This Day in History: FDR Dedicates Memorial at Gettysburg; “Dog Days” of Summer Begin; and US Shoots Down Civilian Plane

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July 3 changed the course of history for the United States of America - domestic law and international diplomacy of today has been shaped by the actions of those from the past.

The Battle of Gettysburg Ends and is Memorialized
On July 3, 1863 – 154 years ago – Confederate forces attempted their final siege on Gettysburg, Pennsylvania – those forces lost.

After three consecutive days of attempting to seize the small town just north of the Maryland-Pennsylvania border, General Robert E. Lee and his army retreated, effectively ending their attempts to invade Union states.

The Battle of Gettysburg is considered the turning point of the war and President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, four months later, further explained that battle’s new-found significance to the Union – a fight for liberty, a test of the nation.

Rebel forces under the command of General Lee surrendered less than two years later, on April 9, 1865; Confederate President Jefferson Davis was captured just over a month later, on May 10; the final shots of the war were fired in June of 1865.

President Andrew Johnson stated in Proclamation 157, that “peace, order, tranquility and civil authority” existed throughout the United States of America on August 20, 1866.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt then dedicated the Eternal Light Peace Memorial in 1938, at 75th anniversary of the battle.

USS Vincennes Shoots Down Iran Air Flight 655 (1988)
After the Iran-contra Affair, nearing the end of the Iran-Iraq war, the United States accidentally shot down a passenger flight traveling from Tehran, Iran to Dubai, UAE, according to the United States government.

All 290 crew members and passengers on board Iran Air Flight 655 died.

The USS Vincennes, after attempting to communicate with the flight crew numerous times via radio, shot the plane with a guided missile, according to reports.

The plane was still in Iranian airspace, over Iranian territorial water, and on the flight’s normal flight path.

The flight crew did indicate it was a civilian aircraft, according to the Iranian government. Some experts blame the leadership of the Vincennes for acting recklessly, by entering already tense Iranian waters.

In 1996, the United States and Iran reached a settlement at the International Court of Justice. The U.S. did not admit legal liability or formally apologize, but paid $61.8 million – $213, 103.45 per passenger – in compensation to the families.

The event ranks tenth among the deadliest disasters in aviation history; the highest death toll of any aviation incident in the Persian Gulf.

Iran Air still uses flight number 655 as a memorial to the victims. 

Dog Days of Summer Begin
While some North Texas would argue it’s already been unbearable, the Dog Day of Summer officially begin on July 3, lasting until August 11 - a 40 day period when many expect the most intense heat.

This period is tied to the appearance of the “Dog Star,” Sirius. While the constellation does not actually affect the weather, it contains the second brightest star visible to the naked eye – Sirius.

Be on the lookout for Sirius! It’s sometimes visible during the day, under favorable conditions.

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