Monday, January 23, 2012

Learn Our History Today: January 23

On January 23, 1968, the U.S. ship Pueblo was seized by the North Korean navy.  North Korea charged the 83-man crew of the U.S. ship with spying and violating North Korean territorial waters, a charge which the U.S. government vehemently denied.  Negotiations to free the men lasted nearly a year, damaging U.S. public confidence in President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration.  It wasn’t until December that North Korea freed all the crew and captain, following a grudgingly signed confession from the Pueblo’s captain, Lloyd Bucher, that stated the ship was spying on North Korea.

Other Vietnam War history was made today in 1973, when President Nixon announced that Henry Kissinger and the chief North Vietnamese negotiator, Lo Duc Tho, initialed a peace agreement in Paris “to end the war and bring peace with honor in Vietnam and Southeast Asia.”  The agreement became known as the Paris Peace Accords (although the actual document was titled “An Agreement Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam”).  It outlined a cease-fire beginning at 8:00a.m., January 28, 1973 (Saigon time).  It also called for the release of all prisoners of war along with the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Vietnam within 60 days.  The document was formally signed on January 27th.

Looking back to World War II, aviator hero Charles Lindbergh suggested to the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the United States should negotiate a neutrality pact with Hitler. 

Lindbergh is known for making the first solo flight from New York to Paris in his plane, the Spirit of St. Louis.  You may also recall that Lindbergh’s two-year-old son was kidnapped and murdered.  Following the crime, Lindbergh and his wife fled the United States to avoid publicity, settling in Europe. 

While there, Lindbergh learned of German advances in aviation, and warned the U.S. of Germany’s growing threat in air superiority.  He also became fascinated with Germany’s national “revitalization” in the mid 1930s and he allowed himself to be decorated by Hitler’s government. 

This move drew staunch criticism back in the States.  When he returned to the states, he testified before Congress on January 23, 1941, opposing the Lend-Lease policy (which offered aid to countries who assisted the U.S. in their war efforts against Axis powers).  He denounced the British, the Jewish and the Roosevelt Administration, calling them instigators of American intervention.  In turn, President Roosevelt publicly denounced Lindbergh, prompting Lindbergh to resign from the Air Corps Reserve.  With all of that said, Lindbergh did eventually contribute to the U.S. war effort by flying dozens of combat missions over the Pacific.

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