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IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton
By Michael Meakin for Wendy Hicks
I Still Believe In Santa Claus
I was in the fifth grade, in Mrs. Clink’s class, when it was decided that the elementary school play would be “The Year Without A Santa Claus.” Auditions were held, and casting was done on the basis of student vote; I was “elected” to play Santa. The rehearsals were held during school hours, so no extemporaneous tim...e was required. The only interruption to our rehearsal schedule was a field trip.
There were two cousins in my class, Christie and Julie, whose mothers were part of a quint-sisterhood of which one might swear they were actually quintuplets. They were called “The North Girls” around town as their maiden name was North, and, regardless of their age differences, they really did look, walk, and talk quite alike. Christie and Julie sat on the opposite side of the bus from me, and one row forward, their mothers took up the seat across from them, which meant they were directly ahead of me.
Talk on the bus inevitably turned to the play, the progression of rehearsals and, as my parents had taught music and drama, the “North Girls” were interested in why I had been so easily elected Santa and joked of whether or not it was just because of my parents. Several kids spoke up and said things like: “Oh, no; Mike’s Santa was just the best one,” “He does the Ho, Ho, Ho, so well,” “You’d swear if you closed your eyes that he really was Santa,” “It’s amazing how he can sound like an old man!” Well, the North Girls wanted to hear some lines so I obliged them, they laughed aloud, were duly impressed, and the majority of the bus erupted into applause when I was finished. As the din died down, there were comments like: “See, we told you!” “That’s amazing!” “How do you change your voice like that?” “That was very good!” I always liked attention, and I am sure I even blushed a little as I felt my face flush.
Suddenly, talk all around me began about when others had found out there was no Santa Claus… “Last year,” someone piped, “In third grade,” shot another, “My parents told me the truth when I caught them stuffing the stockings…” A feeling of utter despair came over me, as if someone had dumped a bucket of ice water over me, as if my heart had been ripped out, as if I had suddenly died and was now listening to the many conversations going on around me in an “out of body experience.” My mouth and throat went completely dry as Christie and Julie laughed and talked with their own mothers about when they had been told that there was no Santa Claus… They turned toward me and asked me when I had found out. I gagged, I felt sick; I could feel tears at the back of my eyes yearning to well up on my bottom lashes, but that were being held back by some deep-seeded disgust and disbelief. “I guess I just found out now…” Was all I could muster. A chorus of laughter erupted, the biggest and heartiest laughs came from the mothers of my classmates sitting in front of me; their faces were distorted, their mouths stuck open as far as they could; they howled, their eyes became slits, wrinkles appeared all over their faces.
My classmates passed it up and down the aisle: “Mike still believed in Santa!” “Mike didn’t know there was no Santa Claus!” When they caught their breath, the two North Girls saw my, now, very evident tears. “There, there,” and all that rot, “just talk to your Mom and Dad about it when you get home tonight.” I asked, “Why would they lie to me about it?” More laughter made me clam up quick.
All the way home I stared silently out the window, milling over and over in my mind how my own parents could have been so cruel all these years; how could they have not told me when all my friends seemed to know; why did they set me up for such an embarrassment? I did not discuss it with them; in fact, I went straight to my room after dinner and cried myself to sleep.
Because of this early bedtime, I woke very early and lie in bed; still feeling as if there were a knife in my heart. All of a sudden, a tremendous revelation came over me: all the things that I thought Santa brought me over the years were actually gifts from my parents… They had me prepare two Christmas lists; one for them which consisted of practical, affordable items; and one for Santa of fanciful, extravagant, and expensive items. I assumed this was because Santa’s Elves were somehow able to duplicate them, or recreate them by means of magical powers. I thought back over the items I had asked for from both my parents and from Santa Claus. About $100 on my list for my parents, and about $100 for the things I had written Santa about…
In my family, if you were good each day through Advent, one of Santa’s Elves would ride a single, saddled reindeer to your window and leave you a piece of candy or a Christmas tree ornament, or both if you had been extra good! They would also pick up and deliver letters to and from Santa. I knew my parents’ alarm clocks would soon be ringing to begin the school day, so I wrote a brief note detailing the cruel jest at my expense on the field trip, and asking if the terrible thing I had heard were true… Then, I laid awake under the covers, waiting for the bells and the buzzers down the hall. Within a minute of my Father’s alarm, my door opened silently; a long, thin stream of light from the hallway got wider and wider, the floor boards creaked as he crossed the room, I heard a couple of small sounds at the windowsill, and the door shut… My letter to Santa was gone and, in its place, were a piece of candy and a tree ornament. I lay there, the same feelings washing over me as the day before but then I realized my parents were paying for all those toys and surprises themselves; that they were filling that stocking (the biggest one on the block) for me, that they were making and leaving all those cookies, cinnamon buns, nuts and nutcrackers, gingerbread houses, toys and games, notes from Santa, candies and ornaments…
On Christmas morning, no matter how much we decorated the house ourselves during Advent, there were always twice as many decorations; twice as many presents, and a treasure trove of treats… My God, I wondered, what are they spending, and how can they do all that extra decorating and present wrapping in one night? Christmas morning was so magical; and, in our house, it began at the butt crack of dawn… How could they stay up all night and then cheerfully and gleefully work so hard to make my day so special and last so long? How could they afford to get every last thing I asked for? How could they sneak into my room and leave goodies every night for a month without my ever hearing or seeing them? What were they going to think of that letter I had written to Santa? What would they say to me? What would be their reply? What if Christmas, as I knew it, was over? I heard my Father go into the bathroom, heard him ripping the envelope open, then there was a long, deafening quiet. He came out of the bathroom, and knocked on my door… “Michael; it’s time to get up…” his usual school-morning greeting.
I went to school, completely dejected, sick to my stomach, and ready for the continued jeering of my classmates… When, at last, the long day was done, I did much the same thing as I had the day before; I went to my room and stayed there all evening until I finally fell asleep. When I awoke the next morning, both my windowsills were completely covered with candy, ornaments, toy soldiers, and one giant, ominous-looking envelope decorated with a ribbon and a bow. I opened it very slowly, preparing myself for the inevitable; alas, I thought, this was the last morning on which I would find such a lovely surprise… Tears were already streaming down my face, and my eyes were so inflamed and full that the paper and the writing on it were blurry to me.
“Dearest Michael, your classmates were very wrong. I do exist! I exist in the hearts and minds of children everywhere, I exist in the love that your parents have for you, I exist in the love God had for the world when He sent His Son as a gift into it, I exist in the joy of giving and receiving gifts, I exist in every ‘Merry Christmas’ spoken, I exist in the history of peoples all over the world, I exist in the heart of every person who believes in me. Though your parents must help my work along, though you are growing up, though you may see and hear the things of childhood slipping away…you must remember what Jesus said: ‘whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God as a little child does will not enter in…’ All our love, Mom & Dad, and Santa.”
That Christmas, my eleventh on this earth, was the most magical I ever had and, at 43, with my Father dead 17 years, my Mother 4, and without a thing on my windowsill or stocking full of treats, I still believe; how could it be otherwise? There’s just too much proof…
by Kevin Hughes
'Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring
‘Cause the power was out.
How could this happen?
What trouble could be?
The house is all dark,
Even the lights on the tree.
The lineman's asleep
All cozy and warm,
His power apparently
Was spared by the storm.
Deep into slumber
But soon to awake,
'Cause a tree on the line
has caused it to break.
The calls swamp the office.
"MY POWER IS OUT!
Get them here quickly,
‘cause I carry clout."
The dispatcher calls
And with a hint of despair,
He informs the lineman
The need repair.
In three or four hours
The trouble is found.
You see, the road didn't pass
Where the tree' went down.
After walking through snow
And fighting the storm,
The line is now clear
And the power is on.
And now it's the morning
The kids shout with glee,
And their eyes shine as bright
As the lights on the tree.
The lineman goes home now
As tired as can be.
The storm just ignored
It was his Christmas Eve.
He's not asking for praise
Or for you to applaud,
‘Cause according to him
It's just part of the job.
But please just remember
As you pick up the horn
And you call to the office
He may be out in the storm.
S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald 38 Year Anniversary November 10, 2013
RIVER ROUGE — A memorial service is planned for Sunday November 10, 2013 to remember the 29 men who died when the SS Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior on Nov. 10, 1975.The ceremony is set for 6 to 8 p.m. and the heated tent open at 4:30 p.m. for viewing Edmund Fitzgerald artifacts, near the Mariners Memorial Lighthouse at Belanger Park, off Belanger Park Drive and Marion.
The event is held in River Rouge because that’s the city where the vessel was built in 1957 and ’58.
Several speakers will give their memories of the ship, including people who helped construct it and relatives of some of the deceased crewmen.
Artifacts, photographs and videos also will be on display and you can talk to the Fitz Ship Builders, past Crew Members and Fitz Family Members.
At 7:10 p.m. — the time the ship sank — a wreath will be tossed into the Detroit River. A bell will be rung 29 times in memory of each person who died.
A plaque presentation and lantern lighting is planned. Food and Refreshments will be provided free of charge.
Event organizer Roscoe Clark has a Web site devoted to the vessel, which contains several video clips and photos of the ship.
Earlier in the day, an Edmund Fitzgerald open house will be held from 4 to 5 p.m. at the River Rouge Historical Museum, 10750 W. Jefferson Ave.This year, the service will be web cast free of charge for those viewers all across the US and Canada.
This message was sent to the Hub911 in regard to a previous post that can be viewed here: http://www.hub911.com/2/post/2012/11/wreck-of-the-edmund-fitzgerald-nov-10-1975.html
Yesterday Our History was Hell, Tomorrow this History was Written, Today... We Stand as One, As We Always Will.
On this day in 1814, Francis Scott Key pens a poem which is later set to music and in 1931 becomes America's national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner." The poem, originally titled "The Defence of Fort McHenry," was written after Key witnessed the Maryland fort being bombarded by the British during the War of 1812. Key was inspired by the sight of a lone U.S. flag still flying over Fort McHenry at daybreak, as reflected in the now-famous words of the "Star-Spangled Banner": "And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there."
Francis Scott Key was born on August 1, 1779, at Terra Rubra, his family's estate in Frederick County (now Carroll County), Maryland. He became a successful lawyer in Maryland and Washington, D.C., and was later appointed U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia.
On June 18, 1812, America declared war on Great Britain after a series of trade disagreements. In August 1814, British troops invaded Washington, D.C., and burned the White House, Capitol Building and Library of Congress. Their next target was Baltimore.
After one of Key's friends, Dr. William Beanes, was taken prisoner by the British, Key went to Baltimore, located the ship where Beanes was being held and negotiated his release. However, Key and Beanes weren't allowed to leave until after the British bombardment of Fort McHenry. Key watched the bombing campaign unfold from aboard a ship located about eight miles away. After a day, the British were unable to destroy the fort and gave up. Key was relieved to see the American flag still flying over Fort McHenry and quickly penned a few lines in tribute to what he had witnessed.
The poem was printed in newspapers and eventually set to the music of a popular English drinking tune called "To Anacreon in Heaven" by composer John Stafford Smith. People began referring to the song as "The Star-Spangled Banner" and in 1916 President Woodrow Wilson announced that it should be played at all official events. It was adopted as the national anthem on March 3, 1931.
Francis Scott Key died of pleurisy on January 11, 1843. Today, the flag that
flew over Fort McHenry in 1914 is housed at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum
of American History in Washington, D.C.
in On This day in 1776, the Continental Congress formally declares the name of the new nation to be the "United States" of America. This replaced the term "United Colonies," which had been in general use.
In the Congressional declaration dated September 9, 1776, the delegates wrote, "That in all continental commissions, and other instruments, where, heretofore, the words 'United Colonies' have been used, the stile be altered for the future to the "United States."
A resolution by Richard Henry Lee, which had been presented to Congress on June 7 and approved on July 2, 1776, issued the resolve, "That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States…." As a result, John Adams thought July 2 would be celebrated as "the most memorable epoch in the history of America." Instead, the day has been largely forgotten in favor of July 4, when Jefferson's edited Declaration of Independence was adopted. That document also states, "That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES." However, Lee began with the line, while Jefferson saved it for the middle of his closing paragraph.
By September, the Declaration of Independence had been drafted, signed, printed and sent to Great Britain. What Congress had declared to be true on paper in July was clearly the case in practice, as Patriot blood was spilled against the British on the battlefields of Boston, Montreal, Quebec and New York. Congress had created a country from a cluster of colonies and the nation's new name reflected that reality.
From: This Day in History
National Football League player salaries run the gamut from the bare minimum wage of $375,000 set by the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) made by The National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) and the owners of the teams, to about five times that much.
Brown's Crippled B-17 Stalked by Stigler's ME-109 Look the bomber over carefully, one engine is stopped, half of the tail is missing, fuselage is full of holes. (A staged photo)
The 21-year old American B-17 pilot glanced outside his cockpit and froze. He blinked hard and looked again, hoping it was just a mirage. But his co-pilot stared at the same horrible vision. "My God, this is a nightmare," the co-pilot said. "He's going to destroy us," the pilotUSAAF Lt. Charles Brown
The men were looking at a gray German Messerschmitt fighter hovering just three feet off their wingtip. It was five days before Christmas 1943, and the fighter had closed in on their crippled American B-17 bomber for the kill.
The B-17 pilot, Charles Brown, was a 21-year-old West Virginia farm boy on his first combat mission. His bomber had been shot to pieces by swarming fighters, and his plane was alone, struggling to stay in the skies above Germany . Half his crew was wounded, and the tail gunner was dead, his blood frozen in icicles over the machine guns.
But when Brown and his co-pilot, Spencer "Pinky" Luke, looked at the fighter pilot again, something odd happened. The German didn't pull the trigger. He stared back at the bomber in amazement and respect. Instead of pressing the attack, he nodded at Brown and saluted. What happened next was one of the most remarkable acts of chivalry recorded during World War II.
Charles Brown was on his first combat mission during World War II when he met an enemy unlike any other.Luftwaffe Major Franz Stigler
Revenge, not honor, is what drove 2nd Lt. Franz Stigler to jump into his fighter that chilly December day in 1943. Stigler wasn't just any fighter pilot. He was an ace. One more kill and he would win The Knight's Cross, German's highest award for valor.
Yet Stigler was driven by something deeper than glory. His older brother, August, was a fellow Luftwaffe pilot who had been killed earlier in the war. American pilots had killed Stigler's comrades and were bombing his country's cities. Stigler was standing near his fighter on a German airbase when he heard a bomber's engine. Looking up, he saw a B-17 flying so low it looked like it was going to land. As the bomber disappeared behind some trees, Stigler tossed his cigarette aside, saluted a ground crewman and took off in pursuit.
As Stigler's fighter rose to meet the bomber, he decided to attack it from behind. He climbed behind the sputtering bomber, squinted into his gun sight and placed his hand on the trigger. He was about to fire when he hesitated. Stigler was baffled. No one in the bomber fired at
He looked closer at the tail gunner. He was still, his white fleece collar soaked with blood. Stigler craned his neck to examine the rest of the bomber. Its skin had been peeled away by shells, its guns knocked out. One propeller wasn't turning. Smoke trailed from another engine. He could see men huddled inside the shattered plane tending the wounds of other crewmen.
Then he nudged his plane alongside the bomber's wings and locked eyes with the pilot whose eyes were wide with shock and horror.
Stigler pressed his hand over the rosary he kept in his flight jacket. He eased his index finger off the trigger. He couldn't shoot. It would be murder.Charles Brown, with his wife, Jackie (left), with Franz Stigler, with his wife, Hiya.
Stigler wasn't just motivated by vengeance that day. He also lived by a code. He could trace his family's ancestry to knights in 16th century Europe . He had once studied to be a priest. A German pilot who spared the enemy, though, risked death in Nazi Germany. If someone reported him, he would be executed.
Yet Stigler could also hear the voice of his commanding officer, who once told him: "You follow the rules of war for you -- not your enemy. You fight by rules to keep your humanity."
Alone with the crippled bomber, Stigler changed his mission. He nodded at the American pilot and began flying in formation so German anti-aircraft gunners on the ground wouldn't shoot down the slow-moving bomber. (The Luftwaffe had B-17s of its own, shot down and rebuilt for secret missions and training.) Stigler escorted the bomber over the North Sea and took one last look at the American pilot. Then he saluted him, peeled his fighter away and returned to Germany.
"Good luck," Stigler said to himself. "You're in God's hands now..." Franz Stigler didn't think the big B-17 could make it back to England and wondered for years what happened to the American pilot and crew he encountered in combat.
As he watched the German fighter peel away that December day, 2nd Lt. Charles Brown wasn't thinking of the philosophicalFranz Stigler, on left, & Charles Brown, fishing buddies.
connection between enemies. He was thinking of survival. He flew his crippled plane, filled with wounded, back to his base in England and landed with one of four engines knocked out, one
failing and barely any fuel left. After his bomber came to a stop, he
leaned back in his chair and put a hand over a pocket
Bible he kept in his flight jacket. Then he sat in silence.
Brown flew more missions before the war ended. Life moved on. He got married, had two daughters, supervised foreign aid for the U.S. State Department during the Vietnam War and eventually retired to Florida
Late in life, though, the encounter with the German pilot began to gnaw at him. He started having nightmares, but in his dream there would be no act of mercy. He would awaken just before his bomber crashed.
Brown took on a new mission. He had to find that German pilot. Who was he? Why did he save my life? He scoured military archives in the U.S. and England . He attended a pilots' reunion and shared his story. He finally placed an ad in a German newsletter for former Luftwaffe pilots, retelling the story and asking if anyone knew the pilot.
On January 18, 1990, Brown received a letter. He opened it and read: "Dear Charles, All these years I wondered what happened to that B-17, did she make it home? Did her crew survive their wounds? To hear of your survival has filled me with indescribable joy..."
It was Stigler.
He had left Germany after the war and moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1953. He became a prosperous businessman. Now
retired, Stigler told Brown that he would be in Florida come summer and "it sure would be nice to talk about our encounter." Brown was so excited, though, that he couldn't wait to see Stigler. He called directory assistance for Vancouver and asked whether there was a
number for a Franz Stigler. He dialed the number, and Stigler picked up.
"My God, it's you!" Brown shouted as tears ran down his cheeks. Brown had to do more. He wrote a letter to Stigler
in which he said: "To say THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU on behalf of my surviving crewmembers and their families appears totally inadequate."
One of Brown's friends was there to record the summer reunion. Both men looked like retired businessmen: they were plump,
sporting neat ties and formal shirts. They fell into each other' arms and wept and laughed. They talked about their encounter in a light, jovial tone.
The mood then changed. Someone asked Stigler what he thought about Brown. Stigler sighed and his square jaw tightened. He began
to fight back tears before he said in heavily accented English: "I love you, Charlie."
Stigler had lost his brother, his friends and his country. He was virtually exiled by his countrymen after the war. There were 28,000 pilots who fought for the German air force. Only 1,200 survived.
The war cost him everything. Charlie Brown was the only good thing that came out of World War II for Franz. It was the one thing he
could be proud of. The meeting helped Brown as well, says his oldest daughter, Dawn Warner.
Brown and Stigler became pals. They would take fishing trips together. They would fly cross-country to each other homes and take road trips together to share their story at schools and veterans' reunions. Their wives, Jackie Brown and Hiya Stigler, became friends.
Brown's daughter says her father would worry about Stigler's health and constantly check in on him.
"It wasn't just for show," she says. "They really did feel for each other. They
talked about once a week." As his friendship with Stigler deepened, something else happened to her father, Warner says "The nightmares went away."
Brown had written a letter of thanks to Stigler, but one day, he showed the extent of his gratitude. He organized a reunion of his surviving crew members, along with their extended families. He invited Stigler as a guest of honor.
During the reunion, a video was played showing all the faces of the people that now lived -- children, grandchildren, relatives -- because of Stigler's act of chivalry. Stigler watched the film from his seat of honor.
"Everybody was crying, not just him," Warner says.
Stigler and Brown died within months of each other in 2008. Stigler was 92, and Brown was 87. They had started off as enemies, became friends, and then something more.
After he died, Warner was searching through Brown's library when she came across a book on German fighter jets. Stigler had given
the book to Brown. Both were country boys who loved to read about planes.
Warner opened the book and saw an inscription Stigler had written to Brown:
In 1940, I lost my only brother as a night fighter. On the 20th of December, 4 days before Christmas, I had the chance to save a B-17 from her destruction, a plane so badly damaged it was a wonder that she was still flying. The pilot, Charlie Brown, is for me as
precious as my brother was.