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Milestones: Tuesday, August 1, 2023

August 1, 2023 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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TRYING TO REACH INDIA — Italian and Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus, making a third voyage to the New World some six years after the famous 1492 voyage with the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria, planted the Spanish flag in South America on August 1, 1498. During this journey with a fleet of six ships, Columbus had first made landfall on Trinidad, an island close to Venezuela’s Atlantic coast. Entering Venezuela’s Gulf of Paria, he explored the region’s Orinoco River and realized that, instead of finding the strait to India that Spain’s King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella had commanded him to do, he had actually discovered another continent.

Being deeply religious, Columbus came to believe that  Venezuela was actually part of the Garden of Eden.


BLACK AMERICANS WON 14 MEDALS — Hitler’s exploitation of supremacist propaganda at the August 1, 1936 Olympics would wind up backfiring on him. Berlin had won the bid for the games five years prior, in 1931, before the takeover of the Nazi party. By opening day, the entire ceremony had been planned as a celebration of Germany’s superiority, complete with the German national anthem, “Deutschland Uber Alles,” and the Nazi anthem, “Horst Wessel Lied,” as well as salutes of “Sieg Heil.” However, during the actual games, American track and field virtuoso Jesse Owens, one of 18 African Americans competing for the United States, won four gold medals in that event. The African American delegation won a total of 14 of the 56 U.S. medals — 25% of them — thus disproving Hitler’s claim of Aryan superiority. 

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The 1936 Olympics also marked the first time the torch had been carried as part of a relay. More than 3,000 runners carried the torch from Olympia in Greece to Berlin during a 12-day voyage.


FAILED RAID — The Allies’ ill-fated World War II raid, Operation Tidal Wave began on August 1, 1943, when a fleet of 177 B-24 bombers took off from an Allied base in Libya, heading for for the oil-producing city Ploiești, Romania, which was dubbed “Hitler’s gas station.” However, the mission did not start well, with an overloaded bomber crashing shortly after takeoff and another plunging into the Adriatic Sea. Because their mission required the bombers to fly unusually low to evade radar, one of the bombers veered off and the others had to break radio silence to redirect them. Other factors contributed to the failed mission and heavy American casualties.

However, two of the commanders, Col. John Kane and Col. Leon Johnson, did lead groups that reached their target during that raid. They were the only ones who both survived the raid and were awarded the Medal of Honor and survived the raid. Altogether, five of the men on that mission were awarded the Medal of Honor, the other three posthumously.


HARLEM RACE RIOT ERUPTED — Anger over police shootings of Black persons is not new, as the Harlem Race Riot of 1943 will testify. On August 1, a massive uprising developed over the shooting of a Black soldier, Robert Bandy, in the lobby of the Braddock Hotel in Harlem. Bandy was trying to protect a Black woman demanding a refund for her substandard room, after the hotel called the police on her for complaining. Although Bandy was not seriously wounded, outraged Blacks, hearing rumors that he had been killed, began to pillage white-owned businesses — to the point in which the Black merchants had to place signs in their windows to avoid being vandalized, also. Six Black residents were killed, and 500 people injured during the melee. Mayor LaGuardia called in the police and the Army to quell the riot, but LaGuardia did his best to end price gouging in Harlem, which had had been predominantly until the start of World War II. 

Langston Hughes, who was affected by the Harlem Riot, composed the poem “Beaumont to Detroit: 1943” with a lament about African Americans fighting for a country that did not see them as equals: “I ask you this question/ Cause I want to know/ How long I got to fight/ BOTH HITLER–AND JIM CROW.”


FAMOUS DIARY — Anne Frank, the teenage Jewish girl whose diary into the glimpse of World War II made her famous, wrote her final entry into the book on August 1, 1944, just three days before she and her family were arrested. Age 15 at the time, Anne and seven others, including family and associates, were hiding in a secret annex behind her father’s business, in a warehouse he had owned before the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam. Anne wrote steadfastly in her diary during her family’s two years in hiding, describing with poignancy, insight and humor the stresses of seven people coexisting in a cramped space, the food shortages and her friendship and perhaps even budding love for another teen in the group, Peter van Pels. 

Anne’s father, Otto Frank, the only survivor of the war, later had his daughter’s diary published. Steadfast helpers and sympathizers included a Gentile Dutch woman named Miep Gies, who is mentioned as a kindly soul and faithful supporter in Anne’s diary. A book about her, titled “Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of Miep Gies who helped to hide the Frank Family,” was published in 1987. Miep Gies lived to almost the age of 101.


KENNEDY’S PT BOAT DESTROYED — Future U.S. President John F. Kennedy became a war hero on August 1, 1943, after a Japanese destroyer rammed an American PT (patrol torpedo) boat, No. 109.The destruction was so extensive that other American PT boats in the area assumed the crew to have died; in reality, only two were killed, the other 11 surviving. Notwithstanding his bad back, young Jack Kennedy swam to a coral island in hopes of flagging down U.S. ships. He did land on one island and got the indigenous folk to send a message, which Lieutenant Arthur Evans, who was watching the coast of Gomu Island, received. Kennedy was later awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, for gallantry in action.

Kennedy’s message (carved into a coconut shell)  read: “Nauru Is. Native knows posit. He can pilot. 11 alive need a small boat.”

See previous milestones, here.

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