovery space shuttle. He was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.

Pearl Harbor

pearl_harbor_75th_anniversary

My personal thanks for all of those who served, lived and died.

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John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy

John Fitzgerald Kennedy (May 29, 1917–November 22, 1963)

The assassination of John F. Kennedy, the thirty-fifth President of the United States, took place on Friday, November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas, USA at 12:30 p.m. CST (18:30 UTC). John F. Kennedy was fatally wounded by gunshots while riding with his wife Jacqueline in a presidential motorcade through Dealey Plaza. Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald, an employee of the Texas School Book Depository in Dealey Plaza, according to the conclusions of multiple government investigations, including the ten-month investigation of the Warren Commission of 1963-4 and the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) of 1976-9. This conclusion initially met with widespread support among the American public, but polls, since the original 1966 Gallup poll, show a majority of the public hold beliefs contrary to these findings. The assassination is still the subject of widespread speculation and has spawned numerous conspiracy theories (even the HSCA, based on disputed acoustical evidence, concluded that Oswald may have had unspecified co-conspirators), though these theories have not generally been accepted by mainstream historians and no single compelling alternative theory has emerged.

Happy Birthday, ISS

On November 20, 1998, the first segment of the ISS, the Zarya FGB, was launched into orbit on a Russian Proton rocket, and was followed two weeks later by the first of three ‘node’ modules, Unity, launched aboard STS-88.

Wikipedia Link

Lincoln delivers Gettysburg Address

On November 19, 1863, at the dedication of a military cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln delivers one of the most memorable speeches in American history. In just 272 words, Lincoln brilliantly and movingly reminded a war-weary public why the Union had to fight, and win, the Civil War.

The Battle of Gettysburg, fought some four months earlier, was the single bloodiest battle of the Civil War. Over the course of three days, more than 45,000 men were killed, injured, captured or went missing. The battle also proved to be the turning point of the war: General Robert E. Lee’s defeat and retreat from Gettysburg marked the last Confederate invasion of Northern territory and the beginning of the Southern army’s ultimate decline.

Charged by Pennsylvania’s governor, Andrew Curtin, to care for the Gettysburg dead, an attorney named David Wills bought 17 acres of pasture to turn into a cemetery for the more than 7,500 who fell in battle. Wills invited Edward Everett, one of the most famous orators of the day, to deliver a speech at the cemetery’s dedication. Almost as an afterthought, Wills also sent a letter to Lincoln—just two weeks before the ceremony—requesting “a few appropriate remarks” to consecrate the grounds.

At the dedication, the crowd listened for two hours to Everett before Lincoln spoke. Lincoln’s address lasted just two or three minutes. The speech reflected his redefined belief that the Civil War was not just a fight to save the Union, but a struggle for freedom and equality for all, an idea Lincoln had not championed in the years leading up to the war. This was his stirring conclusion: “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Reception of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was initially mixed, divided strictly along partisan lines. Nevertheless, the “little speech,” as he later called it, is thought by many today to be the most eloquent articulation of the democratic vision ever written.