Last of the Doolittle raiders; new info about allied knowledge of the Holocaust; CNN’s explores the “soundtrack” of history; Georgetown makes amends

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Today is the 75th anniversary of WII’s “Doolittle Raid.” The men that participated in the daring bombing raid over Tokyo in early 1942 have been gathering yearly since 1946 to toast each other and the men that are no longer with us. This year, there was only one left. Check out this story about the raid, the tradition (including their toasting goblets), and the 101 year-old veteran who is now their last man standing.

We’ve also got some of those cool newly colorized pics of the Doolittle raiders.

Well, this just changed one aspect of how I deliver one particular lecture (ironically one that I just presented today in my Western Civ class). Newly accessed United Nations documents reveal that the WWII allies knew about the mass murders in the concentration camps (or “Holocaust Centers”) earlier than is generally assumed. (Although, this article makes the mistake of claiming that December of 1942  is “two-and-a-half years earlier than is generally assumed.” Um, no. I guess the key phrase here is “generally assumed” but 2.5 years is stretching the significance of the find.)

CNN has another original series coming up, debuting on Thursday. Soundtracks: Songs that Defined History “explores seminal moments in history by illuminating how music played an integral role in celebrating, criticizing and amplifying these seismic events.” Sounds great, but lest we get too excited, the list of events are all only recent American history, with the oldest events taking place in the late 1960s. I was pretty disappointed with CNN’s last series, The History of Comedy, as it wasn’t much more than current comedians sitting around discussing their favorites and how they influenced them.  I hope to see more historians involved in this project, as well as musicologists. Let’s see how it goes.

As you know, Georgetown University has recently acknowledged that their institution was financially saved in the early 1800s by the sale of over 200 slaves. Just a couple of weeks ago, there was a conference in the Louisiana town where most of the slaves were brought to after the sale. Now we learn that the university brought the descendants to campus for a ceremony honoring the victims, recognizing their forced sacrifice that saved the institution, and apologizing for the grievous deed that was ironically done by Jesuit priests. Georgetown has announced they they are going to give preferential admissions treatment to these descendants, the same as to the children of alumni. Discussions are also underway for an on-campus memorial and a scholarship program. Great ideas.

And speaking of universities and the enslaved . . . today is the birthday of my beloved University of Alabama. I’m glad to see that this short news blurb makes room for mentioning the enslaved laborers that played a large role in the early construction of the university’s buildings. As at many southern colleges and universities, research on the role of enslaved peoples on campus is pretty new and “hot” right now, and it is interesting to see how this is playing out at institutions around the country: from building name changes, to removal of monuments, to ceremonies and etc.

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