“Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force: You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.”
~General Dwight D. Eisenhower
Supreme Allied Commander, June 6, 1944
1779 – Patrick Henry died at the age of 63.
He was an American Founding Father and the first Governor of Virginia, but is best known for his declaration to the Second Virginia Convention in 1775 (“Give me liberty, or give me death!”).
Truth be told, the “Lion of Liberty,” like many of his peers, didn’t believe everyone deserved liberty. While he will forever be remembered for his fiery speech against enslavement by tyrants, he left his estates and 67 slaves to be divided between his wife and his six sons.
1865 – William Quantrill, infamous Confederate guerrilla leader during the Civil War, died from wounds suffered in a battle with Union troops the previous month. He was 27.
“Quantrill’s Raiders” (which at one time included Frank and Jesse James, along with the Younger brothers) attacked Union patrols and supply convoys, doing it in a manner so savage it defies belief. Those raids were enough to earn Quantrill a reputation as a cold blooded killer but his most notable operation was the Lawrence Massacre.
Angered that Lawrence, Kansas was being used as a sporadic base for Union soldiers, Quantrill rode in with a force of 450 raiders. Over a four-hour period, they pillaged and burned a quarter of the buildings in town, and killed 183 men and boys, dragging some from their homes to murder them in front of their families.
On May 10, 1865, Quantrill and his band were caught in a Union ambush at Wakefield Farm in Kentucky. Quantrill was shot in the back and paralyzed from the chest down. He was brought to a military prison hospital Louisville, Kentucky, where he died.
1889 – The Great Seattle Fire destroyed the entire central business district of Seattle, Washington. The fire – started when glue being melted over a gasoline fire boiled over, caught fire, and spread to the floors, which were covered by wood chips and turpentine – burned for several hours, destroying 25 blocks and causing as much as $20 million in damage ($527 million in today’s dollars).
As a result of the fire, streets in the Pioneer Square neighborhood in Seattle were elevated 22 feet above the pre-fire street level and new buildings made of wood were banned.
1918 – The first large-scale battle fought by American soldiers in World War I began in Belleau Wood, northwest of the Paris-to-Metz road.
The third German offensive of the year had penetrated the Western Front to within 45 miles of Paris. U.S. General John J. Pershing ordered a counteroffensive to drive the Germans out of Belleau Wood.
U.S. Marines under Army General James Harbord led the attack against the four German divisions positioned in the woods. By the end of the day, the Marines had gained a foothold in Belleau Wood. but had suffered more than 1,000 casualties.
1932 – Think taxes are high today? On this date, President Herbert Hoover signed the Revenue Act of 1932, raising the top personal income tax rate from 25 to 63 percent, doubling the estate tax and raising corporate and estate taxes by 15 percent. The surtax rate was estimated to bring in an addition $88 million dollars the following year, badly needed to stabilize the country’s debt.
The House version of the bill also included a provision for a one-cent tax on imported fuel. An amendment widened it to a tax on all fuel, including gasoline, payable at the pump. It was buried amidst excise taxes on many other materials and products, including coal, jewelry, postal stamps and weapons, and passed without a vote. Thus the first federal tax on gasoline was established.
Hoover, after signing the bill said (with a straight face, I assume), “The willingness of our people to accept this added burden in these times in order impregnably to establish the credit of the Federal Government is a great tribute to their wisdom and courage.”
1933 – Eager motorists (and movie buffs) parked their cars on the grounds of Park-It Theaters, the first-ever drive-in movie theater, located on Crescent Boulevard in Camden, New Jersey. Park-It Theaters – the term “drive-in” came to be widely used only later – was the brainchild of Richard Hollingshead, an auto parts sales manager.
Advertising it as entertainment for the whole family (“The whole family is welcome, regardless of how noisy the children are.”), Hollingshead charged 25 cents per car and 25 cents per person, with no group paying more than one dollar. The drive-in had speakers installed above the screen which caused a sound delay affecting patrons at the rear of the drive-in’s field.
In the beginning, there were no double features. The first film shown was the Adolphe Menjou film Wife Beware.
1944 – Allied powers crossed the English Channel and landed on the beaches of Normandy, France, beginning the liberation of Western Europe from Nazi control during World War II.
The day before, U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe had given the go-ahead for Operation Overlord, the largest amphibious military operation in history. On his orders, 6,000 landing craft, ships and other vessels carrying 176,000 troops began to leave England for the trip to France.
That night, 822 aircraft filled with parachutists headed for drop zones in Normandy. An additional 13,000 aircraft were mobilized to provide air cover and support for the invasion.
By dawn on June 6, 18,000 parachutists were already on the ground; the land invasions began at 6:30 a.m. The British and Canadians overcame light opposition to capture Gold, Juno and Sword Beaches; so did the Americans at Utah Beach.
The task was much tougher at Omaha Beach, however, where 2,000 troops were lost and it was only through the tenacity and quick-wittedness of troops on the ground that the objective was achieved. By day’s end, 155,000 Allied troops – Americans, British and Canadians – had successfully stormed the beaches at Normandy.
Within three months, the northern part of France would be freed and the invasion force would be preparing to enter Germany, where they would meet up with Soviet forces moving in from the east.
1964 – Two U.S. Navy jets flying low-altitude target reconnaissance missions over Laos were shot down by communist Pathet Lao ground fire. The downing of the two RF-8A Crusader jets was made public, but the full extent of the U.S. involvement in Laos was not.
In fact, the U.S. fighter-bombers were flying combat missions in support of Royal Lao forces in their war against the communist Pathet Lao and would continue to do so until 1973.
1971 – Twenty-three years after its 1948 premiere, The Ed Sullivan Show aired for the final time on CBS. Sullivan’s variety show was the premiere television showcase for entertainers of all kinds, including comedians, plate-spinning vaudeville throwbacks, live performances Broadway shows and, most significantly, some of the biggest names in rock and roll.
And of course, Topo (“Eddie, kiss me goodnight!”) Gigio. The 10-inch tall mouse puppet (shown above) appeared on more than fifty Sullivan shows and he had the honor of closing the final show in 1971.
1979 – Actor Jack Haley, best known for his portrayal of the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz, died of a heart attack at the age of 83.
Here’s a fun fact: Haley’s son was married (for five years) to Liza Minnelli, the daughter of his Oz co-star Judy Garland.
1981 – A nine-car train, filled with approximately 1,000 passengers, was traveling through the northeastern state of Bihar about 250 miles from Calcutta. Outside, monsoon-like conditions were battering the region. Extremely hard rains were swelling the rivers and making the tracks slick. When a cow and a Hindu engineer – who believed that cows are sacred animals – entered the picture, the combination led to tragedy.
As the train approached the bridge over the Baghmati River, a cow crossed the tracks. Seeking to avoid harming the cow at all costs, the engineer braked too hard. The cars slid on the wet rails and the last seven cars derailed straight into the swollen river.
After a multi-day search, 286 bodies were recovered but more than 300 missing people were never found.
2006 – Singer/songwriter Billy Preston died of respiratory failure at the age of 59.
In addition to his outstanding solo career (Nothing From Nothing, Will It Go Round In Circles, Outa-Space and many more) Preston was the only musician to be credited on a Beatles recording other than the group’s four members: the group’s number-one hit Get Back was credited to “The Beatles with Billy Preston”.
Compiled by Ray Lemire ©2018 RayLemire.com. / Streamingoldies.com. All Rights Reserved.