Welcome to America Comes Alive!, a site I created to share little-known stories of America’s past. These stories are about Americans—people just like you—who have made a difference and changed the course of history. Look around the site and find what inspires you.

During the “Dog Days of Summer,” we examined America’ stories through its dogs. You’ll be amazed by stories about the dogs of 9-11, the first seeing eye dog in the U.S., and how the K-9 corps of World War II was made up of people’s pets.


Smoky, Yorkshire Terrier and WWII War Dog

Smoky, a four-pound Yorkshire terrier, went to war by

Smoky War Dog
Courtesy of Bill Wynne

happenstance. She was found in New Guinea near an American military base in 1944. No one was going to send home a lost dog, no matter how tiny.  She soon embedded with a unit of the U.S. 5th Air Force and was adopted by one of the photographers working reconnaissance near the front line in New Guinea.

Smoky was found in a foxhole and brought back to the base by a fellow who was happy to sell her so he could get into that night’s poker game. William A. Wynne offered to buy Smoky for 2 pounds Australian ($6.44 U.S).  After that, the two were inseparable.

Continue reading…


"What can one person do?"
Read some of the stories on this site; you'll see that they revolve around single individuals who worked toward change.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead


Jefferson Davis dog
Confederate President Jefferson Davis (1808-1889) acquired his dog, Traveler, during his retirement years. Immediately after the war, Jefferson Davis was on the run from Union soldiers. He was captured and imprisoned for about two years and then freed. At that point, Davis wanted to leave the country, so he and… Continue reading »

retiring a service dog
The bond between a person and his/her service dog is strong and special. They are a unit. They are a team. They are an almost inseparable pair. But a sad fact is that a dog’s working life is generally only about ten years. The dog may tire more easily, and… Continue reading »

JohnT0215
When chemistry students at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, California, enter their classroom with big smiles, one might presume their faces represent their enthusiasm for learning chemistry. Their professor, Dr. John Terhorst, knows otherwise. He is well aware that the huge smiles, and certainly the hand-waves, are actually for his service… Continue reading »

Bogart and Bacall and dogs
Both Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall loved dogs. She was partial to cocker spaniels and had two of them–one named Droopy and another, Puddle.  Bogart owned several breeds during his lifetime including a Newfoundland terrier, a couple of Scottish terriers, and… Continue reading »

This Day in History

On September 1, 1836, Narcissa Whitman arrived in Walla Walla, Washington, and became one of the first Anglo women to settle west of the Rocky Mountains. She and her husband, Marcus, were missionaries who hoped to convert the “heathens” to Christianity.  They established a mission for the Cayuse Indians and lived in peace for a time, but in 1847, a measles epidemic wiped out most of the Indians. The white people seemed to have immunity. This angered the remaining Indians. They attacked the mission and killed all the white people there, including Narcissa.

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