“There are many people in the world who really don’t understand, or say they don’t, what is the great issue between the free world and the Communist world.
Let them come to Berlin.
There are some who say that communism is the wave of the future.
Let them come to Berlin.
And there are some who say, in Europe and elsewhere, we can work with the Communists.
Let them come to Berlin.”
~President John F. Kennedy
June 26, 1963
1870 – A bill introduced by Rep. Burton Chauncey Cook (Illinois) to make Christmas a federal holiday was approved by both houses of Congress. It was sent to President Grant, who signed it on June 28.
In the early 17th century, a wave of religious reform changed the way Christmas was celebrated in Europe. When Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England in 1645, they vowed to rid England of “decadence” and, as part of their effort, cancelled Christmas celebrations.
By popular demand, Charles II was restored to the throne and, with him came the return of the popular holiday.
The pilgrims, English separatists that came to America in 1620, were even more orthodox in their Puritan beliefs than Cromwell. As a result, Christmas was not a holiday in early America.
From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was actually outlawed in Boston. Anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five shillings.
After the American Revolution, English customs fell out of favor, including Christmas. In fact, Congress was in session on December 25, 1789, the first Christmas under America’s new constitution.
1917 – The first 14,000 U.S. infantry troops of the American Expeditionary Force arrived in France during World War I.
Untrained, ill-equipped, and far from ready for the difficulties of fighting along the Western Front, they first entered combat four months later.
When the war finally ended on November 11, 1918, more than two million American soldiers had served on the battlefields of Western Europe, and more than 50,000 of these men had lost their lives.
1918 – The 20-day Battle of Belleau Wood in France ended.
The 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, under command of Major Maurice E. Shearer, supported by two companies of the 4th Machine Gun Battalion and the 15th Company of the 6th Machine Gun Battalion, finally cleared that forest of Germans.
Major Shearer submitted a report simply stating, “Woods now U.S. Marine Corps entirely,” ending one of the bloodiest and most ferocious battles U.S. forces would fight in World War I.
Although the operation resulted in 4,719 casualties – including over 1,000 killed – the Marines proved their courage to both the French and the American Expeditionary Forces.
Heartened by the American performance, the French officially renamed the woods — Bois de la Brigade Marine.
“In all the history of the Marine Corps there is no such battle as that one in Belleau Wood. Fighting day and night without relief, without sleep, often without water, and for days without hot rations, the Marines met and defeated the best divisions that Germany could throw into the line.
“The heroism and doggedness of that battle are unparalleled. Time after time officers seeing their lines cut to pieces, seeing their men so dog tired that they even fell asleep under shellfire, hearing their wounded calling for the water they were unable to supply, seeing men fight on after they had been wounded and until they dropped unconscious; time after time officers seeing these things, believing that the very limit of human endurance had been reached, would send back messages to their post command that their men were exhausted.
“But in answer to this would come the word that the line must hold, and, if possible, those lines must attack. And the lines obeyed. Without water, without food, without rest, they went forward – and forward every time to victory.”
~U.S. Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels
1934 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the 1934 Federal Credit Union Act.
Over the years following the stock market crash of 1929, consumer spending and investment had dropped drastically. By 1933, the effects had left some 15 million Americans without a job. On top of that, nearly half the country’s banks had failed.
To help make credit available to more Americans, FDR and his administration looked toward the idea of cooperative financial institutions.
In part, the Act established “a further market for securities of the United States and to make more available to people of small means credit for provident purposes through a national system of cooperative credit, thereby helping to stabilize the credit structure of the United States.”
Although the first credit union was formed in 1909 by Alphonse Desjardins in New Hampshire, the 1934 Federal Credit Union Act enabled federally chartered credit unions in all states.
1946 – Max Koegel committed suicide by hanging in his prison cell in Schwabach, Germany one day after being captured.
A former souvenir salesman, Koegel started his Nazi “career” as adjutant to the Dachau concentration camp commander in 1937. He then became Commandant of the labor camp for women in Lichtenburg which became Ravensbruck Concentration Camp.
In 1942 he became Commandant of Majdanek Concentration Camp and was involved in the installation of gas chambers there. From 1943 to 1945 he was commander of Flossenburg Concentration Camp.
It is virtually impossible to precisely list the number of deaths Kogel can be held accountable for, but conservative estimates put the number in excess of 250,000.
1959 – Swedish boxer Ingemar Johansson stunned the boxing world by defeating defending heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson on a technical knockout after two minutes and three seconds in the third round at Yankee Stadium.
He had knocked Patterson down seven times that round.
1963 – Widely regarded as the best-known speech of the Cold War and the most famous anti-communist speech, President John F. Kennedy – standing in front of the Berlin Wall that separated the city into democratic and communist sectors – expressed solidarity with democratic German citizens.
Kennedy aimed to underline the support of the United States for West Germany 22 months after Soviet-supported East Germany erected the Berlin Wall to prevent mass emigration to the West.
The message was aimed as much at the Soviets as it was at Berliners and was a clear statement of U.S. policy in the wake of the construction of the Berlin Wall.
“Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free. When all are free, then we can look forward to that day when this city will be joined as one and this country and this great continent of Europe in a peaceful and hopeful globe. When that day finally comes, as it will, the people of West Berlin can take sober satisfaction in the fact that they were in the front lines for almost two decades. All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words, ‘Ich bin ein Berliner.’“
1973 – Former White House counsel John W. Dean told the Senate Watergate Committee about an “enemies list” kept by the Nixon administration.
The list, compiled by Nixon special counsel Charles Colson, and written by George Bell, Colson’s assistant, had been sent in memorandum form to Dean on September 9, 1971.
Dean said the Nixon White House continually updated the list and often used government investigators to harass the people on it.
In addition, Dean submitted a White House document outlining the systematic use of tax investigations to spy on and bother “extremist” organizations.
1977 – Elvis Presley held his final concert at Market Square Arena in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Many people thought – and still think – the Elvis In Concert television special which aired following his death was from his last concert.
That broadcast included concerts in Omaha, Nebraska, on June 19, and Rapid City, South Dakota, on June 21.
The misconception stems from a statement broadcast by Presley’s father, Vernon Presley, at the program’s conclusion in which he told viewers that they had just witnessed Elvis’ final performance.
Instead, the CBS special was the last Elvis concert considered “acceptable for broadcast” – and even the special had its shaky moments.
The Indianapolis concert was, according to critics and fans alike, not one of Presley’s best. He forgot lyrics to songs he had been singing for years and seemed to be in very poor physical condition.
The final paragraph of Ken Williams’s review in the June 28, 1977, issue of the Cincinnati Journal News rang eerily prophetic:
“There was an emptiness at the end. Yes, there comes a time when a performer should step down, retire or rest. Elvis, we love you, but please don’t do this to us. We prefer remembering you at your peak, rather than at your funeral. The King is Dead. Long live the King!”
1990 – President George H.W. Bush, who had campaigned for office on a pledge of “no new taxes,” conceded that tax increases would have to be included in any deficit-reduction package.
As he accepted the presidential nomination at the 1988 Republican National Convention, Bush had thrown a verbal jab at Walter Mondale, his Democratic foe.
“My opponent won’t rule out raising taxes. But I will. And the Congress will push me to raise taxes and I’ll say no. And they’ll push, and I’ll say no, and they’ll push again, and I’ll say, to them, ‘Read my lips: no new taxes.'”
Once in office, Bush found it challenging to keep his promise. The Bush campaign’s figures had been based on the assumption that the high growth of the late 1980s would continue throughout his time in office. Instead, a recession began and on this date, he realized a budget deal would need to include, among other items, “tax revenue increases.”
The effects on Bush’s popularity were disastrous. From the historic high of 79% early in his term, Bush’s approval rating fell to 56% by mid-October 1990, and that dealt a blow to Republicans, who lost ground in both the House and Senate in the 1990 midterm elections.
1993 – Roy Campanella died of heart failure at the age of 71.
Widely considered to be one of the greatest catchers in the history of baseball, Campanella played for the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1948 through 1957, and played in the All-Star Game every year from 1949 through 1956.
A three-time MVP of the National League, “Campy” threw out 57% of the base runners who tried to steal a base on him, the highest by any catcher in major league history.
His career was cut short when he was paralyzed in an automobile accident in January 1958.
He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969.
1993 – In retaliation for an Iraqi plot to assassinate former U.S. President George Bush during his April visit to Kuwait, President Bill Clinton ordered U.S. warships to fire Tomahawk cruise missiles at Iraqi intelligence headquarters in downtown Baghdad.
On April 13, 1993, the day before George Bush was scheduled to visit Kuwait and be honored for his victory in the Persian Gulf War, Kuwaiti authorities foiled a car-bomb plot to assassinate him. Fourteen suspects, most of them Iraqi nationals, were arrested, and the next day their massive car bomb was discovered in Kuwait City.
Citing “compelling evidence” of the direct involvement of Iraqi intelligence in the assassination attempt, President Clinton ordered a retaliatory attack against their alleged headquarters in the Iraqi capital on this date.
Twenty-three Tomahawk missiles were fired off the USS Peterson in the Red Sea and the cruiser USS Chancellorsville in the Persian Gulf, destroying the building and, according to Iraqi accounts, killing several civilians.
1994 – A strong ridge of high pressure parked itself over the southwest United States and brought extreme temperatures to the region.
Denver, CO … 104°F
Albuquerque, NM … 107°F
El Paso, TX … 112°F
Phoenix, AZ … 119°F
Laughlin, NV … 122°F
Death Valley, CA … 126°F
2003 – Strom Thurmond, the second longest-serving senator in U.S. history, died in Edgefield, S.C., one year after his retirement. He was 100.
In the early part of his Congressional career, he was famously pro-segregation, even saying in a 1948 speech, “I want to tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that there’s not enough troops in the army to force the Southern people to break down segregation and admit the Negro race into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes, and into our churches.”
In 1954, Thurmond ran for the United States Senate as a Democrat on a pro-segregation platform and became the only candidate ever elected to the Senate by a write-in vote. Three years into this first term, he notoriously staged a record-breaking one-man filibuster to defeat a civil rights bill that lasted more than 24 hours.
Although it is unknown whether his personal beliefs regarding racial equality ever changed, his political behavior became more moderate in the 1970s. This change of heart, whether genuine or not, was exemplified by his endorsement of a renewal of the Voting Rights Act in 1982 and his vote in favor of creating the Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday in 1983.
2015 – By a 5–4 majority, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its landmark decision on Obergefell v. Hodges, declaring marriage a fundamental right granted under the 14th Amendment to U.S. Constitution, and effectively making same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states.
Compiled by Ray Lemire ©2019 RayLemire.com. / Streamingoldies.com. All Rights Reserved.