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Today in History: May 8, 1945 – VE DAY

“General Eisenhower informs me that the forces of Germany have surrendered to the United Nations. The flags of freedom fly over all Europe. For this victory, we join in offering our thanks to the Providence which has guided and sustained us through the dark days of adversity. Our rejoicing is sobered and subdued by a supreme consciousness of the terrible price we have paid to rid the world of Hitler and his evil band. Let us not forget, my fellow Americans, the sorrow and the heartache which today abide in the homes of so many of our neighbors — neighbors whose most priceless possession has been rendered as a sacrifice to redeem our liberty.”

The war that had lasted for five years and eight months had finally drawn to a close and people celebrated in the streets. President Harry S. Truman announced the victory and appointed Sunday, May 13—Mother’s Day—as day of prayer and thanksgiving. Meanwhile, Churchill gave an impromptu speech on the balcony of the Ministry of Health, telling the crowds, ‘This is your victory!’ However, their day of victory was somewhat overshadowed by the fact that the war with Japan was still going strong.


Listen: Truman’s VE-Day Address

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An interesting speech delivered President Trump during his 4th of July ‘Salute to America’ celebration. His speech teaches us the importance of ‘peace through strength’ and teaches why we need a strong army through history itself. Watch as airplanes from wars past fly in formation overhead. He reminds us of Washington, Jimmy Doolittle, Alvin York, and many others.

And what better day to learn of America’s history, then on it’s birthday!

USA-eVote is independent and prefers to remain independent.

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Today in History: September 3, 1939 – WWII Begins

Although Germany had invaded Poland two days earlier, on the 1st, Britain had been hoping to avoid another major war. But, they’d made a promise to Poland, and were obligated to keep it.

Unfortunately for Poland, while Britain and France may have declared war against the Axis powers, they didn’t do much in the way of actually giving Poland the support they needed to fend of the Nazis. Their idea of “helping” was to drop a ton of anti-war pamphlets on the Germans. This, after handing over Czechoslovakia to Nazis. When, oh, that’s right, Hitler promised he’d be content with just that land. Of course, we all knew that wouldn’t last long.

[Below: British newspaper announcing the start of WWII & PM Chamberlain]

Image result for Britain declares war wwii

Back in America, while we wouldn’t join the war for another two years, President Roosevelt took the opportunity to address the American People via his famous Fireside Chats. Fireside Chats were something that American people looked forward to, gathering around their family radioes to listen to the President speak to them – right in their living rooms! It felt like he was speaking directly to them.

Despite the breakout of war across Europe, Roosevelt proclaimed neutrality. He may have been keeping his boys out of war, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t willing to lend a helping hand. He told the people of his plan to sell arms to Britain and France. He also intended to send them all the supplies and food they needed. Unfortunately, most of everything sent via ship was sunk by U-boats.

Europe was at war, fighting off the vicious foes of Fascism, Naziism (which is Fascism), Socialism, and Communism.  

[Below: Roosevelt’s September 3, 1939 Fireside Chat]

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September 3, 1939: Fireside Chat 14: On the European War

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Today in History: January 11, 1961 – Kennedy Gives 2nd State of the Union Address

Thanks to holidays and whatnot, it’s been awhile since we’ve posted a Today in History post. Thus, since today happens to be the 57th anniversary and I’m listening to Kennedy’s 2nd State of the Union, that it’d be a good place to start.

In his 2nd State of the Union, Kennedy discussed the problem of machines taking over jobs and of the problem of the current recession. This was one of his major concerns, and he promised that he would work on strengthening the economy in response.

And of course, at the top of list was the Cold War. Kennedy discussed “diversity” – which, he noted, Communism does not allow. Along this same talk, there is noticeable foreshadowing to Kennedy’s forthcoming Peace topic, which would begin in earnest after the Cuban Missile Crisis, of the same year. But, then, in typical Kennedy fashion, he jumps onto a diverging topic. In this case, missiles. What followed was a long list of the missiles that had been doubled and tripled in number, all in the name of protecting America from foreign domination. And, because, Kennedy’s ‘Peace through Strength” mantra was still alive and strong. 

In the coming year, our reserve programs will be revised–two Army Divisions will, I hope, replace those Guard Divisions on duty–and substantial other increases will boost our Air Force fighter units, the procurement of equipment, and our continental defense and warning efforts. The Nation’s first serious civil defense shelter program is under way, identifying, marking, and stocking 50 million spaces; and I urge your approval of Federal incentives for the construction of public fall-out shelters in schools and hospitals and similar centers.

Following this, he discussed the importance of the Space Race. Not necessarily to be first, though he definitely did want to beat the Soviets. The importance, he reminded the nation, was to continue to search, to learn, and to strive. To sit back and let the Soviets win was very different than doing their best and still coming in second. (Although, a Kennedy never loses!)

President Kennedy also discussed the need for Congress to respond to certain domestic issues, including: pollution, education, mass transit, urban housing, civil rights, public health, and welfare assistance programs. He touched on the importance of military strength, of foreign relations, trade (low tariffs on both sides), and Berlin. And he, as always, urged the American people to act, not to leave it to the government alone.

Listen: Kennedy’s 1962 State of the Union Address

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Cuban Missile Crisis: Day Seven

Monday, October 22, 1962: That morning, President Kennedy spoke to all three living former presidents (Hoover, Truman & Eisenhower), seeking their advice. He then spent the day with his advisors and the ExComm members, working out details for his address to the nation.

Then, at 7:00 p.m., he made a televised address, revealing the evidence of Soviet missiles in Cuba. He called for their immediate removal and announced the establishment of a naval quarantine around Cuba until the Soviet Union agreed to dismantle the missile sites. He also made it clear that no and to make  additional missiles should be shipped to Cuba. Near the conclusion of his speech, JFK stated:

“My fellow citizens: let no one doubt that this is a difficult and dangerous effort on which we have set out. No one can see precisely what course it will take or what costs or casualties will be incurred. Many months of sacrifice and self-discipline lie ahead–months in which our patience and our will will be tested–months in which many threats and denunciations will keep us aware of our dangers. But the greatest danger of all would be to do nothing.”


Listen: Kennedy’s Cuban Missile Crisis Address, 11:00 am Meeting on Diplomatic Plans, 11:47 am Meeting of Berlin Group, 3:00 pm NSC Meeting, &5:30 pm Meeting with the Congressional Leadership (& Cont.)

View:Press Release

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Today in History: October 21, 1960 – 4th (and Final) Nixon-Kennedy Debate

The fourth and final Kennedy-Nixon debate was held on October 21, 1960.

For the final debate, the candidates met in New York City. And, like the 1st debate, both candidates were given a chance to make both opening and closing states – 8 minutes for opening and 5 minutes for closing. Differing from other debates, though, each candidate made new policy position statements, hoping to gear the topic of questions for the upcoming debates.

The topic for the last debate was foreign policy including

  • Cuba
  • US Prestige
  • Nuclear Weapons Testing
  • Treaty Banning Testing &
  • Aid to Communist-Held Countries

While Kennedy was firm in his belief that we needed to overthrow Castro while proving assistance to countries such as Poland and India, one already oppressed by Communist Soviet Union and the other in danger of falling to Communism. Nixon countered that this would make these nations pawns in the fierce battle between the USA & USSR. “We have to let them know that we want to help them … because we care for them, because we stand for freedom, because if there were no communism in the world, we would still fight poverty and misery and disease and tyranny”  (Source).

Between the 3rd and 4th debates, while Kennedy had initially been scorned for his mistake of using notes or ‘cribbing,’ polls showed that he’d actually done much better than initially thought, especially in Michigan. In this debate, “voters believed that the 4th debate was a draw, although they believed that it was the strongest performance by both Kennedy and Nixon. Overall, the knowledge of the two candidates impressed Americans of all political stripes” (Source).

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Watch: 4th Kennedy-Nixon Debate


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Today in History: October 13, 1960 – 3rd Nixon-Kennedy Debate

On October 13, 1960, Senator Kennedy and Vice President Nixon held their third of four debates. And, let me just tell you, it was next to impossible to find anything on this debate. It didn’t even show up in’s this day in history. I only found one source.

This time around, the two candidates weren’t even in the same studio – let alone the same state. Nixon was in Hollywood, while Kennedy was in New York. The panelists, even, were in a separate studio.

The topic of debate #3: Foreign Policy & US Economy including

  • Quemoy
  • Matsu
  • DDE Agricultural Programs (& Budget)
  • The Ku Klux Klan
  • Labor Disputes
  • World Prestige

The Ku Klux Klan topic actually came about because, apparently, one leader claimed that he planned to vote for Nixon. Kennedy defended Nixon, promising the American people that this in no way meant that Nixon backed, had sympathies for, or supported them in any way, shape, or form. Nixon agreed.

In another question, Kennedy was accused of backing “compulsory arbitration of labor disputes” (Source). Kennedy explained that his staff had released the press statement and he had made them retract it later that same afternoon. He went on to assure them that he did not favor such a position, though Nixon pointed out that he did at one time. Kennedy replied that: “I always have difficulty recognizing my positions when they are stated by the Vice President” (Source).

It was determined far and wide that Nixon had far a solid victory for the third debate. The reason? Republicans thought it was shameful of Kennedy to use notes in one of his responses. Kennedy had attempted to explain that he was reading “a photostat of a page from a book by Gen. Matthew Ridgeway and had written brief quotes from [President Eisenhower] and from [Secretary of State] John F. Dulles” (Source).

Nevertheless, Kennedy was hammered for days afterwards and it looked like Nixon was sure to win the election.

Watch: 3rd Kennedy-Nixon Debate

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Today in History: October 7, 1960 – 2nd Nixon-Kennedy Debate


On October 7, 1960, the 2nd Nixon-Kennedy debate took place. This time, Vice President Nixon was much more prepared to face-off with the ever-popular Senator Kennedy.

Meeting in Washington D.C. for this debate, the two discussed foreign policy including:

  • The Cold War
  • Cuba
  • U-2 Spy Planes &
  • The US-Soviet Summit

Kennedy made clear in his remarks that Castro was a Communist and that Cuba had as good as given up their freedom. Although, Castro was actually a self-proclaimed Socialist. A Socialist who said that Hitler was his hero. So, who knows what he actually was. What we do know is that he sure did give President Kennedy a number of headaches in his mere 1,000 days in office. In his remarks, Kennedy also made it clear that he saw the Soviet Union was a major threat. Nixon argued that the Soviets didn’t really want a summit and didn’t really want to negotiate with the U.S. This, as we can see throughout history, was true.

Overall, “Kennedy’s strategy was to paint the Republican administration in which Nixon served as timid, indecisive, and given to poor strategizing in terms of the Cold War. Nixon, on the other hand, wanted to portray Kennedy as naïve and much too willing to compromise with the Soviets and communist Chinese” (Source).

As for the second debate, most experts saw the experienced Nixon as the winner of this round. However, analysts believe that Kennedy’s telegenic TV appearance swayed voters.

But, there was still two more debates to go before the November election.

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Watch: 2nd Nixon-Kennedy Debate

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Today in History: October 5, 1947 – First Televised Presidential Speech

Last week we discussed the first ever televised Presidential debate. Today marks the 71st anniversary of the very first televised presidential speech.

The president?

Harry S. Truman. That “accidental” president who only ever reached the White House because President Roosevelt died a mere 2 months into his 4th term.

In 1947, just over two years into his accidental term, President Truman addressed the American People via camera.

At the time, America was also only two years out of WWII and they were still struggling to recover from the long, well, struggle. So, Truman addressed the American People on food conservation.

See, in order for his Marshall Plan to work, Americans had to conserve food, themselves. How else could they have helped feed all those starving Europeans? If America was still struggling to recover, well, that was nothing compared to Europe . . . especially those living under Stalin’s oppression.

So, Truman asked “farmers and distillers to reduce grain use and requested that the public voluntarily forgo meat on Tuesdays, eggs and poultry on Thursdays, and save a slice of bread each day” (Source). Essentially, he was asking Americans to continue their rationing.

But here’s the thing: The program worked, thus it was short lived. And here’s another thing: Let’s remember that this was Post-WWII/Cold War Era America. We had just defeated Fascism (Nazism) and were still working to destroy both Communism and Socialism. In short, we weren’t the greedy, the-government-owes-me America that we are today. Sure, some of Roosevelt’s Depression Era plans were still in place. But Americans were still willing to sacrifice to help those starving and oppressed in other countries.

Things have changed a lot in the last 70-some odd years.

But, back to Truman’s speech. See, this last week, many Americans tuned in to a open-door Senate hearing. Today that seems common place. But that just wasn’t the case in 1947. TV was in its infancy. Not every American owned a television set yet – that number would climb drastically in the 1950’s during Eisenhower’s Back to God campaign and the prosperity that Americans received in return. But, in 1947, most Americans tuned in to the President via the Radio (remember that Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats were mega popular because Americans felt like they were inviting the President into their homes).

Sadly, this meant that most Americans missed Truman’s TV debut. However, every single speech that he would give thereafter were also televised. Just like the Nixon-Kennedy televised debates, Truman’s speeches would change American television (and American politics) forever. [It’s also interesting to note that Truman’s voice is way lower here than you here in recorded speeches.]

So, next time you watch the President give a televised speech, remember Truman’s ground-breaking speech in 1947. And remember his call to sacrifice for the sake of others.

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Listen: Truman’s 1st Televised Speech

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Today in History: September 26, 1960 – First Televised Presidential Debates


I’m not sure why these Today in History posts have a tendency to be the same subject. It certainly isn’t planned that way . . . except that I’m trying really hard to write all History Series posts in chronological order. And, well, this showed up on both and The American Presidency Project. (If it’s any consolation, tomorrow is a major WWII event).


Anyways, on September 26, 1960, the first ever televised presidential candidates debate took place. And given the date, we can guess that this debate occurred between Vice President Nixon and Senator Kennedy. It was the first of 4 debates between the two.

Meeting in Chicago for the debates, the two discussed domestic issues including:

  • Health Care
  • U.S. Economy
  • Labor
  • The Cold War
  • Education &
  • Farming

Additionally, “both candidates gave an eight-minute opening and a three-minute closing” (Source).

According to those who listened to the debate on the radio, Nixon with his 8 years of VP experience easily won the debate. However, according to those who watched it on TV, the relaxed and charismatic, yet less experienced, Kennedy handily won it.

This was a major turning point in American politics. See, prior to this, Americans rarely had the opportunity to see and hear presidential aspirants – except maybe on the radio. For poor Nixon, this was a big kick to his ego. Not to mention his career. At least for a time. After his four debates with Kennedy, he never agreed to another debate again. Neither, in fact, did President Lyndon Johnson. Actually, there was not another presidential debate until 1976 – this time between Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter.

But, for the time being, both candidates came away knowing that they would have to work hard and prepare for the following debate, which was to take place on October 7th.

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Watch: 1st Nixon-Kennedy Debate

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