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This week in American history is dedicated to the armed forces that fought for the United States from the Revolution to modern times, paving the way for a better future for not only this country, but the world. Here is a brief history of military action through the years in this week’s “Let’s Talk About America for a Second”.

Nov 11, 1918: World War I ends

At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the Great War ends. At 5 a.m. that morning, Germany, bereft of manpower and supplies and faced with imminent invasion, signed an armistice agreement with the Allies in a railroad car outside Compiégne, France. The First World War left nine million soldiers dead and 21 million wounded, with Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, France, and Great Britain each losing nearly a million or more lives. In addition, at least five million civilians died from disease, starvation, or exposure.

 

Nov 12, 1864: The destruction of Atlanta begins

On this day in 1864, Union General William T. Sherman orders the business district of Atlanta, Georgia, destroyed before he embarks on his famous March to the Sea.

When Sherman captured Atlanta in early September 1864, he knew that he could not remain there for long. His tenuous supply line ran from Nashville, Tennessee, through Chattanooga, Tennesse, then one hundred miles through mountainous northern Georgia. The army he had just defeated, the Army of Tennessee, was still in the area and its leader, John Bell Hood, swung around Atlanta to try to damage Sherman’s lifeline. Of even greater concern was the Confederate cavalry of General Nathan Bedford Forrest, a brilliant commander who could strike quickly against the railroads and river transports on which Sherman relied.

 

Nov 13, 1982: Vietnam Veterans Memorial dedicated

Near the end of a weeklong national salute to Americans who served in the Vietnam War, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is dedicated in Washington after a march to its site by thousands of veterans of the conflict. The long-awaited memorial was a simple V-shaped black-granite wall inscribed with the names of the 57,939 Americans who died in the conflict, arranged in order of death, not rank, as was common in other memorials.

 

Nov 14, 1776: Benjamin Franklin takes sides

On this day in 1776, the St. James Chronicle of London carries an item announcing “The very identical Dr. Franklyn [Benjamin Franklin], whom Lord Chatham [former leading parliamentarian and colonial supporter William Pitt] so much caressed, and used to say he was proud in calling his friend, is now at the head of the rebellion in North America.”

 

Nov 15, 1957: Nikita Khrushchev challenges United States to a missile “shooting match”

In a long and rambling interview with an American reporter, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev claims that the Soviet Union has missile superiority over the United Statesand challenges America to a missile “shooting match” to prove his assertion. The interview further fueled fears in the United States that the nation was falling perilously behind the Soviets in the arms race.

 

Nov 16, 1961: Kennedy decides to increase military aid to Saigon

President John F. Kennedy decides to increase military aid to South Vietnam without committing U.S. combat troops.

Kennedy was concerned at the advances being made by the communist Viet Cong, but did not want to become involved in a land war in Vietnam. He hoped that the military aid would be sufficient to strengthen the Saigon government and its armed forces against the Viet Cong. Ultimately it was not, and Kennedy ended up sending additional support in the form of U.S. military advisors and American helicopter units. By the time of his assassination in 1963, there were 16,000 U.S. soldiers in South Vietnam.

Information source: History.com

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