Today 11/13 in 1982 at Washington, D.C., the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated.
The memorial design was a V-shaped black granite wall inscribed with the names of 57,939 service personnel who died in the war. (More were added later.)
The wall was designed by Maya Lin, a Yale University architecture student and daughter of Chinese immigrants, who won a nationwide competition. There was some criticism of the design, as it did not have the usual statues and inscribed quotes usually associated with war memorials. The simplicity of the design, however, won over the public.
On May 31, 1993, President Clinton was the first President to deliver an address at the memorial. To his embarrassment, many veterans had strong feelings about a “draft dodger” speaking at the memorial and he was booed.
Today in 1953 Mrs. Thomas J. White of the Indiana Textbook Commission called for the banning of “Robin Hood” in school libraries and textbooks.
“…a Communist directive in education now to stress 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.”
Reacting to criticism of her stance, Mrs. Young stated, “Because I’m trying to get Communist writers out of textbooks, my name is mud. Evidently I’m drawing blood or they wouldn’t make such an issue out of it.”
Mrs. Young also criticized Quakers because “they don’t believe in fighting wars.”
The state superintendent of education read the story and found nothing subversive about it. Soviet commentators joked, “Enrollment of Robin Hood in the Communist Party can only make sensible people laugh.” The modern sheriff of Nottingham stated, “Robin Hood was no communist.”
The “Red Scare” of the 1950′s and 60′s indicted several books, movies, and music as inspired by communist agendas.
Today in 1941 Congress amended the Neutrality Act of 1935 to allow merchant ships into war zones. The original Neutrality Act was passed in anticipation of another European war and adoption of an isolationist policy to avoid involvement.
In 1939 FDR fought with Congress to amend the act allowing sales of munitions to countries attacked by Nazi Germany. Territorial US waters were also declared a neutral zone.
In October 1941 the US destroyer “Reuben James” was sunk by a German submarine. US merchant ships were not only allowed into European waters but authorized to arm for attack. The US was no longer a neutral bystander.
Today in 1969 In Washington, D.C., protesters staged a symbolic “March Against Death.” The march drew over 45,000 participants, each with a placard bearing the name of a soldier who had died in Vietnam. The marchers began at Arlington National Cemetery and continued past the White House, where they called out the names of the dead. The march lasted for two days and nights. This demonstration and the moratorium that followed did not produce a change in official policy–although President Nixon was deeply angered by the protests, he publicly feigned indifference and they had no impact on his prosecution of the war.
Happy birthday Caryn Johnson, known as Whoopi Goldberg, movie and TV actor, Broadway performer, who was born today in 1955 at New York City. Whoopi was a high school dropout and married with a daughter at age 18. She also battled drug addiction. She developed a one-woman show “The Spook Show” which toured the country and played to sold out audiences in 1984-85 on Broadway. She was cast in the movie “The Color Purple” (1985) which got her nominated for Best Actress. She won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for “Ghost” (1990). She is the first woman to host the Academy Awards in 1994 and repeated the job in 1996, 1999, and 2002.
In addition to her TV and movie career, Whoopi Goldberg continues to act and produce on Broadway.