May Madness

The 2005 film Sometimes in April is a powerful reminder of the Rwandan Genocide that began in April 1994. There’s something about April, I suppose: the Armenian Genocide too began in April; and the Siege of Sarajevo, which many consider to be the beginning of the Bosnian Genocide, began in April as well. Three of the six most well-known genocides began in the same month…

But May isn’t much better…

May 17, 1984, Bhiwandi riots began when Hindus placed a saffron flag on top of a mosque… 278 dead. And in 1987, from March, through the entire month of May, and to June, riots occurred between Muslim and Hindu Indians in Meerut and resulted in the death of more than 350 people.

Yes, the Bhiwandi riots began when Hindus placed a saffron flag on top of a mosque? First of all, who cares, right? It’s just a flag? And, on the other hand, who would tarnish a religious building with the religious symbols of another religion? Disgusting insensitivity and hatred. It reminds me of swastikas on synagogues and Israeli PM Ariel Sharon flying an Israeli flag from the home he bought in the Muslim Old City of Jerusalem.

And, specifically, on this day, May 22, 1987, forty-two men were massacred by the Indian military in the Hashimpura neighborhood of Meerut, the state of UP. The victims were shot, and their bodies were dumped in water canals; a few days later dead bodies were found floating in the canals. The trials were delayed for decades and, on March 21, 2015, the verdict was returned, and the Tis Hazari Court in Delhi acquitted the 16 soldiers accused in the Hashimpura Massacre, due to “insufficient evidence.”

Fortunately, some semblance of justice and responsibility, in May 2015, the UP government announced a compensation equivalent to $US 500,000 to the family of each victim.

But the violence in the India haven’t stopped. Years later, but also in May, the 2006 Vadodara Dargah riots occurred in the state of Gujarat in India. The 2006 Riots were caused by the municipal council’s decision to remove a 300-year-old Sufi dargah (shrine). An independent people’s commission has stated that the police had targeted Muslims during the incident…. eight people were killed and forty-two injured, 16 of these were from police shooting.

Who votes to close a religious site in a city known for its religious strife? Yes, Gujarat is the same state that was home to the 1969 and 2002 Gujarat riots as well.

But the crimes against humanity and genocide in the Indian subcontinent is not all religiously-based war crimes, in the 1971 Bangladesh Genocide, Muslims killed Muslims over, at least at face-value, over language. May 5, 1971, the Gopalpur Massacre occurred when Muslim Pakistani forces murdered 195 Bengali Muslim workers at a sugar factor. And on May 20, 1971, many thousands of Bengali Hindu refugees were murdered in the Chuknagar massacre by Pakistani forces. Why? Religion? Language? Bloodlust? Probably all three….

Some much violence. So much hate and ignorance. Demographic tribalism and identity politics at its worst.

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May is not a good month for the continent of Asia. Also in this month of May, specifically May 21, 1864, Russia declared an end to the Russo-Circassian War after the scorched earth campaign initiated in 1862 under General Yevdokimov.  When the Circassian people refused to convert to Christianity from Islam, almost the entire population was forced into exile from their North Caucasus homeland.  More than 1.5 million Circassians were expelled — 90% of the total population at the time.  Most of them perished en route, victims of disease, hunger, and exhaustion. And, among the Circassians that stayed behind? Chechnyans. And you wonder why so many Chechnyans hate the Russians so much. As a war against civilians, forced transfer of populations, within the context of both ethnic and religious differences… another genocide. May 21st is designated as the Circassian Day of Mourning and recognizes the Circassian Genocide.  And just a few years ago, the 2014 Sochi Olympics were held on former Circassian land which caused an outcry from Circassian people as well as humans rights activists worldwide.

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From the Caucasus Mountains of western Asia, across the Indian subcontinent, to southeast Asia. In Cambodia, May 20, is The Day of Remembrance. Formerly called the National Day of Hatred, it commemorates the Cambodian genocide of the Khmer Rouge regime that ruled the country between 1975 and 1979; specifically, the date was selected since it marked the beginning of mass killings by Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge…

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While the German Genocide, or Holocaust, started on that November night of Broken Glass and the Darfur Genocide began on a dusty February day in 2003… three well-known genocides all began Sometime in April… but unfortunately, genocide is more ordinary than extraordinary. May marks the beginning of the Palestinian Diaspora in 1948, the lesser known Greek Genocide, the Circassian Genocide, the more well-known Cambodian Genocide, as well as continuous violence in India and several massacres of the 1971 Bangladesh Genocide.

Genocide is not a competition, and if we could see how pathetically ordinary it is in our human history, perhaps we could turn the corner and recognize one another as sister and brother, no matter race, ethnicity, nationality, or creed. Remember the sins of the past, remember that today is tomorrow’s yesterday. The choices we make today will be looked back upon tomorrow.

 

The Schindlers of the World May 19th

On this day, May 19, 1909, Nicholas George Winton (May 19, 1909 – July 1, 2015) was born in Wertheim, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. a British humanitarian who organized the rescue of 669 children, most of them Jewish, from Czechoslovakia on the eve of the Second World War in an operation later known as the Czech Kindertransport (German for “children transportation”). Winton found homes for the children and arranged for their safe passage to Britain. The world found out about his work over 40 years later, in 1988. The British press dubbed him the “British Schindler.”

The Schindlers of the World

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Sardari, Sugihara, Vrba, Bartali, Fry, Yolga, Wallenberg, Sousa Mendes, Sendler…

All sister and brothers of Winton:

An Italian Catholic, A Japanese Shinto, a Polish Catholic woman, a Turkish Muslim and an Iranian Muslim; an American Protestant, A Swedish Lutheran, a Portuguese Catholic, and a Slovak Jew…. 6 religions, different genders, nationalities, and races…

What do these names all have in common?

They have all been given the honorific title of Schindler… If that’s not enough, think about what that says about Oskar Schindler himself? Having your name made into a title? Like Julius Caesar’s name became the title for Roman Emperors, Schindler’s name has become the term for the Caesar’s of Peace.

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In no particular order, the other Schindlers:

The American Schindler: Vivian Fry

Varian Mackey Fry died in Reading, Connecticut. Fry (October 15, 1907 – September 13, 1967) was an American journalist. While working as a foreign correspondent for the American journal The Living Age, Fry visited Berlin in 1935, and personally witnessed Nazi abuse against Jews on more than one occasion, which turned him into an ardent anti-Nazi. He said in 1945, “I could not remain idle as long as I had any chances at all of saving even a few of its intended victims.” Following his visit to Berlin, Fry wrote about the savage treatment of Jews by Hitler’s regime in the New York Times in 1935. Fry began and ran a rescue network in Vichy France that helped approximately 2,000 to 4,000 anti-Nazi and Jewish refugees to escape Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. He is known as the “American Schindler.”

The True Italian Schindler: Gino Bartali

For years, Giovanni Palatucci was considered the Italian Schindler. Sadly, it was discovered that his claims of helping Jews were a fraud. In fact, he was covertly helping in the deportation of Jews.

Gino Bartali (July 18, 1914 – May 5, 2000), on the other hand, was a world champion cyclist. Bartali used his fame to carry messages and documents to the Italian Resistance. Bartali cycled from Florence through Tuscany, Umbria, and Marche, sometimes traveling as far afield as Rome, all the while wearing the racing jersey emblazoned with his name. Neither the Fascist police nor the German troops wanted to risk upsetting the Italian people by arresting Bartali.

Bartali earned respect for his work in helping Jews who were being persecuted by the Nazis during the time of the Italian Social Republic. It emerged in December 2010 that Bartali had hidden a Jewish family in his cellar and, according to one of the survivors, and, by doing so, had saved their lives.

The Hungarian Schindler: Rudolf Vrba

Rudolf Vrba is known for his escape from the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II and for co-writing the Vrba–Wetzler report. The Vrba–Wetzler report provided some of the most detailed information about the mass murder taking Auschwitz.  Material from the Vrba–Wetzler appeared in newspapers and radio broadcasts in the United States and Europe throughout June and into July 1944, prompting world leaders to appeal to Hungarian regent Miklós Horthy to halt the deportations. On July 7th Horthy ordered an end to the deportations, fearing he would be held responsible after the war.  While 437,000 Jews had been deported, constituting almost the entire Jewish population of the Hungarian countryside, but another 200,000 living in Budapest were saved. In many ways, these are the “Vrba Jews” as much as the German Jews saved by Oscar Schindler are known as Schindler Jews, or Schindlerjuden.

The Iranian Schindler: Abdol Hossein Sardari

Abdol Hossein Sardari عبدالحسین سرداری was born in Tehran, Iran, (c. 1914) and died in Nottingham, UK (1981). Sardari was an Iranian statesman and diplomat who saved the lives of many Jews during the Holocaust. He is known as the “Schindler of Iran.”

The Japanese Schindler: Chiune Sugihara 

Chiune Sugihara 杉原 千畝 (January 1, 1900 – 31 July 31, 1986) died in Tokyo, Japan. Sugihara was a Japanese diplomat who served as Vice-Consul for the Empire of Japan in Lithuania. During World War II, he helped between 10,000 and 40,000 Jews leave the country by issuing transit visas so that they could travel to Japanese territory, risking his career and his family’s lives. The Jews who escaped were refugees from German-occupied Western Poland or Russian-occupied Eastern Poland, as well as residents of Lithuania. In 1985, Israel named him to the Righteous Among the Nations.

The Polish Schindler: Eugene Lazowski was a Polish medical doctor who saved thousands of Polish Jews during World War II by creating a fake epidemic which played on German phobias about hygiene.

After Lazowski’s friend Dr .Stanisław Matulewicz discovered that by injecting a healthy person with a vaccine of dead bacteria, that person would test positive for epidemic typhus without experiencing the symptoms, the two doctors hatched a secret plan to save about a dozen villages in the vicinity of Rozwadów and Zbydniów not only from forced labor exploitation, but also Nazi extermination. Germans were terrified of the disease because it was highly contagious. Those infected with typhus were not sent to Nazi concentration camps. Instead, when a sufficient number of people were infected, the Germans would quarantine the entire area. However, the Germans would not enter the FLECKFIEBER zone, fearing the disease would spread to them also. In this way, while Dr. Lazowski and Dr. Matulewicz did not hide Jewish families, they were able to spare 8,000 people from 12 ghettos from summary executions and inevitable deportations to concentration camps. Jews who tested positive for typhus were summarily massacred by the Nazis, so doctors injected the non-Jewish population in neighborhoods surrounding the ghettos, knowing that a possibility of widespread outbreak inside would cause Germans to abandon the area and thus spare local Jews in the process.

The Female Schindler: Irena Sendlerowa

Irena Sendlerowa (more commonly known as Irena Sendler) was a Polish nurse, humanitarian and social worker who served in the Polish Underground in German-occupied Warsaw during World War II, and was head of the children’s section of Żegota, the Polish Council to Aid Jews Irena has often been referred to as “the female Oskar Schindler” in her native Poland for her daring and ingenuity in saving the lives of more than 2,500 Jews (most of them children) in German-occupied Poland during WW II.

The Portuguese Schindler: Aristides de Sousa Mendes do Amaral e Abranches 

Aristides de Sousa Mendes do Amaral e Abranches was a Portuguese consul during World War II. As the Portuguese consul-general in the French city of Bordeaux, he defied the orders of António de Oliveira Salazar’s Estado Novo regime, issuing visas and passports to an undetermined number of refugees fleeing Nazi Germany, including Jews. For this, Sousa Mendes was punished by the Salazar regime with one year’s suspension on half-pay, but afterwards, he kept on receiving his full consul salary until his death in 1954. For his efforts to save Jewish refugees, Sousa Mendes was recognized by Israel as one of the Righteous Among the Nations, the first diplomat to be so honored, in 1966. He has also been called the “Portuguese Schindler.”

The Swedish Schindler: Raoul Wallenberg

Raoul Gustaf Wallenberg (August 4, 1912 – July 31, 1947) was a Swedish architect, businessman, diplomat, and humanitarian who save tens of thousands of Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary during the Holocaust from German Nazis and Hungarian Fascists during the later stages of WWII. While serving as Sweden’s special envoy in Budapest (July – December 1944), Wallenberg issued protective passports and sheltered Jews in buildings designated as Swedish territory. On January 17, 1945, during the Siege of Budapest by the Red Army, Wallenberg was detained on suspicion of espionage and subsequently disappeared. He was later reported to have died on July 17, 1947, while imprisoned by the KGB secret police in the Lubyanka, the KGB headquarters.

The Turkish Schindler: Namık Kemal Yolga 

Namık Kemal Yolga (1914 – 2001) was a Turkish diplomat and statesman. During World War II, Yolga was the Vice-Consul at the Turkish Embassy in Paris, France. His efforts to save the lives of Turkish Jews from the Nazi concentration camps earned him the title of “Turkish Schindler,” and he received recognition from the Turkish and Israeli governments in the late 20th century.

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The Schindler’s of the World

Proof that humanity is not just an example of the capacity to harm, we have the capacity for good as well.

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Yes, on this day, May 19, 1909, Nicholas Winton was born in Wertheim, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. a British humanitarian who organized the rescue of 669 children, most of them Jewish, from Czechoslovakia on the eve of the Second World War in an operation later known as the Czech Kindertransport (German for “children transportation”).

On July 1, 2015, Sir Nicholas George Winton, Member of the Order of the British Empire, died at Wexham Park Hospital, Slough, Berkshire, England…

Would that the world may never need the Schindler’s of the World Again.

A German Rabbi, Nazis, + Irish Music (May 10th)

~May 10~

On this day, May 10, 1902, Joachim Prinz was born in the Prussian province of Silesia. As a young rabbi in Berlin, Prinz was forced to confront the rise of Nazism.

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One of those events in the rise of Nazism, “The Säube-rung” also occurred on, this day, May 10, in the year 1933. German students initiated a purge of books by fire… Estimates are that upwards of 25,000 volumes of “un-German” books were burned. This “student-led” event was the culmination of efforts by the Main Office for Press and Propaganda of the German Student Union efforts a month earlier… Starting on April 8, 1933, the students union had proclaimed a nationwide “Action against the Un-German Spirit.”

All across Germany, Nazi officials as well as professors, rectors, and student leaders addressed the participants and spectators. At the book burnings, students threw the pillaged, banned books into the bonfires with an almost concert festival atmosphere that included live music, singing, “fire oaths,” and incantations. In Berlin alone, some 40,000 people gathered in the square at the State Opera to hear Joseph Goebbels deliver that famous fiery address: “No to decadence and moral corruption!” Goebbels enjoined the crowd. “Yes to decency and morality in family and state! I consign to the flames the writings of Heinrich Mann, Ernst Gläser, Erich Kästner.”

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Eventually, Rabbi Prinz emigrated to the United States in 1937 and, at least personally, he escaped the rising tide of Nazism. In America, Prinz became outspoken against Nazism and was an active member of the World Zionist Organization and the World Jewish Congress… By the late 1950s, and through the 1960s, Prinz was also the President of the American Jewish Congress…

Dr. Prinz devoted much of his life in the United States to the Civil Rights movement. He saw the plight of African American and other minority groups in the context of his own experience under Hitler.

From his early days in Newark, a city with a very large minority community, he spoke from his pulpit about the disgrace of discrimination. He joined the picket lines across America protesting racial prejudice from unequal employment to segregated schools, housing, and all other areas of life.

Also, while serving as President of the American Jewish Congress, he represented the Jewish community as one of the organizers of the great August 28, 1963, March on Washington. Prinz came to the podium immediately following a stirring spiritual sung by the gospel singer Mahalia Jackson and just before Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his immortal speech, “I Have a Dream.”

In his speech, Prinz argued in the face of discrimination, “the most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful and the most tragic problem is silence.”

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Also, in the 60s, specifically on this day, May 10, 1960, Paul David Hewson was born in Dublin, Ireland. While his mother was Iris Rankin was a member of the Church of Ireland, his father was, Brendan Robert “Bob” Hewson, a Roman Catholic. Kinda like the inverse of the great song “The Orange and the Green” also known as “The Biggest Mix-Up.” “Oh it is the biggest mix-up that you have ever seen My father he was orange and my mother she was green.” This dual religious parentage gave Hewson a unique perspective on The Troubles.

Hewson soon established himself as a passionate frontman for his band through his expressive vocal style and grandiose gestures and songwriting. His lyrics are known for their social and political themes, and for their religious imagery inspired by his Christian beliefs. During the early years, Hewson’s lyrics contributed to the group’s rebellious and spiritual tone. As the band matured, his lyrics became inspired more by personal experiences shared with the other members. Hewson and his band have received 22 Grammy Awards and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Hewson is known as an Irish singer-songwriter, musician, venture capitalist, businessman, and philanthropist. More importantly, Hewson is widely known for his activism for social justice causes. He is particularly active in campaigning for Africa, for which he co-founded DATA, EDUN, the ONE Campaign, and Product Red. In pursuit of these causes, he has participated in benefit concerts and met with influential politicians including John Hume, David Trimble, Nelson Mandela, and Aung San Suu Kyi.

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On May 10, 1994, one of those influential politicians, Nelson Mandela, was inaugurated as South Africa’s first sub-Saharan black president… Rabbi Prinz, a man who experienced ethnoreligious bigotry… who came to the United States and stood up for African-American rights… living through the tumultuous 60s, when Paul Hewson was born… Paul Hewson, who became a social justice leader himself… using his social status to raise up issues and people of justice. One of those people, Nelson Mandela, who lived up to the promise… but also, Aung San Suu Kyi, who, at least at this point, seems to have stumbled. But who am I to judge, as I mentioned yesterday, US President John F. Kennedy once said, “No one has a right to grade a President — not even poor James Buchanan — who has not sat in his chair, examined the mail and information that came across his desk, and learned why he made decisions.”

On this day, May 10, 1902, Joachim Prinz was born in the Prussian province of Silesia. Nazism got a bit stronger on this day, May 10, 1933. But on May 10, 1960, a bright spot; Paul Hewson was born in Dublin, Ireland. And on May 10, 1994, one of those influential politicians friends of Bono, Nelson Mandela, was inaugurated as South Africa’s first sub-Saharan black president…

And that’s what happened This Day in Today…

Remember,

Today’s Tomorrow’s yesterday.

Thank you for listening!

May the 4th Be With You

Welcome to This Day in Today,

My name is Tom Keefe, and I’m the Babbling Professor!

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  On this day, May 4, 1493, Pope Alexander VI issued the papal bull which divided the so-called New World between Spain and Portugal along the Line of Demarcation. Yes, that Pope Alexander VI… the Pope’s whose birth name was Rodrigo Borgia, an Aragonese from Valencia, meaning he was Spanish… that whole Ferdinand and Isabella/Castile and Aragon thingy… the Pope who drew the line on the map was a national of one of the two parties… what would we call that today? Conflict of interest maybe? And that’s skipping over the absurd assumption of terra nullis, the idea that the lands did not belong to anyone because, you know, the people living there weren’t European-Christians. In 1992, the Australian Supreme Court overturned terra nullis in the landmark case Mabo v Queensland (1992); indigenous people worldwide celebrated the decision and have implored governments in the Americas, in particular, to follow suit (see what I did there?) even if it is symbolic more than practical. So this Line of Demarcation, it had a few renditions, but it is essentially the same as the late, and more famous Treaty of Tordesillas.

Here’s one more, not sure if we call it ignorance or irony… can we call it ignorant irony? Anyway, here’s one more for ya, this line essentially drew a line in the Atlantic and said Spain gets west of the line (that’s why so much of the Western Hemisphere speaks Spanish, and Portugal got East of that line, essentially eastern Brasil; I always thought Portugal got the short end of the deal (though not as short as the indigenous peoples and the non-Spanish/Portuguese nations), but later I realized that Portugal had a see-empire that included the Canaries, the Azores, the Madeira, ports along the African coast, parts of India, particularly Goa, etc., etc, and with Portugal’s naval supremacy at the time, this sea-empire was contiguous by water… Perhaps the Borgia Pope did Europe a favor by taming the Portuguese Empire, but of course, Borgia was still, by modern standards, biased and his decision restrained Portugal while at the same time ushered in the rise of Spain is a way.

Finally, for whatever positive or nefarious spin we put to the story, the Line of Demarcation was only legally significant for about 24 years…at least in Europe… there is still the legal significance of terra nullis, but let’s go back to Europe in 1493: The Spanish Catholic Pope drew a line and granted extraterritorial gains to the Catholic Joint Kingdoms of Aragon and Castile and the Catholic Kingdom of Portugal. Hmmm… I think I see a pattern here? Something about the word, “Catholic”? Man, if I were a Catholic monarch from one of the other European countries, I’d be ticked! But, I mean, the Pope said so, right?  Play interlude music for 24 years…But wait! What’s that guy doing? He’s got a hammer and nails, huh! He just nailed a list, a long list, to the doors of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg! I guess we don’t have to listen to the Pope anymore… and if the Dutch, English, and Swedes aren’t going to listen anymore, then the French Catholics aren’t going to sit idly by and respect Pope Alexander VI’s Line of Demarcation which had divided the so-called New World between Spain and Portugal, issued on this day, May 4, 1493.

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On this day, May 4, 1938, Carl von Ossietzky was born in Berlin, Nazi Germany. Von Ossietzky (October 3, 1889 – May 4, 1938) was a German. He was convicted of high treason and espionage in 1931 after publishing details of Germany’s violation of the Treaty of Versailles by rebuilding an air force, the predecessor of the Luftwaffe, and training pilots in the Soviet Union. As a result, Carl was awarded the 1935 Nobel Peace Prize for his work in exposing the clandestine German re-armament, but the German press was not allowed to mention it, and a government decree forbade German citizens from accepting future Nobel Prizes. In May 1936, Carl was transferred from a prison camp to the Westend Hospital in Berlin-Charlottenburg because of his tuberculosis, but under Gestapo surveillance. He later died in the Nordend Hospital in Berlin-Pankow, while still in police custody of tuberculosis and from the after-effects of the abuse he suffered in the concentration camps.

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Seven years later, on this day, May 4, 1945, the Neuengamme concentration camp near Hamburg, Germany, was liberated by the British Army. The Neuengamme camp was established in 1938 near Hamburg, Germany. From 1938 to 1945, an estimated 106,000 prisoners were held at Neuengamme and at its subcamps. 14,000 perished in the main camp, 12,800 in the subcamps and 16,100 during the last weeks of the war on evacuation marches or due to Allied bombing. The verified death toll is 42,900. One of the most notable prisoners to perish in the camp was Fritz Pfeffer, a German dentist and Jewish refugee who hid with Anne Frank during the Nazi Occupation of the Netherlands. In Anne’s diary, Pfeffer was given the pseudonym Albert Dussel, and is probably more famous by that pseudonym.

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Finally, on this day, May 4, 1977, Star Wars, surprisingly was NOT released. Believe it or not, it was release three weeks later on May 25, 1977.

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That’s all for today’s segment of This Day in Today, and remember,

Today’s Tomorrow’s yesterday.

April 28th ~ A Famous Nazi and a Treaty with Japan

Welcome to This Day in Today,

My name is Tom Keefe, and I’m the Babbling Professor!

~April 28~

On this day, April 28, 1908, Oskar Schindler was born in Moravia, in what was called Czechoslovakia for most of Schindler’s life. Schindler (April 28, 1908 – October 9, 1974) was a German industrialist and member of the Nazi Party who is credited with saving the lives of 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust by employing them in his enamelware and ammunitions factories, which were located in occupied Poland and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. His story was told in book Schindler’s Ark (1982). The subsequent film Schindler’s List (1993) showed him as an opportunist initially motivated by profit who then, slowly, came to show his extraordinary initiative, tenacity, and dedication to saving the lives of his Jewish employees.

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On this day, April 28, 1952, the Treaty of San Francisco came into force (after having been signed September 8, 1951). The treaty officially ended World War II (six years after combat!!, but still looking timely compared to the Korea War “treaty” that has yet to be signed more than 60 years later), allocated compensation to Allied civilians and former prisoners of war who had suffered Japanese war crimes, ended the Allies’ military occupation, and return sovereignty to Japan.  It is the first notable treaty to make extensive use of the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

By Article 11, Japan accepted the judgments of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East and of other Allied War Crimes Courts both within and outside Japan and agreed to carry out the sentences imposed thereby upon Japanese nationals imprisoned in Japan.

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On this day, April 28, 1970, Fort Ninigret was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Fort Ninigret is a historic fort and trading post site at Fort Neck Road in Charlestown, Rhode Island. Most historians believe that the fort was built either by the Dutch West India Company or by Portuguese explorers prior to 1637, in addition to the earlier trading post on nearby Dutch Island. At the 1883 Dedication, it was referred to as “the oldest military post on the Atlantic coast.” Former US President George Herbert Walker Bush aviation trained at Naval Auxiliary Air Station Charlestown (now within Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge) before going to Japan in World War II. More recently, hundreds of children and their families watched the Big Apple Circus perform at Ninigret State Park.

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“The Old State House”

  On this day, April 28, 1970, the Old State House was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The Old State House was where, on May 4, 1776, the General Assembly declared its independence renouncing its allegiance to the British crown, and the date is now celebrated as Rhode Island Independence Day. Debates about slavery occurred in the building in the late 18th century. George Washington visited the building in 1781 and 1790. By 1901 the new Rhode Island State House was occupied on Smith Hill and the legislature vacated the Old State House.

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That’s all for today’s segment of This Day in Today, and remember,

Today’s Tomorrow’s yesterday.

Thank you for listening!