This Month in Military History: August Edition

A look at key historical events in August

EnolaGayplaneAugust is known for being the dog days of summer, or the month when school starts up again (much to the chagrin of kids and joy of parents)—and not really much else. But did you know that there were five Presidents born in this month (second only to January for the most)? Or that it’s when the Declaration of Independence was actually signed?

We take a look at the some of the key moments during the month of August throughout American history.

Aug. 1, 1779:  Francis Scott Key is born in Maryland. After witnessing the British bombardment of Fort McHenry on the night of September 13-14, 1814, he was inspired to write what was then called “Defense of Fort McHenry.” In 1931 the tune became America’s National Anthem.

Aug. 2, 1776: The majority of the 55 members of the Continental Congress officially sign the Declaration of Independence.

Aug. 2, 1990: The Iraqi army invades Kuwait, eventually leading to Desert Storm.

Aug. 3, 1900: Ernie Pyle is born in Dana, Indiana, and goes on to be a Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent, sharing sympathetic insights into the lives of soldiers during World War II.  

Aug. 4, 1961: Barack Obama is born in Honolulu, Hawaii, and goes on to serve two terms as the 44th President.

Aug. 6, 1945: At 8:15 a.m., the Enola Gay drops the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. A second nuclear device will be dropped on Nagasaki three days later. Both cities are left in ruins and hundreds of thousands are killed. (Photo above. Source.)

Aug. 7, 1964: Two U.S. destroyers are attacked in the Gulf of Tonkin off the coast of North Vietnam. Congress goes on to approve the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, giving President Johnson authority to order military action “to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression."

Aug. 10, 1874: The 31st President, Herbert Hoover, is born in West Branch, Iowa. He becomes the first President born west of the Mississippi.

Aug. 12, 1898: The Spanish-American War, which had only begun that April, comes to an end.

Aug. 13, 1961: Construction of the Berlin Wall begins. It comes to symbolize the divide between the Soviet Union and the democratic west until coming down 28 years later.

Aug. 14, 1945: Japan surrenders five days after the bombing of Nagasaki, thus ending World War II. The formal surrender ceremony doesn’t take place, however, until Sept. 2, aboard the USS Missouri. 

Aug. 17, 1943: Allies take control of Sicily after just 38 days, thus securing control of the Mediterranean and leading to the downfall of Benito Mussolini.

Aug. 18, 1920: Women are granted the right to vote when the 19th Amendment is ratified.

Aug. 19, 1946: William Jefferson Clinton is born in Arkansas, and goes on to become the 42nd President.

Aug. 20, 1883: In North Bend, Ohio, Benjamin Harrison is born. The grandson of William Henry Harrison, the 9th President, Benjamin becomes the 23rd President in 1889.

Aug. 23, 1861: The first black man to fight for the Union during the civil war, James Stone of Ohio, enlists in the Army.  His racial identity is only revealed after his death in 1862.

Aug 24-25, 1814: A swath of Washington, D.C., is burned to the ground by British forces during the War of 1812. It was in retaliation for the Americans burning of then-York (now Toronto).

Aug. 27, 1908: Our 36th President, Lyndon Baines Johnson, is born near Stonewall, Texas. He is only the second Vice President to take the higher office due to assassination.

Aug. 28, 1632: Philosopher John Locke is born in England. While he died long before America was born, his ideas on political theory—namely, that rulers can only gain power from the consent of the governed, and that all people possess certain rights, such as life, liberty, and property—had tremendous influence on our nation’s Founding Fathers.

If history is your thing, we’ll have more later this month in the form of a fun and interesting infographic on Airborne Day, so make sure to come back and check it out!


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