January 23rd is a day marked by several tragedies. From an American perspective, we know this is the day President Nixon announced we had reached “peace with honor” with North Vietnam only to find out later it was anything but. This is also the day of the most devastating earthquake in human history, the Marias River Massacre and the Pueblo incident.
See also Jan-23 (Pt 2): American Icons.
Peace and Dishonor in Vietnam
On this day, President Nixon announced an agreement with North Vietnam that would bring “peace with honor” to Vietnam and enable withdrawal of U.S. troops.
Now that we have achieved an honorable agreement, let us be proud that America did not settle for a peace that would have betrayed our allies, that would have abandoned our prisoners of war, or that would have ended the war for us, but would have continued the war for the 50 million people of Indochina.
Declassified White House tapes reveal that Nixon knew withdrawal was signing the death warrant for South Vietnam and that he had reached an oral understanding with North Vietnam that they were free to takeover the South so long as they waited a decent interval before doing so. Saigon would fall on April 30, 1975.
This betrayal came just over four years after Nixon emissaries had scuttled a potential peace deal under President Johnson in the final days of the 1968 election, fearing such a deal would deliver victory to the Democrats. Over 21,000 Americans and a million Vietnamese would be killed during the Nixon-Ford administration as a result of Nixon’s treason.
History’s Deadliest Earthquake
The 1556 Shaanxi earthquake was a catastrophic earthquake and is also the deadliest earthquake on record, killing approximately 830,000 people. An 840-kilometre-wide (520 mi) area was destroyed and in some counties as much as 60% of the population was killed.
US Soldiers Massacre Over 200 Blackfeet Indians
The Marias Massacre was a massacre of a friendly band of Piegan Blackfeet Indians by the United States Army in Montana Territory during the Indian Wars. About 200 Indians were killed, mostly women and children, and elderly men.
The Pueblo Incident
The USS Pueblo, a Navy spy ship was attacked and captured by North Korean forces for having entered North Korean waters. The 83-man crew was held and tortured by North Korean for 11-months before release, although the Pueblo itself is still held by North Korea and used as a museum ship at the Pyongyang Victorious War Museum. Pueblo is the only ship of the U.S. Navy still on the commissioned roster currently being held captive.
Daniel Pearl Kidnapped
Wall Street Journal Reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped by Pakistani terrorists. He was killed nine-days later. September 11th mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, claimed that he had personally beheaded Pearl.
Shortly after Pearl’s death, his parents founded the Daniel Pearl Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to promote cross-cultural understanding through journalism, music and dialogue. The honorary board of the Daniel Pearl Foundation included Christiane Amanpour, former US President Bill Clinton, Ted Koppel, Queen Noor of Jordan, Mariane Pearl, Itzhak Perlman and Elie Wiesel.
Every year, the Los Angeles Press Club gives its final award – the Daniel Pearl Award – for courage in journalism.
The story of Pearl and his wife was depicted in “A Mighty Heart”.