Pieces of History…

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Today’s photo isn’t pretty. There’s not much color to it. There is no intriguing shape or anything, really, except for the fact that this is a true piece of human history, and it is only of only a handful of things that have been to the moon and back. Even though it’s plain and not pretty, it was fascinating because of what it is!

I shot this at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC. If you’ve never been – you should go. There are things there that you will never see elsewhere. To wit: this item, Alan’s Shephard’s spacecraft and his mission manual and his space suit for the first American’s trip into space. There are space suits there worn by astronauts who walked on the moon – and you can still see the moon dust on their feet and legs. Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis that flew across the Atlantic hangs from the ceiling. Lunar landers (ones that never were taken to the moon), other aircraft and spacecraft…for someone like me, it was wonderful.

It’s amazing to think that this is the sort of thing the astronauts took into space with them in the event of emergencies. This small binder held the contingency plans. Computers they could check? Nope. Just this. A piece of history that accompanied Apollo 11 to the moon (think the first lunar landing with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin). Amazing.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1945, Adolf Hitler descended into his underground bunker in Berlin, where he remained for 105 days until he commited suicide.

Hitler retired to his bunker after deciding to remain in Berlin for the last great siege of the war. Fifty-five feet under the chancellery (Hitler’s headquarters as chancellor), the shelter contained 18 small rooms and was fully self-sufficient, with its own water and electrical supply. He left only rarely (once to decorate a squadron of Hitler Youth) and spent most of his time micromanaging what was left of German defenses and entertaining Nazi colleagues like Hermann Goering, Heinrich Himmler, and Joachim von Ribbentrop. Constantly at his side during this time were his companion, Eva Braun, and his Alsatian, Blondi.

On April 29, Hitler married Eva in their bunker hideaway. Eva Braun met Hitler while working as an assistant to Hitler’s official photographer. Braun spent her time with Hitler out of public view, entertaining herself by skiing and swimming. She had no discernible influence on Hitler’s political career but provided a certain domesticity to the life of the dictator. Loyal to the end, she refused to leave the bunker even as the Russians closed in.

Only hours after they were united in marriage, both Hitler and Eva committed suicide. Warned by officers that the Russians were only about a day from overtaking the chancellery and urged to escape to Berchtesgarden, a small town in the Bavarian Alps where Hitler owned a home, the dictator instead chose to take his life. Both he and his wife swallowed cyanide capsules (which had been tested for their efficacy on his “beloved” dog and her pups). For good measure, he shot himself with his pistol.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: During Spring break the average male consumes about 18 alcoholic drinks a day, and the average woman consumes 10 alcoholic drinks per day.

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