December 5, 1990: Iben Browning Predicts New Madrid Fault Earthquake

On this day in 1990, time ran out on the late Iben Browning’s prediction that an earthquake would occur on the New Madrid Fault. Folks in Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Kentucky, Illinois and Indiana breathed a sigh of relief.

Iben BrowningOn this day in 1990, time ran out on the late Iben Browning’s prediction that an earthquake would occur on the New Madrid Fault. Folks in Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Kentucky, Illinois and Indiana breathed a sigh of relief.

Browning was a climatologist who made a lot of bold predictions throughout his life. He predicted the 1980 eruption of Mt. Saint Helens and the 1985 Mexico City and 1989 San Francisco earthquakes. Then on an episode of “Unsolved Mysteries,” Browning predicted that a major earthquake would occur on the New Madrid Fault between December 1 and 5 in 1990.

The New Madrid Fault runs for 120 miles through Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky and Illinois. In 1811-1812, an earthquake along the fault caused the Mississippi River to flow backwards and form Reelfoot Lake, a swampy body of water that you may have seen in “In the Heat of the Night” and “U.S. Marshals.”

For those five days, the focus of the world was on New Madrid, Missouri, which Browning said would be the epicenter of the earthquake. Even in East Tennessee, preparation mixed with skepticism was the main topic of discussion.

Fortunately, Browning was wrong and life returned to normal within a few days.

December 2, 1845: James K. Polk Discusses Manifest Destiny Before Congress

On this day in 1845, President James K. Polk discussed his vision for the United States “Manifest Destiny” in his first annual speech before Congress. The message kicked off the largest expansion of U.S. territory since the Louisiana Purchase.

James PolkOn this day in 1845, President James K. Polk discussed his vision for the United States “Manifest Destiny” in his first annual speech before Congress. The message kicked off the largest expansion of U.S. territory since the Louisiana Purchase.

While it has been expanded in recent years to include the notion of spreading democracy and American ideals throughout the world, Manifest Destiny applied only to westward expansion in 1845. Moving west required aggression and possible war with Mexico, as well as conflict with Great Britain.

Polk made good on his promises following his speech. Later that month, Texas officially became a state. Dispute over the actual U.S./Mexico border in 1846 led to the Mexican-American War, in which the victorious United States acquired present-day New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah and California.

In addition, Polk signed a treaty with Britain that effectively split the Oregon Territory in half. The treaty gave the U.S. present-day Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

November 30, 1967: Julie Nixon and David Eisenhower Announce Engagement

On this day in 1967, Julie Nixon and David Eisenhower announced their engagement. This is one of the love stories that one could say began inside the White House.

David and Julie Eisenhower - 1971On this day in 1967, Julie Nixon and David Eisenhower announced their engagement. This is one of the love stories that one could say began inside the White House.

Julie’s father was Richard Nixon and David’s grandfather was Dwight Eisenhower. The two met at the 1956 Republican Convention was Nixon was serving as Eisenhower’s Vice-President. They were both eight years old.

They began dating in 1966 and announced their engagement a year later. The two were married at Marble Collegiate Church in 1968. They are still together and have three children.

 

November 27, 1924: First Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Held

On this day in 1924, the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was held in New York City. The parade has been a Thanksgiving Day institution ever since.

Macy's Parade - 1979On this day in 1924, the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was held in New York City. The parade has been a Thanksgiving Day institution ever since.

Many employees at Macy’s were first-generation European immigrants and wanted to celebrate their new heritage with an Old Country-style festival. The first parade was held in Manhattan, where it has remained, and was considered to be such a success that Macy’s made it an annual event.

The parade has been held every year since then, except from 1942-1944, when it was cancelled because of World War II. In 1952, it was first televised on NBC and watching the parade is now a nationwide event.

 

November 26, 1789: First National Thanksgiving Holiday

On this day in 1789, the U.S. held its first Thanksgiving Day holiday. This began the long journey of this holiday finding its permanent date.

Thanksgiving ProclamationOn this day in 1789, the U.S. held its first Thanksgiving Day holiday. This began the long journey of this holiday finding its permanent date.

Before leaving for recess in September of 1789, Congress passed a resolution requesting that President George Washington establish a day of public thanksgiving. Washington then issued a proclamation calling for it to be on November 26.

Presidents then issued thanksgiving proclamations on various days of the year. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation establishing Thanksgiving as the last Thursday of the month.

In 1939, President Franklin Roosevelt tried to extend the Christmas shopping season, and thus economic recovery by moving Thanksgiving to the second to last Thursday of November. This caused an uproar, with numerous states refusing to follow suit. On October 6, 1941, Congress passed a resolution making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday of the November.

November 24, 1963: Jack Ruby Kills Lee Harvey Oswald

On this day in 1963, Jack Ruby killed Lee Harvey Oswald inside the Dallas Police Headquarters. It was the first time a killing was ever captured on live television.

Lee Harvey Oswald Being Shot by Jack RubyOn this day in 1963, Jack Ruby killed Lee Harvey Oswald inside the Dallas Police Headquarters. It was the first time a killing was ever captured on live television.

Of all of the moments in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the killing of Oswald is the most bizarre. As he was being escorted through the police headquarters shortly before 11:30 am to a car that would take him to the Dallas County Jail, Ruby emerged from the crowd and shot him. Oswald was rushed to Parkland Hospital, where he died less than two hours later.

We will never know Ruby’s true reasons for murdering Oswald. He was convicted and sentenced, but died of a pulmonary embolism in 1967 (also at Parkland Hospital).

The footage of the broadcast of Oswald’s murder is still as unbelievable today as it was in 1963.

November 22, 1963: President Kennedy Assassinated

On this day in 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas. This is a call for the city of Dallas to forgive itself and move forward.

John F. Kennedy Motorcade in DallasOn this day in 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas. This is a call for the city of Dallas to forgive itself and move forward.

I was in Dallas last weekend and went to The Sixth Floor Museum, which is the site of the old Texas School Book Depository where Oswald fired his fatal shots. It is well put together and provides a great understanding of what happened that day.  Today, the city of Dallas will be holding events to observe the day. To those outside the city, it seems like any observance has the potential to be tacky, but for those inside the city, it is part of the healing from the sadness of that day and the black mark left on the city. Starting today, the stain needs to be removed.

There have been four presidential assassinations in our country’s history. The Kennedy murder is the only time an assassin was not seen in the act by a large crowd. It was not Dallas’ fault that the top was left off the presidential limousine, nor was it the Dallas Police Department’s fault that the federal law at the time put the investigation in their jurisdiction. The latter led to turf wars and charges of incompetence, but can you think of any police department equipped to lead the investigation of a presidential assassination? The only thing the city should be embarrassed about is Oswald being shot in the jail on national television.

However, it has been 50 years and it’s time to move on. Washington, DC, has had two presidents assassinated within its city limits and it’s not the least bit embarrassed. Then again, the city has no shame.

November 20, 1921: Jim Garrison Born

On this day in 1921, Earling Carothers Garrison was born in Denison, Iowa. He later changed his name to Jim Garrison, became District Attorney of New Orleans and prosecuted the only criminal court case in the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Jim GarrisonOn this day in 1921, Earling Carothers Garrison was born in Denison, Iowa. He later changed his name to Jim Garrison, became District Attorney of New Orleans and prosecuted the only criminal court case in the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Garrison’s family moved to Louisiana when he was child.  In 1961, he was elected District Attorney of Orleans Parish. Garrison began investigating the assassination of President Kennedy based on tips that New Orleans businessman Clay Shaw was involved in a larger conspiracy.  Shaw was arrested and tried in 1969. The jury acquitted him after less than an hour of deliberation.

Garrison was defeated for reelection in 1973 by Harry Connick, Sr. In 1978, Garrison was elected to a judgeship on the Louisiana Circuit Court of Appeals. He held that position to his death in 1992.

Oliver Stone’s wonderful movie “JFK” portrayed Garrison as a virtuous crusader (Despite its greatness, “JFK” played fast and loose with facts and should not be a substitute for anyone want to learn more about the assassination.). His actual place in history remains a subject of controversy. Garrison began his investigation at a time when there were still many questions surrounding the assassination. Many of those questions have now been answered because of technology and subsequent investigations. Garrison can be credited for pushing for more answers, but the exact goodness of his intentions will never be known.

November 19, 1863: The Gettysburg Address

Lincoln at GettysburgOn this day in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln gave a short speech at a ceremony dedicating the soldiers’ cemetery at the Gettysburg battlefield. The Gettysburg Address is now one of the greatest speeches in American history.

Lincoln’s speech followed the two-hour oration of Edward Everett. The president’s remarks lasted only a few minutes but succinctly summarized the nation’s struggles and the greater purpose of the war. Below is the full text of the speech.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

November 18, 2004: President Clinton Library Dedicated

On this day in 2004, the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum was dedicated in Little Rock, Arkansas. It is the grandest of the presidential libraries.

Library Dedication Ceremony - 2004On this day in 2004, the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum was dedicated in Little Rock, Arkansas. It is the grandest of the presidential libraries.

Although it was raining, approximately 30,000 people attended the dedication ceremony, including Bono, Willie Mays and Barbara Streisand. The only U.S. living president not in attendance was Gerald Ford, who was unable to make the trip for health reasons.

I have visited the libraries of the past three presidents and while each of them have their own unique charms, nothing compares to the size and the location of the Clinton Library near the Arkansas River.