ALL POSTS IN [History]

Photo Courtesy of Getty Images

Music fans will be cozied up by the TV tonight to watch the 56th annual Grammy Awards, broadcast live from LA.  Not only will fans be sitting on the edge of their seats in anticipation of who will win the coveted award, but they will also be poised to see and hear some top-notched performances that are creating a lot of buzz.

Sunday is a big Nielsen ratings night for the popular TV show, Downton Abbey, but producers of the awards show are hoping to attract more viewers by including some exciting collaborative performances like Jay-Z and Beyonce; Robin Thicke and Chicago; and yes, a Beatles reunion with Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney. The remaining members of the ’60s band will take the stage to perform in a tribute to commemorate the British rockers’ first performance on The Ed Sullivan Show 50 years ago.

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How far did Martin Luther King Jr. travel in his life?

Over the course of the civil rights leader’s 39 years, MLK marched with tens of thousands of civil rights activists from Selma to Montgomery; spoke before tens of thousands more on DC’s National Mall; and in an eerie premonition, told an audience at Mason Temple church in Memphis that “we as a people will get to the Promised Land.” MLK was shot the very next evening, on a balcony, at Memphis’s Lorraine Motel.

While MLK’s domestic trips are well-documented, especially through the South, Dr. King was also a world traveler. In the last 11 years of his life, Dr. King traveled some 6 million miles. READ MORE

Fans gather at Graceland to celebrate Elvis’s birthday (photo: Reuters)

Seventy-nine years ago today, in the Mississippi town of Tupelo, the future King of Rock ‘n’ Roll was born. This morning, in celebration of the life of Elvis Aaron Presley — the singer, actor and legend who turned rockabilly into a sound all his own and forever changed how we view slicked-back hair, leather pants and Hawaii’s shores – Graceland kicks off a 3-day Elvis Birthday Celebration.

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Cathedral of Brasília (Photo Courtesy of Embratur)

One might assume that Brasília, the capital of Brazil, has been around for more than a century, but in reality, it was built on an impressive timeline of just 41 months, from 1956 to 1960. Brazil’s capital for the longest time was the extremely populated Rio de Janeiro, but then the government decided it was essential for the capital to be moved to the center of the country. And so, Brasília was born!

Brasília, the Capital of Innovation
Unlike other host cities for the FIFA World Cup 2014, Brasília is unique in that it was entirely a planned city. As part of the country’s “50 years of prosperity in 5″ plan, Brazil’s president at the time, Juscelino Kubitschek, and urban planner Lúcio Costa approached Oscar Niemeyer about becoming the chief architect in designing the new city’s public buildings.

At the time, Niemeyer was the youngest and most influential designer on the team, having served as the architectural mastermind behind the United Nations Headquarters in New York City roughly a decade before. From the moment he signed onto the project, Niemeyer turned Brasilia into his playground, creating buildings with modern and surreal architecture that could reflect the young capital’s innovativeness. Years later, UNESCO cited Brasília as a World Heritage site.

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Bonnie and Clyde

Ain’t they sweet: Bonnie and Clyde (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Bonnie and Clyde, there’s just something about this gun-toting, crime-loving pair of love birds that continues to intrigue. The 3-network, 2-night event that kicks off Sunday is just the latest example of the decades-long affair with this spunky Texas duo.

Over the years, crooners from Merle Haggard to Mel Torme have sung about them, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway offered a ’60s-chic spin on them, and in recent years, the famed La Jolla Playhouse staged an award-winning musical about them, entitled, aptly enough, Bonnie & Clyde.

But let’s get real. The real Bonnie Parker didn’t look like Faye Dunaway or Holliday Grainger, and Clyde Barrow didn’t look like Warren Beatty or Emile Hirsch. This duo did more than pose in chic photo stills with guns — they actually robbed banks … and killed people, a total of 12, during some of their bungled robberies. But we just can’t let this story go, thanks, in no small part, to the black-and-white images from the early 1930s showing Bonnie in a really cool-looking beret, as she points a gun in jest toward her fedora-wearing guy pal, Clyde. So sweet.

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Nelson Mandela, father of a nation, became South Africa's first black president.

Nelson Mandela, father of a nation, became South Africa’s first black president. (Photo: Getty)

The father of a nation has died, and flags throughout Nelson Mandela’s beloved South Africa were lowered to half-staff yesterday.

Tributes to Nelson Mandela — South Africa’s first black president, after 3 centuries of white domination — extended far beyond the country he helped free from a government-sponsored system of apartheid which, between 1948 and 1994, denied South Africa’s majority equal treatment under the law, in scenes eerily reminiscent of the Jim Crow South.

Upon learning of Mandela’s death yesterday at the age of 95, Harlem’s Apollo Theater quickly adjusted its marquee to read, “He Changed Our World.” President Obama ordered all flags flying throughout Washington, DC, lowered to half-staff. And the South African embassy in Washington, DC, saw passersby leaving flowers and mementos by the statue of Nelson Mandela.

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JFK assassination - funeral in DC

Photo: JFK Presidential Library

“From Dallas, Texas, the flash, apparently official …”

Ask nearly anyone over the age of 55, and they can tell you exactly where they were when CBS newsman Walter Cronkite read the AP newsflash, confirming that America’s 35th president, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, had been publicly murdered at 12:40 p.m. CST in Dallas.

For Americans born in the decades since, this grim chapter in American life can now be relived in exhibits across the country, marking the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination. Some items have never been displayed before, such as the flag that draped JFK’s casket. Here’s where you can revisit a few of the historic items related to the JFK assassination, when America’s love affair with Camelot came to a violent end.

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Gettysburg Address anniversary events

Gettysburg Address 150th: Nov. 19 sees a day-long celebration of events in the historic town of Gettysburg

The tourist hordes that swamped Gettysburg back in July for the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg won’t be back in quite the same numbers to celebrate the reading of Abraham Lincoln’s most famous speech Tuesday, Nov. 19.

But that doesn’t mean this month’s commemorations won’t be big, as the town of Gettysburg, and the nation, mark the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address.

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Why is the National WWII Museum in The Big Easy? (All photos: National WWII Museum)

Between Pearl Harbor and the end of the Second World War, railroads provided more than 40 million rides to Americans on active military service.

With that statistic in mind, the National World War II Museum will mark Veterans Day Nov. 11 with the opening of a stationary railroad car of 1940s vintage.

According to Clem Goldberger, a vice president at the museum, visitors on the Pullman car will feel like they’re actually moving — thanks to modern computer wizardry.

National WWII Museum railway

WWII train depot, recreated at WWII Museum.

“Everyone went off to war by train,” says Clem Goldberger, “and those who came back returned home the same way. Our train car will feature a video scrapbook and have vintage music. It’s going to really feel like it did during the war. Our guests will see 1940s America going by.” About the only thing missing will be the soot from the steam engine, she adds.

Now that you’re intrigued, you’re probably wondering: Just why is the National World War II Museum located in New Orleans in the first place?

The massive National World War II Museum, officially recognized by Congress, is located in New Orleans because founding historian Stephen Ambrose of Band of Brothers fame wanted to pay tribute to Andrew Jackson Higgins, the New Orleans-based designer of the amphibious landing craft that proved so decisive on D-Day, the day the Allies invaded Nazi-occupied Europe.

Pullman car at WWII Museum in New Orleans

Inside the Pullman car at the WWII Museum.

The boats were manufactured in The Big Easy.

Called the D-Day Museum before its enormous expansion, the National World War II Museum features several films, USO shows, 40s-style restaurants, and hundreds of exhibits and artifacts as well as a gift shop. A special Veterans Day program is planned for today.

A newly created website, www.myveteransday.org, is hoping to collect a million thank-yous for veterans who served in the American armed forces.

Learn more about the National WWII Museum at www.nationalww2museum.org.

 

About the Author: Former AP newsman Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ, is travel editor of Sirius XM’s Maggie Linton Show and New Jersey Lifestyle Magazine. He is also the author of 36 baseball books.


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Alaska Day: Annual flag raising ceremony in Sitka, AK (Photo: Sitka CVB/William Greer)

Hooray for Alaska Day! All the talk of American exceptionalism may have taken a little hit lately, especially from our friends in Russia, but today there’s something to cheer about: In commemoration of the official transfer of Alaska from Russia to the United States in 1867, a special ceremony will take place in the southeastern Alaskan town of Sitka. Down goes the Russian flag and up goes Old Glory at Castle Hill, one of the most historically important sites in Alaska, once occupied by the Tlingit, an indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest Coast, and later by the Russians.

A Little Russia … in Alaska
No word on whether Putin will be on-hand for all the Alaska Day festivities. But hundreds of locals will be — receptions, auctions, barn dances, kayak races and a whole lot more are all planned, capping off a month-long series of events that have already included a hat tip to our Russian counterparts, like a Russian food festival (check out our own Russian food tour), as well as performances of traditional Russian folk dances and a tea break at the Russian Bishop’s House, one of the few surviving examples of Russian colonial architecture in the US.

But let’s be real: You didn’t come to Alaska to see Russia … not primarily, anyway. A trip to the Last Frontier State is probably on any outdoor lover’s bucket list. But just in case you can’t take advantage of all the Alaska travel discounts that typically accompany October, fear not — this is a good time to start planning a trip to America’s 49th state over the coming months. Here’s a primer of the best times to visit Alaska and special anniversaries ahead:

Winter Travel: November to April
November is a great time to see Alaska’s northern lights and share in the excitement of the Trail Sled Dog Race (the “Last Great Race on Earth,” from Anchorage to Nome). Plus, you can watch the World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks (Alaska’s “Golden Heart City”). This season is also a great time to enjoy outdoor Alaskan activities such as heli-skiing in Alaska, as well as snowmobiling, snowshoeing and dog mushing.

Peak Season: Mid-May to Mid-September
You’ll be among the many visitors to Alaska during peak season, but for good reason: The days are at their longest, and the temperatures their warmest, affording plenty of opportunity for hiking, river-rafting, camping, fishing and flightseeing, as well as a chance to take an Alaska road trip.

Alaska’s Marine Highway System turned 50 this year. (Photo: State of Alaska/Reinhard Pantke)

Alaska Marine Highway System: Turns 50
Explore 31 ports of call in Alaska, courtesy of the Alaska Marine Highway System. Spanning an amazing 3,100 miles, this ferry service, which turns 50 this year, operates along Alaska’s south-central coast. Upon arrival in ports, offers visitors a variety of activities, such as authentic native culture (totem carvings, dances, traditional music and more), as well as day cruises with local tour operators, fishing charters and more.

Under-the-Radar National Parks
Sure, Denali is a once-in-a-lifetime trip. But don’t forget Alaska’s other national parks, especially in 2014, which marks the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, the 1964 federal law that protects nearly 110 million acres of wilderness in states throughout the US and is now considered one of America’s greatest conservation achievements. About 32 million of those acres can be found in Alaska — more than anywhere else in the country. Check out under-the-radar national parks like Gates of the Arctic, Lake Clark and Wrangell-St. Elias.

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