Remembering American History for December: Valley Forge, Pearl Harbor, Rosa Parks, and More

This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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Cornacopia of Anniversaries in American History

The month of December is a very special time for most people. From all walks of life, families come together to celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. December is also a very special time for American history. Many who are familiar with World War II will remember December as the month in which Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japanese forces, ushering the US into the world’s largest conflict.

This month also sees World War II in Guadalcanal and the Ardennes Forest, both of which were very large battles. We are also reminded of the bravery demonstrated by Rosa Parks, who dedicated her life to fighting injustice and seeking equality for all, regardless of race. Readers will learn about the harsh winter at Valley Forge in 1777, as well as the unique vision that was supposedly witnessed by a veteran of the Continental Army at that location. I hope you all enjoy this year’s historical wrap-up.

Rosa Parks, John Brown, and Prohibition

December 1, 1955
Rosa Parks refuses to give up her bus seat in Montgomery, Alabama. During the Jim Crow Era, most buses, restaurants, restrooms, schools, theaters, and housing districts were racially segregated. As Parks boarded a bus, she sat just inside the “Colored” section. When three White men boarded at Empire Theater, one of them – James Blake – realized that the “White” section was full, and moved the Colored sign to the seat behind Parks.

Blake demanded that Parks move, to which Parks relocated to the window seat, but not to the Colored section. Parks was arrested and her stand fueled support for the Montgomery Bus Boycotts. Parks fought racism in both the South and North, and she became an icon for freedom and justice. She passed away on October 24, 2004.

December 2, 1859
John Brown is executed for his raid on Harpers Ferry. Brown first gained attention following his participation in the Bleeding Kansas conflict. In 1856, he partook in the Pottawatomie Massacre, during which five pro-slavery settlers were killed. Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry, located at the fork of the Shenandoah and Rappahannok Rivers in what is now West Virginia, is often said to be one of the final triggering causes of the Civil War. Shortly after the raid began, his forces were either captured or killed by US Marines under the command of Colonel Robert E. Lee. Brown remains a very controversial figure. To some, he remains a noble hero, while others regard him as little more than a terrorist.

December 3, 1989
President George H. W. Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev announce that the Cold War is coming to an end. At a two-day meeting in the city of Birzebbuga, Malta, both Bush and Gorbachev declared that a new era of peace would soon be ushered in. Gorbachev stated, “I have assured the President of the United States that I will never start a hot war against the USA.” Two years later, the day after Christmas, the Soviet Union dissolved. The conference was regarded as one of the most important since 1945, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin met to discuss plans post-World War II.

December 4, 1942
Carlson’s Patrol on Guadalcanal comes to an end. Under the command of General Evans Carlson, Marine Raiders began a series of attacks against Japanese forces on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. Overall, the Guadalcanal Campaign marked a turning point for the Pacific Theater during World War II. Other turning points in the Pacific included the battles of Midway, Peleliu, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa.

December 5, 1933
Alcohol prohibition is repealed by the 21st Amendment to the Constitution. Known as Repeal Day, this followed the Cullen-Harrison Act, which was signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on March 21, 1933. This law, sponsored by Representative Thomas Cullen and Senator Pat Harrison, legalized the sale of beer and wine with an alcohol content of 3.2% or less.

The 18th Amendment, which was ratified in 1919, began prohibition, which proved to be largely unpopular and gave rise to violent crime. Following the signing of the Cullen-Harrison Act, President Roosevelt commented, “I think this would be a good time for a beer.” Alcohol sales have been legal since.

December 6, 1884
The Washington Monument is completed in Washington DC. Conceptualized by Robert Mills, construction began in 1848, but was halted from 1854-1877, due to insufficient funding and the intervention of the Civil War. Made of marble and standing 555 feet tall, the monument was designed to resemble an Egyptian obelisk. The cornerstone was laid on July 4, 1848, with over 20,000 people in attendance. It is located almost due east of the Reflecting Pool and Lincoln Memorial.

Pearl Harbor, Nuremberg, and Saddam Hussein

December 7, 1941
“A date which will live in infamy.” On the morning of December 7, 1941, sailors and civilians at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, were completely unaware that their lives were about to change forever. Under the orders of Japanese General Hideki Tojo, a large Japanese force engaged in a surprise attack on the US Naval fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor. An estimated 2,403 Americans were killed and many more were injured.

Of the eight battleships stationed there, all were damaged. Three destroyers were damaged or sunk. One of them – the USS Arizona – was permanently damaged. This event ushered the United States into the Second World War, and “Avenge Pearl Harbor” became a rallying cry. The U.S.S. Arizona remains where she sank, with a floating museum above it today.

December 8, 1941
The United States declare war on the Japanese Empire, entering World War II. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor the day before, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed the nation, stating, “Yesterday, December 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” Roosevelt asked Congress for a declaration of war, which Roosevelt signed on the 8th. Not long after, both Hitler and Mussolini declared war on the US.

December 9, 1946
The Subsequent Nuremberg Trials begin. Held at the Palace of Justice in Nuremberg, Germany, these trials accused various high-ranking Nazi officials accused of various crimes against humanity. Held before US military courts, the first hearing consisted of the Doctors’ Trial, in which Karl Brandt was the first of several Nazi doctors tried. The last of these trials was decided on April 13, 1949.

December 10, 1906
President Theodore Roosevelt becomes the first American to win the Nobel Peace Prize. During his presidency, “Teddy” was a proponent of peace through strength, and negotiated peace between various nations. He brought a resolution to a trade dispute between the US and Mexico, and helped end hostilities between France and Germany over interests in Morocco. He sent the Great White Fleet around the world, showcasing American naval strength and preventing a war between the US and Japan. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize due to his role in mediating the Russo-Japanese War.

December 13, 2003
Saddam Hussein is captured by US troops during Operation Red Dawn. The operation was launched after intelligence was gained that revealed two likely hideouts for Hussein in Ad-Dawr, Iraq. After searching both sites with no success, one soldier kicked a piece of flooring to the side, revealing a spider hole. Hussein crawled out and was disarmed, offering virtually no resistance. Hussein was tried for crimes against humanity, in which he was found guilty and executed on December 30, 2006.

Bill of Rights, Boston Tea Party, and Valley Forge

December 15, 1791
The Bill of Rights are ratified. Authored primarily by James Madison, the Bill of Rights were created to address objections made by the Anti-Federalists, concerning the notion that the Constitution gave the Federal government too much power. Rather than telling the government which rights it has, the Bill of Rights actually tell the government which rights the people have that are inalienable. This means that they are God-given and cannot be abridged. Consisting of the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, they are as follows:

  1. Freedom of speech, religion, press, and protest.
  2. The Right to acquire and bear arms.
  3. No forced civilian housing of soldiers.
  4. Freedom from unreasonable government searches or seizures.
  5. Protects against double jeopardy and self-incrimination, while guaranteeing the right to due process.
  6. Right to a speedy and fair trial.
  7. Right to a trial by jury in federal cases with claims of more than 20 dollars.
  8. Prohibition of excessive bail or fines.
  9. Declaration of fundamental rights outside of the Constitution.
  10. All powers not expressly given to the federal government are reserved to the states.

December 16, 1773
The Boston Tea Party occurs. After the passing of the Tea Act by British Parliament just months earlier, the Sons of Liberty, led primarily by Samuel Adams and Paul Revere, some of whom were dressed as Mohawk warriors, stormed British ships in Boston Harbor, Massachusetts. They proceeded to throw crates of tea into the harbor, to which British Parliament responded harshly. This event is considered to be one of the final triggering events of the American Revolution. All this over a few percent tax, imagine their ire at today’s tax rates.

December 17, 1903
Wilbur and Orville Wright make the first controlled flight near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Born in Dayton, Ohio, the Wright brothers were the world’s first successful airplane aviators. At Kill Devil Hills on the Outer Banks, Wilbur and Orville made four flights in total. The Wright Flyer was later restored and displayed at various museums in the US, as well as Britain. In 1948, it was sent to the Smithsonian in Washington DC.

December 19, 1777
George Washington and the Continental Army begin their winter encampment at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. This was a dark time for the patriots, as British forces won several major victories during the early stages of the American Revolution. Usually romanticized in portraits and paintings, in reality, the conditions at Valley Forge were very harsh. Washington himself reported seeing one man clothed in nothing but a blanket. Due to disease and malnutrition, nearly 2,000 soldiers died.

December 20, 1989
The US Invasion of Panama begins. Officially known as “Operation Just Cause,” President George H. W. Bush ordered troops to Panama following several years of tension between the US and Panamanian military dictator Manuel Noriega. On December 16, 1989, a stationed US Marine was shot and killed by the Panamanian Defense Force, and Noriega declared that a state of war existed between the US and Panama. President Bush authorized the invasion by stating that Noriega’s forces were threatening the lives of Americans living in Panama, and that Noriega’s rule was permitting Panama to be a large center for drug trafficking to the US. The invasion ended in a little over a month with Noriega’s capture.

December 21, 1620
William Bradford and the Pilgrims land at Plymouth Rock. These were not the first English settlers to reach America, as the colonies of Roanoke and Jamestown had been founded a few decades prior. While Roanoke had failed, Jamestown succeeded, but it was Plymouth that gave rise to the Thanksgiving holiday and became most embedded within American culture. The Pilgrims, consisting of Christian Quakers, were fleeing from the hostile political climate of Britain, and also wished to escape the church-dominated state. William Bradford would later become governor of the Plymouth Colony from 1621-1657.

December 21, 1950
In 1859, a most interesting story came to light. Anthony Sherman, 99 years old, was said to have been a soldier from the American Revolution, who was present with George Washington at Valley Forge. Sherman wrote down his account, and gave it to a journalist named Wesley Bradshaw. It was reprinted in December 1880, and then on December 21, 1950, the story was republished in Stars and Stripes. Known as “George Washington’s Vision,” the soldier stated that “three great perils” would engulf America. Sherman believed the first to have been the American Revolution, and many have thought the second to be the Civil War, while the third is yet to happen. The account is met with skepticism, but the vision is certainly interesting, nonetheless.

Battle of the Bulge, Cold War’s End, and Wounded Knee

December 22, 1944
German troops at the Battle of the Bulge demand an American surrender. Deep within the Ardennes Forest in Belgium, American and German troops fought in one of the coldest and snowiest battles of World War II. It was one of the deadliest military campaigns and bloodiest battles in American history. It ended on January 25, 1945, and was the last major German offensive on the Western Front. This paved the way for the Allies to begin their last march towards victory. When the Germans demanded that the Americans surrender, General Anthony McAuliffe responded with, “Nuts!”

December 25 – Christmas
At New Right Network, we understand and respect that not everyone within our fan base is a Christian. We realize that not everyone in our base celebrates Christmas. We do, however, commit ourselves to preserving America’s monumental Western heritage and values. This Christmas season, we ask that you reflect upon what happened in a small town in Israel, over 2,000 years ago.

The Bible states in Isaiah 9:6, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government will be upon his shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Since the American founding, our country has celebrated the Savior’s birth with utmost importance. The peace of Christ can be found throughout our history at Christmas. In just one example, we can look to the Civil War, when a Union soldier and a Confederate soldier met in the middle of the Rappahannock River on Christmas morning to exchange tobacco and coffee. From New Right Network, I wish you all a very merry Christmas, and I hope you all find peace and joy in Christ as we enter into the new year.

December 26, 1991
The Soviet Union dissolves, ending the Cold War. The eighth and final leader of the Soviet Union – Mikhail Gorbachev – announced his office as dissolved and handed all of his executive power to Boris Yeltsin, the first president of the Russian Federation. The end of the Cold War marked the closest point in world history in which two superpowers averted direct war with each other. That is not to say that the tension didn’t take its toll of lives, however. The proxy wars and battles fought in Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, Grenada, Angola, Afghanistan, and other locations claimed countless individuals.

December 29, 1890
The Wounded Knee massacre occurs. Under the command of Colonel James Forsyth, Union troops engaged Spotted Elk’s band of Lakota near Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota. When the soldiers began disarming the Natives, one man was reluctant to surrender his rifle. Other Natives, under Big Foot, were performing a Ghost Dance, which was misunderstood by the Federals. At one point, a rifle was discharged, and the Union troops opened fire on the Lakota.

Spotted Elk was killed, along with approximately 150 other Native casualties, with many of them being women and children. It remains one of the largest domestic massacres in US history. In 1990, Congress passed a resolution pertaining to the massacre, expressing deep regret. It still is a sore point in Indian/Federal relations to this day.

December 30, 2006
Saddam Hussein is executed in Baghdad, Iraq. Hussein ruled as the dictator of Iraq from 1979-2003. A national socialist, he played a key role in the 1968 coup that brought the Iraqi Ba’ath Party to power. In 1990, he led Iraqi troops in an invasion of Kuwait to annex the country for oil fields, to which many nations responded by forming the largest coalition alliance since World War II. Hussein’s army was crushed in January 1991, forcing him to retreat. He was captured by US troops in 2003 during Operation Red Dawn and was later tried for crimes against humanity.

Reflections and Author’s Note
As the year closes out, I would like to personally thank you all for your support. My articles are unlike many others’ due to my historical style and brand. Though I currently do not work in a history department, I believe it is one of God’s callings for my life to teach others about true history in an age when so much wrong is very right to a large portion of people. Our nation is blessed, and if we stay true to the principles to which God has ordained upon us, I whole-heartedly believe we will continue to prosper. From New Right Network, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I hope you will join me in another year of learning about America’s heritage.

Garrett Smith

Garrett Smith

Garrett Smith is a writer for NRN and recent graduate from Western Carolina University. He is a history major with a minor in political science. As a Conservative, Smith believes that the Left has taken over America's education system, which means they now control its history. To make their fellow Americans feel guilty, they often invoke a feeling of "American Shame" in students, indoctrinating them with radical, un-American ideas. It is Smith's goal to teach Americans the true history of America, and along with this, use its history to explain what makes us great.

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