Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) was an explorer, cartographer (map maker), and adventurer from the Republic of Genoa (today it is part of northern Italy). In 1492, he led an expedition from Spain and discovered the islands of the West Indies. He died believing he had found a westerly route to Asia, but in reality he had opened up the continents of North America and South America for European discovery and colonization. Fifty years ago, Americans viewed Columbus as a hero, and schoolchildren across the country had the day off from school. Today, Columbus is honored by students in only a few states, and in many parts of our country he is viewed with great dislike. Columbus Day is celebrated in some places of the United States on the second Monday of October, sometimes falling on the day he discovered America, October 12th, 1492.
In the 1400s, Western Europeans rapidly modernized, experienced a social mobility never before imaginable, developed high forms of art, and used technology in new ways. The Renaissance that had started in Italian city-states had spread north, and throughout Europe there was a sense that the world was waiting to be explored, discovered, conquered and civilized by those who were brave and eager enough. The Renaissance was a time where European artists and intellectuals rediscovered the beauty of the ancient Greek and Roman artists and intellectuals. City-states in Italy grew wealthy from trade with the East through the Mediterranean Sea, and countries in Western Europe wanted to be able to go directly to the East by the ocean, without having to go through the Mediterranean Sea and dealing with middle men. In 1492, the Spanish finally succeeded in liberating Spain from the African Muslims who had controlled them for over 700 years! After this 700 year war, Spain was filled with unbound confidence and believed it was a chosen country to explore, Christianize, and conquer the world.
Ocean travel is challenging, but the European mindset, Spanish confidence, new technology, and vision of Christopher Columbus made such a huge journey possible. Christopher Columbus grew up in the Republic of Genoa. His dream as an adult was to sail west from Europe and go straight to Asia, where he could open up new trade routes with China. Nobody, of course, knew that in between Asia and Europe were the Americas. Nearly all sailors knew that the Earth was round, however, no sailor knew how far the journey from Europe to the next continent was, and there was fear of starving on ship if Asia was not reached. The Asian invention of the astrolabe, an instrument that made travelling at night and away from shore possible, helped sailors like Columbus have greater confidence to sail far away.
King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, fresh from their victory over the Muslims in 1492, agreed to allow Columbus to use Spanish ships and men to go on his quest. Columbus set out in three ships: the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. His goals were to find a new trade route to Asia, to find gold and bring it back to Spain, to claim new land for Spain, and to spread Catholic Christianity throughout the world. After approximately 30 days, Columbus found the new land, however, as we know, it was not Asia, it was an island in the Bahamas. Columbus believed he had found India and called the natives “Indians.”
Columbus made four different journeys to the Bahamas, established Spanish forts, was completely unsuccessful in finding any gold, and was arrested by the Spanish for being an incompetent and tyrannical governor of the new lands. Columbus’ men were so intent on finding gold that they mistreated many of the Indians they came into contact with. There are historical accounts of torture and murder by some of Columbus’ men. Columbus was either unable, or unwilling to stop them. The group of Indians Columbus first encountered, the Tainos, were extinct 50 years later. Most Indians who came into contact with the Spanish and other Europeans died from diseases, such as small pox. The natives did not have these diseases, and had no immunity built up against them. The Spanish King and Queen eventually arrested Columbus, had him brought him back in chains, tried him for incompetence and for the cruel treatment some of his men perpetrated against the Indians, and jailed him. In six weeks, the King released him.
Columbus’ legacy in the new world is mixed. He discovered America and opened up new lands for the rest of the world. Before Columbus, Indians in the Americas worshipped many gods, many practiced torture and polygamy, and some practiced cannibalism as a way of life. Europeans who came and eventually settled the Americas brought monotheism, ended polygamy, and brought literacy to the Indians. Eventually, the United States of America was founded, as was all other modern nations of North and South America. Columbus’ discovery of America was the beginning of the founding of these modern nations. Columbus has also been the focus of those who argue that the European conquest of the Americas was an immoral act against the Indians. European disease, such as small pox, is believed to have killed up to 90% of the Indian population. And, the superior strength of Europeans meant that it was easier to destroy the Indian culture.
Before the 1960s, American students and historians focused on the positive elements of Columbus’ discovery of America, and all America celebrated him. In 1971, Columbus Day became a federal holiday. After this, however, certain states began to take away the celebration of Columbus. In California, for example, students do not celebrate Columbus Day, and a public school teacher may hear his colleagues berate Christopher Columbus. In New York, however, Columbus is heralded as a hero, and New York City has a huge Columbus Day Parade that involves over 35,000 people every year. Unfortunately, over time, many American students do not even know anything about Christopher Columbus.
Was Columbus a hero or not? That is a great question to ponder on Columbus Day, which is a federal holiday in the United States of America, celebrated on the second Monday of October. In many states where Columbus Day is not celebrated, students have stopped learning about him altogether.
1. What did Columbus discover?
2. Who was he sailing for?
3. How did Californians celebrate Columbus in the 1970s?
4. Why do some Americans dislike Columbus today?
5. What is your opinion of Columbus? Was he a great man, a villain, neither? Explain your answer.
During Pope Francis’ visit to the United States of America last week, he canonized Father Junipero Serra. This means that he proclaimed Father Serra a saint. For most Americans, this brings up many questions. What is a saint? Who was Father Serra? Why is there a controversy surrounding Father Serra? What does Father Serra have to do with American history? To understand American history it is necessary to understand Father Serra.
A Quick History of Sainthood
In Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches, someone who lives in Christ and is believed in Heaven is considered a saint. But those believed worthy of greater honor or emulation are proclaimed a saint. This practice began immediately after the crucifixion of Christ. In the first centuries, early Christian spread the word of Christ by speaking to others. The Roman Empire persecuted Christians, martyring many. A martyr is someone who died for his faith. Early Christians began referring to those martyred as saints. For example, all early Christians referred to the Apostles as saints, such as Saint Peter, who Christians believe to have been crucified upside down.
The first person to have been officially declared a saint was in 993, when Pope John XV proclaimed Bishop Ulrich of Augsburg a saint, along with Polish martyrs. In 1234, the Catholic Church adopted a formal canonization process.
Who Was Father Serra?
Last week, Father Serra became the United States’ first Hispanic saint. He lived in 18th century Spain and became a priest. Father Serra joined the Franciscans, a medieval religious order, and promised a life of poverty. For many years, Father Serra’s life consisted of prayer, singing, physical labor, spiritual readings and instruction. Serra became a professor, and was known for being a great teacher. Giving up a comfortable life at the university, Serra volunteered to go to the new land to establish missions in California.
Father Serra established the first nine of 21 missions in California, which stretch from San Diego to Sonoma. Serra Christianized thousands of Indians, and the Spanish taught them how to farm, raise livestock, make soap, weave clothes, and how to survive in the new Spanish economy. Until about thirty years ago, no one questioned the accomplishments of Father Serra.
Some think Serra’s accomplishments were actually tragedies for the native peoples of California and that Serra should not be honored. Serra and the Spanish carried diseases the Indians did not have, and because of the Europeans, historians think 90% of the Indians died. Some even claim this is proof of genocide. Also, once the Indians joined a mission, they were never allowed to leave. The missionaries used the military to force Indians to stay. Some argue that the Indians were physically punished for not following the rules, but, Spanish were also physically punished for the same reasons.
There are many reasons these arguments against Serra are not strong. One, the Spanish did not know they carried diseases that would hurt the Indians. The word genocide means when a country as a policy tries to murder a people. There was no Spanish policy of genocide. Also, no Indian was forced to convert to Christianity and become part of the mission, and, there is no evidence Serra ever hurt an Indian. In Europe in the 1700s, serfs were not allowed to leave the land they worked on. The Spanish mentality of the 1700s was the same as every European in the medieval ages. Because of this, any Indian who ran away from the mission, was forced back by the Spanish soldiers. This was not a policy of Father Serra, but it was Spanish law.
American History and Father Serra
Father Serra is important for the history of California and also for the United States of America. During the American Revolution, a group of untrained farmers fought and beat the strongest army and navy in the world. Their military leader was George Washington, and he led the Continental Army in beating the British and establishing the United States of America. In 1777, Father Serra had all of the California missions collect money and he sent $137 to General Washington.
Every state chooses two people from their state to honor by placing their statue in the U.S. Capitol. Since, Father Serra’s statue is one of two from California that are located at the U.S. Capitol (the other is Ronald Reagan). He has been traditionally recognized as one of California’s most important citizens. On his visit to America, Pope Francis visited this statue and said of Serra, “tragically, the rights of those who were here long before us were not always respected.” He said that relations between European and natives “were often turbulent and violent,” but “it is difficult to judge the past by the criteria of the present.”
1. Who was Father Serra?
2. What did Pope Francis do regarding Father Serra las week?
3. What is the controversy surrounding Father Serra based on?
4. How is Father Serra tied to California and American history?
5. What is your opinion of Father Serra? Was he a great man? Was he an oppressor of Indians?
Pope Francis Visits Cuba and The United States of America
From September 19th until September 27th, Pope Francis will be visiting Cuba and the United States of America. For many reasons, his visit to these two nations is historic and perhaps controversial.
Who is the Pope?
The Pope is not just a person, but is called the Vicar of Christ for over 1.2 billion Catholics (that’s 1,200,000,000 people). The word “vicar” means earthly representative of God or Christ. Catholics believe that when Jesus Christ walked the earth, he chose a leader to guide Christians after he was to be crucified. Catholics refer to Bible passages to support this view, including Mathew 16:18. After Peter died, early Christians chose a new leader. Pope Francis is the 266th Pope in the history of the Church. When the Pope speaks, he speaks not only for himself, but for all Catholics of the world.
There are 801 million (that’s 801,000,000 people) Christians in the world today who do not believe the Pope is the leader of the Christian people. In 1053, within the Christian Church, there was a schism. A schism means a separation. The Christian Church divided in two, between the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. The Eastern Orthodox Church did not accept the idea that the Pope was leader of the Christians on Earth. Then, in 1527, Martin Luther separated from the Roman Catholic Church, forming the Lutheran Church. This was the beginning of the Reformation. After this separation was made, hundreds of other Christian religions separated from either the Lutheran Church or the Roman Catholic Church. Faiths that separated from the Catholic Church do not hold that the Pope is leader of the world’s Christians.
The Pope and Cuba
Since 1959, people of religious faith have been persecuted on Cuba. Fidel Castro installed a Communist government in Cuba, and Communist countries outlaw religious belief. Christians have been oppressed, tortured and executed on Cuba since this time. However, in recent years, the Communist regime of Castro may be softening its stance towards religion. Pope Francis has worked to bring greater freedom to the religious people of Cuba. He brokered the deal between the United States of America and Cuba that improved diplomatic relations between the two countries. Raul Castro, the current Communist dictator of Cuba, will attend all three Masses the Pope will celebrate, and the dictator has said he may go back to the Church.
The Pope and the United States of America
Pope Francis will be in the United States of America from September 22nd until September 27th. His visit marks a few “firsts.” For the first time in history a Pope will address all members of Congress. This will take place 10:00 a.m. EST. Pope Francis will also canonize the first Spanish-American saint of North America, proclaiming Father Junipero Serra a saint on September 23rd at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. Both events are marked with great interest and some controversy.
The Pope and the U.S. Congress
Many are waiting with keen interest to listen to what Pope Francis will say to the U.S. Congress. The Pope has made statements that seem very critical of free market principles, which is favored by the Republican Party. He also has written and spoken about global warming, which is a favored topic of Democrats. On the other hand, he has confirmed the Catholic Church’s stand against abortion, which is a procedure nearly all Democrats believe to be a right of women. And, he has spoken against euthanasia, which more Democrats support.
The Church and Father Junipero Serra
The Catholic Church proclaims a person to have been a saint if he or she lived an exemplary life for Christ, and, if two miracles can be attributed to this person after he or she has died. For example, if a believer asks a person he believes to be in heaven to pray for him, and the believer is healed of an incurable disease, the Church believes this may be a miracle. During his visit to the U.S.A., Pope Francis will be proclaiming Father Junipero Serra a saint.
Father Junipero Serra is somewhat of a controversial figure. Father Serra was a Spanish Franciscan priest who founded nine of California’s 21 missions from 1769 to 1782. Because of Serra, thousands of native Americans learned about Christ, were baptized, and learned trades that would help them in the new economy the Spanish brought with them when Spain colonized California. Once baptized, the Indians were not allowed to leave the missions, and when they broke laws or Church rules, Indians were physically punished, as was the custom in medieval Europe. On one hand, Father Serra is revered as a Christian who gave up worldly comfort to teach about Christ in a new land, but on the other hand, some believe he mistreated the Indians and should not be exalted.
1. What is the Catholic view of who the Pope is?
2. What happened in the year 1053?
3. What happened in the year 1527?
4. Since 1959, who has been in control of Cuba and how does this group treat believers in God?
5. What are the two different views of Father Serra?
Obama and the Nuclear Agreement with Iran
Recently, President Obama announced that the governments of the U.S.A., Russia, China, Great Britain, France, and Germany have made an agreement with Iran regarding Iran’s development of nuclear bombs. According to President Obama, this agreement will not allow Iran to acquire nuclear bombs, it will bring Iran into the world community of decent countries, and it will help the Iranian people. According to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, this agreement will hasten (make quicker) Iran’s development of nuclear bombs, allow Iran to build its conventional weapons, strengthen the Iranian government that wants to annihilate Israel and kill Americans, and make the Middle East and the world a much more dangerous place.
A History of Iran and Israel, from Ancient Times to Present
It is too challenging to present the history of Iran and Israel, from ancient times to present, in one article. To let the past inform the present, please see these Classical Historian articles: Iran and Obama, and Israeli-Palestinian Conflict I, II, and III. Since its inception, modern Iran has been the world’s greatest state sponsor of terror, is actively planning and carrying out the killing of Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan, and has called for the destruction of Israel and America. Because of Iran’s activities, various countries have joined together to stop Iran by freezing Iranian assets, not selling weapons to Iran, and by doing everything possible to keep Iran from having a nuclear bomb. President Obama does not like this approach, and wants to be friendly with Iran, hoping that Iran will change its behavior.
The Agreement between the Six Countries and Iran
In the deal, there are a number of understandings between the six countries and Iran.
1. The six governments will lift all economic sanctions against Iran.
2. Iran promises to not build a nuclear bomb. If it is believed that it is breaking this promise, there is a 24 day waiting period before all seven governments of the deal can investigate and decide if inspections can be made in Iran. Iran retains the power to deny those inspections. After ten years, no inspections are allowed.
3. The deal is supposed to give the world at least one year’s notice that Iran is seeking a bomb. After ten years, no notice is needed.
4. $100 Billion of Iranian assets that have been frozen by governments around the world will be released to the Iranian government.
5. After five years, Iran will be allowed to purchase as many conventional weapons as it wants to. However, Russia has announced an arms sale to Iran that takes effect immediately. This means, that countries can now sell conventional weapons to Iran.
Arguments Against the Treaty
1. Iran can continue to fund terrorist organizations, and it can use the $100 billion to do so.
2. Iran can now buy conventional weapons that will be given to terrorist groups.
3. Iran did not have to agree to stop trying to kill Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan. It has killed over 1500 Americans in these two countries.
4. Iran is holding four Americans hostage.
5. Dictator Assad of Syria, who President Obama threatened because Assad used chemical weapons, receives Iranian support. Assad loves the deal.
6. Iran calls America the “Great Satan” and believes the U.S.A. is the source of earthly evil.
What is a Treaty and What is Not a Treaty?
In the U.S. Constitution, the President is given the power to negotiate all treaties. A treaty is an agreement between two countries. For a treaty to have the force of law in the United States of America, 60 senators must approve the treaty. Many say that this deal between the six countries and Iran is a treaty, because of its great change from past American-Iranian relations. However, the Obama administration calls this deal a “non-binding agreement” with a “capacity for enforcement.” Because the President says it’s not a treaty, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution giving it 60 days to review the deal. If Congress rejects the deal, the President can veto their rejection. If this happens, Congress can override his veto, but Congress needs a 2/3 majority of both houses to do so. It is challenging to have 2/3 of Congress agree to something.
1. What does President Obama say the nuclear deal with Iran will do?
2. What does Prime Minister Netanyahu say the nuclear deal with Iran will do?
3. What does the U.S. get from this deal?
4. What does Iran get from this deal?
5. What is your opinion of the arrangement?
For a video teaching about the Iran Nuclear Deal, go HERE.
Ever since the Syrian Civil War began in March of 2011, Syrians have been trying to escape the Syrian military dictator Basher al-Assad, the Islamic terrorist organization ISIS forces fighting Assad, and various other military groups trying to take over Syria. According to the United States Agency for International Development, four million have fled the country, 12 million need humanitarian assistance, and over 7 million people are displaced within Syria. It is believed over 220,000 Syrians have died in the war. Germany has invited Syrians to immigrate, and partly because of this, hundreds of thousands of Syrians are risking their lives, walking across dangerous areas of Asia, overcrowding small boats to cross the Mediterranean Sea, and storming countries on the path to Germany.
Baher al-Assad has ruled Syria as president since July 2000. His father, Hafez al-Assad, ruled Syria from 1970-2000. Assad is a brutal dictator and does not allow any dissent among his people. Torture and murder are some of the tools of Assad. He also controls a large stockpile of chemical weapons. In March of 2011, Syrian rebels rose up against him. Initially, the Obama administration supported the overthrow of Assad, although President Obama would not give or sell weapons to help the rebels. Issuing Assad a threat, President Obama warned Assad at a news conference in Stockholm on September 4, 2013,
“We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.”
The international community believed that this red line meant that if Assad were to use chemical weapons against the Syrian rebels, Obama would authorize use of United States forces to attack. Chemical weapons are dangerous because they kill everyone, not just soldiers. After it was proven that Assad did use chemical weapons, President Obama stated that he did not make a red line for Assad to cross, and he did not intend to use American weapons and forces against Assad. Since then, the Civil War has become worse, and Russian military has come to the aid of the dictator Assad.
There are various militaries fighting in Syria. One is the military force of Assad. Fighting against them is the Syrian rebels, who wish to oust Assad. Fighting against both of these is the Islamic terrorist organization ISIS. ISIS wants to create a country in the Middle East. After it became clear the U.S.A. was not going to get involved, Russian President Putin has sent military weapons and soldiers to support Assad. Putin has made Russia an authoritarian country, where journalists are not allowed to write or report anything against him.
1. What and who are Syrian refugees escaping from?
2. Where are many trying to emigrate?
3. What did everyone think President Obama meant when he talked about a red line?
4. Who is ISIS?
5. In your opinion, should the U.S.A. encourage Syrian refugees to come to America? Why or why not?
For Video Links to the Syrian Refugee Crisis, go HERE.
Labor Day is not a day set aside to celebrate women giving birth. It is a day to honor all who work. This lesson is taken from America's Federal Holidays, The True Story, by John De Gree and Edited by Michale Allen.
Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday of September. It is a holiday in honor of the workers of the United States of America. In the 1880s, various states and cities began to celebrate workers with parades. Labor Day is typically a celebration of the average city-worker, and was the culmination of a growing labor movement in American cities. It marked the end of a chiefly agrarian society in America and the beginning of a modern one. In 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed the Labor Day legislation into law.
It is challenging to remember life in the United States before the era of industrialization. 90% of Americans grew up and worked on farms before the second half of the 19th century, and up to World War II, most Americans were farmers. Life on a farm is often glamorized, with romantic visions of beautiful sunsets, sweet-smelling grass and corn, and quiet and peace.
In reality, the workday for the typical farmhand in pre-industrial America was tough. My Dad grew up in 1930s and 40s Minnesota, a true Depression-baby farm boy. Starting at the age of 12 until he reached adulthood, he was hired out to a local family each summer to work on their farm. His experience was similar to most boys growing up in farm country, America. He lived in the family’s basement, Monday through Saturday. He awoke before dawn to feed the animals, clean the stalls, and continued to work throughout the day, as long as the sun was up. He did all the work a man would do, from driving tractors to repairing anything that would break. And, his workday was over 12 hours a day. When my Dad earned $1 a day, it was big money. He was able to use his summer earnings to pay for his school clothes, any books, and extra money throughout the school year.
When American society changed from an agrarian society to an industrial one, families faced great challenges, both socially and economically. Whereas before, the family who owned a farm would work altogether, in a city, family members worked in different locations. Where most family farms were independently owned in the 1700s and 1800s, workers in cities didn’t own the businesses they worked in. And, because America was such a huge attraction to foreigners, city life offered a constantly changing society.
In 1800s America, life for a factory worker was challenging. Workers had little or no rights, factories could be physically dangerous, and an evil business owner could get away with horrible acts. Workers could be killed by working in dangerous factories, or they could lose limbs and then be fired from their jobs. Still, the American worker most likely did better than other workers of the world. If this weren’t so, the U.S.A. wouldn’t have been the destination of so many millions of immigrants. The opportunity of America overrode the hardships of life when it came to where people wanted to live.
Because of the harsh work conditions, labor leaders sought to gather workers into unions in order to bargain for worker rights. Initially in the United States and elsewhere, there was great opposition to worker rights both by the government and by business owners. Those in power feared that the workers would take away the power, rights, and property of the business owners. In Russia in 1917, a “Workers Party” called the Communists, did take away the property of individuals and went on to be responsible for the murder of tens of millions of Russians who opposed them.
In the U.S.A., however, the labor movement focused on making the lives of workers better by pushing for an 8 hour workday, safer work conditions, and demanding fair treatment of all workers in every situation. In 1894, railway workers in the American Railway Union demanded better work conditions and went on strike against the Pullman Company. During the strike, the U.S. government attempted to crush the strike, as did other worker’s unions. There was violence, and workers died. It appears this strike helped Americans realize that working conditions needed to drastically change for city workers.
President Cleveland and the U.S. Congress initially opposed the strike, but later realized that the workers’ demands were reasonable. The Pullman Company was forced to change in favor of the workers. In 1894, the U.S. government passed a law declaring the first Monday of September a national holiday to honor workers. Today, this holiday is also celebrated as a seasonal event, with families marking it as the end of summer and beginning of fall.
Lesson Ideas for Grades k-5:
1. Ask children to think of all of the occupations, professions, and jobs they can think of. Make a list of them.
2. During dinner, have an adult in your family talk to the children about what he does every day at work.
Lesson Idea for Grades 6-12:
Direct your children to interview three people (one of them should own his own business) and ask five questions about the work he does. After the three interviews, have your children decide what sounds good about each of the three jobs and what sounds unpleasant. Have a short discussion about what type of work your child could imagine doing.
Here are sample questions for the interview:
a. Can you describe a typical day at work?
b. What is the pay range of someone in your field?
c. What are the highs and lows of your job?
d. What type of education does someone need to have your job?
e. If you could give me one piece of advice regarding my future work, what would it be?
On September 11, 2001, 19 Al-Qaida terrorists from various countries in the Middle East and Asia hijacked four airplanes and crashed them. Two airplanes hit the “Twin Towers” in New York City, one hit the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. and one did not reach its target of the White House because the passengers stopped the terrorist pilots. This plane crash-landed in a field in Pennsylvania. Because of the 9/11 attacks, approximately 3,000 civilians were murdered.
The terrorists who committed these attacks were part of an international organization called Al-Qaida, a radical Islamic organization. Al-Qaida does not control a country, but its members live in many parts of the world, including the United States of America. These terrorists hate America because the United States supports Israel’s right to exist, and because America represents freedom. Israel is a Jewish country, and the Al-Qaida organization hates Jews. Osama bin Laden was the head of Al-Qaida. He demanded that the U.S.A. stop supporting Israel, and that we remove all of our soldiers from the Arabian Peninsula.
In 2001, Al-Qaida had most of its bases in Afghanistan, a country of Asia. Afghanistan was ruled by a political party called the Taliban. Like Al-Qaida, the Taliban was very extreme in its Islamic beliefs. The Taliban did not allow girls to study or women to have a job. Women had to wear a black robe called a burqa that covered their entire body. When a girl under Taliban control becomes a woman, the Taliban mutilates her body to permanently mark her as less than a man. If you had a book or a newspaper that the Taliban didn’t like, the Taliban soldiers might torture or kill you. If it was thought you were an Afghani Christian, the Taliban would execute you. If you belonged to a minority group, you could be tortured. Punishment for homosexuality or for infidelity for a married woman was execution. The Taliban and Al-Qaida worked, and work, together.
After the attacks on 9/11, President Bush demanded from Afghanistan/The Taliban that it hand over Osama bin Laden to the United States of America. The Taliban refused, and the U.S. launched a war. The Taliban lost the war and the U.S. helped the Afghans establish a republic. The Taliban is still fighting, though. The U.S. has soldiers in Afghanistan and is fighting the Taliban with the Afghan people.
In 2001, Saddam Hussein was the dictator of Iraq, and the world believed that he was supporting terrorists and that he had dangerous weapons. It was feared he would give terrorists a nuclear bomb or poison gas or some other weapons that the terrorists would then use against Americans. Saddam Hussein threatened the U.S., attempted to kill President Bush in a visit to Kuwait, and had defied 16 United Nations resolutions to come clean on his making dangerous weapons. The United States Senate gave President Bush authority to use force to remove Hussein, and he used it. The U.S. launched a war against Hussein, removed him, and established a republic. The Iraqi people tried and executed Hussein as a mass murderer. Terrorist groups unhappy with Iraqi democracy are now fighting Iraqis, and Iraqis fight the terrorists.
President Obama became the leader of the U.S. in 2009 and continued the fight against terrorists in a different way than President Bush. In 2011, he gave the order for Navy Seals to kill the leader of Al-Qaida, Osama bin Laden. Osama bin Laden was killed. President Obama also ordered American soldiers out of the majority of Iraq. Since then, another terrorist organization, called Daesha (or also ISIS) has overrun much of Iraq and Syria. Currently, hundreds of thousands of refugees are fleeing ISIS and escaping into Europe.
American soldiers risk their lives each day fighting people who made a promise to kill Americans. We remember September 11, 2001, as a day of mourning for those innocent civilians killed on American soil and as a day that changed how Americans fight terrorists around the globe.
1. Who was responsible for the 9/11 attacks on the U.S.A?
2. Who are the Taliban?
3. How did the U.S. respond to these attacks?
Extra: The following question is not answered in the text:
4. Where are the terrorists fighting today?
5. Research and describe President Obama’s foreign policy in regards to terrorism. What is your opinion of his policy?
On Friday, August 28th, three Americans on vacation, an American living in France, a Frenchman, and a Briton stopped Moroccan Ayoub El-Khazzani from attacking 554 passengers as they travelled from Amsterdam to Paris. El-Khazzani was equipped with multiple weapons full of ammunition and appeared ready to commit mass murder. French President Francois Hollande awarded the three Americans – Airman First Class Spencer Stone, 23; Alek Scarlatos, 22, a specialist in the Oregon National Guard; and their friend Anthony Sadler, 23 - and the Briton with the Legion of Honor, the highest award given by the country of France. The heroes were praised throughout France and Europe for stopping an attack that was believed to be motivated by Islamic terrorism. “Your heroism must be an example for many and a source of inspiration,” Mr. Hollande added. “Faced with the evil of terrorism, there is a good, that of humanity. You are the incarnation of that.”
Without the quick thinking and acting of the American tourists, the Moroccan would most likely have killed and wounded scores of people. El-Khazzani emerged from the restroom on the train shirtless, with an AK-47 and other weapons. A Frenchman tackled the attacker, who shot his gun. Upon hearing the gunshot, Spencer Stone awoke his sleeping friends. The three Americans ran towards the gunman, took him to the ground, and with the help of the Briton, tied up the attacker. Stone then went to the injured man the attacker had shot in the neck, put his fingers into the bullet wounds, stopped the bleeding, and stayed there until the train arrived at the next stop and emergency professionals could take over treatment.
Speaking of the three Americans, U.S. Ambassador to France Jane Hartley said, "When most of us would run away, Spencer, Alek and Anthony ran into the line of fire, saying 'Let's go.' Those words changed the fate of many."
American hero Anthony Sadler was asked if he had any advice to give someone in a similar situation.
"Do something," he said. "Hiding, or sitting back, is not going to accomplish anything. And the gunman would've been successful if my friend Spencer had not gotten up. So I just want that lesson to be learned going forward, in times of, like, terror like that, please do something. Don't just stand by and watch."
1. What happened on a train from Amsterdam to Paris?
2. Who was the attacker?
3. Why is it believed he wanted to harm people?
4. Who were the three Americans honored by French President Hollande?
5. Do you think it was just coincidence that it was three Americans who saved everybody on the train, or are Americans more able to perform acts of heroism than others?
John De Gree
John De Gree writes the current events with a look at the history of each topic. Articles are written for the young person, aged 10-18, and Mr. De Gree carefully writes so that all readers can understand the event. The perspective the current events are written in is Judeo-Christian.
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