Jun. 4, 1999

The Old Liberators

by Robert Hedin

Broadcast Date: FRIDAY: June 4, 1999

Poem: "The Old Liberators" by Robert Hedin, from THE OLD LIBERATORS, (Holy Cow! Press, 1998).

It's the anniversary of the massacre at TIANANMEN SQUARE in Beijing, China, 1989. Two years earlier, in 1987, conflict started brewing between moderates and hardliners when the reformer Hu Yaobang was removed as party chairman. When he died in the spring of 1989, students took to the streets calling for democratic reforms, and about 100,000 gathered in Tiananmen Square defying a government ban on protests. On May 13, about 2,000 students began a hunger strike; on the 20th, martial law was declared. And early on the morning of June 4, while it was still dark and most of the protesters were sleeping, tanks and soldiers opened fire. No one knows the exact number killed; the Chinese government has said there were no casualties, while other estimates range as high as 2,600.

In 1944, ROME WAS LIBERATED on this day—the first Axis capital to fall to the Allies.

Two years earlier, the U.S. Navy turned the tide of the Pacific war by winning THE BATTLE OF MIDWAY. Midway lies in the central Pacific about 1,300 miles northwest of the Hawaiian islands and was a vital re-fueling spot and naval base for the Americans. The U.S. had broken the Japanese secret code and knew they were planning to try to take the island. Seventy-six ships under the command of Admiral Chester Nimitz were waiting for the Japanese when they arrived on June 4, 1942. Four Japanese aircraft carriers were lost in the battle, to one American carrier.

Carson McCullers' first novel, THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER, was published on this day in 1940, the story of John Singer, a man who can neither hear nor speak, and how his life turns out in a Georgia mill town during the 1930s.

It's the birthday in Boston, 1898, of HENRY CROSBY, who moved to Paris after WWI and became a part of the literary expatriate community there — opening up a press called Black Sun, one of the first to publish the work of Archibald MacLeish, D.H. Lawrence, and James Joyce.

It's the birthday in London, 1738, of KING GEORGE III, the longest-ruling male British monarch — 60 years, 1760-1820 — who oversaw the American Revolutionary War, the defeat of Napoleon, and the rise of England as Europe's dominant power.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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