noel coward at las vegas 45 cat

This Day in History – December 16 – Hijinx, Humor, and Insight

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NewsWhistle is pleased to feature Gary Jenneke’s “This Day In History” column.

You can read the original at Gary’s THIS DAY IN HISTORY blog — or scroll down to enjoy Gary’s unique look at life’s comings and goings.

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THIS DAY IN HISTORY… DECEMBER 16

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755 – An Lushan Rebellion.

China at the time was ruled by the Tang Dynasty. An Lushan was a general who was a favorite of the Emperor’s court. That was not enough, for he saw himself as the head of a new dynasty. With a huge army at his disposal, he began conquering territory and put the Tangs in a difficult situation. They hired mercenaries to protect their empire, and the military operations forced them into debt. An Lushan furthered his cause by treating vanquished foes with kindness, causing many to switch to his side. His quest ended due to intrigue within his own ranks. His son, with aspirations of his own, assassinated him. And then his son in turn was assassinated. The rebellion soon fell apart. The effects of the rebellion, however, the price the Tang Dynasty paid, eventually led to the unraveling of the empire.

Contrary to popular belief the Tang Dynasty did not invent the powdered fruit-flavored drink.

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1838 – Battle of Blood River.

Fought in what is now South Africa, white settlers known as Voortrekkers, or Trekkers, fought Zulu chieftain Dingane and an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 of his warriors. The Trekkers force, led by Andries Pretorius, numbered only 470. The Trekkers, armed with muskets in addition to two cannons, formed a barricade with their wagons. The Zulus attacked with short-handled spears, effective only at a closed distance. Their ranks were decimated by the firepower. The water of the Ncome River ran red with blood, thus giving the battle its name. An estimated 3,000 Zulus were killed while the settlers suffered only three slightly wounded.

This battle led to the creation of an ethnic nationalism among the whites. They believed it was God’s intervention that led them to victory and gave them divine right to establish a state. Pretorius was given a farm by the Trekkers as a reward and he named it Welverdient which translates into “Justly Earned.”

I’m somewhat suspicious of the numbers here, of the Zulus involved and their casualties. As the saying goes: “History is written by the victors.”

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1943 – Tamiami Champion train collision.

Seventy-three people were killed and 200 injured in this train accident. The Tamiami Champion ran between New York City and Florida. In North Carolina three cars of the southbound train derailed and tilted onto the adjacent tracks. A brakeman failed to flag down the northbound train and it slammed into the derailed cars at 85 miles per hour. Among the dead were 52 servicemen going home on leave for the holidays. The train’s name, a combination of Tampa and Miami, was retired after the crash.

I hate to fly and love to travel by train. In addition to comfort, I’ve always felt safer on a train. Despite stories like this I am going to continue to hold onto that belief.

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Birthdays:

1775 – Jane Austen.

19th century English writer. Popular at the time, her writing, including Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, has stood the test of time. Some argument could be made that she is even more popular now. Austen’s charm was her characterization of ordinary people, something that stylistically hadn’t been done before. She was published anonymously, perhaps because England wasn’t ready for a female novelist. Her identity wasn’t revealed until after her death at the early age of 41. Austen never married and not much is known about her life. Potential biographers have been frustrated because her only sister, wanting to protect her reputation, destroyed most of the 3,000 letters she had written in her lifetime.

As I do this blog, my reading list keeps getting longer.

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1899 – Noel Coward.

English playwright. December 16th seems to be a day for English writers. Coward wrote a large number of plays, some of which, like “Blithe Spirit,” are still presented today. He was also an actor, composer, director, singer, wit, and known for his flamboyance. Flamboyance at that time could be a euphemism for homosexuality, and more a sign of the times then a commentary on him. During WWII, Coward left the entertainment field to head the British propaganda office in Paris. One of his quotes from that time: “If the policy of His Majesty’s Government is to bore the Germans to death I don’t think we have time.” King George VI wanted to give Coward a knighthood for his war efforts. Churchill convinced him to withhold the award, his reason being that Coward had been fined for some minor offense. The real reason being that Coward was gay. He never publicly discussed his sexual preferences. He thought talk of sex of any kind was tasteless.

From Wikipedia: “Even in the 1960s, Coward refused to acknowledge his sexual orientation publicly, wryly observing, ‘There are still a few old ladies in Worthing who don’t know.’”

Fascinating man.

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1909 – Henricus Verbunt.

Member of Dutch Resistance. From TracesOfWar.com: “The “Verzetsherdenkingskruis” (Dutch Resistance Memoration Cross) was posthumously awarded to the children of Hendricus A.A.P. Verbunt by the mayor of the city of Tilburg. As a civil servant he helped the resistance by making false identity papers. On 26 May 1944 he was executed by the Germans for his involvement in the assassination of a collaborator named Piet Gerrits.”

The above paragraph is the total of what I could find on Henricus Verbunt. A courageous man, a hero, who gave his life resisting one of the greatest evils the world has known. Seems like there should be more.

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CREDITS

The above information was sourced from the following sites and newspapers.

Sources:

Wikipedia.org

OnThisDay.com

ThoughtCo.com

FayObserver.com

Britannica.com

TracesOfWar.com

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We’d also like to thank the following photographers and videographers for the use of their images:

* Lead-In Image (Noel Coward at Las Vegas album) –  45cat & Philips

noel coward live at las vegas 45cat philips

* An Lushan Rebellion (video) – Jabzy / YouTube.com

* Battle Of Blood River (video) – SABC Digital News / YouTube.com

* Jane Austen (video) – CosmosEarthManHeaven / YouTube.com

* Noel Coward (video) – a vig / YouTube.com

* Outro (Man-In-Museum Cartoon) – SkyPics Studio / Shutterstock.com

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OTHER DAYS IN HISTORY …

December 2

* December 5

* December 9

December 11

December 12

* December 15

December 18 

* December 22

December 28

January 3

* January 4

January 7

January 11

* January 14

* January 15

January 19

January 22

January 24

January 29

February 1

February 3

February 5

February 9

* February 10

* February 14

February 15

February 20

February 21

February 25

February 28

March 2

March 6

March 9

March 12

March 14

March 17

March 19

March 21

March 23

March 27

March 29

April 2

April 3

April 6

April 11

* April 13

April 18

April 22

April 23

April 28

April 29

May 2

May 3

May 6

May 9

May 10

May 13

May 17

* May 24

May 26

May 29

June 1

June 3

June 8

June 10

June 13

June 17

June 18

June 21

June 24

June 28

June 29

July 2

July 3

* July 9

July 13

July 15

July 19

July 23

July 25

July 30

July 31

* August 3

August 7

August 10

August 11

August 16

August 17

August 21

August 24

August 25

* August 28

August 31

September 2

September 5

September 6

September 8

September 11

September 12

September 15

September 16 

September 17

September 21

September 23

September 24

September 25

September 28

September 30

October 1

October 3

October 7

October 10

October 12

October 14

* October 16

October 18

October 24

October 25

October 27

October 28

October 30

November 3

* November 4

November 5

November 8

November 9

November 10

November 13

November 14

November 16

* November 17

November 19

November 20

November 23

November 28

November 30

* Stay tuned for more!

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