By Danielle Prostrollo
This Monday, May 28th marks the 150th Memorial Day in America, a day that honors the sacrifices made by servicemen throughout our nation’s history. Across the globe the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) hold services to honor these brave men and women, including a moving service at the Cambridge American Cemetery in Madingley.
Last year Don and I had the privilege of attending the service in the beautiful sunshine which included a moving poppy drop which released thousands of tiny red poppy petals over the graves and Walls of the Missing. If you would like to read about the services and the cemetery, please visit our post here.
The ABMC has put together a lovely history of Memorial Day and how it fits into American History.
And as always, the 2nd Air Division Memorial Library honors the memory of those 6,881 servicemen who gave their lives to protect ours.
By Danielle Prostrollo
East Anglia’s Norfolk connections to America are well documented, and the 2nd Air Division Memorial Library maintains a blog devoted to exactly that. Some of the most famous are facts such as, Thomas Paine was born in Thetford, Heacham’s John Rolfe married Native American Pocahontas, and Abraham Lincoln’s ancestral home is in Hingham. But these are only the start of Colonial America’s reliance on the area for its good… and bad!
In the book Uncle Sam’s Roots in Eastern England: From Colonial Times Onwards by Roger Pugh, many of the lesser-known connections are discussed including the following:
Ancestral home of President Coolidge
Calvin Coolidge’s ancestors John and Mary were from Cottonham, Cambridgeshire. John Coolidge employed an economy of words similar to that which his famous descendant, Calvin, is known for. In the book, Pugh says that John once replied to an invitation: “Dear Gentlemen. Can’t come. Thank you.” The Coolidges travelled to Massachusetts in 1630.
William S. Harley, one half of the famous motorcycle brand, was born to parents William and Mary of Littleport, Cambridgeshire. So while Milwaukee, Wisconsin lays claim to being the home of Harley-Davidson, it is from Littleport that the Harley family came!
The Girls from Great Yarmouth and the Witches of Salem
Mary and Rebecca Towne, born in Great Yarmouth to William and Joanna Towne, are two of the many women who were tried for witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts. Their sister Sarah, also born to William and Joanna, was born in Salem and eventually tried for witchcraft. Mary and Rebecca would be found guilty and eventually executed while Sarah eventually gained her freedom after the guilty verdict.
To find out more about the East Anglia connection to America, check out Roger Pugh’s book at the Memorial Library or visit our (other) blog!
By Danielle Prostrollo
To commemorate the Norwich Science Festival next week, I wanted to very quickly highlight one of America’s lesser-known scientific institutions in my own home state of South Dakota, the Sanford Lab Homestake.
The Homestake Mine By Detroit Publishing Co. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The South Dakota gold rush may be less famous than the one in California but its effects continue today. The Homestake Mine was, for many years, the largest continuously running gold mine in America. In total, the mine supplied over 50 million ounces of gold and silver. After its closure in 2001, negotiations to allow a permanent research space began and resulted in the Sanford Lab. The lab is home to a number of experiments from several disciplines but some of the most fascinating (in my opinion) focus on neutrino and dark matter research. These experiments are only possible because of the mine’s incredible depth and size.
The Homestake deposit was discovered in 1876 and bought up for $70,000 (roughly equal to $1.5M in today’s money) the following year by a small group of entrepreneurs (that included George Hearst – newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst’s father). They clearly knew the investment would pay off, but did they know the mine would become an important site for scientific advancement?
The following diagram illustrates the initial plans for the Homestake Mine and shows the incredible usefulness of the mine toward scientific discovery in many disciplines.
By Zina Deretsky, National Science Foundation (NSF.gov news) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
To learn more about some of the science being studied at the Sanford Lab, South Dakota, or gold mining in America be sure to check out the 2nd Air Division Memorial Library, some suggestions to start out with:
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, by Neil deGrasse Tyson
The Dakotas: A Guide to Unique Places, by Lisa Meyers McClintick
Gold Dust & Gun Smoke: tales of gold rush outlaws, gunfighters, lawmen and vigilantes, by John Boessenecker
It all started in 1776 with this declaration:
Some celebrated in the early days by naming places
Today it’s more common to have a BBQ
And congregate to watch firework displays
or watch Independence Day parades
It’s also popular to buy your own fireworks to shoot in your front yard
But some states have firework bans
And a few only allow small fireworks like sparklers
A few creative people can find the joy in most things
Some like to up-size the fun
But really it’s not about the fireworks but the celebration of America’s identity
If you’re interested in finding out more about American independence, check out some of the books we have available here in the 2nd Air Division Memorial Library