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On This Day In History

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Oct 23, 2002:
Hostage Crisis In Moscow Theater

~~"On October 23, 2002, about 50 Chechen rebels storm a Moscow theater, taking up to 700 people hostage during a sold-out performance of a popular musical.

The second act of the musical "Nord Ost" was just beginning at the Moscow Ball-Bearing Plant's Palace of Culture when an armed man walked onstage and fired a machine gun into the air. The terrorists—including a number of women with explosives strapped to their bodies—identified themselves as members of the Chechen Army. They had one demand: that Russian military forces begin an immediate and complete withdrawal from Chechnya, the war-torn region located north of the Caucasus Mountains.

Chechnya, with its predominately Muslim population, had long struggled to assert its independence. A disastrous two-year war ended in 1996, but Russian forces returned to the region just three years later after Russian authorities blamed Chechens for a series of bombings in Russia. In 2000, President Vladimir Putin was elected partly because of his hard-line position towards Chechnya and his public vow not to negotiate with terrorists.

After a 57-hour-standoff at the Palace of Culture, during which two hostages were killed, Russian special forces surrounded and raided the theater on the morning of October 26. Later it was revealed that they had pumped a powerful narcotic gas into the building, knocking nearly all of the terrorists and hostages unconscious before breaking into the walls and roof and entering through underground sewage tunnels. Most of the guerrillas and 120 hostages were killed during the raid. Security forces were later forced to defend the decision to use the dangerous gas, saying that only a complete surprise attack could have disarmed the terrorists before they had time to detonate their explosives.

After the theater crisis, Putin's government clamped down even harder on Chechnya, drawing accusations of kidnapping, torture and other atrocities. In response, Chechen rebels continued their terrorist attacks on Russian soil, including an alleged suicide bombing in a Moscow subway in February 2004 and another major hostage crisis at a Beslan school that September."


Oct 23, 42 B.C.:
Brutus Commits Suicide

~~"Marcus Junius Brutus, a leading conspirator in the assassination of Julius Caesar, commits suicide after his defeat at the second battle of Philippi.

Two years before, Brutus had joined Gaius Cassius Longinus in the plot against the Roman dictator Julius Caesar, believing he was striking a blow for the restoration of the Roman Republic. However, the result of Caesar's assassination was to plunge the Roman world into a new round of civil wars, with the Republican forces of Brutus and Cassius vying for supremacy against Octavian and Mark Antony. After being defeated by Antony at a battle in Philippi, Greece, in October 42 B.C., Cassius killed himself. On October 23, Brutus' army was crushed by Octavian and Antony at a second encounter at Philippi, and Brutus took his own life.

Antony and Octavian soon turned against each other, and in 27 B.C. the Roman Republic was lost forever with the ascendance of Octavian as Augustus Caesar, the first emperor of Rome."


Oct 23, 1976:
Chicago Has Its First #1 Hit With "If You Leave Me Now"

~~"Chicago—one of history's most prolific rock bands—has its first #1 hit on October 23, 1976, with "If You Leave Me Now."

The rock band Chicago churned out full-length albums at a rate that's never been surpassed by a pop group of their stature. Not only did the group release nine albums in their first seven years of existence (1969-75), but among those nine releases were four double albums and one quadruple album, Chicago at Carnegie Hall (1971). That's 16 LPs in seven years, all of them selling at an incredible rate, which means that in terms of sheer tonnage, Chicago probably shipped more vinyl than any other American rock band in the 1970s. It was a feat made all the more incredible by the fact that the members of Chicago could have walked through O'Hare Airport at the height of their success without attracting so much as a single screaming fan.

It's not that Chicago's fans didn't love them, for the certainly did. But the collective ethos of the band was to keep individual egos out of things, even to the point of using a logo rather than a picture of the band on nearly every one of their albums. "Chicago is the most successful experiment in group therapy ever to go down in history," founding member Robert Lamm has said. Critics may never have embraced the group's jazzy, middle-of-the road sound, but with upwards of 150 million albums sold worldwide, it's impossible to refute the quantitative argument for Chicago's greatness.

Chicago's success as album-sellers may overshadow their success on the singles charts, but not by very much. "If You Leave Me Now" became their first #1 hit on this day in 1976, but the group had already placed nine singles in the Billboard Top 10 by the time that Peter Cetera-penned ballad reached the top of the charts. Among those early hits were "25 Or 6 To 4" (1970), "Saturday In The Park" (1972) and "Just You 'N' Me" (1973), and many more were to follow. Chicago earned two more #1 hits post-1976 with "Hard To Say I'm Sorry" (1982) and "Look Away" (1988), and seven other Top 10s, including "Baby What A Big Surprise" (1977), "Hard Habit To Break" and "You're The Inspiration" (both 1982)."

(I didn't know this. How sad for the 4 families to have always wondered what happened to their son/brother/husband.)
Oct 23, 1921:
Unknown Soldier Is Selected

~~"On October 23, 1921, in the French town of Chalons-sur-Marne, an American officer selects the body of the first "Unknown Soldier" to be honored among the approximately 77,000 United States servicemen killed on the Western Front during World War I.

According to the official records of the Army Graves Registration Service deposited in the U.S. National Archives in Washington, four bodies were transported to Chalons from the cemeteries of Aisne-Marne, Somme, Meuse-Argonne and Saint-Mihiel. All were great battlegrounds, and the latter two regions were the sites of two offensive operations in which American troops took a leading role in the decisive summer and fall of 1918. As the service records stated, the identity of the bodies was completely unknown: "The original records showing the internment of these bodies were searched and the four bodies selected represented the remains of soldiers of which there was absolutely no indication as to name, rank, organization or date of death."

The four bodies arrived at the Hotel de Ville in Chalons-sur-Marne on October 23, 1921. At 10 o’clock the next morning, French and American officials entered a hall where the four caskets were displayed, each draped with an American flag. Sergeant Edward Younger, the man given the task of making the selection, carried a spray of white roses with which to mark the chosen casket. According to the official account, Younger "entered the chamber in which the bodies of the four Unknown Soldiers lay, circled the caskets three times, then silently placed the flowers on the third casket from the left. He faced the body, stood at attention and saluted."

Bearing the inscription "An Unknown American who gave his life in the World War," the chosen casket traveled to Paris and then to Le Havre, France, where it would board the cruiser Olympia for the voyage across the Atlantic. Once back in the United States, the Unknown Soldier was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C."

Member Comments About This Blog Post:
GABIBEAR 10/25/2013 1:06AM

    Thank you for sharing the articles Michele! They are always interesting!

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LAINYC 10/24/2013 9:49AM


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FEMISLIM 10/24/2013 9:25AM


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KITT52 10/24/2013 9:00AM


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MORTICIAADDAMS 10/23/2013 10:37PM

    Very interesting!

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TONYAB2000 10/23/2013 10:27PM

    Awesome information! I love that it's always so varied from Russian and Roman history to the great Chicago and the unknown soldiers. Definitely a sad time for families who never knew definitively what happened to their loved one.

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LIVINGFREE19 10/23/2013 10:07PM

    Love these articles, especially the unknown soldier one.


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CAMEOANDLACE 10/23/2013 9:52PM

    Interesting. I worked in Kazakhstan the last few years and always went through Moscow. Never felt comfortable in Moscow.

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GAYEMC 10/23/2013 8:56PM

    I love that old Roman history! And Chicago, what a great band!

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