I join the Smithsonian Institution in celebrating the Fourth of July by sharing these historical stamps from the National Postal Museum‘s collection. The Smithsonian has been preserving America’s history and sharing the stories, ideals and indomitable, innovative spirit that unite all Americans for more than 170 years.
— AARP Magazine for iPad, April-May 2015
In 1965, the first U.S. combat troops arrived in Vietnam. Ten years later, Saigon fell. Today marks the 40th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon (now Ho Chin Minh City) effectively marking the end of the Vietnam War. The Fall of Saigon was the capture of Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, by the People’s Army of Vietnam and the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam (also known as the Viet Cong) on April 30, 1975. This event started the transition period leading to the formal reunification of Vietnam into a socialist republic, governed by the Communist Party of Vietnam.
The fall of the city was preceded by the evacuation of almost all the American civilian and military personnel in Saigon, along with tens of thousands of South Vietnamese civilians. The evacuation culminated in Operation Frequent Wind, the largest helicopter evacuation in history. In addition to the flight of refugees, the end of the war and institution of new rules by the communists contributed to a decline in the city’s population.
According to the National Archives and Records Administration, the number of U.S. military fatal casualties in the Vietnam War was 58,220 (as of April 29, 2008).
For a detailed view and timeline of The War That Changed Everything, tap here.
Abraham Lincoln died at 7:22am, April 15, 1865, one-hundred fifty years ago today. This portrait of the 16th President of the United States by contemporary artist Wayne Brezinka is currently on loan at the historic Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., May 6, 2014 — May 6, 2015. Brezinka’s 4 ft x 5 ft portrait is part painting and part three-dimensional collage of cardboard, rope and several artifacts he collected from the 1860s.
Here’s a fascinating “video tour” of Wayne Brezinka’s “Lincoln”:
Today marks the 200th anniversary of our national anthem. On September 14, 1814, Francis Scott Key composed the lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner” after witnessing the massive overnight British bombardment of Fort McHenry in Maryland during the War of 1812. Key, an American lawyer, watched the siege while under detainment on a British ship and penned the famous words after observing with awe that Fort McHenry’s flag survived the 1,800-bomb assault.
After circulating as a handbill, the patriotic lyrics were published in a Baltimore newspaper on September 20, 1814. Key’s words were later set to the tune of “To Anacreon in Heaven,” a popular English song. Throughout the 19th century, “The Star-Spangled Banner” was regarded as the national anthem by most branches of the U.S. armed forces and other groups, but it was not until 1916, and the signing of an executive order by President Woodrow Wilson, that it was formally designated as such. In March 1931, Congress passed an act confirming Wilson’s presidential order, and on March 3 President Hoover signed it into law.
Since the early days of the Revolutionary War, American soldiers have been writing letters that shared their fears, hopes for the future, and love with those who waited anxiously behind. From Bunker Hill to Fallujah, Americans have written hundreds of millions of war letters. On a more personal level, these correspondences provide a tangible connection to the past and humanize our men and women in uniform, capturing their distinct personalities, experiences and aspirations.
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291 Paper Letters. 2,454 Photographs. 140 hours of work. A paper-letter video animation about the history of fonts and typography, created by Ben Barrett-Forrest, a designer and animator from Whitehorse, Yukon. © Forrest Media, 2013
The History Channel‘s wildly popular Hatfields & McCoys miniseries (recently aired over Memorial Day weekend) is a fictional retelling of the infamous feud, but writer Dean King‘s upcoming book The Feud will attempt to piece together the full picture. Here’s a preview of the book’s cool cover design. In my book, it’s spot on. (MORE)