One of America’s favorite television shows of all time premiered 70 years ago tonight.
“The beloved sitcom, “I Love Lucy,” starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, debuted on CBS television on October 15, 1951. The series, which aired from 1951 to 1957, was the most popular show in America for four if its six primetime seasons.”
“The storyline centered on the lives of Lucy Ricardo and her bandleader husband, Ricky, who lived on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and later in Connecticut.
In the show, their best friends, Fred and Ethel Mertz, were former vaudevillians who were often involved in the Ricardos’ shenanigans. Ricky was played by Lucy’s real-life husband. The program won five Emmy Awards during its six-year run.” — The AMAC Magazine, October, 2021
The program, with its homespun “family-at-home” storyline, went on to be the formula for many of America’s family sitcoms, including “The Jeffersons,” “All in the Family,” “The Donna Reed Show,” “Father Knows Best,” and many others.
Even though the four primary actors, Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, William Frawley (Fred Mertz), and Vivian Vance (Ethel Mertz) have all passed on, the show, “I Love Lucy,” lives on in DVDs, in reruns, and in the hearts and memories of those who lived through the 1950s.
During this week in 1945, a [US Navy] Corpsman is awarded the Medal of Honor. Pharmacist’s Mate Second Class George E. Wahlen’s citation that day described him as “stouthearted and indomitable” for his perseverance at Iwo Jima.
Wahlen wasn’t really supposed to be a corpsman in the first place. His training was in mechanics, and he’d wanted to serve as an aircraft mechanic. Nevertheless, the military needed medical personnel, so that’s what he trained to do.
When he arrived at Iwo Jima in February 1945, it was his first time in combat. He was tasked with assisting an invading Marine battalion. The young corpsman was worried that he wouldn’t have what it took.
“I couldn’t imagine me being a Corpsman,” he later told an interviewer, “and when they had casualties, [it was] my job was to go out and take care of them. And it concerned me and I think it was the first time I ever prayed in my life. . . . [I figured if I ever] need help, this is when it is.”
Rough days ahead
The days that followed were rough. Wahlen would be on the island, supporting his Marines, for close to two weeks. Throughout those weeks, Whalen repeatedly stepped in to help his fellow Marines, even when he himself was already injured. At one point, he even went to the assistance of another battalion, helping 14 of those boys before returning to his own.
Whalen later recounted one of these experiences. The Marines were advancing up a hill when the Japanese opened fire. Our Marines hit the ground, looking for the source of the problem.
“Finally, we got word to pull off the hill,” Whalen said. “But there was two casualties over on my right flank.” He crawled through fire to get to them, but both men were already dead. Just then a grenade went off too close to his face. “And the shock from that kind of temporarily knocked me unconscious,” he described. “I laid there for a minute or two and kind of got my bearings back and I could feel the blood in this one eye—couldn’t see out of it.” He administered first aid to himself, then immediately turned in the direction of another Marine who was calling for help.
He wouldn’t be able to get to that Marine without taking out the machine gun nest in the area. Naturally, that’s what he decided to do.
He yelled over to another Marine, hollering for a grenade. He didn’t have any of his own, because he was a Corpsman.“
I decided I’d crawl up the hill and see if I [could] knock out that emplacement,” he said. He made his way to the machine gun nest. “I was going to lob the grenade into the hole. And so, I always remember I went to pull the ring out and the ring come off and the pin stayed in . . . . I got my knife out and straightened that pin out and pulled it off.” By then, he was pretty close to the Japanese, and he let the grenade fly.
It worked! Whalen was able to crawl back to the Marine, eventually getting him to safety.
Whalen’s worst injury came on the last day that he was there, on March 13.
He was looking for injured Marines when a mortar hit too close to him. “I heard [the Marines] holler and so I went to stand up to get to them and fell down,” he later recounted. “I couldn’t walk. And I looked down and my boot had been torn off. I’d been hit in the leg. And I later found out my leg had been broke.”
You don’t think a broken leg stopped him from helping those Marines, do you? Because it didn’t. He bandaged his leg and gave himself a shot of morphine. Then he was on his way again, ready to help the Marines that he’d found just before the mortar blast. He worked his way even further into enemy territory, continuing to help Marines before he was finally evacuated.
The broken leg would finally send Wahlen to a hospital to recuperate. After the war, he received the Medal of Honor from President Harry S Truman.
Greatest accomplishment ever
Many years later he was asked what the Medal of Honor meant to him. He was gracious and humble, as so many of our Medal recipients are.
“Well, it’s certainly the greatest accomplishment that I ever did,” he said simply. “And I think it’s important [to not] only be proud of it, but don’t do anything to disgrace it, either. And I tried to do that.”
Wahlen went on to serve in the Korean War and the Vietnam Conflict where he was injured once again, this time while serving as a US Army Major. George E. Wahlen passed away June 5, 2009.
On this day in 1835, the Texas Revolution begins! Did you know that the first battle was fought because Texans decided that the Mexicans would have to pull an old, small cannon out of their cold, dead hands?
Does that fact, alone, explain my home state?!
The Texas Revolution wasn’t fought entirely over one old cannon, of course. That cannon was just the straw that broke the camel’s back, prompting a skirmish that came to be known as the Battle of Gonzales.
In 1835, Texans (or “Texians”) were concerned about the increasingly dictatorial Mexican government and its army. But the town of Gonzales found itself in the crossfire for a rather unexpected reason. It possessed one small cannon that had come from San Antonio de Béxar in 1831. Some thought the cannon was loaned, others thought it had been given. Either way, Gonzales felt that it needed the cannon to scare off local Indian tribes.
As tensions between the Mexican government and the Texians escalated, the Mexicans decided that Gonzales could not keep its cannon anymore. The given reason was that the cannon had been given only as a loan. But perhaps the real reason is that the government wanted to disarm citizens? Either way, town officials were notified that the cannon must be returned.
The alcalde, or mayor, of Gonzales called a town meeting and a vote was taken. All but three people agreed: Gonzales should keep its cannon!
Nevertheless, Mexican commander Francisco de Castañeda was sent to retrieve the cannon.
The Mexican force reached the Guadalupe River on September 29, but then it got stuck. Recent rains had made the river difficult to cross. Complicating matters, Texians had taken all the boats from Castañeda’s side of the river. Eighteen Texians were now guarding the river on the other side. In the meantime, Gonzales was calling for help from nearby towns. Its citizens buried the cannon in a nearby peach orchard.
Come hell or high water, they were not giving up that cannon!
The Texians managed to stall for a while. Castañeda wanted to talk, but the Texians noted that the talks were more properly held with the alcalde, Andrew Ponton. (Surprise, surprise. He wasn’t there.) Even when the Texians did engage in talks, they just shouted across the river at Castañeda. At one point, a single Mexican was allowed to swim back and forth with messages.
What a scene! Naturally, the delay mostly ensured that the Texians got reinforcements.
The stalemate continued until October 1, when Castañeda moved his men a few miles upriver. By now, the Texians were getting tired of the situation. They dug up the cannon and created shrapnel from anything they could find. They hauled the cannon across the river and approached the Mexican camp early on October 2. A thick fog hid them from view.
A few shots were exchanged during the early morning hours, but the more serious fighting began after sunrise. Naturally, the controversial cannon was brought into battle. The Texians had created a white flag, which waved proudly over the cannon.
Come and Take It
You guessed it. The flag bore the words: “Come and Take It.”
The fighting itself was more of a brief skirmish than a true battle. In the end, Castañeda quickly retreated because he thought his orders required him to do so before the conflict escalated into war.
His retreat came too late. The Texas Revolution was on.