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On this day in history July 20, 1969: At 10:56 p.m. EDT, American astronaut Neil Armstrong, 240,000 miles from Earth, speaks these words to more than a billion people listening at home: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Stepping off the lunar landing module Eagle, Armstrong became the first human to walk on the surface of the moon.

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On this day in History September 6, 1976: Lieutenant Viktor Belenko, a pilot with the 513th Fighter Regiment, 11th Air Army, based in Chuguyevka, Primorsky Krai, Russia finished flying maneuvers with his Mig-25 jet plane and instead of heading back to base, he decided to make a fateful detour. 

Lieutenant Belenko flew the secret Mig-25 towards the Japanese island of Hokkaido, landing his plane at a civilian airport in Hakodate. The article The Defection of Viktor Belenko: The Use of International Law to Justify Political Decisions by James P. Eyster, II from the Fordham International Law Journal Volume 1, Issue 1 1977 Article 3 describes what happened next:

Though two drag chutes were employed to aid in braking, the jet rolled past the end of the mile-long runway, knocking down two short antennae before coming to a halt. The pilot emerged from the cockpit, fired two warning pistol shots, and shouted his intentions: to defect from the U.S.S.R. and receive asylum in the United States.

Belenko was the first Soviet pilot to defect with his plane.

Belenko would indeed receive asylum from the United States while the West had their hands on the elusive Mig-25 jet fighter. To this day he still lives in the United States.

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On this day in History December 17, 1903: Brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright made the first successful man-powered airplane flight, near Kitty Hawk, N.C. The article Testimony to Flight from the National Archives website describes the events of December 17, 1903:

Surfmen John T. Daniels, Robert Westcott, William Beacham, W. S. Dough, and Benny O’Neal helped them get the flying machine to the hill on December 14 and witnessed Wilbur Wright’s unsuccessful flying attempt that day.

Because the Wrights wanted a strong wind for their next test flight, they waited until the early morning of December 17 to signal the station. At the time of the flight, there was a 23–27 mile-an-hour wind, and it was bitterly cold. Soon, Surfmen Daniels, Dough, and Adam D. Etheridge arrived on the scene.

Wilbur and Orville flipped a coin to see who would fly first. At 10:35 a.m., as the plane left the ground, Daniels, using Orville’s camera, took a photograph of the first plane in flight with Orville at the controls and Wilbur alongside. The Wrights made three more flights on December 17, each taking a turn as pilot. After the fourth flight, a sudden gust of wind rolled the machine over. Surfman Daniels, with Orville and Wilbur’s help, tried to rescue the machine from the wind. Daniels was bruised in the attempt to save the machine, and the plane was seriously damaged, so no more flights were possible that day. The Wright brothers left the wings with Adam Etheridge and returned to Dayton, OH, with their engine.

The top photograph is “Original Wright Brothers 1903 Aeroplane (‘Kitty Hawk’) in first flight, December 17, 1903, at Kitty Hawk, NC. Orville Wright at controls. Wilbur Wright at right (First flight was 12 seconds)” By Orville Wright and John T. Daniels, December 17, 1903 (165-WW-713-6); Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs; Record Group 165; National Archives.

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On this day in History November 26, 1922: Charles Schulz, American cartoonist and creator of the “Peanuts” comic strip, was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

The first Peanuts strip appeared on October 2, 1950, in seven newspapers nationwide. The final original Peanuts comic strip by Schulz would be published on February 13, 2000, the day after he passed away peacefully in his sleep. 

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On this day in history August 4, 1944: Acting on tip from a Dutch informer, the Nazi Gestapo captures 15-year-old Jewish diarist Anne Frank and her family in a sealed-off area of an Amsterdam warehouse. The Franks had taken shelter there in 1942 out of fear of deportation to a Nazi concentration camp.

Annelies Marie Frank was born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, on June 12, 1929. She was the second daughter of Otto Frank and Edith Frank-Hollander, both of Jewish families that had lived in Germany for centuries.

On her 13th birthday in 1942, Anne began a diary relating her everyday experiences, her relationship with her family and friends, and observations about the increasingly dangerous world around her. Less than a month later, Anne’s older sister, Margot, received a call-up notice to report to a Nazi “work camp.” Fearing deportation to a Nazi concentration camp, the Frank family took shelter in the secret annex the next day.

For two years, Anne kept a diary about her life. On August 1, 1944, Anne made her last entry in her diary. Three days later, 25 months of seclusion ended with the arrival of the Nazi Gestapo. They were sent to a concentration camp in Holland, and in September Anne and most of the others were shipped to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland.

In the fall of 1944, with the Soviet liberation of Poland underway, Anne was moved with her sister Margot to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany. Suffering under the deplorable conditions of the camp, the two sisters caught typhus and died in early March 1945.

The young girl’s diary of her time in hiding was found after her death and published. The Diary of Anne Frank remains one of the most moving testimonies to the invincibility of the human spirit in the face of inhuman cruelty.

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On this day in history September 7, 1822: On the banks of the Ipiranga River in São Paulo, Crown Prince Regent Pedro declared Brazil’s independence from Portugal.

The article Brazil’s Independence Day - September 7: Independência ou Morte by Bonnie Hamre from the Go SouthAmerica About webpage briefly describes some of the events that led to Brazil’s Declaration of Independence by Prince Regent Pedro:

With Napoleon and the Peninsular Wars, and the invasion and occupation of Spain and Portugal, Dom João VI, the seventeenth king of Portugal, fled Lisbon and established his court in Rio de Janeiro, where for the next 13 years, he ruled Portugal’s Asian, African, and American colonies. Although Dom João VI (1769-1826) never ruled over an independent Brazil, historians call him the “Founder of the Brazilian Nationality.” One of his major contributions to the growth of Brazil was opening the colony’s ports to free trade with friendly nations, thus signaling a marked change in trade and the resulting improved consequence of Brazil. Additionally, Dom João VI spearheaded the founding of the Academia Naval (Naval Academy), Hospital Militar (Military Hospital), Arquivo Militar (Military Archives), Jardim Botânico (Botanic Garden), Intendência Geral de Polícia (Police Commissariat), Real Biblioteca (Royal Library), the Banco do Brasil (Bank of Brazil), and the gunpowder factory. With the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, he thought it safe to make Brazil another kingdom equal to Portugal. He also decided to remain in Brazil.

The Portuguese government disagreed with both decisions and in 1820 sent troops to assist his relocation to Portugal where the army headed a revolution designed to bring about a constitutional government with Dom João as the constitutional monarch. Dom João returned to Portugal, leaving his 23-year-old son Pedro as prince regent of Brazil. Pedro actively engaged in enlisting support from both able advisors and the people of Brazil.

With revolutions and the desire for independence active in other Latin American countries, Pedro realized Brazil would soon wish for the same. With the support of the Brazilian people and the Brazilian Senate who had bestowed on him the title of Defensor e Protetor Perpétuo do Brasil, Protector and Perpetual Defender of Brazil, he defied an order to return to Portugal. When the Portuguese parliament wished to return Brazil to colonial status, Pedro seized the moment. On September 7, 1822, after receiving orders from the Portuguese parliament limiting his powers in Brazil, Pedro declared Brazil’s independence near the Ipiranga River in São Paulo. Tearing the Portuguese blue and white insignia from his uniform, Pedro drew his sword, and swore: “By my blood, by my honor, and by God: I will make Brazil free.” Their motto, he said, would be Independência ou Morte, Independence or Death! This statement is known as the Grito do Ipiranga.

Pedro de Alcântara Francisco Antônio João Carlos Xavier de Paula Miguel Rafael Joaquim José Gonzaga Pascoal Cipriano Serafim de Bragança e Bourbom, became Dom Pedro I, the first emperor of Brazil and ruled for nine years.

Brazil’s independence was officially Britain and Portugal via the Treaty of Rio de Janeiro on August 29, 1825.

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On This Day in History February 7, 1964: the Beatles (John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr) arrived in the United States for the first time on a ten-day tour, giving rise to Beatlemania.

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On this day in History December 7, 1941: The Empire of Japan initiates an attack on the United States’ naval base of Pearl Harbor on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. The Japanese Imperial Navy launched planes to cripple the United States Pacific Fleet which was berthed at Pearl Harbor. 

In total 20 American naval vessels were destroyed, including eight battleships, along with close to 200 airplanes. More than 2,000 Americans soldiers and sailors died in the attack, and another 1,000 were wounded. 

This act against the United States would lead to a formal declaration of war against Japan by the United States on December 8, 1941.

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On this day in History August 5, 1962: Norma Jeane Mortenson more famously known as Marilyn Monroe (06/01/1926-08/05/1962) was found dead while in bed at her Los Angeles home. Marilyn was laid to rest in the Corridor of Memories at Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles.

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On this day in History November 22, 1963: President John F. Kennedy was assassinated while riding in a motorcade in Dallas. Suspected gunman Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested. 

The end of the innocence of the Camelot era came swiftly. This country would never be the same again.

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On this day in history July 11, 1804: United States Vice President Aaron Burr kills former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton in a duel with pistols. The duel was held in Weehawken, New Jersey, ironically occurring on the same spot where Hamilton’s son had died defending his father’s honor two years before. As his son, Hamilton would die the next day from his injuries.

Burr became one of the most hated men in America. He would later plot to overtake the lands of the Louisiana Purchase and would be arrested for treason in 1807. Burr would be acquitted on a technicality and fled to Europe.

On This Day in History May 22, 1859: Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle (May 22, 1859 - July 7, 1930), the Scottish writer best known for his creation of the detective Sherlock Holmes, was born in Edinburgh.

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Today’s Books at my Job entry is in honor of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. We all know of Doyle’s famous creation Sherlock Holmes, but for this entry, I wanted to shed light on some of Doyle’s other lesser known works.

The Tragedy of the Korosko

Arthur Conan Doyle departs from the realm of detective fiction and delves into classic action-adventure in this tale set in the deserts of Egypt. A group of European travelers set out on a leisurely boat trip on the Nile – only to fall prey to an attack at the hands of a roving and ruthless group of bandits. Will they make it out alive?

The Lost World

Mr. Hungerton, her father, really was the most tactless person upon earth,-a fluffy, feathery, untidy cockatoo of a man, perfectly good-natured, but absolutely centered upon his own silly self. If anything could have driven me from Gladys, it would have been the thought of such a father-in-law. I am convinced that he really believed in his heart that I came round to the Chestnuts three days a week for the pleasure of his company, and very especially to hear his views upon bimetallism, a subject upon which he was by way of being an authority.

Two scientists, a big game hunter, and a journalist travel to the Amazon rain forest. On a volcanic plateau, they discover an isolated world still inhabited by dinosaurs, climaxing in a chase scene with a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Exploits and Adventures of Brigadier Gerard

Having killed off Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle began a new series of tales on a very different theme. Brigadier Gerard is an officer in Napoleon’s army, recklessly brave, engagingly openhearted, and unshakable, if not a little absurd, in his devotion to the enigmatic Emperor. The Brigadier’s wonderful comic adventures, long established in the affections of Conan Doyle’s admirers as second only to those of the incomparable Holmes, are sure to find new devotees among the ardent fans of such writers as Patrick O'Brian and George MacDonald Fraser.

The White Company and Sir Nigel

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s two novels of adventure in the fourteenth century, The White Company and Sir Nigel, seamlessly blend real history and imaginative fiction into spirited, fast-paced narratives that draw us in, as eager witnesses to the medieval soldier’s life. Never out of print since their first publications in 1891 and 1906, they remain memorable for their accessible style, nonstop action, gentle humor, larger-than-life characters, and vibrant imagery.

Vampire Stories

Who would suspect that the same mind that created the most famous literary detective of all time also took on the eternally popular genre of vampires? Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a contemporary of Bram Stoker, gave us some fascinating works of vampire fiction. From the bloodsucking plant in “The American’s Tale” to the bloodsucking wife in “The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire,” he reveled in the horror created by creatures who survived on the blood of men and women.

As the bestselling Twilight series has dominated bookstores, it’s the perfect time to offer the first-ever compilation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s vampire tales. Get ready to sink your teeth into this heart-stopping anthology. Each of these twelve short stories has been pulled from obscurity and hand selected for this collection. Conan Doyle’s famous friendship with vampire king Bram Stoker is thought to have influenced these many blood-sucking tales, including “The Captain of the Pole Star,” about a medical student on an arctic voyage haunted by a heat-draining Eskimo vampire and “The Three Gables,” in which vampirism is cunningly used as a metaphor for capitalism.

Featuring an introduction by world-renowned vampire expert, Robert Eighteen-Bisang, this is a must-have anthology for all vampire lovers, and for any Arthur Conan Doyle enthusiast.

Today’s Books at my Job entry is The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge by legendary historian David McCullough.

Here is how the book is described:

The dramatic and enthralling story of the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, the world’s longest suspension bridge at the time, a tale of greed, corruption, and obstruction but also of optimism, heroism, and determination, told by master historian David McCullough.

This monumental book is the enthralling story of one of the greatest events in our nation’s history, during the Age of Optimism—a period when Americans were convinced in their hearts that all things were possible.

In the years around 1870, when the project was first undertaken, the concept of building an unprecedented bridge to span the East River between the great cities of Manhattan and Brooklyn required a vision and determination comparable to that which went into the building of the great cathedrals. Throughout the fourteen years of its construction, the odds against the successful completion of the bridge seemed staggering. Bodies were crushed and broken, lives lost, political empires fell, and surges of public emotion constantly threatened the project. But this is not merely the saga of an engineering miracle; it is a sweeping narrative of the social climate of the time and of the heroes and rascals who had a hand in either constructing or exploiting the surpassing enterprise.

Today’s Books at my Job entry is Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde by Jeff Guinn. 

Here is how the book is described:

Bestselling author Jeff Guinn combines exhaustive research with surprising, newly discovered material to tell the real tale of two kids from a filthy Dallas slum who fell in love and then willingly traded their lives for a brief interlude of excitement and, more important, fame. Go Down Together has it all—true romance, rebellion against authority, bullets flying, cars crashing, and, in the end, a dramatic death at the hands of a celebrity lawman.

This is the real story of Bonnie and Clyde and their troubled times, delivered with cinematic sweep by a masterful storyteller.

On This Day in History May 10, 1994: After the April 27, 1994 South African election that led to the African National Congress (ANC) winning 252 of the 400 seats in the first democratic elections of South Africa’s history, the nomination for President of South Africa was next. In choosing their candidate for President, Nelson Mandela was nominated, without any objections. 

The inauguration took place in front of dignitaries from more than 140 countries around the world in the city of Pretoria. 

Here is footage of Nelson Mandela’s Inauguration, May 10, 1994

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On This Day in History May 11, 1956: The British African colony of the Gold Coast has the distinction of being the first British African colony to be granted independence from Great Britain. The article 1956: Gold Coast to get independence from the BBC On This Day 1950-2005 website states:

In a statement to the House of Commons, Colonial Secretary Alan Lennox-Boyd said the Gold Coast will be allowed to govern itself within the Commonwealth provided a general election is held in the country.

The new West African state will incorporate the Gold Coast, Ashanti, the Northern Territories and Togoland, which recently voted to integrate with the Gold Coast.

He set the target date for independence at 6 March, 1957.

The fledgling state will be named Ghana after an ancient West African kingdom which flourished from 300AD to 1100AD.

The Gold Coast had been a British colony since 1901 and the British government allowed the colony to draft a new constitution in 1951 with the election of Kwame Nkrumah of the Convention People’s Party (CPP) as Prime Minister. Nkrumah would remain as Prime Minister through the transfer of power from the hands of the British to the Ghanaians. 

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On This Day in History May 15, 1972: One of the most controversial figures of 20th century American politics, Governor of Alabama and Presidential hopeful George Corley Wallace Jr., was shot while at a campaign stop in Laurel, MD. Governor Wallace was shot in the chest and the stomach by his would-be assassin. According to the article Wallace Is Shot, Legs Paralyzed; Suspect Seized at Laurel Rally by William Greider from the Washington Post dated May 16, 1972:

Police immediately arrested a blond young man identified as Arthur Herman Bremer, a 21-year-old bus boy and janitor from Milwaukee, Wis. He was charged by state authorities with four counts of assault with intent to murder and was arraigned in Baltimore on two federal charges. One of the federal charges was interfering with the civil rights of a candidate for federal office, a provision of the 1968 Civil Rights Act. The Wallace second charge was for assaulting a federal officer; one of the four people shot at the rally was Secret Service officer.

Governor Wallace’s Presidential campaign came to an end and would spend several months hospitalized due to his injuries. Wallace would be paralyzed from the waist down for the rest of his life continuing his political career in Alabama and atoning for his racist past by making amends with civil rights leaders and advocates. Wallace would pass away on September 13, 1998. 

What happened to Bremer? According to the article Where is the man who shot George Wallace? by Leada Gore from the Alabama.com website dated July 25, 2014:

For his crime, Bremer – who had originally planned to assassinate President Richard Nixon but settled on Wallace because he thought security around the president was too tight – was sentenced to 53 years in prison. With good behavior time factored in, Bremer served 35 years and was released from the state penitentiary in Hagerstown, Maryland in the pre-dawn hours of Nov. 9, 2007. He was 57 years old.

But why assassinate either President Nixon or Governor Wallace. According to the post Portrait of an Assassin: Arthur Bremer from the American Experience page on George Wallace, it simply had to do with placating his ego:

It was March of 1972 when Bremer began his diary. Increasingly lonely, he dreamed of getting attention through assassination. “‘Now I start my diary of my personal plot to kill by pistol either Richard Nixon or George Wallace,’” he wrote in his first entry. Nixon was a divisive figure, and Wallace’s segregationist politics had engendered violence since his first Alabama gubernatorial campaign ten years earlier. But Bremer was not concerned with politics. His plot stemmed from his desire “'to do SOMETHING BOLD AND DRAMATIC , FORCEFULL & DYNAMIC, A STATEMENT of my manhood for the world to see.’”

As Bremer debated the merits of his targets – Nixon was more satisfying, Wallace more accessible – he recorded his feelings of self-loathing and delusions of grandeur. Although he hoped the assassination would culminate in his death, his lasting image was of grave importance to him. On the last page of this half of his diary, Bremer decided to call himself an “assassinator.” “Assissns, [sic]” he wrote, “'is so ordinary.’” Despite the name change, he had finally found a group to which he could belong, even elevating himself to the status of Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth. The image, Bremer wrote, was as important as the act: “Got to think up something cute to shout out after I kill him [Nixon], like Booth did.”

Instead of being an infamous figure like John Wilkes Booth, Bremer became just another footnote in American History

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On This Day in History May 8, 1794: Antoine Lavoisier, the father of modern chemistry, was executed on the guillotine during France’s Reign of Terror.

The above painting is entitled Painting Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier (1743–1794) and His Wife (Marie-Anne-Pierrette Paulze, 1758–1836) by artist Jacques Louis David (French, Paris 1748–1825 Brussels) Dated 1788. You can read more about this painting here: Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier (1743–1794) and His Wife (Marie-Anne-Pierrette Paulze, 1758–1836) from the Metropolitan Museum of Art website

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