August 25 - 1945 - The Death of John Birch
John Birch was an Army intelligence officer in China, who had learned Mandarin as a Fundamentalist Baptist missionary and proved effective behind enemy lines during World War II. Eleven days after Japan officially surrendered, Birch was leading an intelligence unit when he encountered soldiers of the Chinese Communist People's Liberation Army. The PLA soldiers would shoot and kill Birch after an argument; the rest of Birch's men were captured and released two months later. Birch's death was not nationally famous at the time, although certain politicians noted his death at the hands of communists. John Birch would become a notorious name beginning in 1958, when arch conservative businessman Robert H. Welch, Jr., founded the "John Birch Society." Welch's group was ardently anti-communist, to the point of believing pretty much everything was a communist conspiracy to overthrow the U.S. Government. This included many actual U.S. Government officials. Through letter writing and strident pamphlets, the John Birch Society became a pariah even among the anti-communist right. Although John Birch was certainly a conservative anti-communist, it is unclear what he would have thought of the society that took his name.