WASHINGTON — In an unprecedented turn in American history, retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, several years after being dismissed by the President and exiled to his estate in the countryside, marched on the national capitol early Tuesday morning with an army over one hundred thousand strong.
This number includes at least ten infantry legions, several aviation and artillery legions, and multiple cavalry cohorts.
“I come in peace, by myself, in order to hand-deliver a Memorandum of Concern to the Commander in Chief and the Senate,” said Mattis in a press conference. “I am moving on foot at a leisurely pace, with no ill will. If these American citizens choose to take a stroll with me, then who am I to turn down their companionship?” Read more
On this day in 1923, President Calvin Coolidge touches a button and lights up the first national Christmas tree to grace the White House grounds.
Not only was this the first White House “community” Christmas tree, but it was the first to be decorated with electric lights–a strand of 2,500 red, white and green bulbs. The balsam fir came from Coolidge’s home state of Vermont and stood 48 feet tall. Several musical groups performed at the tree-lighting ceremony, including the Epiphany Church choir and the U.S. Marine Band. Later that evening, President Coolidge and first lady Grace were treated to carols sung by members of Washington D.C.’s First Congregational Church.
According to the White House Historical Association, President Benjamin Harrison was the first president to set up an indoor Christmas tree for his family and visitors to enjoy in 1889. It was decorated with ornaments and candles. In 1929, first lady Lou Henry Hoover oversaw what would become an annual tradition of decorating the indoor White House tree. Since then, each first lady’s duties have included the trimming of the official White House tree.
Coolidge’s “inauguration” of the first outdoor national Christmas tree initiated a tradition that has been repeated with every administration. In 1981, President Ronald Reagan began another custom by authorizing the first official White House ornament, copies of which were made available for purchase.
Via: This Day in History
Von Steuben. Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States
The Articles of War approved by Congress in 1775 and 1776 gave it a statutory identity, but the Continental Army still consisted merely of a number of state-sponsored militias that were entirely independent of one another, each operating according to its own rules and regulations. Taken together, they scarcely resembled a single, unified armed force tactically capable of confronting an army as professional as Great Britain’s. In the nick of time, one man–a volunteer from Prussia who spoke no English–almost instantaneously established the identity of the U.S. Army. His name was Frederick William Augustus, Baron Von Steuben. In his Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States he single-handedly gave the structure, texture, and inspiration to the Continental Army that enabled it to meet numerically superior enemies, and triumph over them. Moreover, his influence over the American military establishment lasted for the next three decades.Indeed, by the time Lewis and Clark set out to build the Corps of Discovery, Steuben’s regulations were seriously out of date, yet not until 1812, when an old enemy with new tactics required a new look at order and discipline in the American Army. Meanwhile, it is worthwhile to get acquainted with Steuben, and consider how much–or little–of Steuben’s system the captains of the Corps of Discovery might have drawn from it for their purposes. Read more
ESPANDI, Afghanistan — The Polish sergeant took one step off the dirt path that the U.S. soldiers ahead of him had scanned for buried bombs. Those few inches marked the line between Jan Kiepura’s life and death. His foot triggered an improvised explosive device that forever separated him from his wife and two sons.
First Lt. Joshua Fosher was 15 feet in front of him; Capt. Dusty Turner was about as far behind. The distance saved the two Americans from his fate. Yet they were casualties in a less obvious sense. The blast inflicted hidden wounds, physical and psychological, that lingered long after Kiepura returned to Poland in a metal box.
Fosher and Turner suffered brain injuries that were slow to heal, injuries that magnified the mental trauma of their close exposure to death. Their ordeal resembles that of thousands of U.S. troops affected by brain injuries during the war in Afghanistan, now 12 years old, and the eight-year war in Iraq that ended in 2011.
In the weeks after the blast, as the two soldiers continued to endure the rigors of a nine-month deployment, they searched for order amid war’s uncertainty. Read more