Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Morning News

In our local paper, the weather, ‘Dear Abby’, Horoscopes and ‘Today in History’ are published on the same page. Always interesting, the history factoids are sometimes amazing.

For example -- on May 5, 1945, six people in Oregon were killed by a Japanese balloon bomb – the only war fatalities on the North American continent.

Beginning in 1944, Japan launched more than 9,000 huge rice paper balloons filled with hydrogen and carrying explosive devices. Transported by the jet stream, these were designed to explode along the west coast causing mass destruction and forest fires. Only about 1,000 reached North America. And only one was deadly.

On May 5, Rev. Archie Mitchell and his pregnant wife Elsie drove up to Orgeon’s Gearhart Mountain with five of their Sunday school students to have a picnic. Elsie and the kids got out of the car to look for a good picnic spot while Archie drove on to find a place to park. The kids spotted the balloon lying on the ground and when they approached it, it exploded, instantly killing Elsie and Dick Patzke, 14; Jay Gifford, 13; Edward Engen, 13; Joan Patzke, 13; and Sherman Shoemaker, 11.

A memorial, the Mitchell Monument, is located at the point of the explosion. Several Japanese civilians have visited the monument to offer their apologies for the deaths that took place there, and several cherry trees have been planted around the monument as a symbol of peace.

Not only are the factoids themselves interesting, the juxtaposition among the factoids is fascinating. On the same day that six people died in Oregon, Denmark and the Netherlands were liberated as a German surrender went into effect. And in 1934, the first Three Stooges short was released.

After listing 'Today's Birthdays', The ‘Today in History’ column always ends with a ‘Thought for Today’. On May 5, it was from Hermann Hesse: “Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.”



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