A place in history

By Bill Taylor - Contributing columnist

It seems to me that we have a legacy, an inheritance, passed on from last year that will continue to have a place in our country’s history for many years to come. Yep, long after new administrations and legislative bodies take over the reins of government, this past year will undoubtedly stand out as “The Year of the Whistleblower.” You see, the “Whistleblower” started a process that has resulted in the impeachment of the President of the United States – an event that has occurred only three times in the history of our country. Not only that but this individual has done so by the extremely unusual means of filing a complaint admittedly based not on personal knowledge of presidential wrong-doing, but on hearsay evidence , that is, information furnished to the “Whistleblower” by other people. Furthermore, of extreme importance, this person has thus far been able to retain complete anonymity thus joining an elite group of famous historical characters whose identity is still shrouded in mystery. Read on.

One of these, known as “The Man in the Iron Mask,” was an unidentified prisoner who was arrested for unknown reasons in 1669 or 1670 in France and subsequently held in a number of French prisons, including the Bastille. He was held in custody for 34 years and died on 19 November 1703 during the reign of King Louis XIV of France. Okay, so what?

Well, no one ever saw his face because it was hidden by a mask – some say it was of cloth and others claim it was of iron – so the true identity of the prisoner remains a mystery to this day. Among the leading explanations for the mask and imprisonment is that he was the older, illegitimate brother of Louis XIV. According to this concept, his being of royal blood meant he could not be executed, but his existence, if known, could have a threat to the throne and so he was held as a masked prisoner for his entire adult life – but nobody knows for sure who he was.

Okay, moving on to another individual whose identity is shrouded in mystery. The body of a “Major Martin” of the British Royal Marines was found at around 9:30 am, 30 April 1943, on the coast of Spain by a local fisherman. The corpse was taken into custody by Spanish soldiers who turned it over to a Spanish naval judge. Attached to the body’s wrist by a short chain was a briefcase such as those used by official couriers. The British vice-consul was officially notified by the Spaniards and he reported back to the Admiralty that the body and briefcase had been found.

A series of diplomatic cables between the vice consul and his superiors emphasized that the briefcase was of great importance and must be retrieved – messages the British knew the Germans were reading because they were aware the Germans had broken their code. The consequence was that German intelligence surreptitiously opened the briefcase and the enclosed envelopes which contained high level correspondence indicating the allies would be invading southern Europe through Greece and the Balkans and not through Sicily and Italy. Based on this information, the Germans transferred significant military resources from France, Italy, Sicily, and the Eastern Front to Greece and the Balkans – and the allies successfully invaded Sicily and Italy. But that’s not the real story.

You see, there never was a “Major Martin” – he was created – totally made up right down to his pocket litter and a picture of his make-believe “girlfriend.” The entire operation was a grand deception involving a corpse whose identity is still in question today although several alternative names have been suggested.

Well. the Whistleblower has already been assured a place in our country’s history by the remarkable accomplishment of bringing about the impeachment of a U S President. The issue that still remains is whether this person can remain anonymous – an unidentified, unidentifiable entity who may or may not actually exist. You see, there are some who are beginning to question if the Whistleblower, like “Major Martin,” might not be a fabrication made up by people determined to bring down the President – and that’s why there has been such a strenuous effort to protect the Whistleblower from any attempt at identification.

You know, in the long run the identity of all three of these “mystery” individuals doesn’t make any difference. The missions involving them were all successful and that is the important thing in securing their places in history. At least that’s how it seems to me.


By Bill Taylor

Contributing columnist

Bill Taylor is a regular Greene County (Ohio) Daily contributing columnist. This column shared through the AIM Media Midwest group of newspapers.

Bill Taylor is a regular Greene County (Ohio) Daily contributing columnist. This column shared through the AIM Media Midwest group of newspapers.