Birth of Johann Krieger

28th December, 1651

In the Bavarian City of Nuremberg, the inspirational German keyboard composer Johann Krieger was born on this day three hundred and sixty-one years ago.
Contempories Johann Mattheson and George Frideric Handel praised his published collections Sechs musicalische Partien and Anmuthige Clavier-Übung for the rich variety of their harpsichord suites, organ toccatas, fugues and ricercars. Hundreds more were lost when Zittau was destroyed by fire in 1757, during the Seven Years' War. 

But fortunately for us some works survive, and we -like the composer of the Messiah - can still experience the fierce joy of his incredible organ music. And he shall reign for ever and ever, Hallelujah!

Release of the Weibertreu Castle

December 21, 1140

Eight hundred and seventy-two years ago today, the army of Welf VI released the Weibertreu castle thereby ending the long siege of Weinsberg (a town in Southern Germany). The womenfolk of the castle were granted free departure and allowed to take what they could carry on their backs. They carried down their men, and so saved their lives, becoming known as treue Weiber ("loyal women").
The merciful victor was none other than Welf's own brother Conrad Hohenstaufen (pictured). And the siege was best understood as a climatic event in the long struggle between the Staufers and the Welfs which was brought to a diplomatic conclusion in a peace agreement signed in Frankfurt in May 1142. But the conflict eventually resumed and a decision was forced at the Battle of Flochberg in 1150. 

 Although Conrad III was the first King of Germany of the Hohenstaufen dynasty, he was never crowned emperor and he continued to style himself "King of the Romans" until his death in 1152.

King Väinö renounces the Finnish throne

14 December 1918

Today, ninety-four years ago, King Väinö I renounced the Finnish throne after just two months. It was the end to an abortive attempt by the Royal House of Hohenzollern to establish a monarchy following Finland's independence from the former Russian Empire.

Because Väinö was in fact a German Prince Frederick Charles of Hesse (actually the brother-in-law of Kaiser William II) who had been elected by the Parliament of Finland prior to the collapse of the Second Reich. He took the regnal name of Väinö to show his support to cause of Finnish independence from foreign rule. 

However after the ending of the monarchies in Imperial Germany the arrangement was quickly considered untenable by influential Finns of the time and indeed by Frederick himself. All three countries would endure civil war before they finally became Republicans.

Death of Wolfgang Paul

7th December, 1993 

"The undersigned nuclear researchers are deeply concerned with the plans to equip the Bundeswehr with nuclear weapons" 

One of the notable signatories of the 1957 Göttingen Manifesto was the Nobel Peace Prize winning German Physicist Wolfgang Paul who died on this day in 1993.

During World War II, he researched isotope separation, which is necessary to produce fissionable material for use in making nuclear weapons. For several years he was private lecturer at the University of Göttingen with Hans Kopfermann. 

He became professor for Experimental Physics at the University of Bonn and stayed there from 1952 until his death in 1993. For two years from 1965 until 1967 he was director of the Division of Nuclear Physics at CERN.

The Duel on Sunflower Island

September 22 1842

On hundred and seventy years ago today, two ambitious young men in their early thirties crossed the Illinois –Missouri border.

The cause for their mysterious journey to Alton was a public dispute between the State Auditor and a former friend and colleague on the Illinois Legislature. And because of their desire to further progress their prestigious careers, both men desperately needed the matter to be settled privately outside the jurisdiction of the State Law.

They succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. Thirty-three year old country lawyer Abraham Lincoln rose to the White House, and is generally considered the greatest President in the history of the United States. His adversary thirty-two year old James Shields served with distinction in the Mexican-American and US Civil Wars, becoming the only man ever to serve as US Senator in three different states.

But before they could blaze a path through history, they had a score to settle. And in the odd manner in which they did it, we can discern unmistakeable character traits that would shape the curves of their respective destinies.

Since his appointment as State Auditor, Shields had made some early decisions that had generated widespread controversy. Lincoln for one greatly objected. And of course we must remember that this younger man was not yet the historic colossus we admire in stone in Washington.  This was the more head strong, outspoken “flesh and blood” individual who was to earn the derisive label “Spotty Lincoln” for opposing President Polk’s Mexican War Plans with his much ridiculed “Spot Resolutions” in the US Congress.

Using words of biting satire, he published articles in a Illinois newspaper, the Sagamon Journal. In this endeavour he was greatly encouraged by one Mary Todd, the daughter of a wealthy slave-holding family in Lexington, Kentucky. The couple would marry less than two months after the duel on Sunflower Island, which Shields demanded for the purpose of the “satisfaction” of restoring his honour.

By custom, Lincoln had the choice of terms. He selected broadswords in a twelve feet deep pit separated by a piece of plywood where the two adversaries could not cross onto the opponents side. And in so doing he revealed the tactical genius (some would say guile) of the later Lincoln; because of his superior height, it would be impossible for Shields to win such a confrontation. To drive home this obvious point, Lincoln menacingly used the broadsword to sweep brush immediately above Shield’s head.

Sensing his mistake, Shields indicated to his intermediaries that he was prepared to negotiate. In a gentlemanly fashion, Lincoln took full responsibility by acknowledging his authorship of the letters, and apologizing in writing for the offence that had been caused.

In this episode we can learn a great deal about the thought processes of a great man who would be burdened with the biggest public dispute in the history of the Republic. And the stoicism with which he would bear those burdens.

Perhaps also we might take a moment to wonder whether he learned a few lessons on Sunflower Island about himself. Perhaps he applied those lessons in his studied silence during the crisis of 1860-1, or in his careful public utterances that ensured that the Border states remained in the Union.

For had he chosen otherwise, then surely our history would have been written very differently. Let us take the opportunity to reflect about the careful choices of a masterful man on this day in history. A man who repeatedly sought to avoid conflict, but when so confronted, threw himself into the business of war with a breathtaking single-mindedness of purpose.

Die Wende (the Turning Point)

12th September, 1990

Representatives of the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain and France signed the Treaty on the Final Settlement With Respect to Germany in Moscow on the 12th September, 1990. At the suggestion of West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher the two German Governments were treated as participants, an upgraded status from junior, defeated nations. Instead because of their active involvement, this quadripartite agreement is also known as the “two plus four” treaty. In simple terms, it granted full sovereignty to a unified German state.

However as the victors, these four-power authorities had treated Germany as a defeated nation at the conclusion to the Second World War. Having straddled the continent of Europe, the country was chopped up into smaller bits. The former eastern territories of Silesia, East Brandenburg, Farther Pomerania and East Prussia were absorbed into Poland and the Soviet Union, and due to the forced movement of refugees, a smaller, more ethnically homogenous homeland was to be expected. This demographic change solved a historic sovereignty dispute caused by German town dwellers “uncomfortably” sharing a common living space with Slavic neighbours. The possibility of future governments laying claim to foreign territories populated by ethnic Germans, one of the causes of the Second World War was eliminated. But the human cost was the expulsion of seven million ethnic Germans from the lands that they had been living in for over 900 years. Since East Prussia was a distinct culture with its own dialect, this action, designed to assist the Soviet annexation of Eastern Poland, was tantamount to genocide.

And yet as events were to transpire, the territorial realignment would be even more significant because there would be two Germanies, not one. And not just one volk either, but two, Easterners and Westerns, or “Ossis” and “Wessis”. This partition was not the planned result of agreement at the Potsdam Conference, but the result of friction caused by the Cold War. The division of Germany into two independent states was forced by Josef Stalin.

In 1945 Allied-occupied Germany was divided by the River Elbe with special arrangements for the city-state of Berlin. A Western state known as the Federal Republic of Germany or Bundesrepublic Deutschland was formed from the eleven states in the “trizone”, the American, British and French occupation zones. These were Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg, Lower Saxony, Bremen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse, Bavaria, Württemberg, Württemberg-Hohenzollern, Baden and Rheinland-Pfalz. A “small re-unification” was even said to have taken place when the Saar Protectorate joined the Bundesrepublic as Saarland in 1957. The remaining five states in the Soviet occupied zone became the German Democratic Republic or Deutsche Demokratische Republik with an eastern boundary along the Oder-Neisse Line. These were Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia. The two Germanies would operate different political systems and would to some extent be considered the client states of the superpowers.

During the forty-five years between the two agreements in Potsdam and Moscow, the former allies was sworn enemies. And although Germany recovered, it was still a proxy battleground in the East-West struggle, potentially the battlefield where a Third World War would be fought. This became increasingly likely with the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961. John F. Kennedy made an unambiguous commitment to the city by declaring “ich bin ein berliner”. But twenty-five years later, President Reagan said “Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall” and only now at the end of the Cold War could the situation finally move forward. With the relinquishing of occupation rights the way was now clear for German re-unification. Celebrations for Deutsche Einheit would occur every 3rd October a date marked as German Unity Day.

Although the division of Germany was the result of actions initiated by political leaders, re-unification was very much the result of the popular movement in the East that acted as a driver for political development. Ethnolinguistic nationalism is of course to be expected as the norm, and yet the aspiration for “one Germany” had cultural, patriotic and nationalistic aspects. There was no desire for expansionism or a resurgence of German militarism. And it was the revolution of 1989 that actually brought the turning point, even if at the time civil rights activists rejected that label because it originated from East German Secretary General Egon Krentz.

Although individual events often took political leaders by surprise, It would be safe to say that the broad developments in Eastern Europe were correctly anticipated by President Bush and his team of advisors. But they were something of a shock to Gorbachev whose expectation was that the East German state would evolve over time outside of Soviet orbit. Even British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher told Gorbachev “We do not want a unified Germany” instead advocating a democratic East German state. Although she privately feared this would undermine Gorbachev, her position was clear from her declaration “We defeated the Germans twice! And now they’re back!”. She later admitted this was an “unambiguous failure” And from Paris, President Francois Mitterrand declared “France by no means wants German reunification, although it realises that in the end, it is inevitable”. Perhaps the truth was that by 1990, Western Governments were more concerned by developments in the Soviet Union and the Middle East.

But the truth was that the DDR was an artificial creation, weighed down by Soviet-style bureaucracy with no popular support. In hindsight, we might easily speculate that Western democracies should have been expected to have a better reading of popular sentiment, but nevertheless it is generally recognized that Bush and his team skilfully guided the political leaders through a relatively graceful period of uncertainty and tension. It is easy to forget the spectre of foreign opposition that was feared at the time. Chancellor Kohl recognized this contribution in his remark “George Bush was for me the most important ally on the road to German unity”. Kohl later recounted how he took Gorbachev into the garden of the Chancellor's bungalow overlooking the Rhine and how he told him that, like the river, German unity was unstoppable.

It was the iconic dismantling of the Wall, and the Westward movement of citizens was the catalyst for what would become the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe. Although in fact the crisis was triggered by the opening of a hole in the Iron Curtain, caused by the removal of Hungary’s border fence.

Ironically, Germany was a crucible of communism, being the home of Karl Marx, Frederich Engels, Rosa Luxembourg and Karl Liebknecht. And it was the Imperial German Government that supported the Bolsheviks by sending Lenin in an unmarked train from Switzerland. But ultimately Germans had not chosen to walk down the Communist path, it was imposed by the Soviet force of arms. In this context, we might perhaps consider East German a failed government, rather than a failed state. Certainly, for the one hundred and twenty years from German Unification under Bismarck the nation had yo-yo’ed between systems of almost every complexion.

If the rejection of totalitarianism was significant then the desire for stability in a “final status” political system was also evident. And perhaps re-unification was a misnomer being at least in a narrowly defined constitutional sense, more a takeover than a merger. The eastern states were simply incorporated into a successor state that maintained the same legal personality as the Bundesrepublic. The Federal Republic’s basic law was amended to absorb the five eastern states, and the new country was essentially an expanded West Germany. But in a larger sense, it was a merger because Ossis had driven events by forcing the border. And of course the choice of Berlin as the Bundeshaupstadt, instead of the continuation of Bonn as the capital was significant. Also the rise of the Ossi politician, Chancellor Angela Merkel are perhaps to be taken as indications of centrifugal balance being restored.  Also hugely significant was the abolition of the Deutschmark in favour of the Euro currency, currently the only major step forward in the creation of a “Common European Home” imagined by Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990.

Because of the huge rebuilding costs of infrastructure and pension inheritance, it has been suggested that re-unification set back the organic development of the Federal Republic by twenty years. But of course Germans never chose to live in two states, and they seized the earliest opportunity to re-unify. Although fascinating to speculate, it is hard to imagine a post-Communist East German state inside the Eurozone. Because when the “two-plus-four” agreement was being signed in Moscow, East Germany was on the verge of near-total collapse. Although the DDR was relatively well off by  Warsaw Pact standards, the Ossis were fully aware of their deprivation because of the broadcasting of West German TV Channels into the East.

Of course later integration problems caused by “inner re-unification” soon raised question marks over the wisdom of a unified state. There are even some who wish the Berlin Wall was rebuilt, bigger than before. Perhaps the process of re-unification will only be considered to be finished when Ossis enjoy the same standard of living as Wessis and regional differences have finally disappeared. Or maybe it will be just a matter of time through generational change.

Regardless, destiny will not be shaped purely by the concern for European security. Today Germany is the economically dominant power in Europe. Of course we do not yet have a Common European Home. But instead, for these many reasons, the long road to German Nationhood has been tortuous process, often beset by ethnic violence and tragedy, but now finally guided by democratic processes even if after all we have not witnessed “the end of history” that was predicted back in 1989.

The Occupation of Japan

30th August 1945

In today's article we explore aspects of a fascinating six-year period in which "the United States had a freer hand to experiment with Japan than any other country in Asia, or indeed in the entire world". At a cost of approximately $15 billion in today's money, more than half a million service men and women were deployed. Even after the Treaty of San Francisco officially handed over power to civilian government, US forces were stationed in Japan. One of them was a young marine called Lee Harvey Oswald. Today United States Forces Japan numbers thirty-five thousand Americans and is stationed at the official invitation of the Japanese Government. But at the beginning, this vast undertaking was controlled by a truly remarkable individual who would be widely considered one of the leading public figures of the twentieth centuries, an American Hero that could stand shoulder-to-shoulder with George Washington himself.

Although the occupation officially began on the 30th August 1945 this article opens with an event on the 14th. Following the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Japanese Government had finally capitulated, accepting the unconditional surrender demanded by the Allied Powers at the Potsdam Conference. On the same day that Victory Over Japan was declared, US President Harry S. Truman appointed theatre Commander General Douglas MacArthur to the new post of Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers.  Two primary objectives were laid down in the "US Initial Post-Surrender Policy for Japan": the elimination of war potential, and the transformation into a western style nation with pro-American orientation.

Of course the hard-won victory in the Pacific had to be sustained and nurtured. Direct US economic assistance was surely required. But there was a climate of reform. The emergence of powerful new enemies in the Cold War era meant that the clarity of these plainly stated mission objectives was riddled with contradiction. Because victory did not mean victory as we had previously understood it to mean, and occupation meant something else, too. National priorities were reset. But as he saw it, his job was to introduce order into the chaos caused by the Allied victory, and on those narrowly defined terms, there is good reason to celebrate his success.

And of course for MacArthur himself it was nothing less than a breath-taking change of orientation from adversary to potential saviour; his unique qualification was the achievement of a kill rate of 30:1 meaning that for every GI that died in the Pacific, over thirty Japanese servicemen had been killed. In a sense he was being ordered to clean up his own mess. And as matters transpired, it became increasingly clear that much more than continued pacification was actually required; initially tasked with demilitarizing the country the expansion of Communism called for a powerful new military base in the Pacific. Within a decade, the US would be openly asking Japanese Government to re-arm, and in the present day, Japan has the sixth largest defense budget in the world. This change of strategic goal caused a huge problem because it required modifications to the "no war, no arms" article of the Japanese Constitution as laid down by the Western Allies during the occupation, overturning the embedded philosophy of pacifism that characterized post-war Japanese society.

But now only two weeks after VJ Day, MacArthur was issued with fresh orders to supervise the occupation of Japan.  He entered the capital city of Tokyo and commenced an eighty-month engagement that would be cut short by the outbreak of the Korean War. Even his withdrawal to head the United Nations Command (Korea) was significant; it contextualized his leading role in shaping broad policy across the Pacific region. Because the circumstances of the time made for a challenging agenda that went far beyond the pressing duties to be expected of a Military Governor.  For example, his counterpart, General Lucius D. Clay, the Military Governor of the American Occupation Zone in Germany had less freedom of action, being constrained by a bureaucratic, four-power framework. But in Japan, Truman and MacArthur were able to operate as a hyper-power, imposing an American-solution because of the increased power caused by the monopoly on nuclear weapons. And the exclusion of the Soviet Union set the stage for a unique power play that would lead not to a superpower clash but instead a direct confrontation between MacArthur and Washington.

A Westminister-style system of government was devised in which the Emperor would act only upon the advice of elected ministers. The power of native rulers was greatly increased. Also, Shinto was abolished as a state religion. Education was reformed. Worker rights and conditions of employment were protected in trade union laws. But in the short term MacArthur had been ordered to exercise authority - as he saw fit - through the Japanese government machinery. For example he was secretly involved with the bacterial warfare unit that saw such technology moved stateside. The decisive war-time contribution of Japanese linguists - the Nisei soldiers - was not fully recognized. Nevertheless, a firm hand was steering chaos towards order.

Grassroots organizations were developed to accelerate the pace of change. The country became swamped with American media; the works of Walt Disney inspired Osamu Tezuka to develop the big-eyes style of manga. Women were enfranchised and guaranteed fundamental human rights. The crime of adultery - previously only applied to women- was abolished. And yet at the same time Japanese women faced the threat of rape and other forms of violent crime from the occupying forces. "Pan pan" girls fraternized with soldiers although MacArthur ordered the closure of brothels which had led to the spread of venereal diseases throughout the services. In general, it would be fair to say therefore that the role of women was one area where the instillation of Western values was limited in scope. But before we leap to judgement about MacArthur's record, it is perhaps worth mentioning at this point that he insisted his son's Cantonese au pair accompanied them on their escape from Corregidor.

Sharply criticized for his hubris, later denied the US Presidency, he had been gifted with the nightmarish dream of his very own dictatorship, and would at first rule effectively as a shogun. Laws were decreed from day one. There was a purge, but it was carefully controlled. For example, he prevented the imperial family from being charged with war crimes, also taking extra-judicial steps to prevent the presentation of damning evidence during the trials. However, for reasons that still remain unclear, he chose to rebuff a personal apology from Hirohito. Nevertheless, it is probably safe to assume that although MacArthur saw the structural importance of the Emperor, he actually had little personal sympathy largely due to his wartime service. And before we rush to draw comparison with nation building projects in Iraq and Afghanistan, we must carefully note the stability provided by this continuity of the existing leadership and their machinery of government. And therefore despite the extremity of the situation, MacArthur had in a sense been set up for success, although more than an agent, he had become the new driver of a damaged, but nevertheless serviceable, vehicle for national leadership.

Inevitably, the historic - and often expedient - decisions he took are a matter of both controversy and great historical interest from a number of different perspectives. And of course there is no little irony in the fact that a belligerent militaristic government was replaced by a ruthless foreign General tasked with introducing democracy, liberalization, demilitarization and social reform. The victor powers were taking on ultimate responsibility for the country, and perhaps the unique nature of the racial struggle in the Pacific meant that whereas the Germans were a defeated nation, the Japanese were a vanquished nation. And therefore the continuity of the symbolic leadership figure of Hirohito ensured that Japan was at least not seen to be at the mercy of an occupying power, and MacArthur was able to maintain a remarkable level of popularity if perhaps not to the same level of hero worship that he had enjoyed in the Philippines.

Of course both MacArthur and Clay were confronted with devastating humanitarian crises long before the formation of organization in the United Nations. And indeed, conventional alternatives to the use of atomic weapon had included a blockade that would have starved the island nation into defeat. And the truth was that regardless of the chosen instrument of victory, that was very much the reality situation on the ground. Over a million dollars of food had to be distributed through the network every day to prevent starvation, and the US Armed Forces, supported by a small British Commonwealth Force, was the only organization in a position to offer the necessary logistical support for such an operation. By the end of the year, over 350,000 US servicemen and women were based in Japan. But the operational responsibility for relief efforts was only the beginning and these emergency measures just the start of MacArthur's grand schemes for a restructure of the food supply. Under a major land reform programme, cultivated land was purchased from landlords and resold to the farmers who worked them, and non-agricultural workforce were unionized.

The Western Allies had originally planned to partially de-industrialize Japan. But in reality reconstruction efforts went far beyond infrastructure into deep-rooted reform of the economy. New business practices were introduced. Monopolized industry was replaced by looser industrial groupings. The foundations for Japan's phenomenal post-war success were being laid down. And perhaps also the seeds of US-Japanese trade conflicts were planted as well, particularly on issues relating to “soft” protectionism such as social dumping and patent handling which hindered access to the Japanese market. By the time that the Korean War broke out, Japan industry was ready to accept windfall orders from the US military. United States became Japan's largest economic partner and an economic miracle had begun that lasted into the 1990s.

We close this pod cast with a reading of "A Father Prayer" written by General Douglas MacArthur himself. And acknowledge the very best attribute in his character: the extraordinary ability to instil in the men and women under his command, a sense of hope even under the direst of extremities.

Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid; one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.Build me a son whose wishbone will not be where his backbone should be; a son who will know Thee ... Lead him, I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge. Here let him learn to stand up in the storm; here let him learn compassion for those who fail.Build me a son whose heart will be clean, whose goal will be high; a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men; one who will learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep; one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past.And after all these things are his, add, I pray, enough of a sense of humor, so that he may always be serious, yet never take himself too seriously. Give him humility, so that he may always remember the simplicity of greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength.Then I, his father, will dare to whisper, “I have not lived in vain.

The Purple Heart

August 7th, 1782 

From his New York Headquarters, General Washington issued the famous order to establish the forerunner to the Purple Heart, the Badge of Military Merit for “singular meritorious action”. 

With more than one million recipients, it is America’s oldest military award. It is conferred upon any person wounded in action while serving with the armed forces of the United States. 

However during the Revolution War, only three members of his Continental Army were so recognized. They were all Sergeants from Connecticut, Daniel Bissell, William Brown and Elijah Churchill who received the award at Newburgh on June 10, 1783.
For the next century and a half the Badge fell into official disuse. The Medal of Honor was the first decoration created after it was allowed to lapse. However by the third decade of the twentieth century, the US Army Leadership decided that it was time to improve the recognition of meritorious service. And inevitably, their thoughts turned to Washington, the national role model. 

The exact timing of the revival was carefully chosen to mark the bicentennial of his birthday. The Army Heraldic specialist, Miss Elizabeth Will designed the device in 1931 and John R. Sinnock then modelled it. It is 1-11/16 inches in length and 1-3/8 inches in width, suspended by a rounded rectangular length, which displays a vertical purple band with quarter-inch white borders. General Washington is shown in profile with his coat of arms, and set in three lines, "For Military Merit," with a space below for the recipient's name. It is therefore an award by proxy from the General himself. The man who issued the revival order was the Chief of Staff Douglas MacArthur. He was another military genius who if not quite Washington’s equal was certainly a peer who would sit comfortably with him at the highest of tables. During his later career, he like Washington would become a General of the Army and hold Five-Star Rank. 

Only nine people have ever done so in the history of the United States. Ironically, MacArthur also became the first recipient for his valorous service in combat in the Pacific Campaign. Many others followed in that theatre. For wounds received when the Japanese bombed their hospital on Bataan Rita Palmer of Hampton, New Hampshire, and Rosemary Hogan of Chattanooga, Oklahoma. Army Nurse Mary Brown Menzie as a result of injuries on Corregidor. And in anticipation of the invasion of Japan (a mission that MacArthur surely would have commanded), over five hundred thousand Purple Hearts were manufactured, a stock that thankfully is yet to be fully consumed. Nevertheless, and tragically, 1,076, 245 American servicemen and women received the award during World War Two. Noticeable recipients include mainstream politicians and anti-war political activists, entertainers, actors, journalists, publishers and TV producers. The 35th US President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Colonel Ruby Bradley, America's most decorated military woman. The actor Lee Marvin. Dr Mary Walker, a surgeon in the Civil War. Chuck Yeager, the pilot who first broke the sound barrier. Film Producer Oliver Stone. Ron Kovic who is depicted in the biopic movie "Born on the Fourth of July". Rod Serling, the creator of the TV Series “Twilight Zone”. Monica Brown for her gallantry in Khowst province, Afghanistan. Actor Charles Bronson. Secretary of State Colin Powell. Kurt Vonnegut the author of the anti-war novel, “Slaughter-House Five”. 

 And from that roll call of honour we can begin to sense the uniquely American nature of the award, the creation of an exclusive club based purely upon meritous service in combat to the Republic. Men and women proud to struggle for the freedom and liberty of the United States, even if ultimately they strongly believed in the pursuit of peace and even strongly disagreed with the conflict in which they themselves fought. One unmistakeable sign of the development of the Republic from Washington's day is surely that the Purple Heart is not in the gift of commanding officers who are his successors, but instead it is awarded automatically upon satisfaction of certain criteria for those wounded or killed in action. The award is a true meritocracy. 

Of course those criteria, and the inclusion of services, and even civilians has changed over the years. But because it is always awarded on behalf of the President of the United States, it has a direct link straight back to the very first holder of that office, George Washington himself. Because in a very real sense the original Purple Heart beat inside the chest of George Washington. As intended by the US Army Leadership, the revival and the continuity of the award is a reminder that his spirit is still looking over us today. He continues to stand as a symbol for those same values of freedom and liberty that made him take up arms against the King of England. His heart beating mightily in the breast of the Republic. He was the nation builder that had the foresight of vision to create so many national symbols. The holders of this award are brave men and women who walked in his giant footsteps. They fought also for the Freedom and Liberty that he cherished so dearly. And that purple clothed device is the enduring symbol of an unbreakable relationship with the man who more than anyone individual, made that possible. 

Ironically, it was an Englishman, Thomas Paine who after the military disaster at Hackensack, found the words to describe the patriotic heroism that Washington had the imagination to reward 

"Let it be told to the future world, that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive, that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet (it)."

The Forty-Five Begins

July 23, 1745

Today in 1745, a tiny invasion force landed in the Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland and began an ill-fated military campaign that ended just nine months later in a catastrophic defeat at Culloden, the last pitched battle ever fought on mainland British soil. And yet this second Jacobite Rebellion unleashed a ripple effect that is still driving events today as we head towards the Scottish Independence Referendum planned for 2014.

The instigator of the "Forty-five" uprising was the twenty-five year old pretender Charles Edward Stuart (commonly known as "Bonnie Prince Charlie"). But in one sense the real trouble had been caused back in 1603 by his great-great-grandfather James VI, King of the Scots. His ascension to the English throne as King James I had created a personal union of the English and Scottish crowns. This political union persisted and was formalized with the Act of Union of 1707.

The prerequisite for recreating an absolute monarchy in Scotland separate from the United Kingdom was the defeat of the reigning monarch, King George II. Although the French had only provided limited support, Stuart's Jacobite army had a reasonable prospect of success because of their choice of timing. The waging of the War of the Austrian Succession at that time meant that most of the English army was deployed in Flanders and the French wanted to arrange the recall of English divisions in order to conquer the Austrian Netherlands. The bitter irony was that had the "Forty-Five" succeeded, then such a victory might well have led to an Hanoverian overthrow that would have also restored the Stuarts to the English crown for a second time.

The daring Stuart restoration plan was to gather both momentum and support as they marched south to link up with an invading French army that had not even been dispatched. Initially, progress was promising. As the French privateers carrying the invaders sailed around the southernmost tip of England, the crew aboard HMS Lion fired on and damaged one of the ships before they sailed out of range and then wrongly assumed that the ships were bound for North America. Critically, this incident was not reported to the British Admiralty until much later. Landing at Moidart in Scotland after sailing from the Outer Hebrides, the invaders marched south and the Jacobite standard was raised by a gathering of Highland clansmen at Glenfinnan in the Scottish Highlands. Victories then followed at Prestonpans near Edinburgh and then across the border at Carlisle. By December, the Jacobite Army had reached the east midlands town of Derby, just one hundred miles from the capital city of London.

They never got any further than the crossing the Swarkestone Bridge because events now took the oddest of turns. As the Hanoverians began to pack their bags and prepare for their flight to the Continent, English divisions were being recalled from Flanders. And at this precise juncture Charles' commanders warned him that a larger force was defending London.  To his utter dismay, his Jacobite army decided to march straight back to Scotland.

With the English army now in hot pursuit and resources running critically short, a shipment of French gold meant for the Jacobites was intercepted by the Royal Navy. It was a final nail in the coffin for the Forty-Five's would-be rebellion. Determined to fight sooner rather than later, Charles retreated to Inverness where the final battle was fought at Culloden. His opponent was the Duke of Cumberland, better known to history as "The Butcher". Such was the divisive nature of the struggle that the Jacobite Army included an English unit, and the English army included Scottish troops. After a crushing defeat, Charles fled the field with a nose bleed. Secretly smuggled to safety, he eventually made his way back to France, where he lived the rest of his life with no hope that a Stuart would recapture the throne of England or Scotland.

And so the vectors of the Stuart family and the Scottish nation set off in very different directions.  The true aftermath was significant because the English undertook a series of heavy-handed (some would say brutal) actions in order to prevent a third uprising. And it was the bitterness caused by these actions, such as the Highland Clearances of the latter 18th and 19th centuries, that have persisted in Scottish memories long after the romantic dreams of Charles Stuart have passed into the long shadows of history. And one might well conclude that the three hundred year dream of an independent Scottish nation was to survive despite, rather than because of, the clumsy endeavors of the Stuart Family.