Category Archives: History

DNA Identifies 1641st Victim of 9/11 Terror Attack on World Trade Center

DNA testing has identified the 1,641st victim of the 9/11 terror attack on the World Trade Center, according to Melissa Quinn at the Washington Examiner. The identity is being withheld out of respect for the family’s request for privacy.

On September 11, 2001, 2,753 were killed when terrorists flew airplanes into the Twin Towers and, 16 years later, there are still 1,112 who remain unidentified.

March 2015 was the last time a victim was identified. As new DNA testing methods are discovered, remains are tested again and again in hopes of bringing closure to families.

The Guardian further explained that the procedure included more sensitive DNA technology used by the medical examiner’s office, with some bone fragments tested over and over, sometimes almost a dozen times, hoping to produce an answer to the identity. Their methods and tenacity are amazing and encouraging, as explained in this expanded description of poring over the remains.

The sixteenth anniversary of the tragic 9/11 attacks is in four weeks, a time when the nation pauses to remember the loss of 3,000 innocent lives on American soil. Never forget.

Cross-posted at Bearing Drift

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‘The Eyes of the World Are Upon You’ … D-Day 73 Years Later

[Today marks 73 years since the D-Day invasion. A year ago the small community of Bedford, Virginia, commemorated the 72nd anniversary of Operation Overlord. Here are photos from that day (see also Part 2).]

DSCN1760 (2)“Fifty-seven years ago, America and the nations of Europe formed a bond that has never been broken. And all of us incurred a debt that can never be repaid. Today, as America dedicates our D-Day Memorial, we pray that our country will always be worthy of the courage that delivered us from evil and saved the free world.”
–President George W. Bush (at National D-Day Memorial dedication, June 6, 2001)

Monday, June 6, 2016, was a day for sights and sounds and memories and stories from some of the few remaining veterans who survived June 6, 1944. It was the 72nd anniversary of Operation Overlord — the allied invasion of Normandy, known as D-Day — that marked the beginning of the end of World War II.

Exiting the four-lane highway in Bedford and turning onto Overlord Drive, it is a quiet drive through open fields up the hill to a place of reverence and thankfulness. Surrounded by the peaceful Virginia countryside with the Blue Ridge Mountains, including Sharp Top and Flat Top mountains that form the Peaks of Otter in the distance, the National D-Day Memorial provides an opportunity to learn and reflect on a pivoting event in America’s — and the world’s — history.

The overwhelming extent of the sacrifices made as well as the huge operation that involved 150,000 Allied troops, 5,000 ships, 11,000 aircraft, and huge losses of more than 9,000 Allied soldier who died, including 2,499 American soldiers, in the largest amphibious landing the world has ever seen, was sobering. The liberation of Europe began that day and, though the war would continue for almost a year longer, the Normandy invasion gave Allied forces an opening to begin working their way across Europe to defeat Hitler.

Thankfully, the vision of D-Day veteran Bob Slaughter to have a national site to remember and honor those involved was achieved, and the National D-Day Memorial was dedicated on June 6th, 2001, by President George W. Bush.

My husband and I arrived early on Monday and stayed into the afternoon — attending the 11am ceremony, strolling the grounds, reading the historical plaques, and listening to the roll call of names. We left with a renewed appreciation for the Greatest Generation. Below are photos that capture a small part of the day. May we never forget.


Why Bedford for the national memorial? As explained in the video, the memorial is a reminder of the extreme sacrifice the small Virginia town at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains made during the invasion on June 6, 1946. They lost more men per capita than any other location in America. Of the 30 Bedford soldiers in Company A, 19 perished that day and four others during the war. That sacrifice by the Bedford Boys was the reason their town was chosen as the site for the national memorial. For photos of the memorial’s tribute to the Bedford Boys, see 72 years later … the Bedford Boys.

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For the first time ever the roll call of the names of the 2,499 Americans killed on D-Day was read by volunteers whose voices could be heard  throughout the memorial’s grounds. The honoring of the fallen continued for three hours into the afternoon with names read by veterans, families, volunteers, and dignitaries.

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Mother’s Day with Barbara and George W. Bush: Then and Now

Happy Mother’s Day to America’s former First Lady.

Barbara Bush with her first-born son, George W. Bush.

Former First Lady Barbara Bush (#Bush41) with son former President George W. Bush (#Bush43).

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On this day in 1775 … ‘Give me liberty, or give me death’

[It has been 242 years since Virginia’s own Patrick Henry issued his “Give me liberty or give me death!” speech at St. John’s Church in Richmond. Remembering that important part of Virginia and American history, I was reminded of 2007 and a special recognition presented from Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling. Originally published March 11, 2007.]

In 1775, unrest in America was growing (see background history here). When Delegate Patrick Henry stood up to speak, his words rang out in St. John’s Church but it was the closing lines that most remembered, then and today.

“Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

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David Rockefeller Dies at 101, Family Saved Colonial Williamsburg

David Rockefeller died Monday. He was 101 years old, the grandson of oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller Sr., last survivor of John D. Rockefeller Jr’s children, the youngest of his siblings. As heir to the Standard Oil fortune, David Rockefeller was a billionaire who made his way in the world as a banker, a philanthropist, and a patron of the arts with an art collection estimated to be worth $500 million.

John D. Rockefeller’s children and grandchildren were taught that with great wealth comes great responsibility, and over the years numerous projects have been the benefactors of the family’s generosity.

The citizens of Virginia and the nation benefitted greatly from the Rockefeller family’s generous philanthropy that made possible the restoration of a forgotten and run-down Colonial Williamsburg, a premiere living-history museum that is known around the world. The family’s financial support of Williamsburg exceeded $100 million over the years, beginning in the 1920s when David Rockefeller’s father became involved in the restoration and re-creation of this national treasure.

America owes a great deal of gratitude for this influential family’s part in preserving a very important part of our history.

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Grandma’s Wedding Band

My wedding ring along with my grandmother’s thin gold band.

A friend recently lost his grandmother which made my mind drift back to memories of my own grandma who passed away when I was 14 years old. In her 80s, she was the first person to die who was close to me.

Her name was Mollie, and when she was in her late 60s she lost her wedding ring. My mom, who was in her 20s at the time, bought a replacement ring, a thin gold band that was larger than usual to fit over my grandmother’s gnarled fingers and knuckles. They were hard-working hands, hands that had raised 10 children, worked in the farm fields and canned the rewards from those fields; washed, ironed, and cleaned; snapped beans and made dumplings. I was an infant at the time but Grandma said that when she passed on she wanted me, my mom’s oldest child, to have that wedding band.

Engraved inside the thin sliver of gold were their initials, “JFO” for John Francis Osborne, and “MKO” for Mollie Kennedy Osborne, along with the date they were married: August 21, 1904, which was a Sunday.

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My Great-Grandfather’s Kennedy Country Store … Alleghany County, NC

My mother’s family has deep roots in Alleghany County, North Carolina, where they settled in the mountains just over the state line from Virginia and outside of Sparta, NC. Drive the back roads and you’ll see lots of Kennedys.

Cross the New River from Grayson County, Virginia, into North Carolina and follow the winding country roads to an area called Turkey Knob that has been inhabited for generations by my relatives. This is the location of the Kennedy Country Store, started in the 1880s by my great-grandfather, James L. Kennedy.

James L. Kennedy was my grandmother’s father, and he established the store in the Potato Creek Community in the late 1800s selling peanuts and coffee. He and his son, Carl M. Kennedy, took weekly turns working the store and going home to Turkey Knob Community to farm. This great-grandfather had 24 children … but that’s another family story for another day.

Around 1907, Kennedy Store was moved to a wooden building in Turkey Knob Community across the road from its present location at the intersection of Mount Carmel Road and Turkey Knob Road. Part of the old store stood in its original place until 2008 when it became necessary to tear it down from years of wear. The existing store was build in 1937.

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Jenna Bush Hager Tweets Her Dad’s 2001 ‘Islam Is Peace’ Remarks

Pledging his support, President George W. Bush talks via telephone Thursday, Sept. 13, 2001, to New York Gov. George Pataki and New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.  Photo by Eric Draper, Courtesy of the George W. Bush Presidential Library

In remarks that lasted a total of seven minutes, President George W. Bush calmed an uneasy nation and the world just six days after the horrific terrorist attacks of 9/11. It was September 17, 2001, and he was at the Islamic Center in Washington, D.C.

In the days following the worst attacks the U.S. had ever experienced on American soil, as the nation mourned the deaths of 3,000 innocent victims, the president knew he had to prevent wide-spread panic. Not far from the White House, he delivered his message, reaching out to the Muslim population as well as America and the global community, with a message of tolerance.

“The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam,” he told those in attendance. “That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don’t represent peace. They represent evil and war.”

He continued, “America counts millions of Muslims amongst our citizens, and Muslims make an incredibly valuable contribution to our country.  Muslims are doctors, lawyers, law professors, members of the military, entrepreneurs, shopkeepers, moms and dads.  And they need to be treated with respect. In our anger and emotion, our fellow Americans must treat each other with respect.”
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Welcome 2017 … a Look Back at 2016

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It’s New Year’s Eve and we’ve decided on a quiet evening after weeks of activities with friends and family. Freshly back in town, I’m content to sit in the light of the Christmas tree on this dark and cold December night with a fire in the woodstove and the outdoor holiday lights turned on to brighten the darkness.

Looking back on 2016, I’m grateful on many levels. In January I happily rejoined Bearing Drift after a 1.5-year hiatus. In February I celebrated 10 years in the Virginia conservative blogosphere. Writing is my passion and politics is my hobby. This year they both took a hit with the crazed primaries and election that left some with many questions. I still continue my LynnRMitchell.com blog with postings about my back road ramblings, sights along the way, and photographs of where I’ve been.

Politics continues to be a swamp with back-stabbers who follow power and change sides on a whim. Those who are truly loyal are a tiny number, not just in politics but life in general.

A few highlights from the year….

It was a happy day in June when former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell was exonerated when the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously threw out his corruption conviction with an 8-0 decision. It left the former governor free but in debt for millions of dollars after his defense against an overzealous federal government.

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2016 started with a blizzard in mid-January that dumped 18 inches of snow on the Valley with three-to-four foot drifts. The storm also affected most of the Commonwealth including Northern Virginia and Richmond.

The Republican presidential primaries and debates dominated the year. The GOP began with 18 candidates and whittled it down to one. The Super Bowl saw the Denver Broncos defeat the Carolina Panthers. In March Virginians were saddened at the passing of Nelson County native Earl Hamner, author and co-creator of “The Waltons” TV show, and mourned the death of former First Lady Nancy Reagan, wife of President Ronald Reagan.

The Republican Party of Virginia held its state convention in Harrisonburg on the campus of James Madison University. Nelson County’s Devil’s Backbone Brewery was acquired by beer giant Anheuser-Busch. In Bedford, the 72nd anniversary of D-Day was commemorated with a ceremony held at the Memorial and attended by people from around the world. 2016 also marked the 30th anniversary of Hands Across America.

In July Democrats made history by nominating Hillary Clinton as the first woman presidential candidate of a major political party, and she chose Virginia U.S. Senator Tim Kaine as her running mate. In November Americans elected Donald Trump as president.

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A devastating flood hit West Virginia during the summer. A National Park warning went out about black bears; at Humpback Rock along the Blue Ridge Parkway a bear broke into a vehicle while at the northern end of Skyline Drive a bear killed a hiker’s dog.

In September, Natural Bridge became Virginia’s newest state park. In April, Shenandoah National Park had the second-largest forest fire in its history, consuming more than 10,000 acres. 2016 was the fifteenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorism attacks on America, and the tenth anniversary of the death of “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin.

There were many celebrity deaths during the year as well as notable names of those who are not as familiar but who made a mark on the world. The list of names is almost staggering, leading many to curse the fact that 2016 had taken so many, but blogosphere colleague Doug Mantaconis explains why there seemed to be so many:

… the reason that it appears that more celebrities are dying is a combination of several factors. First, many of the people who have died in the past year became celebrities during one of the biggest population increases in the history of the United States and other nations in the West, which means that there are more people to take notice of their passing and, likely, that there are more “famous” people than there used to be in the past.

Second, the rise of new technologies and new genres of music and other forms of entertainment means that there is more of a likelihood that any particular day, week, or month, will include the death of someone that some significant group of people consider famous for some reason.

Additionally, as I already noted, the existence of online social media and the Internet means that people are more likely to be exposed to things they otherwise might have missed in the past and that the news of someone passing away spreads more easily, and more rapidly than it ever has before. These phenomena also serve as a sort of shared community where people can share their grief over the passing of a favorite actor or singer.

To many 2016 was a good year. Others are glad to see it go. In a few hours, 2017 will roll in and we begin anew.

Happy New Year!

Cross-posted at Bearing Drift

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Astronaut and Former U.S. Senator John Glenn Is Dead at 95

Official U.S. Senate portrait of John Glenn, 1990s.

Official U.S. Senate portrait of John Glenn, 1990s.

John Glenn, the first American astronaut to circle the earth, has died at the age of 95.

The Washington Post, in noting his passing, wrote:

One of the original “Magnificent Seven” astronauts in NASA’s Mercury program, John Glenn captured the nation’s attention in 1962 when he first circumnavigated the globe and returned as a hero who had scaled heights no American had reached before.

In his post-NASA career, Glenn served four terms as a U.S. senator from Ohio. Following his last term in 1998, at age 77, he took a final flight of glory, rocketing back into space as a crew member aboard the space shuttle Discovery.

For Baby Boomers, John Glenn was a familiar name as America became more involved in the space race. Glenn and his fellow space pioneers who made up the Magnificent 7 — Scott Carpenter, Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom, Gordo Cooper, Wally Schirra, and Deke Slayton — literally went where no man had gone before. They were the first astronauts … they were the space cowboys.

A Marine pilot who went on to run for public office after retiring from NASA, Glenn outlived them all. His body will lie in state in the Ohio Capitol, and he will be buried at Arlington Cemetery.

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Pearl Harbor and 9/11 … Have We Forgotten?

pearl-harbor-1Today is December 7th … Pearl Harbor Day.

December 7, 1941 … 75 years ago America suffered the worst attack ever on our soil at the hands of the Japanese who conducted a sneak attack on the U.S. Naval base in Hawaii. It was, in the words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, “a date which will live in infamy.”

Or so we thought.

Sixty years later, on September 11, 2001, America came under an even larger attack on our soil and it wasn’t on an island in the South Pacific. It was right here on the mainland. America was attacked in New York City and Pennsylvania and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. More people died that day than in 1941. The big difference was that they were civilians.

Have Americans forgotten Pearl Harbor? Most who are alive to remember are now in their 90s. Many of the survivors have passed away … the rest are increasingly in frail health.

How on God’s green earth do we expect people to remember Pearl Harbor, an event that happened 75 years ago, when many have already forgotten the terror from 9/11 that occurred just a short 15 years ago? Have Americans lost their resolve? Their will? Their courage? Their honor? Their willingness to stand up for the home front?

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November 22, 1963 … the Day America Wept

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“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
–President John F. Kennedy

It’s one of those dates that you always remember where you were and what you were doing when the news broke that President John F. Kennedy had been shot and killed in Dallas. November 22, 1963.

In America, everyone wept — Democrats, Republicans, Protestants, Catholics — all felt the violent loss of a well-liked president who was assassinated. Schools were out, a state funeral was broadcast on television, a nation mourned.

Could it really be 53 years since that fateful day….

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The 9/11 Sound Sculpture … a Virginian Designs a Voice For the Silent

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Xaver Wilhelmy
Master Craftsman of Pianos and Organs
Geshenke as Glas Studio, Harrisonburg, Va

A work of art emerged from the sorrow of 9/11, a vision insired by the loss of 2,996 souls, and intended to “speak” for each of the perished. Staunton master craftsman Xaver Wilhelmy envisioned this one-of-a-kind pipe-organ featuring glass pipes, a medium he was the first in the world to use, emblazond with the American flag. There would be one pipe to represent each of the 2,996 so their voices would not be permanetly silenced, and so he enlisted the help of Staunton artist Bob Kirchman to design and bring the dream to life.

“I thought, one ought to remember the life. One ought to remember the interaction, the voices of people,” Wilhelmy would later say.

The dream slowly became reality as Wilhemy and Kirchman worked together while Kirchman listened and sketced out Wilelmy’s vision. The design was entered as a contender for the 9/11 Memorial in New York City and though another design was chosen, the Sound Sculpture is a melodic reminder of a dark day in America’s history.

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9/11 remembered at Bearing Drift

9-11-11-flight-93Please join me at BearingDrift.com today as we remember 9/11 with memories of that day from colleagues and friends, and with live-time timeline of the events that unfolded that day.

I will never forget that day. I don’t want to forget that day. #NeverForget

9/11 Memories, 15 Septembers Later

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American flags in front of our house every 9/11. We will never forget.

When the White House was evacuated on that fateful day in 2001, my sister, part of President George W. Bush’s administration, was among those working at the White House. Instructed by Secret Service to evacuate and then to flee as fast as possible from the White House, women removed their heels as staffers in the White House and Old Executive Office Building ran for their lives, fully aware that United Flight 93 was approaching the nation’s capital. My sister has barely talked about that day … the rawness is still real … but I am forever grateful to the heroes of Flight 93 who prevented a tragedy at the Capitol or White House.

I will never forget September 11, 2001 … and I don’t want to forget. Fifteen Septembers have passed, and I am still easily overcome with emotion.

That week my husband and I were vacationing in Colonial Williamsburg with our two teenage children. The morning of September 11 we had just arrived in the Colonial area, freshly-purchased annual passes in hand, when a Colonial interpreter told us of the World Trade Center attacks. I immediately quickly walked off to the side to call my mom in Richmond to see if she had heard from my sister in D.C. Amazingly, perhaps because her Austin cell phone was still routing through Texas, my sister was able to call and reassure our mom that she was okay even as tens of thousands of others in Washington encountered jammed phone lines.

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