Richard Nixon Resignation Letter August 9, 1974

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Richard M. Nixon’s Resignation Letter, 08/09/1974 (National Archives Identifier: 302035); Letters of Resignation and Declination of Federal Office, 1789 – 1974; General Records of the Department of State, 1756 – 1979; Record Group 59; National Archives and Records Administration.

During the night of June 17, 1972, five burglars broke into the offices of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate office complex in Washington, DC. Investigation into the break-in exposed a trail of abuses that led to the highest levels of the Nixon administration and ultimately to the President himself. President Nixon resigned from office under threat of impeachment on August 9, 1974.

The break-in and the resignation form the boundaries of the events we know as the Watergate affair. For 2 years, public revelations of wrongdoing inside the White House convulsed the nation in a series of confrontations that pitted the President against the media, executive agencies, the Congress, and the Supreme Court. The Watergate affair was a national trauma, a constitutional crisis that tested and affirmed the rule of law.

Text courtesy https://www.archives.gov/exhibits/american_originals/contemp.html

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Press Release–An We Ob Jubilee The First South Carolina Volunteers

Saucier, John. An We Ob Jubilee: The First South Carolina Volunteers. Charleston: Arcadia Publishing  2019. 320 pages, 268 pages of text. B/W illustrations, end notes, bibliography. ISBN 9781634991261, $22.99.

Thank you to Arcadia Publishing for sending along a complimentary review copy.

From the publisher website:

“Oh, praise an’ tanks! De Lord he come

To set de people free;

An’ massa tink it day ob doom,

An we ob jubilee.”

During the American Civil War more than 2,000 regiments of infantry, cavalry and artillery mustered to fight in the conflict. Re-discover a regiment very little is known about: The first black regiment in the Union Army, the first to fight against Confederate soldiers and the first to be brigaded with white regiments–the 1st South Carolina Volunteers.

If you are interested in the role of African American troops in the Union army during the Civil War this looks like a book you would enjoy.

If this book is of interest to you I would also recommend Army Life in a Black Regiment: and Other Writings (Penguin Classics), written by Thomas Wentworth Higginson, the white Colonel who was the first commander of the regiment.

Graduate School Here I Come

After some starts and stops, mostly in trying to figure out how to pay for it, I have taken the plunge and will be starting graduate school in August. I will be in the Public History program at American Public University. This is both exciting and also a bit nerve wracking as I haven’t been in school in more years than I care to think about.

2019-07-09 09.04.31My first course is Historical Research Methods. Take a look at the books for the course in the photo to the left.

While I already have plenty to write about that I never seem to get to hopefully my course work will get me to focus and put more content here.

Memorial to 9/11 Firefighter Eugene Whelan Located at Gemini Springs

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Memorial located at Gemini Springs in DeBary, FL. Photo: Robert Redd
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Firefighter Eugene Michael Whelan Photo: CNN

This memorial to fire fighter Eugene Whelan, who perished as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City, is located at Gemini Springs in DeBary, FL.

 

 

 

 

      Dedicated with love to

                                                          F.F. Eugene Whelan                                                            Engine Co. 230 FDNY

On September 11, 2001, Eugene was among the hundreds of rescue workers who responded to the terrorist attack upon the World Trade Center in New York City. Sadly for his family in NY and here locally in Volusia County, he never returned home. Although too many lives were tragically cut short that day, amazingly, more than 20,000 people were saved as a result of the immediate mobilization of the NYFD. In planting this tree, we honor the countless acts of selflessness and determination demonstrated by them that day, and the supreme sacrifice made by 343 of their brothers.

We Will Never Forget

Press Release:Thunder on Bataan: The First American Tank Battles of World War II

Cover Image

Here’s a new WWII title from Stackpole Books that looks quite interesting. The press release below is from the publisher.

Caldwell, Donald L.Thunder on Bataan: The First American Tank Battles of World War II . Hardcover, 320 pages, ISBN 9780811737715, $32.95.

The American Provisional Tank Group had been in the Philippines only three weeks when the Japanese attacked the islands hours after the raid on Pearl Harbor.

The men of this group, still learning their way around an M3 tank, found themselves thrust into a critical role when the Philippine Army could not hold back the Japanese.

The 1941-42 campaign in the Philippines has taken a backseat in the popular historical imagination to what came after, and the role of tanks in that campaign has been largely ignored.

In an evocatively written book that conjures the sights, sounds, and smells of battle in the Philippines, Caldwell restores tanks to their rightful place in the history of this campaign while also giving attention to the horrors that followed. He has conducted impressive primary research to bring to life the short but noteworthy combat history of the Provisional Tank Group, and he has dug even deeper to tell the stories of the individuals who did the fighting, selecting soldiers from each of the group’s six companies and recounting, throughout the book, the entire arc of their service, from enlistment, training, and combat to imprisonment, liberation, and return home.

Back in the Saddle So to Speak

I have been out of commission for a while with computer problems. It started out looking like a Windows issue due to a Windows 10 update. My laptop would not let me sign in to my account but only as a temp account meaning I didn’t have direct access to any of my files or photos. I could get to them but not use them. A Google search found that this, while not a super common problem, is a known issue and was not virus related. Multiple fix suggestions were tried to no avail. It finally became apparent that my wife and I were not going to be able to fix this problem. A few computer repair shop recommendations later and out went my poor laptop for repairs. It turns out the hard drive was on its very last legs. Now all is back to working as it should. Of course I am way behind on a couple of contracted pieces of writing. A chapter for an edited volume on unknown Civil Rights workers in Florida is due the first week in June and I have a book project in the works for Arcadia that is due later this year. Let’s not forget the dozens of blog topics racing around in my head. And oh yeah, I am getting the graduate school itch again.

Anyway, it’s good to be back and I hope to see you on a more regular basis.

African American Cemetery Bibliography

I know cemetery wandering and sometimes research are popular hobbies. The state of Florida has an interesting document available through the Department of Historical Resources. The title is Historic African American and African Caribbean Cemeteries: A Selected Bibliography compiled by Sharyn Thompson. Sections include African American, African Caribbean, and Related References. Click here to download your free pdf copy.

Share the Heritage–Daytona Beach African American Cultural Sites Brochure

If you are in, or will be visiting, the Daytona Beach and Volusia County area and are interested in African American history you won’t want to miss out on this free brochure titled Daytona Beach Area Share the Heritage: A Guide to African-American Cultural and Historical Sites. The brochure features 18 sites, giving a brief background, location, phone number, and website if available. Sites include Bethune Cookman University, the Mary S. Harrell Black Heritage Museum, Howard Thurman House, Jackie Robinson Ballpark, and many others. The brochure may be viewed online or downloaded by visiting this website. It is well worth taking a look as some of these locations aren’t so well known.

El Real Retiro Sold in 1947

Continuing on a post from last year we now move to 1947 and find that the New Smyrna Beach luxury home El Real Retiro has been sold.

El Real Retiro Sold by Vogts to Burnhams

New Smyrna Beach News Friday, April 4, 1947

One of New Smyrna Beach’s show places changed hands recently when the spacious home formerly known as El Real Retiro was sold to Col. and Mrs. Clifford Burnham of Ponte Verda Beach by Mr. and Mrs. H. Otto Vogt of Thomaston, Conn., and New Smyrna Beach. Col. Burnham served on General Marshall’s Staff during World War II.

Mr. and Mrs. Burnham plan to become year-around residents of New Smyrna Beach.

Mr. and Mrs. Vogt, who own extensive properties in New Smyrna Beach including the former bank building which is now occupied by their Eclipse Glass Co., purchased the beautiful home from Mr. and Mrs. L. J. Gumpert a few years ago. The property is from Faulkner to South Riverside in the six hundred block, and was originally owned by Robert Handley, who sold it to Mr. and Mrs. Frank Dick Bristley who gave it the name El Real Retiro.

Kreis Real Estate Co., handled the recent sale.

Book Review: German Prisoners of War at Camp Cooke, California

Geiger, Jeffrey E. German Prisoners of War at Camp Cooke, CaliforniaMechanicsburg: Sunbury Press. 2018. 271 pages, index, bibliography, end notes, b/w photos, maps. ISBN 9781620067505, $19.95.

The issue of what to do with prisoners of war has always been a vexing one for conquering armies. Decisions on how to transport them, where to keep them, dietary needs, healthcare, clothing, work, security and more must be answered. While the standards set by the Geneva Convention helped answer some of these questions the requirements still must be implemented.

For the Allies this problem was extraordinarily difficult. It was known that prisoners of the Germans were not always treated in the most humane way but to treat German POWs similarly went against American values and opened the door to further abuses by the Germans and their Axis partners.

For the more than 370,000 German prisoners, many from the Afrika Corps of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, sent to the United States their time fighting was done. While thousands of miles from home they could be assured of better treatment than they often received from their own commanders. It is these type men that author Jeffrey E. Geiger, the retired chief civilian historian from Vandenberg Air Force Base, sets out to introduce us to in his book German Prisoners of War at Camp Cooke, California.

Geiger begins his work with a history of Camp Cooke which was originally established in 1941 as a training facility before becoming a prisoner of war camp in June 1944. Camp Cooke was home to around 1,200 prisoners and also oversaw sixteen branch camps within a 200 mile radius. The camp remained open until May 1946 when the last prisoners began their journey home. Some would find their way home quickly, especially if they were from the “American Zone”. Others were handed to the British or French and these men were often put to work while others came from lands controlled by the Russians. Their lives were forever changed.

After Camp Cooke closed the army was still there until completely vacating the property in 1953. In 1958 the lands were transferred to the U.S. Air Force and the name was changed to Vandenberg Air Force Base. Today Vandenberg is used by the Department of Defense as a missile testing base and space launch facility for both military and commercial ventures.

Geiger takes the unique approach of having former prisoners tell the story directly in their own words. Geiger systematically chose soldiers, leaving out Nazi party members and known members from the SS based upon the knowledge that many of these men did not feel a remorse for the actions of the German army. Geiger sensed their recollections would prove untrustworthy. Geiger finally settled on approximately 140 names. Many of the men could not be located, were deceased, or declined to be interviewed. We are left with the recollections of fourteen men. These fourteen men provide an often times similar, and sometimes differing account of their time in captivity and in California.

The book is broken into nine chapters with each man having their story translated and reprinted. Mr. Geiger begins each chapter with a brief background to the subject, helping orient the reader as to what is being discussed. The nine chapters include: From Wehrmacht to Captivity, Journey to America, The First Weeks as POWs, Organization and Management at Camp Cooke, Prisoner of War Labor Program, Everyday Life in the Camp, The Branch Camps, and Auf Wiedersehen.

To me the most interesting chapters dealt with the labor program and everyday life. Both really drilled into what life had become for these men. The chapter on work showed the importance and value of the labor these men provided. It kept them occupied and out of trouble while allowing them to earn a small amount of money; script that could be spent at the camp. Also discussed is the Geneva Convention, which lays out the treatment that prisoners are to receive. For those interested in the work regulations see Section III Articles 27-34 which formed the basis of the prisoner work program. The chapter on everyday life teaches us how prisoners lived. We find out about recreation and sports, theater, religion, food, medical and dental care, deaths, and more. One of the most interesting aspects to me dealt with escapes, or should I say the few attempts that were made.

Mr. Geiger is to be commended for his fine work. His efforts to root out and track down the common soldier have paid tremendous dividends. This type of story could easily have been lost; and let’s face it, has been lost on the larger scale. Through their memories we gain insight into the minds of German soldiers showing that not all those fighting were hardened Nazis. Many felt shame and embarrassment for their own actions and those of their country. And while a small gesture, the prisoners at Camp Cooke donated almost $8,300 (just over $117,000 using inflation tables) to relief efforts. Throughout, we see these men view the United States in a positive light and take those ideas home with them as Germany began the painful process of rebuilding.

This is a book that does not require a large background in World War II to read and appreciate. While it is certainly helpful to have some knowledge of what happened anybody with an interest in history can pick this up and enjoy. Technical language is at a minimum and it is not required to know battles, tactics, or geography of the war. The translations are easy to read thanks to the editing Mr. Geiger has provided. While probably not available at your local bookstore this is a book that is well worth ordering. Recommended!