It is interesting how an examination of history can bring insights. On this date in 1968 the Prague Spring reforms in Czechoslovakia were crushed an invasion of the nation by Warsaw Pact armies. It was one of the notable reform movements in Eastern Europe which was a preview of the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989/1991, along with the 1956 Hungarian uprising and the success of Poland’s Solidarity movement. But I find it interesting that the Czechs were a significant part of the Russian Civil War and the earlier resistance to Bolshevik rule. The Czech Legion was formed to continue assistance to the Allies after the withdrawal of Russian forces from the war after the Russian Revolution. They continued to fight, partly to get out of the Russian Empire and partly because they found a common cause with the White Russian forces fighting the Bolsheviks. Their efforts ultimately failed but many made it home, only the be absorbed by the Soviets following WWII. I wonder how many in the Prague Spring remembered those revolutionary days.
In other news of the day, Russian composer Tchaikovsky’s often-performed 1812 Overture, commemorating the Russian victory over the invading forces of Napoleon Bonaparte, was performed for the first time in 1882 in Moscow. And exiled Bolshevik revolutionary Leon Trotsky was fatally wounded in an assassination in Mexico City in 1940, to die the following day. And in 1866 President Andrew Johnson formally declared the American Civil War ended.
In 1778 the Chilean liberator Bernardo O’Higgins was born. Our 23rd US President and former Union general Benjamin Harrison was born in 1833. Others who shared this date as their birthday include German-American philosopher and theologian Paul Tillich (1886), American horror story author H.P.Lovecrarft (1890), singer-songwriter, pianist, composer, and actor Isaac Hayes (1942), English painter and illustrator (known for his Lord of the Rings work) Alan Lee (1947), and Robert Plant (1948) English singer-songwriter, lead singer and lyricist for the band Led Zepplin.
Those who left us on this date include the co-founder of the Salvation Army, William Booth (1912), Oakland Raider Hall of Fame guard Gene Upshaw (2008), comedienne Phyllis Diller (2012), and slapstick comedian and Muscular Dystrophy Association fundraiser Jerry Lewis (2017).