“I concur in the belief that no other single matter is so important for those who have known the horrors of concentration camps for over a decade as is the future of immigration possibilities into Palestine.”
President Harry Truman
Letter to British Prime Minister Clement Attlee
1833 – The Great Meteor Storm: Although it has been suggested the Leonid meteor shower and storms have been noted in ancient times, it was the meteor storm of 1833 that broke into people’s modern-day awareness.
One estimate of the peak rate is over one hundred thousand meteors an hour, while another, done as the storm abated, estimated in excess of 240,000 meteors during the nine hours of the storm, over the entire region of North America east of the Rocky Mountains.
1927 – The Holland Tunnel linking New York City and New Jersey beneath the Hudson River opened to the public.
On its first day of operation, 51,694 vehicles passed through, paying a 50 cent toll per car, which was intended to defray the tunnel’s $48 million price tag. It was the first of two automobile tunnels built under the Hudson River, the other being the Lincoln Tunnel.
1945 – President Harry Truman announced the establishment of a panel of inquiry to look into the settlement of Jews in Palestine. In the last weeks of World War II, the Allies liberated one death camp after another in which the German Nazi regime had held and slaughtered millions of Jews. Surviving Jews in the formerly Nazi-occupied territories were left without family, homes, jobs or savings. It became clear to Truman that something had to be done to speed up the process of finding Jewish refugees a safe place to live.
Truman contacted British Prime Minister Clement Attlee to propose that Jewish refugees be allowed to immigrate to Palestine, which at the time was occupied by Britain. In April 1946, Truman’s panel issued its report, which recommended the immigration of 100,000 Jewish refugees to Palestine.
Britain, unable to find a practical solution, referred the problem to the United Nations, which in November 1947 voted to partition Palestine.
The Jews were to possess more than half of Palestine, although they made up less than half of Palestine’s population. The Palestinian Arabs, aided by volunteers from other countries, fought the Zionist forces, but by May 14, 1948, the Jews had secured full control of their U.N.-allocated share of Palestine and also some Arab territory. On May 14, Britain withdrew with the expiration of its mandate, and the State of Israel was proclaimed.
1953 – In an example of the absurd lengths to which the “Red Scare” in America was going, Mrs. Thomas J. White of the Indiana Textbook Commission, called for the removal of references to the book Robin Hood from textbooks used by the state’s schools.
Mrs. Young claimed that there was “a Communist directive in education now to stress the story of Robin Hood because he robbed the rich and gave it to the poor. That’s the Communist line. It’s just a smearing of law and order and anything that disrupts law and order is their meat.”
She went on to attack Quakers because they “don’t believe in fighting wars.” This philosophy, she argued, played into communist hands.
1974 – Karen Silkwood, a technician and union activist at the Kerr-McGee Cimarron plutonium plant near Crescent, Okla., was killed in a car crash.
She worked at the Kerr-McGee Cimarron Fuel Fabrication Site in Oklahoma, making plutonium pellets, and became the first woman on the union’s negotiating team. After testifying to the Atomic Energy Commission about her concerns, she was found to have plutonium contamination on her body and in her home.
While driving to meet with a New York Times journalist and an official of her union’s national office, she died in a car crash under unclear circumstances. Silkwood had assembled documentation for her claims, including company papers. She left a union meeting and headed alone for Oklahoma City, about 30 miles away.
Later that evening, Silkwood’s body was found in her car, which had run off the road and struck a culvert. The car contained none of the documents she had been holding in the union meeting. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Her family sued Kerr-McGee for the plutonium contamination. The company settled out of court for $1.38 million, while not admitting liability.
1974 – Ronald DeFeo Jr. shot and killed six members of his family at 112 Ocean Avenue, a large Dutch Colonial house situated in a suburban neighborhood in Amityville, NY, on the south shore of Long Island.
He was convicted of second-degree murder in November 1975 and sentenced to six terms of 25 years to life in prison. DeFeo died in prison in March 2021.
The case inspired the book and film versions of The Amityville Horror.
1982 – The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated in Washington, D.C.
The two-acre site is dominated by two black granite walls engraved with the names of those service members who died or remain missing as a result of their service in Vietnam and South East Asia during the war.
The names on the Wall, originally numbered 57,939 when it was dedicated, are listed in the chronological order of the dates of casualty. Additional names have been added throughout the years since: There are now 58,320 names.
1982 – Ray Mancini defended his WBA lightweight title against Duk Koo Kim in a boxing match held in Las Vegas. Kim’s subsequent death (on November 17) led to significant changes in the sport.
After battering the South Korean for much of the fight, Mancini dropped his opponent in the 14th round and referee Richard Green finally stopped the fight.
Just minutes after the fight ended, Kim fell into a coma and was taken on a stretcher from Caesar’s Palace to the Desert Springs Hospital. Doctors discovered a subdural hematoma and performed emergency brain surgery. It wasn’t enough. Kim died four days later.
Kim’s mother, who had flown to the U.S. to spend the final moments by her son’s side before he died, died by suicide three months later. Referee Richard Green died by suicide on July 1, 1983.
The most significant change came when the World Boxing Council announced in 1982 the reduction of title fights from 15 rounds to 12. The WBA and the IBF followed in 1987, and the WBO used 12 rounds when it formed in 1988.
1997 – The Lion King opened at the New Amsterdam Theater on Broadway. On June 13, 2006, the Broadway production moved to the Minskoff Theatre, where it is still running after more than 10,000 performances. It is Broadway’s third longest running show in history and the highest grossing Broadway production of all time, having grossed more than $1.8 billion.
1998 – President Bill Clinton agreed to pay Paula Jones $850,000, the entire amount of her claim, but without an apology, in exchange for her agreement to drop an appeal to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit.
This will be the final history column of the week. I am up to my eyeballs in outdoor stuff. The columns will return this weekend.
Compiled by Ray Lemire ©2023 RayLemire.com / Streamingoldies. All Rights Reserved.