A Lone Soldier, Vietnam by David Hume Kennerly. 1972 Pulitzer Prize. A lone soldier traversing a blown-away hillside in Vietnam near the A Shau Valley. This photo was cited by the Pulitzer committee as an example of Kennerly’s portfolio of 14 photos submitted by UPI editors for the award, ‘That shows the loneliness and desolation of war.’
“Prediction is very difficult,” the physicist Niels Bohr supposedly once quipped, “especially about the future.” Prophecy is no doubt a tricky business, but that hasn’t stopped many prominent historical figures from trying—and often failing—to paint a picture of the world to come. From a July 2 Independence Day to a doomed Civil War general’s last words, get the facts on seven predictions that were famously off the mark.
1. John Adams’ July 2 Independence Day
Following the Continental Congress’s vote to separate from Britain, founding father John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail and predicted, “The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America…I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival.” While Adams was certainly correct about Independence Day becoming a major American holiday, he got the date wrong by two days. The Continental Congress first voted aloud to break from the British on July 2, but they didn’t finalize and date the Declaration of Independence until July 4. Adams considered the original vote of independence on July 2 to be the more momentous occasion, and he even took part of the day off and went shopping when the Congress met again two days later. “The Colossus of Independence” later grudgingly accepted July 4 as America’s accepted birthday, and went on to become inextricably linked to the day after both he and Thomas Jefferson died on it in 1826. Read more
Lord of thunderhead and sky Who place in man the will to fly Who taught his hand speed, skill and grace To soar beyond man’s dwelling place You shared with him the Eagle’s view The right to soar, as Eagles do The right to call the clouds his home And grateful, through your heavens roam May all assembled here tonight And all who love the thrill of flight Recall with twofold gratitude Your gift of Wings, Your gift of Food.