This Day in History – December 14 – Hijinx, humor and insight


NewsWhistle is pleased to present “This Day In History” column by Gary Jenneke.

You can read the original at Gary’s Blog THIS DAY IN HISTORY – or scroll down to enjoy Gary’s unique take on the comings and goings of life.




1702 – Revenge of the Forty-Seven Ronins.

Ronin is the name of the leaderless samurai in Japan. Their leader, Asano, had been forced to ritually kill himself for his disrespect, and then assault Kira, a powerful court official. Asano’s 300-man force was disbanded, but forty-seven of them secretly planned to seek revenge. Kira, however, suspected a plot and he and his mansion were heavily guarded. He also had spies who followed the Ronin leaders. The forty-seven took on jobs as monks, farmers, and traders to appear innocent while they plotted. Some, to cover up their plot, drank heavily and went to brothels, dishonoring their status as samurai. It took two years but Kira finally released her custody. That night, the Forty-Seven struck, attacking the mansion with a coordinated plan. They were careful not to kill anyone else, not even Kira’s guards. They found Kira curled up in a closet and when he refused the honor of killing himself, they killed him. Their master, Asano, took revenge, forty-six of the forty-seven then ritually committed suicide. The forty-seventh was too young and was not bound by this tradition. This story is still popular in Japan, even legendary, and every year on December 14 there is a commemoration festival.

Revenge and ritual suicide, all wrapped up in a bundle of honor. Good story but no thanks. Unless I’m the forty-seventh samurai.


2012 – Filming of Sandy Hook.

Twenty kindergarten and first graders and six adults were killed by a deranged young man with an AR-15 assault rifle. In a country where mass shootings are rife, this one is proving particularly horrific.

So horrible that it seems those who loudly embrace the 2nd Amendment, those people who love assault rifles, have no way of dealing with this tragedy. So what is the solution ? Say it was wrong, that it never happened. It is certainly convenient and easy, and also grossly offensive.


2020 – Presidential voters officially vote.

With votes in all fifty states counted, the Electoral College certified that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ ticket won the 2020 presidential election.

But wait, don’t you? I saw a post on Facebook claiming that there was proof, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that anyone who ate at McDonald’s before voting, regardless of their political beliefs or affiliation, was voting for Biden . Some kind of mind control substance was in the food. So what do you need more evidence for? Like Sandy Hook, the election was bogus.



1897 – Margaret Chase Smith.

As a Republican from Maine, Smith was the first woman to serve in both the United States House and Senate. She was first elected in 1940 to take her husband’s seat in the House when he fell ill and died of heart disease. Initially relegated to lower-level committees, it eventually became more influential. Voters in Maine liked her, the Republican Party less because she often crossed party lines in her votes. In 1947 a Senate seat in Maine opened and she ran for it. The Republicans, in an effort to defeat her, fielded a strong candidate but she won the primary and then easily beat her Democratic opponent. In the Senate, she continued to be a maverick, managing to anger the Eisenhower, Kennedy and Nixon administrations. Smith was one of the few senators who had the courage to speak out against McCarthyism when these excesses tormented the nation. This from In a speech she later called a “statement of conscience,” Smith accused her Republican colleague of “degrading” Senate deliberations “through the selfish political exploitation of fear, bigotry, ‘ignorance and intolerance’. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Smith sought the Republican nomination for president in 1964, but was defeated by Barry Goldwater. She served four terms in the Senate before being defeated in her candidacy for a fifth. Her Democratic opponent has successfully used her age against her. Smith died in her hometown of Skowhegan, Maine, in 1995 at the age of 97.

We could use more like it.


1911 – Spike Jones.

Musician. Spike Jones and His City Slickers parodies popular songs and classical music. In the 1940s and 1950s they also toured under the name Musical Depreciation Revue. Whistles, cowbells, hiccups, burps and even gunshots were incorporated into their music, in addition to the comedic lyrics. Jones had performed in pit orchestras and as a studio musician and was a percussionist on Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”. Bored, he and other musicians began to parody the music they still played. They made a recording, only to be able to share it with their wives. Somehow the recording was sent to an executive in RCA and a new musical path was mapped out. They had huge success with “Der Fuhrer’s Face”, which ridiculed Hitler. When rock and roll began to dominate the scene, other music lost its popularity, notably the Spike Jones parodies. A lifelong smoker, four to five packs a day, Jones developed emphysema and died in 1965 at the age of 53.

I remember watching and enjoying Spike Jones and his bunch of crazy people on TV comedy shows when I was a kid. They were remarkable for their crazy choreography. They were short appearances though and quite a gig of his brand of music… I don’t know.


1939 – Ernie Davis.

Football player. Half-back at Syracuse University, Davis was the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy. Heavily recruited Davis was advised to go to Syracuse by Jim Brown, a former school backer. Brown said he would be treated like a black athlete there. However, it was still the era of segregation and at the 1960 Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas where he was selected MVP, Davis was allowed into the separate banquet hall to receive his trophy and then a had to leave. There is no record of Syracuse protesting against this treatment. Davis was the first African American to be the NFL’s first draft pick, but tragically he never played a game. Davis was diagnosed with leukemia and died in 1963 at the age of 23. President John Kennedy was a fan of Ernie Davis and followed his career.

At Davis’s funeral, a message from JFK was read to those attending the service. The President said: “He was an exceptional young man of great character who has served – and I hope he will continue to serve – as an inspiration to the youth of this country.”



At various points in his life Gary has been an indifferent student, a poor high school student, a good Navy radio, a former hippie, a passable student, a diehard traveler, a devoted writer, a mistaken accountant (to the except for an interesting passage in a Communist Café), part-time scriptwriting teacher, half-proud veteran, unhappy retiree and new blogger.

You can reach him at [email protected]



The above information is taken from the following sites and logs.




We also thank the following photographers and videographers for the use of their images:

* Introductory image (rock art) – Photo by Nick Fewings to Unsplash – “A pebble painted with the words, For all those we have loved and lost.”

* Spike Jones (video) – SpikeJonesDomain /

* Ernie Davis (video) Syracuse Orange /

* Outro (Caricature of the man in the museum) – SkyPics Studio /