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An Army Veteran and Award-Winning Actor, a Rationed Royal Wedding, and an Airplane Oath

-- On Nov. 21, 1946: The film The Best Years of Our Lives was released in the United States. The film was about three World War II veterans who return home to Boone City, a fictional town patterned after Cincinnati. The three veterans come from different financial and social circumstances but all share a difficulty transitioning to their new civilian lives. Veteran Fred Derry (Dana Andrews) was a captain and bombardier who, unable to find other work, returns to his job as a soda jerk. Married shortly before leaving for the war, Derry returns to a less than understanding wife. Petty Officer Homer Parrish, played by real-life amputee Harold Russell, lost both of his hands when his ship was sunk and he now has hook prostheses. Parrish returns home to his girlfriend, and despite the challenges of his condition and his own hesitation, she still wants to marry him. The third veteran, Al Stephenson (Frederic March), was a sergeant who fought in the Pacific. He returns to his banking job and his wife and children, but because of his underlying anger and the drinking he does to deal with his memories of the war, he has a hard time rejoining the workforce. The Best Years of Our Lives became a box-office hit and won seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director (William Wyler) and Best Actor (March). Army veteran Harold Russell also won the Best Supporting Actor award even though he was not a professional actor. Previously, Russell had been an Army instructor who had lost both of his hands during an accident while he was teaching demolition. He came to Wyler's attention when he was in an Army training film after his accident. The Academy also awarded Russell an honorary award for his performance in the film, making him the only person to win two Academy Awards for the same performance.

-- On Nov. 20, 1947: Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten were married at Westminster Abbey. The couple's engagement had been announced on July 9, leaving only a short time between the official engagement and the wedding itself to prepare for the event. Since the wedding occurred shortly after the end of World War II, both clothing and food were still rationed in England. Princess Elizabeth used clothing rations that she had saved, along with an additional 200 extra rations provided by the government, for her dress. The official wedding cake was also affected by rationing. The cake was a fruitcake nicknamed "The 10,000-Mile Cake" because some its ingredients needed to be shipped from around the world. After the wedding, the newlyweds waved to the crowds from Buckingham Palace. The couple were married nearly six years before Elizabeth was crowned Queen of England on June 2, 1953, after the death of her father, King George V.

-- On Nov. 22, 1963: Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as president by federal judge Sarah T. Hughes aboard Air Force One after the assassination of President Kennedy. It was the only time that the presidential oath of office has been given aboard an airplane. Shortly after the oath was administered, the airplane returned to Washington due to security concerns. During his term in office, one of President Johnson's major accomplishments was the passage of the Civil Right Act, a piece of legislation that was extremely important to President Kennedy. Johnson ran for and won the 1964 election but chose not run for re-election in 1968.

-- Compiled by M. Moeller

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