Monday, January 19, 2009

On January 19

On this day in ...

... 1977, on the day before the inauguration of his successor, outgoing U.S. President Gerald Ford pardoned the woman who, under the name "Tokyo Rose," had made radio broadcasts for Japan during World War II. The woman had served 6-1/2 years in prison after a federal jury in San Francisco convicted her of treason in 1949. (Another woman so convicted was known as "Axis Sally"; our post on her is here.) Her real name was Iva Toguri D'Aquino, and she'd been born on the 4th of July, 1919, in Los Angeles, where she'd earned a degree in zoology from UCLA in 1940. After Pearl Harbor the 22-year-old Toguri found herself barred from returning to the United States from Japan, where she'd gone to visit a sick aunt. The New York Times reported that Ford's pardon of her

had been expected for some time with a growing feeling that Mrs. D'Aquino had been caught in an unfortunate web of circumstance.
In 2006 Toguri D'Aquino died in Chicago, where she ran an Asian grocery and gift shop that yours truly frequently passed en route to law school. (credit for military mugshot of Toguri)

... 1989 (20 years ago today) , Heather Erxleben became Canada's 1st woman combat soldier, having completed her training at the Canadian Forces Base in Wainwright, Alberta. Last year, on the 19th anniversary of this event, Erxleben gave an interview to the Ottawa Sun, in which she condemned Canadian involvement in Afghanistan with these words:
'We should get out of Afghanistan immediately. Pull out, bring the soldiers home. How do we do it? Get rid of our prime minister, I guess. War is ridiculous. I’m very much against it. The only ones who suffer in war are the innocent people, not the politicians who run it. Why are we there anyway? Is it not because we’re just following the policy of the United States in this?
'When I graduated from battle school at Wainwright, Alberta, our military role was peace-keeping. We were in Cyprus, peace-keeping. That should still be our role. War is always lose, lose.'

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