Thinking Aloud: On This Day in History, March 9

Mar. 9, 2015 by Darius

On March 9, 1831, the French Foreign Legion was founded.  Although the Foreign Legion saw considerable action during World War I, its primary mission was to defend and expand French colonial interests.  Recently, the Foreign Legion served with NATO forces in Afghanistan and worked alongside the rest of the French military to oust Islamic militants in northern Mali.  Members of the Foreign Legion now hail from about 140 different countries.  For the 75% of Legionnaires who are not French, being wounded in battle with the Foreign Legion entitles one  to apply for French citizenship.

On March 9, 1862, the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia fought to a draw off Hampton Roads during the US Civil War.   This was the first battle between two ironclad ships and ushered in a new era of naval warfare.  Actually, the day before, when the Virginia mauled the Union’s traditional wooden fleet, ushered in the new era of naval warfare :-).

On March 9, 1945, three hundred US B-29 bombers began the intensive firebombing of Tokyo known as Operation Meetinghouse.  Dropping approximately 120,000 incendiary bombs over a two-day period, Operation Meetinghouse is considered the most destructive single bombing campaign in history.

On March 9, 1954, Edward R. Murrow’s See It Now special report on US Sen. Joseph McCarthy aired on CBS.  The broadcast stoked a public backlash against McCarthy and contributed to the end of his hearings and his censure by the US Senate later that year.

On March 9, 1974, nearly twenty-nine years after the end of World War II, a soldier of imperial Japan came out of hiding and surrendered in the Philippines.   But he wasn’t the last.  A second, and final, Japanese soldier surrendered in Indonesia later that year.

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