History Matters

Published 10:00 am Sunday, June 4, 2023

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Showing our children that their past is prelude to their future.

 By John Grimaldi and David Bruce Smith

June 1 to June 15

On April 9, 1865, Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at the Appomattox Court House, in Virginia, but that ceremony did not finish the Civil War.  The strife ended on June 2 when “Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith, commander of Confederate forces west of the Mississippi, signed the…terms offered by Union negotiators,” according to History.com.

A little more than a year later–August 20, 1866–Andrew Johnson, President Abraham Lincoln’s vice president—and successor—formally culminated the combat by proclaiming that “said insurrection is at an end and that peace, order, tranquility, and civil authority now exist in and throughout the whole United States of America.”

The Grateful American Book Prize endorses Elizabeth R. Varon’s Appomattox: Victory, Defeat, and Freedom at the End of the Civil War.


The renowned Apache chief, Cochise, was–arguably—one of the greatest Native American leaders. Little is known about his early life, according to History.com, but in “the mid-19th century, he had become a prominent leader of the Chiricahua band of Apache Indians living in southern Arizona and northern Mexico. Like other Chiricahua Apache, Cochise resented the encroachment of Mexican and American settlers on their traditional lands. Cochise led numerous raids on the settlers living on both sides of the border…Mexicans and Americans…began to call for military protection and retribution.”

By 1872 the U.S. government—fixed on winding down the Apache raids, convinced Cochise to settle on a reservation in Arizona. He agreed– reportedly stating, “the white man and the Indian are to drink of the same water, eat of the same bread, and be at peace.”

Not long after, the chief took ill, and died June 8, 1874.  He was buried in the Dragoon Mountains of Arizona.

The Grateful American Book Prize recommends The Wrath of Cochise by Terry Mort.


In a June 12, 1987, speech, President Ronald Reagan—dared the Soviet Union’s president, Mikhail Gorbachev, to “tear down [the] wall” that had separated East and West Germany for more than a quarter of a century. Even with doubtful warnings from White House insiders, Reagan’s lucky leap crushed Communism in Russia—and Europe.

History.com explains that “In 1945, following Germany’s defeat in World War II, the nation’s capital, Berlin, was divided into four sections, with the Americans, British and French controlling the western region and the Soviets gaining power in the eastern region. In May 1949, the three western sections came together as the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), with the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) being established in October of that same year. In 1952, the border between the two countries was closed and by the following year East Germans were prosecuted if they left their country without permission. In August 1961, the Berlin Wall was erected by the East German government to prevent its citizens from escaping to the West.”

The Grateful American Book Prize proposes Ronald Reagan and the Fall of the Soviet Empire by Bret Baier and Catherine Whitney.