Wyoming’s Visually Striking Devils Tower

February 6, 2014

Devils Tower Wyoming

Extending a whopping 5,114 feet above sea level, Wyoming’s ever-popular “Devils Tower” actually receives its name from a misinterpretation. Many Native American tribes had geographical ties to the igneous intrusion, calling it everything from “Aloft on a rock” to the “Bear’s Lair”. It wasn’t until 1875 that Colonel Richard Irving Dodge’s interpreter incorrectly perceived one name as “Bad God’s Tower”, which he inevitably translated to “Devils Tower”.

The USS Arizona’s 1916 Commissioning

January 29, 2014

USS Arizona 1916

The Pennsylvania-class battleship has been the object of national attention–both politically and culturally–since its inception. The vessel starred in a 1934 Jimmy Cagney film, “Here Comes the Navy”, only to assume a more macabre role seven years later. On December 7, 1941, the USS Arizona was bombed in Pearl Harbor, taking with it the lives of 1,177 soldiers and crewmen. The ship still remains in the ocean floor today, serving yet another role as a memorial.

Lee Harvey Oswald In A Soviet Union Factory, 1960

January 15, 2014

Lee harvey Oswald Soviet Union Factory

While much reviled in the United States, those who knew JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald when he lived in the former USSR had little other than positive things to say about him. While Oswald considered himself a Marxist revolutionary, many saw him as a lonely, isolated young man just looking to belong somewhere.

So desirous of remaining in the USSR was Oswald that when his travel visa expired and his application to be a KGB officer was denied, he slashed his wrists. Not wanting to cause an international incident, the KGB allowed Oswald to stay, and assigned him a less-than glamorous position at a radio factory in Minsk. Oswald was so revered that many in Minsk have requested that reporters covering Oswald’s time there leave flowers at Oswald’s grave in their name.

Mapping The Forced Removal Of Native Americans

January 9, 2014

Native American Forceful Removal

The question of how Native American tribes might “fit in” to the newly-formed United States had been on the minds of US political leaders since its infancy. Up until Andrew Jackson’s presidency, it was Thomas Jefferson’s view–that, as long as these tribes assimilated or became “civilized”, they would be permitted to remain east of the Mississippi River–reigned supreme.

In 1830, however, Jackson adopted a much harsher stance and primarily forced the big five “civilized” tribes that had all resided east of the Mississippi for thousands of years–the Chocktaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee, Creek and Seminole–west of the Mississippi River in his genocidal and jingoistic Indian Removal Act. Over 25,000 Native Americans died as a result.

Five Incredibly Influential Former Slaves

December 24, 2013

Much has been said and written about Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave,” the film adaption of an 1853 autobiography by Solomon Northup, a free black man who was kidnapped in Washington, D.C. and sold into slavery in 1841. A realistic depiction of the brutality of slavery, the film has been hailed as long overdue, especially because it’s based on a memoir that McQueen said kept him wondering why he had never heard of it before.

160 years later, Northup’s story is now reaching its largest audience ever. The buzz surrounding the movie could make it an Oscar winner when the awards are handed out in March.

Meanwhile, Northup belatedly enters the pantheon of most influential slaves in American history. Here are a few others whose stories have left an indelible mark on the fabric on our country.

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The Unfinished Washington Monument

December 5, 2013

Unfinished Washington Monument

Taking the back seat as the Civil War raged through United States soil, the completion of one of the country’s most well-known symbols remained in great jeopardy from 1857 to 1875. A symbol of the nation’s then-fragmentation in its own right, lack of funds–and bodies to construct it–left the Washington Monument unfinished for nearly two decades.