Thursday, July 22, 2010

Happy 120th birthday to Rose Kennedy

Great Aunt" Rose Kennedy:this rose is for the woman who was the mother of this nation's 35th President, John F. Kennedy, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, Senator Ted Kennedy, remembering you today, happy 120th birthday!
President Kennedy with his mother, 06 December 1962!
Rose Kennedy
Jul. 22, 1890
Jan. 22, 1995Rose Elizabeth Kennedy (née Fitzgerald; July 22, 1890 – January 22, 1995) was the wife of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. and the mother of President John F. Kennedy.
Born in the North End neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, she was the eldest child of John F. "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald and his wife (who was also his second cousin), Mary Josephine Hannon. "Honey Fitz" was a prominent figure in Boston politics and served one term as a member of United States Congress and two terms as the Mayor of Boston.
As a young child, Fitzgerald lived in an Italianate/Mansard-style home in the Ashmont Hill section of Dorchester, Massachusetts and attended the local Girl's Latin School. The home later burned down, but a plaque at Welles Avenue and Harley Street proclaims "Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Square". The plaque was dedicated by her son, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, on Rose's 102nd birthday in 1992.
Rose studied at the convent school Kasteel Bloemendal in Vaals, The Netherlands, and graduated from Dorchester High School in 1906. She also attended the New England Conservatory in Boston where she studied piano. After being refused permission by her father to attend Wellesley College, Fitzgerald enrolled at the Manhattanville College of the Sacred Heart (as it was known at that time). In 1908, Fitzgerald and her father embarked on a tour of Europe. She and "Honey Fitz" had a private audience with Pope Pius X at the Vatican. Kennedy was widowed in November 1969 by the death of her husband Joseph P. Kennedy. She outlived four of her nine children - Joseph Jr died in 1944, Kathleen in 1948, John in 1963 and Robert in 1968. The death of Edward in 2009 left Jean (by then aged 81) as the last surviving child of Joseph and Rose Kennedy. Just eight months after John F. was assassinated, Kennedy's mother, Mary, died at the age of 98.
Her husband provided well for her and their family, but was not faithful. While eight months pregnant with their fourth child, Rose went back to her parents. When she got home her father clearly reminded her that she was Catholic and that they didn't believe in divorce, so she was just going to have to live with her choice of Joseph P. Kennedy for a husband. She went back to him, and presented a stoic outlook to one and all, in spite of his dalliances, one of which involved film star Gloria Swanson, and was obvious to one and all. Swanson once said, "that Rose must be a saint, a fool, or just a better actress than me."
Rose Kennedy's strict Roman Catholic religion often placed her at odds with her children, most notably daughter Kathleen. She refused to attended Kathleen's wedding to William Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington, an Anglican and the eldest son and heir of the 10th Duke of Devonshire on May 6, 1944. Normal relations eventually resumed, particularly given the deaths of both Cavendish and Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., during World War II. When the Marchioness of Hartington herself died in a plane crash in 1948 (in which her new fiance, the Earl FitzWilliam, a divorced Anglican, was also killed), only her father attended her funeral and burial at the Devonshire family seat, as he had already been in Europe planning to meet the Marchioness and her boyfriend.
Rosemary Kennedy died on January 7, 2005 at the age of 86, Patricia Kennedy Lawford died on September 17, 2006 at the age of 82, Eunice Kennedy Shriver died on August 11, 2009, aged 88, and Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy died on August 25, 2009, aged 77. As of June 2010, only one child is still living, 82-year old Jean Kennedy Smith.
In 1984, at the age of 94, Kennedy suffered a severe stroke and had to use a wheelchair for the rest of her life.
She maintained her residence at the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts and was cared for by private nurses and staff. On January 22, 1995, Kennedy died from complications from pneumonia at the age of 104, outliving four of her nine children, and one grandson, David Anthony Kennedy.
Well-known for her philanthropic efforts and for leading the Grandparents' Parade at age 90 at the Special Olympics, Kennedy's life and work are documented in the Oscar-nominated short documentary Rose Kennedy: A Life to Remember.
In 1951, Venerable Pope Pius XII granted Kennedy the title of Roman countess in recognition of her "exemplary motherhood and many charitable works."
The Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston, Massachusetts is named after her.
The Rose Kennedy Cocktail is a popular drink in bars in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic United States.
Played by Michelle Trout in the film, Lives and Deaths of the Poets (2009).
American band Rasputina's song "Rose K." from their album "How We Quit the Forest" is based on her

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Remembering a Hero from World War 2 after 5 years

Charles Chibitty offers an Indian prayer at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery during a Nov. 5, 2002!

When Charles Chibitty, the last surviving World War II Comanche code talker, visited Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon in 2002, the secretary presented him a memento of a small engraved box.

Last World War II Comanche Code Talker, Charles ‘Charlie’ Joyce Chibitty

Comanche Code Talker Charles Chibitty Dies
July 26, 2005
Charles Chibitty, 83, the last of the Comanche code talkers who used their native tongue to confound Hitler's forces during World War II, died July 20 of complications of diabetes at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa. He had been living at a Tulsa nursing home.
Mr. Chibitty, whose name means "holding on good" in Comanche, also was the last surviving hereditary chief of the tribe, the Comanche Nation reported. He was descended on his mother's side from Chief Ten Bears, known as one of the signers of the Medicine Lodge Treaty of 1867.
He was one of 17 Comanches from the Lawton, Okla., area who were selected in 1941 for special Army duty to provide the Allies with a language the Germans could not decipher. He served with the Army's 4th Infantry Division, 4th Signal Company.
The Comanche recruits created their code at Fort Benning, Ga., in 1941. "We compiled a 100-word vocabulary of military terms during training," Mr. Chibitty said in a 1999 interview with the Armed Forces Information Service. "The Navajo did the same thing. The Navajos became code talkers about a year after the Comanches, but there were over a hundred of them, because they had so much territory [in the Pacific Theater] to cover."
Mr. Chibitty landed at Utah Beach, one of 14 Comanches who hit the beaches of Normandy with Allied troops on D-Day. In presentations over the years, he recalled the first coded message he transmitted that day: "Five miles to the right of the designated area and five miles inland the fighting is fierce and we need help."
Because there was no Comanche word for "tank," the code talkers used their word for "turtle." "Bomber" became "pregnant airplane." "Hitler," Mr. Chibitty recalled, was "posah-tai-vo," or "crazy white man."
Two Comanches were assigned to each of the 4th Infantry Division's three regiments. They sent coded messages from the front line to division headquarters, where other Comanches decoded the messages. Some of the Comanches were wounded, but all survived the war. Their code was never broken.
"It's strange, but growing up as a child I was forbidden to speak my native language at school," Mr. Chibitty said in 2002. "Later my country asked me to. My language helped win the war, and that makes me very proud. Very proud."
Charles Joyce Chibitty was born in a tent near Medicine Park, Okla., a small community in the Wichita Mountains north of Lawton. Attending Haskell Indian School in Lawrence, Kan., he heard rumors not only of war but also of plans the military had to organize a native-speaking unit. He went home on Christmas break in 1940 and received his mother's permission to enlist.
The Army wanted 40 native speakers and managed to get 20. Three were sent home because they had dependents. Mr. Chibitty was one of the remaining 17 dispatched to Fort Benning and then to signal school at Fort Gordon, Ga.
As a radio man with the 4th Infantry Division, Mr. Chibitty took part in some of the fiercest fighting of the war, including the breakthrough at St. Lo, Hurtgen Forest, the Battle of the Bulge and the rescue of the "lost battalion." The division was the first American unit to participate in the liberation of Paris and the first infantry division to enter Germany.
Mr. Chibitty earned five campaign battle stars. In 1989, the French government honored the Comanche code talkers, including Mr. Chibitty, by presenting them with the Chevalier of the National Order of Merit.
In 1999, he received the Knowlton Award, which recognizes individuals for outstanding intelligence work, during a ceremony at the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes.
In addition to his work as a code talker, Mr. Chibitty was a champion boxer in the Army. He had learned to fight at Haskell Indian School.
After his discharge, he lived in Oklahoma, primarily in Tulsa, and worked as a glazier. He also gained fame as a champion fancy war dancer and was invited by many tribes to dance at their powwows. "He was very good at that," said Lanny Asepermy, a retired Army sergeant major who serves as head of the Comanche Indian Veterans Association. "It's very physically demanding, but Charles was like a butterfly floating." His wife, Elaine Chibitty, died in 1994. He also was preceded in death by a son and a daughter. Survivors include three grandchildren.

Charles Chibitty (November 20, 1921 – July 20, 2005) was a Comanche Numunu code talker who used his native language to relay messages for the Allies during World War II. Chibitty, and 15 other Comanches had been recruited by the U.S. military for this purpose since Comanche was a language that was entirely unknown to the Germans, who were unable to decipher it. (The Navajos performed a similar duty in the Pacific War.)
Chibitty was born on November 20, 1921, in a tepee 16 miles west of Lawton, Oklahoma. He attended high school at the Haskell Indian School in Lawrence, Kansas and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1941. He served in the Army's Fourth Signal Company in the 4th Infantry Division. He earned the World War II Victory Medal, the European Theater of Operations Victory Medal with five bronze stars, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and the Good Conduct Medal.
In 1989, Chibitty and the other two surviving code talkers - Roderick Red Elk and Forrest Kassanavoid - were presented with the Chevalier of the Ordre National du Mérite by the French government. Chibitty's work — and that of the other Comanches who served in Europe — was not recognized by the U.S. government until 1999, when he received the Knowlton Award from The Pentagon, which recognizes outstanding intelligence work. By the time this recognition came around, Chibitty was the only surviving Comanche code talker.
In interviews with the media he would name all of his Comanche colleagues, so that they would not be forgotten. They were Larry Saupitty, Willie Yackeschi, Morris Sunrise, Perry Noyobad, Haddon Codynah, Robert Holder, Clifford Ototivo, Forrest Kassanavoid, Roderick Red Elk, Simmons Parker, Melvin Permansu, Ellington Mihecoby and Elgin Red Elk.
He died on July 20, 2005 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Remembering a great author after a year!

Frank McCourt
Birth: Aug. 19, 1930 Brooklyn, Kings County, New York
Death: Jul. 19, 2009 New York, New York County New York Francis "Frank" McCourt was an Irish-American teacher and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, best known as the author of Angela’s Ashes. His brothers Malachy McCourt and Alphie McCourt are also autobiographical writers. In the mid-1980s Francis and Malachy created the stage play "A Couple of Blaguards", a two-man show about their lives and experiences. He taught English at McKee High School in Staten Island. Frank McCourt taught across a range of five New York schools, including McKee Technical and Vocational High School and Stuyvesant High School. Mr. McCourt also taught in the English department of New York City Technical College of the City University of New York. In a 1997 NY Times Op-Ed essay, Mr. McCourt wrote about his experiences teaching immigrant mothers there. He received the Pulitzer Prize (1997) and National Book Critics Circle Award (1996) for his memoir Angela's Ashes (1996), which details his impoverished childhood in Limerick. He also authored 'Tis (1999), which continues the narrative of his life, picking up from the end of the previous book and focusing on life as a new immigrant in America. Teacher Man (2005) detailed the challenges of being a young, uncertain teacher. It was announced in May, 2009 that he had been treated for melanoma and that he was in remission, undergoing home chemotherapy. On July 19, 2009, he died from the cancer, with meningeal complications, at a hospice in Manhattan. Frank McCourt: Sir, its been a privilege to read your books and remembering a great an Irish-American teacher and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Angela's Ashes. As a Staten Islander, this island will never forget on what you did at one of the local high schools, thanks for everything, remembering you one year ago today, may you rest in peace!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Happy 160th birthday to Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini

Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini Original name: Maria Francesca CabriniSaint Frances Xavier Cabrini (July 15, 1850, Sant'Angelo Lodigiano, Lombardy – December 22, 1917), also called Mother Cabrini, was the first American citizen to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church. Early lifeCabrini was born in Sant'Angelo Lodigano, Italy, the youngest of thirteen children of Agostino Cabrini and Stella Oldini who were rich cherry tree farmers. Two months premature, she remained in delicate health throughout her 67 years.Cabrini took religious vows in 1877 and added Xavier to her name to honor the Jesuit saint, Francis Xavier. She became the mother superior of the House of Providence orphanage in Codogno, where she taught.In 1880, the orphanage was closed. She and six other sisters that took religious vows with her founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (MSC) on November 14. Mother Cabrini composed the rules and constitution of the order, and she continued as its superior-general until her death. The order established seven homes and a free school and nursery in its first five years. Its good works brought Mother Cabrini to the attention of Giovanni Scalabrini, bishop of Piacenza and of Pope Leo XIII.
The Pope sent Cabrini to New York City on March 31, 1889, to help the Italian Immigrants there "Not to the East but to the West".
There, she obtained the permission of Archbishop Michael Corrigan to found an orphanage, which is located in West Park, Ulster County, New York, today and is known as Saint Cabrini Home, the first of 67 institutions she founded in New York, Chicago, Des Plaines, Seattle, New Orleans, Denver, Golden, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and in countries throughout South America and Europe. Long after her death, the Missionary Sisters would achieve Mother Cabrini's goal of being a missionary to China. After much social and religious upheaval and only a short time, the sisters left China, and subsequently a Siberian placement.
Chicago became a major center of Mother Cabrini’s work. In 1899, she opened the city’s first Italian immigrant school. She also transformed a former hotel into Columbus Hospital in 1905; in 1911, she opened Columbus Extension Hospital (later renamed Saint Cabrini Hospital) in the heart of the city’s Italian neighborhood on the Near West Side. Although both hospitals eventually closed near the end of the 20th century, their foundress’s name lives on via Chicago's Cabrini Street. Cabrini was naturalized as a US citizen in 1909.
Frances Cabrini was born in Sant’Angelo Lodigiano in the province of Lombardy on July l5, 1850 prematurely. Her father, Agostino, was a farmer and her mother Stella stayed at home with the children. Frances was the 10th child of 11 children; sadly only four of them survived beyond adolescence. Small and weak as a child, she encountered many difficulties throughout her life.
Death: The shrine to Mother Cabrini at 701 Fort Washington Avenue, Manhattan, New York CityMother Cabrini died of complications from dysentery at age 67 in Columbus Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, on December 22, 1917. By that time, she had founded 67 missionary institutions to serve the sick and poor and train additional nuns to carry on the work. Her body was originally interred at Saint Cabrini Home, an orphanage she founded in West Park, Ulster County, New York.
In 1931, her body was exhumed and is now enshrined under glass in the altar at St. Frances Cabrini Shrine, part of Mother Cabrini High School, at 701 Fort Washington Avenue, in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan. The street to the west of the shrine was renamed Cabrini Boulevard in her honor. VenerationCabrini was beatified on November 13, 1938, and canonized on July 7, 1946, by Pope Pius XII.
St. Frances Xavier Cabrini is the patron saint of immigrants. Her beatification miracle involved the restoration of sight to a child who had been blinded by excess silver nitrate in its eyes. Her canonization miracle involved the healing of a terminally ill nun. The date fixed at the universal level for Mother Cabrini's feast day is November 13th the day of her beatification. In the pre-1970 calendar, still used by some, the date was December 22, the day of her birth to heaven, and so the day normally chosen for a saint's feast day.
Honors: Chicago's Cabrini-Green housing project, which has since been mostly torn down, was named after her, due to her work with Italian immigrants in the location. It has since become a haven for underprivileged and poor people and the MSC sisters still work there. Cabrini College, in Radnor, Pennsylvania, also bears her name, as does Cabrini High School in New Orleans, and Cabrini Medical Center and Mother Cabrini High School in Manhattan, New York City.The Cabrini Mission Foundation is an organization committed to advancing St. Frances Xavier Cabrini's mission and legacy of healing, teaching, and caring around the world.
Saint Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini: Pray for us on this day of your birth, you were a wonderful woman, thank you for the great things that you have done, rememebering you today, happy 160th birthday!

Friday, July 9, 2010

50 Years ago today: a great novel came out: To Kill a Mockingbird!

Now gentlemen, in this country our courts are the great levelers, and in our courts all men are created equal. I'm no idealist to believe firmly in the integrity of our courts and of our jury system. That's no ideal to me. That is a living, working reality. Now I am confident that you gentlemen will review without passion the evidence that you have heard, come to a decision, and restore this man to his family. In the name of God, do your duty.- Atticus Finch is a fictional character in Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Atticus is a lawyer and resident of the fictional Maycomb County, Alabama.

Harper Lee and President George W. Bush at the November 5, 2007 ceremony awarding Lee the Presidential Medal of Freedom for To Kill a Mockingbird.

To Kill a Mockingbird is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Harper Lee published in 1960. It was instantly successful and has become a classic of modern American literature. The plot and characters are loosely based on the author's observations of her family and neighbors, as well as on an event that occurred near her hometown in 1936, when she was 10 years old.
The novel is renowned for its warmth and humor, despite dealing with the serious issues of rape and racial inequality. The narrator's father, Atticus Finch, has served as a moral hero for many readers and as a model of integrity for lawyers. One critic explained the novel's impact by writing, "In the twentieth century, To Kill a Mockingbird is probably the most widely read book dealing with race in America, and its protagonist, Atticus Finch, the most enduring fictional image of racial heroism. Nelle Harper Lee (born April 28, 1926) is an American author, known for her 1960 Pulitzer Prize winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird. She assisted her close friend Truman Capote in his research for the book In Cold Blood. Since then, she has no published works. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom of the United States for her contribution to literature in 2007. She has also been the recipient of numerous honorary degrees, but has always declined to make a speech. On November 5, 2007, Lee was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush at a White House Ceremony. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian award in the United States and recognizes individuals who have made "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors." Honors Harper Lee and President George W. Bush at the November 5, 2007 ceremony awarding Lee the Presidential Medal of Freedom for To Kill a MockingbirdDuring the years immediately following the novel's publication, Harper Lee enjoyed the attention its popularity garnered her, granting interviews, visiting schools, and attending events honoring the book. In 1961, when To Kill a Mockingbird was in its 41st week on the bestseller list, it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, stunning Lee. It also won the Brotherhood Award of the National Conference of Christians and Jews in the same year, and the Paperback of the Year award from Bestsellers magazine in 1962. Starting in 1964, Lee began to turn down interviews, complaining of monotonous questioning. She has declined ever since to talk with reporters about the book. She has also steadfastly refused to provide an introduction, writing in 1995: "Introductions inhibit pleasure, they kill the joy of anticipation, they frustrate curiosity. The only good thing about Introductions is that in some cases they delay the dose to come. Mockingbird still says what it has to say; it has managed to survive the years without preamble." In 2001, Lee was inducted into the Alabama Academy of Honor. In the same year, Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley initiated a reading program throughout the city's libraries, and chose his favorite book, To Kill a Mockingbird, as the first title of the One City, One Book program. Lee declared that "there is no greater honor the novel could receive". By 2004, the novel had been chosen by 25 communities for variations of the citywide reading program, more than any other novel. In 2006, Lee was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Notre Dame. During the ceremony, the students and audience gave Lee a standing ovation, and the entire graduating class held up copies of To Kill a Mockingbird to honor her. Lee was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on November 5, 2007 by President George W. Bush. In his remarks, Bush stated, "One reason To Kill a Mockingbird succeeded is the wise and kind heart of the author, which comes through on every page... To Kill a Mockingbird has influenced the character of our country for the better. It's been a gift to the entire world. As a model of good writing and humane sensibility, this book will be read and studied forever.

On this day after 160 years, President Zachary Taylor dies

Zachary Taylor: thank you general for serving as the nation's 12th president 1849-1850. thank you also for being a interging general in the Mexican War, remembering you after 160 years, may you rest in peace!
One of the only know photos of President Zachary Taylor prior to his death on this day in history!

Zachary Taylor

Zachary Taylor (November 24, 1784 – July 9, 1850) was the 12th President of the United States and an American military leader. Initially uninterested in politics, Taylor nonetheless ran as a Whig in the 1848 presidential election, defeating Lewis Cass and becoming the first President never to have held any previous elected office. Taylor was the last President to hold slaves while in office, and the last Whig to win a presidential election.
Known as "Old Rough and Ready," Taylor had a forty-year military career in the United States Army, serving in the War of 1812, the Black Hawk War, and the Second Seminole War. He achieved fame leading American troops to victory in the Battle of Palo Alto and the Battle of Monterrey during the Mexican–American War. As president, Taylor angered many Southerners by taking a moderate stance on the issue of slavery. He urged settlers in New Mexico and California to bypass the territorial stage and draft constitutions for statehood, setting the stage for the Compromise of 1850. Taylor is thought to have died of gastroenteritis just 16 months into his term, the third shortest tenure of any President. Only Presidents William Henry Harrison and James Garfield served less time. Taylor was succeeded by his Vice President, Millard Fillmore.


The true cause of Zachary Taylor's premature death is not fully established. On July 4, 1850, Taylor consumed a snack of milk and cherries at an Independence Day celebration. On this day, he also sampled several dishes presented to him by well-wishing citizens.

At about 10:00 in the morning on July 9, 1850, very ill, Taylor called his wife to him and asked her not to weep, saying: "I have always done my duty, I am ready to die. My only regret is for the friends I leave behind me." Upon his sudden death on July 9, the cause was listed as gastroenteritis.

He was interred in the Public Vault (built in 1835 to hold remains of notables until either the gravesite could be prepared or transportation arranged to another city) of the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C. from July 13, 1850 to October 25, 1850. Taylor was then transported to the Taylor Family plot where his parents are buried, on the old Taylor homestead estate known as 'Springfield'. In 1883, the Commonwealth of Kentucky placed a fifty foot monument near Zachary Taylor's grave. It is topped by a life-sized statue of Zachary Taylor.

By the 1920s, the Taylor family initiated the effort to turn the Taylor burial grounds into a national cemetery. The Commonwealth of Kentucky donated two pieces of land for the project, turning the half-acre Taylor family cemetery into 16 acres. There, buried in the Taylor family plot, Zachary Taylor and his wife (who died in 1852) remained, until he and his wife were moved to their final resting place on May 6, 1926 in the newly commissioned Taylor mausoleum (made of limestone with a granite base, with a marble interior), nearby. Today, President Taylor and wife Margaret rest in the mausoleum in Louisville, Kentucky, at what is now the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery.

Exhumation of 1991

In the late 1980s, college professor and author Clara Rising theorized that Taylor was murdered by poison and was able to convince Taylor's closest living relative and the Coroner of Jefferson County, Kentucky, to order an exhumation.

On June 17, 1991, Taylor's remains were exhumed and transported to the Office of the Kentucky Chief Medical Examiner, where radiological studies were conducted and samples of hair, fingernail and other tissues were removed. The remains were then returned to the cemetery and received appropriate honors at reinterment. He was reinterred in the same mausoleum he had been interred in since 1926. A monolith was constructed next to the mausoleum later on. Neutron activation analysis conducted at Oak Ridge National Laboratory revealed arsenic levels several hundred times lower than they would have been if Taylor had been poisoned.

Rather, it was concluded that on a hot July day Taylor had attempted to cool himself with large amounts of cherries and iced milk. “In the unhealthy climate of Washington, with its open sewers and flies, Taylor came down with cholera morbus, or acute gastroenteritis as it is now called.” He might have recovered, Samuel Eliot Morison felt, but his doctors “drugged him with ipecac, calomel, opium and quinine (at 40 grains a whack), and bled and blistered him too. On July 9, he gave up the ghost.”

Despite these findings, assassination theories have not been entirely put to rest. Michael Parenti devoted a chapter in his 1999 book History as Mystery to "The Strange Death of Zachary Taylor," speculating that Taylor was assassinated because of his moderate stance on the expansion of slavery — and that his autopsy was botched. It is suspected that Taylor was deliberately assassinated by arsenic poisoning from one of the citizen-provided dishes he sampled during the Independence Day celebration.

Other dissenting historians claim as suspicious the facts that there were no eyewitness accounts of Taylor consuming cherries and milk on that day; that there are no confirmed cholera outbreaks in Washington in 1850; that Taylor's symptoms were not those of typhoid (spread by flies); that Taylor was not given the aforementioned drugs until he was already deathly sick, on the third day of his acute illness; and that Taylor was not bled until near death on the fifth and last day of his illness

President Zachary Taylor died on July 9, 1850. Taylor's sudden death shocked the nation. After attending Fourth of July orations for most of the day, Taylor walked along the Potomac River before returning to the White House. Hot and tired, he drank iced water and consumed large quantities of cherries and other fruits. The president suffered severe stomach pains for the next five days. Diagnosed as suffering from "cholera morbus" by his physicians, Taylor ate slivers of ice for relief until his body began rejecting fluids. At about 10:00 in the morning on July 9, 1850, Taylor called his wife to him and asked her not to weep, saying: "I have always done my duty, I am ready to die. My only regret is for the friends I leave behind me." His funeral took place on July 12. An estimated 100,000 people thronged the funeral route in the nation's capital to witness the presidential hearse drawn by eight white horses accompanied by grooms dressed in white and wearing white turbans. The hearse was followed by Washington dignitaries, military units, the president's beloved horse "Old Whitey," and the president's family. Behind them a line of military units, officials, and common citizens stretched in procession for over two miles. His final resting place was to be at Springfield at the family burying site, today known as Zachary Taylor National Cemetery and Monument. Zachary Taylor left behind a country sharply divided, and a vice president, Millard Fillmore, who supported the Compromise of 1850 that specifically prohibited slavery in the new Western states. In the end, Taylor had little personal impact on the presidency, and his months in office did little to slow the approach of the great national tragedy of the Civil War. He is not remembered as a great president. Most historians believe that he was too non-political in a day when politics, parties, and presidential leadership demanded close ties with political operatives. Taylor's "outsider" philosophy kept him out of touch with Congress. He never addressed the legislature with a clear policy statement nor did he use his influence to direct legislation-except on the matter of statehood for California and New Mexico. He thought that the president's role should be limited to vetoing unconstitutional legislation but otherwise to give in to Congress on matters of domestic concern. He never took a stand on any of the issues on which he had firm opinions, such as revamping the banking system, protective tariffs, or internal improvements. In foreign policy, his treaty with England (Clayton-Bulwer) on Central America is recognized as an important step in scaling down the nation's commitment to Manifest Destiny as a policy. Yet many of his political contemporaries thought that it went too far in respecting England's claim to power in the Americas. Overall, Taylor was something of an anomaly. He was a slave owner who supported the Wilmot Proviso's ban on the expansion of slavery into the western territories that had been acquired from Mexico. He was the triumphant military conqueror of Mexico who saw little need for Manifest Destiny as a foreign policy. He was an army general who shied away from war as an instrument of state. He was a stern military commander who avoided decisive actions as president. The one thing about him that is clear is that he was committed to preserving the Union even if it meant using force against the secessionists. It is interesting to speculate what might have happened had Taylor lived and been elected to a second term. On the political front, Taylor had revamped his cabinet on the eve of his death, bringing in men of national prominence that would have given him one of the strongest cabinets ever assembled. More importantly, had he lived, there might not have been a Compromise of 1850 or even the Civil War. Because the South was still too disunited in 1850 to form a viable secession movement, Taylor's unflinching support (had he lived) for the direct admission to the Union of the western territories might have changed the course of history. He had surprised many when he stamped out Santa Anna at the Battle of Buena Vista. The question remains, if Taylor had survived, would he have been able to stamp out the most burning issue that faced the nation in 1850-the expansion of slavery westward. Some historians suspected that Taylor's death may have had other causes, and in 1991 one convinced Taylor's descendants that the president might have suffered arsenic poisoning. As a result, Taylor's remains were exhumed from a cemetery in Louisville and Kentucky's medical examiner brought samples of hair and fingernail tissue to Oak Ridge National Laboratory for study. In the Chemical and Analytical Sciences Division, Larry Robinson and Frank Dyer headed the Taylor investigation, using neutron activation analysis to measure the amount of arsenic in the hair and nail samples. After placing the samples in a beam of neutrons from the High Flux Isotope Reactor, Dyer and Robinson looked at the gamma rays coming from the samples for the distinctive energy levels associated with the presence of arsenic. Arsenic is among the easier elements to identify through neutron activation and can be detected in a few parts per million. Most human bodies contain traces of arsenic, so the essential issue in the Taylor case was whether the samples from Taylor contained more arsenic than would be normal after 141 years in the crypt. Working late in the evenings, Dyer and Robinson in a few days calculated the arsenic levels in the samples and sent them to the Kentucky medical examiner for his decision. After reviewing the test results, the examiner announced that the arsenic levels in the samples were several hundred times less than they would have been if the president had been poisoned with arsenic. This finding acquitted several of Taylor's prominent contemporaries of the suspicion of murder and proved that history and science share a common quest for truth.

On this day in 1776, The Declaration of Independence was read to George Washington and his troops in NY

General George Washington directs the publication of the Declaration of Independence to the Continental Forces near what today is City Hall, New York City, 9 July 1776.

On July 9, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was read aloud to Gen. George Washington's troops in New York. President of Congress John Hancock sent a broadside to General George Washington, instructing him to have it proclaimed "at the Head of the Army in the way you shall think it most proper". Washington had the Declaration read to his troops in New York City on July 9, with the British forces not far away. Washington and Congress hoped the Declaration would inspire the soldiers, and encourage others to join the army. After hearing the Declaration, crowds in many cities tore down and destroyed signs or statues representing royalty. An equestrian statue of King George in New York City was pulled down and the lead used to make musket balls.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

80 Years ago the world lost a great Author!

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle: (22 May 1859 – 7 July 1930) was a Scottish physician and writer, most noted for his stories about the detective Sherlock Holmes, which are generally considered a major innovation in the field of crime fiction, and for the adventures of Professor Challenger. He was a prolific writer whose other works include science fiction stories, historical novels, plays and romances, poetry, and non-fiction.

Conan Doyle was found clutching his chest in the hall of Windlesham, his house in Crowborough, East Sussex, on 7 July 1930. He died of a heart attack at age 71. His last words were directed toward his wife: "You are wonderful." The epitaph on his gravestone in the churchyard at Minstead in the New Forest, Hampshire, reads:

Undershaw, the home near Hindhead, south of London that Conan Doyle had built and lived in for at least a decade, was a hotel and restaurant from 1924 until 2004. It was then bought by a developer, and has since been empty while conservationists and Conan Doyle fans fight to preserve it. A statue honours Conan Doyle at Crowborough Cross in Crowborough, where Conan Doyle lived for 23 years. There is also a statue of Sherlock Holmes in Picardy Place, Edinburgh, close to the house where Conan Doyle was born.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: thank you sir for being the creator of the Sherlock Holmes character, Remembering you after 80 years, may you rest in peace!

Happy 70th Birthday Ringo Starr!

Ringo Starr to celebrate 70th birthday

Richard Starkey: (born 7 July 1940), better known by his stage name Ringo Starr, is an English musician, singer-songwriter, and actor who gained worldwide fame as the drummer for The Beatles. When the band formed in 1960, Starr belonged to another Liverpool band, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. He became The Beatles' drummer in 1962, taking over from Pete Best. In addition to his contribution as drummer, Starr featured as lead singer on a number of successful Beatles songs (in particular, "With a Little Help from My Friends", "Yellow Submarine", and the Beatles version of "Act Naturally") and as songwriter with the songs "Don't Pass Me By", "What Goes On" and "Octopus's Garden".
As drummer for The Beatles, Starr was musically creative, and his contribution to the band's music has received high praise from notable drummers in more recent times. Starr described himself as "your basic offbeat drummer with funny fills", technically limited by being a left-handed person playing a right-handed kit. Drummer Steve Smith said that Starr's popularity "brought forth a new paradigm" where "we started to see the drummer as an equal participant in the compositional aspect" and that Starr "composed unique, stylistic drum parts for The Beatles songs".
Starr is the most documented and critically acclaimed actor-Beatle, playing a central role in several Beatles films, and appearing in numerous other movies, both during and after his career with The Beatles. After The Beatles' break-up in 1970, Starr achieved solo musical success with several singles and albums, and recorded with each of his fellow ex-Beatles as they too developed their post-Beatle musical careers. He has also been featured in a number of TV documentaries, hosted TV shows, and narrated the children's television series Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends. He currently tours with the All-Starr Band, making stops in such cities as New York and Boston, MA.

Happy 70th Birthday Ringo, thanks for the great music and the talent you have as a musician!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Independence Day Everyone!

On this day in 1776, the 13 colonies formed a new nation called America and every year since we celebrate our Independence! Happy 234th America! Enjoy your Independence!

Thomas Jefferson who is the principal author of the Declaration of Independence once said: "I concur with my friends in congratulations on the anniversary return of the independence and happiness of our country. May these be as many as I believe they will!"

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.
He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.
He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.
He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:
For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing taxes on us without our consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:
For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:

google_protectAndRun("ads_core.google_render_ad", google_handleError, google_render_ad);
For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies:
For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:
For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.
We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.
New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
Massachusetts: John Hancock, Samual Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean
Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton
Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton