WE DIDN’T START THE FIRE

FROM A TO Z

On September 27, 1989, the iconic song by Billy Joel,  We Didn’t Start the Fire hit the airwaves.  It was a history lesson set to music.  When you first heard the song, did you know or remember all the people places, things and events mentioned in the lyrics?  I sure didn’t.  Back in 1989 before the internet was something everyone had access to, my boyfriend (now husband) and I headed to the local public library and looked up all the historical references.  This month, for the A to Z Challenge, I am writing about that history.

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Today is brought to us by the letter T.

1949 – Harry Truman

Harry S. Truman’s inaugural address, known as the Four Point Speech, was delivered by United States president Harry S. Truman, on Thursday, January 20, 1949.  In a world only recently emerged from the shadow of World War II, in which freedom and human rights seemed under threat from many sides, this was Truman’s response.  He challenged both Democrats and Republicans to assist people around the world struggling for freedom and human rights; to continue programs for world economic recovery; to strengthen international organizations; and to draw on the expertise of the United States to help people across the world help themselves in the struggle against ignorance, illness, and despair.

The four points

  • First, “we will continue to give unfaltering support to the United Nations and related agencies, and we will continue to search for ways to strengthen their authority and increase their effectiveness.”
  • Second, “we will continue our programs for world economic recovery.”
  • Third, “we will strengthen freedom-loving nations against the dangers of aggression.”
  • Fourth, “we must embark on a bold new program for making the benefits of our scientific advances and industrial progress available for the improvement and growth of underdeveloped areas.”

Harry Truman was inaugurated as U.S. president after being elected in 1948 to his own term; previously he was sworn in following the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt. He authorized the use of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan during World War II, on August 6 and August 9, 1945, respectively.

 

1950 – Television

Perhaps no phenomenon shaped American life in the 1950s more than television. At the end of World War II, the television was a toy for only a few thousand wealthy Americans. Just 10 years later, nearly two-thirds of American households had a television.

Television is becoming widespread (in black and white format) and becomes the most popular means of advertising.

Television is becoming widespread (in black and white format) and becomes the most popular means of advertising.

1954 – Toscanini
Arturo Toscanini (March 25, 1867 – January 16, 1957) was an Italian conductor. He was one of the most acclaimed musicians of the late 19th and of the 20th century, renowned for his intensity, his perfectionism, his ear for orchestral detail and sonority, and his eidetic memory. He was at various times the music director of La Scala in Milan, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Later in his career, he was appointed the first music director of the NBC Symphony Orchestra (1937–54), and this led to his becoming a household name (especially in the United States) through his radio and television broadcasts and many recordings of the operatic and symphonic repertoire. In June 1954, Toscanini participated in his final recording sessions, remaking portions of two Verdi operas so they could be commercially released. Toscanini was 87 years old when he finally retired. After his retirement, the NBC Symphony was reorganized as the Symphony of the Air, making regular performances and recordings, until it was disbanded in 1963.
Arturo Toscanini is at the height of his fame as a conductor, performing regularly with the NBC Symphony Orchestra on national radio.

Arturo Toscanini is at the height of his fame as a conductor, performing regularly with the NBC Symphony Orchestra on national radio.

1956 – Trouble in the Suez

The Suez Crisis also named the Tripartite Aggression (in the Arab world) and the Kadesh Operation or Sinai War (in Israel), was an invasion of Egypt in late 1956 by Israel, followed by the United Kingdom and France. The aims were to regain Western control of the Suez Canal and to remove Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser from power. After the fighting had started, political pressure from the United States, the Soviet Union, and the United Nations led to a withdrawal by the three invaders. The episode humiliated Great Britain and France and strengthened Nasser.

Trouble in the Suez: The Suez Crisis boils as Egypt nationalizes the Suez Canal on October 29.

Trouble in the Suez: The Suez Crisis boils as Egypt nationalizes the Suez Canal on October 29.

1976 – Terror on the airline

Operation Entebbe was a successful counter-terrorist hostage-rescue mission carried out by commandos of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) at Entebbe Airport in Uganda on 4 July 1976. A week earlier, on 27 June, an Air France plane with 248 passengers had been hijacked by two members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – External Operations (PFLP-EO) under orders of Wadie Haddad (who had earlier broken away from the PFLP of George Habash), and two members of the German Revolutionary Cells. The hijackers had the stated objective to free 40 Palestinian and affiliated militants imprisoned in Israel and 13 prisoners in four other countries in exchange for the hostages. The flight, which had originated in Tel Aviv with the destination of Paris, was diverted after a stopover in Athens via Benghazi to Entebbe, the main airport of Uganda. The Ugandan government supported the hijackers, and dictator Idi Amin personally welcomed them. After moving all hostages from the aircraft to a disused airport building, the hijackers separated all Israelis and several non-Israeli Jews from the larger group and forced them into a separate room. Over the following two days, 148 non-Israeli hostages were released and flown out to Paris. Ninety-four, mainly Israeli, passengers along with the 12-member Air France crew, remained as hostages and were threatened with death.   The IDF acted on information provided by the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. The hijackers threatened to kill the hostages if their prisoner release demands were not met. This threat led to the planning of the rescue operation. These plans included preparation for armed resistance from Ugandan troops.  The operation took place at night. Israeli transport planes carried 100 commandos over 2,500 miles (4,000 km) to Uganda for the rescue operation. The operation, which took a week of planning, lasted 90 minutes. Of the remaining hostages, 102 were rescued. Five Israeli commandos were wounded and one, unit commander Lt. Col. Yonatan Netanyahu, was killed. All the hijackers, three hostages, and forty-five Ugandan soldiers were killed, and thirty Soviet-built MiG-17s and MiG-21s of Uganda’s air force were destroyed. Kenyan sources supported Israel, and in the aftermath of the operation, Idi Amin issued orders to retaliate and slaughter several hundred Kenyans present in Uganda.  Operation Entebbe, which had the military codename Operation Thunderbolt, is sometimes referred to retroactively as Operation Jonathan in memory of the unit’s leader, Yonatan Netanyahu. He was the older brother of Benjamin Netanyahu, the current Prime Minister of Israel.

Terror on the airline: German and Palestinian terrorists hijack Air France Flight 139, holding only Israeli and Jewish passengers hostage in Entebbe; Yonatan Netanyahu leads historic rescue raid.

Terror on the airline: German and Palestinian terrorists hijack Air France Flight 139, holding only Israeli and Jewish passengers hostage in Entebbe; Yonatan Netanyahu leads historic rescue raid.


 

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5 responses

  1. Arlee Bird says:

    Television is definitely one of the most impactful influences in history.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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  2. Bob Scotney says:

    An interesting selection of things that have occurred in my lifetime. John Foster Dulles had a lot to answer for in the Suez crisis.

    T for Tolethorpe Hall http://bit.ly/2oCAXDA

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  3. Birgit says:

    Gosh, I remember vaguely when the raid happened. It was on tv, speaking bout something that changed the world, and I remember my dad talking bout this but I can’t quite remember what. TV is a huge influence on the world

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  4. scr4pl80 says:

    I remember the Entebbe. Just came across your blog from Barbara at Life and Faith in Caneyhead. I missed it during the A to Z but will be by to check the rest out!

    Like