Did you know this? Happy Fourth of July

Independence day is one of America’s most celebrated and enjoyable days. From picnics to fire works to family fame, it’s hard to beat for summer fun. Here are a few fun facts which you may not have known about July 4.

Did you know?

Our Founding Fathers didn’t declare independence on July 4, 1776.  They declared independence on July 2, 1776.

Then what happened on July 4? The text of the declaration was finally approved by Congress that day.  It wasn’t actually signed until August 2, 1776.

Did you know?

Two of our founding father’s died exactly 50 years to the day of our first independence day – that being July 4, 1826. Do you know who they were? Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. I don’t know who planned that, but that’s pretty cool.

Did you know?

On September 2, 1945, when Ho Chi Minh read Vietnam’s Declaration of Independence from the French, he quoted Jefferson’s America’s declaration “all men are created equal endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights …” as a means of pleasing a group of American observers who were in the crowd that day in Hanoi. As a strange note in history, an American reconnaissance plane was flying over Hanoi during the declaration and swooped down to take a closer look at what was happening. Many in the crowd saw the American plane and cheered, taking it as a show of support for their independence. But no, it was just a coincidence, and after another week, American ships were ferrying French soldiers back into Indochina so they could retake their pre-WWII possessions. But that’s a story of independence for another day.

Did you know?

Thomas Jefferson did not write every single word of the declaration. Certain parts were slightly edited by other founders who wanted to tweak it this way or that. An example of this is the phrase “endowed by their Creator,” a phrase not in the original text but added anyways much to the chagrin of Jefferson.

Did you know?

The Statue of Liberty was gifted to the United States by France in 1876 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of our independence.

Have you read the declaration lately? You should. It’s a clear indication of what our Founding Father’s thought our new country should be all about.

Enjoy the freedom and independence we enjoy because these brave men and many other brave men and women through the years who fought to preserve it. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Reagan quotes:

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”

Happy Independence Day everyone!

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Top Episodes of the Cold War

We’re making a video series on the Cold War in one of my classes: Cold War Episodes, Season 1.  Here’s the outline. How is this for covering the Cold War? Any suggestions?

Episode 1: The Iron Curtain is Coming 

An examination of post-WWII Europe including Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech.

Episode 2: Salvation from the Sky 

When access to West Berlin is cut-off, the Allies of WWII jump into action, resulting in the Berlin Airlift.

Episode 3: The Domino Theory 

The U.S. political leadership puts forth a theory of communist domination which must be stopped at all costs. The theory is tested in Korea aVietnam.

Episode 4: The Red Scare 

Senator Joe McCarthy puts a chill up the spine of Americans through his unrelenting exposure of the red threat inside America’s borders.

Episode 5: Mutually Assured Destruction 

An examination of life in the Cold War from the arms race to preparedness on the home front.

Episode 6: The Space Race 

The U.S. and Soviets go to war in space, trying to prove which country is superior.

Episode 7: Disaster at the Bay of Pigs 

The newly elected Kennedy administration decide to attempt a coup against the communist revolutionary Fidel Castro.

Episode 8: Stand-off in Cuba 

For 14 days, the world was on the brink of nuclear war, as the Americans gave the Soviets an ultimatum: remove your missiles from Cuba or else!

Episode 9: Reagan & the Evil Empire 

A look at Reagan’s view of the Soviet Union, his relationship with Gorbachev, and how he helped influence the “tearing down of the wall.”

A Reminder of How Fast the World Can Change

I grew up in the Cold War. I missed the height of hysteria of the 1950s and the many bomb drills and shelters which were common. I wasn’t around for the Cuba Missile Crisis, but I remember clearly the feeling that the United States was constantly staring down “the evil” Soviet empire.

I remember the controversial made-for-TV movie “The Day After” which aired on network TV, talking about the aftereffects of a nuclear holocaust. It seemed like the world would be forever divided by ideology and rhetoric. Communism vs. Capitalism with no end in sight.

And then suddenly everything seemed to change – quickly.

Reagan told Gorbachev to “tear down the wall” at the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin in June of 1987. Twenty-eight months later, the Berlin Wall came down, igniting jubilant and ecstatic people from Romania to Poland to stand up and be counted. The world was changing right before everyone’s eyes.

Two years later, the Soviet Republics themselves, from Kazakhstan to Estonia declared their freedom and the USSR could do nothing but acquiesce, as Russia itself went through a drastic make-over.

The seemingly impossible happened overnight. The Cold War had ended. The world would never be the same.

So this is a reminder to those who look at world politics in the present, noting the daunting tasks and great obstacles which need to be overcome – whether it be the repressive North Korean regime, the threat of a nuclear Iran, or the unsettled relations between the west and the Arab world; the world can indeed change quickly.

No one knows what will be right around the bend. It is, however, probably not what most pundits are predicting.