1813 – Americans captured Fort George, Canada. Fort George served as the headquarters for the Centre Division of the British Army. These forces included British regulars, local militia, aboriginal warriors, and Runchey’s corps of freed slaves. Major General Sir Isaac Brock, “the saviour of Upper Canada” served here until his death at the Battle of Queenston Heights in October, 1813. Brock and his aide-de-camp John Macdonell were initially buried within the fort. Fort George was destroyed by American artillery fire and captured during the Battle of Fort George in May 1813. The U.S. forces used the fort as a base to invade the rest of Upper Canada, however, they were repulsed at the Battles of Stoney Creek and Beaver Dams. After a seven month occupation, the fort was retaken in December and remained in British hands for the remainder of the war. After the war, the fort was partially rebuilt, and by the 1820’s it was falling into ruins. It was finally abandoned in favour of a more strategic installation at Fort Mississauga and a more protected one at Butler’s Barracks.
1862 – Battle of Hanover Court House, VA (Slash Church, Peake’s Station). Elements of Brig. Gen. Fitz John Porter’s V Corps extended north to protect the right flank of McClellan’s Union army that now straddled the Chickahominy River. Porter’s objective was to cut the railroad and to open the Telegraph Road for Union reinforcements under Maj. Gen. Irvin McDowell that were marching south from Fredericksburg. Confederate forces, attempting to prevent this maneuver, were defeated just south of Hanover Courthouse after a stiff fight. The Union victory was moot, however, for McDowell’s reinforcements were recalled to Fredericksburg upon word of Banks’s rout at First Winchester.
1863 – Confederate defenders turned back a major assault on Port Hudson, inflicting severe losses on the Union Army. General Banks’ troops fell back into siege position and appealed to Rear Admiral Farragut to continue the mortar and ship bombardment night and day, and requested naval offi-cers and Marines to man a heavy naval battery ashore. A week later, Farragut reported the situation to Welles: “General Banks still has Port Hudson closely invested and is now putting up a battery of four IX-inch guns and four 24 pounders. The first will be superintended by Lieutenant [Commander] Terry, of the Richmond, and worked by four of her gun crews and to be used as a breaching battery. We continue to shell the enemy every night from three to five hours, and at times during the day when they open fire on our troops. . . . I have the Hartford and two or three gunboats above Port Hudson; the Richmond, Genesee, Essex, and this vessel [Monongahela], together with the mortar boats below, ready to aid the army in any way in our power.
1863 – U.S.S. Cincinnati, Lieutenant Bache, “. . . in accordance with Generals Grant’s and Sherman’s urgent request,” moved to enfilade some rifle pits which had barred the Army’s progress before Vicksburg. Though Porter took great precautions for the ship’s safety by packing her with logs and hay, a shot entered Cincinnati’s magazine, “and she commenced filling rapidly.” Bache reported: ”Before and after this time the enemy fired with great accuracy, hitting us almost every time. We were especially annoyed by plunging shots from the hills, an 8-inch rifle and a 10-inch smoothbore doing us much damage. The shot went entirely through our protection-hay, wood, and iron.” Cincinnati, suffering 25 killed or wounded and 15 probable drownings, went down with her colors nailed to the mast. General Sherman wrote: “The style in which the Cincinnati engaged the battery elicited universal praise.”
1863 – Chief Justice Roger B. Taney issues ex parte Merryman, challenging the authority of Abraham Lincoln and the military to suspend the writ of habeas corpus in Maryland. Early in the war, President Lincoln faced many difficulties due to the fact that Washington was located in slave territory. Although Maryland did not secede, Southern sympathies were widespread. On April 27, 1861, Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus between Washington and Philadelphia to give military authorities the necessary power to silence dissenters and rebels. Under this order, commanders could arrest and detain individuals who were deemed threatening to military operations. Those arrested could be held without indictment or arraignment. On May 25, John Merryman, a vocal secessionist, was arrested in Cockeysville, Maryland. He was held at Ft. McHenry in Baltimore, where he appealed for his release under a writ of habeas corpus. The federal circuit court judge was Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, who issued a ruling, ex parte Merryman, denying the president’s authority to suspend habeas corpus. A Marylander himself, Taney shrilly denounced the heavy hand played by Lincoln in interfering with civil liberties and argued that only Congress had the power to suspend the writ. Lincoln did not respond directly to Taney’s edict, but he did address the issue in his message to Congress that July. He justified the suspension through Article I, Section 9, of the Constitution, which specifies a suspension of the writ “when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.” Although military officials continued to arrest suspected Southern sympathizers, the incident led to a softening of the policy. Concern that Maryland might still secede from the Union forced a more conciliatory stance from Lincoln and the military. Merryman was remanded to civil authorities in July and allowed to post bail. He was never brought to trial, and the charges of treason against him were dropped two years after the war.
1908 – Congress passes the “Second Dick Act,” one of a series of laws enacted between 1903 and 1916 that completely restructured the old “militia” into the modern “National Guard.” This law requires the federal government to call forth the Guard in case of emergency before accepting any volunteers for military service. It also removed the previous nine month limitation on militia service, and stated that such service could take place “either within or without of the territory of the United States.” This last aspect of the law was critical, because it appeared to remove a major objection the Army had regarding the militia: inability to employ the militia outside of the U.S. borders. However, less than four years later this aspect of the law was overturned when the Judge Advocate General of the Army and the Attorney General of the United States both opined that employing militia outside the boundaries of the country violated the Constitution, which limited Congress’ power to call forth the militia to only three purposes: “to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions.” It was only after World War I, when the entire National Guard had to be “drafted” into the Army as a quick and dirty way of getting the troops deployed to Europe, that the Congress in 1933 finally passed a new law giving every Guard member “dual status” in both the militia and as a federal reserve of the Army. In the latter capacity Guardsmen could be deployed overseas.
1916 – President Woodrow Wilson suggest the creation of an international body with the authority to maintain peace and the freedom of the seas.
1918 – General Erich Ludendorff, the deputy chief of the German General Staff, opens his third offensive on the Western Front in 1918. It is a diversionary attack against the French forces holding the Chemin des Dames section of the Aisne River. Ludendorff’s aim is to prevent the French from sending reinforcements to the British in northern France, where he is planning to attack again. The offensive is led by General Max von Boehn’s Seventh Army and the First Army under General Bruno von Mudra, a total of 44 divisions. The objective of their advances, codenamed Bluecher and Yorck is General Denis Duchene’s French Sixth Army which consists of 12 divisions, including 3 British. The German onslaught is heralded by a bombardment from 4600 artillery pieces, followed by an attack by seven divisions on a front of 10 miles. The Germans immediately capture the Chemin des Dames and advance on the Aisne River, taking several intact bridges. By the end of the day the Germans have advanced 10 miles. Although the offensive is intended to be limited in scope, its early successes convince the German high command to press forward, as Paris is only 80 miles distant. However the French are being sent reinforcements by the commander of the American Expeditionary Force, General John Pershing. They are General Omar Bundy’s 2nd Division and the 3rd Division under General J.T. Dickman. These will make their first contact with the Germans at the Marne River.
1919 – First Lieutenant Elmer F. Stone, USCG, piloting the Navy’s flying boat NC-4 in the first successful trans-Atlantic flight, landed in the Tagus River estuary near Lisbon, Portugal on 27 May 1919. Stone was decorated that same day by the Portuguese government with the Order of the Tower and Sword. Three aircraft, designated NC-1, NC-3 and NC-4–called “Nancy” boats–had taken off from New York’s Rockaway Naval Air Station for Lisbon on May 8, with intermediate stops planned for Newfoundland and the Azores. Only NC-4 completed the 3,925-mile transatlantic flight. Heavy rain and fog forced NC-1 down at sea, where it sank on May 17. NC-3 came down in rough seas and taxied 200 miles into the harbor at Horta in the Azores.
1935 – New Deal: The Supreme Court of the United States declares the National Industrial Recovery Act to be unconstitutional in A.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States, (295 U.S. 495).
1941 – Amid rising world tensions, President Roosevelt proclaimed an “unlimited national emergency.” Roosevelt had declared a “limited” national emergency two years earlier, but neither declaration granted the President nor the government any additional or extraordinary powers and appear to have been only for the purpose of conveying to the general public the gravity of world events. Nevertheless, President Truman took the step, in 1952, of formally repealing both declarations.
1941 – Despite US neutrality thus far into World War II, the US Navy assists the Royal Navy in its pursuit of the German battleship Bismarck. British code-breakers had been able to decrypt some German signals, including an order to the Luftwaffe to provide support for the damaged Bismarck making for Brest, and the French Resistance provided the British with confirmation that Luftwaffe units were relocating there. British Admiral John Tovey, in charge of the pursuit, could now turn his forces toward France to converge in areas through which Bismarck would have to pass. A squadron of Coastal Command PBY Catalinas based in Northern Ireland joined the search, covering areas where Bismarck might be headed in her attempt to reach occupied France. At 10:30, a Catalina piloted by Ensign Leonard B. Smith of the US Navy located her, some 690 nmi (1,280 km; 790 mi) northwest of Brest. At her current speed, she would have been close enough to reach the protection of U-boats and the Luftwaffe in less than a day. Bismarck would be sunk early the next day.
1942 – The Japanese invasion fleet for Midway puts to sea from Saipan and Guam with troop transports carrying 5000 men. They are escorted by cruisers and destroyers. Likewise, the invasion force for the Aleutians sets sail in two groups from Ominato.
1942 – The damaged USS Yorktown arrives at Pearl Harbor and repairs begin immediately.
1942 – The “Americal” Infantry Division is organized primarily from Guard elements separated from their parent divisions by the Army’s reorganization of 1942. Three former Guard infantry regiments, the 132nd from Illinois, 164th from North Dakota and the 182nd from Massachusetts are its primary elements. In addition its four field artillery battalions also came from Illinois and Massachusetts. After completing its organization and training the division was committed to combat to relieve U.S. Marines fighting on Guadalcanal. Later in the war it saw hard fighting on Leyte and other southern Philippine Islands. When the war ended the “Americal” was inactivated, only to be reconstituted (with no Guard connection) during the Vietnam War.
1943 – On Attu American forces make some progress along the Clevesy Pass. Japanese are driven off of Fish Hook Ridge in heavy fighting. Also, Americans begin work on an airfield at Alexai Point.
1943 – Churchill and American General Marshall leave for North Africa for talks with General Eisenhower on the Italian campaign. Churchill wants to exploit opportunities in the Mediterranean and to get Italy to surrender. Marshall wants to avoid commitments that will interfere with the invasion of western Europe that is now being prepared.
1943 – The 29th Ranger Battalion (Provisional), composed of volunteers from the 29th Infantry Division (DC, MD, VA), takes part in Exercise “Columbus,” a joint Anglo-American wargame in southern England. The Battalion was assigned to the 175th Infantry along with the 29th Reconnaissance Troop, both also from the 29th Division. While the other elements of this task force kept the ‘enemy’ busy the rangers made a 20-mile forced night march coming in behind the British 42nd Armoured Division. They were credited with ‘destroying’ six tank carriers along with capturing two command posts and numerous prisoners. On the next night, though arriving late due to fatigue, the battalion destroyed a newly constructed bridge over the Canal. The Chief Umpire’s report states “The work of this battalion was performed in an excellent manner. In spite of only one hot meal the men worked with enthusiasm and without complaining.” Unfortunately the Army decided the battalion was not needed for the invasion of France on D-Day so it was disbanded in October 1943. The men of the 29th Rangers were returned to their former units where they shared their specialized training with other soldiers in their companies. Veteran’s recount how this helped them to survive the horrific carnage suffered by the 29th Infantry Division on D-Day and in the Normandy campaign which followed.
1944 – On Biak Island, the US 41st Infantry Division (General Fuller) lands near Bosnek. Naval escort for the landing is provided by cruisers and destroyers under the command of Admiral Fechteler. The forces of Admiral Crutchley and Admiral Berkey provide support. The Japanese garrison, led by Colonel Kuzume, numbers about 11,000 men but it does not resist the landings. On the mainland, American troops make limited gains in their advance toward Sarmi.
1944 – German forces counterattack around Artena but the US 3rd Division (part of the 6th Corps) holds on to the town.
1945 – For the first time in history, an entire army is moved by air transport. American aircraft fly the Chinese 6th Army from Burma to China.
1945 – On Okinawa, American forces attacking southward, continue to encounter heavy Japanese resistance. Japanese aircraft begin a two-day series of strikes against the Allied naval forces around the island. The US destroyer Drexler is sunk.
1945 – The US 25th Division, part of the US 1st Corps, takes Santa Fe on Luzon. There is still heavy fighting in several parts of Mindanao.
1949 – Russians stopped train traffic to and from West Berlin.
1954 – The aircraft carrier USS Bennington (CV-20), with about 2,000 persons aboard, suffered an explosion and fire 35 miles south of Brenton Reef Lightship, injuring some 100 persons. U.S. Coast Guard aircraft from Salem Air Station and Quonset Point proceeded to the scene, assisted in transporting medical personnel to Bennington and provided air cover for all helicopter operations. One of the Coast Guard’s helicopters made 7 landings aboard the aircraft carrier and transported 18 injured to the hospital; another transported 14 injured.
1958 – The Air Force received its first production Republic F-105B Thunderchief. In 1951, Republic Aviation began a project to develop a supersonic tactical fighter-bomber to replace the F-84F. The result was the F-105 Thunderchief, which later gained the affectionate nickname “Thud”. Although the prototype YF-105A made its first flight on October 22, 1955, the first production aircraft, an F-105B, was not delivered to the United States Air Force (USAF) until May 27, 1958. A supersonic aircraft capable of carrying conventional and nuclear weapons internally as well as externally, the F-105B was the heaviest, most complex fighter in the USAF inventory when it became operational. F-105s were produced only in the “B,” “D” and “F” series (later, some “F”s were modified to become F-105Gs). Of the 833 Thunderchiefs built, only 75 were produced as F-105Bs.
1958 – The F-4 Phantom II makes its first flight. The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is a tandem two-seat, twin-engine, all-weather, long-range supersonic jet interceptor aircraft/fighter-bomber originally developed for the United States Navy by McDonnell Aircraft. It first entered service in 1960 with the U.S. Navy. Proving highly adaptable, it was also adopted by the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Air Force, and by the mid-1960s had become a major part of their respective air wings. The Phantom is a large fighter with a top speed of over Mach 2.2. It can carry more than 18,000 pounds (8,400 kg) of weapons on nine external hardpoints, including air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground missiles, and various bombs. The F-4, like other interceptors of its time, was designed without an internal cannon. Later models incorporated a M61 Vulcan rotary cannon. Beginning in 1959, it set 15 world records for in-flight performance, including an absolute speed record, and an absolute altitude record. During the Vietnam War, the F-4 was used extensively; it served as the principal air superiority fighter for both the Navy and Air Force, and became important in the ground-attack and aerial reconnaissance roles late in the war. The Phantom has the distinction of being the last U.S. fighter flown to attain ace status in the 20th century. During the Vietnam War, the USAF had one pilot and two weapon systems officers (WSOs), and the US Navy one pilot and one radar intercept officer (RIO), achieve five aerial kills against other enemy fighter aircraft and become aces in air-to-air combat. The F-4 continued to form a major part of U.S. military air power throughout the 1970s and 1980s, being gradually replaced by more modern aircraft such as the F-15 Eagle and F-16 in the U.S. Air Force, the Grumman F-14 Tomcat in the U.S. Navy, and the F/A-18 Hornet in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps. The F-4 Phantom II remained in use by the U.S. in the reconnaissance and Wild Weasel (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) roles in the 1991 Gulf War, finally leaving service in 1996. It was also the only aircraft used by both U.S. flight demonstration teams: the USAF Thunderbirds (F-4E) and the US Navy Blue Angels (F-4J). The F-4 was also operated by the armed forces of 11 other nations. Israeli Phantoms saw extensive combat in several Arab–Israeli conflicts, while Iran used its large fleet of Phantoms in the Iran–Iraq War. Phantoms remain in front line service with seven countries, and in use as an Target drone in the U.S. Air Force. Phantom production ran from 1958 to 1981, with a total of 5,195 built, making it the most numerous American supersonic military aircraft.
1965 – Augmenting the vital role now being played by U.S. aircraft carriers, whose planes participated in many of the raids over South and North Vietnam, U.S. warships from the 7th Fleet begin to fire on Viet Cong targets in the central area of South Vietnam. At first, this gunfire was limited to 5-inch-gun destroyers, but other ships would eventually be used in the mission. Organized into Task Group 70.8, the ships were assigned from the fleet’s cruiser-destroyer command, from the carrier escort units and amphibious units, from the Navy-Coast Guard Coastal Surveillance Force, and from the Royal Australian Navy. Ships and weapons included the battleship New Jersey, with 16-inch guns; cruisers with 8-inch and 5-inch guns; destroyers with 5-inch guns, and inshore fire support ships and landing ships. Naval gunfire support and shore bombardment ranged the entire coast of Vietnam, but most of the operations took place off the coast of the northernmost region of South Vietnam, just south of the Demilitarized Zone. During the 1968 Tet Offensive, Task Group 70.8 had as many as 22 ships at a time on the gun line, offering invaluable naval gunfire support to ground forces. In May 1972, as part of Operation Linebacker I, a 7th Fleet cruiser-destroyer group bombarded targets near Haiphong and along the North Vietnam coast, firing over 111,000 rounds at the enemy. One destroyer was hit by a MiG bombing attack and 16 ships were hit by communist shore batteries, but none were sunk.
1967 – The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy is launched by Jacqueline Kennedy and her daughter Caroline. USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) (formerly CVA-67) is the only ship of her class (a variant of the Kitty Hawk class of aircraft carrier) and the last conventionally powered carrier built for the United States Navy. The ship is named after the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, and is nicknamed “Big John.” Kennedy was originally designated a CVA (fixed wing attack carrier); however, the designation was changed to CV to denote that the ship was capable of anti-submarine warfare, making her an all-purpose carrier. After nearly 40 years of service in the United States Navy, Kennedy was officially decommissioned on 1 August 2007. She is berthed at the NAVSEA Inactive Ships On-site Maintenance facility in Philadelphia. She is available for donation as a museum and memorial to a qualified organization. The name has been adopted by the future Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy (CVN-79).
1968 – Last Monday of the month. Memorial Day, which began in 1868 as Decoration Day, was set aside to remember those who have died in the service of their country. Celebrated on May 30 for the first 100 years, Memorial Day was officially changed to the last Monday in May in 1968.
1968 – Thai Premier Thanom Kittikachorn announces that, at President Johnson’s request, his country will send 5,000 more troops to Vietnam.
1968 – Future President George W. Bush enlists in the Texas Air National Guard.
1972 – Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev and U.S. President Richard Nixon, meeting in Moscow, sign the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) agreements. At the time, these agreements were the most far-reaching attempts to control nuclear weapons ever. Nixon and Brezhnev seemed unlikely candidates for the American and Soviet statesmen who would sign a groundbreaking arms limitation treaty. Both men carried reputations as hard-line Cold War warriors. Yet, by 1972, both leaders were eager for closer diplomatic relations between their respective nations. The Soviet Union was engaged in an increasingly hostile war of words with communist China; border disputes between the two nations had erupted in the past few years. The United States was looking for help in extricating itself from the unpopular and costly war in Vietnam. Nixon, in particular, wished to take the American public’s mind off the fact that during nearly four years as president, he had failed to bring an end to the conflict. The May 1972 summit meeting between Nixon and Brezhnev was an opportune moment to pursue the closer relations each desired. The most important element of the summit concerned the SALT agreements. Discussions on SALT had been occurring for about two-and-a-half years, but with little progress. During the May 1972 meeting between Nixon and Brezhnev, however, a monumental breakthrough was achieved. The SALT agreements signed on May 27 addressed two major issues. First, they limited the number of antiballistic missile (ABM) sites each country could have to two. (ABMs were missiles designed to destroy incoming missiles.) Second, the number of intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles was frozen at existing levels. There was nothing in the agreements, however, about multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle missiles (single missiles carrying multiple nuclear warheads) or about the development of new weapons. Nevertheless, most Americans and Soviets hailed the SALT agreements as tremendous achievements. In August 1972, the U.S. Senate approved the agreements by an overwhelming vote. SALT-I, as it came to be known, was the foundation for all arms limitations talks that followed.
1988 – Two days before the start of the Moscow summit, the Senate voted 93-5 to ratify a treaty eliminating medium-range nuclear missiles.
1997 – In Paris, Russian President Boris Yeltsin joined 16 NATO leaders, including President Clinton, to sign a historic agreement giving Moscow a voice in NATO affairs.
1997 – Former Iraqi oil minister Issam Al Chalabi estimates Iraq needs $5 billion of outside investment and two to three years for its oil industry to restore production to the level prior to the imposition of United Nations sanctions (3.8-4.2 million barrels per day). He also indicates that it would take 5 years and $30-50 billion to achieve production capacity of 5.5 million barrels per day.
1998 – Michael Fortier, the government’s star witness in the Oklahoma City bombing case, was sentenced to 12 years in prison after apologizing for not warning anyone about the deadly plot.
1999 – The space shuttle Discovery was launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida with 7 astronauts from the US, Canada and Russia. The shuttle was on a 10-day mission to stock the new space station.
1999 – The Int’l. War Crimes Tribunal at the Hague announced an indictment against Pres. Milosevic and 4 senior aides for atrocities and mass deportations and multiple counts of crimes against humanity. Also indicted were: Milan Milutinovic, president of Serbia; Vlajko Stojilkovic, Serbian interior minister; Nikola Sainovic, deputy prime minister of Yugoslavia; and Gen’l. Dragoljub Ojdanic, chief of staff of the Yugoslav army. Sainovic surrendered in 2002.
1999 – In North Korea US inspectors found an empty tunnel at a suspected nuclear arms site.
1999 – The Philippine Senate ratified an accord with the US for joint military exercises.
2001 – Gunmen abducted 21 people from the Dos Palmas Island Resort in Palawan province. Guillermo Sobero from Corona, Ca., was one of the 3 abducted Americans. The Abu Sayyaf claimed responsibility. Sobero was later beheaded. Missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham were among the kidnapped. A $300,000 ransom for the Burnhams was paid in 2002, but the rebels then asked for $200,000 more. [see Jun 7, 2002]
2002 – Pres. Bush commemorated Memorial Day at Normandy American Cemetery in France, where he honored the 9,387 men and women buried there.
2003 – A US weapons-inspection team arrived at Al Qaqaa weapons site and found that the IAEA seals were broken and the high explosives missing.
2004 – London police arrested Abu Hamza al-Masri, a radical Muslim cleric suspected of helping the deadly 2000 suicide attack on the USS Cole. The US sought his extradition on terrorism charges.
2004 – The U.S.-led coalition agreed to suspend offensive operations in Najaf after local leaders struck a deal with radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to end a bloody standoff.
2008 – CGC Dallas departed Charleston, SC for a planned 4-1/2 month deployment to conduct maritime safety and security exchanges with countries along the central and west coasts of Africa, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It was an historic voyage that included delivering relief supplies to Georgia after that country was attacked by Russia in “Operation Assured Delivery” (she was the second U.S. military ship to deliver relief supplies to Georgia) and a port visit to Sevastopol, Ukraine.
2011 – Space Shuttle Endeavour crewmembers Mike Fincke and Greg Chamitoff undertake what is expected to be the last spacewalk ever conducted by a space shuttle crew.
2014 – President Barack Obama announced that U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan would end in December 2014 and that the troops levels will be reduced to 9,800 troops by this time.
2014 – The White House accidentally reveals the name of the CIA’s top intelligence official in Afghanistan to approximately 6,000 journalists during U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Bagram Airfield.
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