Military

Members of the 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps pose on Minerva Terrace at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park in 1896.

The Black Buffalo Soldiers Who Biked Across the American West

In 1897, the 25th Infantry Regiment Bicycle Corps embarked on a 1,900-mile journey from Montana to Missouri

The 15 freed hostages and their rescuers arrive at San José del Guaviare airport in July 2008.

The Daring Rescue Mission That Freed 15 Hostages Held in the Colombian Jungle for Years

A new exhibition at the International Spy Museum revisits Operación Jaque, a covert 2008 plot led by the Colombian military

Black soldiers during World War II

History of Now

Nine Army Bases Honoring Confederate Leaders Could Soon Have New Names

Proposed by a government panel, the suggested title changes honor several women and people of color

On the island of Dejima, European traders could interact with the Japanese, but with a few (carefully escorted) exceptions, they were barred from continuing on to mainland Japan.

The Wild West Outpost of Japan's Isolationist Era

For two centuries, an extreme protectionist policy barred foreigners from setting foot in Japan—except for one tiny island

NATO troops from a battalion based in Fort Hood, Texas, train in Germany in September 1983, two months before the Able Archer 83 drill.

The 1983 Military Drill That Nearly Sparked Nuclear War With the Soviets

Fearful that the Able Archer 83 exercise was a cover for a NATO nuclear strike, the U.S.S.R. readied its own weapons for launch

A Long Island family sits in a "Kidde Kokoon" underground bomb shelter in 1955.

Digging Up the History of the Nuclear Fallout Shelter

For 75 years, images of bunker life have reflected the shifting optimism, anxieties and cynicism of the Atomic Age

The Red Ball Express gave the Allies a strategic advantage over the German infantry divisions.

The Black WWII Soldiers Who Spirited Supplies to the Allied Front Line

The Red Ball Express' truck drivers and cargo loaders moved more than 400,000 tons of ammo, gas, medicine and rations between August and November 1944

The 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion stands at attention during an inspection in England in 1945.

All-Black, All-Woman WWII Unit Awarded Congressional Gold Medal

The 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion cleared a six-month backlog of mail while stationed in Europe in 1945

The debate over how to remember Ukraine's World War II history, as well as its implications for Ukrainian nationalism and independence, is key to understanding the current conflict.

History of Now

The 20th-Century History Behind Russia's Invasion of Ukraine

During WWII, Ukrainian nationalists saw the Nazis as liberators from Soviet oppression. Now, Russia is using that chapter to paint Ukraine as a Nazi nation

A monument in Germany acknowledges Halvorsen's contributions during the Berlin Airlift.

How the 'Candy Bomber' Left a Lasting Legacy in Cold War Germany

Former WWII pilot Gail S. Halvorsen is still fondly remembered as the American who delivered sweets to German children during the Berlin Airlift

Pancho Villa supposedly came to Columbus because he was enraged at the author's paternal grandfather, Sam Ravel, over an arms deal gone wrong. This photo album helped the author better understand Sam.

The Photo Album That Succeeded Where Pancho Villa Failed

The revolutionary may have tried to find the author's grandfather by raiding a New Mexico village—but a friend's camera truly captured her family patriarch

Shoichi Yokoi fled to the jungles of Guam to avoid capture in the summer of 1944. He remained in hiding until January 1972.

The Japanese WWII Soldier Who Refused to Surrender for 27 Years

Unable to bear the shame of being captured as a prisoner of war, Shoichi Yokoi hid in the jungles of Guam until January 1972

Lawrence Brooks, 110, pictured at a previous birthday celebration at the National World War II Museum

Lawrence Brooks, the United States' Oldest Living WWII Veteran, Dies at 112

Brooks was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1940, when he was in his early 30s

Arnold Bertonneau of New Orleans, Robert Smalls of South Carolina and Anderson Ruffin Abbott of Toronto.

Meet the Black Men Who Changed Lincoln's Mind About Equal Rights

During the Civil War, these individuals convinced the president, altering the course of U.S. history

The capsized hull of the U.S.S. Oklahoma (right) is visible next to the U.S.S. Maryland.

The Story Behind Pearl Harbor's Most Successful Rescue Mission

Eighty years ago, civilian Julio DeCastro and his colleagues at the Hawaii base's naval yard saved 32 sailors trapped inside the U.S.S. "Oklahoma"

One reader wonders why more flowers and fruits aren't blue-hued.

Ask Smithsonian

Why Are So Few Flowers and Fruits Blue? And More Questions From Our Readers

You've got questions. We've got experts

Detail of Ronald N. Sherr's General Colin Powell, 2012, oil on canvas

History of Now

Colin Powell, First Black Secretary of State, Dies of Covid-19 at 84

The decorated general broke racial barriers in the U.S. military but attracted criticism for his part in paving the way for the Iraq War

Actor James Madio played Easy Company T-4 Frank Perconte.

Based on a True Story

'Band of Brothers' Stars Reflect on the Epic Miniseries' Evolving Legacy

HBO's beloved World War II drama premiered 20 years ago this month

Veteran Martin Adler poses with Bruno (left), Mafalda (right) and Giuliana (center) Naldi. Thanks to social media and a dogged journalist, the 97-year-old reconnected with the three siblings after 77 years.

World War II Veteran Reunites With Italian Children He Almost Shot in 1944

Martin Adler encountered the three siblings, who were hiding in a wicker basket, while he was searching for Nazi soldiers

Women who responded to the call of duty on 9/11, shown at the Ground Zero Memorial in Lower Manhattan. Back row: EMT Bonnie Giebfried, NYPD Chief of Transportation Kim Royster, NYPD Chief of Interagency Operations Theresa Tobin, Firefighter Regina Wilson. Front row (all now retired): FDNY Captain Brenda Berkman, Detective Sergeant Sue Keane, Assistant Port Authority Police Chief Norma Hardy.

Twenty Years Later, First Responders and Families Remember the People They Lost on 9/11

These portraits of resilience recall the day when loved ones, friends and colleagues perished in the terrorist attacks

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