The Kennedy Heirs: A Legacy of Courage

by J. Randy Taraborrelli

As is well known by now, the Kennedys have always been a family of dreamers. Long-standing prejudices against the Irish combined with anti-Catholic sentiment had imbued them with great strength and resiliency and also a desire to seek justice for others. The members of the third generation have memories of their grandparents, Joseph and Rose, talking about discrimination against the Irish and showing them newspaper clippings from the Boston press where the letters NINA (“No Irish Need Apply”) were splashed on want ads for job opportunities. These young Kennedys came to understand that when Grandpa Joe was appointed ambassador to England back in 1938, it had been a real victory considering it had been just two generations since the family was of Irish peasantry. The way Grandpa had advanced in society while carving out his fortune in the Manhattan banking industry, on Wall Street, in politics, and, later, even in Hollywood would always inspire them.

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Posted in Modern History

D-Day: What Happened on the Eve of D-Day?

American troops approaching omaha beach on DDay

by Giles Milton

Who was Howard Vander Beek? And what happened to him on the night before D-Day? Well, it turns out that his quick thinking saved the lives of no fewer than 21,000 men.

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Posted in Military History, Modern History

D-Day: What Was Operation Tarbrush X?

Invasion of Normand

by Giles Milton

General Eisenhower and the architects of D-Day knew that the Allied landings would only be successful if they had up-to-the-minute information about the German coastal defenses.

They already had French spies working on their behalf—and we’ll get to more of this a little later—but they also needed to smuggle daring agents across to the beaches of Normandy in order to undertake close inspections of the enemy fortifications.

It was not for the faint-hearted. It was highly dangerous, with the certainty of death at the hands of the Gestapo, if captured. So who on earth would volunteer for such work?

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Posted in Military History, Modern History

A Family Memoir of War Across Three Continents

by Mieke Eerkens

Internment Camp Lampersari, Semarang, Dutch East Indies, December 28, 1942

Authority in Lampersari is established immediately. As they enter the camp, some women are pulled from the line and their suitcases opened to be searched for contraband: money, Dutch or English printed material, radios, and more. Sjeffie, now eleven years old, watches wide-eyed as the Japanese officers hit mothers with their batons to make them move when they get off the trucks. They shout orders in a language none of the prisoners understand, and when these orders aren’t followed, the flat ends of their sabers come down hard on whomever they happen to reach, sometimes splitting flesh and drawing blood. It’s a new violence for most of these children, and a cacophony of cries adds to the chaos. Luckily, Sjeffie’s  mother is  toward the back of the group of arriving prisoners and escapes injury, though  later in the year she  will not be so lucky, and her children will have to watch her being beaten to the ground  because she  doesn’t notice an officer approaching and therefore fails to bow to him in time.

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Posted in Modern History

“A Declaration” that Changed the Course of History

by Rick Atkinson

The fateful news traveled swiftly on the post road from Philadelphia, covering more than ninety miles and crossing five rivers in just a couple of days. Precise copies were then made of the thirteen-hundred-word broadside, titled “A Declaration,” that arrived at the Mortier mansion headquarters, and by Tuesday, July 9, General Washington was ready for every soldier in his command to hear what Congress had to say. In his orders that morning, after affirming thirty-nine lashes for two convicted deserters, he instructed the army to assemble at six p.m. on various parade grounds, from Governors Island to King’s Bridge. Each brigade major would then read—“with an audible voice”—the proclamation intended to transform a squalid family brawl into a cause as ambitious and righteous as any in human history.

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Posted in Military History

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