This month, the Talladega Superspeedway is celebrating fifty years of racing. Fifty years ago track construction began for the Alabama International Motor Speedway, which is now called Talladega Superspeedway. A year later, the first race was held on September 13, 1969. Even though it is called Talladega Superspeedway, you will actually find the race track in the small town of Lincoln, Alabama. The track was built on the former Anniston Air Force Base that had been abandoned, and the purpose for building the track was to have a more central racing location for the Southeast. With the Alabama International Motor Speedway being built, there was less travel involved for race fans. Traveling plans may have been an issue at the time, but now people travel from all over to get a taste of what racing is like in the Talladega Superspeedway.
Mardi Gras in Mobile continues to be a large part of Alabama and Gulf Coast culture and still generates a great deal of tourism as people flood in to see the grand parades and other celebrations held in honor of Fat Tuesday. While in Mobile, be sure to catch the relatively family-friendly parades (they are much tamer than those of New Orleans) and try your luck catching beads, toys, candy, and moonpies, a signature treat in Mobile’s Mardi Gras.
Wearing the Navy Cross and a Purple Heart with Gold Star that Eleanor Roosevelt has just pinned to his newly issued khaki uniform, Hugh Miller shakes hands with the First Lady as Admiral William Halsey (to Hugh’s immediate right) looks on. The ceremony—held at the naval hospital in Nouméa, New Caledonia, on September 15, 1943—was conducted at the foot of the bed occupied by Electrician’s Mate 2nd Class Willard G. Langley, the sole known survivor of Strong’s forward engine room. (National Archives. Courtesy Mr. Stephen Harding)
The USS Strong (DD 467), a WWII destroyer sunk by a Japanese torpedo in July 1943 in the Battle for Kula Gulf, has been located on the Pacific seafloor by the Research Vessel Petrel. The wreck serves as a watery grave for at least 46 U.S. Navy Sailors. Its discovery has rekindled a uniquely American story of remarkable resiliency, grit, fearlessness and resolve.
Behind the post office in Alabaster, Alabama, there used to be an old silo. It stood by itself in the field, out of place as the backdrop of a road that included a car wash, a shopping center, and a Domino’s Pizza. In my 18 years growing up there, that silo seemed to be the closest thing the town had to a historical landmark, sitting on land that used to be part of Kent Dairy Farm, which operated since the late 1920s.
My father, Edward Lake Todd Sr., was the first Tuscaloosan injured in the Korean War. I have all the letters he wrote my grandparents during his time in the military, including the first letter they received from him after he was injured (which my grandmother wrote in pencil outside the envelope so all would know in which order his letters appeared).
When the Alabama Theatre in Birmingham was built in 1927, a trip to the movies was an extravagant affair. With touches of gold and red velvet, the theatre was reflective of the “picture palaces” of its era. Unlike other buildings of its time, the theatre was building using a combination of steel and concrete rather than wood.
It has been said, “Only the veteran can write from experience of the sights, sounds, smells and emotions of combat.” I believe that exposure to my father gave me license to write about those Alabama men of the Rainbow Division and the memory of them. He was a very experienced combat soldier, a wounded veteran of multiple World War I battles and he was troubled; In the end he was an alcoholic veteran whose good wife left him.
Since I started speaking and writing about what was first called the Great War, I have tried to do so in the voice of a soldier. I have tried to honor the memory of World War I veterans in a dignified way, in the same way that I remember those I served with in Korea in 1952 and 1953. Some in all our wars have failed to deserve much honor and some were not very high class, admirable or successful individuals but I respect the sacrifices and service of them all. The men and women who raised their hands to volunteer in dangerous situations, even those who simply did their duty, are special. They helped this country remain free.
Following is a list of commemorations and events -- both in America and abroad -- honoring the Alabama Rainbow Soldiers.
University Boulevard in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, is lined with iconic structures from the President’s Mansion to Bryant-Denny Stadium and the homes on Caplewood Drive Historic District. But an equally beautiful, Greek Revival-style building has been on the corner of University Boulevard and Queen City Avenue for nearly 185 years and has quite a history.
Alabama Heritage is proud to support the History Relevance Campaign’s statement on the value of history in contemporary life. The HRC is a diverse group of history professionals posing questions about what makes the past relevant today. With common agreement, commitment, and open conversation about why history is important, the HRC believes the historical community can change the common perception that history is nice, but not essential. Following are reasons why the History Center project matters.
On March 25, 1931, two white women accused nine black men of raping them in the town of Paint Rock, Alabama. Taking place in the segregated South, this claim caused outrage to spread all throughout Alabama and the South, and the nine black men immediately became scapegoats.
An important figure of these trials that is often forgotten is Judge James Horton from Athens, Alabama, who was the presiding judge at the retrial of Haywood Patterson. The nine black men were all found guilty upon completion of their trials in Scottsboro; however, the Supreme Court agreed that they could not be tried fairly in Scottsboro and moved the trials to Decatur. This is how the trials ended up taking place in Judge Horton’s court.
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