It’s Thursday! Did You Know…
* 1936 – King Edward VIII dedicates the Vimy Memorial.
The Canadian National Vimy Memorial is a war memorial site in France dedicated to the memory of Canadian Expeditionary Force members killed during the First World War. It also serves as the place of commemoration for Canadian soldiers of the First World War killed or presumed dead in France who have no known grave. The monument is the centrepiece of a 100-hectare (250-acre) preserved battlefield park that encompasses a portion of the ground over which the Canadian Corps made their assault during the initial Battle of Vimy Ridge offensive of the Battle of Arras.
The Battle of Vimy Ridge was the first time all four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force participated in a battle as a cohesive formation, and it became a Canadian national symbol of achievement and sacrifice. France ceded to Canada perpetual use of a portion of land on Vimy Ridge on the understanding that Canada use the land to establish a battlefield park and memorial. Wartime tunnels, trenches, craters, and unexploded munitions still honeycomb the grounds of the site, which remains largely closed off for reasons of public safety. Along with preserved trench lines, several other memorials and cemeteries are contained within the park.
The project took designer Walter Seymour Allward eleven years to build. King Edward VIII unveiled it on 26 July 1936 in the presence of French President Albert Lebrun and a crowd of over 50,000 people, including 6,200 attendees from Canada. Following an extensive multi-year restoration, Queen Elizabeth II re-dedicated the monument on 9 April 2007 at a ceremony commemorating the 90th anniversary of the battle. The site is maintained by Veterans Affairs Canada. The Vimy Memorial is one of only two National Historic Sites of Canada located outside the country, the other being the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial.
* 1908 FBI founded.
On July 26, 1908, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is born when U.S. Attorney General Charles Bonaparte orders a group of newly hired federal investigators to report to Chief Examiner Stanley W. Finch of the Department of Justice. One year later, the Office of the Chief Examiner was renamed the Bureau of Investigation, and in 1935 it became the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
When the Department of Justice was created in 1870 to enforce federal law and coordinate judicial policy, it had no permanent investigators on its staff. At first, it hired private detectives when it needed federal crimes investigated and later rented out investigators from other federal agencies, such as the Secret Service, which was created by the Department of the Treasury in 1865 to investigate counterfeiting. In the early part of the 20th century, the attorney general was authorized to hire a few permanent investigators, and the Office of the Chief Examiner, which consisted mostly of accountants, was created to review financial transactions of the federal courts.
Seeking to form an independent and more efficient investigative arm, in 1908 the Department of Justice hired 10 former Secret Service employees to join an expanded Office of the Chief Examiner. The date when these agents reported to duty–July 26, 1908–is celebrated as the genesis of the FBI. By March 1909, the force included 34 agents, and Attorney General George Wickersham, Bonaparte’s successor, renamed it the Bureau of Investigation.
The federal government used the bureau as a tool to investigate criminals who evaded prosecution by passing over state lines, and within a few years, the number of agents had grown to more than 300. The agency was opposed by some in Congress, who feared that its growing authority could lead to abuse of power. With the entry of the United States into World War I in 1917, the bureau was given responsibility in investigating draft resisters, violators of the Espionage Act of 1917, and immigrants suspected of radicalism.
Meanwhile, J. Edgar Hoover, a lawyer and former librarian, joined the Department of Justice in 1917 and within two years had become special assistant to Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer. Deeply anti-radical in his ideology, Hoover came to the forefront of federal law enforcement during the so-called “Red Scare” of 1919 to 1920. He set up a card index system listing every radical leader, organization, and publication in the United States and by 1921 had amassed some 450,000 files. More than 10,000 suspected communists were also arrested during this period, but the vast majority of these people were briefly questioned and then released. Although the attorney general was criticized for abusing his power during the so-called “Palmer Raids,” Hoover emerged unscathed, and on May 10, 1924, he was appointed acting director of the Bureau of Investigation.
During the 1920s, with Congress’ approval, Director Hoover drastically restructured and expanded the Bureau of Investigation. He built the agency into an efficient crime-fighting machine, establishing a centralized fingerprint file, a crime laboratory, and a training school for agents. In the 1930s, the Bureau of Investigation launched a dramatic battle against the epidemic of organized crime brought on by Prohibition. Notorious gangsters such as George “Machine Gun” Kelly and John Dillinger met their ends looking down the barrels of bureau-issued guns, while others, like Louis “Lepke” Buchalter, the elusive head of Murder, Inc., were successfully investigated and prosecuted by Hoover’s “G-men.” Hoover, who had a keen eye for public relations, participated in a number of these widely publicized arrests, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as it was known after 1935, became highly regarded by Congress and the American public.
With the outbreak of World War II, Hoover revived the anti-espionage techniques he had developed during the first Red Scare, and domestic wiretaps and other electronic surveillance expanded dramatically. After World War II, Hoover focused on the threat of radical, especially communist, subversion. The FBI compiled files on millions of Americans suspected of dissident activity, and Hoover worked closely with the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and Senator Joseph McCarthy, the architect of America’s second Red Scare.
In 1956, Hoover initiated COINTELPRO, a secret counterintelligence program that initially targeted the U.S. Communist Party but later was expanded to infiltrate and disrupt any radical organization in America. During the 1960s, the immense resources of COINTELPRO were used against dangerous groups such as the Ku Klux Klan but also against African American civil rights organizations and liberal anti-war organizations. One figure especially targeted was civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., who endured systematic harassment from the FBI.
By the time Hoover entered service under his eighth president in 1969, the media, the public, and Congress had grown suspicious that the FBI might be abusing its authority. For the first time in his bureaucratic career, Hoover endured widespread criticism, and Congress responded by passing laws requiring Senate confirmation of future FBI directors and limiting their tenure to 10 years. On May 2, 1972, with the Watergate scandal about to explode onto the national stage, J. Edgar Hoover died of heart disease at the age of 77.
The Watergate affair subsequently revealed that the FBI had illegally protected President Richard Nixon from investigation, and the agency was thoroughly investigated by Congress. Revelations of the FBI’s abuses of power and unconstitutional surveillance motivated Congress and the media to become more vigilant in the future monitoring of the FBI.
* 1956 Egypt nationalizes the Suez Canal
The Suez Crisis begins when Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalizes the British and French-owned Suez Canal.
The Suez Canal, which connects the Mediterranean and Red Seas across Egypt, was completed by French engineers in 1869. For the next 87 years, it remained largely under British and French control, and Europe depended on it as an inexpensive shipping route for oil from the Middle East.
After World War II, Egypt pressed for evacuation of British troops from the Suez Canal Zone, and in July 1956 President Nasser nationalized the canal, hoping to charge tolls that would pay for construction of a massive dam on the Nile River. In response, Israel invaded in late October, and British and French troops landed in early November, occupying the canal zone. Under Soviet, U.S., and U.N. pressure, Britain and France withdrew in December, and Israeli forces departed in March 1957. That month, Egypt took control of the canal and reopened it to commercial shipping.
Ten years later, Egypt shut down the canal again following the Six Day War and Israel’s occupation of the Sinai peninsula. For the next eight years, the Suez Canal, which separates the Sinai from the rest of Egypt, existed as the front line between the Egyptian and Israeli armies. In 1975, Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat reopened the Suez Canal as a gesture of peace after talks with Israel. Today, an average of 50 ships navigate the canal daily, carrying more than 300 million tons of goods a year.
* 1943 Entertainer Mick Jagger born.
On this day in 1943, the musician, actor, film producer and Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger is born in Dartford, Kent, England.
Raised in a middle-class English family, Michael Philip Jagger attended the London School of Economics but left without graduating in order to pursue a career in music. In the early 1960s, Jagger, along with Brian Jones, Keith Richards and Ian Stewart, founded the Rolling Stones, which would become one of the world’s most popular and enduring rock and roll bands. The group’s many hit songs include “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” In his personal life, Jagger became famous for his wild rock-star lifestyle and glamorous girlfriends and wives.
Although best known as a singer and songwriter, Jagger has also acted in movies. He made his film debut in Performance (1969), which he followed with the title role in 1970’s Ned Kelly, about a real-life Australian outlaw. Among his other film credits are Freejack (1992), Bent (1997) and The Man from Elysian Fields (2002), co-starring Andy Garcia, in which Jagger played the owner of an escort service.
In addition, Jagger and the Rolling Stones have been featured in numerous documentaries, including 1970’s Gimme Shelter, Albert and David Maysles’ film about the notorious 1969 Alatamont music festival, and 2008’s Shine a Light, directed by Martin Scorsese. In 1995, Jagger formed his own film company, Jagged Films, which produced the World War II code-breaking film Enigma (2001), directed by Michael Apted.
In addition to his on-camera appearances, Jagger’s music has been featured in a long list of movie soundtracks, including Apocalypse Now (1979), Goodfellas (1990) and Jerry Maguire (1996). Jagger won a Golden Globe award for Best Original Song for “Old Habits Die Hard,” which was featured on the soundtrack of Alfie (2004).
* 1975 Van McCoy’s “The Hustle” is the #1 song in America.
For as popular as it was during much of the first half of the 20th century, couples dancing seemed poised to go by the wayside of American popular culture by the early 1970s. That is, until the arrival of a dance called the Hustle along with a #1 song by the same name. On this day in 1975, Van McCoy’s “The Hustle” topped the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot Soul Singles charts simultaneously, signaling the beginning of the disco era.
Disco Baby and, of course, writing and recording “The Hustle.”
“The Hustle” would earn Van McCoy a Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance and give him the biggest hit by far of his tragically shortened career (he died of a heart attack in 1979). The impact of the record went well beyond its commercial success, however. As “The Hustle” climbed the pop charts, it took an already substantial dance craze and turned it into a cultural phenomenon, with variations like the Latin, the Line and the New York Hustles popping up on dance floors nationwide.
* Canadian History Timeline – Canada’s Historical Chronology http://canadachannel.ca/todayincanadianhistory/index.php
* This Day In History – What Happened Today http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/