Article of the month: August
Former POWs returning home from North Vietnamese captivity on March 28, 1973 (Operation Homecoming)
It was 1985 when John Rambo peered through the jungle greenery and saw a bamboo cage full of aging Americans, dirty, sweaty, and bearing fresh wounds from their daily beating. Vietnamese guards paced the compound, as they had for the past 15 years, despite the war having ended over a decade earlier, and there remained little useful intelligence to be gained from interrogation.
It was Hollywood's envisioning of the rumor that American POW/MIAs (Prisoner of War, Missing in Action) are still held captive somewhere. To some, it's a way of holding out hope that a loved one is still alive and may even make it home someday. To others, it's another conspiratorial evil of the American government, which is alleged to know that the prisoners are out there but refuses to acknowledge them or make any effort to bring them home.
Are there POW/MIAs still out there somewhere? What does the military actually know? Soldiers remain unaccounted for from every American war, but those most associated with the POW/MIA movement are the Vietnam servicemen. They are the ones Rambo was searching for, and they're the ones we're going to try and find today.
So let's start by defining exactly who we're looking for. The official numbers given are taken as of Operation Homecoming, a diplomatically negotiated prisoner exchange at the start of 1973. At this time, all known American POWs were released, totaling 591 men. It is the conclusion of the official agency, the DPMO (Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office), that that 591 does represent all prisoners taken, with the exception of 113 who died in captivity. Those soldiers remaining unaccounted for at that time comprise the subjects of the POW/MIA issue.
Published: August 19, 2019
Cyprus was significantly different in character from the crusader states founded on the mainland of the Levant. One key difference lay in the demography. Whereas the crusader states in Syria and Palestine were inhabited by a patchwork of minorities adhering to a variety of different faiths, the Kingdom of Cyprus at the time of the crusader conquest was a homogeneous state inhabited almost completely by Greeks of eastern orthodox rite.
Published: August 6, 2019
Sparta, unlike Athens, was not dependent on the sea for its very existence. Because it was self-sustaining in food and other necessities from ore to wood, Sparta did not need to trade. Because Sparta was not dependent on trade, it did not need to control the trade routes. It did need to control its bread-basket Messenia, but that could be done with its army. Thus, far from being negligent or backward (as some commentators suggest), the fact that Sparta could deploy a fleet at all is rather surprising.
Published: August 5, 2019
The depiction of Helen in both the Iliad and the Odyssey is not the evil, vain, greedy and sex-crazed Helen of Athenian theater but a dignified princess/queen and a wise woman. In the Iliad, Priam honors her, calling her "dear child", while Hektor, the paragon of Homeric virtue, shows her courtesy and respect. Most important, Menelaos takes her back to be his Queen after the fall of Troy.
Published: August 2, 2019
The name Troy refers both to a place in legend and a real-life archaeological site. The idea that the city was Troy goes back at least 2,700 years, when the ancient Greeks were colonizing the west coast of Turkey. In the 19th century, the idea again came to popular attention when Heinrich Schliemann conducted a series of excavations at Hisarlik and discovered treasures he claimed to be from King Priam.
Published: July 12, 2019
In the end it was not Islam or might of some Saracen empire, but Templar wealth – and the greed of a Christian king – that brought down the mighty Order of the Knights Templar. It is one of the many ironies of history that a religious order so poor at its inception that the very “poor” word was incorporated in its name should not only gain wealth but become famed for its financial services. Cynics looking at the record of the Knight Templar might even be justified in suggesting that the Templars were better bankers than fighters.