Feb 8, 1943:
Americans Secure Guadalcanal
~~"On this day in 1943, Japanese troops evacuate Guadalcanal, leaving the island in Allied possession after a prolonged campaign. The American victory paved the way for other Allied wins in the Solomon Islands.
Guadalcanal is the largest of the Solomons, a group of 992 islands and atolls, 347 of which are inhabited, in the South Pacific Ocean. The Solomons, which are located northeast of Australia and have 87 indigenous languages, were discovered in 1568 by the Spanish navigator Alvaro de Mendana de Neyra (1541-95). In 1893, the British annexed Guadalcanal, along with the other central and southern Solomons. The Germans took control of the northern Solomons in 1885, but transferred these islands, except for Bougainville and Buka (which eventually went to the Australians) to the British in 1900.
The Japanese invaded the Solomons in 1942 during World War II and began building a strategic airfield on Guadalcanal. On August 7 of that year, U.S. Marines landed on the island, signaling the Allies' first major offensive against Japanese-held positions in the Pacific. The Japanese responded quickly with sea and air attacks. A series of bloody battles ensued in the debilitating tropical heat as Marines sparred with Japanese troops on land, while in the waters surrounding Guadalcanal, the U.S. Navy fought six major engagements with the Japanese between August 24 and November 30. In mid-November 1942, the five Sullivan brothers from Waterloo, Iowa, died together when the Japanese sunk their ship, the USS Juneau.
Both sides suffered heavy losses of men, warships and planes in the battle for Guadalcanal. An estimated 1,600 U.S. troops were killed, over 4,000 were wounded and several thousand more died from disease. The Japanese lost 24,000 soldiers. On December 31, 1942, Emperor Hirohito told Japanese troops they could withdraw from the area; the Americans secured Guadalcanal about five weeks later.
The Solomons gained their independence from Britain in 1978. In the late 1990s, fighting broke out between rival ethnic groups on Guadalcanal and continued until an Australian-led international peacekeeping mission restored order in 2003. Today, with a population of over half a million people, the Solomons are known as a scuba diver and fisherman's paradise."
(I was 17 & we were living in MA. I remember this!)
Feb 8, 1978:
New England Digs Out After Blizzard
~~"A classic "Nor'easter" storm that brought a severe blizzard to New England finally subsides on this day in 1978, and the region begins to dig out from under several feet of snow. Over the previous 72 hours, some areas of Rhode Island and Massachusetts had received as many as 55 inches of snow.
Three major weather systems all converged near the Atlantic Coast on February 5, and New York City was the first to be hit with a snowstorm. As the storm moved northeast, it stalled over Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, catching many of the region's residents by surprise. It is estimated that 3,500 cars were abandoned on Massachusetts streets and highways and several people died in their vehicles on Interstate 93 when they became trapped. A college hockey playoff was played at the Boston Garden despite the weather, and many of the spectators were unable to return home.
On February 6, the blizzard whipped up powerful sustained winds of up to 50 miles per hour with gusts of nearly 100 mph. Fifty-foot waves on the Massachusetts coast wiped out seaside homes, while further north, in Maine, waves destroyed three lighthouses and an amusement pier.
One of the hardest-hit communities in New England was Providence, Rhode Island, where travel became nearly impossible and Governor Joseph Garrahy ordered all businesses except grocery stores closed. Few of these stores had any food in stock, and eventually, supplies had to be airlifted in to Providence College. Similar conditions were found in areas of Boston, and looting broke out in some spots. Governor Michael Dukakis banned all cars from the roads because stuck vehicles were making it impossible for snow plows to clear the streets.
In the end, 56 deaths between February 5 and February 8 were attributed to the blizzard. Thousands more people were left homeless. In one tragic incident, a young child died after becoming lost in the snow--although he was only yards from his home, he could not be located. This was the worst blizzard to hit New England since 1888."
Feb 8, 1887:
Cleveland Signs Devastating Dawes Act Into Law
~~"On this day in 1887, President Grover Cleveland signs the Dawes Severalty Act into law. The act split up reservations held communally by Native American tribes into smaller units and distributed these units to individuals within the tribe. Also called the General Allotment Act, the law changed the legal status of Native Americans from tribal members to individuals subject to federal laws and dissolved many tribal affiliations The Dawes Severalty/General Allotment Act constituted a huge blow to tribal sovereignty.
Cleveland's goal was to encourage Native Americans to integrate into American agrarian culture. Cleveland, who once said though the people support the government; the government should not support the people, led a socially reformist yet financially conservative government that did not believe in welfare handouts. He signed the act in a sincere but misguided attempt to improve the Native Americans' lives by incorporating them into white culture, rejecting earlier policies toward Native Americans that forced them to live on desolate reservations where it was difficult to make a living. However, his support of the Dawes Severalty Act actually did more damage than good.
Under the Dawes Act, the head of each Native American family received 160 acres in an effort to encourage Native Americans to take up farming, live in smaller family units that were considered more American and renounce tribal loyalties. The government held such lands in trust for 25 years, until the recipients could prove themselves self-sufficient farmers. Before the family could sell their allotment, they were required to get a certificate of competency. If the family did not succeed at farming, the land reverted back to the federal government for sale, usually to white settlers. The Dawes Act reduced Native American landholdings from 138 million acres in 1887 to 78 million in 1900 and continued the trend of white settlement on previously Native American-held land. In addition, the law created federally funded boarding schools designed to assimilate Native American children into white society. Family and cultural ties were practically destroyed by the now-notorious boarding schools, in which children were punished for speaking their native language or performing native rituals.
The Dawes Severalty Act was finally abolished in 1934, during President Franklin Roosevelt's first term."