This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.
Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
October 23 is the 296th day of the year (297th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 69 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day in 1921, in the French town of Chalons-sur-Marne, an American officer selects the body of the first “Unknown Soldier” to be honored among the approximately 77,000 United States servicemen killed on the Western Front during World War I.
According to the official records of the Army Graves Registration Service deposited in the U.S. National Archives in Washington, four bodies were transported to Chalons from the cemeteries of Aisne-Marne, Somme, Meuse-Argonne and Saint-Mihiel. All were great battlegrounds, and the latter two regions were the sites of two offensive operations in which American troops took a leading role in the decisive summer and fall of 1918. As the service records stated, the identity of the bodies was completely unknown: “The original records showing the internment of these bodies were searched and the four bodies selected represented the remains of soldiers of which there was absolutely no indication as to name, rank, organization or date of death.”
The four bodies arrived at the Hotel de Ville in Chalons-sur-Marne on October 23, 1921. At 10 o’clock the next morning, French and American officials entered a hall where the four caskets were displayed, each draped with an American flag. Sergeant Edward Younger, the man given the task of making the selection, carried a spray of white roses with which to mark the chosen casket. According to the official account, Younger “entered the chamber in which the bodies of the four Unknown Soldiers lay, circled the caskets three times, then silently placed the flowers on the third casket from the left. He faced the body, stood at attention and saluted.”
Bearing the inscription “An Unknown American who gave his life in the World War,” the chosen casket traveled to Paris and then to Le Havre, France, where it would board the cruiser Olympia for the voyage across the Atlantic. Once back in the United States, the Unknown Soldier was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C.
The World War I Unknown lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda from his arrival in the United States until Armistice Day, 1921. On November 11, 1921, President Warren G. Harding officiated at the interment ceremonies at the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery. During the ceremony, the World War I Unknown was awarded the Victoria Cross by Admiral of the Fleet Lord Beatty, on behalf of King George V of the United Kingdom. (The Victoria Cross being the highest award for valour issued in the UK, on par with the Medal of Honor. Earlier, on March 4, 1921, the British Unknown Warrior was conferred the U.S. Medal of Honor by General of the Armies John Pershing.) In 1928, the Unknown Soldier was presented the Silver Buffalo Award for distinguished service to America’s youth by the Boy Scouts of America.
42 BC – Roman Republican civil wars: Second Battle of Philippi – Mark Antony and Octavian decisively defeat Brutus’s army. Brutus commits suicide.
425 – Valentinian III is elevated as Roman Emperor, at the age of 6.
502 – The Synodus Palmaris, called by Gothic king Theodoric the Great, discharges Pope Symmachus of all charges, thus ending the schism of Antipope Laurentius.
1086 – At the Battle of az-Zallaqah, the army of Yusuf ibn Tashfin defeats the forces of Castilian King Alfonso VI.
1157 – The Battle of Grathe Heath ends the civil war in Denmark. King Sweyn III is killed and Valdemar I restores the country.
1295 – The first treaty forming the Auld Alliance between Scotland and France against England is signed in Paris.
1641 – Outbreak of the Irish Rebellion of 1641.
1642 – Battle of Edgehill: First major battle of the First English Civil War.
1694 – British/American colonial forces, led by Sir William Phipps, fail to seize Quebec from the French.
1707 – The first Parliament of Great Britain meets.
1739 – War of Jenkins’ Ear starts: British Prime Minister, Robert Walpole, reluctantly declares war on Spain.
1812 – Claude Francois de Malet, a French general, begins a conspiracy to overthrow Napoleon Bonaparte, claiming that the Emperor died in Russia and that he is now the commandant of Paris.
1850 – The first National Women’s Rights Convention begins in Worcester, Massachusetts, United States.
1861 – U.S. President Abraham Lincoln suspends the writ of habeas corpus in Washington, D.C., for all military-related cases.
1864 – American Civil War: Battle of Westport – Union forces under General Samuel R. Curtis defeat Confederate troops led by General Sterling Price at Westport, near Kansas City.
1867 – 72 Senators are summoned by Royal Proclamation to serve as the first members of the Canadian Senate.
1870 – Franco-Prussian War: the Siege of Metz concludes with a decisive Prussian victory.
1906 – Alberto Santos-Dumont flies an airplane in the first heavier-than-air flight in Europe at Champs de Bagatelle, Paris, France.
1911 – First use of aircraft in war: An Italian pilot takes off from Libya to observe Turkish army lines during the Turco-Italian War.
1912 – First Balkan War: The Battle of Kumanovo between the Serbian and Ottoman armies begins.
1915 – Woman’s suffrage: In New York City, 25,000-33,000 women march on Fifth Avenue to advocate their right to vote.
1917 – Lenin calls for the October Revolution.
1929 – Great Depression: After a steady decline in stock market prices since a peak in September, the New York Stock Exchange begins to show signs of panic.
1929 – The first North American transcontinental air service begins between New York City and Los Angeles, California.
1935 – Dutch Schultz, Abe Landau, Otto Berman, and Bernard “Lulu” Rosencrantz are fatally shot at a saloon in Newark, New Jersey in what will become known as The Chophouse Massacre.
1941 – World War II: Field Marshal Georgy Zhukov takes command of Red Army operations to prevent the further advance into Russia of German forces and to prevent the Wehrmacht from capturing Moscow.
1942 – World War II: Second Battle of El Alamein: – At El Alamein in northern Egypt, the British Eighth Army under Field Marshal Montgomery begins a critical offensive to expel the Axis armies from Egypt.
1942 – All 12 passengers and crewmen aboard an American Airlines DC-3 airliner are killed when it is struck by a U.S. Army Air Forces bomber near Palm Springs, California. Amongst the victims is award-winning composer and songwriter Ralph Rainger (“Thanks for the Memory”, “Love in Bloom”, “Blue Hawaii”).
1942 – World War II: The Battle for Henderson Field begins during the Guadalcanal Campaign and ends on October 26.
1944 – World War II: Battle of Leyte Gulf – The largest naval battle in history begins in the Philippines.
1944 – World War II: The Soviet Red Army enters Hungary.
1946 – The United Nations General Assembly convenes for the first time, at an auditorium in Flushing, Queens, New York City.
1956 – Thousands of Hungarians protest against the government and Soviet occupation. (The Hungarian Revolution is crushed on November 4).
1958 – The Springhill Mine Bump – An underground earthquake traps 174 miners in the No. 2 colliery at Springhill, Nova Scotia, the deepest coal mine in North America at the time. By November 1, rescuers from around the world had dug out 100 of the victims, marking the death toll at 74.
1958 – The Smurfs, a fictional race of blue dwarves, later popularized in a Hanna-Barbera animated cartoon series, appear for the first time in the story Le flute à six schtroumpfs, a Johan and Peewit adventure by Peyo which is serialized in the weekly comics magazine Spirou
1965 – Vietnam War: The 1st Cavalry Division (United States) (Airmobile), in conjunction with South Vietnamese forces, launches a new operation seeking to destroy North Vietnamese forces in Pleiku in the II Corps Tactical Zone (the Central Highlands).
1972 – Operation Linebacker, a US bombing campaign against North Vietnam in response to its Easter Offensive, ends after five months.
1973 – The Watergate Scandal: US President Richard M. Nixon agrees to turn over subpoenaed audio tapes of his Oval Office conversations.
1973 – A United Nations sanctioned cease-fire officially ends the Yom Kippur War between Israel and Syria.
1983 – Lebanon Civil War: The U.S. Marines barracks in Beirut is hit by a truck bomb, killing 241 U.S. Marines. A French army barracks in Lebanon is also hit that same morning, killing 58 troops.
1989 – The Hungarian Republic is officially declared by president Matyass Szuros, replacing the communist Hungarian People’s Republic.
1989 – Phillips Disaster in Pasadena, Texas kills 23 and injures 314.
1992 – Emperor Akihito becomes the first Emperor of Japan to stand on Chinese soil.
1993 – Shankill Road bombing: A Provisional IRA bomb prematurely detonates in the Shankill area of Belfast, killing the bomber and nine civilians.
1998 – Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Chairman Yasser Arafat reach a “land for peace” agreement.
2001 – Apple releases the iPod.
2002 – Moscow Theatre Siege begins: Chechen terrorists seize the House of Culture theater in Moscow and take approximately 700 theater-goers hostage.
2004 – A powerful earthquake and its aftershocks hit Niigata prefecture, northern Japan, killing 35 people, injuring 2,200, and leaving 85,000 homeless or evacuated.