Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on July 4, 1976 · Page 86
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 86

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, July 4, 1976
Page 86
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Page 86 article text (OCR)

£ te^-K-'-^f^-s.^'^z--'' * ' r^g^Sp^^^' 2. X. r.'lriK.'^yvt 4 ..-.;-.'":..^^ E//;s Island, the gateway, to America for millions of European immigrants, opened in 7892. Here, a /arge ramify carries all its possessions in boxes and a pillowcase. This century saw another migration involving Americans--the first moon landing in /u/y; 7969: Astronaut Neil Armstrong takes his famous walk. hama, where they were greeted royally. The Roosevelt era was marked by a wave of domestic reforms and "trust- busting" starting in 1901, by the completion of the first trans-Pacific cable, and the flight of the Wright Brothers in 1903, also by the conquest of yellow fever in 1904, by the invention of the vacuum tube--used in radio and later in television--in 1906 (the same year as the San Francisco earthquake), and finally by Peary's successful dash to the North Pole in 1909. The Bull Moose Roosevelt's' handpicked successor was William Howard Taft, his former .Secretary of War, who tried to measure up to TR's dreams but never made it Taft, a true conservative, was accused of catering to special interests, the two eventually- split, and -Roosevelt, proclaiming himself "as strong as a bull moose," proceeded to run again for President as a third-party Progressive candidate. I attended his Bull Moose convention, and, on election day, although he outpolled Taft by more than 600,000 votes, he succeeded only in making Democrat Woodrow Wilson . the new President. The year was 1912, when I was a newspaper editor, the year of the Titanic iceberg disaster which claimed more than 1500 lives. Europe was sinking fast into a morass of petty intrigue. Little realizing what was to come, I was in the Arctic, the Klondike. War was inevitable and erupted following the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria by a Serbian terrorist in 1914. Wilson attempted at first to steer a neutral course. This was made difficult, if not impossible, by the sinking of the Lusitania by a German submarine with the loss of nearly 1200 lives and giant munitions explosions at Wilmington, Del., and Black Tom Island, N.J., allegedly due to German sabotage. But Wilson succeeded for a time. In 1915, the first long-distance service between New York and San Francisco . was inaugurated personally by Alexander Graham Bell, and "Hello Frisco" was the song hit of the year. By then I was a newspaper reporter and teaching in a |aw school in Chicago.- In 1916, Wilson ran successfully for reelection on a claim that he had "kept us out of war." But time was running out. Before Wilson could even be sworn into office for his second term, the Germans launched a campaign of unrestricted submarine warfare. A month later, the State Department disclosed the existence of a German plot to persuade Mexico to attack- the U.S. And a month after that, Wilson asked for and received a Declaration of War against Germany, saying: 'The world must be made safe for democracy." Observer of war It was made safe--or so we thought --thanks to a massive infusion of U.S. troops and supplies in Europe, and the help of a young Britisher named T. E. Lawrence, whom I met in Arabia (so long ago, it seems almost in another life). During this period I was an ob. server with all of the Allied armies from the North Sea to the Persian Gulf, and for a time in Germany when "The Central Powers" capitulated. But Wilson's dream of an effective League of Nations, led by the U.S., was shattered when the Senate refused to ratify U.S. membership. America again turned its back on Europe, with its Russian Revolution, and a Republican, handsome Warren G. Harding, was elected President in 1920,-winning on a pledge to return the nation to "normalcy." The result was an Administration-one of the most corrupt in U.S. history, capped by the Teapot Dome scandal following Harding's death--which perhaps typified the "Roaring Twenties." . It was an era that gave us seven years of economic prosperity, Woman Suffrage, Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, the Scopes Monkey Trial and talking movies, also Prohibition, bootlegging, Al Capone, the flapper, the Valentine's Day Massacre, the rebirth of the- Ku Klux Klan and finally an economic collapse,, here in the U.S. and the world over, unparalleled in all history. The Great Depression Running for President in 1928, Herbert Hoover had said: "We in America today are-nearer-the final triumph-over poverty than ever before-in.the history of any land." Then, in 1929, came a worldwide depression that no one man could control. By the end of 1932, and after the collapse of our stock market, the number of unemployed Americans soared to more than 15 million. One out of every three workers was looking for a job and finding none. Enter Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and with him the New Deal, the "Bank Holi- " day," the Hundred Days of frantic Congressional activity, the "Blue Eagle" 'of the NRA (later ruled unconstitutional), the repeal .of Prohibition, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Civilian Conservation Corps, Social Security, the WPA, the President's battle with the "Nine Old Men" of the Supreme Court, the first minimum wage, the 40-hour workweek, and a series of weekly "fireside chats" aimed at revitalizing the American spirit. "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself," said FDR. Slowly the nation began to'emerge from the depths of despair. We thrilled to the exploits of daredevil airmen such as Jimmy. Doolittle, "Wrong Way" Corrigan, and many more. We began to flock to the movies in unprecedented numbers--more than 80 million of us every week.. We laughed out loud at radio's "Amos 'n' Andy," maybe the most successful entertainment ever. And when Orson Welles staged his "Invasion From Mars," many radio listeners forgot the Depression entirely and fled for their lives. The first publicly broadcast television show in 1939 added still another promise of wonders yet to come, and it was my good luck to have the first TV news program. But there were some problems that defied even FDR's "magic touch." One was a terrible drought that created a vast Dust Bowl in the heartland of America and sent millions of migrants streaming to California. Another was the rise of fascism in Germany, Italy and japan, a wave soon to envelop the world in the greatest of all wars. Of course "right triumphed in the end." Roosevelt and Churchill were impressive figures in all this. When FDR died in April of 1945, less than a month before the collapse of Germany, it was left for Harry Truman to preside over the founding of the United Nations and later to end the war once and for all when we dropped the atom bomb on Japan. In 1946, following the Nuremberg trials where 11 Nazi leaders were sentenced to death, Truman proclaimed an official cessation of hostilities. In 1947 A the Cold War began as an "Iron Curtain" descended across Europe. The continued ,

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