Today in 1776 the Continental Congress asked the states for troops to serve in the Continental Army; “…how indispensable it is to the common safety, that they pursue the most immediate and vigorous measures to furnish their respective quotas of Troops for the new Army, as the time of service for which the present Army has enlisted, is so near expiring.”
The most of Washington’s troops went home when their enlistments ended at the end of 1775. Congress and Washington had to reconstitute the continental army each year with new recruits, which was only one contention with maintaining an army and an uphill battle for Washington.
The citizen continental army did not become one of military order until the arrival of Friedrich von Steuben at Valley Forge in February 1778, instilling confidence and discipline in the demoralized army.
Today in 1985 at Geneva, President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev met for their first summit. This was the first time in eight years US and Russian leaders met.
Little was accomplished pertaining to world peace or significant agreements. Six agreements were reached having to do with scientific, agricultural, cultural and environmental exchanges and visits. But a number of observers were surprised the two leaders engaged in long, personal discussions and seemed to form a close relationship, given Reagan’s negative rhetoric about communism and the Soviet Union.
It was no secret that Reagan wanted to pursue nuclear arms control and Gorbachev wanted the rapport, leaving him free to pursue domestic reforms. Both leaders ended the meeting on November 21, expressing satisfaction with the summit.
Today in 1975 the movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” debuted in theaters. It went on to become the first film in 40 years to win all five major category Oscars: Best Actor (Jack Nicholson); Best Actress (Louise Fletcher); Best Director (Milos Forman); Best Screenplay (Adapted); and Best Picture.
The movie was based on a 1962 novel with the same title by Ken Kesey.
Today in 1967 at Hill 875 during the Battle of Dak To, Army Chaplain Major Charles Watters left the American defensive perimeter at least six times to retrieve casualties, disregarding his own safety . When all the wounded were inside the perimeter Father Watters helped the medics. Witnesses reported that Father Watters was killed as he gave last rites to a dying soldier when an American bomber accidentally dropped a bomb onto the paratroopers.
Father Watters was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on November 4, 1969.
Today in 1863, Abraham Lincoln delivered one of the most famous speeches in American history, at the dedication of the military cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Happy birthday Jack Schaefer, journalist and author who was born today in 1907 at Cleveland, Ohio. Schaefer wrote the novel “Shane,” (1949) loosely based on the late nineteenth-century Wyoming range wars between homesteaders and cattle barons. “Shane” begat imitators and helped make the Western genre a popular literary vehicle. The novel was adopted for a movie with the same name (1953). Schaefer also wrote “Monte Walsh,” (1963) also made into a movie (1970) and again for TV (2003).
Although Schaefer wrote numerous western books, he never visited the West until he relocated to Santa Fe, New Mexico, from his home in Connecticut in 1955. Schaefer died of a heart attack January 24, 1991 at Santa Fe.
Happy birthday James Abram Garfield, 30th President (March, 1881 to September, 1881), who was born today in 1831 at Orange, Ohio (near Cleveland). Garfield was wounded by assassin Charles Guiteau July 2, 1881 and died 80 days later September 19, 1881 at age 49. He is buried at Cleveland, Ohio.