The best headlines need no commentary. Such is the case with the HONOLULU STAR BULLETIN – 1st Extra! printed on December 7, 1941:
One of the attractions of collecting old newspapers is the ability to look at history with the benefit of hindsight. Many times writers were right on the money when it came to predicting events in the future; many times they could not have been more wrong. Both views offer interesting reading.
Not long ago we came across a report of what would become a scar on the military history of the United States, specifically the lengthy war in Vietnam. A “Los Angeles Times” newspaper as early as March 25, 1965, some ten years before the Vietnam War would officially end (Saigon fell on April 29, 1975) had a headline announcing: “VIET CRISIS GROWS“. This report notes that Red China was committed to sending troops to fight in Vietnam if the Americans persisted in their growing involvement, and that they would: “…fight together with the South Vietnamese people to annihilate the U.S. aggressors.” This is in response to the event of 3 weeks prior when the first American combat troops arrived in Vietnam, joining a force of 23,000 American “advisers”. American involvement in the Vietnam War would only continue to grow for another 8 years.
I am sure almost no one who read this newspaper in the spring of 1965 could have guessed the future complexity and duration of American involvement in Southeast Asia. This issue constitutes half of what I would call “bookend newspapers”, or a pair of newspapers which report the beginning and end of noteworthy events.
Today I traveled to Hartford, Connecticut by the way of the American Mercury dated June 1, 1813. There I found an extract of letter from an officer to his father. He writes from Sacket’s Harbor pertaining to the Battle of York, “We arrived at this place last evening from Niagara. The body of General Pike was with us. He was killed by the explosion of a magazine, on which a vast collection of stones, shots, and other missiles were collected. I was wounded; but, thank God, not dangerously….”.
Also reported in this issue is the Siege of Fort Miegs and the death of Major Stoddard. “…I am sorry to inform you that Major Stoddard died the night before I left the Rapids, of a lock-jaw, produced by a slight wound from a fragment of a shell which struck him on the thigh…”.
The back page of the issue carries a “New Corps Enlisted For One Year!!!” advertisement. This contained a quote from an European political writer “…The Americans are active in their person: they are enterprising; they are brave; and, which is of vast consequence, they are, from education and almost from constitution, SOBER, a virtue not at all less valuable in the Army than it is in domestic life…”.