History Matters

September 25, 2011|By Louise Vest

100 Years Ago

War related

This social note was in the Dorsey section of the paper:

"Mr. Thomas A. Kingsbury accompanied by Prof. F. H. Spieker and son Edmond of Baltimore, spent Sunday at the Old Historic Fort McHenry."

Next year will be the bicentennial of the War of 1812, in which Fort McHenry played a major role. The fort withstood the British bombardment in September 1814 as Francis Scott Key watched and penned the "Star-Spangled Banner."

When Key died in 1843, he was interred in the vault of John Eager Howard in a Baltimore cemetery. Key was later moved to Frederick. Howard County was named for John Eager Howard, who had his own war stories, as he was a colonel in the Revolutionary War.

In yet another war, the Civil War, the grandson of Key and Howard, Francis Key Howard, was arrested in 1861 for writing an article protesting the suspension of habeas corpus by President Lincoln Howard. He was, ironically, imprisoned at Ft. McHenry.

75 Years Ago

Sick and tired

In the Times social column:

"Miss Norma Ash has been a patient at the University Hospital for a throat operation. Mr. John Reimsnider was a patient at St. Josephs Hospital, during the past week where he underwent a throat operation. Mr. Walter Englehart who has been quite sick for the past week is much improved. Mrs. Elsworth Bosien is in the Maryland University Hospital where she underwent an operation on Monday of this week."

50 Years Ago

Feeding the masses

"CD Emergency Feeding Class"

"Howard County Civil Defense will conduct a training class in Emergency Mass feeding at the West Friendship Livestock Auction Market beginning on Tuesday The class will be held from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. and will run for six weeks with one meeting each week.

Attendance is open to everyone and there is [no] charge or expenses. Mrs. Doris Doll, the civil defense deputy for the third election district is in charge of the class and may be contacted through GI 2 2217. the instructor is Mrs. John Nicholai. The class will receive training in the feeding problem of large groups of people with particular emphasis on the feeding of evacuees in an emergency."

Reportedly, the American Red Cross recently had more than 1 million meals readied for potential use in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. But now, as far back in 1961, having that much food might be the easy part compared to the logistics of its distribution.

In September 1961, Civil Defense was especially on people's minds because just a couple months before this class, the Berlin Wall was erected by our Cold War adversary, the Soviet Union. The Wall divided that German city for 28 years, with the communist East Berlin on one side and the democratic West Berlin on the other, turning Churchill's "Iron Curtain" into a tangible entity. Before the Wall, millions fled the repressive East Berlin for life in West Berlin.

The first division of Berlin began after World War II when the allies, which included the Soviet Union, won the war against Germany and divided the city and that nation. It was in 1948 when the Soviets closed off the American, British and French sectors of Berlin. As Berlin was located in Soviet-held, East German territory, this blockade effectively cut off all roads, rails and waterways that were supplying food to millions of people in West Berlin, both occupied forces and civilians.

But the airways were open and the Berlin Airlift began. During the lift, which lasted more than a year, more than 250,000 flights were made by the British and American militaries and more than 2 million tons of food and coal were delivered. Chocolate bars for kids were also dropped in small parachutes.

Though the supply planes were harassed by the Soviet air force, the lift continued and America lost 31 airmen during the humanitarian project. By May 1949, the Soviets gave up and ended the blockade. This Soviet action in Berlin backfired on them. Not only were the masses fed, but hearts and minds were captured by the West as the project created goodwill, only a few years after World War II.

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