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Courtesy Library of Congress

Today in History with a Twist: October 28, 2013

Road to Alaska!  1942 - The Alaska Highway (Alcan Highway) is completed through Canada to Fairbanks, Alaska.  The purpose of the highway was to connect Alaska to the rest of the United States.  It was originally proposed in the 1920s but Canada had no real interest in it due to the cost compared to the small number of Canadians that would benefit from it.  The start of World War II made the road a strategic necessity and Canada agreed to its construction.  During the war the road was maintained by the United States and the Canadian portion was turned over to Canada after the war.  It was a highway in name only.  Most of it was only gravel.  The Alaskan portion was finally paved in the 1960s and many Canadian sections were not paved until the 1980s. - Isn't that about par for the projects we start today?

     Bet the workers who worked on the highway ate wild foods thus appropriately: It’s Wild Foods Day!  Wild Foods Day is a celebration of wild plants, fruits, and vegetables.  Humans have been eating plants and harvesting food from the wild for thousands of years.  Due to a popular trend, wild plants now often appear on menus in gourmet restaurants and raw food restaurants.  Wild foods are free of preservatives and pesticides, and eating them is part of an eco-friendly lifestyle.  Today, take part in an age-old tradition and take a walk in the woods to find some edible wild plants to eat.  Make sure you learn how to properly identify and prepare the wild plants before you consume them.  You should also learn where to find them and if they have any nutritional value.  Happy Wild Foods Day! (Punchbowl.com)

     1922 - In Italy, Fascists led by Benito Mussolini marched on Rome and take over the Italian government.  Between 1919 and 1922 Italy had been plagued by several national strikes.  Originally allied with the Socialists, but would use the militant force of his Party, The Blackshirts, to break the strikes.  In 1921 Mussolini added a Nationalist program to his party’s platform and the Party rapidly grew to a membership of over 700,000.  Mussolini staged the march to guarantee his rise to power before his recently enlarged power base would erode. - He would get the trains to run on time.

     1940 - Italy invades Greece.  Becoming overshadowed by his now ally Hitler, Mussolini wanted to demonstrate his own military prowess.  It began in 1939 with the occupation of Albania and several British holdings in Africa.  He then gave Greece an ultimatum to allow Italy to take over the country.  Of course Greece rejected Italy's ultimatum. In response Italy invaded Greece through Albania, bringing Greece into World War II.  The invasion would break down and Germany would be forced to bail the Italians out in Greece and eventually Africa also.  This would divert needed resources from the Hitler's Russian Campaign and possibly changed the course of the war.  Ironically Greece had been on good terms with Germany and may even have supported its war aims. - With friends like this who needs enemies.

     1420 - Beijing is officially designated the capital of the Ming Dynasty on the same year that the Forbidden City, the seat of government, is completed.  In 1398 Ming Emperor Hongwu died and designated that his Grandson, Zhu Yunwen, to be his successor.  Zhu Di, Hongwu's oldest son, objected and led a revolt against Zhu Yunwen.  After a four year civil war Zhu Di emerged victorious.  He killed Zhu Yunwen and his family and burnt the palace in Nanking to the ground.  Zhu Di then announced that the Capital would be moved to Beijing.  The move was completed 18 years later. - Glad to see their politicians move as slow as ours.

News from the National Park Service:
     1886 - In New York Harbor, President Grover Cleveland dedicated the Statue of Liberty. - The Statue of Liberty is a colossal neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in the middle of New York Harbor, in Manhattan, New York City.  The statue, designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and dedicated on October 28, 1886, was a gift to the United States from the people of France.  The statue is of a robed female figure representing Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom, who bears a torch and a tabula ansata (a tablet evoking the law) upon which is inscribed the date of the American Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776.  A broken chain lies at her feet.  The statue is an icon of freedom and of the United States: a welcoming signal to immigrants arriving from abroad. (Wikipedia) - As long as they are legal.

     1965 - Construction on the St. Louis Arch is completed. - The Gateway Arch is a 630-foot (192 m) monument in St. Louis, Missouri. Clad in stainless steel and built in the form of a flattened catenary arch, it is the tallest man-made monument in the United States, Missouri's tallest accessible building, and the world's tallest arch.  Built as a monument to the westward expansion of the United States, it is the centerpiece of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial and has become an internationally famous symbol of St. Louis. (Wikipedia) - Went up in it the same day we crashed a formal party on a Mississippi River Boat.

Today we celebrate the birthdays of:
     1914 - Jonas Salk - American biologist and physician (d. 1995) - Eradicated Polio. - One person we really need to remember.
     1949 - Bruce Jenner - Decathlete Olympic Gold Medalist and actor. - Dumped his first wife who supported him through college and training for the Olympics to marry a Kardashian. - What more do I need to say?

To learn more about the above topics check out the following books from the Library's collection:
 


Amazon Says: Northwest Epic is the panoramic story of the courageous U.S. Army Engineers and civilian contractors who toiled in the tense months after Pearl Harbor to build a 1,500-mile em more...
Amazon Says: Northwest Epic is the panoramic story of the courageous U.S. Army Engineers and civilian contractors who toiled in the tense months after Pearl Harbor to build a 1,500-mile emergency supply line through the rugged Canadian Rockies to isolated military bases in Alaska. The construction of this winding gravel road--GI's called it the ALCAN--was very much an all-American adventure: blacks, whites, and natives working together under the harshest extremes of climate and terrain--racing to bolster Alaska's defenses and deter another Japanese attack on North American soil. It is a story of ambitious men, such as Lieutenant General Brehon B. Somervell, the Army's suavely ruthless chief logistician, who brooked no opposition to his grandiose schemes. "Dynamite in a Tiffany Box" some called him. It is the story of Master Sergeant Wansley Hill and thousands of other black soldiers who, unwanted by their country for duty on the front lines, nonetheless proved themselves steadfast heroes in the land of the midnight sun. And it is also the story of natives like Charlie McDonald, a guide whose intimate knowledge of the land--with its dense forests, impassable muskeg bogs, and unmapped mountain valleys--was used by the Army Engineers to help build a road that has brought fundamental change to a once-remote corner of the North American continent. The Alaska Highway--with its hundreds of bridges, chain of airfields, and oil refinery and pipeline system (known as CANOL)--opened to traffic in late 1942 and was in full use one year later. Though one of the greatest feats of twentieth-century macro-engineering, this huge project sparked as much protest as patriotism. Critics argued that the road was in the wrong place and would have little postwar value; a well-publicized investigation of CANOL's excesses gave a critical boost to the career of Senator Harry S. Truman. Despite such controversy, the completion of the highway provided a historical watershed for the territory of Alaska, for in the decades that followed, the land would be propelled, often reluctantly, from a pristine refuge, a nineteenth-century land inhabited by natives, dreamers, and rugged individualists, into the twentieth century. In the tradition of David McCullough's The Path Between the Seas, Heath Twichell's Northwest Epic is a sweeping and richly textured history, a book that tells of almost forgotten hardships and heroics during the darkest days of World War II. less...
Amazon

Amazon Says: A recent rise in the popularity of urban farming, farmers’ markets, and foraging from nature means more people are looking for information about plants. In The Quick Guide t more...
Amazon Says: A recent rise in the popularity of urban farming, farmers’ markets, and foraging from nature means more people are looking for information about plants. In The Quick Guide to Wild Edible Plants, botanists Lytton John Musselman and Harold J. Wiggins coach you on how to safely identify, gather, and prepare delicious dishes from readily available plants―and clearly indicate which ones to avoid.More than 200 color illustrations, accompanied by detailed descriptions, will help you recognize edible plants such as nettles, daylilies, river oats, and tearthumbs. For decades, Musselman and Wiggins have taught courses on how to prepare local plants, and their field-to-table recipes require only a few, easily found ingredients. They offer instructions for making garlic powder out of field garlic and turning acorns into flour for Rappahannock Acorn Cakes. To toast your new skill, they even include recipes for cordials. The Quick Guide to Wild Edible Plants is a great gift for the beginning naturalist and the perfect addition to every serious forager’s library. less...
Amazon

Amazon Says: Depicts the life of Benito Mussolini, discusses how he came to power in Italy, and describes his activities as dictator more...
Amazon Says: Depicts the life of Benito Mussolini, discusses how he came to power in Italy, and describes his activities as dictator less...
Amazon

Amazon Says: By the 1930s fascist dictator Benito Mussolini reached the conclusion that Italy faced a clear choice: expand its power at the expense of the British and French Empires or fac more...
Amazon Says: By the 1930s fascist dictator Benito Mussolini reached the conclusion that Italy faced a clear choice: expand its power at the expense of the British and French Empires or face stagnation and decline. He believed that the regimes in the democratic West would not be able to contain their inherent hostility toward fascist dynamism, while their demographic and political weaknesses provided the opportunity for the younger, demographically virile fascist Italy to carve a new empire in the Mediterranean status quo.Through his intervention in the Spanish Civil War and his attempts to challenge French Power in Europe and British imperial domination of the Middle East and East Africa, Mussolini sought to decisively change Italy's long-standing position as the least of the Great Powers. Although the Pact of Steel did not always function smoothly, Mussolini remained loyal to its principles, eventually throwing Italy into the Second World War, where he would belatedly discover that his regime had signally failed to prepare his legions for fighting in a modern war. less...
Amazon

The Forbidden City by May Holdsworth
Amazon Says: Book by Holdsworth, May, Courtauld, Caroline, Chui, Hu more...
Amazon Says: Book by Holdsworth, May, Courtauld, Caroline, Chui, Hu less...
Amazon

Amazon Says: Commemorating the centennial of the Statue of Liberty, this informative history of the statue and of Ellis Island is highlighted by photographs more...
Amazon Says: Commemorating the centennial of the Statue of Liberty, this informative history of the statue and of Ellis Island is highlighted by photographs less...
Amazon

Amazon Says: An interpretation and a review of the triumphs, disappointments, leadership, democratic ideals, and Jeffersonian outlook that have characterized Missouri's history, supplement more...
Amazon Says: An interpretation and a review of the triumphs, disappointments, leadership, democratic ideals, and Jeffersonian outlook that have characterized Missouri's history, supplemented by a photographic essay less...
Amazon

Jonas Salk: Conquering Polio by Stephanie Sammartino McPherson
Amazon Says: Presents the life of medical researcher Jonas Salk, who discovered the polio vaccine. more...
Amazon Says: Presents the life of medical researcher Jonas Salk, who discovered the polio vaccine. less...
Amazon

Amazon Says: Englewood Cliffs. N.J. : Prentice-Hall 1977. 1st Edition. No. of pages: 213. Description: vii. 213 p. [12] leaves of plates : ill. ; 24 cm. Subjects: Jenner. Bruce (1949-). Tr more...
Amazon Says: Englewood Cliffs. N.J. : Prentice-Hall 1977. 1st Edition. No. of pages: 213. Description: vii. 213 p. [12] leaves of plates : ill. ; 24 cm. Subjects: Jenner. Bruce (1949-). Track and field athletes--United States--Biography. 131976990. Fine cloth copy in a near fine. very slightly edge-nicked and dust-dulled dw. now mylar-sleeved. Remains particularly and surprisingly well-preserved; tight. bright. clean and sharp-cornered. less...
Amazon
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