Tuesday, May 21, 2013
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40 Years Ago
Americans were glued to their television sets forty years ago today. There was no Internet, no social media, not even cable news networks reporting their own bias during the Watergate hearings. Network news was all we had.
And it was good. They reported what used to be known as facts, allowing the viewer to draw their own conclusion. How we wish there were a bit more of that today! But I digress.
Richard Nixon served as President of the United States during the most turbulent years of this century. Step back in time to relive some of the events of 1969, his first year in office, in the August 18, 2009 edition of GCFlash.
He was re-elected by a landslide victory and sworn in for his second term in January 1973. It was an eventful year. The Paris Peace Accords were signed, signaling the end of the war in Vietnam. Roe v. Wade legalized abortion. The European Economic Community was formed. Spiro T. Agnew resigned as vice president amidst tax evasion charges.
The Senate established a Committee to investigate a break-in of the Democratic Party's National Committee offices at the Watergate Hotel office complex.
The country was deeply divided during Nixon's first term as president. A forceful presidential campaign seemed a sure path to re-election by some members of his Committee to Re-Elect the President. To ensure his success; they broke into the opposing party's headquarters, stole copies of top-secret documents and bugged the office's phones.
The wiretaps malfunctioned. So the group returned to the building on June 17 to replace them with new microphones. But they got busted in the act. A security guard noticed tape over the building's locks and called the police.
The five crooks were caught red-handed. Cash found on them at the time of their arrest was connected to a slush fund used by the president's re-election committee by the FBI.
It wasn't immediately known that the burglars were connected to the president. Nixon swore his innocence and insisted his staff was not involved. The voters believed him and re-elected him in a landslide.
Two Washington Post reporters smelled a skunk. They didn't believe the rhetoric and went out in search of the truth. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein won a Pulitzer Prize for their investigative work, which they later published in the book All the President's Men.
Most of their information came from an anonymous source, known only as Deep Throat at the time. His identity was finally revealed to be W. Mark Felt, a former associate director of the FBI, shortly before his death in 2008.
Facts began to emerge slowly. It was learned that Nixon arranged for hundreds of thousands of dollars in hush money to the burglars just a few days after the break-in. He and his cronies hatched a plan to coerce the CIA into impeding the FBI's investigation into the crime.
The cover up was deemed worse than the crime itself. The deliberate obstruction of justice was an abuse of presidential power.
As the investigation went into full swing, some of the conspirators began to crack under the pressure. White House counsel John Dean testified before a grand jury. Other Nixon aides testified that the president secretly taped conversations that took place in the Oval Office. Those tapes would provide proof that the president was guilty of the cover-up.
Legal battle ensued over release of the tapes. Nixon didn't want to give them up, but he did eventually surrender some of them. By then, the House of Representatives had voted to impeach him for obstruction of justice, abuse of power, criminal cover-up and several violations of the Constitution.
The tapes he did hand over provided undeniable evidence of his role in the Watergate break-ins. Knowing he would be impeached by the Senate, Richard Nixon resigned the presidency on August 9, 1974.
What we don't learn from history, we're doomed to repeat.
Commemorate First, Then Celebrate
Memorial Day. We anxiously await the first three-day holiday weekend of the season. This one signals the unofficial beginning of summer, barbeques, and the vacation season.
Northeasterners plant their gardens. South Floridians are harvesting their last crop before the summer sun scorches all in its path. All of those living in between are in varying stages of the plant/bloom/harvest cycle.
We all know the purpose of this holiday, despite how we choose to celebrate it. The origin, though, isn't quite so clear.
Over two dozen cities claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. Each dating back to the 1860s in honor of those killed in the Civil War. Originally called Decoration Day, it was observed by decorating the graves and praying for our fallen soldiers.
General John Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, proclaimed the first official observation of this holiday on May 30, 1868. New York was the first state to officially recognize it in 1873. By 1890, all of the northern states joined in the recognition.
The South took a little longer to join in. It wasn't until after World War I, when the holiday changed to honoring all who died fighting rather than just the Civil War, that the entire country commemorated the holiday.
Traditionally celebrated on May 30th, it was changed to the last Monday in May with the National Holiday Act of 1971 to ensure a three day weekend. Since then, the holiday's significance has changed from its original purpose. More people plan barbeques or travel to the shore than attend Memorial Day parades.
How can we honor those who have fallen in service to our great country? At 3 p.m. local time, pause for a Moment of Remembrance. Observe it in your own way; whether it be prayer, silence or listening to Taps.
Display a flag properly on your home and place of business. Don't remember proper flag etiquette? Find it here.
Many of our fallen no longer have family in the area of their burial plot to maintain their gravesite. Spend some time at your local cemetery. The office may be able to provide you with locations of veterans' final resting places that can use attention. Tidy up the area. Place a small American flag at the gravestone. Plant flowers where permitted.
Do you know of a military widow, widower or orphan? Let them know their loved one's sacrifice is not forgotten. Lend aid where needed. Support disabled veterans.
Only a handful of towns even have a Memorial Day parade any longer. Fortunately for you local readers, Glassboro is among them. Start your day on the parade route beginning at 10:00 a.m. The parade starts on University Boulevard and travels on to High Street. The event ends with a ceremony honoring our fallen heroes at the Veteran's Memorial Monument adjacent to the Fire House on High Street.
Make this Memorial Day special for your family. Share your respect for those who made the ultimate sacrifice, and they'll do the same when it's their turn to carry on tradition.
Tip of the Week
May is National Motorcycle Safety month. Motorcycles are easily hidden in a car's blind spots since they're so small. Check twice before changing lanes or turning in your car to assure you're not taking a life. Learn these Ten Things All Car and Truck Drivers Should Know About Motorcycles.
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