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Milestones: Monday, August 7, 2023

August 7, 2023 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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AWARD NOW RESERVED FOR SLAIN OR  WOUNDED SOLDIERS — The Purple Heart medal has been in existence since the time of General George Washington, but now carries a heavier significance.  Washington, at the time the commander in chief of the Continental Army, on Aug. 7, 1782 created the “Badge for Military Merit,” a decoration consisting of a purple, heart-shaped piece of silk, and the  word “Merit” stitched onto it. Soldiers who had performed “any singularly meritorious action” were presented with the badge, a practice that got abandoned. Efforts were made during the 1920s to revive the Badge of Military Merit, and General Douglas McArthur succeeded in reinstating the badge for the bicentennial of George Washington’s birth; and The U.S. War Department on Feb. 22, 1932, announced the creation of the “Order of the Purple Heart.”

Now the oldest American military decoration for military merit, the Order of the Purple Heart is bestowed on members of the U.S. armed forces who have been killed or wounded in action against an enemy, or who have suffered maltreatment as prisoners of war.

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REALLY DID WALK A TIGHTROPE — A street performer from France on Wednesday, Aug. 7, 1974 walked a tightrope between the tops of the World Trade Center towers, some 1,350 feet above the early-morning rush hour crowd. Philippe Petit began the most famous high-wire walk in history when he stepped from the roof of the South Tower, carrying a long pole for balance. He walked calmly and with focus — even seating himself on the wire at one point to wave at the crowds. Upon completing this feat, he surrendered to police and underwent a psychological evaluation. However, an awestruck citizenry clamored for more and the charges against Petit were dropped on the condition that he perform at Central Park.

An early-age love of adventure and tight roping in particular inspired Petit even before the towers had been constructed. His stroll across the World Trade Center, done with much preparation and with accomplices, became a celebrated ambition.

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NOMINATED FOR 3RD TERM — A political group known as the Bull Moose Party on Aug. 7, 1912 nominated former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt to a third term, because its members were unhappy about President  William Howard Taft’s renomination. Roosevelt, who had encouraged Taft to run for his first term, became a bitter opponent after Taft failed to advance his predecessors’ policies — especially on antitrust (the dissolution of  monopolies). The Bull Moose Party, officially called the Progressive Party, espoused a platform that called for direct election of U.S. senators, woman suffrage, reduction of the tariff and social reforms, including care of the needy.

Roosevelt was wounded in an October 1912 assassination attempt by John Flammang Schrank, an anarchist who opposed the former president’s  running for a third term. Continuing his speech, Roosevelt quipped, “You see, it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose!” He  wound  up dividing the Republican Party, and Democrat Woodrow Wilson won the Presidency.

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FIRST PHOTO OF EARTH FROM SPACE — Imagine waiting 40 minutes nowadays for a photo to transmit? In 1959, a spacecraft scanner accomplished this from 17,000 miles from the Atlantic Missile Range in Cape Canaveral, Florida, the U.S. unmanned spacecraft Explorer 6 was launched into an orbit around the earth. The spacecraft, commonly known as the “Paddlewheel” satellite, featured a photocell scanner that transmitted a crude picture of the earth’s surface and cloud cover from a distance of 17,000 miles above the earth.

That unmanned craft, Explorer 6, was launched into orbit above the earth on Friday, Aug. 7, 1959 from Atlantic Missile Range in Cape Canaveral, Florida, according to NASA’s archival website. The spacecraft, known as the “Paddlewheel” satellite, featured a photocell scanner that shot and transmitted a grainy picture of the earth’s surface a week later, on Aug. 14, which took 40 minutes to transmit before it reached Hawaii.

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ONLY A PAUSE FOR THE BEETLE — The German car manufacturer Volkswagen, on Aug. 7, 1944, halted its production of the “Beetle,” under the threat of Allied bombing during World War II.  A decade earlier,  German automotive engineer Ferdinand Porsche had signed a contract with Germany’s Third Reich to develop a prototype of a small, affordable “people’s car,” which was named such — in German, “Volkswagen.” The Beetle was named after its compact, insect shape. After World War II and the Potsdam Conference which resulted in the partitioning of Germany, the Beetle resumed production, made possible because the auto factory was under control of the British military and had remained in good shape during the Allied bombing.

Within four years, the Germans again owned the company, now called Volkswagen GmbH, and the Beetle proliferated, even across the Atlantic to the U.S., where in 1972 surpassed even the Ford Model T in sales.

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LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON — Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants on Aug. 7, 2007 broke Hank Aaron’s longstanding career record of 755 home runs. An exceptional hitter, Bonds finished his regular season career with a very high on-base percentage of .444 batting average. Moreover, Barry was a baseball legacy whose father, Bobby Bonds, had also signed with the San Francisco Giants at age 22, in June 1968, when young Barry was still a toddler.

Born on July 24, 1964, Bonds hit two of his record 762 career home runs on his birthday in different years, according to the Major League Baseball website. The first was on his 25th birthday in 1989, and the second occasion, on his 39th birthday.

See previous milestones, here.


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