Blog Posts

History of May the Fourth (Be With You): Star Wars Day

May 4, 2020 /
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May the fourth be with youHISTORY OF MAY THE FOURTH

May 4th or May the Fourth is a geek holiday that has gained popularity in recent years due to a popular film franchise. But where did it begin?

History

“May the Fourth” is taken from the benediction “May the Force be with you” made famous in the Star Wars film series. This pun intended holiday seems to have first been celebrated in the Toronto Underground Cinema in 2011. However, the use of this phrase predates this, going back to the day in 1979 when Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s first woman prime minister was elected. The Conservative party, upon the occasion of her officially becoming Prime Minister on May 4th, took out a half-page newspaper ad in the London Evening News that said: “May the Fourth be with you, Maggie. Congratulations.”

May the fourth

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History of Hitachi: Founders Day, from 1910

May 1, 2020 /
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Hitachi InspireHISTORY OF HITACHI: FOUNDERS DAY, FROM 1910

The multinational conglomerate Hitachi, Ltd., traces its history back to Namihei Odaira, a 19th-century pioneering electrical engineer. In Japan, during the Meiji Era of the late 1800s, with the move from a feudal society to an industrialized nation-state, the country wanted to take their place among the nations of the world with modern scientific technology. Because most electrical machinery was imported into Japan from other countries, Odaira wanted to develop home-grown technology “for the advancement of Japanese industry.”

Hitachi MineIn 1906 in the Ibaraki Prefecture of the Kanto region of Japan, about 90 km from Tokyo, Odaira worked at the newly opened Hitachi Mine repairing electric machinery. He also began developing hydroelectric power plants and railways for the mine. Although the mine is now closed, during its 70-year history, it was the oldest known ore deposit and one of Japan’s richest copper mines. (more…)

History of May Day

May 1, 2020 /
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mayday 798263HISTORY OF MAY DAY

May Day is many things to many people. Etymologically, it is a homophone (same sounding word) for the international call for help. It is a corruption of the French imperative “M’aidez” meaning “Help me!” It is a holiday claimed by many.

Pagan Holiday

It is known in the pagan world as Beltane, a fertility celebration, one of the four high holidays in the pagan and neo-pagan calendar, Samhain on October 31 is another. Beltane is the day of fire commemorating Bel or Belenos, the Celtic sun god. Indeed, in the modern Irish language, Bealtaine is the name for May.

Maypole

The early Anglo-Saxons began their celebration on the eve before, feasting the end of winter and the first planting. It was a time of revelry and abandon with the selection of a “May Queen” and the ribbons of the Maypole.
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History of the Liberation of Dachau — a Personal Reflection

April 30, 2020 /
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Rainbow Division

Rainbow Division plaque, Dachau gatehouse

HISTORY OF THE LIBERATION OF DACHAU, a Personal Reflection

On April 29, 1945, 75 years ago, toward the end of World War II, the Allies captured and liberated Dachau. My father, Staff Sergeant John Petro, was one of the liberators. It was one of the few stories from The War that my father told me in full.

Three divisions were recognized as “liberators” of Dachau, who had arrived on the first day. Many came through after that. Each of the three has a plaque along the walls of the Jorhaus, the gatehouse entrance to the camp. As I concluded my modern visit to Dachau and stood there in front of the plaque for his division, the Rainbow Division, I wept.

Impact

Dachau had been the first “concentration camp,” established in March 1933 near Munich, Germany. During its 12 years of operation, over 200,000 prisoners entered its gates. At first, Dachau held only political prisoners, but over time, more groups were imprisoned there. Unlike the later camp Auschwitz, it was not a “death camp” but instead was a work camp for slave labor, initially at a munition factory.

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History of the Liberation of Dachau: Present Day. Part 3

April 29, 2020 /
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Arbeit Macht Frei HISTORY OF THE LIBERATION OF DACHAU: Present Day. Part 3

In Part 1, I discussed the Nazi Concentration Camps and Dachau. In Part 2, I talk about my father’s involvement in the liberation as part of the 42nd “Rainbow” Division and his subsequent capture of the Nazi general in charge of Munich’s anti-aircraft artillery.

Epilogue:

Almost 60 years after WWII was over, I visited the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial in 2003. When I mentioned to the tour guides there that my father had liberated the camp, they all asked me a question. It was the same question:

“Do you have photographs?”

I sent them to the tribute website I’d created for my father, with the pictures he’d left me. I spoke to one young tour guide at Dachau, who was studying history at the local university. When I told him I had studied history at the University of California when I was his age, I asked him, “What do German people think of what happened at Dachau?” He told me:

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History of the Liberation of Dachau: April 30, 1945. Part 2

April 28, 2020 /
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Dachau Gate

Dachau Gate

HISTORY OF THE LIBERATION OF DACHAU: APRIL 30, 1945. Part 2

In Part 1, I discussed the Nazi Concentration Camps and the initial movement of US Army divisions into Dachau.

The Camp

As my father and the 42nd “Rainbow” Division moved into the Dachau Concentration Camp, of the 32,000 survivors still alive in the main camp, the largest groups included over 9,000 Polish and almost 4,000 Russians. There were 1,200 Catholic priests, the largest contingent of the 1,600 clergymen imprisoned. There were now only 2,100 Jews. Most Jews in the Dachau system were in the sub-camps. Their numbers were continually being augmented, though they were used up faster and shipped out more frequently to the extermination camps.

At Dachau, there were thousands of inmates who were dying of a typhus epidemic that had been ravaging the camp since the previous fall. Between February and April, over 13,000 prisoners died. Even in the month after liberation, 4,500 would die of typhus, malnutrition, and other diseases.

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History of the Liberation of Dachau: April 29, 1945. Part 1

April 27, 2020 /
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HISTORY OF THE LIBERATION OF DACHAU: APRIL 29, 1945. Part 1

I remember what my father had told me of his involvement in the liberation of Dachau shortly before he died 44 years ago. Some of his war buddies discovered the tribute site I’d created for him and called or emailed me to recount stories I’d not known previously, or only in part. In 2001 before HBO premiered their miniseries Band of Brothers, they were asking for historical background for their website to introduce each episode. My father’s story was featured for Episode 9 “Why We Fight” when Easy Company liberated one of the Dachau sub-camps. Over the years, scores of people have contacted me: the son of a liberated inmate had seen the pictures on the site and identified his father Stephen Ross (Rozenthal) — 14 at the time, an orphan from Poland who had survived 10 concentration camps in 5 years — as “the first striped pajama in the left foreground… your Dad saved my Dad’s life.” An 89-year old former inmate emailed me saying, “Yes for me it will be always The American Army who did it.” They’re almost all gone now but not forgotten. I’m indebted to the stories of the men of the Rainbow Division recounted in the book Dachau 29 April 1945 The Rainbow Liberation Memoirs, edited by Sam Dann.

Dachau LiberationSeventy-five years ago, on April 29, 1945, three divisions of the U.S. Army liberated Dachau Concentration Camp outside of Munich, Germany. My father, Staff Sergeant John Petro, was one of the liberators with the 42nd “Rainbow” Infantry Division of the 232nd Infantry. I have told his story elsewhere. Here is the historical background.

The 42nd Rainbow Infantry Division

The “Rainbow” Division was so named in WWI by Major Douglas MacArthur when 26 states and the District of Columbia National Guard units were combined into a single group. When he saw all the colorful state flags, he said it “resembled a rainbow across the country.”

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History of World Tai Chi Day

April 25, 2020 /
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History of World Tai Chi Day HISTORY OF WORLD TAI CHI DAY

Today is World Tai Chi and Qigong Day, celebrated at 10 am local time in cities around the world. This is held the last Saturday of April each year.

History

While this global celebration has been going on since 1999, now there are hundreds of cities across 80 countries and six continents around the world. Historically, it was started in Kansas City in 1998 by Bill Douglas and Angela Wong Douglas, co-authors of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to T’ai Chi and Qigong” who went on to found the international part of the event.
This event involves exhibitions in local parks and public areas of Tai Chi forms and Qigong exercises. Details of this can be found at WorldTaiChi.org. (more…)

History of Earth Day

April 22, 2020 /
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History of Earth Day HISTORY OF EARTH DAY

April 22 is called Earth Day because it both commemorates and celebrates the observance of the anniversary of our discovery of planet Earth. At this time, by all accounts, there is general agreement that Earth is far superior to the planet from which we came, as we shall recount below. Meanwhile, several companies on Earth celebrate it as a holiday, as mine does, or draw significant attention to it with feats of Interweb and mobile legerdemain.

Earth_Day_2019

Google

Google has gained ground going green, gathering gazillions of G-Suite guests giddy with great gobs of gleefully garnered gigabytes of storage.

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