History Book


NICK EICHER, HOST: Next up on The World and Everything in It: the WORLD Radio History Book.

This week, the anniversary of the U.S. Air Force Academy moving into its permanent home in Colorado Springs. And 50 years ago, protesters and police clash in Chicago during the Democratic National Convention.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: But first, the 100th anniversary of a battle on the Arizona/Mexico border. Some remember it as the sole World War 1 skirmish on American soil. Others remember it for a completely different reason. Here’s Paul Butler.

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: We begin today on August 27th, 1918, in the sleepy towns of Nogales—two  villages sharing a wide boulevard known as International Street, running along the U.S./Mexico border.

Eighteen months earlier, British intelligence intercepted a telegram from the German Foreign Office to the Mexican government. In it, Secretary Zimmerman proposed a military alliance between the two countries if the U.S. entered the war.

In 1918, U.S. intelligence believed German spies were stirring up trouble on the Mexican side of Nogales as they dug trenches overlooking American positions, stockpiled weapons, and increased troops.

On the afternoon of August 27th, a Mexican carpenter returning home from the U.S. side of the border refused to stop at a security checkpoint. Mexican guards fired on the pursuing U.S. infantry. And the battle of Ambos Nogales, or both Nogales, began.

By early evening, Mexican officials surrendered: 30 Americans and 125 Mexicans died in the skirmish.

Afterward, the two countries agreed to divide the border communities with a fence, the first of many border walls between the U.S. and Mexico.

Next, August 29th, 1958:

NEWSREEL: The Air Force Academy opens its permanent home with the arrival of nearly 1,500 cadets in Colorado Springs…

The U.S. Air Force was created by the National Security Act of 1947. The first class of cadets started at a temporary facility in 1955, but moved into their permanent home in 1958.

AIR FORCE FILM: The cadets are thoroughly schooled in basic and applied science, mathematics, physics, chemistry, engineering, aerodynamics and astronautics.

The first class of 306 cadets graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1959. During the Vietnam War, demand for pilots and officers outpaced supply and class sizes swelled to 1,600 in 1970.

AIR FORCE FILM: Already the Academy has given them a splendid start. In the long and continuing process of becoming modern, professional, military officers.

Admission is competitive, with applicants divided equally among congressional districts. Since its founding, more than 50,000 cadets have graduated from the Academy.

And finally, August 28th, 1968:

AUDIO: [Sound of riot]

Sound of anti-war protests outside the Democratic National Convention.

STREET SPEECH: Now you can look around, and you can see, from the amount of police and the amount of soldiers, you must be doing something right…

As many as 10,000 protestors gathered in Chicago: some were peaceful, but others shouted at law-enforcement, pelting them with food, stones, and concrete pieces—triggering a police crackdown.

Afterward, Mayor Richard J. Daley downplayed accusations of police brutality, blaming the protestors instead:

DALEY: Some policemen may have overacted [sic], but I would like to say now that the people of Chicago will never permit a lawless, violent group of terrorists to destroy the purpose of this national convention and take over the streets of Chicago.

By the end of the four-day violent episode, 668 people were arrested, 625 demonstrators were treated for minor injuries and 110 were hospitalized. A total of 192 police officers were injured in the conflict.

That’s this week’s WORLD Radio History Book, I’m Paul Butler.


(Lee Balterman/Getty) A protestor in front of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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