Thursday, August 21, 2014



Saigon (JFK+50) Special Forces loyal to President Nho Dinh Diem's brother, Ngo Dinh Nho, attacked Buddhist pagodas here in South Vietnam's capital city fifty-one years ago today, August 21, 1963.

1400 Buddhists were arrested in the attack.

While the majority of people in South Vietnam were Buddhist, Diem and most of his supporters were Catholic.

Earlier in May 1963, Buddhists held demonstrations against Diem's repressive government.

LBJ and Ngo Dinh Nho
May 12, 1961
LBJ Library Photo


Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) The territory of Hawaii* became the 50th state in the Union fifty-five years ago today, August 21, 1959.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who signed The Admission Act providing for the addition of Hawaii to the United States on March 18, 1959, unveiled the new 50 star Flag of the United States.

The flag would fly nationwide for the first time on July 4, 1960.

Iolani Palace, Honolulu
Photo by Jiang (2005)

In the words of Poka Laenui...

"Communities lit bon blared their horns and people walked the streets with broad grins and greetings, seeing themselves as full-fledged Americans."

Hawaiians had been American citizens since 1900 when the Hawaii Organic Act passed by the Congress granted citizenship to all citizens of the Republic of Hawaii.

Hawaii statehood was both supported and opposed over the next 59 years.

The first statehood bill was introduced in 1921.  The attack on Pearl Harbor and WWII set the movement back.

The admission of Alaska as the 49th state in January 1949 influenced Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to support Hawaii statehood.

*Hawaii is located 2000 miles SW of North America.  It is the southernmost state and the only one not located in North America.  Hawaii is composed of 8 major islands and is only one of four states other than the original 13 to have been a republic.


"Statehood: A Second Glance," by Poka Laenui,


New York City (JFK+50) Seventy-eight years ago today, August 21, 1936, New York publishers Reynal and Hitchcock released a 149 page book by Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. titled "I'm For Roosevelt".

The book demonstrated how the programs and policies of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt helped revitalize the American economy.


Ottawa, Illinois (JFK+50) The first of seven face to face debates between Illinois senatorial candidates Stephen A. Douglas and Abraham Lincoln opened 156 years ago today, August 21, 1858, here in Ottawa.

Lincoln, representing the Republican party, was hopeful of unseating the incumbent Douglas, a Democrat.

The main topic of the debates was the issue of slavery and specifically should the so-called "peculiar institution" be allowed to spread into the western territories. 

Lincoln had taken a strong stand against the spread of slavery, as had the Republican party founded just four years earlier, while Douglas was open to allowing the settlers of the territories decide the fate of slavery by vote.

In this first debate, Lincoln said:

"I have no interfere with the institution of slavery in states where it exists. 

 I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and black races, but there is no reason....why the negro is not entitled to all the natural rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence."


Southampton County, Virginia (JFK+50) Nat Turner**, along with seven followers, murdered his owner, Joseph Travis, along with his family, as a slave revolt began here in Southampton, 183 years ago today, August 21, 1831.

Turner then set out across the countryside hoping to rally other slaves to his cause.

Over the next two days, Nat Turner and 75 followers killed 60 whites before being overwhelmed by the state militia. 

Turner was not captured until late October.  He was tried, convicted, sentenced to death and hanged on November 11, 1831.

The rebellion was the largest slave revolt in US history.

**Nat Turner (1800-1831) was born a slave of Benjamin Turner of Southampton County, Virginia.  He learned to read and write and began preaching to fellow slaves.  Turner believed God called him to lead his slave revolt in 1831 against white masters.

After his death, "The Confessions of Nat Turner" was published by Thomas Ruffin Gray.

Capture of Nat Turner
Bettman Archives