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This Month in History: Little Bighorn, D-Day, Korean War, and More
President Trump has done it. Stepping across the DMZ, he has gone down in history as the first US president to enter North Korea. In June 2018, Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at a historic meeting in Singapore. This defied Leftist media from all over, who earlier suggested that Trump would start a war. Thus far, Trump has overwhelmingly proven himself to have the heart of a true peacemaker and negotiator. He should, rightfully, go down in history as the Great Negotiator.
This month in history reflects on the start of the Korean War, which began in 1950. Since then, tension over North Korea had been escalating in America until President Trump and his brave negotiations with the dictator state. The mid-century Korean conflict ended in a stalemate and tension in the Korean Peninsula has been strong ever since. President Trump, however, has demonstrated a “peace through strength” initiative with North Korea. He has held them accountable and shown that he is serious about reducing the threat of war. Just 30 years ago, President Reagan used the same initiative with the Soviet Union, and succeeded. Coincidentally, this month also marks the anniversary of Reagan’s “Tear Down This Wall” speech. History repeats, and in some respects, Trump is following the Reagan mold. There are many other significant events that occur this month in history. Let’s take a walk down June’s memory lane.
June 1, 1918
The Battle of Belleau Wood begins. Following the interception of the Zimmerman Telegram in 1917, the United States entered World War I. This battle, fought near the Marne River in France, occurred during the German Spring Offensive. Under the command of General John “Blackjack” Pershing, US troops fought alongside French and British forces. The battle ended on June 26 with an Allied victory. It is rumored that this is where USMC troops earned their nickname, “Devil Dogs.”
June 2, 1924
President Calvin Coolidge signs the Indian Citizenship Act. This law granted citizenship to all Native Americans born within US territory and was crucial in giving citizenship to all Native Americans who served in the armed forces during World War I. The act was proposed by Homer P. Snyder, a Republican US Representative from New York. In 1927, President Coolidge was adopted into the Sioux Tribe of South Dakota.
June 3, 1539
Hernando de Soto officially claims Florida for Spain. Although Spanish Florida was founded in 1513, what would later become the state of Florida was not claimed until 1539. Spanish Florida consisted of the area which would later also contain the states of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. The City of St. Augustine would become its capitol, making it the oldest city in America.
June 5, 1956
Elvis Presley introduces his famous hit single, “Hound Dog,” on the Milton Berle Show. Originally written by Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller, Presley’s version remained at the top of the charts for 36 years. It was a song that shaped Rock and Roll, and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1988.
June 6, 1944
The D-Day Invasion begins. Consisting of US, Canadian, and British troops, a large Allied force stormed the beaches of Normandy, France. Their goal was to break through the heavily-fortified German positions, in order to pave the way for the liberation of Europe. After long hours of brutal combat, the Allies broke through the German wall. In just under a year, Nazi Germany would surrender to Allied forces, leaving Japan as the remaining Axis superpower until their surrender on September 2, 1945.
June 7, 1942
The Battle of Midway comes to an end. Considered the turning point of World War II in the Pacific, US forces engaged several Japanese fleets, which attacked near Midway Atoll. Lasting three days, Historian John Keegan described it as “The most stunning and decisive blow in the history of naval warfare.” US forces ended up destroying four Japanese carriers and one cruiser, along with over 200 aircraft. A couple of months following the battle, the Guadalcanal Campaign began, which would also be a major turning point for the Pacific Theater.
June 8, 1906
President Theodore Roosevelt signs the Antiquities Act. This law allows the president to create national monuments from federal lands. During his tenure as president, Roosevelt declared 18 national monuments, with Devil’s Tower in Wyoming becoming the first in the country. Roosevelt also greatly expanded the National Park Movement.
June 9, 1862
The Shenandoah Valley Campaign comes to an end. Also known as Jackson’s Valley Campaign, Confederate troops under the command of General “Stonewall” Jackson fought to secure the Shenandoah Valley from Union occupation. Several battles were fought during the campaign, with Union troops originally winning a victory. Jackson, however, eventually pushed them back, and the campaign ended with a Confederate victory at the Battle of Port Republic. Union troops would lose control of the valley until 1864, when another campaign began. This one would end with a Union victory.
June 11, 1776
Continental Congress appoints the Committee of Five to draft the Declaration of Independence. The committee would consist of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingstone. Independence from the British Empire would officially be declared on July 4 of that year. John Trumbell’s famous portrait of the committee, though well-known, is historically inaccurate, as the delegates were never present in the room all at once.
June 12, 1987
President Ronald Reagan delivers his Tear Down This Wall speech. Constructed in 1961, the Berlin Wall separated communist East Germany from capitalist West Germany. Many German citizens who longed to escape to freedom in the West were prevented from doing so. President Reagan’s speech restored hope in the hearts of many people throughout the world, and it signaled that the long-awaited ending to the Cold War was near. In 1989, the Berlin Wall began to topple, and in December 1991, the Soviet Union dissolved.
June 13, 1805
The Lewis and Clark Expedition finds the Great Falls of the Missouri River. Located in north-central Montana, the Great Falls of the Missouri consist of five waterfalls within a 10-mile segment. Meriwether Lewis described the falls as the greatest sighting of the journey at that point. The falls were included on the Montana State Seal in 1893.
June 14, 1946
Donald Trump is born in Queens, New York City. After receiving an economics degree from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, he took charge of his family’s real estate business, beginning in 1971, renaming it the Trump Organization. His business expanded worldwide, and he owned skyscrapers, casinos, and golf courses across the globe. He was also involved in movies and television, and is one of two presidents to hold a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (the other being Ronald Reagan). Thus far, Trump is the only president to be elected who has never before held a position in a political office. He is also currently the oldest-elected president. A member of the Republican Party, Trump’s election to the presidency in 2016 was truly historic.
June 15, 1921
Bessie Coleman becomes the first African-American / Native-American pilot. She was born in Atlanta, Texas, and went to Langston University for one term. Because neither women, African-Americans, or Native Americans could become pilots in the US, Coleman traveled to France, where she earned her International Pilots License. Inspired by World War I pilots, she later flew in air shows. Coleman stated, “The air is the only place free from prejudices. I knew we had no aviators, neither men nor women, and I knew the Race needed to be represented along the most important line, so I thought it my duty to risk my life to learn aviation.”
June 16 – Father’s Day
Celebration of Father’s Day is dated as far back as 1508 in Catholic Europe. It was brought to Latin America by the Spanish and Portuguese. In the US, it is rumored to have first been celebrated in 1907, following a mining disaster in Monongah, West Virginia. To all of our fathers out there, we love and appreciate you! Most of all, we love and thank our Heavenly Father, through which all things are possible!
June 17, 1775
The Battle of Bunker Hill, is fought. Two months prior, the Siege of Boston, Massachusetts, began, during which the British military surrounded the town, cutting off Bostonian trade and travel. Continental leaders soon learned that the British planned to capture the hills surrounding Charlestown. The battle broke out on June 17 and ended the same day, resulting in a Pyrrhic British victory. Two prominent British officers – John Pitcairn and James Abercrombie – were killed during the battle.
June 18, 1812
The US declares war on the British Empire, starting the War of 1812. Following the American Revolution, tension between the US and the British Empire remained high. British sailors began capturing and taunting Americans on the high seas. The Chesapeake-Leopard Affair, which occurred off the coast of Virginia, resulted in four dead Americans. Later, the Little Belt Affair ended with 11 British casualties. On June 18, 1812, President James Madison signed the war declaration, beginning the war. Much of the conflict was fought at sea and around the Great Lakes. Fighting alongside the British were several Native tribes, whom the British used to stir havoc among US settlers in the Midwest. The war officially ended in February 1815.
June 19, 1865
Slaves in Galveston, Texas, are informed of their freedom by Union soldiers. Celebrated as Juneteenth, this was the first official declaration of abolition in the US after the Civil War. Standing at Ashton Villa, General Gordon Granger read aloud the order, which declared equality between former slaves and their masters, and called for their relationship to be that of an employee and employer. Juneteenth is now celebrated in almost all states.
June 21, 1964
The Freedom Summer Murders occur. Three civil rights workers – Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Mickey Schwerner – were kidnapped by members of the Ku Klux Klan in Neshoba County, Mississippi. From there, they were driven to a different location and shot. All three were involved with the Congress of Racial Equality, and they had been working with the Freedom Summer Campaign. Their bodies were discovered around two months later and their disappearance fueled support for the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
June 24, 1948
The Berlin Blockade begins. This event is often considered to mark the start of the Cold War and was its first major crisis. After World War II, Germany had become occupied by the US in the west and the USSR in the east. The crisis began when the Soviets blocked Western access from East Germany. As a result, the Berlin Airlift was conducted, during which US, British, and French air forces provided food and supplies to the besieged German citizens. The blockade ended on May 12, 1949.
June 25, 1876
The Battle of Little Bighorn begins. In Montana, US troops under the command of General George A. Custer were engaged by Cheyenne, Lakota, and Arapaho warriors. This was one of the largest and most significant battles of the American Indian Wars, ending with a Native American victory. Many US soldiers were killed, including Custer, and the battle has been known as “Custer’s Last Stand.” Crazy Horse, the Lakota war leader, was killed in Nebraska the following year. Sitting Bull, another prominent Lakota leader who was present at the battle, was killed in South Dakota in 1890.
June 25, 1950
North Korea invades South Korea, starting the Korean War. This was the first of the Cold War’s “proxy conflicts.” Near the end of World War II, Korea was split, with the 38th Parallel being the dividing line. After much tension, the Korean War began, with UN forces supporting the South and China supporting the North. The war came to a stalemate in 1953, resulting in the establishment of the Demilitarization Zone. In June 2018, President Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to seek peace for the Korean Peninsula, in what was a very historic moment for the world.
June 26, 1963
President John F. Kennedy delivers his Ich bin ein Berliner speech. With the end of World War II, Germany was divided into two sections. US, British, and French forces occupied the West, while the USSR occupied the East. In 1961, the Soviets constructed the Berlin Wall, cutting off the East from the West and separating Germany’s citizens. Kennedy, hoping to restore unity, directed his speech not only at the Soviets, but also at those who supported communism. One of the most memorable excerpts reads: “Two thousand years ago, the proudest boast was ‘Civis Romanus sum.’ Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is ‘Ich bin ein Berliner!’ All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words ‘Ich bin ein Berliner!’”
June 28, 1919
The Treaty of Versailles is signed, ending World War I. Just five years earlier to the day, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was killed by a Serbian assassin, which was one of the triggering events of the war. The end of the war saw an Allied victory, and the Treaty of Versailles placed much of the war’s blame on Germany. Several of the world’s empires collapsed, including the German Empire, which was transformed into the Weimar Republic until 1933.
June 30, 1906
President Theodore Roosevelt signs the Pure Food and Drug Act. At the height of the Progressive Era, Upton Sinclair released a book titled, The Jungle. In this piece, Sinclair described horrible conditions within the nation’s meat-processing plants, such as rats wandering about. President Roosevelt, after reading Sinclair’s novel, was reportedly disgusted, and pushed for federal laws to regulate food safety and health. Roosevelt also signed the Federal Meat Inspection Act on the same day.
The month of June holds many significant events for American history, with many of them being relevant to this day. We remember Presidents Kennedy and Reagan taking a stand against communism. We remember our veterans who fought on D-Day, and those who fought at Bunker Hill, Little Bighorn, Belleau Wood, Midway, and other battles. We reflect upon the Korean War and how that conflict, even amid recent peace attempts, is still looming like a shadow over the Pacific. We have a responsibility to properly educate future generations on our past. Only then will we truly understand the gravity of our duty to preserve America.