" Man lives consciously for himself, but is an unconscious instrument in the attainment of the historic, universal aims of humanity. "
Leo Tolstoy

Back in the day


Private Slovik Executed for Desertion

US Army private Eddie Slovik was executed for desertion in 1945. His was the first such execution after the Civil War and the only one of 49 World War II desertion death sentences to be carried out. Slovik deserted with a friend during an artillery attack and later confessed to an MP in writing that he would do it again. Refusing several offers to tear up the confession, he said, "I've made up my mind. I'll take my court martial." How old was Slovik when he died?



Jehovah's Witnesses

Famous for their door-to-door evangelizing, Jehovah's Witnesses are members of an international religious movement founded in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, by Charles T. Russell in 1872. The group's beliefs are based primarily on the apocalyptic portions of the Bible, and their primary goal is the establishment of God's kingdom on Earth. Several of their beliefs are controversial; members refrain from performing military service or saluting the flag, and they refuse what type of medical procedure?

Born on a day like today


Norman Mailer

A prolific writer, Mailer is best known for his innovative nonfiction novels. He became a recognized author with the publication of The Naked and the Dead, which is based on his World War II experiences and has been touted as one of the best books about the war years. During the Vietnam era, he was arrested briefly for his involvement in anti-Vietnam demonstrations. Mailer's 1979 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Executioner's Song, depicts the events surrounding whose execution?

Last updated on Sunday, 31st January 2010

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