This Day in History – May 12th – 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… MAY 12

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1780 – Charleston falls to British.

Unable to suppress the revolution in the north, the British shifted their efforts to the southern colonies. Leading a force of 8,500 soldiers and 5,000 sailors, General Henry Clinton laid siege to Charleston, South Carolina on March 29th. After six weeks of bombardment, including heated shot that caused buildings to burn, General Benjamin Lincoln was forced to surrender the city. The British captured over 5,000 prisoners and huge caches of munitions and supplies. It was one of the worst defeats the Americans suffered in the Revolutionary War and left no standing army in the southern colonies. Despite the victory, the British strategy in the South failed. The expected uprising of Loyalists to the Crown did not materialize, and American resistance continued in the form of guerrilla warfare.

The poor British. It must have been like playing whack-a-mole for them. No matter how many times they won, those pesky Americans would just pop up in another place. 

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1944 – Gerrit van der Veen arrested.

Van der Veen was a Dutch artist in Amsterdam who resisted the Nazis during WWII. He refused to sign a declaration of Aryan ancestry, was part of an organization called the Free Artist, and helped produce an underground resistance newspaper and printed 80,000 sets of false identity papers for Jews. After his arrest he was executed on June 10th, 1944.

A short summation for a tremendous display of courage. This is not the first time I’ve devoted space to resistance fighters. They knew what they were facing torture and death if captured. Submission also most likely meant survival because they weren’t the targets. People like van der Veen did it for others. I can’t help but be fascinated by their contributions to a greater good. This stands in contrasts to those, who during the COVID-19 pandemic, refuse to wear a mask for the greater good because, what…it infringes on their personal freedom, or is too much of a sacrifice?

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1963 – Bob Dylan walks off Ed Sullivan Show.

Dylan had planned to sing a satirical song from the perspective of a member of the John Birch Society. Included in it was a line the only true American was George Lincoln Rockwell, founder of the American Nazi Party. Ed Sullivan had no issue with the song, but during dress rehearsal a CBS executive heard it, objected, and told Dylan he’d have to sing a different song. Dylan refused to bow to censorship and walked off the show. At the time Dylan was relatively unknown and a spot on the Ed Sullivan Show was considered a big break for a performer. However the publicity he received, a nobody taking on the powers that be, might have been worth more than an actual appearance on the show.

I’ve never heard this story before. Way to go, Bobby.

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Birthdays:

1626 – Father Louis Hennepin.

Missionary, explorer. Born in Belgium, Hennepin became a Franciscan priest at a young age. Adventuresome, with a missionary zeal, he traveled through much of Europe, and also nursed wounded soldiers in a war. He was almost fifty years old when he was one of five priests chosen by Louis XIV to go to New France to spread the word of God. They landed first at Quebec and then moved further into the interior of North America. Hennepin was one of the first Europeans to observe Niagara Falls. Traveling with Rene de la Salle, they moved further inland and built a fort at what is now Peoria, Illinois. Hennepin was then chosen to explore a great river they had heard about, the Mississippi. Early in his exploration he encountered a war party of Sioux paddling 32 canoes. Captured, he wasn’t killed, but instead brought upriver and adopted by the Sioux. It was at this time he first saw and named St. Anthony Falls in what is now present day Minneapolis. On an expedition with the Indians they encountered another explorer Daniel Du Lhut, who convinced the Sioux to let Hennepin go free. He returned to France to write up his exploits. Father Hennepin never returned to the New World.

Those French names live on in Minnesota. Hennepin County, Hennepin Avenue, DeLaSalle High School on Nicollet Island, and Du Lhut became Duluth, Minnesota.

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1889 – Otto Frank.

Father of Anne Frank. Frank had served with distinction in the German army during the First World War. He and his family, because they were Jewish, fled to Amsterdam when the Nazis came to power. A businessman, he was forced to give up his company after Germany invaded Holland. On two occasions he tried to obtain visas so his family could emigrate to Cuba or the U.S. but failed. In July of 1942, one day after his oldest daughter, Margot, received a summons to report for labor duty in Germany, he took his family into hiding. Others joined them, and they hid in an attic for two years, during which time his daughter Anne wrote her famous diary. Upon discovery they were sent to Auschwitz Birkenau. He was liberated by Soviet troops in January, 1945 and was the sole survivor of his family and the others who hid out in that Amsterdam attic. A neighbor had found Anne’s diary and gave it to him and he saw to its publication. Otto Frank died in 1980.

Having lost everything in his life, it’s hard to imagine Otto Frank’s reaction as he first read his daughter’s diary.

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1921 – Farley Mowat.

Writer. Mowat grew up in Saskatchewan and was drawn to nature at an early age. He studied Zoology at the University of Toronto before joining the Canadian army in 1940. As a young officer he served with distinction in Europe and also suffered from battle fatigue. After the war Mowat worked as a field assistant for naturalists and in 1952 published his first book. “People of the Deer” was about the struggles of the Inuit people living in the barren outreaches of Canada. It made him a popular and controversial figure, a role he would maintain the rest of his life. His 1963 book, “Never Cry Wolf” was made into a popular, if inaccurate some say, movie. Mowat’s observations were sometimes decried by scientists and environmentalists, criticism that did not faze him. In his own words he “never let the facts get in the way of the truth.” Mowat won a number of awards in his life including one for humor writing for “The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float.”

I’ve read the book about the boat and it is funny. Despite writing mostly about nature he could make wry and humorous observations. 

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ABOUT GARY JENNEKE

At various junctures of his life, Gary has been an indifferent grade school student, poor high school student, good Navy radioman, one-time hippie, passable college student, inveterate traveler, dedicated writer, miscast accountant (except for one interesting stint at a Communist café), part-time screenwriting teacher, semi-proud veteran, unsuccessful retiree and new blogger.

You can reach him at gary@newswhistle.com.

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CREDITS

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

Sources:

OnThisDay.com

Time.com

Wikipedia.org

Biographi.ca

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

* Lead-In Image (“Inuit Sled Dogs near Kimmirut, Nunavut”)  – Photo by Isaac Demeester on Unsplash 

* Farley Mowat (video) – CBC & Sherway Academy of Music / YouTube.com

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

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OTHER DAYS IN HISTORY …

December 2

December 3

December 5

December 8

* December 9

December 11

December 12

* December 13

* December 15

December 16

December 18

* December 19

December 22

December 23

December 24

December 25

December 28

January 1

January 3

* January 4

January 6

January 7

January 8

January 11

* January 12

* January 14

January 15

January 17

January 19

January 22

January 23

January 24

January 28

January 29

February 1

February 2

February 3

February 5

* February 9

February 10

* February 12

February 14

February 15

February 20

February 21

February 22

February 25

February 28

February 29

March 2

March 4

March 6

* March 9

March 11

March 12

March 14

March 15

March 17

March 19

March 21

March 22

March 23

March 27

March 28

March 29

April 2

April 3

April 4

April 6

April 9

* April 11

April 13

April 16

April 18

April 21

* April 22

April 23

April 26

April 28

April 29

April 30

May 2

* May 3

* May 7

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 25

September 26

September 27

September 30

October 1

October 3

October 4

October 5

October 7

October 10

October 11

* October 12

October 14

October 15

October 16

October 18

October 20

October 24

October 25

October 26

October 27

October 30

October 31

November 1

November 3

* November 4

November 5

November 6

November 8

November 9

November 10

November 11

November 13

November 14

November 15

November 16

* November 17

November 18

* November 19

November 20

November 23

November 24

November 26

November 28

November 29

November 30

* Stay tuned for more!

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