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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

This Day in History - The Washington Monument

On this day in 1884, the capstone was set atop the Washington Monument.

It weighed 100 ounces, and was the the largest single piece of aluminum cast to that time.

Prior to its delivery to Washington, the capstone had been exhibited at Tiffany's in New York City. It had been placed on the floor, and visitors could "jump over the top of the Washington Monument." Engraved on its four sies was the official record of the monument's construction.

George Washington's unique place in history was widely recognized. It was in 1800 that a proposal was first developed to construct a "mausoleum of American granite and marble, in pyramidal form 100 feet square at the base and of proportionate height" to honor Washington's memory.

$200,000 was appropriated by the House in 1801 for the construction of such a mausoleum, but the Senate opposed the measure. The idea didn't come back into legislative view until 1816, and then again in 1832, when Congress considered the placing of a tomb for Washington's remains in the Capitol building. Members of Washington's family refused to permit his remains to be moved from his Mount Vernon estate, where the late President had specifically requested he be interred.

Finally, after Baltimore erected a monument of its own, funded with a combination of donations, lottery, and State money, the idea of a Washington Monument began to take shape. The Washington Memorial Society was formed in 1833, and included several prominent figures, including Chief Justices and former Presidents. The Society appointed collection agents for the States and Territories. It advertised for competitive designs. Many sketches were received, but it was Robert Mills' design that was chosen. Mills had also built the Baltimore memorial. Mills, only 29 at the time, had recently been appointed as the U.S' first Federal architect - he would go on to design such landmarks as the U.S. Patent Office and the Treasury Building.

Mills' original design included:
- A circular base, with a temple-like building 100 feet tall (200' in diameter)
- Statues at the outer ring (Declaration of Independence signers, Washington, Revolutionary War heroes)
- In the center of the rotunda, a four-sided obelisk, 600 feet tall, with a "railway" to transport visitors to the top.

Mills called it a "National Pantheon," and estimated construction costs at $1 million.

Cost concerns resulted in the initial lowering of the planned height of the obelisk to 500 feet, and the tabling of the rotunda.

Finally, in 1848, Congress granted a 37-acre site to the Society for the Monument's construction. The project was delayed due to funding concerns and the Civil War, and Mills never got to see the monument completed; he died nearly 30 years earlier.

Washington Memorial Facts:
- Largest masonry structure in the world, at 550 ft. high (The Army Corps of Engineers may have prevented disaster; their assessment that foundation would not be sufficient for the planned 600-ft structure resulted in the lowering of the planned Monument to that height)

Base width: 55 feet 1 1/2 inches

Thickness of monument walls at base: 15 feet

Number of blocks in monument: 36,491

Cornerstone laid: July 4, 1848

Capstone set: December 6, 1884

Officially opened to the public: October 9, 1888

Cost: $1,187,710

The monument features many historic stones donated by states and other organizations, including Alaska's 3 x 5 green jade stone.

For more information:
Washington Monument - A History

Washington Monument - Memorial Stones

Washington Monument - Experience the Monument

Washington Monument at

Wikipedia: Washington Monument

Washington Monument at America's Library

Blogwatch - Michael Yon

Holiday greetings:

There have been many interesting developments lately.

A new dispatch entitled "The Birds of Baghdad" is available now on

I was honored to learn that my site has been nominated as a finalist in the media/journalist category of 2005 Weblog Awards.

There is ongoing gossip in the tabloids about a movie deal with Bruce Willis. Nothing is set and all parties continue to examine the options. Most important is that the story of the soldiers who fought in Mosul be told with accuracy and respect. I'll post news about this if and when it happens.

There have been thousands of requests for my first book—out of print—entitled "Danger Close." A limited print run is on the way, and copies should be available in about eight weeks. All of the limited editions will be signed by me. To purchase "Danger Close", merely go to and click on the book cover on the right side. This link goes to a gallery and bookstore. I have begun selling my photos, along with "Danger Close," to fund ongoing operations.


by Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric S. Powell
December 6, 2005
2nd Lt. Miah Kwiatkowski, from the 67th Combat Area Support Hospital, treats a Pakistani civilian who was injured as a result of the Oct. 8 earthquake. This photo appeared on

The DNC: Party of Defeat

This is what Howard Dean is saying today (from CNN):

Dean: U.S. can't win Iraq war
Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean is drawing GOP fire after telling a Texas radio station that the idea the war in Iraq can be won is "just plain wrong."

This is what John Kerry said this weekend:
"And there is no reason, Bob, that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, you know, women, breaking sort of the customs of the--of--the historical customs, religious customs."

Apparently Kerry believes that someone should be terrorizing kids and children, though (kids and children - is there a difference? Maybe he means baby goats - someone call PETA):
"Iraqis should be doing that."

Ah, I see.

Of course, trashing troops is old hat to Kerry - I think he just pulled out his crinkled, yellow Vietnam-era testimony and just did a little reworking:
"They told the stories at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country."

And then, there's Murtha, who said:
The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion...There have been reports of at least 30,000 Iraqi civilian deaths.... I believe before the Iraqi elections, scheduled for mid December, the Iraqi people and the emerging government must be put on notice that the United States will immediately redeploy...Our military has done everything that has been asked of them, the U.S. can not accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. IT IS TIME TO BRING THEM HOME."

And Pelosi, whose contribution was:
"I'm endorsing what Mr. Murtha is saying, which is that the status quo is not working and that we need to have a plan that makes us safer and our military stronger and makes Iraq more stable," she said. "I believe that what he has said has great wisdom." (of course shortly before that, she said Murtha didn't speak for all Democrats...)

And countless others.

What's clear is that the Dems want to repeat the biggest mistake made in Vietnam - letting political agendas dictate the war. Our President has said that military commanders, the situation on the ground, will dictate strategy. The libs want to return to the era where the negative press and the loudest politician could dictate strategy.

The only problem with resurrecting the media strategy is that the media is no longer the only voice out there. There are bloggers - milbloggers reporting positive efforts, positive results. There is a President who isn't going to pick the TV news over his military commanders when it comes to deciding who is best equipped to judge progress.

The Dems have been the party of defeat, of letting other nations dictate how this country protects itself, and of ducking and running for a long time. They're just singing the same song on a new stage.
UNDER THE HOOD — U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Pedro Chavez and Spc. Ryan Crabtree of Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 172nd Stryker Brigade, inspect a burned out car during a dismounted patrol in Mosul, Iraq, Dec. 2, 2005. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. James H. Christopher III

In Today's News - Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Quote of the Day
"What do we mean by patriotism in the context of our times? I venture to suggest that what we mean is a sense of national responsibility ... a patriotism which is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime."
-- Adlai Stevenson

News of Note
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Iraqi Police Take Lead in Neighborhood Visit
Emotional Testimony - Saddam Hussein trial resumes
Bombs Hit Iraqi Police
'Witness A' tells Saddam trial of electric shocks Video
Iraq militant group says seized US consultant: TV Video
Now defending Saddam, Clark has long list of controversial clients
Iraq mission "essential," Rumsfeld says
A French engineer is latest of 6 to be abducted

Homeland Security / War on Terror
Report: FBI Botched Terror Case, Attempted Cover-Up
Manila Embassy Shut Down
Panel: U.S. Gets 'F' on Terror
ETA says to attack Spanish airport: police
Germany Charges Three Terror Suspects

Other News of Note
Court to Decide on Recruiters
U.S., Japan Eyeing Tokyo Base for Radar Missile Shield
E-Mails: FEMA in Disarray
New Titanic Wreckage Found
Tehran Crash Kills 119
First video: Iran crash aftermath

Fox News
1 of 3 DeLay Charges Nixed- Raw Data: DeLay Ruling (pdf)
Rice Talks Terror in EU- Video: Tough Talk
Woman's Obsession Led to Discovery of Kids' Remains
Lionel Tate Suicide Threat
Stocks to Watch: Sears, Altera
Thousands Hunt N.J. Bears

Reuters: Top News
WHO links health woes to climate changes
Special Report: Global emission controls deal talks
Third quarter business productivity revised up
Sears Holdings profit down
Microsoft plans 30 new innovation centers globally
Avenue A/Razorfish to buy UK's DNA
Fresh Brands to be bought for $100 mln by cooperative
Gold near 23-year high
N.Korea says US finance row blocking nuclear talks
Maryland executes killer of teacher's aide
South Koreans pledge human eggs to support scientist
French doctor criticises media on face transplant
Microsoft sued over alleged Xbox 360 glitch
Court blocks Illinois video game sales regulation
US urges local officials to make bird flu plans
Robbie wins damages in "secret homosexual" case

AP World News
Israel Closes Palestinian Territories
Lawyer Demands Acquittal for Former Nazi
Putin: U.N. Agency Should Take Iran Lead
20 Hurt in Protest Over Italian Rail Link
S. African Official Charged With Rape
U.S. Admits Botched Detention, Merkel Says
Poll Shows Divide on Question of Torture
Chinese City Rushes to Open Water Plant
China Denies U.N. Torture Report
Quake Buries Children in Rubble in Congo
Russia Agrees to Sell Missiles to Iran
Courts Convict 58 in Uzbek Uprising
Saddam's Outbursts Well-Received by Some

The Seattle Times
Security forces' tactics worry Iraqi official
Supreme Court steps into insanity defense issue
Thousands of kids have strokes; doctors look for answers
False claim has Wikipedia revising article-creation rules
Muslim ideals idea behind new sorority
Wild animals heading for the hills at Yosemite
Parakeet lovers upset over destruction of nests, birds (in my home state)
Syrian officials meet with U.N. investigators
Al-Qaida operative's name widely known only in death
Study confirms Beethoven a victim of lead poisoning
Plame reportedly leaving CIA job
Gays in Britain registering civil partnerships

Chicago Sun-Times
City likely to set cold record
'Busiest' title may fly from ORD to ATL
Bush tries to calm stressed-out workers
Rare tabloid with 1919 White Sox stories missing
Emanuel proposes $3,000 credit for buying a hybrid
Justices give Hells Angels clearance for suing cops
ABC decides it takes two to replace Jennings
ND may open graveyard to grads
Poor conditions ruining rare American artifacts
Already endangered, tigers face new threat from chemical spill

Boston Globe: World
Muslim Brotherhood says members detained
Victorious Chavez vows to push 'new socialism' in Venezuela
Austria finishes a WWII payout
Head of Chinese firm is fired over benzene spill into river
Burma delegates gather to draw up a new constitution
US envoy criticizes a UN plan to fire aide
Iran to build at least one more atom plant
Foes call Kazakh poll invalid
Moderate Catholic rips IRA amnesty plan
Report: US, China in competition in Africa
Rising tides force village to relocate
High-Tech Weapons Project may Face Cuts
Personnel Cuts Ahead at Pentagon
Army Drops Charges in Killing of Iraqis
Rumsfeld Points Out Positives About Iraq
Fourth Session of Saddam Trial Resumes

CENTCOM: News Releases

Department of Defense
Saddam Trial Continues Despite Drama - Story
Rumsfeld: Quitting Is No Option in Iraq - Story Video
General Urges Vigilance, Resolve in Terror War Fight
U.S. Does Not Condone Torture of Terrorists - Story
Air Force Crews Lauded for Combat Rescue - Story

Canal Projects Deliver Water, Self-sufficiency - Story
Task Force Commander Visits Strike Group - Story

Father, Son Share Holiday, Guard Duty in Iraq - Story

Volunteers Invited to Compete - Story

Corps of Engineers Restructures
Iraqi, U.S. Troops Find Weapons
IED Kills Soldier; Terrorists Nabbed
Hadley Cites Progress, Challenges
Officials: Web Site Video Is False
Troops Rescue Kidnapping Victims
Forces Conclude Operation Shank
More Iraqi Troops Fielded Video
Pace Responds to Critics
Report: Strategy for Victory in Iraq
Iraq Daily Update
This Week in Iraq (pdf)
Multinational Force Iraq
Eye on Iraq Update (pdf)
State Dept. Weekly Iraq Report (pdf)
'Boots on the Ground' Audio Archive
Iraq Reconstruction

Hard Landings Injure Six
Gardez Airstrip Renovated
Afghanistan Daily Update

Fact Sheet: War on Terror
Fact Sheet: Terror Plots Disrupted
Waging and Winning the War on Terror
Terrorism Timeline
Terrorism Knowledge Base

Official Debunks Recruit Myths
Study Focus: Disease, Security Link
National Guard, Reserve Update

Defense Officials Identify Casualties - Story

Al Azamiyah Al Basrah Al Hillah Al Karkh Al Kazimiyah Al Kut An Nasiriyah Baghdad Baqubah Mosul Najaf Nineveh Tall Kayf

Bost/Laskar Ghurian Herat Kabul Qandahar


National Hurricane Center

Today in History
0963 - Leo VIII is elected Pope.
1196 - The Northern Dutch coast is flooded, in the "Saint-Nicolaas Flood."
1240 - Mongols under Batu Khan occupy and destroy Kiev.
1424 - Don Alfonso V of Aragon grants Barcelona the right to exclude Jews.
1492 - Columbus discovers Haiti, at Môle Saint Nicolas.
1534 - Quito, Ecuador, is founded by the Spanish.
1631 - The first predicted transit of Venus (Kepler) is observed.
1641 - Don Francisco de Mello is appointed land guardian of the South Netherlands.
1648 - In Pride's Purge, Thomas Pride prevents 96 presbyterians from sitting in the English Parliament.
1745 - Bonnie Prince Charlie's army retreats to Scotland.
1756 - British troops under Robert Clive occupy Fulta, India.
1768 - In Scotland, the first edition of the "Encyclopedia Brittanica" is published.
1790 - Congress meets in Philadelphia, the new temporary U.S. capital.
1820 - U.S. President James Monroe is re-elected.
1825 - President John Adams suggests the establishment of a U.S. observatory.
1833 - Charles Darwin, aboard the HMS Beagle, departs Rio de la Plata.
1849 - Harriet Tubman escapes from slavery in Maryland.
1862 - President Lincoln orders the hanging of 39 Santee Sioux Indians.
1864 - Battle of Deveaux's Neck, SC.
1865 - The 13th Amendment is ratified, abolishing slavery in the U.S.
1866 - The Chicago water supply tunnel (3,227 meters into Lake Michigan) is completed.
1870 - Joseph H. Rainey becomes the first Black in the House of Representatives (South Carolina).
1875 - The 44th Congress (1875-77) convenes.
1876 - The U.S. Electorial College picks Representative Hayes as President (although Tilden won the popular vote).
1877 - The "Washington Post" publishes its first edition; Thomas Edison makes the first sound recording.
1882 - The atmosphere of Venus is detected during transit.
1884 - In Washington, D.C., the aluminum capstone is set atop the Washington Monument.
1904 - Theodore Roosevelt confirms the Monroe-doctrine (Roosevelt Corollary).
1907 - A coal mine explosions in Monongah WV, kills 361.
1912 - China votes for universal human rights.
1914 - German troops overrun Lódz.
1916 - The German army under General Mackensen occupies Bucharest.
1917 - Finland declares independence from Russia; the French munitions ship Mont Blanc explodes in Halifax, killing more than 1,639 and injuring more than 9,000.
1921 - The Anglo-Irish Treaty is signed; Ireland receives dominion status, and partition creates Northern Ireland.
1922 - The first constitution of the Irish Free State comes into operation.
1923 - For the first time, a Presidential address is broadcast on radio (President Calvin Coolidge).
1925 - Italy, Britain and Egypt sign the Jaghbub accord.
1929 - Turkey introduces female suffrage.
1938 - A French/German non-attack treaty is drawn (Ribbentrop-Bonnet Pact).
1940 - The Gestapo arrests German resistance fighter/poster artist Helen Ernst; Pietro Badoglio resigns as viceroy of Ethiopia.
1941 - The NYC Council agrees to build Idlewild (Kennedy) Airport in Queens; Dutch and British pilots spot the Japanese invasion fleet at Singapore.
1942 - The RAF bombs the Philips factory (150 die).
1944 - The U.S. 95th Infantry division reaches Westwall.
1952 - The Czechoslovakian government tells the Israeli ambassador that he's persona non grata.
1956 - Nelson Mandela and 156 others are arrested for political activities in South Africa.
1957 - The first U.S. attempt to launch a satellite fails when the Vanguard rocket blows up; the AFL-CIO votes to expel the Teamsters (they are readmitted in October, 1987); Indonesia begins nationalizing Dutch possessions.
1958 - The U.S. lunar probe Pioneer-3 reaches 107,269 km, and falls back.
1962 - The U.S. abandons the Skybolt ballistic missile program.
1964 - President Segni of Italy resigns.
1966 - Polio vaccination becomes obligatory in Belgium.
1971 - Lewis Franklin Powell is confirmed as Supreme Court Justice.
1973 - Gerald Ford is sworn-in as the first unelected Vice-President, succeeding Spiro T. Agnew; Bahrain's constitution goes into effect.
1976 - War criminal Pieter Menten is arrested in Zurich.
1977 - South Africa grants Bophuthatswana independence.
1978 - Spain adopts its constitution.
1980 - NASA launches Intelsat V.
1982 - 11 soldiers and 6 civilians are killed when a bomb planted by the Irish National Liberation Army explodes in a pub in Ballykelly, Northern Ireland.
1982 - A bomb attack on a Londonderry, North Ireland disco, killing 17.
1983 - A bomb planted on a bus in Jerusalem explodes, killing 6 Israelis.
1984 - Hijackers aboard a Kuwaiti jetliner kill a 2nd hostage.
1985 - The U.K. joins the U.S. Star Wars project.
1988 - Yasser Arafat meets with prominent American Jews in Stockholm, Sweden; Nelson Mandela is transferred to Victor Vester Prison, Capetown, South Africa; STS-27 (Atlantis) lands in California after a secret mission; Carlos Andrés Pérez is re-elected as President of Venezuela.
1989 - A Columbian drug kingpin bombs the security force at Bogotá, killing 52; in the worst Canadian mass murder, Marc Lepine kills 14 women at the University of Montréal.
1990 - Saddam Hussein anounces the release of all foreign hostages.
1992 - 300,000 Hindus destroy the Ayodha Mosque of Babri, India; 4 die, riots follow.

- Ferdinand V king of Castile and León
1421 - King Henry VI of England (1422-61, 1470-71)
1608 - George Monck/Monk, English general/Governor of Scotland
1732 - Warren Hastings, first Governorernor-General of India (1773-84)
1792 - King Willem II of the Netherlands (1840-49)
1809 - Stephen Thomas, Union Brigadier-General (Union volunteers)
1816 - Henry Eustace McCulloch, Confederate Brigadier-General
1822 - John Eberhard builder of the first large-scale pencil factory in the U.S.
1831 - Joshua Woodrow Sill, Union Brigadier-General
1833 - John Singleton Mosby, lawyer / Confederate Colonel
1896 - Ira Gershwin, lyricist ('S Wonderful, I Got Rhythm)
1898 - Gunnar Myrdal Swedenden, sociologist/economist (Nobel 1974)
1918 - Peter A. Juten, office clerk/resistance fighter; Willem Oosterheers, resistance fighter
1928 - Bert Geoffrey Achong, inventor (electron microscopist)
1948 - Don Nickles (Senator-OK)
1952 - Ric Charlesworth, British MP (Labour)

- King Afonso I of Portugal, the Conqueror (1143-85)
1352 - Clement VI (Pierre Roger), Pope (1342-52)
1793 - Marie Jeanne Becu, comtesse du Barry / mistress of Louis XV, beheaded
1799 - Joseph Black, Scottish medical/chemist/physicist
1889 - Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America (1861-5)
1892 - E. Werner von Siemens, German industrialist (Siemens AG)
1926 - Claude (Oscar) Monet, French painter (impressionist)
1970 - Thomas S. Power, USAF-General (Raid on Tokyo-March 1945)
1973 - Robert A. Watson-Watt, British physicist (radar)
1985 - Burr Tillstrom, puppeteer (Kukla Fran and Ollie)
1988 - Roy Orbison, rock singer (Pretty Woman, Only the Lonely), massive heart attack
1990 - Tunku Abdul Rahman, PM of Malaysia (1957-70)
1993 - Don Ameche, actor (Cocoon), of prostate cancer; Professor Wolfgang Paul, German physicist (Nobel 1989); Rouaz Lakhdar, Algerian supreme court justice
1996 - (Alvin) Pete Rozelle, NFL commissioner
1997 - Edmund Charles Wolf Myers, soldier/engineer

Reported Missing in Action
Gorton, Thomas F., USAF (OH); B26B shot down (flight crew, w/Hill), KIA, body not recovered

Hill, Richard D., USAF (TX); B26B shot down (aerial photographer, w/Gorton); KIA, body not recovered

Pastva, Michael James, USMC (OH); KIA, body not recovered

Morales, Frank A.; JCRC says KIA/DIC, DOD says ground/motorcycle

Taylor, Walter J., Jr., US Army (MS); UH1M crashed (door gunner), Killed, body not recovered