“My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life; to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it. Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today, pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will someday come to pass for all the world.”
~Senator Edward M. Kennedy, delivering the eulogy at the funeral of his brother, Senator Robert F. Kennedy
1789 – When the Constitution was signed in 1787, it was missing a Bill of Rights. Many people in the ratifying conventions that followed believed that the Constitution needed a section that preserved fundamental human rights.
On this date, Congressman (and future president) James Madison of Virginia introduced twelve proposed amendments to the United States Constitution. The states ratified 10 of the 12.
The first of the two which were not ratified would have established how members of the House of Representatives would be apportioned to the states. Although the proposed amendment did not become law, Congressional apportionment is nevertheless grounded in the U.S. Constitution (Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3).
The second of Madison’s failed amendments forbade Congress from giving itself a pay raise: Congress could vote for a raise but it would only apply from the beginning of the next Congress.
In 1982, a successful effort to lobby various state legislatures, seeking their ratification of the amendment, finally succeeded, and the amendment, first proposed in 1789, became the 27th (and most recent) amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1992.
1845 – Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States, died of heart failure at the age of 78.
Jackson, shown above in the final year of his life, remains one of the most studied and controversial figures in American history. He has been described as “a man of the people battling inequality and upper-class tyranny,” while at the same time, criticized as “the most aggressive enemy of the Indians in early American history.”
1874 – Cochise, one of the great leaders of the Apache Indians in their battles with the U.S. government from 1861-72, died on the Chiricahua reservation in southeastern Arizona.
That night his warriors painted his body yellow, black, and vermilion, and took him deep into the Dragoon Mountains. They lowered his body and weapons into a rocky crevice, the exact location of which remains unknown. Today, however, that section of the Dragoon Mountains is known as Cochise’s Stronghold.
1949 – Hollywood figures, including film stars Frederic March, John Garfield, Paul Muni, and Edward G. Robinson, were named in a FBI report as Communist Party members.
Suspicions about March were raised by his activities in a group that was critical of America’s growing nuclear arsenal. The group included Helen Keller and Danny Kaye.
In response to this particular round of allegations from the FBI, movie tough-guy Edward G. Robinson declared, “These rantings, ravings, accusations, smearing, and character assassinations can only emanate from sick, diseased minds of people who rush to the press with indictments of good American citizens. I have played many parts in my life, but no part have I played better or been more proud of than that of being an American citizen.”
1949 – George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (also known as 1984) was published by Secker and Warburg in London. The novel’s all-seeing leader, known as “Big Brother,” became a universal symbol for intrusive government and oppressive bureaucracy.
Beyond the familiar message that “Big Brother is always watching you,” the concepts of Room 101, the Thought Police, thoughtcrime, and memory hole all became common phrases for denoting totalitarian authority.
The novel, the last he would ever write, brought him lasting fame with its grim vision of a future where all citizens are watched constantly and language (“Newspeak”) is twisted to suppress free thought, individualism, and happiness.
Orwell did not live to enjoy the success of his work. He died from tuberculosis at the age of 46 in January 1950.
1966 – The rival National Football League and American Football League announce that they would merge, although it took until the 1970 season for the leagues to unite their operations and integrate their regular season schedules.
1967 – During the Six-Day War, Israeli aircraft and torpedo boats attacked the USS Liberty in international waters off Egypt’s Gaza Strip. The intelligence ship, well-marked as an American vessel and only lightly armed, was attacked first by Israeli aircraft that fired napalm and rockets at the ship. The Liberty attempted to radio for assistance, but the Israeli aircraft blocked the transmissions.
Eventually, the ship was able to make contact with the U.S. carrier Saratoga, and 12 fighter jets and four tanker planes were dispatched to defend the Liberty. When word of their deployment reached Washington, however, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ordered them recalled to the carrier, and they never reached the Liberty. The reason for the recall remains unclear.
Back in the Mediterranean, nine of the 294 crewmembers were dead and 60 were wounded. Suddenly, the ship was attacked by Israeli torpedo boats, which launched torpedoes and fired artillery at the ship. Under the command of its wounded captain, William L. McGonagle, the Liberty managed to avert four torpedoes, but one struck the ship at the waterline.
Heavily damaged, the ship launched three lifeboats, but these were also attacked – a violation of international law. In all, 34 Americans were killed and 174 were wounded in the two-hour attack. In the attacks’ aftermath, the Liberty managed to limp to a safe port.
Israel later apologized for the attack and offered $6.9 million in compensation, claiming that it had mistaken the Liberty for an Egyptian ship. However, survivors, and some former U.S. officials, believed that the attack was deliberate, staged to conceal Israel’s pending seizure of Syria’s Golan Heights, which occurred the next day.
1968 – Three days after being murdered in California, Senator Robert F. Kennedy was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery, just 30 yards from the grave of his assassinated older brother, President John F. Kennedy. It was the only night-time burial in the cemetery’s history.
1972 – Moments after the South Vietnamese air force mistakenly dropped a load of napalm on the village of Trang Bang (25 miles northwest of Saigon) Associated Press photographer Nick Ut captured an iconic, Pulitzer Prize-winning photo of nine-year-old Phan Thị Kim Phúc.
1982 – Leroy Robert “Satchel” Paige died of a heart attack at the age of 75.
He didn’t play in the major leagues until 1948, when at the age of 42, he was signed by the Cleveland Indians. After two seasons with Cleveland, he spent three seasons with the St. Louis Browns, earning two All-Star Game selections. He then returned to life in the minors and barnstorming, and didn’t play another game in the majors until he pitched one game in 1965 for the Kansas City Athletics when he was 59.
The numbers – at least the big league ones – do not do justice to his legend.
With African-American players barred from the major leagues, Paige began his professional career in 1926 in the Negro Southern League. The Negro Leagues’ top draw for years, he combined his ability to put on a show with extraordinary raw talents to keep the turnstiles moving.
His success in exhibition games against major league stars such as Babe Ruth, Rogers Hornsby and Joe DiMaggio helped raise awareness that African Americans could – and should – play in the major leagues.
Paige was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1971 as the first inductee from the Committee on Negro Baseball Leagues.
Compiled by Ray Lemire ©2018 RayLemire.com. / Streamingoldies.com. All Rights Reserved.