Global Travel Time in 1914

I have come across a fascinating article from the Economist’s Intelligent Life magazine this week by Simon Willis. We often take for granted how accessible the world has become since the advent of the jet age. Even the world’s longest commercial flight in 2015 is still under 20 hours non-stop. But how often do we…

The 13th Amendment and the Abolition of Slavery

The 13th Amendment holds a special and prominent place in American history. Initially passed by the U.S. Congress on January 31, 1865, and later ratified on December 6, 1865, the 13th amendment committed America to abolishing slavery.  The Amendment would state: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party…

Centenary of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity

Few would deny that Albert Einstein’s very name has become synonymous with genius. Janos Plesch, Einstein’s friend, once said: “He sleeps until he is awakened; he stays awake until he is told to go to bed; he will go hungry until he is given something to eat; and then he eats until he is stopped.” (1)…

Martin Luther’s 95 Theses Remembered

Today we remember Martin Luther, a priest and scholar, who, on October 31, 1517, on the doors of the All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, Germany, nailed his 95 theses. Luther has been widely accepted as the father of the Protestant Reformation, but earlier attempts at reforming the Roman Catholic Church were made by a number…

The Iran-Iraq War, 1980-88

Weekend greetings to my fellow history buffs! This month commemorates 35 years since Iraq’s declaration of war against The Islamic Republic of Iran in September of 1980. The Iran-Iraq war is the longest conventional war of the 20th century and, having lasted 8 years, cost upwards of 1 million lives and billions of dollars in damage…

In Support of #Unite4Heritage

The world has long watched with shock and disgust as some of the worlds most precious cultural treasures and heritage sites have been destroyed or controlled by barbaric and extremist forces, destructive ideologies, and conflict zones. Some of civilizations greatest heritage sites in places like Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan among others still face imminent threat…

70 Years After Hiroshima and Nagasaki

This past week marked an ominous, momentous and transformational event of the twentieth century that few would deny has narrated and punctuated the past 70 years of warfare in the modern age. Few events during the Second World War (and since) capture our collective imagination, fear and horror as much as the atomic bombing of…

The Siege of Belgrade, 1456

Have you ever wondered why most Christian (i.e. Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox) churches ring their bells at noon every day? Pope Callixtus III (1455-1458) ordered the bells of every European church to be rung every day at noon, as a call to pray for the Hungarian and Crusader victory defending the fortress at Belgrade (then Nándorfehérvár as…

The Srebrenica Massacre

This past week marked 20 years since the Srebrenica massacre. More than 8,000 predominately Bosniak Muslims were killed by the Bosnian Serb Army under the command of Ratko Mladic (a war criminal currently on trial in the Hague). The context in which the horrors of the Srebrenica massacre occur may be traced partially to the…

Bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo

The sheer number of historical anniversaries and commemorations in 2015 has certainly kept me busy. Today marks the bicentenary (200 years) since the world-changing Battle of Waterloo on June 18, 1815, which pitted the forces of Napoleon Bonaparte against the Duke of Wellington and allied forces. In terms of significance, the Battle of Waterloo decisively…

Magna Carta 800th Anniversary

Most have heard of the Magna Carta and its dominant role in placing the English king under the law, but also outlining a number of fundamental rights and liberties that still resonate 800 years after is signing by King John on June 15, 1215 in a meadow at Runnymede. The Magna Carta was a crucial…

Remembering Ronald Reagan’s “Tear Down This Wall” Speech

On June 12, 1987 President Ronald Reagan, standing before the iconic Brandenburg Gate in Berlin with the Berlin Wall looming behind him, issued his famous challenge to the leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” President Reagan’s words that day have been credited with placing considerable pressure on the Soviet…