Blog Posts

History of VE-Day: End of WWII in Europe 79 Years Ago

May 7, 2024 /
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Seventy-nine years ago today, World War II ended in Europe with the Allies accepting the unconditional surrender from Germany on VE-Day.

Or did it?


May 7, 1945, VE-Day


SHAEF, Reims

Adolf Hitler had committed suicide in his Berlin bunker a week earlier on April 30, 1945, as I describe in my article on the liberation of Dachau.

At 2:41 AM on May 7, Allied General Dwight Eisenhower received the unconditional surrender of German General Alfred Jodi at Reims, France in a red brick building at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF). It stipulated that hostilities were to cease at 11:01 PM the next day on May 8, 1945.


History of Holocaust Remembrance Day

May 5, 2024 /
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History of Holocaust Remembrance Day


Today, at sunset, May 5, begins Holocaust Remembrance Day in America. It is a part of the eight Holocaust Days of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust (DRVH), established by the U.S. Congress as the nation’s annual commemoration of the Holocaust.

The U.S. Army remembers the six million Jews and millions of other victims of the Holocaust and honors the survivors’ resilience. It runs from the Sunday before Yom HaShoah through the following Sunday.


History of Cinco de Mayo

May 4, 2024 /
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Cinco de Mayo is frequently regarded as the Mexican equivalent of the United States’ 4th of July. This is incorrect: it is the equivalent of the “5th of May” in Spanish.

Another misconception is that this has something to do with Mayonnaise. That, too, is a bum spread, as the condiment originated with the French, who will come into our story later.

Finally, it does not involve County Mayo in Ireland, though we’ll make sure the Irish get into this story at some point. Instead, the “Battle of Cinco de Mayo,” specifically the Battle of Puebla, occurred on May 5, 1862.


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

May 3, 2024 /
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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 of May the Fourth

“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

History of the King James Bible: Over 400 Years of the Authorized Version?

May 2, 2024 /
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Four hundred thirteen years ago, on May 2, 1611, marked the publishing, at the request of the Anglican clergy, of what would become the Authorized Version of the Bible to wide acclaim.

But there are at least three problems with that statement.

While it is true that the King James Bible was published in 1611 and eventually became the most influential Bible in the English-speaking world – if not the most printed book of all time:


  1. The Anglican clergy did not request it, at least not by the conformist Episcopalian ministers.
  2. Nor did it subsequently become officially authorized by the King.
  3. Finally, those who initially requested it, the Puritans, refused to read it but used the English-language Geneva Bible instead.


The details of how the King James Bible came to be are rather more complex. While May 2 is the date that the publication is celebrated, the actual printing date is not known with certainty.


History of May Day

May 1, 2024 /
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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.


May Day as a 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.


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

April 30, 2024 /
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Dachau Gate

Dachau Gate


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


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.


History of the Liberation of Dachau: April 29, 1945

April 29, 2024 /
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I remember what my father had told me of his involvement in the liberation of Dachau shortly before he died in 1976. 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 asked for historical background for their website to introduce each episode. My father’s story was featured on their website to introduce Episode 9, “Why We Fight,” when Easy Company liberated one of the Dachau sub-camps.


History of World Tai Chi Day

April 26, 2024 /
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Tomorrow is World Tai Chi and Qigong Day, celebrated at 10 a.m. local time in cities around the world on the last Saturday of April each year.


History behind World Tai Chi Day

While this global celebration has been going on since 1999, there are now 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


History of St. Mark the Evangelist: Which Mark?

April 25, 2024 /
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Mark the Evangelist is the author of the earliest written gospel, the Gospel of Mark, which appeared about 30 years after the crucifixion of Jesus in the late AD ’60s.

His feast day is April 25 for Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. He is significant historically both as the writer of the earliest Gospel and as the patron saint of Venice.

Which Mark is this, what is he known for, where did he travel, where is he now?


Which Mark?

The name Mark also appears elsewhere in the New Testament. One is John Mark, mentioned in The Book of Acts chapters 12, 13, and 15. The Pauline epistles of Colossians and Philemon mention Mark as the cousin of the evangelist Barnabas, who was an early traveling companion of St. Paul. The early Christian theologian Hippolytus of Rome of the early 3rd century believed that these are three different Marks.

But your friendly neighborhood historian humbly disagrees, as the only existing copy of this treatise on this topic appeared in Greece less than 200 years ago and is considered by most scholars to be pseudepigraphical. I believe all three Marks were the same man: the writer of the Gospel, John Mark, and the cousin of Barnabas.


History of St George and the Dragon

April 23, 2024 /
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Saint George’s Day is April 23, likely the day of his martyrdom. He is often depicted as a knight in armor. He is the patron saint of England, and his day has been celebrated there from the 9th century and more recently throughout the British Commonwealth… though he was not English and never visited England.


Origin of St. George

He was born in the 3rd century in Cappadocia, modern-day Turkey, and died in Lydda, or modern-day Israel, in what would have been the ancient Roman province of Palestine in AD 303. He would have been a Roman officer.

His story was brought back from the Holy Land to Western Europe during the Crusades during the Middle Ages, probably in the 12th century, and then popularized in the 13th century. The motif of the dragon was initially associated with the soldier saint St. Theodore Tiro (Theodore of Amasea) of northern Turkey. In the 11th century, the dragon depictions were transferred to St. George.


History of Passover: the Jewish Pesach Holiday

April 22, 2024 /
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Sunset tonight, April 22, marks the beginning of Passover. Exodus 12 in the Hebrew Bible tells the story of Passover from the life of Moses. Ten plagues were visited upon the Egyptian pharaoh (starring Yul Brenner in “The Ten Commandments,” though he was better in “The King and I“) to get his attention to release the Children of Israel from bondage.

The final plague was the death of the firstborn son, visited upon the land by the Lord’s destroyer. The Jews were to smear the blood of a sacrificed lamb upon “the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses” so that the destroyer would “pass over” them unharmed. Pharaoh relented and released the Israelites. The Israelite slaves took the road out of Egypt. The Greek words for “road out” are Ex ‘odos, and by way of Latin, Exodus.