On this day in history:
1506- – – The first contingent of 150 Swiss Guards arrives at the Vatican
1517 – – – The Ottoman Empire under Selim I defeats the Mamluk Sultanate and captures present-day Egypt at the Battle of Ridaniva.
1689 – – – The Convention Parliament convenes to determine whether James II and IV, the last Roman Catholic monarch of England, Ireland and Scotland, had vacated the thrones of England and Ireland when he fled to France in 1688. And, of course, they did decide he had vacated the throne and transferred the crowns of England, Scotland and Ireland from James II to William III and Mary II as co-regents.
1808 – – – The Portuguese royal family arrives in Brazil after fleeing the French army’s invasion of Portugal two months earlier.
1849 – – – Second Anglo-Sikh War – Siege of Multan ends after none months when the last Sikh defenders of Multan surrender.
1863 – – – The January uprising breaks out in Poland, Lithuania and Belarus. The aim of the national movement is to regain Polish-Lithuanian-Ruthenian Commonwealth from Russian occupation.
1901 – – – Edward VII is proclaimed King after the death of his mother, Queen Victoria.
1905 – – – Bloody Sunday in Saint Petersburg, beginning the 1905 revolution. The Russian Revolution of 1905 was a wave of mass political and social unrest that spread through vast areas of the Russian Empire, some of which was directed at the government. It included worker strikes, peasant unrest, and military mutinies. It led to Constitutional Reform (namely the “October Manifesto”) including the establishment of the State Duma, the multi-party system, and the Russian Constitution of 1906. The 1905 revolution was not only spurred by the Russian defeat in the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905), but also the growing realization of the need for reform after politicians failed to do so. While the Tsar managed to keep his rule, the events foreshadowed those of the Russian revolution twelve years later—after the Russian defeat in World War I—which would result in his overthrow and the creation of the Soviet Union. Lenin, as head of the USSR later on, called the 1905 revolution “The Great Dress rehearsal” without which the “victory of the October Revolution in 1917 would have been impossible”. Whoopee!
1917 – – – World War I – President Wilson of the still-neutral United States calls for “peace without victory” in Europe. That view looked a bit naïve when Germany’s submarines kept conducting unlimited warfare on neutrals as well as belligerents. Oh well, maybe it was the thought that counted.
1919 – – – Act Zluky is signed, unifying the Ukrainian People’s Republic and the West Ukrainian National Republic. The agreement was aimed at creating a unified Ukrainian state, a movement long-awaited by the intelligentsia on both sides. However, the Act Zluky was regarded as purely symbolic in that both governments still retained their own separate armies, administrations and government structure. The text of the universal made by the Directorate of the Ukrainian People’s Republic: “The territory of Ukraine, divided over the centuries, including Galicia, Bukovyna, Carpathian Ruthenia, and Dnieper Ukraine will now become a great united Ukraine. Dreams, for which the best sons of Ukraine fought and died for, have come true.” According to the treaty Galicia would become an autonomous part of Ukraine. However, Ukraine was unable to gain independence and in December 1920 the Ukrainian SSR of the Soviet Union was established comprising most the territory of the Ukrainian People’s Republic. The territories of the West Ukrainian People’s Republic became mostly part of Poland. In 1939 the territories of both became part of the Ukrainian SSR (as the Red Army rolled into western Ukraine).
Well over 300,000 Ukrainians – and my wife, Nadia Komarnyckyj McConnell – participated in the human chain on January 21, 1990
To mark the 71st anniversary of the signing of the Act Zluky in 1990, Rukh, “The People’s Movement” coordinated and organized a human chain of about 300 miles from the capital of Kyiv to the western Ukrainian city of Lviv. At that time, as had been the case throughout the history of the Soviet Union and the Kremlin’s malevolent ”Russification” of Ukraine, Ukraine’s blue and yellow flag was illegal, its display forbidden. However, as people began appearing in the cold winter day to form the human chain, out from beneath their heavy coats started to appear handmade blue and yellow flags. You don’t see them in the picture above but eventually the chain displayed hundreds, thousands, of the flags. Nadia, having flown to Ukraine specifically to be a part of the human chain and to learn what she could about Rukh, stood in St. Sophia Square in Kyiv (where the Act Zluky had been signed in 1919) between Ivan Drach, the chair of Rukh and Mykhailo Horyn, Vice Chair of Rukh. It was her first trip to Ukraine (She was born in Austria as her parents fled ahead of the Red Army at the end of the War.) and, among other things, it was the beginning of our very special friendships and collaboration with Drach and Hoyrn – God bless their dear souls in Your eternal Presence – – and may free and independent Ukraine long remember and cherish their extraordinary efforts.
As for the flag, Rukh then flew the flag outside its headquarters office in Kyiv. Drach received a call from the head of the KGB in Kyiv telling him that, ok, Rukh had flown the flag for the anniversary but it was time to take it down. Drach, in his unique understated way responded that “we will see.” The flag never came down.
1941 – – – World War II – British and Commonwealth troops capture Tobruk from Italian forces during Operation Compass. Tobruk is a port city on Libya’s eastern Mediterranean coast near the border with Egypt.
1943 – – – WWII – Australian and American forces defeat Japanese army and navy units in the bitterly fought Battle of Buna-Gona.
1944 – – – WWII – The Allies commence Operation Shingle, an assault on Anzio and Nettuno, Italy.
1946 – – – Creation of the Central Intelligence Group – forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency.
1947 – – – KTLA – The first commercial television station west of the Mississippi River, begins operation in Hollywood.
1957 – – – Israel withdraws from the Sinai Peninsula.
1963 – – – The Elysee Treaty of cooperation between France and Germany is signed by Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer.
1968 – – – Apollo 5 lifts off carrying the first Lunar module into space. I told many friends after witnessing several spectacular Space Shuttle launches and seeing the Saturn 5 “moon rocket” resting on its side next to NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building that if the Saturn 5, or anything comparable, is ever rolled out for launch, I want to be there to witness the blast off. Just note the comparison:
1970 – – – The Boeing 747, the world’s first “jumbo jet” enters commercial service for launch customer Pan American Airways with its maiden voyage from John F. Kennedy International Airport to London Heathrow Airport.
1973 – – – (a) The Supreme Court of the United States delivers its decisions in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, legalizing elective abortion in all 50 states. Whatever you think of the position taken by the majority, the reasoning is pathetic. (b) The crew of Apollo 17 addresses a joint session of Congress after the completion of the final Apollo moon landing mission.
1984 – – – The Apple Macintosh, the first consumer computer to popularize the computer mouse and the graphical user interface, is introduced during a Super Bowl XVIII television commercial.
2015 – – – An explosion near a civilian trolley-bus in Donetsk, Ukraine, kills at least 13 people.
Composed by Robert McConnell.
Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation.