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History is a gallery of pictures in which there are few originals and many copies -- Alexis de Tocqueville

The Christmas Scout
Placez-vous sur les chemins, regardez, Et demandez quels sont les anciens sentiers, Quelle est la bonne voie; marchez-y, Et vous trouverez le repos de vos âmes !

The Season of Advent

begins November 27th in 2016

In days to come,
the mountain of the LORD’s house
shall be established as the highest mountain
and raised above the hills.
All nations shall stream toward it;
many peoples shall come and say:
“Come, let us climb the LORD’s mountain,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may instruct us in his ways,
and we may walk in his paths.”

A few years further along: BENEDICT PP. XVI issued an Encyclical SPE SALVI facti sumus explaining the failure of æthesim: In nihil ab nihilo quam cito recidimus (How quickly we fall back from nothing to nothing). Given in Rome, at Saint Peter's, on 30 November, the Feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle, in the year 2007, the third of my Pontificate. Andrew is the Patron Saint of Scotland, Russia and all Byzantium.

Edict of Milan (Mediolanum), 313 A.D. -- We have also conceded to other religions the right of open and free observance of their worship for the sake of the peace of our times, that each one may have the free opportunity to worship as each pleases.

I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution, and I don't like it being shoved down my throat.


The Flag of an Independent Scotland (St. Andrew's Cross) is as old as the pre-Union (St. George's Cross) of England.

Shiloh -as- reported December 3, 2006: The remains of an early (4th Century) church, containing extensive mosaics, have been discovered at the possible sanctuary (tabernacle-tent of meeting) for the Ark of the Covenant [Joshua 3:6; Hebrews 9:4; (1 Samuel 3:3); (Ex. 25:22)]. Has this house which bears my name become in your eyes a den of thieves? I too see what is being done, says the LORD. You may go to Shiloh, which I made the dwelling place of my name in the beginning. See what I did to it because of the wickedness of my people {in the northern provinces of} Israel. (Jeremiah 7:11-12). The Ark remained on the site for several hundred years until its loss in battle. Sometime after the Philistines gave the Ark up, David returned it to his capital city (2 Sam. 6:17-20; 1 Chron. 16:1-3; 2 Chron. 1:4). The Ark and its sanctuary were described as the Beauty of Israel [Lamentations 2:1], and it contained the second set of the Ten Commandments-so naturally the place in Shiloh would be important to an early Christian Church. The word Shiloh also may refer to a person. Christians generally understand it to denote the Messiah, the peaceful one, as the word by meaning signifies. According to some however, this reading of Genesis 49:10 is somewhat problematic, but is the one taken, for example, by Anglican Bishop Latimer in his Lincolnshire Sermon for the “Third Sunday in Advent” (1552). The Shiloh site, so recently discovered, contained an extremely unusual inscription, which referred to itself by name as Shiloh, thereby showing it to be a very holy place.

After the conquest of Israel under Joshua, Shiloh became the northern capital, a religious center and an Assembly-place for the tribes, and the Tabernacle of Moses was set up there (Josh 18:1). Joshua also allotted territories for the tribes at Shiloh (Josh 18: 2-10). Eli and his sons ministered at the House of God in Shiloh (Judg 18: 31), and God also appeared to Samuel at Shiloh (I Sam 1: 9; 3: 1 ff). In the midst of a war against the Philistines, at Ebenezer, the Ark of the Covenant was brought from Shiloh into the battlefield and fell into the hands of the enemy (I Sam 4: 1-5; 5: 1). When the Philistines brought back the Ark to Israel it was not set up again at Shiloh (1 Sam 6:21-7:2). Ahijah, who prophesied that he would rule over the ten tribes, came from Shiloh (I Kings 11: 29-31). When the Jews returned from Babylon, the men of Shiloh were among them (Neh 11: 5), but by then the Ark was gone. During the Roman times the city existed under the same name, and this continued in Byzantine periods, which explains the Greek writing found.

The site is identified with Khirbet Seilun, about 20 miles north of Jerusalem. The mound is about 12 acres, and contains many of the remains of the biblical town of Shiloh. Shiloh always has been understood in Rabbinic Judaism as referring to the Messiah because of Jacob's blessing of the tribe of Judah until Shiloh comes (Genesis 49: 10).

King David's city of Sha'arayim (meaning two gates) has been identified and the second massive city gate recovered (2008).,7340,L-3624993,00.html

News almost completely unnoticed: Russian Orthodox Patriarch Aleksy II was the first church leader since the outset of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution to be chosen without interference by the Soviet state. The communists had killed clergy and believers and destroyed churches, yet it permitted a church hierarchy to exist under tight control. The Soviet Constitution provided the right to be free of religion in a secular state, but where necessary would use faith to unite its people against a common enemy. Aleksy II, who became patriarch in June 1990, significantly deepened the role of the church in Russia's everyday life - erecting and restoring cathedrals, introducing Orthodox religious education in public schools. The Cathedral of Christ the Savior, within view of the Kremlin, was blown up on Stalin's orders in 1931, but rebuilt in the 1990s. During the war with Georgia in August 2008 over the breakaway region of South Ossetia, the Patriarch called for peace, reminding all Russians that Georgia was also a nation of Orthodox belief. Although only 10% of the population regularly attend services, 75% consider themselves to be Orthodox, including President Putin and Prime Minister Medvedev. The seat of the Moscow Patriarchate is Moscow's Danilov Monastery, though founded first in Kiev (Ukraine) in 988.

Alesky was born Aleksei Mikhailovich Rudiger in Tallinn, Estonia on Feb. 23, 1929 to a father of Baltic German descent and a Russian mother. His childhood there passed in the brief period of Estonian independence before World War II. The small Baltic republic had become home to a large community of Russian émigrés and a Russian Orthodox spiritual center; then, the tanks came. Later, Soviets under Stalin took over. from International Herald Tribune Patriarch Aleksy II died just outside Moscow proper on December 5, 2008, at his suburban residence (ironically, a gift of Germany to Stalin during World War II).

The next to occupy the Patriarchal See of Moscow will be chosen by a local Synod, or gathering of Orthodox bishops. In 1990, one was convened about a month after the death of Aleksy's predecessor, Patriarch Pimen. Speculation about the new successor has begun. The number of functioning churches has grown from 6,800 in 1987, when Mikhail Gorbachev first signaled a loosening of the bonds on religion, to 27,950 today. There were 19 monasteries then, 735 now. Charitable work by the church - prison ministries, halfway houses, nursing services, orphanages, free meals and the like - has blossomed and spread, while Church attendance has lessened.

Reported December 7, 2006: Saint Paul's tomb lies outside the Vatican walls underneath a small basilica type structure, the third of its type on the site. The tomb has stayed invisible during most of the 19th and 20th centuries, as fire destroyed the previous church building (built by Roman emperor Theodosius in the fourth century) 183 years ago and rubble filled the crypt. On Monday (11th) findings of a project to recover and make visible the ancient crypt were revealed in Rome. Paul died a martyr's death in Rome during the time of Nero's persecutions. According to the Bible's Book of Acts, Paul was reborn to life eternal on the Road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-19a), where he encountered the risen Christ. Fourteen letters are attributed to him, these largely written to churches that he had founded or visited. He visited, inter alia, Cyprus, Asia Minor (modern Turkey), mainland Greece, Crete, and Rome.

The first arch you come to as you walk up the nave of the basilica is from the 5th century. The head of Christ is in the center, with his hand raised in blessing of the Byzantine style. To the sides are symbols of the Evangelists, the 24 Ancients of the Apocalypse and angels. Below stand Saints Peter and Paul; Paul points toward his tomb. An inscription along the edge mentions the Emperor Theodosius, the Dowager Empress Galla Placidia (the Arch is often referred to as the Arch of Galla Placidia), who donated the mosaic and Pope St Leo I. The mosaic was damaged in the fire, but has been restored. The columns supporting the arch are new. The inscription reads: THEODODIUS COEPIT PERFECIT HONORIUS AULAM / DOCTORIS MUNDI SACRATAM CORPORE PAULI.

As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias [40:3] the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; and all flesh shall see the Salvation of God.”

“Behold, I will send My messenger, and he shall prepare the way before Me: and the LORD, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the Covenant, in whom ye delight: behold, He advanceth, saith the Lord of hosts.” [ecce ego mittam angelum meum et præparabit viam ante faciem meam et statim veniet ad templum suum dominator quem vos quæritis et angelus testamenti quem vos vultis ecce venit dicit Dominus exercituum] Malachi 3:1 {“And, who can endure the day of His advent? Who can stand when He appears”}
First Reading for the day (18th) (
- Behold, the days advance, saith the LORD, when I will raise unto David a (just) righteous Branch, and [as] a King, [He] shall reign and [His Nation] prosper {some translate 'deal wisely'}, and He shall execute judgment and justice on the earth.
- In His days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and, the name by which they shall call Him: "The LORD [is] our Righteousness."
- Now therefore, behold, the days advance, saith the LORD, no more shall be said, "As the LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of [bondage in] the land of Egypt;"
- But, "as the LORD liveth, which brought and led ... the house of Israel out ... from all countries into which He had driven them; and, they shall [then] inhabit their [own] land [Jeremiah 23: 5-8].
Canticle: A Song of Wisdom {come teach us the way of prudence}
Wisdom freed from a nation of oppressors
a holy people and a blameless race.
She entered the soul of a servant (prophet) of the Lord,
withstood dread rulers with wonders and signs.
To the saints she gave the reward of their labors,
and led them by a marvelous way;
She was their shelter by day
and a blaze of stars by night.
She brought them across the Red Sea,
she led them through mighty waters;
But their enemies she swallowed in the waves
and spewed them out from the depths of the abyss.
And then, Lord, the righteous sang hymns to your Name,
and praised with one voice your protecting hand;
For Wisdom opened the mouths of the mute,
and gave speech to the tongues of a new-born people
[Wisdom 10:15-19,20b-21].

O Sapientia (O Wisdom) -- (technically the Aniphon for December 18th is "O Adonai" -, which is about being led in the wilderness and receiving the Law) - O Sapientia (O Wisdom) is the first of the series sung on the 17th.

Veni, O Sapientia,
Quæ hic disponis omnia,
Veni, viam prudentiæ
Ut doceas et gloriæ

Gaude, gaude, Emanuel. Nascetur pro te, Israel.
O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
And order all things, far and nigh;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And cause us in her ways to go.

Rejoice! Rejoice! God is with us !!! Emanuel shall ransom captive Israel.

Placez-vous sur les chemins, regardez, Et demandez quels sont les anciens sentiers, Quelle est la bonne voie; marchez-y, Et vous trouverez le repos de vos âmes !

December 01, 1420: On this date the King of England visits Paris, a big city in his Kingdom. The originator of the term "Band of Brothers" was six feet 3 inches in height. You know him as Henry V, of the Lancaster dynasty. Starting in August 1417, Henry officially promoted the use of the English language, and his reign marks the appearance of Chancery Standard English as well as the adoption of English as the language of record throughout his Government. He was the first king to use English in his personal correspondence, since the Norman conquest, which occurred 350 years earlier.

Following Agincourt (the victory is seen as Henry's greatest, ranking alongside Crécy and Poitiers), On June 2, 1420, Henry V married Catherine of Valois, the French king's daughter; he had already been named as heir and French Regent under the Treaty of Troyes. However, political intrigue and open rebellion continued under the Dauphine. Hungarian King (later Holy Roman Emperor 1433-1437) Sigismund made a visit to Henry in hopes of establishing a lasting peace between England and France. His goal was to persuade Henry to modify his demands. Henry lavishly entertained the Hungarian ruler and even had him enrolled in the Order of the Garter. Sigismund in turn inducted Henry into the Order of the Dragon. Henry had intended to crusade for that order after uniting the English and French thrones, but he died before fulfilling his plans. Sigismund left England several months later, having signed the Treaty of Canterbury, acknowledging English claims to to the French throne.

December 1, 1824: The U.S. presidential election was sent to the U.S. House of Representatives, this after no candidate received a majority of the electoral vote. The contenders -- Georgian William H. Crawford, along with John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson and Henry Clay. The man who negotiated the end of the War of 1812 would become the 6th President. Like his father, Adams would be a one-termer. Four years later on December 3rd, Andrew Jackson became 7th president-elect of the United States beating John Quincy Adams. Resentment of the restrictive credit policies of the first central bank, the Bank of the United States, fueled a populist backlash that elected Andrew Jackson. Former President John Quincy Adams took his seat as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives on December 4, 1831, while Jackson would preside over the forced removal of the Cherokee Nation toward the end of his second term. Jackson would withdraw from the bank, causing a panic by 1837 for his successor for the five year depression that followed. Who had the better record of service, the populist democrat or the gentlemen ?

December 1, 1990: Tunnel workers from the United Kingdom and France meet 40 meters beneath the English Channel. They have dug the Chunnel, a ground connection between the island of Great Britain and the mainland of Europe, the first in recorded history. The land bridge from England to France submerged to form the English Channel for the last time some 7-9 thousand years ago. Three theories are discussed in:

  • Time line for Sea-side city of Shoreham in Sussex, England -- it references the generally accepted theories of the scientific community
  • Sudden flood -- a tsunami of a theory -- Troubled Times, indeed wash right over you
  • The Atlantian Theory -- Aliens, too; need I say more -- an interesting must read for the Druid fan
    Warning: Not about a city in Georgia.
  • Wednesday December 01, 2004: The President made an official visit to Halifax, Nova Scotia, today to thank the people of Canada, especially Halifax, for their help and support. He recognized the many acts of kindness of the citizens in this northern city, when US airspace shut down for several days in September 2001.

    “Immediately, Canadians opened their homes and their hearts,” Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin said in toasting Mr. Bush at a dinner in Ottawa Tuesday night. “Three days later, on September the 14th, 100,000 Canadians spontaneously gathered on Parliament Hill in what was and is the largest vigil ever seen in our capital.”

    “You opened your homes and your churches to strangers. You brought food, you set up clinics, you arranged for calls to loved ones and you asked for nothing in return," the President noted. "Thank you for your kindness to America in an hour of need.”

    “Beyond the words of politicians and the natural disagreements that nations will have, our two peoples are one family and always will be," he added. "We're bound by history and geography and trade, and by our deepest convictions ... With so much in common and so much at stake, we cannot be divided.”

    December 1, 2005: Sandy Springs became a Georgia city. Legislation incorporating the Fulton County community had been enacted at the 2005 session of the General Assembly, but the effective date of incorporation was delayed until one second past midnight on the first day of December 2005. And in 2008, Dunwoody officially became a new Georgia' city. Legislation incorporating the DeKalb County community had been enacted at the 2008 session of the General Assembly. Both new cities share a common border and encompass portions of the Hightower Trail, itself an historic border.

    December 2, 1737: A disillusioned John Wesley sailed from Georgia to Charleston, and subsequently on to England. Wesley had hoped to serve as a missionary to Georgia's Native Americans. In the nearly two years since he arrived, he had not been able to pursue this goal. The Georgia Colony's founder and Chief Executive Officer, James Edward Oglethorpe, had wished Wesley to minister to the needs of Savannah's population. Wesley, perceived as too formal in his Anglican practices, did not succeed. Toward the end of his stay, it is reported that he also had become romantically involved with a young woman. He proposed marriage. She refused and subsequently married another. Apparently, this led Wesley to refuse her communion, prompting the new husband to sue. Facing a local trial, Wesley departed for home. After his return to England, he had his life-changing experience.
    December 2, 1804:
    Napoléon Bonaparte crowns himself Emperor at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. He becomes the first Emperor crowned in France since 800AD. The premier Emperor, Charles the Great King of the Franks, came from the Carolingian line. This second familial dynasty of France had replaced the Merovingian line (see a better map HERE, and came to power in order to push the Moors back from the first Islamic invasion of Europe, a time celebrated by the Chanson (le 15 août 778).
    The Carolingians, under Pepin's son, Charlemagne, annexed all of southern Germany and the lands in the north and northeast, held by the Saxons. Charlemagne, crowned emperor of a new Holy Roman Empire in 800AD by Pope Leo III, patterned his court after the western Roman Empire. He ruled from Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle), which is today within Germany, on the Dutch Border. The official work of his court was done in Latin; however, the day - to - day language (in the east) congealed into what has evolved into Hoch Deutsch today. Why not French ? Because, upon his death the empire split into three kingdoms because of the tradition that gave each son an equal share of inheritance. The western portion eventually became France and the romantic (n'est pas) language base of Latin prevailed. Indeed, even in 800AD the language between the west and the eastern part of the empire showed marked differences. So much so, that the treaty named after Virodunensis (Verdun -- see below-843AD) had to be written in two languages. The middle kingdom included the land generally between the Rhône/Saône/Meuse and the Rhine Rivers. This is also that area over which and in which most of the European Wars for 1200 years would be fought. For example look at what happened to Alsace. This was the pattern set up with the Treaty of Verdun in 843 AD.

    Otto I, an old-Saxon chief, emerged as the King of East Francia by 962AD. He became the leader of the [Holy] Roman Empire {Römischen Reich}, an official designation {Rede} which remained in use, and in German hands, for another nine centuries. Toward the end of that time period, the words Reich, Reiches or Reichs were used without any other direct attributes, still signifying however, a continuation of the empire from the previous Millennium. Frankfurt became the city where the emperors of the German Reich, traditionally, were elected and crowned.

    You may think of Napoléon strictly in political terms, but he had a great impact on Art History, if only because his Musée du château du Louvre would become the most well-known, best endowed art museum --- tout le monde. Bonaparte celebrated the first anniversary of his coronation with a victory at Austerlitz (also known as the Battle of the Three Emperors) over a Russian and Austrian army. Some 200 Years later, la Lourve celebrated the event with a special exhibit.

    Napoléon commissioned the Arc de Triumph (Paris-1806) to revive the custom of the triumphal arch (one of Louis' favorite construction projects). These arches once had celebrated the victories of the Roman emperors. Napoleon, crowned emperor of France, used this to symbolically unite him with those ancient rulers. In so doing we see this neo-classical style expand throughout France and the west (in the US, first with the Federal style). Not everyone remained enamored. Beethoven will rename his Third Symphony from the Napoléon to the Eroica after Bonaparte crowns himself.

    This 1822 painting by French neoclassical painter, Jacques-Louis David, shows Emperor Napoléon I 
and the Empress, Josephine, during the coronation at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris France

    On December 14, 2004, the readers of The Wall Street Journal [back page of Section IV] were treated with a very fine article on the Louvre exhibit and a view of the painting by Jacques-Louis David about the accession of Napoléon. Note: our readers (of the Vanguard) had information about this event several weeks before. The Wall Street Journal author had a very brief discussion about France's love-hate relationship with its controversial leader. Astute visitors to this Website know that within the confines of our pages we have tried to put some of it all in broader context -- from Roman conquest to the Bastille and beyond, and what this history has meant for America, as well as France. Our pages on French (and German) cities are an endeavor in this regard. We will continue so to do, God willing and if the creeks don't rise.

    December 2, 1823: President Monroe, replying to the post-napoleonic era pronouncements of the Holy Alliance (1816), proclaimed the principles known as the Monroe Doctrine, “that the American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintained, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by European powers.” His doctrine opposing European expansion in the Western Hemisphere ensured that the American sphere of influence in the Western hemisphere remained unquestioned. Although oft challenged, it still governs policies today -- in 2009 we are looking at Iran and South American dictators working together.

    Le coup d'État du 2 décembre 1851: Le coup d'État est effectué par Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, président de la République, qui arrive par ce moyen à dissoudre l'Assemblée nationale française sans en avoir le droit constitutionnel, à devenir seul maître de la France, et rétablit le suffrage universel, précédemment aboli par l'Assemblée. Ces décisions et la prolongation de son mandat à 10 ans sont plébiscités par référendum tout comme l'établissement du Second Empire à compter du 2 décembre 1852 devenant ainsi « Napoléon III, empereur des Français »'État_du_2_décembre_1851.

    December 2, 1942: A self-sustaining nuclear device was demonstrated for the first time at the University of Chicago, on the squash court underneath the football stadium. Scientists initiated this nuclear activity at 3:45 in the afternoon local time. They removed control rods which dampened the process from the nuclear pile of uranium and graphite. Energy increased, revealing that neutrons from fissioning uranium split other atoms, which in turn split a greater number in the un-dampened field. This cascading event is known popularly as a chain reaction.

    The experimental reactor was part of the Manhattan Project, the top-secret plan to develop an atomic bomb before the Axis powers in World War II. The group of scientists was led by Enrico Fermi. We now know that the Nazi's had placed nuclear research on the back burner, but at the time a race to exploit the atom for weapons seemed necessary. Some believe that the Japanese Empire was much closer to achieving this goal. Indeed, some evidence suggests that man's third atomic blast occurred not at Nagasaki, but off a small Island in what is today a restricted area of North Korea (then under Japanese control).
    Some, at the time, worried at the time that a fission bomb would get out of control and destroy the Earth. Similar worries arose with testing of the fusion bomb. Today we have worried that the particle device in Europe will do the same, by creating mini-blackholes of the kind that will not evaporate.

    December 2, 1956: Fidel Castro landed on the coast of Cuba. Castro brought a small armed force to overthrow dictator Fulgencio Batista; most of them killed within a few days. Che Guevara was one of the very few who survived the disastrous landing of the rebels’ boat, the "Granma." Castro achieved success, against great odds and established a brutal regime.

    On December 2nd of 1961, Cuban leader Fidel Castro declared himself a Marxist-Leninist who would lead Cuba to a Communist paradise. Soon thereafter followed the Cuban Missile Crisis (October 1962), where the "Monroe Doctrine (December 2, 1823)" was tacitly employed to reduce foreign European influence (Soviet Union), as the world moved close to a nuclear exchange. Fidel Castro proved too ill to attend his delayed 80th birthday festivities and a military parade in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the landing. During 2007 his words appeared in print, along with pictures -- In Fall 2007 he is reported to have said he would outlive the current US President's term in office - he was right, er correct. He passed away this past week (in 2016), still lionized by fellow travellers.

    December 2, 1978: Chanting anti-Shah protesters tear through Tehran. A year later, some 2,000 Libyans ransacked the US embassy at Tripoli, Libya, supporting the radical Islamic terrorist regime that took power and hostages in Iran earlier in the year. The problem remains with us today, because of the failure to come to terms with it then. Sort of like all the aspects of crisis we deal with today ... ? On this date in 2015, well equipped shooters terrorized government workers having a party. The current Administration claims this requires more gun control, while it appears that an armed citizen diverted the terrorists into a police trap, where they were killed.

    le 3 décembre 1973: Pioneer 10 effectue le 1er vol autour de Jupiter (en passant à 130 000 kilomètres au-dessus la planète). Pioneer 10, la sonde américaine, est la première a donner des informations sur de Jupiter. Lancée le 2 mars 1972 (east coast time 3rd of March by the Universal time clock), Pioneer 10 est devenu la plus ancienne des sondes interplanétaires américaines. Elle disparaîtra dans l'espace en janvier 1998 (Kuiper Belt). As everyone may remember, some years later it is captured by the borg collective, who retrofit it for a return voyage to earth, renaming her the Borg-Ship Vegan, and hiding the craft in a comet. It is intercepted at Ice-station Babylon by the cast of the Starship Ænterprise, where it is diverted to Doone thru a staregait manœuvre. There, it is set-up at quai-ballay to be forever revered as the mother of all secret stones. At least I think that's the story. If I have offended anyone, mea culpa. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that use, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive. — C.S. Lewis : Truth is heavy; therefore, few wear it. -- Midrash Shmuel on Avot: 4

    Le 4 décembre 1290: The monument called the Eleanor Cross sits in front of London's Charing Cross Station. This is the point from which all distances traditionally are measured in the City and England. Why? Because of a cherished Queen, too soon departed from her people. More pictures of the Charing Cross bridge (by e.g. Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro) follow This Link -- the name derives from the phrase "dear Queen" from the spoken French used in the thirteenth century at the heart of London England.

    En ce jour, Éléonor (ou Aliénor) de Castille décède à Herdeby (Angleterre). Elle est la sœur du roi Alphonse X de Castille et l'épouse bien-aimée du roi d'Angleterre Édouard 1er. Édouard, très affecté par la mort de sa femme, fait élever des croix et peindre son portrait partout où s'arrête le cortège funèbre en route pour l'abbaye de Westminster. Le quartier londonien de Charing Cross conserve le souvenir de l'une de ces croix (Charing viendrait de « chère reine » et serait une déformation du français en usage au XIIIe siècle à la cœur d'Angleterre).

    Eleanor was born in Burgos, daughter of Ferdinand III of Castile and Joan, Countess of Ponthieu. Her Castilian name, Leonor, became Alienor or Alianor in England, and Eleanor in modern English. She was named after her paternal great-grandmother, Eleanor of England. The young couple married at the monastery of Las Huelgas, Burgos, on 1 November 1254. Edward and Eleanor were second cousins once removed, as Edward's grandfather King John of England and Eleanor's great-grandmother Eleanor of England were the son and daughter of King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Following the marriage they spent nearly a year in Gascony, with Edward ruling as lord of Aquitaine. She was 13 when she gave birth to their daughter, who soon passed away. Arranged royal marriages in the Middle Ages were not always happy, but available evidence indicates that Eleanor and Edward were devoted to each other. Edward is among the few medieval English kings not known to have conducted extramarital affairs or fathered children out of wedlock. The couple were rarely apart; she accompanied him on military campaigns in Wales, famously giving birth to their son Edward on 25 April 1284 at Caernarfon Castle, either in a temporary dwelling erected for her amid the construction works, or in the partially constructed Eagle Tower. Eloquent testimony is found in his letter to the abbot of Cluny in France (January 1291), seeking prayers for the soul of the wife "whom living we dearly cherished, and whom dead we cannot cease to love." In her memory, Edward ordered the construction of twelve elaborate stone crosses (of which three survive, almost intact) between 1291 and 1294, marking the route of her funeral procession between Lincoln and London. Pictured at this link is Charing Cross --

    Le 5 décembre 1360 -- Naissance du franc: Somewhat on theme (a french coin with an Eleanor connection): le 5 décembre 1360, à Compiègne, le roi Jean II crée une nouvelle monnaie, le «franc», de même valeur que la monnaie existante, la livre tournois. Le 5 décembre 1978: Adoption du SME (Système monétaire européen) lors du Conseil européen réunit les 4 et 5 décembre 1978 à Bruxelles. Le franc perdure comme monnaie de référence de la France jusqu'au 31 décembre 1998, dernier jour avant l'euro. -- Birth of the franc - on December 5, 1360, at Compiègne, King John II created a new denomination, the "franc" - having the same value as the existing currency, the pound tournois. Interestingly, on December 5, 1978, France witnessed the adoption of the EMS (European Monetary System) at a meeting of the European Council in Brussels. The franc continued as the currency of France until December 31, 1998, the last day before the €uro went into effect.


    Le franc de 1360 est en or fin de 3,88 grammes. Une version ultérieure, en 1365, représentera le roi à pied (le « franc à pied »). Les pièces de monnaie tirent leur valeur de leur poids en métal précieux et non, comme aujourd'hui, de la seule fiabilité de l'émetteur (État ou banque). La France, du Moyen Âge à la fin du XIXe siècle, se montre attachée au bimétallisme: pièces principales en or et subdivisions en argent. (The 1360 franc consisted 3.88 grams of fine gold. Later, starting in 1365, coinage will show the king on foot (the "franc afoot"-something that's afoot is already happening, underway, or being prepared). The coins derive their value from their precious metal weights and not, as now, only by the reliability of the issuer (or state bank). France, from the Middle Ages into the late nineteenth century, saw coinage turn to bimetallism: main denominations were in gold and silver-based fractions.) The use of silver was responsive to trade and commerce. By the late 20th Century most money had no intrinsic value.

    Jean II le Bon (c'est-à-dire le Brave) a été fait prisonnier à la bataille de Poitiers. Il a subi une longue captivité en Angleterre et son geôlier, le roi anglais Edouard III, lui a réclamé une énorme rançon. Le roi crée le « franc ». La nouvelle pièce commémore sa libération. (John II (that is to say "the Brave") was taken prisoner at the Battle of Poitiers. He suffered a long captivity in England and his jailer, the English King Edward III (Eleanor's grandson (see original post above)), called for a huge ransom. The new coin was created to commemorate his liberation and the liberty of France, which remained.)

    Les pièces de différents pays peuvent circuler côte à côte, leur attrait dépendant de la confiance que le public accorde à l'émetteur, lequel peut tricher sur la quantité de métal précieux ou laisser faire les faux-monnayeurs. La pièce représente le roi à cheval avec la légende Johannes Dei Gratia Francorum Rex -- (The coinage of different countries continues to circulate side by side with the Franc, valued dépendant upon the confidence that commerce attached to the issuer (and coin condition). Governments often cheated on the content of precious metal (debasing) or let counterfeiters flourish to the same effect. The pictured coin piece depicts the king on horseback (striding in victory with sword upraised) with the caption "John King of France by the Grace of God" proclaiming his devine right of rule)

    Le 5 décembre -- another French happening this date in 1560: At the age of ten Charles IX Valois becomes King upon the death of his brother, François II. Soon, France would be in the midst of turmoil as Protestants fought Catholics beginning in 1562 (guerres de religion). Charles' Queen-mother, Catherine de Médicis, became his Regent until his death in 1573. She would die in 1589 (at age 70), after seeing her 4th son become King in 1575 (Henri III). He, the last Valois, in turn died later in the same year at the hand of an assassin. Henri IV (of Navarre, the first Bourbon King) would follow on the throne, and he too would die by assassination (1610). France would continue its internal struggles under the reign of his son Louis XIII.

    Le 6 Décembre   C'est sa fête : Nicolas

    SinterKlaas sur un timbre canadien Évêque de Myre (Asie Mineure) au IVe siècle, Nicolas aurait ressuscité des enfants mis au saloir par un méchant aubergiste (unrepentant butcher had murdered children and placed them in a barrel of salt to cure for resale-the children were restored to life in this legend by Nicholas). Ce saint est encore aujourd'hui très populaire en Russie, en Pologne, dans les pays germaniques ainsi qu'en Lorraine, en Alsace, en Belgique et aux Pays-Bas. Il est connu dans ces pays sous les noms de Saint Nicolas, Sankt Niklaus, Saint Niclaus ou encore Sinter Klaas. La première mention du saint remonte au 13e siècle en Belgique francophone (Wallonie) et aux alentours de 1380 en Flandre. Il est dans ces pays le patron des enfants mais aussi des passeurs d'eau et des bateliers.

    The Bishop of Myra (modern-day Demre, Turkey) in the fourth century, Nicolas - Greek: Ἅγιος Νικόλαος, Hagios Nikólaos, Latin: Sanctus Nicolaus - In 325AD, he was one of many bishops to answer the request of Constantine to appear at the First Council of Nicæa. There, Nicholas was a staunch defender of the Orthodox Christian position, and also one of the bishops who signed the Nicene Creed. Many legends of his works abound, and a portion of his relics were removed to Italy in the mid-11th Century, where he is known as Nicholas of Bari. The archdiocese of Bari allowed a scientific survey of the bones it had. In the late 1950s, during a restoration of the chapel, a team of hand-picked scientists photographed and measured the contents of the crypt grave.

    In the summer of 2005, the report of these measurements was sent to a forensic laboratory in England. The review of the data revealed that the historical St. Nicholas was barely five feet in height and had suffered a broken nose. The facial reconstruction was produced by Dr. Caroline Wilkinson at the University of Manchester and was shown on a BBC2 TV program -- The Real Face of Santa (easily found on YouTube).

    According to another less-gruesome legend, during a great famine that Myra experienced in 311–312, a ship (which would have come from Egypt by navigating the coast of Asia Minor) was in the port at anchor. It carried wheat for the Emperor in Constantinople. Nicholas "invited" the sailors to unload a part of the wheat to help in time of need. The sailors resisted, because the wheat had been weighed accurately for delivery to the Emperor. Only when Nicholas promised that the cargo would not suffer any loss, the sailors relented. Sure enough when the vessel arrived at its ultimate destination, the weight of the load had not changed, although the wheat removed in Myra was enough to feed the town for two full years and could even be spared for sowing.

    This saint is still very popular in Russia, Poland, in the Germanic countries, in Lorraine, Alsace, Belgium and the Netherlands. He is known in these places under the names of Saint Nicolas, Sankt Niklaus, St. Niclaus or Sinter Klaas. The first mention of the saint dates back to the 13th century in French speaking Belgium (Wallonia) and around 1380 in Flanders. He is in these countries the patron of children but also of sailors (particularly of ferrymen and boatmen (harbor craft and coast huggers)), certain merchants, pawnbrokers, repentant thieves, children, archers, brewers (a I guess because a good beer is a great gift in the dead of winter) and students in various cities and countries around Europe.

    In the Low Countries, especially in the Netherlands, the eve of Nicholas' feast day (December 5th) is celebrated nationwide by young and old, christian and non-christian, generally without any religious overtones. Although Sinter Klaas is always portrayed in the vestments of the bishop, his status as a canonized saint has had little to do with the traditional Protestant festival. His strong influence in the Low Countries - an area heavily engaged in trade and navigation - primarily was due to his role as patron of sailors and merchants.

    Saint Nicholas died on December 6, 343 AD. He was buried in his Cathedral, but in 1087, many of his relics were moved to Italy, because of muslim destruction of anything Christian. They remain in a town called Bari. These relics have a fragrant oder from a substance called myrrh. Traditionally people who are sick, anoint themselves with myrrh and are healed. Myrrh was among the first Christmas gifts, given by the three kings at Epiphany

    All Dutch children know that Sinter Klaas (the name is a corruption of Sint Nikolaas) lives in Spain. Exactly why he does remains a mystery even today. Interestingly, Columbus was in the new World on this feast day in 1492. He discovers what today is known as Haiti at Mole Saint Nicolas. On St. Nicholas's Feast Day, it is customary to serve Speculaas cookies, a spicy Dutch cookie, cut into shapes relevant to the life of St. Nicholas (coins, mitres, ships, balls, money bags), and painted with colorful icing:

        Speculaas Cookies (makes 3 dozen depending on size)
        1 Cup (2 sticks) sweet butter, at room temperature
        2 cups dark brown sugar
        2 eggs
        Grated rind of 1 lemon
        2 teaspoons cinnamon
        1 teaspoon ground nutmeg or mace
        1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
        1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
        1/8 teaspoon cardamom
        1/8 teaspoon salt
        4 cups flour
        1 teaspoon baking powder
        Icing: Powdered sugar, Water, Lemon juice, Food coloring &
        A small portion of beaten egg white for improving consistency, if desired. 

    Some say he has a grave in Ireland:

    December 6, 1884: The Army Corps of Engineers topped off the Washington Monument, 101 years after George Washington approved the location. Construction had begun on the 555-foot Egyptian-style obelisk on July 4, 1848, when a private citizens' group, the Washington National Monument Society, raised enough money to go forward. The original design called for the familiar obelisk surrounded by a large building with a statue of Washington driving a Roman chariot on top. Work ceased in 1854. The money had run out. The monument stood unfinished for 22 years, looking, as Mark Twain put it, like a factory chimney with the top broken off. In 1876, during Ulysses S. Grant's administration, Congress authorized the funds to finish the memorial -- but without the ornate building and classical statue. When the final capstone and 9-inch aluminum pyramid were set in place in 1884, the completed Washington Monument became the tallest structure in the world until 1889, when the Eiffel Tower took over that role for a while. Do you know what city had the tallest monument before this date ? (Hint: Strasbourg Cathedral in France, St-Nikolai in Hamburg, Germany, Cathèdrale Notre Dame in Rouen, France, or Cologne Cathedral in Germany)

    December 6, 1889: Businessman and philanthropist Robert W. Woodruff was born in Columbus, Georgia. His family moved to Atlanta when he was four. After attending (but not graduating from) Oxford College at Emory, Woodruff quickly worked his way up the corporate ladder working for White Motor Company, meanwhile investing a considerable amount of his earnings in the hometown stock of Coca-Cola. To help protect that investment, and to return to Atlanta, he took the position of President of the Coca-Cola Company in 1923 (his father was president of Trust Company Bank and leader of the group of investors that had purchased Coca-Cola from the Asa Candler family). He left an $85,000 annual salary with White Motors (worth over a $1 million) to take a $35,000 position (not counting stock options).

    Under his leadership, the Coca-Cola Company became an international and multi-faceted organization. Even after his retirement, Woodruff stayed on to chair the company's finance committee. He was the driving force behind the soft drink firm's phenomenal success. Woodruff had an influential, yet friendly, way with people. He looked at the "big picture" while trusting his employees for the details. His motto, engraved in his office, was: There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit.

    Woodruff, renowned for his personal philanthropy and for the Woodruff Foundation established by his parents, earned the nickname, Mr. Anonymous, though his insistence on not being publicly recognized. He and the foundation have donated over $400 million to educational, artistic, civic, and medical projects. Among these were gifts to Emory University to develop its medical center and for Emory's endowment program, to the Atlanta Memorial Arts Center and the Atlanta Arts Alliance. Atlanta's the High Museum of Art, among many local charities benefiting from his benevolence. Woodruff died on March 7, 1985.

    December 6, 1902: The US Post Office issued an 8¢ stamp featuring Martha {Dandridge} [Custis] Washington, the wife of the first US President, George. The stamp was the first U.S. definitive stamp to feature any woman. A small picture of Queen Isabella of Spain had appeared on the rarely seen $1 commemorative issued for the Columbian Exposition on January 21, 1893, and as a portrait (together with Columbus) on the more rare $4 Columbian Exposition stamp.

    The first president's adopted grandson, Col. George Washington Parke Custis (the grandson of Martha Dandridge Custis Washington through her first marriage), owned and constructed the mansion, which he had intended as a permanent memorial to George Washington, on an 1,100-acre tract of land which he had inherited. Custis hired George Hadfield, an English architect who came to Washington in 1785 to help construct the U.S. Capitol, to design his estate masterpiece. The Greek revival structure took Custis 16 years to complete. It still stands today, but few realize that it was first a tribute to President Washington.

    One could argue that the large portrait on the eight cent stamp represented a change in attitude and a growing awareness of a woman's contribution to American society. It would be only another eighteen years before the 19th Amendment to Constitution of the United States gave women the right to vote; but the women's suffrage movement was already in full bloom. After much bickering over the appropriate woman to give this premier honor, Martha Washington received the nod. The artwork and choice of color, "dark lilac", resulted in what many have deemed to be the most beautiful stamp in the definitive series of related designs. The 8¢ stamp underwent a color change, as it was issued in deeper and deeper shades until it nearly took on the "dark slate" black color originally reserved for the 13¢ stamp. The original lilac stamps are said to bring a small premium.

    December 6, 2011: Austin's esteemed mayor, Lee Leffingwell, proclaimed December 6th as the Day of the Beard in Capital of Texas. Honored were the members of the Austin Facial Hair Club and their representation of the great state of Texas in "Whisker Wars," throughout the Nation and in World competition. The AFHC celebrated the one year anniversary of the city-wide honor at the Mohawk.

    December 7, 374: On this day Ambrose was consecrated bishop of Milan, Italy -- where he still remains at the Basilica Sant' Ambrogio, one of the most ancient churches in Italy that still stands. It was built in 379-386 by St. Ambrose and has become one of the most symbolic sites in the city of Milan. The first bishop to stand up to the emperor and win (thus creating a church-state precedent that would influence the West for a millennium), Ambrose was also an influential theologian, especially regarding doctrines of the Holy Spirit. His preaching led to the conversion of Augustine of Hippo. see Saint Ambrose was born in about 340, most likely in Trier (today in modern Germany). He was the son of a Roman nobleman who was serving in the northern provinces of the Roman Empire as Prefect of Gallia.

    Enfin il a montré le lieu et le chemin, quand il a dit: Où je vais, vous le savez, et vous savez le chemin. Le lieu, c'est chez le Père; le chemin, c'est le Christ, comme il l'a dit lui-même: Moi je suis le chemin, la vérité et la vie. Nul ne vient au Père que par moi. par Saint Ambrose {7 décembre} Placez-vous sur les chemins, regardez, Et demandez quels sont les anciens sentiers, Quelle est la bonne voie; marchez-y, Et vous trouverez le repos de vos âmes ! (Jérémie 6:16)

    December 7, 521: Columba, who would become an Irish monk and missionary to Scotland founding the community at Iona, is born in Donegal. Just as Patrick evangelized Ireland, Columba was a powerful Christian presence in the North of England. In about 563 AD, Saint Columba brought a Celtic-rite Christianity to Iona, as the Scots (a celtic tribe from Ireland) sought to occupy and control Caledonia. He would travel among the native Picts, distant cousins of the newcomers. Because of Columba's efforts at Iona, his follower, Saint Aidan, at the request of Oswald, Anglo-Saxon King of Northumbria, would establish the famous monastery at Lindisfarne about 80 years later. Saint Aidan would die the night that Cuthbert had his vision in AD 651. S.V.P. see generally Our article on Venerable Bede and Northumbria.

    December 7, 1864: General W.P. Howard, of the Georgia State Militia, sent Governor Joseph E. Brown an eyewitness account on the extent of damage to Atlanta following Sherman's occupation of the city. Howard's report dramatically portrayed a city largely in ruins. More about a whole month of events leading up to this day can be found HERE.

    December 7, 1917: The American Congress approves a war resolution act against Austria-Hungary, the remnant of the Holy Roman Empire. Another Joint Resolution, declaring that a state of war existed between the Imperial German Government and the United States, had been passed on April 6th.

    December 7, 1941: America is attacked suddenly and without warning by forces of Imperial Japan at Pearl Harbor and elsewhere in Hawaii. In Atlanta, guards were doubled at the municipal waterworks and defense manufacturing plants. Major General John P. Smith, commander of the U.S. Army's Fourth Corps Area (which included Georgia), issued the following warning, that all manufacturers and industrialists in states of the Fourth Corps Area take every precaution against sabotage in their establishments. Atlanta Mayor Roy LeCraw, who was inactive as a Lt. Colonel in the National Guard while he held office, officially requested that he be placed on active duty. Georgia's congressional delegation also had strong anti-Japanese reactions.

    U.S. Sen. Richard B. Russell responded to the barbarity by stating: Japan has committed national hari-kari. I cannot conceive of any member of Congress voting against a declaration of war in view of the unpardonable, unprovoked attack on us. I am utterly astounded. U.S. Rep. Carl Vinson, Chairman of the House Naval Affairs Committee, added: Of course we will have to declare war. There is nothing else for Congress to do. This is a concerted action by the Axis Powers, but I am confident our Navy is ready and will render a glorious account of itself. It probably means we will be drawn into the world conflict on both oceans. Vinson turned out to be right about the conflict and declaration; but, we weren't exactly ready on land sea or air. In 2012, the current administration is planning to reduce the number of ships-of-the-line to less than those available before the conflict began in 1941. Indeed in the past week (of December 2012), his Navy has retired the US Enterprise, an aircraft carrier of distinction. The ability to carry out defense on two major fronts will also be lost in 2013. Those who fail to remember history will find themselves (or their heirs) repeating it.

    One year later -- December 7, 1942: “Hawaii is the key to our position in the Pacific and we've got to hold it. The supply line to Australia and the southwest Pacific is only slightly less important.” Establishing and holding these lines became the chief task for the Pacific Fleet in the first months after Pearl Harbor. The Gilbert and Marshall raids, offensive tactics, were part of this defensive strategy: they smelled out the enemy at a point where it threatened the our new supply lines -- possibly averting a breach those lines. Only when the lines were functioning was the Navy ready for limited offensive measures. Then the first offensive moves partly were intended to secure the Navy's southwest Pacific communication network.,10987,773997,00.html

    Whitney - 1940December 8, 1765: Eli Whitney, inventor of the cotton gin, was born in Westboro, Mass. Whitney grew up in New England and attended Yale. He came to South Carolina at the request of a friend who managed General Nathaniel Greene's Plantation outside Savannah, Georgia. When the promised job did not materialize in South Carolina, Whitney came to Georgia, possibly because he was infatuated with Greene's widow, Catharine. At her suggestion, Whitney set to work modifying a gin useful only for Sea Island cotton into one for use on the short-staple cotton grown in the rest of Georgia. Within six months he had completed the modifications, and left Georgia for Philadelphia to get a patent on his invention, and to manufacture them where more skilled labor was available.

    The patent was issued in March of 1794 and Whitney returned to Georgia with six cotton gins ready for use. Whitney left Georgia, in order to manufacture the gins in New Haven, Connecticut -- where he remained never to return to Savannah. Others soon copied his invention, thus he received little financial reward for his work. Whitney went on to manufacture arms for the government, getting a big contract during the War of 1812. In the process of his arms manufacturing, he perfected the concept of interchangeable parts, ultimately as important as his development of the cotton gin. Whitney did not marry until the age of fifty-four, after Catharine Greene had died. His health began to decline in 1820. He died in New Haven January 8, 1825. On October 7, 1940, the U.S. Post Office issued an Eli Whitney commemorative stamp.

    December 8, 1941: Japanese forces simultaneously invade Malaya, Thailand, Hong Kong, the Philippines, as well as the Dutch East Indies. These events happen concurrently with the Bombing of Pearl Harbor, which was on December 7th in the United States. On the 8th in the USA (a Monday), President Roosevelt asks his Congress for a formal Declaration Of War against the Empire of Japan. Soon, thereafter, Nazi Germany obliges Churchill with its own declaration against America, although it had been sinking US merchant ships for some time. So was born the Axis and the Allies powers. In Europe, Ireland, Spain and the Swiss remained neutral; Finland was at war with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. In March 1939, the Portuguese signed a treaty of friendship and non-aggression with nationalist Spain. In April 1939, Portugal had refused the invitation of the Italian Ambassador to join the Anti-Comintern Pact, an alliance between Germany, Italy, and Japan. President Salazar's decision was to stick with the oldest noh-agression alliance in the world. The Treaty of Windsor (1386) between Portugal and England is still in force today. Indeed, In December 1941, when Renault tries to arrest Laszlo as arranged, Rick forces him at gunpoint to assist in the escape. At the last moment, Rick makes Ilsa Lund board the plane to Lisbon with her husband, telling her she would regret staying, Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life. As a side note: in June 1943, a commercial airliner carrying the actor Leslie Howard (Ashley Wilkes-GWTW) was shot down over the Bay of Biscay by the Luftwaffe, after having left from Lisbon, possibly because German spies in Lisbon believed that Prime Minister Winston Churchill was aboard.

    Japanese General Yamashita began his attack against the British army at Singapore. General Tomoyuki Yamashita earned the name “Tiger of Malaya” for his capture of Singapore and the whole Malay Peninsula from the British, who had a superior number of troops. Yamashita’s forces landed on the northern Malay Peninsula and southern Thailand on December 8, 1941, and moved rapidly southward toward Singapore, which surrendered on February 15, 1942. The peninsula and Singapore remained under Japanese control throughout for the next three and one-half years. Later in the war, while trying to keep control of the Philippine Islands upon General MacArthur‘s return, Yamashita's command ruthlessly slaughtered more than 100,000 local citizens in Manila. He was later tried and executed for his war crimes.

    le 9 décembre 1977 -- Naissance du RER: La première ligne du Réseau Express Régional (RER), la ligne A, est inaugurée. L'idée d'aménager le RER en Île-de-France date de 1965 avec le plan Delouvrier. Quelques années plus tard les lignes B, C et D viendront compléter le réseau ferré. Today the lastest effort is the ring of tramways on the Paris city limits. The third tram-train line went into service in December 2006 -- Ligne T3-Maréchaux Sud. T3 was unfinished on its eastern side. Beginning in 2010, RATP officials began to correct this oversight. Latest Map (2013) showing the completed arc and future extension in the northwest: -- the south and east sides up and over to the St. Denis Canal (and beyond to Porte de la Chapelle (métro ligne 12)) as completed.

    December 9, 2005 -- At home in Narnia: Did you know, for instance, that its author [C.S. ("Jack") Lewis] died the same day as US President Jack Kennedy? -- that Lewis was a close friend of Tolkein ? The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe premiered on Friday the 9th of December at a US theatre near you, and on boxing day in Australia. Initial $$ figures for the first weekend box office were very good at over $65 million (US). As of December 27th the movie was holding its own at Number 2 against new releases and against Jackson's remake of a hollywood classic. The second movie, Chronicles of Narnia did not do so well. Five years after the first release, both movies a a staple of family TV. The third in the series premiers in December 2010.

    Douglas Gresham (Jack's stepson) the co-producer of the movie version of the popular series, of which The Lion, etc. is just the first book in the series, states: The myths of Narnia are partly those of the great man-made religions ... Exposure to man's myths will make young viewers ask questions about themselves - and only later will the seed of faith take root.

    Gresham and his wife, Merrie, now live in a big house in Ireland, where they run a Christian ministry that specializes in healing the trauma caused by abortion, which they believe is infanticide inspired by Satan. Indeed, critics have accused him of becoming obsessed with the power of the devil. Can you blame me, growing up in the house where The Screwtape Letters were written ? Gresham says. from

    One persistent theme in the Narnia stories is that of children without parents. That comes out of the author's own experience. Clive Staples Lewis -- he preferred to be called Jack -- was born in 1898 in Belfast, Northern Ireland, the son of lawyer Albert Lewis and his wife, Flora Hamilton, a well-educated descendant of Anglican Church officials. His idyllic childhood ended painfully when Lewis' mother died of cancer in 1908. In World War I, Lewis was wounded at the front by an English shell that fell short of its mark.

    Lewis also drew criticism for his belief in truth with a capital T. "Like Tolkien, Lewis had a very clear moral vision," Ritchie says, and that's part of his popularity now. More specifically, "Lewis was very concerned about rising political and social controls -- the temptation toward totalitarian controls that comes from the most charitable impulses. He believed (moral) relativism was creeping into the West and would destroy it. It would destroy the idea of humanity, and human beings would be willing [at that point] to do anything to each other. That belief comes out in the Chronicles' The Last Battle, the apocalyptic end of Narnia." --- Sorry if some links are now dead.

    « Le monde de Narnia » est sorti en France le 21 décembre. Aux États-Unis et en Angleterre, Narnia a provoqué un vaste débat dans les milieux intellectuels. En France, où les livres de C.S. Lewis sont moins connus, la majeure partie de la presse chrétienne aborde favorablement l’aspect spirituel de ce film et des éditeurs religieux font paraître des ouvrages qui s’intéressent aux interprétations chrétiennes de l’œuvre de Lewis. Durée: 2h12

    December 9-10, 1991: At the summit conference in Maastricht it is decided to move the European Community toward a political and currency union. The €uro is the result. In 2007 the €uro gained enormous value (over 40%) as the dollar weakened. For the €uropeans, oil prices had hardly changed, but of course they have always been taxed heavily on gasoline. Gold, copper and other commodities seem cheap, too. In 2008, the dollar regained some strength, and oil decreased until the economic panic (aka banking crisis) began at the end of summer. In 2010, Gold has reached $1400, silver about $30 and the €uro nations are working out a payment plan for Ireland, after working their magic in Greece.

    So, at the end of 2011. Gold hovers somewhere between $1700-1800, oil is about $100. Earlier in the year gold was near $2000 and oil also was about $75 a few months earlier. Greece has about blown up, along with Italy. More problems lie ahead, about which the leadership of several €uropean countries are meeting this day. The dollar is dropping, again (and the stock market); maybe not like a stone but slowly drifting south .. .. .. "Neck deep in the Big Muddy the big fool says press on."

    December 10, 1812: Governor Mitchell approved changing the name of Randolph County to Jasper County. The action came in response to Virginia congressman John Randolph's opposition to the War of 1812 (although eventually he was forgiven and in 1828 would be recognized by having another new Georgia county named in his honor). Jasper County was named for Revolutionary War hero Sgt. William Jasper, who during the siege of Savannah was wounded mortally while retrieving his regiment's flag from the British. The statue of William Jasper is on Madison Square in Savannah and dates from 1888.

    December 10, 1934: Developer Cecil Burke Day was born in Brooklet, Georgia (Bulloch County). A 1958 Georgia Tech graduate, Day became an immediate success in real estate, working his way up to firm vice-president and commercial sales manager within four years. In October 1962, he opened his own business -- Day Realty Associates. By 1968, his company had expanded to include income properties, commercial brokerage, land and property management and motel site selection. While touring New England in 1968, Day conceived the idea of convenient and moderately priced hotels for travelers. Upon returning to Georgia, he launched Days Inns of America, Inc. in March 1970. The following month the first Days Inn (originally designated as 8 Days Inn in recognition of the original $8 basic rate) opened in Savannah, Ga. Day was a devout Baptist who regularly tithed ten percent of his considerable earnings to his church, and had a Gideon Bible placed in each of his hotel rooms. He died in Atlanta, Georgia, on December 15, 1978.
    le 10 décembre 1948: L'Organisation des Nations Unies adopte la Déclaration universelle des droits de l’homme. Inspirée par la Déclaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen de 1789, ce texte a été essentiellement rédigé par René Cassin et John Peters Humphrey. Il énonce les droits fondamentaux de tous les individus, notamment celui de l’égalité à la naissance. La valeur de ce texte est avant tout symbolique, aucune institution n’étant en mesure de le faire appliquer. De Gaulle élu président de la République (1958) Le prix Nobel de la paix est décerné à Mère Thérésa pour son action en faveur des déshérités en Inde (1979). (Jour par Jour)

    December 11, 1753: A beefy young (and rich) Colonel in the Virginia Militia, while serving as a representative of the British colonial governor (Williamsburg), arrives at newly built Fort Fort Le Bœuf. His mission is to counter the French presence in an area contested by both these major European powers. He must demand French withdrawal. Although only 12 miles from Lake Erie, the stockade lay along French Creek, a tributary of the Allegheny River and so then of the Ohio. The French had for over 100 years claimed and explored the Mississippi watershed of which the Ohio like the Missouri was a significant part.

    Captain Jacques Legardeur de Saint-Pierre rightfully would ignore the demand to leave (Virginia claimed west from the ocean and the portion of Pennsylvania west that was not settled by the English). No surprise -Washington's exploits in the west will eventually ignite a fourth in a series of wars among competing native tribes and those who claim land rights by virtue of discovery (French and English-May 28, 1754); and, eventually a bankrupt French nation would experience a civil war. Legardeur dies in the colonial war that ensued (1755), while, in about 30 years. These events would lead to independence for Virginia and for a new nation, when the Americans revolted against the imposition of taxes made necessary by these wars. George Washington had come of age in a new world. Interestingly, Canada would achieve independence from Great Britain on this day in 1931. Also on this day in 1948, at St. John's, Newfoundland, a representative signed the Confederation agreement as Newfoundland enters Canada (10th province).
    December 11, 1972: The Lunar Landing Module Challenger for the Apollo 17 Mission, will land on the Moon's surface. It was the most recent time that men from this world were said to have visited the Moon. During the last to "walk" on the surface, Harrison Schmitt and Eugene Cernan, conducted the longest lunar exploration (75 hours), driving the "Rover" about 36 kilometers (22 miles) in total, ranging as far out as 7.37 kilometers (4.5 miles) from the lunar module.

    So once again the issue is time -- EST, GMT (Universal) or some other time zone, when deciding what days all this action took place. For those of you who keep track of things, on December 18, 1972: President Richard Nixon announced the start of "Christmas Bombing" of North Vietnam, It continued until the 29th when "Peace Talks" resumed. The former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, was reported to have said; "We bombed the North Vietnamese into accepting our concessions." The chief impact may have been in convincing our South Vietnamese allies, who were highly suspicious of the draft treaty from October 1972, that the United States would not desert them. The treaty signed the next year was not essentially different. A few short years later, Monsieur Nixon and the South Vietnamese government would be gone. The rover remains at rest on the moon's surface.

    December 12, 1531 -- A Feast Day: The place, called Guadalupe Hidalgo since 1822, is just to the northeast of present day Mexico City. Since 1532, pilgrimages have been made to this shrine in the calpulli or ward of Tlayacac in Cuauhtitlan. Nahua tribesmen founded the site in 1168. The Aztecs (Axayacatl) took over in 1467. The place sits 20 kilometres (14 miles) north of Tenochtitlan (once at the center of today's Mexico City). Just a decade earlier at Tlatelolco, the Aztec center and home village of Juan Diego, Spain had consummated its conquest with one final battle.
    On December 9, 1531, Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, an Aztec farmer who newly had converted to Christianity, walked to a morning Mass, passing by the hill known as Tepeyac, south of his village (Tlatelolco). Tepeyac had for centuries been significant because it had a memorial to the goddess Tonantzin (her Aztec name), no doubt destroyed after the Spanish conquest. Tonantzin, associated with the snake goddess Coatlique, once had been honored, especially during winter solstice celebrations. Tonantzin, dressed in white and covered in feathers and seashells, ceremonially was killed to reflect the apparent death of the sun (shortening of days). The goddess was also known by the name of Ilamatecuhtli (‘a noble old woman’) and Cozcamiauh (‘a necklace of maize flowers’). It has been suggested that the name Guadalupe is actually a corruption of a Nahuatl name, Coatlaxopeuh. OK, I know reading and remembering all these names detracts from the flow of information; but many of these familiar spirits seem so similar.

    On the 9th, Our Lady of Guadalupe first appeared to Juan Diego (and others), performing several miracles, inter alia, an unexplained healing; the appearing of a miraculous Rose Garden (Catholic symbol of Christ and his mother Mary); and the greatest sign of all: a portrait of the Lady that appears on the coarse fabric of Juan Diego's overcoat on the 12th. Before too long, a shrine is built in Mary’s honor at this once pagan place. Juan Diego becomes the first new-world / Spanish-Mexican Saint. The 12th has become one of Mexico's most important Holy Days.

    “Virgencita linda, mi Guadalupana,
    la mejor amiga de mi fe cristiana ...
    Bendita tu eres entre todas ellas,
    entre las mujeres y entre las estrellas.”

    Hazel Spalding from Springfield has no doubt that a place may hold special powers. “I had my rosary in my hand and it turned gold,” she said. “I smelled roses but there was no rose bush.” And nowadays, it is quiet, peaceful in Valley Hill. More HERE
    December 12, 1806: Stand Watie (photo) was born in the Cherokee Nation in northwest Georgia near present-day Rome. He became a successful planter, but he incurred the wrath of many of his fellow Cherokees. Watie signed the Treaty of New Echota. It forced the Cherokees to give up the tribal lands in Georgia and move west into what was named the Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). Whether or not one considers his actions to be treachery, they stood in sharp contrast to those of Chief Ross, his senior by 16 years.

    In 1861, Watie persuaded many Cherokees to join him in siding with the Confederacy. He raised the Cherokee Mounted Rifles. Watie served as its colonel, as was the custom of the time. In 1864, he was promoted to the rank of brigadier general in the Army of the Confederacy for his actions in battle. Indeed, it was not until June 1865 the Geneneral Watie became the last Confederate general-officer to surrender his command, some two months after Appomattox Courthouse.

    The Southern Cherokee delegation to Washington in 1866 was sent to negotiate a new treaty with the United States at the end of the American Civil War. The delegates: John Rollin Ridge (son of John Ridge), Saladin Watie (son of Stand Watie), Richard Fields, Elias C. Boudinot (son of Elias Boudinot, i.e. Buck Oowatie), William Penn Adair, Stand Watie and Joseph A. Scales. In many respects, the North treated the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, whose members sided with the South, far worse than the the secessionist southern states. Many of the tribe would come to resent Waite because of the broken promises to the Union north.

    Watie died on Sept. 9, 1871 in Delaware City, Oklahoma. On June 29, 1995, the U.S. Postal Service issued a Stand Watie commemorative stamp.

    Night of December 12, 1901: Italian scientist and engineer Guglielmo Marconi received the first long-distance (2,232 miles) radio-frequency transmission in St. John's, Newfoundland (Canada). Electrical engineer John Ambrose Fleming transmitted the Morse code signal for "S" from across the Atlantic Ocean in England (it was the 13th there). Marconi heard ... three short clicks ... through the static on the radio speaker (I'm thinking this was in a single-ear headphone). Marconi had begun experimenting with radio-telegraphy around 1895, looking at how messages could be transmitted over much greater distances using grounded antennæ on the radio transmitter and receiver. A few years after this successful transatlantic transmission, Marconi opened the first commercial wireless (telegraph) service. By the way, Italo Marconi received a patent for inventing the ice cream cone in New Jersey on December 13, 1903. Which invention do you remember as best ?

    Marconi used a Tesla oscillator to transmit the signals across the English Channel and later the pond. Telsa (a naturalized US Citizen) had discovered the concept over 5 years before. Tesla filed his own basic radio patent applications in 1897, based on work begun as early as 1893. In 1906 Reginald Fessenden, a Canadian, broadcast the first 2-way voice communication across the ocean. This culminated with Fessenden's first-ever radio broadcast from Brant Rock, Massachusetts (December 24 1906). Ships at sea heard this broadcast that included Fessenden playing the hymn O Holy Night on the violin and reading a passage from his Bible.

    Marconi inaugurated the first radio message (in real time -- analog) on January 18, 1903 (January 19th GMT). On that date, from the well-grounded Cape Cod cliffs overlooking the Atlantic, Marconi used a powerful (35 kW) rotary spark-gap transmitter, coupled to a massive antenna system in order to transmit a 54-word greeting from US President Theodore Roosevelt to Great Britain's King Edward VII. The monarch promptly acknowledged receipt of the message via land line and undersea cable, literally igniting the spark of a global communication network.

    December 13, 1862: Southern General Thomas Reade Rootes Cobb of Georgia died in the bloody Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia, a Confederate victory (Lee {Army of Northern Virginia} vs Burnside {Army of the Potomac}). Cobb, born April 10, 1823, in Jefferson County GA, moved to Athens (Georgia) when he was young. Cobb attended the University of Georgia, graduating at the top of his class. He was admitted to the Bar of the State of Georgia (Law) in 1842. He filled the position of reporter for the Georgia Supreme Court and published a number of legal works, most notably a Digest of Georgia Laws (1851). Known for his religious zeal as a revivalist, Cobb brought the same intensity of spirit to his demand for better schools -- which he believed should not only educate, but shape the morals of young men and women. Accordingly, he helped establish the Lucy Cobb Institute, named for his late daughter, in 1859. Cobb also established the Lumpkin Law School at the University of Georgia that same year.

    Cobb at first was a Unionist in his political sentiments; but, when Lincoln was elected and leaving the Union became inevitable, he joined others in Georgia. On November 12, 1860, he spoke to its legislature and called for secession. Elected to the Provincial Congress of the Confederate States of America, Cobb served for a brief period of time on the judiciary and printing committees, and the committee which drafted the Confederate Constitution, the original draft of which is thought to be in his handwriting. He soon raised his own regiment of troops - the Georgia Brigade - and as its colonel led them into battle at Seven Days, Second Manassas, and the Sharpsburg campaign. In October of 1862 he took command of Cobb's Brigade (formerly led by his brother Howell Cobb) and was promoted to the rank of brigadier general. He was killed along with many of his men while defending a wall at Fredericksburg. Cobb is buried in the Oconee Hill Cemetery in Athens GA.

    Today, just on the west side of I-95 and due west of Fredricksburg, is the Germanna Road. It goes past the Germanna Colony visitors center, museum and memorial (south side of road, just before the Rapidan River bridge). This is the place where German immigrants came to in Virginia in the early 18th century, to a place that was on the frontier. The Germanna property also bordered on the edge of the Battle of the Wilderness, 5 miles west of Chancellorsville, close to Spottsylvania -- I'm sure I missed some important battles, too. The May 5-6, 1864 Battle of the Wilderness began a six week campaign that began the bloodiest campaign in American History. On May 8, 1864 the Union army seized initiative by moving from Wilderness to Spotsylvania Court House. That shift changed the course of the war as the armies began the road to Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House. Did You Know? The Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park is the second largest military park in the world. Chickamauga & Chattanooga is the largest and oldest.

    Le 13 décembre 1937 -- « viol de Nankin »: les Japonais s'emparent de Nankin, capitale provisoire de la République chinoise, gouvernée par Tchang Kaï-chek. La chute de la ville est suivie par de gigantesques massacres de civils (200.000 à 300.000 victimes) ... It was this extreme act of violence against the Chinese that convinced the United States to impose real economic sanctions against the Japanese empire; however, short of steel and low on fuel, Japan turned more aggressive. It began to plan its attack on the United States, Britain and the other European powers present in the Pacific. As you may remember, Japan's actions in Korea were no less horrendous, and it was not until October 2006, when faced by the nuclear threat of a common enemy, that South Korean could begin to put that past behind them.

    December 14th -- France in the News: Henri de Navarre, qui deviendra roi de France sous le nom d'Henri IV, naît à Pau le 14 décembre 1553. L'économiste Pierre Dupont de Nemours est né à Paris le 14 décembre 1735. Chassé par la Révolution, il fonde aux États-Unis une entreprise qui deviendra la première société de chimie du monde et sera notamment à l'origine de l'invention du nylon. Décès: 14 décembre 1799, à Mount Vernon (Virginie, États-Unis), Georges Washington. C'est sa fête (14 décembre): Odile Aveugle de naissance, Odile a été abandonnée par le duc d'Alsace, son père. Baptisée à 12 ans, elle recouvre la vue et rentre en grâce auprès de sa famille. Le château familial de Hohenbourg devient un monastère dont Odile est l'abbesse. C'est là qu'elle meurt, en 720, sur les pentes du mont qui porte depuis lors son nom. Sainte Odile est la patronne de l'Alsace. The lègende of the Mont Sainte-Odile.
    On this date in 1939, Clark [Rhet Butler] Gable, director Victor Fleming and many motion picture executives flew into the City of Atlanta for the world premier of Gone With the Wind. Late that afternoon, the film's stars rode in a parade through the city centre. That evening, the Junior League of Atlanta held a gala ball (soirée). Among those present, Martin Luther King, who, as part of the Ebenezer Baptist Church choir, participated in the singing of spirituals. The National Broadcasting System conveyed the introductions of stars and officials to a nationwide radio audience. Filming of the production had begun on December 10, 1938.

    December 15, 37: Born today -- Nero Claudius Augustus Germanicus (Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus), 5th and last Julian emperor of Rome (54-68 A.D.), the adopted son of his predecessor, Claudius -- Cæsar Tiberius Claudius Nero Germanicus. Claudius married (4th) Julia Agrippina (Agrippina Minor) daughter of Germanicus and Vipsania Agrippina (Agrippina the Elder) in 49. Julia died in 59 A.D. (at age 45), beside the Gulf of Cumæ (Bay of Naples), executed by order of her son, Nero, after an earlier attempt on her life had failed. She probably poisoned Claudius {'shrooms} to promote her son. Claudius, the nephew of Tiberius and grandson of the wife of Augustus, had been made emperor after the mad ruler Caligula.

    Claudius himself was born in Lugdunum. Julius Cæsar founded that town, nearby a native village, at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône Rivers, when he sudued the Gaulois natives. Today, Lyon encompasses these sites and much more. Claudius ruled from 41-54 AD. He built many buildings and public works, for example the harbor at Ostia. Modern Picture of Ostia Ruins is at this link. He was interested in the judicial system and spent much of his time judging trials. He started the successful conquest of Britain. Two other attempts by Julius Cæsar and Caligula had ended without success. The expense and the distance from the empire's center weighed heavily on his Roman campaign. The cost to finish the job and civilise Britain, as well as Nero's moral and fiscal excesses, led to a revolution, an interregnum of chaos and then re-established control. Claudius always wanted to revive the Roman Republic, but never did; Nero assured it never would return.

    Died December 15, 520: Saint MESMIN (Maximin) was a native of Verdun (Virodunensis). A priest named Euspicius, Mesmin's uncle, brought about a reconciliation between the first French monarch Clovis and Verdun, after the city had revolted. Clovis thereafter persuaded Euspicius to take up residence at the King's court, then in Orléans. Maximin followed and was ordained a deacon by the Bishop of Orléans. Later he became a priest. A site about two leagues from Verdun was given by Clovis to Euspicius for a monastery. Euspicius, together with Maximin, built a large monastery there. Euspicius and then Maximin led the group as their abbot. from

    Born this day in 1657: Michel-Richard Delalande, chorister at Église St Germain-l'Auxerrois in Paris, has won a reputation as an important organist and harpsichordist of the chamber music era. He was appointed court composer, gradually assuming fuller responsibilities. He enjoyed a successful and prosperous career in the service of Louis XIV and was also honored by Louis' successor. Delalande contributed significantly to the French grands motets, compositions for solo voice, chorus and instrumental ensemble, which formed an important element in the music that was played in the royal chapel at Versailles. see culture/galerie_composit/delaland.html

    The Église St. Germain-l'Auxerrois lies at the end of Pont du Neuf on the Right Bank at 2, Place du Louvre, the eastern end of the massive Louvre complex and the grand façade (finished 1667) The 183 meter long eastern façade was the first major work of the Baroque-Classical movement. SaintGermainlAuxerrois.html St. Germain L'Auxerrois of Paris, one assumes, is the same as St. Germain l'Auerois, which served as the King's Royal Church -- when la Louvre was just a Royal Palace (château) (before Versailles was constructed). The Colonnade of the eastern façade of the Louvre was designed by Claude Perrault, after a famous Italian designer of royal places was wooed, hired then let go.

    There has been a church on this site since the 6th century. The oldest part of the current church building is the 12th century belfry, which rang out August 24, 1572, when some 3,000 Huguenots were massacred in this neighborhood. The tower bells signaled the supporters of Catherine de Médicis, Marguerite de Guise, Charles IX, and the future Henri III to launch a slaughter of innocents (including Admiral Gaspard de Chastillon, Count de Coligny), who had been invited to celebrate the marriage of Henri de Navarre to Marguerite de Valois. Bordelon Family Site The church structure, of varied architectural styles, was saved by Louis-Philippe and Chateaubriand, and restored by Balthard and Lassus (1838-1855). Today the inside remains very richly furnished.

    December 15, 1703: John Martin Boltzius was born at Forst on the Elbe, Lower Lusatia, in what is now Germany. CLICK HERE to learn why this is important to Georgia. Hint: He knew Oglethorpe. Reverend Boltzius remained the spiritual and secular leader of Ebenezer until his death on November 19, 1765.
    Happy Birthday Bill of Rights -- December 15, 1791: The first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution -- the Bill of Rights -- went into effect following ratification by Virginia. Use this link to learn more. The historic right to a jury trial under English Common Law, which had been put into question with the penalties under The Stamp Act of 1765, was imbedded into our Constitution by this Bill of Rights; although, subject to interpretation ever since by the courts. On the same day, the first American law school was created, established at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. A year later to the day, the first life insurance policy was issued in the USA out of Philadelphia. Lawsuits followed. see generally As a related aside, the British had adopted their Bill of Rights after the Glorious Revolution of 1688 on December 16, 1689.

    On this date in 1818: Governor William Rabun signed legislation creating a County from lands ceded by the Treaty of Cherokee Agency (1817) and ceded by the Treaty of Creek Agency (1818). The county was named for a Georgia signor of the Declaration of Independence, Button Gwinnett. Button Gwinnett was one of three Georgia signers of the Declaration of Independence. He served in Georgia's colonial legislature, in the Second Continental Congress, and as the president of Georgia's Revolutionary Council of Safety. from the

    Born this day in 1832, Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel, in Djion France. A man who could cut the mustard, Eiffel designed many important bridges and viaducts. Of course, you know him well for his notable work, the Statue of Liberty. He became the structural engineer on that project, completed in Paris in 1884. He also did the Tour Eiffel, constructed (1887-89) on the Champs-de-Mars, at a cost of about $1 million for the Parisian World Exhibition of 1889. At 985 feet high, it was the highest structure in the world until 1930, when a building in NYC was built with a pretty fair view of Lady Liberty. In spite of all of this, in 1893, France condemned him to two years' imprisonment plus fines for a criminal breach of trust in connection with the failed French attempt at a Panama Canal.

    December 15, 1836: Born this day, {Jean-Luc} Édmond Picard, French/Belgian lawyer/writer, (La forge Roussel (Bruxelles, 1881); Pro arte (Bruxelles, 1886); Vie simple (Bruxelles, 1893); Imogène (Bruxelles, 1895); Discours sur le renouveau au théâtre (Bruxelles, 1897); Comment on devient socialiste (Bruxelles, 1895); Iericho (Bruxelles, 1902)). Also, after a bit of time travel, this second generation captain of the Starship Enterprise authored Le guide des vintners du vins fin aujourd'hui (Bruxelles, 2406) and its sequel Un jeu fin est toujours bon (released after his passing) -- just testing to see if you're reading all of this -- A detailed biography may be found HERE. Interestingly, the on again, off again, on again Michael Shanks (Stargate-1) was born this day in 1970.

    On December 15, 1916: Allied forces suffered a phyric victory against Germany at the end of the 10 month Battle of Verdun during the Great War (World War I). There were losses of 364,000 Allied and 338,000 German soldiers during the event. Another year of death was ahead. Ironically, the Treaty of Verdun (843), arguably was the ultimate contributor to this conflict. see

    One day and 28 years later, on December 16th, the Battle of the Bulge began, almost in the same area. This was the final major German counter-offensive in World War II. Initially, the German forces entered into Allied territory in the Ardennes Forest on a 75-mile front, a time when foggy, rainy weather prevailed. The Allies, taken by surprise, recovered and fully repulsed the offensive by January 1945.

    December 15, 1939: The world premier of Gone With the Wind was held in Atlanta at the Loews Grand Theatre [see photo]. The mayor had schools closed and gave city employees the day off. By 6 p.m., crowds surged when Clark Gable, Vivian Leigh and the film's other stars arrived. The greatest hurrah of the evening, however, was reserved for the novel's diminutive writer, Margaret Mitchell (I wrote about the people who had gumption and the people who didn't). The film won Best Picture of 1939, one of several Oscars Gone with the Wind received that year.

    And, what about the Loews Grand? The Georgia-Pacific building, across from the main Fulton County Public Library, rests on the site of the former Grand Theatre. The moviehouse was a masterpiece with a rich history. It could not be demolished; it was an historic landmark. When it burned down, some may have thought the circumstances 2B2 mysterious. Lost by fire, now it too ... gone with the wind.
    December 16, 1538: King François I ordered a renewed pursuit of Protestants. A day later, King Henry VIII, who had declared himself supreme head of the English church, was excommunicated by Pope Paul III.

    Set of 4 issued: 
July 4th 1973

    December 16, 1773: Sons of Liberty boarded a British merchant ship this night for tea. Disguised as natives, the men in an act of protest over a 3-penny per pound tax, stole aboard a vessel belonging to the British East India Company, in order to dump tea over the rail. Some 342 chests of British tea went into the Boston Harbor in what became known as the Boston Tea Party. The British East India Company was chartered by Queen Elizabeth I in 1600 to carry on trade in the East Indies in competition with the Dutch, and had been given the exclusive right to import Tea into the colony. The tax was to be used to support the Company, which had fallen on hard times. Outraged at the uncivilized behavior and open rebellion against English law, the government in turn sought to punish the Colony, making matters worse. In Philadelphia, a more civilized city at the time, the ships were asked to leave on December 26th.

    December 17, 1777: The Sovereign French Government agrees in principle to recognize a new Nation on this day, a breakaway group of 13 colonies. In doing so, the act would set in motion yet another war with England. The great expense would lead to a French Révolution in less than a dozen years. This day in 1777 was a Wednesday, as it is in 2008. The ordeal of Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, began on this dark day, as the Continental Army led by General Washington sets up winter quarters. The actual treaty of recognition and assistance was signed February 6, 1778.

    December 17, 1903: In Kitty Hawk, North Carolina -- need one say more ??? They were right, flight was possible, and on this day the first man flew 12 seconds. Two brothers, the sons of a Dayton, Ohio bishop (Church of the United Brethren) became well-known in history. Orville Wright made the first powered, controlled and sustained flight. Lying prone at the plane's controls, he flew a distance of 120 feet in 12 seconds. Wilbur ran beside the wing tip (to keep the wing from dragging in the sand) until the craft was airborne. Four sustained flights were made on this day. The 4th flight lasted fifty-nine seconds. The momentous events of that day received little press attention, because the reticent Wright brothers feared their ideas would be stolen by rival aviators. It was not until 1908, after making many refinements to their flying machine, that the Wrights embarked on the series of public demonstrations that finally earned them some worldwide acclaim. For the French view: Oddly enough, on this day in 1969, the U.S. Air Force closed its Project Blue Book investigations by finding no evidence of extraterrestrial spaceships, even though there had been literally thousands of UFO sightings, many remaining unresolved.

    Error from the First Series of 1918 
note-no special designation as Airmail

    Vsevolod Mikhailovich Abramovich (August 11, 1890-April 24, 1913), a pioneer aviator of Russian birth, was born in Odessa. He studied at the Charlottenburg technical college and in 1911 he earned a pilot's license. He then worked for the Wright Brothers' German subsidiary, Flugmaschinen Wright, in Johannisthal, and became the chief test pilot. In 1912, Abramovich built his own aircraft, now known as the Abramovich Flyer, based on what he had learned at the Wright factory, and flew it to St Petersburg to participate in a military aircraft competition, sponsored by the Czar (Imperial Russian Air Force). The same year, he set a world altitude record of 2,100 m (6,888 ft) and an endurance record for carrying four passengers for 46 minutes 57 seconds. He was killed well before the Great War, while instructing a student pilot. Interestingly, Vsevolod Mikhailovich Abramovich was a contemporary of Sikorsky. In late 1916, Sikorsky completed a unique four-engine bomber-biplane called Alexander Nevsky, but it was never put into production. Following the October Revolution, Sikorsky emigrated to the United States of America in 1919.

    December 17, 1976: WTCG-TV, Atlanta, Georgia, owned by Ted Turner, changed call letters to WTBS (Turner Broadcasting System), and was uplinked to satellite. It became the first commercial TV station available to the entire United States. WTBS premiered on four cable systems, covering 24,000 homes. Coverage grew in time. Turner has revived this tradition with a Peachtree monicur on a cable channel. The TBS family of channels were sold some years back, and WPCH is its offering by a new call-sign, standing for Peachtree TV.

    December 17, 2005: Today's Saturday edition of The Wall Street Journal, page P14 (third section) has a short piece under "Leisure and Arts" about a painting by Piero della Francesca. The Resurrection (circa 1450-1463) is Fresco (225 x 200 cm) at the Pinacoteca Comunale in Sansepolcro, Italy. Louis Auchincloss, the by-line contributor, is awestruck by it, as is rencontre, Kenneth Clark. Both find mystery in it. And, I suppose there is in this visual representation something of the eternal mystery of the Death and Resurrection, which as a matter of course the painter has tried to capture. This is not Piero della Francesca's only treatment of the topic, however, and I would turn to these other works in part to answer the questions posed by this Fresco in Sansepolcro. In particular, I am thinking of the work where Christ stands in front of the yawning Gates of Hell, before he descends. His expression in The Resurrection is more understandable after that experience. Look also to the standard that he carries in his right hand. You have seen it before.

    One of the great artists of the early Italian Renaissance, Piero della Francesca painted religious works that are marked by their simple serenity and clarity. He was also interested in geometry and mathematics, and was known for his contributions in these fields. Piero was skilled in perspective, and his paintings are also known for the care with which he rendered the landscapes that provide the backgrounds for his figures. Throughout his life he maintained his ties with Sansepolcro, while travelling widely.

    “Walls in people's heads are sometimes more durable than walls made of concrete blocks.”

    December 18, 1913: Today marks the birth of Herbert Ernst Karl Frahm in Lübeck, Germany. He had just started his university studies when, in 1933, the National Socialists (Nazis) seized power. As a Social Democrat, Frahm had to flee. It was then that he took a new name, which would mark him in history. He spent the duration of World War II in Norway and Sweden. He returned to Germany at the end of the conflict. This man was elected to the new West German parliament in 1949. In 1957, he became the mayor of West Berlin (1957-66). While he was mayor, the Berlin Wall was built. He became the foreign minister and vice-chancellor in the Grand Coalition of 1966. In 1969, he became the chancellor for the Federal German Republic. As chancellor he pursued the Ostpolitik, and one might say, laid the foundation for the eventual reunification of the two Germanys. He resigned as chancellor in 1974 when he learned that a close aid, Gunther Guillaume, had been functioning as a spy for the East German government. Willy Brandt won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1971.

    The Wall came down in November 1989. It was an inevitable event in Brandt’s eyes; but, one that would not occur until the problem of Eastern European domination by a repressive system was resolved. Brandt was equally sure of his views on reunification. Others have suggested the sacrifices made for freedom in the east were made to develop a new society. Salvation from the West was not expected, nor desired. What we have before us today is a result of those contradictions.

    Le 19 décembre 1154: Le 19 décembre 1154: Henri Plantagenêt devient roi d'Angleterre -- Henri d'Anjou (21 ans) et sa femme, Aliénor d'Aquitaine (32 ans) accède à la couronne d'Angleterre le 19 décembre 1154. Leur couronnement à Westminster est le résultat d'un inouï concours de circonstances. Henry II, King of England turns out to be a direct descendant of the Ealhmund (Father of Egbert King of England), Odin of Æsgard, Thor (the Thracian), King Priam of Troy, Abraham (Genesis fame) and, of course, Adam (ex-Eden, father of Seth). Their coronation in the Abbey Church at Westminster (the Collegiate Church of St Peter, Westminster to give it its propre title) is the result of an unparalleled combination of circumstances. See (French language link)

    The first twelve monks for a new Abbey were brought to Westminster in about 960AD by Saint Dustan (the same year that he received the pallium from Pope John XII to become Archbishop at Canterbury), then Bishop of London. No trace of the building to which they came can be seen above ground as King Edward the Confessor built a new Abbey on the site, which was consecrated on 28th December 1065. The Church was finished in time for Edward's burial and the Coronation of William. This site has also been the setting for every coronation since 1066, and for many other royal occasions, including at least 16 weddings; but, the structure has been rebuilt several times.

    Dunstan was born in Baltonsborough, Somerset. He was the son of Heorstan, a noble of Wessex. Heorstan was the brother of Athelm, the bishop of Wells and Winchester. The anonymous author of the earliest "Life" of the Saint places Dunstan's birth during the reign of Athelstan (King of Wessex), while Osbern fixed it at "the first year of the reign of King Æthelstan", 924 or 925. This date, however, cannot be reconciled with other known dates of Dunstan's life events; therefore scholars work from the assumption that Dunstan was born about 910 or somewhat earlier. His date of death is known - May 19, 988 AD (burial at Canterbury). Dunstan was successively Abbot of Glastonbury Abbey, Bishop of Worcester, Bishop of London, and Archbishop of Canterbury, thereafter canonized in 1029. That year at the Synod of Winchester, St Dunstan's feast was ordered to be kept solemnly throughout England. His work restored monastic life in England and reformed the Church in England.

    The monks of Glastonbury used to claim that during the sack of Canterbury by the Danes in 1012, Dunstan's body had been carried for safety to their abbey. This story was disproved by Archbishop William Warham, who opened the tomb at Canterbury in 1508. They found Dunstan's relics still to be there. Within a century, however, his shrine was destroyed during the English Reformation.

    Dunstan became patron saint of English goldsmiths and silversmiths because he worked as a silversmith making church plate. His Feast Day is the 19th of May, which is why before the Restoration the date year on London Assay Office hallmarks ran from 19 May one year to 18 May the next, not the calendar year. This was changed at the restoration of Charles II in 1660 so that the hallmarking year began on the King's birthday, the 29th of May.

    December 20, 1046: Under Henry III the medieval Holy Roman Empire probably attained its greatest power and solidity. By the Synod at Sutri in Italy (and Rome), German King Henry III dismissed Pope Gregory VI, Benedictus IX & Silvester III (3 rival claimants) and named Bishop Suidger of Bamberg as Pope Clemens II (the only Pope buried north of the Alps and the first of four German Popes Henry would select, including his cousin Leo IX, né Buno d'Eguisheim-Dagsbourg). Want to know the broader context of this decision ? GO HERE

    December 20, 1576: Edmund Grindal, Archbishop of Canterbury, declined to enforce certain orders of Queen Elizabeth I as head of the Church in England. In part, she wanted him to instruct preachers throughout England to stop speaking so much during services. Elizabeth, Defender of the Faith by the Grace of God, felt three or four sermons per year were sufficient. Archbishop Grindal's refusal earned him house arrest and a long talking to.

    According to John Knox, Grindal distinguished himself from most of the Court preachers in 1553. He denounced the worldliness of courtiers and foretold the evils that would follow the King's death. For this reason, Grindal at that time did not become a Bishop. Moreover, he did not consider himself bound to await those evils in England. On the accession of Queen Mary, he made his way to Strasbourg. From there he proceeded to Frankfurt, where he tried to settle the disputes between those who regarded the 1552 Book of Common Prayer as the perfection of reform, and those who wanted additional simplification. He returned to England in January 1559, after Elizabeth had come to the throne, was appointed to the committee to revise the liturgy, and was one of the Protestant representatives at the Westminster conference.

    December 20, 1606: The Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery set sail from London. Their destination was America. Captain Christopher Newport commanded the three tiny ships for the royally chartered Virginia Company. On April 26, 1607, after just over four months aboard the confines of these three small ships, 104 winter-weary English colonists laid eyes upon the shores of Virginia. They landed first at Cape Henry, later founding Jamestowne, Virginia, the first permanent and successful English settlement in America. Interestingly, the second Cape Henry Lighthouse was commissioned into service on December 15, 1881.

    December 20, 1803: The Stars and Stripes was raised over New Orleans as the United States took formal possession of the territory of Louisiana, an area of nearly 900 thousand square miles, nearly doubling the size of a new nation, not yet 20 years old. The territory had been purchased from Napoléon's France for approximately $15 million. Only a few years earlier, the region, which had for a while belonged to Spain, was secretly transferred back to France. President Jefferson was trying to assure the Nation's navigation rights on the Mississippi when he authorized the purchase without first consulting Congress. Years 2004-06 mark the 200th anniversary of the Lewis and Clark expedition into the uncharted regions of this purchase, and beyond to the Pacific. Clark was already at Cahokia (getting prepared) on this date in 1803.

    December 21st: A silver Tetradrachm of Vespasian struck in Alexandria, Egypt, the coin measures 26 mm, and weighs 12.65 grams. ΑVΤΟΚ ΚΑΙΣ ΣΕΒΑ ΟVΕΣΠΑΣΙΑΝΟΒ (Greek for Augustus Cæsar Despot Vespasian), laureate head right with the date LB = regnal year 2 (69/70 CE) / Nike advancing left, symbolizing a Roman victory.

    The watershed event for the rest of the Roman Empire, came in the year 69AD, in the aftermath of Nero’s suicide. The Year of the Four Emperors (68-69) [actually 5 if you count Nero] saw the advent of civil war over the control of the imperial office. As one of the four of the so-called "ambitious governors" competing to fill the vacuum of leadership, Vespasian turned his nearly-completed military affairs in Judea over to his eldest son (and future emperor, Titus). Going Rome to eliminate his rivals (Galba, Otho and Vitellius) and establish a new imperial house (Nero having been the last of the Julio-Claudian emperors, with no bloodline successors), Vespasianus was declared ruler by the Senate on December 21, 69AD. More pictures HERE.

    Within a year, the conclusion of the Siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD became the decisive event of the First Jewish–Roman War (although the Romans did not achieve complete victory until the fall of Masada in 73 AD). The Roman army, led by the future Emperor Titus, with Tiberius Julius Alexander as his second-in-command, had besieged and then conquered the city of Jerusalem, which had been occupied solely by its Jewish defenders essentially since in 66 AD. The siege ended with the sacking of the city and the destruction of the Second Temple. Above ground as predicted no stone was left upon another. In contrast, the Arch of Titus (built by Domitian-82 AD), celebrating the Roman sack of Jerusalem and its Temple, still stands in Rome.

    December 21, 1620 -- Why all the fuss: According to information released by the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism, tourists spent $384 million in Plymouth County in 2004. Not satisfied that all of the relevant market is being captured, city fathers have tried several ways to lure would-be history buffs to pull off the main highway to visit the olde country, before they move on to spend big bucks at the Cape of Cod. Highway signs will be installed on Route 3 encouraging drivers to tune to the radio (1620 AM Dial) in order to discover see and do in Plymouth. The station's programming will be recorded and broadcast 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The radio station, funded through a state grant, will be great for Plymouth's tourism industry, according to Paul Cripps, executive director of the Plymouth County Development Council Convention & Visitors Bureau. One might say that Plymouth Rock was the first tourist attraction in the United States, being the first place the Pilgrims stepped on December 21, 1620. Although this date and place has been much discredited (There are no contemporary references to the Pilgrims' landing on a rock at Plymouth) and disclaimed (We didn't land on Plymouth Rock; Plymouth Rock landed on us, ...), the place remains a cultural icon.

    Historians have always considered Jamestown more important because it was established more than a dozen years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, the first permanent English settlement in the New World. Until recently, the Virginia site has never quite been the attraction that the one up north has been. Now that new features have opened for the 400 year celebration at Jamestown in 2007, the situation could change. But of course we would not sing O beautiful for Jamestown's Swamp, and cold forgotten waste -- but rather -- O beautiful for pilgrim feet whose stern impassioned stress; A thoroughfare for freedom beat across the wilderness ! Moreover, on the 200th anniversary of the landing in 1820, Daniel Webster a noted icon for everyman said: Let us rejoice that we behold this day ! We have come to this Rock to record here our homage to our Pilgrim Fathers. (link revitalized -- use Web.Archive for other dead links)

    Yet, if the landing on Plymouth Rock is indeed a myth, it is no more a myth than that the Stone of Scoon once served as Jacob's pillow and no more a myth than the Blarney Stone's gift of eloquence. It is the meaning behind the myth that is important, not the myth itself. And that meaning in our case is that people who came, are coming and will come to America to seek a better life are one and all the sons and daughters of the Pilgrims of 1620.

    Of the 102 passengers who arrived on the Mayflower, only 52 survived the winter. The ship sailed back to England in the spring of 1621. Despite the privations of the winter, none of the Pilgrims returned with the vessel. On February 12, 2003, the 108th Congress passed Resolution 38, expressing the approbation of the U.S. Congress for the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock on December 21, 1620. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord (Josh. 24:15).
    December 21, 1864: In his memoirs, Gen. Sherman recorded the following:

    "[T]oward evening of December 21st we discovered, coming toward us, a tug, called the Red Legs, with a staff-officer on board, bearing letters from Colonel Dayton to myself and the admiral, reporting that the city of Savannah had been found evacuated on the morning of December 21st and was then in our possession . . . General Hardee had crossed the Savannah River by a pontoon-bridge, carrying off his men and light artillery, blowing up his iron-clads and navy-yard, but leaving for us all the heavy guns, stores, cotton, railway-cars, steamboats, and an immense amount of public and private property." Source: Mills Lane (ed.), Marching Through Georgia: William T. Sherman's Personal Narrative of His March Through Georgia (New York: Arno Press, 1978), pp. 177-178.

    So concludes Sherman's infamous March to the Sea. The journey had taken about forty days, beginning with the roasting of Rome. Troops had set Atlanta ablaze, but the citizens of Atlanta were already rebuilding under a southern flag before he reached the sea. At Savannah, he took up residence in what is now the Parish House of St. John's Episcopal Church.

    December 22, 1696 Georgia leader James Edward Oglethorpe, tenth and last child of Theophilus and Eleanor Oglethorpe, was born in London, England. The Oglethorpe family estate lay in Godalming, located in County of Surrey (some 40 miles SW of London). The Oglethorpe family lived in a London townhouse during the winter months.

    Lady Eleanor Wall Oglethorpe (James' mother) was born in 1661 in Ireland, but at age 17 became a maid to Madam Carwell (Nell Gwyn - in the court of Charles II of England. In 1680, Eleanor -- or Ellen, as she was known -- became head laundress to the king. In her new post, she was given lodging at the rear of the palace -- opposite the quarters of a young major in the Dragoons, Theophilus Oglethorpe. Before year's end, the two were married. Their union produced a series of ten sons and daughters beginning with Lewis in 1682 and ending with James Edward in 1696. After the death of Charles II and the Glorious Revolution of 1688, Theophilus and Ellen went to France to be with the deposed James II. By 1696, however, they reconciled with England's new monarchs -- William and Mary

    On and off, James Oglethorpe was in Georgia from 1733 to 1743. In 1736, he was given the rank of colonel and a British regiment to defend the colony from Spain. Oglethorpe lived the last six years of his stay in Georgia on St. Simons Island, where he built Fort Frederica. Here, in 1742, his forces turned back a Spanish invasion, for which Oglethorpe was promoted to brigadier general in the British Army. Oglethorpe returned to England in 1743, where he became less and less involved in the affairs of Georgia because of his opposition to the Georgia Trustees abandoning such key cornerstones of the colony as the prohibition on slavery. He married and lived his final four decades divided between London and his wife's inherited estate in Cranham. James Oglethorpe died at age 88 on June 30, 1785. More HERE

    Gadsen December 22, 1775 King George III gave his approval to the "Prohibitory Bill," which stopped all legal trade and commerce with the thirteen American colonies. During debate in the House of Commons, Edmund Burke and others had unsuccessfully attempted to have Georgia exempted from the act's provisions on the grounds that Georgia, unlike other colonies, had never shown open rebellion and defiance against the King and Parliament.

    December 22, 1842: Although the town of Marthasville would not be incorporated for another year, the U.S. Post Office Department designated a new Marthasville Post Office for the village that was initially known as Terminus. Sam Mitchell, who had deeded the land for the southern terminus of the Western & Atlantic Railroad, had initially wanted to name the growing village Lumpkin or Lumpkinsville (after then-governor Wilson Lumpkin). Lumpkin thought it improper, so Mitchell then picked the name Marthasville (after Lumpkin's daughter, Martha). Apparently, the name came into use around July 1842. [NOTE: The city was first incorporated on December 23, 1843]

    December 22, 1864: While en route from Atlanta to Savannah, Sherman had had no opportunity for direct communication with the leadership in Washington. On Oglethorpe's Birthday, the day of his arrival in Savannah, General Sherman wrote this brief missive to President Lincoln:

    "I beg to present you, as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with 150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about 25,000 bales of cotton."

    Source: U.S. War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1893, reprinted by The National Historical Society, 1971), Series I, Vol. XLIV, p. 783.

    La Chapelle du Collège des Jé:suites Le 23 décembre 1588: Le 23 décembre 1588, le duc de Guise, dit le Balafré, est assassiné (au château de Blois) sur ordre du roi Henri III. La mort du puissant chef du parti catholique amène le roi à se rapprocher de son cousin et successeur potentiel, le protestant Henri de Navarre, futur Henri IV. Sans que les Français s'en doutent, les guerres de religion qui ont mis à mal le pays pendant deux décennies se rapprochent de leur terme.

    The Royal Château de Blois is located in the Loir-et-Cher département in the Loire Valley, in France. The residence of several French kings, it was also the place where Joan of Arc went in 1429 to be blessed by the Archbishop of Reims before departing to drive the English from Orléans. In 1391 it had come into the possession of Louis, duc d'Orléans, brother of Charles VI; after Louis' assassination, his widow, Valentina Visconti, retired to Blois. The château was inherited by his son, Charles d'Orléans the poet-prince, who was taken prisoner by the English at Agincourt and spent twenty-five years as a hostage in England. Charles' son became King Louis XII.

    December 23, 1739: The Georgia Colony's secretary to the Trustees, William Stephens, recorded two acts of piracy, one which resulted in a gift to a church!

    ". . . a Sloop Privateer which came from Providence Island, that anchored at Cockspur last Night: Their Business was with the General, to get their Commission approved and strengthened by him; but missing him here, they would lose no Time in going to find him at St. Simon's: They had taken some small Prizes from the Spaniards (as they said) which they sent home; but they told us of a privateer belonging unto Rhode-Island had the good Fortune lately, though but a small sloop with forty Hands, to take a rich Spaniard [ship] lately on the Spaniards' own Coast, with such a Quantity of Silver aboard, that they shared four hundred dollars apiece, besides solid Plate for the Use of a Church . . . ."

    Source: William Stephens, A Journal of the Proceeding in Georgia ([no city cited]: Readex Microprint Corporation, 1966), Vol. II, p. 228. from


    December 23, 1776: The Crisis is a collection written by Thomas Paine during the American Revolution. The following is from his first entry. It reflects disaster upon disaster, during the previous year's campaign; but, General Washington found the first essay so inspiring that he ordered it to be read to the Continental Army at Valley Forge:

    THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country ... Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered ... What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly ...


    ... There are persons, too, who see not the full extent of the evil which threatens them; they solace themselves with hopes that the enemy, if he succeed, will be merciful. It is the madness of folly, to expect mercy from those who have refused to do justice; and even mercy, where conquest is the object, is only a trick of war; the cunning of the fox is as murderous as the violence of the wolf, and we ought to guard equally against both ... [We have] by cowardice and submission, the sad choice of a variety of evils — a ravaged country — a depopulated city — habitations without safety, and slavery without hope — our homes turned into barracks and [worse].

    December 23, 1964: Radio London ( joined Radio Caroline ( and Radio Atlanta (later known as Caroline South and North). It arrived off Frinton (northeast of London) this day. The new ship/station brought a team of Americanized DJs, experienced in the art of selling themselves as much as the music. With catchy jingles and contagious slogans like Wonderful Radio London, the Big L soon became well-known in the British Offshore Broadcasting scene (often called pirate-radio). Before these stations arrived, the only other way to hear modern popular music was to tune to Radio Luxembourg. It was the only cross-border broadcaster to the UK that resumed operations after the war (probably because it had been employed by the Germans for propaganda, and when captured by the English, used for the same purpose). The Radio Luxembourg signal could only reach the UK after dark when propagation conditions improved. Even then, it faded in and out for long periods of time due to day-to-day changes in the ionosphere. see also

    Immaculate Reception-December 23, 1972: Franco Harris, Bradshaw -- another moment in history of which nothing more needs to be said. Forty years in the wilderness ended. A week later the Steelers would become the sixteenth victim in the Dolphins' perfect 17-0 season, but the team had taken the first step toward four Super Bowl victories. Like many from Pittsburgh in that era, I remember where I was during the last 22 seconds of this playoff game, held at the new Three Rivers Stadium. The stadium is already gone but this moment still lives in American Football history. Sour Grapes Department: John Madden, the Raider coach at that time, has always sworn that the ref went and called the stadium security office. As Madden tells it, the ref said, How many guards to do you have to get me out of here, if I call an incomplete pass ? When told that there were but three, he hung up the phone, ran back onto the field, and signaled touchdown, from

    Le 24 décembre: Le Réveillon de Noël est constitué par la soirée du 24 décembre qui précède Noël. Il est l'occasion d'organiser un repas festif au sein des familles, car Noël restant un instant magique pour les enfants, le réveillon doit y contribuer. Ce repas est souvent constitué d'une dinde de Noël et terminé par une bûche de Noël en France. Il peut aussi s'agir d'une oie ou de foie gras. Il est souvent précédé d'un plat de fruits de mer (huîtres, etc.). Il existe aussi une tradition dite des Treize desserts, en souvenir de Jésus et de ses douze apôtres. Cette tradition vient de Provence.

    Enfin pour les catholiques, le réveillon de Noël est suivi ou coupé par la messe de minuit qui reste encore très populaire dans l'esprit collectif, même si elle est plus souvent dite en début de soirée qu'à minuit. Au retour de la messe ou à minuit, il est de tradition qu'un enfant ajoute le personnage de l'Enfant Jésus dans la crèche pour signifier qu'il est né. Au cœur de la nuit, on célèbre le passage des ténèbres à la lumière. Le texte d’Isaïe (9:1-6) annonce la naissance d’un enfant « qui fera se lever une grande lumière sur le peuple ». Il sera appelé « Prince de la paix ». L’Évangile selon Luc (2:1-14) raconte la naissance de Jésus et l’annonce des anges aux bergers. C’est pourquoi la célébration proprement dite commence souvent par une veillée dans l’église, où l’on met en scène la Nativité et où une statue de l’Enfant Jésus nouveau-né est apportée en procession dans la crèche. La proclamation de l’évangile se termine souvent par le chant du Gloire à Dieu.

    December 24, 1818: Church organist, Franz Grüber, composed a melody on guitar at Nicole Kirche (St. Nicholas Church) in Oberndorf, Austria, for a poem. That poem, Stille Nacht, written earlier by pastor Joseph Möhr, was sung for the very first time that evening. The song reached Royal Court Choir of Berlin some years later, where "Silent Night" had become the favorite of King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia. He researched the origins of the carol and traced it first to Salzburg in 1854. Later the full story became known. see

    Stille Nacht! Heil'ge Nacht!
    Hirten erst kundgemacht
    Durch der Engel Alleluja,
    Tönt es laut bei Ferne und Nah:
    Jesus der Retter ist da !
    Jesus der Retter ist da !
    Silent Night! Holy Night!
    Shepherds first saw the sight
    Of angels singing alleluia
    Calling clearly near and far:
    Christ, the saviour is born !
    Christ the Saviour is born !

    December 25th: Most people do not even know that the day of celebration of the Birth has fluctuated ! Christmas was once a movable feast celebrated many different times during the year. The choice of December 25 was made by the Pope Julius I in the fourth century AD because this coincided with the pagan rituals of the Winter Solstice (Return of the Sun). The intent was to replace the pagan celebration (cult of Sol Invictus) with the Christian one. Today the season of Christmastide begins, of course, on December 25th. This season lasts 12 days, ending with Epiphany on January 6th.

    December 25th was also considered to be the date of the winter solstice, which the Romans called bruma. It was therefore the day the Sun proved itself to be "unconquered" despite the shortening of daylight hours. (When Julius Caesar introduced the Julian Calendar in 45 BC, December 25th was approximately the date of the solstice. In modern times, the solstice falls generally on December 21st or 22nd.) The Sol Invictus festival has a "strong claim on the responsibility" for the date of Christmas, according to the "Catholic Encyclopedia." Solar symbolism was popular with early Christian writers, as Jesus was considered to be the "sun of righteousness." More recent sources have suggested, however that Christian celebration of Christmas pre-dates the Sol Invictus empire-wide festival declared by the Romans in the 3rd Century AD that was held on the 25th.

    Thru the ages associated with the Creator is an eight-pointed star called the Star of Redemption or "Regeneration." It has come to represent Christian Baptism. Sometimes the Cross will symbolically have 8 points (or the baptismal basin holding the chrism will have a base with 8 sides). On the coin of Emperor Constantine (on the reverse) is both the star and cross as well as the representation of Sol Invictus. Statuettes of Sol Invictus, carried by the standard-bearers, appear in three places in reliefs on the Arch of Constantine. Sol is usually seen holding a globe in his left hand. A globe on Roman coins usually symbolizes dominion over the cosmos. In the other hand is a whip to drive his chariot across the heavens. SOLI INVITE COMITI (meaning Sol alone unconquered is the Emperor's companion) is the legend with the mint shown at the bottom - a bold statement that Constantine later dropped as his beliefs became clearer.

    Many believe it is the chi-rho symbol Constantine saw during the battle that consolidated his control over the empire. The obverse coin legend: PF stands for Pius Felix, i.e. “Dutiful and Fortunate” ( and sometimes pius felix invictus ("dutiful, fortunate, unconquered"))- IMP AVG means Emperor Augustus, the traditional titles of the Roman Emperor as designated by the Senate. During the later empire, the senior emperor was called "Augustus" while a junior leader over a portion of the realm was the subservient "Caesar" If you take the six points of the chi-rho and add 2 points for the alpha and omega letters you have the 8 pointed star. This coin has almost no visible wear but the strong reddish patina mars the obverse image. The blurred lettering and cracked planchet occurred when it was struck.

    Coin of Emperor Probus, circa 280 (about 30 years before Constantine), with Sol Invictus riding a quadriga, with legend SOLI INVICTO, "to the Unconquered Sun". Note how the Emperor (on the left) wears a radiated solar crown, worn also by the god (to the right). This is indicative of the denomination (an antoninianus or double denarius) and not necessarily a declaration of equality with the invincible Creator.

    More Images and information found at:;;

    December 25, 336: This is the earliest known year that Jesus' nativity was celebrated on the 25th, as mentioned in the Philocalian Calendar of A.D. 354. By the 400s most of the other Eastern denominations like the Western, Roman Catholic, church had accepted December 25th. In 496 (December 25th) Clovis, the first French King (who was really of a german tribe called the Franks), baptized himself. In 800, Pope Leo III crowned Charles the Great (Charlemagne), Holy Roman Emperor. In 1046, Pope Clemens VI, crowned German King Henry III Holy Roman Emperor, perhaps the most powerful in this line of the German Kings. In 1066, William the Conqueror was crowned king of England at Westminster by Aldred, Archbishop of York. In 1223, Saint Francis of Assisi assembled one of the first Nativity scenes, in Greccio, Italy; the ACLU promptly sued. In 1582, Zealand/Brabant adopted the Gregorian calendar. In 1758, Christmas day was celebrated with a recorded sighting of Halley's Comet by Johann Georg Palitzsch. Not to be outdone, on this date late in the evening in 1776, George Washington crossed the Delaware River with troops and surprised and defeated 1,400 Hessians under British employ. Yankee Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross (1882), was born in North Oxford, Massachusetts in 1821. In 1865, General Evangeline Cory Booth, (Salvation Army, 1904-34), was born.

    December 25, 1931: Missionary radio station HCJB, run by World Radio Missionary Fellowship, Inc., begins broadcasting the Gospel from Quito, Ecuador, unto eastern Asia. HCJB has served the World in the years since that first night -- you may still hear it today.

    Noël 2005 -- What we did not read in the USA: A Bagdad, les chrétiens ont été privés de messe de minuit pour raisons de sécurité et ont célébré discrètement l'office de Noël samedi après-midi, priant pour "la paix en Irak, la paix dans le monde". L'office a été concélébré par Mgr Emmanuel Delly, patriarche de Babylone, chef spirituel de la principale communauté chrétienne d'Irak, les Chaldéens, qui représentent moins de 3% de la population du pays. "Nous sommes vraiment tous les membres d'une seule famille, c'est pourquoinous les chrétiens, avec nos frères musulmans, devons travailler ensemble pour le bien de l'Irak, chacun selon sa religion", a estimé Mgr Delly. Lumières de Noël, espoirs de paix: {Isabelle de GAULMYN, à Rome}. Le pape s'adresse aux milliers de fidèles rassemblés sur la place Saint-Pierre de Rome, avant la bénédiction urbi et orbi, dimanche 25 décembre -- a médité sur la vraie signification de Noël.

    Good King Wenceslas ... on the feast of Stephen. The words to the carol "Good King Wenceslas" were written by John Mason Neale and published in 1853 The tune selected by Neale, "Tempus Adest Floridum", comes from a collection Piae Cantiones, published in 1582, where it is a spring hymn; however, the music originated in Finland at earlier time. This Christmas carol is unusual as there is no reference in the lyrics to the nativity. "Good King (actually a duke) Wenceslas (Václav the Good) looked out on the feast of Stephen." Wenceslas' remains are interred at the Saint Vitus Cathedral. The martyred hero's Saint's Day is September 28th, and he is the Patron Saint of the Czech Republic. Saint Stephen's feast day is celebrated on the 26th of December, which is why this song is thought to be a Christmas carol. According to the accepted legend, Vitus, Modestus and Crescentia (feast day June 28th) suffered martyrdom under Diocletian's anti-Christian persecutions. The public veneration of the three in the fifth century proves that they are historical martyrs. No historical accounts of them exist however, nor of the time or the details of their martyrdom. Vitus' popularity grew in Prague, Bohemia, when in 925 A.D., king Henry I of Germany presented the bones of one hand of St. Vitus to Wenceslaus of Bohemia. Since then, this relic has been a sacred treasure in the St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague.

    December 26, 1845: On Saint Stephen's Day, a small town going by the name of Marthasville (then in DeKalb, now mostly in Fulton County) was changed into Atlanta. Saint Étienne est l'un des sept premiers diacres choisis par les apôtres du Christ, à Jérusalem. Il prêche avec ferveur, ce qui lui vaut d'être arrêté en 36 de notre ère et lapidé. Parmi les persécuteurs de ce premier martyr figure un certain Saul de Tarse, qui deviendra plus tard....[ Saint Stephen is one of the first seven deacons chosen by the apostles of Christ in Jerusalem. He preached fervently, which caused him to be arrested in 36 AD and stoned to death. Among the persecutors that the first martyr faced, was a certain Saul of Tarsus, who later became....]

    My English translation follows: 26 décembre (Saint Etienne) homélie pour la fête

    Hier, nous avons célébré la naissance temporelle de notre Roi éternel ; aujourd'hui, nous célébrons la passion triomphante de son soldat. Hier, en effet, notre Roi, revêtu de notre chair, sortant du palais d'un sein virginal, a daigné visiter notre monde ; aujourd'hui le soldat sortant de la tente de son corps, est parti pour le ciel en triomphateur.

    Notre Roi, alors qu'il est le Très-Haut, est venu vers nous dans l'humilité, mais il ne pouvait pas venir les mains vides. Il apportait à ses soldats un don magnifique, non seulement pour leur confier une richesse considérable, mais pour les rendre absolument invincibles dans le combat. Car il leur apportait le don de la charité qui conduirait les hommes à partager la vie divine. Ce qu'il apportait, il l'a distribué ; mais lui-même n'y a rien perdu car, s'il a transformé en richesse la pauvreté de ses fidèles, lui-même est resté comblé de trésors inépuisables. La charité qui fait descendre le Christ du ciel sur la terre, c'est elle qui a élevé saint Etienne de la terre jusqu'au ciel. La charité qui existait d'abord chez le Roi, c'est elle qui, à sa suite, a resplendi chez le soldat.

    Etienne, pour obtenir de recevoir la couronne que signifie son nom, avait pour armes la charité, et grâce à elle il était entièrement vainqueur. Par l'amour de Dieu, il n'a pas reculé devant l'hostilité des Juifs ; par l'amour du prochain, il a intercédé pour ceux qui le lapidaient. Par cette charité, il leur reprochait leur erreur, afin qu'ils se corrigeassent ; par cette charité, il priait pour ceux qui le lapidaient, afin que le châtiment leur fût épargné. Fortifié par la charité, il a vaincu Saul qui s'opposait cruellement à lui et, après l'avoir eu comme persécuteur sur la terre, il a obtenu de l'avoir pour compagnon dans le ciel. Sa sainte et persévérance charité désirait gagner à lui par la prière ceux qu'il n'avait pu convertir par ses avertissements. Et voici que maintenant Paul partage la joie d'Etienne, il jouit avec Etienne de la gloire du Christ, il exulte avec Etienne, il règne avec lui. Là où Etienne est allé le premier, mis à mort par la lapidation de Paul, c'est là que Paul l'a suivi, secouru par les prières d'Etienne.

    Yesterday we celebrated the birth of our eternal King; today we celebrate the triumphant passion of one of his first soldiers. Yesterday, dressed in our flesh, leaving the palace of a virginal womb, our Eternal Sovereign has deigned to visit our world. Today, the soldier leaving the tent of his earthly body, goes to heaven in triumph.

    Our King Most High, comes to us in humility, but he would not come empty-handed. He brought his soldiers - a great gift not only for their considerable wealth, but for absolute invincibility in battle. This because he brought them the gift of love, which leads men to share the divine life. He brought, he distributed, but of himself is nothing lost, because he has turned the poverty of his faithful into wealth [of Spirit}, while he remains filled with inexhaustible treasure. Charity, which Christ brought down from heaven to earth, Charity who raised St. Stephen from earth to heaven. Charity radiated first in our King. It was Charity who thereafter, shone in the soldier.

    Etienne, having received the crown [of martyrdom] so signified by his name, had Charity as his weapon, and with it he was completely victorious. For the love of God, he did not shrink from the hostility of the time. For the love of neighbor, he interceded for those who stoned him. In Charity, he reproached them their error, for this Charity, he prayed for those who raised stones, so that the punishment would be spared them. Fortified by Charity, he defeated Saul who opposed him cruelly; and, after being [Stephen's] persecutor on earth, he became a companion upon death. His perseverance and Holy Charity enabled him to win with prayer, those he could not convert with his warnings. And now Paul [because of Stephen's sacrifice] shares the Joy of Stephen; with Stephen he enjoys the Glory of Christ. He rejoices with Stephen, he reigns with him. Where Etienne was the first put to death by stoning under Paul, this is where Paul followed, helped by the prayers of Stephen. [ed. note: The English word "Charity" derives from the Greek root Charis, which means "Grace" and which is associated with gifts of the Spirit and the Agape love of God.]

    Darzu ist erschienen der Sohn Gottes (For this the Son of God appeared), is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed it in 1723, his first year in Leipzig, for the Second Day of Christmas, and first performed it on December 26th that year in both of the city's principal churches, Thomaskirche and Nikolaikirche. It became the first Christmas cantata Bach created for Leipzig. The title of the cantata also appears in more modern German as "Dazu ist erschienen der Sohn Gottes.",_BWV_40

    On the Second Day of Christmas, the City of Leipzig liturgically celebrated Christmas and St. Stephen's Day in alternating years, using different Biblical readings. In 1723, St. Stephen's Day was featured, with the for the feast day from the Acts of the Apostles, the Martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 6:8–7,22, Acts 7:51–59), and from the Gospel of Matthew, which referred toJerusalem killing her prophets (Matthew 23:35–39). The cantata text (by an unknown author) does not encompass the martyrdom, but reflects Jesus in more general terms as the conqueror (of sin and the works of the devil). A quote from the New Testament is found in movement 1, a verse from the First Epistle of John (1 John 3:8). The contemporary poetry of the text also alludes to the Bible several times. Movement 2 is based on the Gospel of John (John 1:14). Movement 5 has its foundation in the creation narrative (Genesis 3:15); the image of the serpent is also used in movements 4 and 6. Movement 7 finally picks up a line from the day's Gospel, verse 37, "how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings." see generally:

    During October 1989, after prayers for peace at St. Nicholas Church, the Monday demonstrations began. These protests were the most prominent of the mass actions against the Soviet dominated East German regime. This popular movement led to the reunification of Germany within a year.

    December 27th-the third day in the octave of Christmas: The Church celebrates the Feast of Saint John, apostle and evangelist. Born in Bethsaida ("Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth"), he was recruited to follow Jesus while mending his nets (one of three from that village called). He is credited by some with having written the fourth Gospel, three Epistles as well as the Apocalypse. His passages on the pre-existence of the Word, who by His Incarnation became the light of the world are said to be among the finest of the New Testament. John was exiled to the island of Patmos under Emperor Domitian. St. John died in peace at Ephesus in the third year of Trajan, at age 94, some 66 years after the Crucifixion. He is the patron of artists and of Taos, New Mexico and Umbria, Italy-two oddly paired twin cities, among other places and professions:

    —for the life was made visible {manifest};
    we have seen it and testify to it
    and proclaim to you the eternal life
    that was with the Father and was made visible to us—
    what we have seen and heard
    we proclaim it now to you ... [1 John 1:2-3].

    December 27, 537: A church not dedicated to Santa Sofia was consecrated in Constantinople. The Hagia Sophia, meaning holy wisdom in Greek, the second person of the Trinity, was built by Emperor Justinian (Isidoros and Anthemios architects) in just five years. On Tuesday, May 29, 1453, Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror entered the vanquished city late in the afternoon and rode to Hagia Sophia. He was amazed at its beauty and decided to convert the Cathedral into his imperial mosque. Today, it is a mosque still in use in Istanbul. (link restored -- pictures) voi aussi Inauguration de Sainte-Sophie (français); (good recitation of history in English with links to other topics -- “the Fountain of Purification standing in the Hagia Sophia courtyard is inscribed with a palindrome that you can read from left to right or right to left, which says, Wash your sin not only your face.” ["Niyon anomhma mh monan oyin").

    How was it built, or more clearly why? It was built because of a riot, something like what occurs between fans of competing soccer teams, only more so. On or about January 18, 532, Emporer Justinian and his wife Theodora attend festivities at the Hippodrome, a stadium for athletic competition. Team rivalry escalated from individual insults to a mob rampage. In the end Constantinople lay in ruins. Called the Nika uprising, about 30-40,000 citizens died. Justinian proceeded to rebuild the city with extensive emphasis on religious art and architecture, including the Hagia Sophia. Pope Benedict XVI visited the structure, as well as other Christian sites around Turkey during the last week of November 2006; no riot was reported. Pope Benedict prayed alongside an Islamic cleric in Turkey's most famous mosque Thursday the 30th (Blue Mosque) as a gesture of peace to Muslims. November 30th, 2006 - the feast of St Andrew, may go down in history as the high point of Pope Benedict XVI's papacy. Pope Benedict XVI said Sunday (Advent-3rd) that his recent trip to Turkey was an "unforgettable" experience that he hoped would lead to dialogue with Muslims; however, there were some Islamic leaders who claimed he had not sufficiently made amends for his September remarks which they felt tied Islam and violence too closely together. Washington Post (link no longer available)

    On that day he took part in two events which can only mean better relations between east and west. His visit to Istanbul's Blue Mosque - a highly symbolic building in Christianity and Islam - and a joint declaration with the Orthodox archbishop of Constantinople supporting a rapprochement between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches bolstered ties not only between the two churches but also between Christianity and Islam. -- bizim icin dua et

    Global Warming -- December 27, 1978: At the height of the Cold War (threat of nuclear winter) and in the middle of summer, the highest recorded temperature occurs this day at the South Pole -- a sweltering +7.5°F (-13.6°C) in the glare of the noonday sun. Meanwhile, the Grateful Dead and Devo are in concert in northern climes, oblivious -- oblivious to the record shattering heatwave down south. Devo appears in Atlanta at the Agora Ballroom, while the Dead's venue is Golden Hall, Community Concourse@San Diego, California. The Dead's performance can be seen at: They appeared at the Winterland for New Year's eve with the Blues Brothers and the New Riders of the Purple Sage (NRPS). Speaking of classic performances, try Verdi Un Ballo in Maschera which was performed in London on December 27, 1978, at:
    House of OrangeDecember 28, 1688: William of Orange made a triumphant march into London as James II fled. The "Glorious Revolution" was complete. William and his Queen, Mary (she was one of the daughters of James II) would rule as joint sovereigns until her death exactly 6 years later at age 32, when she died of complications from smallpox. So in 1688 James II was deposed because the birth of his new son led to fears that England was going to be ruled by a dynasty of Catholic monarchs. During 1689 and 1690 James II operated a military campaign in Ireland from where he hoped to mount an invasion of England. During this time he melted down cannons and other sources of metal to mint base-metal coins to pay his troops. Today the coins are known as gun money. Gunmoney carried James II’s legends and titles. On the reverse they show the date and even the month of striking, as well as a statement of value. XXX indicates 30 pennies (half-crown), XII indicates 12 pennies (shilling), VI 6 pennies. The coins are rare in the better grades, but are otherwise common. James was defeated at the Battle of the Boyne in July 1690. He ceased to produce coins by the autumn of that year and in 1691 they were demonetized.

    On James II's flight in December 1688, London's Guildhall was chosen as a stronghold from where the men of the new power consortium could prepare the Declaration of Allegiance to the Prince of Orange. The City welcomed Prince William. Indeed, the Lord Mayor, aldermen and 50 representatives of the common council were all invited to this assembly, which was called upon his arrival. With his wife, Queen Mary, he favoured Hampton Court as his chief Royal Residence. It was much rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren but, luckily, the general lack of cash (and revenue) meant that much of his grandiose scheme had to be abandoned. Thus, the older Tudor buildings survived. The couple also bought Nottingham House from their Secretary of State and turned it into Kensington Palace. These two palaces became favorites of Queen Anne. from

    Upon William's death in 1702, Queen Anne restored to favor John Churchill, making him Duke of Marlborough. As captain-general of the British army, Marlborough (Winston Churchill's forebear), won a series of victories over the French in the War of the Spanish Succession (this is not the conflict in which France was forced to cede Louisiana to Spain, that happened after the French-Indian War (Seven Years War)).

    During Queen Anne's reign the kingdoms of England and Scotland were united (1707), contributing to Scottish and later Scottish-Irish immigration to the Colonies. She died in London on August 1, 1714. A German cousin, George, Elector of Hannover, followed Queen Anne, as King George I of Great Britain, by the terms of the Act of Settlement, passed by Parliament in 1701. It secured the succession of the English crown to members of the House of Hannover of the Protestant faith, unless Queen Anne, the last of the Protestant Stuarts, provided a suitable heir. Anne's husband died in 1708 without living issue.

    Thoroughly German in tastes and habits, George I never learned the English language. George I divorced on this date (December 28th) in 1698, so that he could become an heir to the British throne. The British Proprietary Colony (the town of Savannah founded in 1733), named after this German speaking father of thoroughly English King George II, was established in part to hold the Spanish in check. As an aside, John Wesley, as he recounts in his diary (1736), began to perfect his method of evangelism by holding Protestant services each Sunday in at least three languages with English, German and French settlers at Savannah. He soon wore out and left. George III was the Grandson to George II.

    A less incendiary reading for the 4th day of Christmas -- the Feast of the Holy Family

    December 28th: December 28th is the fourth day in the octave of Christmas (Feast of the Holy Family); the first Sunday after Christmas (in 2014); or, the Feast of the Holy Innocents (Anglican Tradition). This means that the readings for the day (liturgy - Matthew 2:13-21 - are all over the place. Pictured together are two of the least graphic images for the deaths and related history. There are approximately 70 named Saints recognized by the Christian Church from Old Testament (OT) scripture, including a few angels such as Michael and Gabriel, as well as men and women, including Adam and Eve. Today's reading comes from an interesting interim period. Christ is alive, yet he has not preached, suffered or risen. The reading draws heavily from OT imagery. Starting in the middle of the story with Saint Rachel:

    Near Ephrath, Rachel went into a difficult labor with her second son, Benjamin. The midwife told her in the middle of the birth that she had a male child. Before she died, Rachel named her son Ben Oni (son of my mourning), but Jacob, her husband, a Patriarch and Saint called him Ben Yamin (Benjamin). Her other son was named Joseph. Rachel was buried by Jacob on the road to Ephrath, just outside Bethlehem, today a place still visited by pilgrims. Mordechai, the male hero of the Book of Esther, and Queen Esther herself, were descendants of Rachel through her son Benjamin.

    After the tribes of Ephraim and Benjamin were exiled by the Assyrians, Rachel was remembered as the saintly mother who mourns and intercedes for her children. The recounting in Jeremiah 31:15, speaks of Rachel bewailing her lost children' (KJV).

    “A voice is heard in Ramah,
    weeping and great mourning,
    Rachel weeping for her children
    and refusing to be comforted,
    because they are no more.”

    This verse is interpreted in Judaism as Rachel crying out for an end to her descendants' suffering and exile in a foreign land, following the destruction by the Babylonians of the First Temple in ancient Jerusalem. In the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew (part of the New Testament), this reference from Jeremiah is seen as a prophesy of the Massacre of the Holy Innocents by Herod the Great (who restored the Second Temple), during his attempt to kill the young Jesus, which is all part of the Gospel reading for today. see

    The exile of Rachel's children into Babylon captivity is (as mentioned above) the middle of the story. The end of the story is the warning by dream and exile of Jesus into, the massacre itself and then His return from Egypt, which fulfills the prophecy found in Hosea 11:1 attributed to being about the Messiah -- "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son." The imagery of an Egyptian exile and return is an obvious invitation to discern and examine the first part of the story. Joseph (Rachel's son) is sold into captivity, then in triumph (due in part to his ability to understand dreams) is able to bring his whole family out of famine into Egypt. Moses in turn leads a fledgling nation out of Egypt into a promised land. Another Joseph (Jesus' father) brings his family to Egypt for safety; then returns to Israel when permitted to so do.

    And this image of the first deliverance, a proof of the love of God to Israel; which as it was expressed in the nation's infancy, is continued and appears in various other OT instances, until the coming of Christ. Jesus who though obliged for a while to go into Egypt, must not remain there, but must be called from there, in order to be raised in the land of Judea; to do his miracles, preach his doctrines, and fulfill the prophesies, being sent particularly to the lost sheep of the House of Israel; and, above all, in order to work out the salvation and redemption of his special people among them, and then more generally to include (graft on) the world of the Gentiles - a great gift of Grace, even if unexpected.

    The Greek-based Liturgy asserts that Herod killed 14,000 boys, the Syrian-based sources speak of 64,000, many medieval authors use 144,000 referring according to Apocalypse 14:3. Modern writers reduce the number considerably, because Bethlehem was a rather small town and because contemporary history does not recount this event. Numbers while perhaps valid in expressing the enormity of the evil, do not change the nature of the evil involved. Soldiers break into your house and immediately slay your beautiful little boy in front of you. Then they leave his bloody body on the floor of your home. The accidental death of children is one of the most sorrowful experiences of humanity made unimaginably worse by this wanton act of brutality. You are outraged and rightfully so, buy a suggestion that only a relatively few were murdered. So what if a number exceeded all the civilian deaths of World War II, or Stalin's infamous famines and purges, or the Chinese cultural revolution, would you be more outraged by the comment "well. they were at least alive." What Rachel weeps for this country ?

    Sadly on the morning of December 29th, the troops went into the camp to confiscate every gun. One version of events states that during the process of disarming, a deaf man became reluctant to give up his weapon, claiming he had paid a lot of money for it. A scuffle over the rifle ensued, then escalated. A shot was fired, which resulted in the well-armed troops opening fire indiscriminately from all sides, killing men, women, and children, as well as some of their fellow soldiers. Those who had not yet been disarmed, still possessing arms, began shooting back at the soldiers. but quickly were suppressed. The survivors fled, but the troops pursued and killed many who were unarmed. "My sister above. She has red paint. She died at Wounded Knee, like a latter day Saint."

    December 29, 1737: An important source of labor for the Georgia Colony were European emigrants who had agreed to serve as indentured servants in return for the Trustees paying the cost of transportation to this outpost in the New World. In his journal, Salzburger minister John Martin Boltzius noted the arrival of one such group from Germany:

    "A few days ago a boat full of Germans from the Palatinate [a region of Germany stretching from Heidelberg to the French border] came to Savannah, the passage for whom was provided by the Honorable Trustees, in return for which these people and their children are bound to work as servants for a number of years. . . .

    "In the coming week, Mr. Causton desires to speak to these people through my offices, so as to offer some proposals as to how their children, of whom there are many among them, should attend school while pursuing their work. . . ."

    Source George Fenwick Jones and Renate Wilson, Detailed Reports on the Salzburger Emigrants Who Settled in America . . . Edited by Samuel Urlsperger, Volume Four, 1737 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1976), p. 227.
    December 29, 1778:  Savannah fell to a British force of 2,000 soldiers under Colonel Archibald Campbell. General Robert Howe and a force of 700 patriots had defended the road into the city, but a black slave named Quamino Dolly led the British on a path through the swamp so that they were able to surprise the Americans from the rear. The patriots were routed and fled. Meanwhile, a British fleet sailed up the river, capturing eleven American vessels. By the end of the day, over 100 patriots had been killed, and the British flag flew over Savannah for the first time in two years. from

    For the encouragement and support of the Loyalists in the interior, and to awe the Republicans in that quarter after the fall of Savannah, Colonel Campbell, who commanded at the siege of that city, was ordered by General Prevost to advance with about two thousand regulars and Loyalists [Jan., 1779.], upon Augusta. Already he had sent emissaries among the South Carolina Tories to encourage them to make a general insurrection; and he assured them that, if they would cross the Savannah and join him at Augusta, the Republicans might be easily crushed, and the whole South freed from their pestilential influence. Thus encouraged, about eight hundred Loyalists of North and South Carolina assembled westward of the Broad River, under Colonel Boyd, and marched along the frontier of South Carolina, toward the Savannah. Like a plundering banditti, they appropriated every species of property to their own use, abused the inhabitants, and wantonly butchered several who opposed their rapacious demands.

    While these depredators were organizing, and Campbell was proceeding toward Augusta, General Elbert crossed the Savannah, joined Colonels Twiggs and Few, and skirmished with the British van-guard at Brier Creek and other places, to impede their progress. They effected but little, and on the twenty-ninth of January [1779.] Campbell took possession of Augusta, and placed the garrison under Lieutenant-colonel Brown, the Loyalist just mentioned, who, with Lieutenant-colonel M‘Girth, had preceded him thither. Campbell then proceeded to establish military posts in other parts of Western Georgia. The Whigs who could leave with their families crossed the Savannah into Carolina. The oath of allegiance was every where administered; the habitations of those who had fled into Carolina were consumed; and Georgia seemed, for the moment, permanently prostrate at the feet of the invaders . . . . from Lossing's Field Book of the Revolution, Vol. II., Chapter XIX.

    December 29, 1825: Jacques-Louis David died on this date. David (the principal proponent of the Neoclassical style) was the painter for the Revolution, kept his head, and later painted under the Empire (Napoleon). After Napoleon fell in 1815, David was exiled to Brussels, Belgium, where he lost much of his creative energy. Ten years into his exile, he was struck by a carriage, sustaining injuries from which he would never recover.

    Jacques-Louis David died on December 29, 1825, in Brussels. Because he had participated in the execution of King Louis XVI, David's body was not permitted back in France, so he was buried at Evere Cemetery in in the city wherein he died. His heart, meanwhile, was buried at the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. I have visited his grave at Paris.

    I am reminded that August 16th is Saint Roch's Feast Day.... Of course, some of you know him better as St. Rocco -- So, who was he, you ask?

    He is said to have been found at birth miraculously marked with a red cross-shaped birthmark on the left side of his chest. As a young child, St. Rocco showed great devotion to God and the Blessed Mother. He was orphaned when he was twenty and left under the care of his uncle, the Duke of Montpellier. Soon after, St. Rocco distributed his wealth among the poor and took a vow of poverty, setting out on a pilgrimage to Rome.

    The last part sounds about right ....

    At Piacenza, St. Rocco himself was stricken with the plague, which was evident by an open sore on his leg. He was banished from the city, and took refuge either in a cave or hut in the neighboring forest, sleeping on leaves and drinking water from a small stream. Miraculously, a dog that refused to eat faithfully brought him bread as a means of sustenance. The dog’s owner and Lord of the castle, a gentleman named Gothard, followed his dog into the woods one day and discovered St. Rocco there. The nobleman had pity on him and brought him to his castle, where St. Rocco was cured.

    After he recovered, St. Rocco was reputed to have performed many more miracles of healing. He traveled through northern Italy for two or three more years before returning to his birthplace in France. Upon his return to Montpellier, however, he was imprisoned for five years as a spy in pilgrim’s disguise by his own uncle, who was governor and who failed to recognize him (while St. Rocco, for his part, refused to identify himself). According to the legend, on August 16, 1378, a guard entered his cell and found St. Rocco near death. The dungeon was illuminated with a blue light radiating from his body. Upon hearing this, the governor demanded to know St. Rocco’s identity. St. Rocco faintly replied, “I am your nephew, Rocco.” see (August 16th entry at the bottom of the page)

    The painting of Saint Roch was commissioned of Jaques-Louis David by the city of Marseilles, a port city wherein the plague often entered. Montpellier is reasonably close to the port, such that Saint Roch might be considered a hometown patron.

    December 29, 1835: A minority faction of Cherokees under the leadership of Major Ridge, his son John, and Elias Boudinot met with U.S. commissioners at New Echota, the capital of the Cherokee Nation, and signed the Treaty of New Echota ceding to the U.S. all Cherokee lands in the east of the Mississippi River in return for $5 million. For their role in securing the treaty, the two Ridges and Boudinot later would be assassinated by fellow Cherokees.

    December 29, 1860: Lovingly preserved at the Naval Base in Portsmouth, England, are two famous British warships. The first is HMS Victory, Admiral Nelson's flagship at Trafalgar. The other, HMS Warrior. On the gun decks of both vessels, mounted on the bulkheads by each gun are the boarding weapons, for when the fight got in close. With 100 years of progress in hull design, propulsion, weaponry and technological improvements in just about every other facet of ship design, the ships basically fought by the same tactics, that required hand-to-hand combat.

    Designed by Stanislas Dupuy de Lone the La Gloire was laid down in April 1858, at Toulon, to be launched November 24, 1859. La Gloire, a 5630-ton broadside ironclad battleship, was fitted out fully in August of 1860. The World's first seagoing armored warship, she also rendered obsolete every other (unarmored) ship-of-the-line. These had previously dominated seapower among the larger Western nations. Despite her revolutionary beginnings, La Gloire's active service was brief, as she was soon outclassed by newer ironclads and her wooden hull deteriorated relatively swiftly. HMS Warrior, a 9137-ton ironclad frigate, was built at Blackwall, England, and launched on December 29, 1860. The first of the Royal Navy's many ironclad capital ships, she entered service in October 1861, somewhat over a year after the completion of the French battleship La Gloire. The competition of battleships would continue 80 years, until the aircraft carrier rendered the concept of a floating battery to second place.

    An English Saint December 29, 1940: Over 1500 pieces of incendiary ordinance would fall on the City of London this night. During the entire Blitz (the air war against the British civilian population), Nazi aircraft dropped thousands of these bombs, used to start mass fires in the old center of the City, causing the worst damage since the "great fire" of 1666. St. Paul's Cathedral (designed by Christopher Wren) survived. Eight Wren churches did not fare so well. Along with the Guildhall and Old Bailey (Courts), they were badly damaged by this conflagration. A Christopher Wren Church also survives in the city of Charleston SC, initial debarkation point for many Huguenot refugees.
    On this date a few years earlier in 1170, agents of English King Henry II murdered his prelate, the Archbishop Thomas Becket, in Canterbury Cathedral southeast of London. Becket was canonized 3 years later. A solemn translation of Saint Thomas Becket's relics to a new shrine behind the high altar took place in the year 1220 (July 7). The ceremony was magnificent. People came from all over Europe to assist at it. The shrine-tomb of St. Thomas Becket also was of unparalleled splendor, perhaps the richest in the western world at the time. Yet, nothing of it now remains for it was plundered of all its riches during the reign of Henry VIII. A contemporaneous description:

    "All above the stonework was first of wood, jewels of gold set with stone, covered with plates of gold, wrought upon with gold wire, then again with jewels, gold as brooches, images, angels, rings, ten or twelve together, clawed with gold into the ground of gold. The spoils of which filled to chests, such as six or eight men could but convey one out of the [Cathedral]. At one side was a stone with an angel of gold, pointing thereunto, offered there by a King of France, which King Henry put into a ring and wore on his thumb." see

    Thomas Becket triompha dans sa mort. Ce qu'il n'avait pu obtenir par l'effort de sa vie, il le réalisa par son martyre. Le peuple le vénéra aussitôt comme un saint, et le pape Alexandre III frappa Henri II, compromis dans ce meurtre, d’interdit personnel; pour obtenir son pardon, le Roi dut faire un pèlerinage humiliant au tombeau de Thomas Becket et se soumettre à la pénitence publique de la flagellation (21 mai 1172). Des miracles ayant attesté la glorification de Thomas Becket, Alexandre III le canonisa le 21 février 1173. Toujours est-il que la châsse du martyr devint le but d'un des pèlerinages les plus célèbres de la chrétienté. En 1538, Henri VIII se donna le ridicule de procéder à la «décanonisation» de saint Thomas Becket {en Church anglais}.

    December 30, 1853: The US acquired (from Mexico) 45,000 square miles of land known as the Gadsden Purchase. The transcontinental railroad (southern route), for which the purchase was made, would not pass through this area for another quarter of a century. James Gadsden, a railroad promoter (and diplomat), became ambassador to Mexico (Franklin Pierce, President) in 1853 with instructions to purchase a border strip to include the Mesilla Valley for the railroad right-of-way. More HERE or HERE. The USA turned down a chance to purchase the Baja, too.

    Statue of St. Jerome in St. John Cathedral in Poland Just in Time for New Year's -- December 31, 406AD: The Alans come to dinner. The Alans, the Asding and Siling Vandals and the Suevians cross over the Rhine, into Roman germaniæ, beginning their invasion of Gallia (Gaul) at Moguntiacum {Mayence -- Mainz}. This group, from the East, often referred to just as the Vandals, follow the pattern of earlier invasions of the Celts, as well as clear a path for the Huns some 45 years later, when Sainte Geneviève would implore the hoard not to destroy the City of Paris. For her role she obtains sainthood and gets a Church on the highest point of the left bank. Today that lately rebuilt structure (in an historical sense of time) is known as the Panthéon, its door once opening upon the Roman Forum in Lutèce, today just traffic. To celebrate the occasion the chimes of Big Ben are broadcast on radio for the first time by the BBC in 1923; and, Guy Lombardo performs Auld Lang Syne for the first time at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City (1929). The show is broadcast over the CBS radio network. Born in London Ontario, Guy founded the Lombardo Orchestra with his brother Carmen in 1916. Auld Lang Syne was his band's theme song before 1929, but tonight was the start of a New Year's Eve tradition. More HERE.

    The Latin Vulgate version of the Bible by Saint Jerome (Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus) was fully completed (a task taking almost 25 years) by 406 AD, just in time for the Barbarian visits. Everybody spoke the Roman language as the preferred tongue of the empire, even its invaders. Jerome translated the whole Bible using existing accepted texts into the Latin language of the time. In turn this new Latin version became the received text for over a thousand years more (although Alcuin also revised the text of the Latin Vulgate somewhat in about 800AD). Many translations today use older texts and recognize conflicts between the ancient manuscripts The Douai-Reims Bible (made by members of the English College in Douai, France and abbreviated as D-R) is a translation of the Bible from the Latin Vulgate into English in an attempt to compete with England's authorized translations.

    Interestingly, when in 406 AD, the allied barbarian forces of Suevi, Alans, Vandals and Burgundians sweep into central Europe, they sever all over-the-land communication between Rome and its colony Britain. In the autumn of 406 AD, the remaining Roman army in Britain decided to mutiny, and in 407 AD, under the leadership of Constantine III, cross back over the Channel into Gaul bent on attacking Rome. The Goths will sack Rome. All of this will end the protection of the population by the Roman Empire in Britain.

    The British-Celtic people, who had been the allies of Rome, would now face devastating attacks and near-annihilation at the hands of the Picts, Scots and in particular, the Saxons, Angles and Jutes of North-Western Europe. The successive waves of Germanic invaders would have an incredibly, profound effect on the future of the world – something that would take more than a thousand years to fully realize. It is here that a birth takes place - the birth of a new language – English.

    December 31, 1939: From Soviet's Red Fleet of this date we find:

    Nobody would dare to say that the loss of a German battleship is a brilliant victory . . . {it} is rather a demonstration, unprecedented in history, of the impotence of the British. Upon the morning of December 13, the battleship {Graf Spee] started an artillery duel with the Exeter, and within a few minutes obliged the cruiser to withdraw from action. According to the latest information the Exeter sank near the Argentine coast, en route to the Falkland Islands.

    As translated in The Gathering Storm [Book 2: The Twilight War]. Winston S. Churchill. Houghton Mifflin Company [3rd Impression, June 1948]. pp 528-529

    The Red Fleet account does not report that two other ships engaged the Spee and forced her to withdraw. The Exeter was not lost until 1942 in action with the Japanese. Trapped in a neutral port and forced to leave or be interned, the Graf Spee was scuttled before engaging the waiting British fleet that had forced her to retreat.

    By the end of 1961, it is estimated that 200,000 people had fled from East to West Germany during the past year. The refugees had decreased after the Wall was built in the same year. Just 30 years later on December 31, 1991, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was dissolved. The regime that had changed the course of history was officially disappeared. Just 8 years later on the same day (the eve of Y2K), Boris Yeltsin resigned as President of Russia; Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, replaced Yeltsin. Monsieur Putin remains today not only a man of that year, but of the next decade and century for the time being; not just for what he has done, but with what he has left undone. With the bombings (December 29-30, 2013) in a city once named for Stalin, hosting the upcoming winter Olympics took nerves of steel. Just consider what happened during the next 365 days.

    In an effort to preserve harmony and protect the poor, Russia's state-controlled Gazprom turned off energy supplies (2005) to the former comrades in Ukraine, whose recent elections chose a government that Russia did not desire. The country refused to pay higher-than-market rates. In contrast, Bellaruss, which continues to have a repressive, soviet-like regime, friendly to Putin, retains its favorable contracts with Russia. A year later (December 2006) -- the roles are reversed and it is Bellarus that may lose its warmth at the new Year. By the 3rd of January gas supplies had been resumed and an accord was reached; but, Russia will have greater economic control of the European economy as its gas becomes more indispensable. NATO now faces geo-strategic extortion in 2008, especially since the events in Georgia.

    Remember your history; Gazprom, the Russian energy monopoly (controlled by the government), took control of the world's largest combined oil and natural gas development at the end of December 2006 (28th), after a highly publicized campaign of pressure on its foreign operator, Royal Dutch Shell. It the first effective nationalization of a large foreign oil or gas project in Russia, which this year surpassed Saudi Arabia in oil production. Putin dubbed it as a sale (between equal partners).
    I So there you have it !!! In twelve pages of calendar history, you'll find everything from Zwingli (January 1st) to Putin (December 31st). The Gadsden Purchase to the Gadsden Flag. You have seen coins and stamps, art and many flags. Lots of links, internal and external. French, Belgian, German and Swiss cities, too. Don't forget to click on the images. Saints, churches, saints and mere mortals -- heroes, villains and devils (although not too many, I pray) -- the voices of ones crying in the wilderness.

    -- Start your New Year off right by remembering the past --

    Stand by the roads, look and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; walk in that way and find rest for your souls

    More Flags -- Flag Day
    Betsy Ross-1777Bennington1814

    Early GA Flag Gwenn Ha Du 
qui est le drapeau breton 
circa 1925* * *  04/25/03  * * * 
a flag based on history, 
but yet looking to the future

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