CONTEXT

August 11, 2010

Guns of August

Filed under: Uncategorized — jchatoff @ 12:29 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Doughboys waiting to ship out, 1917. LoC PPD

In 1914 the French offensive to retake Alsace-Lorraine began on this date as France was eager to retake a prize lost to the Germans in in the Franco-Prussian war.  The Germans were already on the move however, having come through Belgium to meet the French at Lorraine for the battle of the frontier.

WWI poster. LoC PPD

By the end of August, the French had retreated to the Marne to defend Paris. They had lost both the battle and 75,000 young men.  That was the first month of World War I.

It was not the war to end all wars, it was the war that should be studied as an example of how not to fight a war.  It seemed to boast some of the worst generalship in military history.

Altogether historians estimate that about 10 million military personnel died in WWI, and seven million civilians.  Another 21 million were wounded. For France and Great Britain it was nearly the loss of an entire generation.

* * *

And guns started firing on this date in 1965 when more than a thousand people gathered in Watts in southeastern Los Angeles.  It began with a routine DWI stop, escalated to an arrest of three family members and the crowd erupted.  Cars, buildings, trash were burned, rocks were thrown and every time it seemed to quiet down, suddenly things exploded again.

The Watts riots went on full throttle for three days, only subsiding with the mayor’s request for the National Guard.  A thousand were deployed at first, then three thousand, until by Friday night all 13,500 guardsman were on the street.

When it was all over, 34 people were dead and more than a thousand wounded.  A fireman died and a deputy sheriff.  The governor ordered a commission and by the end of the year, the McCone Commission was ready to report.

Among their findings, the need for more jobs and more education, and “We recommend that law enforcement agencies place greater emphasis on their responsibilities for crime prevention as an essential element of the law enforcement task, and that they institute improved means for handling citizen complaints and community relationships.”

In conclusion, they told the governor, “Of what shall it avail our nation if we can place a man on the moon but cannot cure the sickness in our cities?”

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2 Comments »

  1. YEAH!

    Comment by GALYA TARMU — August 11, 2010 @ 4:45 pm | Reply

  2. watts it all about? thank you for answering that question

    Comment by avery zia — August 13, 2010 @ 12:10 am | Reply


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