John’s Believe It Or Not… April 18th

John Fioravanti standing at the front of his classroom.

It’s Terrific Tuesday! Did you know…

* 1906 The Great San Francisco Earthquake. (At 5:13 a.m., an earthquake estimated at close to 8.0 on the Richter scale strikes San Francisco, California, killing hundreds of people as it topples numerous buildings. The quake was caused by a slip of the San Andreas Fault over a segment about 275 miles long, and shock waves could be felt from southern Oregon down to Los Angeles. San Francisco’s brick buildings and wooden Victorian structures were especially devastated. Fires immediately broke out and–because broken water mains prevented firefighters from stopping them–firestorms soon developed citywide. At 7 a.m., U.S. Army troops from Fort Mason reported to the Hall of Justice, and San Francisco Mayor E.E. Schmitz called for the enforcement of a dusk-to-dawn curfew and authorized soldiers to shoot-to-kill anyone found looting. Meanwhile, in the face of significant aftershocks, firefighters, and U.S. troops fought desperately to control the ongoing fire, often dynamiting whole city blocks to create firewalls. On April 20, 20,000 refugees trapped by the massive fire were evacuated from the foot of Van Ness Avenue onto the USS Chicago. By April 23, most fires were extinguished, and authorities commenced the task of rebuilding the devastated metropolis. It was estimated that some 3,000 people died as a result of the Great San Francisco Earthquake and the devastating fires it inflicted upon the city. Almost 30,000 buildings were destroyed, including most of the city’s homes and nearly all the central business district.)

Picture of the devastation.

* 1989 Chinese students protest against the government. (Thousands of Chinese students continue to take to the streets in Beijing to protest government policies and issue a call for greater democracy in the communist People’s Republic of China (PRC). The protests grew until the Chinese government ruthlessly suppressed them in June during what came to be known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre. During the mid-1980s, the communist government of the PRC had been slowly edging toward a liberalization of the nation’s strict state-controlled economy, in an attempt to attract more foreign investment and increase the nation’s foreign trade. This action sparked a call among many Chinese citizens, including many students, for reform of the country’s communist-dominated political system. By early 1989, peaceful protests against the government began in some of China’s largest cities. The biggest protest was held on April 18 in the capital city of Beijing. Marching through Tiananmen Square in the center of the city, thousands of students carried banners, chanted slogans, and sang songs calling for a more democratic political atmosphere.)

Students from local colleges and universities march to Tiananmen Square, Beijing,
Students from local colleges and universities march to Tiananmen Square, Beijing,

* 1974 The Red Brigade terrorizes Italy. (On this day in 1974, Italian prosecutor Mario Sossi is kidnapped by the Red Brigades. It was the first time that the left-wing terrorist group had directly struck the Italian government, marking the beginning of tensions that lasted for 10 years. The Red Brigades were founded by college student Renato Curcio in 1969 to battle “against the imperialist state of the multinationals.” At first, the fledgling organization restricted its activities to small acts of vandalism and arson. However, in 1972, they abducted business executive Idalgo Macchiarini, releasing him a short time later with a sign that said, “Hit one to educate 100. Power to the armed populace.” The Red Brigades kidnapped several other executives in the years following. In 1978, the ante was upped even further after some of the Red Brigades’ leaders were arrested. Aldo Moro, a former Italian prime minister, was kidnapped on March 16, 1978, and five bodyguards were killed in the attack. For 55 days, the terrorists made various demands while taunting Moro’s family with fake death announcements. On May 9, after their demands were refused, Moro’s body was found in the trunk of a red car in the middle of Rome. He had been shot 11 times in the chest. The Red Brigades killed seven more politicians in the next week, terrorizing the whole country of Italy.)

Body of Aldo Moro
The body of Aldo Moro

* 2014 Mt. Everest sees its single deadliest day. (On this day in 2014, 16 Nepali mountaineering guides, most of them ethnic Sherpas, are killed by an avalanche on Mt. Everest, the Earth’s highest mountain. It was the single deadliest accident in the history of the Himalayan peak, which rises more than 29,000 feet above sea level and lies across the border between Nepal and China. The avalanche, which occurred around 6:30 a.m., swept over the Sherpas in a notoriously treacherous area of Everest known as the Khumbu Icefall, at approximately 19,000 feet. At the time, the Sherpas had been hauling loads of gear for commercial expedition groups. The disaster, in which no foreigners were killed, reopened debates about the dangerous risks undertaken by Sherpas for their typically affluent clients (in addition to lugging most of the supplies for an expedition, Sherpas are responsible for such tasks as setting lines of fixed ropes and ladders for climbers), as well as the over-commercialization of Everest, where human traffic jams during the spring mountaineering season and massive amounts of litter have become common.)

Photo of the avalanche

* 1945 Journalist Ernie Pyle killed. (During World War II, journalist Ernie Pyle, America’s most popular war correspondent, is killed by Japanese machine-gun fire on the island of Ie Shima in the Pacific. Pyle, born in Dana, Indiana, first began writing a column for the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain in 1935. Eventually syndicated to some 200 U.S. newspapers, Pyle’s column, which related the lives and hopes of typical citizens, captured America’s affection. In 1942, after the United States entered World War II, Pyle went overseas as a war correspondent. He covered the North Africa campaign, the invasions of Sicily and Italy, and on June 7, 1944, went ashore at Normandy the day after Allied forces landed. Pyle, who always wrote about the experiences of enlisted men rather than the battles they participated in, described the D-Day scene: “It was a lovely day for strolling along the seashore. Men were sleeping on the sand, some of them sleeping forever. Men were floating in the water, but they didn’t know they were in the water, for they were dead.” The same year, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished correspondence and in 1945 traveled to the Pacific to cover the war against Japan. On April 18, 1945, Ernie Pyle was killed by enemy fire on the island of Ie Shima. After his death, President Harry S. Truman spoke of how Pyle “told the story of the American fighting man as the American fighting men wanted it told.” Pyle is buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.)

Ernie Pyle in uniform.

* Look who was born on this date!

Head shot of Huntington* Samuel P. Huntington in 1927. (American Political Scientist and Presidential Adviser:  Famous for his 1993 theory, “The Clash of Civilizations”, which argued that future wars would be fought not between countries, but between cultures and that Islam would become the biggest obstacle to Western domination of the world. Though widely discredited, Huntington and the “Clash of Civilizations” theory helped shape the worldview of many U.S. politicians, academics, and citizens. Huntington was also a policy adviser to U.S. Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Jimmy Carter.)

Head shot of Hanssen* Robert Hanssen in 1944. (American FBI Agent and Soviet Spy:  FBI agent who spied for Soviet and Russian intelligence services against the United States for 22 years. His activities have been described by the US Department of Justice’s Commission for the Review of FBI Security Programs as “possibly the worst intelligence disaster in U.S. history”.)

 

Action shot of Archibald* Nate Archibald in 1948. (American NBA Point Guard:  He spent 14 years playing in the NBA, and was a willing passer and an adequate shooter from midrange, best was best known for his quickness and speed that made him difficult to guard in the open court. He is the only player to lead the league in scoring and assists in the same season.)

 

 

 

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Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December, 2013, and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (http://fiorabooks.com), to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

7 thoughts on “John’s Believe It Or Not… April 18th”

    1. You’re right, Robbie – that was a terrible disaster in San Francisco. I remember in ’89 thinking that perhaps major reforms would happen in China… that got snuffed pretty quickly. Thanks for visiting with your comments!

      Liked by 1 person

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