FDR’s D-Day prayer

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In a radio broadcast to the nation on June 6, 1944, the president asked Americans to join him in a prayer:

My fellow Americans: Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest-until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom. … Continue reading

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Secret Cold War chapter: 40,000 Nazis planned for war against communists

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Albert SchnezAlbert Schnez, a Nazi colonel during World War II, was the organizer of the shadow army, recruiting men and soliciting donations. He would later serve in West Germany’s reestablished military. Photo courtesy of Der Spiegel.

It sounds like the plot of a Cold War spy novel.

In the immediate aftermath of World War II, Germany was demilitarized by the Allies. But within five or six years of the Nazi surrender, 2,000 former officers of the Nazi Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS plotted to recruit a secret paramilitary force of 40,000 fighters, reports Der Spiegel. Continue reading

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Video: FDR walks! Pa. museum gets very rare film

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In 1937, then-Washington Senators pitcher Jimmie DeShong, a Harrisburg native and a onetime Philadelphia Athletic, toted his 8mm home movie camera to the All Star Game.

He didn’t play that day but nonetheless he scored — with a very rare film of the clunky gait of the man who threw out the first pitch. DeShong’s daughter this month donated the film to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Continue reading

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1945 letter: U.S. medic tells parents about Dachau

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HaroldPorterLetterNationalArchivesImage courtesy of the National Archives.

“There is a rumor circulating which says that the war is over,” Pfc. Harold Porter wrote 69 years ago today. “But we’re not too excited about it because we know that it does not mean too much as far as our immediate situation is concerned.”

Porter’s “situation” is evident from the letterhead he used: Waffen-SS with a Dachau address — the camp commander’s stationary.

The Army medic sat down on May 7, 1945, to try to tell his parents in Michigan — the Rev. and Mrs. D.H. Porter —  how he was doing.  Continue reading

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Egyptian pyramids were built with water, study finds

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1880BCwallapainting

A wall painting from 1880 BC shows a figure standing at the front of a sled
and pouring water onto the sand. Image courtesy of Physical Review Letters.

The great Egyptian pyramids have made visitors scratch their heads for millennia: How did the builders move such huge stones into place? Continue reading

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Holy Grail found at last?

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CouldThisBeTheHolyGrail

It may sound like an April Fools prank, but it’s not.

“This is a very important discovery,” Margarita Torres, co-author of a new book, tells The Irish Times “because it helps solve a big puzzle.”

The discovery? The Holy Grail of holy grails — the cup revered by early Christians as the one used at the Last Supper. The Spanish historians traced the chalice to the Basilica of San Isidoro, a church in León, Spain. Continue reading

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Christian tattoo found on Nile mummy

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mummy-tattoo-British-Museum

A photograph (left) and an infra-red reflectography of a tattoo found on the mummified remains of a Sudanese woman. | Photo courtesy of the British Museum.

The British Museum has used CAT scans to examine eight Egyptian-era mummies, one of whom was a woman who died about AD 700. But researchers were able to discover with their eyes alone what the 20-to-35-year-old carried to protect her in life and death: a Christian tattoo. Continue reading

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A forgotten battle: 70th anniversary of Eniwetok

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Photo by George Strock | Courtesy of Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Photo by George Strock | Courtesy of Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

On Feb. 17, 1944, the U.S. assault on a now-forgotten atoll in the Pacific begins. The battle for Eniwetok, a small northwest point of the Marshall Islands, forms part of the island-hopping strategy to overtake Japan. It’s north of Guadalcanal, won a year earlier, and due east of Guam, which would be retaken five months later.

Tiny Engebi island is key because it holds a Japanese airstrip that allows the enemy to refuel. After U.S. gunships pound the terrain, 15 Marines with the 22nd regiment and one photographer with Life magazine are the first ashore. George Strock is “actually … on the beach taking pictures of the initial assault and greeting the landing troops” as they arrive, reports Marine First Lt. John M. Popham of Brooklyn, a public relations officer. Continue reading

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