Roger Mickelson’s Today’s History (5/27/13)



  Today is Memorial Day    

This holiday (now celebrated on the last Monday in May) honors those who have died in the nation’s wars. It originated during the American Civil War when citizens placed flowers on the graves of those who had been killed in battle. A number of places claimed to have been the birthplace of the holiday. Among them, Columbus, Mississippi, held a formal observance for both the Union and the Confederate dead in 1866. By congressional proclamation in 1966, Waterloo, New York, was cited as the birthplace, also in 1866, of the observance in the North. In 1868, John A. Logan, the commander in chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans, promoted a national holiday on May 30 “for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion.” After World War I, as the day came to be observed in honor of those who had died in all US wars, it was renamed. Since 1971 Memorial Day has been observed on the last Monday in May. A number of Southern states have continued also to observe a separate day to honor the Confederate dead. Memorial Day is observed with the laying of a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, and by religious services, parades, and speeches nationwide. Flags, insignia, and flowers are placed on the graves of veterans in local cemeteries.
English: Union Regimental Drum Corps from the ...

English: Union Regimental Drum Corps from the American Civil war. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1660, the Treaty of Copenhagen between Sweden and Denmark-Norway was signed, concluding a generation of warfare between the two powers as well as helping to establish the modern boundaries of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden.
Russo-Japanese War:    In 1905, the Battle of Tsushima commenced. Early in May the Russian fleet reached the China Sea, and Admiral Zinovy Petrovich Rozhestvensky made for Vladivostok via the Tsushima Strait. Admiral Togō Heihachirō’s fleet lay in wait for him on the south Korean coast near Pusan, and on May 27, as the Russian Fleet approached, he attacked. The Japanese ships were superior in speed and armament, and, in the course of the two-day battle, two-thirds of the Russian Fleet was sunk, six ships were captured, four reached Vladivostok, and six took refuge in neutral ports. It was a dramatic and decisive defeat; after a voyage lasting seven months and when within a few hundred miles of its destination, the Baltic Fleet was shattered, and, with it, Russia’s hope of regaining mastery of the sea was crushed.
World War II:    In 1942, the British navy sank the German battleship Bismarck. The Bismarck was laid down in 1936 and launched in 1939. It displaced 52,600 tons, mounted eight 15-inch guns, and had a speed of 30 knots. Its sighting off Bergen, Nor., in May 1941 by a British reconnaissance aircraft sent practically the entire British Home Fleet into action to intercept it. Two cruisers made contact off the coast of Iceland, and the battleship Prince of Wales and battle cruiser Hood soon engaged it. After destroying the Hood with a shell that exploded in the magazine, the Bismarck escaped into the open sea. Sighted by aircraft 30 hours later (May 26), it was hit by a torpedo that crippled its steering gear, and the ship was bombarded throughout the night by battleships. On the morning of May 27 the King George V and the Rodney, in an hour-long attack, incapacitated the Bismarck, and an hour and a half later it was sunk by three torpedoes from the cruiser Dorsetshire.
Bismarck, photographed from Prinz Eugen, in th...

Bismarck, photographed from Prinz Eugen, in the Baltic at the outset of Operation Rheinübung (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1994, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn returned to his homeland. He had been exiled from the Soviet Union since February 13, 1974, for writing The Gulag Archipelago.

Regards, Roger Mickelson
Source material includes Associated Press International and Encyclopædia Britannica.
“Remember those who died to defend our freedom.”
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