John’s Believe It Or Not… April 22nd

John Fioravanti standing at the front of his classroom.

It’s Saturday Already! Did you know…

* 1915 – Canadian forces face deadly German mustard gas attack at Ypres. (Second Battle of Ypres – Canadian forces bear the brunt of the first chemical weapons attack of the war. Germans launch an evening artillery bombardment and release a poisonous cloud of olive green chlorine (mustard) gas from 4,000 cylinders in front of their trenches, which a light wind carries across the fields of Flanders towards one Canadian division and two French divisions (one territorial and the other made up of Algerian and Moroccan troops); the burning, blinding effects of the gas causes the Algerians to panic and flee, while German infantry, wearing respirators, move forward and take 2,000 prisoners and 51 guns; many Canadians are gassed, but they defend their positions, wearing only wet gauze patches and urine-soaked rags over their noses and mouths; the attack opens up a 6.5 km (4 miles) gap; but the Canadian 13th Battalion stands firm under heavy shelling, and the Germans fail to exploit their gains. This is the first major gas attack on the western front, in defiance of the rules of the Hague Convention. The Second Battle of Ypres in Belgium marked the advent of modern chemical warfare.)

Painting of Canadians at Ypres, by Richard Jack (CWM)

* 1970 The first Earth Day. (Earth Day, an event to increase public awareness of the world’s environmental problems, is celebrated in the United States for the first time. Millions of Americans, including students from thousands of colleges and universities, participated in rallies, marches, and educational programs. Earth Day was the brainchild of Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, a staunch environmentalist who hoped to provide unity to the grassroots environmental movement and increase ecological awareness. “The objective was to get a nationwide demonstration of concern for the environment so large that it would shake the political establishment out of its lethargy,” Senator Nelson said, “and, finally, force this issue permanently onto the national political agenda.” Earth Day indeed increased environmental awareness in America, and in July of that year, the Environmental Protection Agency was established by special executive order to regulate and enforce national pollution legislation. Earth Day has been celebrated on different days by different groups internationally. The United Nations officially celebrates it on the vernal equinox, which usually occurs about March 21.)

Ed Muskie addresses Earth Day crowd.
Ed Muskie addresses Earth Day crowd. 

* 1993 Holocaust Memorial Museum dedicated in Washington D.C. (The creation of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum began as an idea in 1978. Transformed into reality, it has become an internationally recognized institution visited by nearly 2 million people annually. On November 1, 1978, President Jimmy Carter established the President’s Commission on the Holocaust, chaired by author and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel. The Commission submitted a report to President Carter on September 27, 1979, recommending the establishment of a memorial with three main components: a national Holocaust memorial/museum, an educational foundation, and a Committee on Conscience. In 1980, the United States Congress unanimously voted to form the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. Its mandate was the creation of a living memorial to the 6 million Jews and millions of other victims who perished during the Holocaust.)

Photo of the Holocaust Museum
The U.S. Holocaust Museum is seen in Washington on February 20, 2011. UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg

* 1994 7,000 Tutsi’s slaughtered by Hutu in the stadium at Kibuye, Rwanda. (The second massacre happened at Gatwaro Stadium, located on the main road in Kibuye town. As with the people who gathered at the St. Jean Church and Home Complex, those who congregated at the stadium were told to go there by government officials. Once there, they were not allowed to leave. Without food or water, the captives ate grass. Gatwaro Stadium is located next to a steep hillside. On April 18, Gendarmerie Nationale soldiers; Gitesi Police; Interhamwe fighters and armed civilians surrounded the stadium and the neighboring hillside. A gunshot in the air initiated the massacre. Men armed with guns were perched on top of the neighboring hill and tried to shoot everyone in the stadium. When they started throwing grenades, everyone in the stadium lay down so a grenade hit would kill fewer people at once. It was then that the stadium was gassed, which caused everyone laying down to stand up and start running around, making them easier targets. Thousands were killed that day. The next morning, the attackers returned and killed any who had survived.)

* 1992 Sewers explode in Guadalajara. (Dozens of sewer explosions in Guadalajara, Mexico, kill more than 200 people and damaged 1,000 buildings on this day in 1992. The series of explosions was caused by a gas leak, the warning signs of which were ignored by the Mexican government and the national oil company. Three days prior to the explosions, the residents of a working-class neighborhood in Guadalajara noticed a foul smell in the air. The people experienced stinging in their eyes and throats. Some felt nauseous. Despite complaints, the local authorities did not seriously investigate the issue. On April 22, at about 11:30 a.m., a series of powerful explosions began. They took place in an area about one mile long and seemed to come from 35 feet below ground along the sewer system. Twenty square blocks of Guadalajara were leveled or seriously damaged. In two places, craters nearly 300 feet deep opened up, swallowing the surrounding buildings, roads, cars, and buses.)

Look who was born on this date!

head shot of Lenin* Vladimir Lenin in 1870. (Marxist Revolutionary and Soviet Leader:  Played a leading role in the October Revolution of 1917, overthrowing the Provisional Government and establishing a one-party state under the new Communist Party that became the Soviet Union. In power, Lenin began reforms to shift crown and private estates into soviet worker’s control. He consolidated power through imposing censorship and authorizing the “Red Terror”. On his death in 1924, Saint Petersburg was renamed Leningrad in his honor and his body was embalmed and placed on display in a Mausoleum in Red Square.)

head shot of Oppenheimer* Robert Oppenheimer in 1904. (American Physicist and Father of the Atomic Bomb:  Theoretical physicist who is often called the “father of the atomic bomb” for his role in the Manhattan Project, the World War II project that developed the first nuclear weapons.)



head shot of Nicholson* Jack Nicholson in 1937. (American actor and filmmaker, who has performed for over 60 years. Nicholson is known for playing a wide range of starring or supporting roles, including satirical comedy, romance and dark portrayals of antiheroes and psychopathic characters. In many of his films, he has played the “eternal outsider, the sardonic drifter,” someone who rebels against the social structure. Nicholson’s 12 Academy Award nominations make him the most nominated male actor in the Academy’s history. Nicholson has won the Academy Award for Best Actor twice, one for the drama One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) and the other for the romantic comedy As Good as It Gets (1997). He also won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the comedy-drama Terms of Endearment (1983). Nicholson is one of three male actors to win three Academy Awards.)


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 (, to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

17 thoughts on “John’s Believe It Or Not… April 22nd”

  1. The Holocaust Museum is on my bucket list. Earth Day has become important, and children are becoming aware of taking care of Mother Earth at an early age. Thank you for a great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m a huge fan of Jack as well. I haven’t been to D.C. since the Holocaust Museum opened – but when I get back, I’ll be sure to see it. I’m told it is devastating. When I taught WWII and showed classes film footage from some of the camps taken by Allied troops that liberated them, I had a hard time with the visuals. Thanks for visiting and sharing your thoughts, Lenon!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey John,

    I abhor violence or the prospect of it. I abhor death and destruction and believe in the sanctity of all life. The blood of which I speak is not just the red-misted sentiment of deep-seated feeling flowing through veins of the world, but the spirit of positive intention and purposefulness pumping in the heart of the world, driving its people to want social change, transformative change, and greater freedoms from oppressive regimes disguising tyranny as democracy. The people’s voice seems never to be heard, always to be denied, and always subject to censorship. When governments don’t listen, refuse to listen and or act in service to the people as opposed to being in service to themselves then humanity can start to truly progress down a path towards spiritual maturity. One gets the feeling, we, humankind is still very much in its infancy and still very much reliant on sensationalism, materialism, and consumption. Raising consciousness is not a war fought with weapons, it is a war fought with Love, and the first battle begins within ourselves. Governments by their actions and activities are perceived as setting the precedent for morals, ethics, and standards of behaviour that are meant to be exemplary. When governments act recklessly, promoting capitalist interest, initiating wars, persisting with covert operations, acting with complete immunity fro prosecution, and spending billions on weapons, it encourages division between people, it dictates the paths that others have to follow (or escape from), and it poisons the world for the rest of us. We already bare witness to division and violence in America because of the strength of feeling present….it is the Fool’s path to conquest. It saddens me considerably knowing that powerful godless lunatics and out and out egoists dictate terms for the world.

    I do not want Nuclear War ever!

    Does History show any occasion when the people have achieved far-reaching, permanent transformative change without need for godless violence? (Ghandi perhaps?) If so, how was that transformation achieved? And if no, then doesn’t it prove a point? Governments do not budge, do not meet the needs of their people, and will not listen. If you have examples, I’d be very interested to hear more.

    I did not know Canada held out a hand of friendship and open invitation for Scotland to join their Federation. That is fascinating. What has inspired that association? Has Scotland accepted? If Wales did devolve from the UK, and were extended the same olive branch of welcome, it would present superb opportunity to have the support of a powerful country as both a political ally and trading nation.

    I do not think France will be the last country to tumble away from the EEU. Fractures have always existed within the EEU, there has never been equitable, proportionate governance or fairness amongst the union, and the Trump effect is really only the pin-hammer that now gently taps the shattering crystal. Post-modernism eroded and blended ideas, notions and personal identities, the Trump effect reverses that trend and returns us to independence and disassociation from each other. I believe each Nation has personal responsibility foremost for itself and to the people within its borders….but further still, every Nation must also carry the weight of responsibility for the World at large. If the EEU does shatter, one wonders what will happen to those who are not passport holders of the Nation they are living in, who in effect have no identity other than their land of birth. Will they be absorbed by the Nation they are in, or cast out into the wilderness? There must ne tens, hundreds of thousands of people who would be potentially displaced following decades of war in the Middle East, Afghanistan and other neighbouring states. I sincerely hope all Nations promote and uphold the highest humanitarian virtues. Time will tell. It’s going to be one hell of a summer.

    One of the ancient five Nations of the Celts was Brittany….a setting for some of the many myths and legends of Romancing the Grail. If Celtic Nations gathered as one, Brittany is an obvious trade route into Europe and beyond.

    Great to hear of sunshine at the end of a rainy week. After all your hard work, your lawn must be vibrant and lush and perfected like a bowling green. Whilst a loathsome labour of love, I think deep down inside you enjoy the chance to be a little rakish too. I know I do from time to time 🙂

    Thank you for best wishes for the day….mine now heading towards early evening of course whilst your warming and warming and melting into a pleasant afternoon. Enjoy!

    Take care big fella, keep a smile on your dial and Love in your heart always 🙂

    Namaste )


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dewin, I do not have any examples of peaceful evolution to higher forms of consciousness – except within monastic orders/cloisters. As I see it, the biggest factor that stands in the way of accelerated human progress is the fact that individuals are forced to relearn all the information and wisdom of previous generations – and are usually resentful about it… “Gee, Sir, why do we have to learn all this stuff? It won’t get me a job…” History teaches us that social upheaval (whether it is progressive or not) is always accompanied by violence. We have achieved many progressive social changes without violence in our societies (female vote, pay equity – to a point, liberal immigration policies that recognize the urgent needs of refugees fleeing for their lives, etc).

      I think nationalism has outlived its usefulness. It serves to unite people within a nation and divide them from people in other nations. That is human regressivism ( Mr. dictionary tells me that’s not a word. Shrug.) and will not serve humanity in the long run. As unions such as the EEU disintegrate and protectionist walls are thrown up, we strangle trade and put foreign residents in jeopardy. Look at the 1920s – protectionist trade walls went up, trade was choked off, and we got The Great Depression. That’s a simplification, but we really don’t want to go back there, do we?

      Good discussion! Hopefully, get the raking done tomorrow and then on with other spring chores! Have a great evening, sir!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hey John,

        Thank you for your reply. Whilst disappointed to learn that examples are a little light on the ground, I find myself in general agreement with your sentiment and comments. Thank you for discussion. Would I be right in thinking that the main protagonists in the Great Depression were the bankers and politicians and not the people? If so, does it not demonstrate yet again how the wicked propensity towards greed and acquisition of wealth and personal fortunes comes at the expense of hundreds of thousands of unfortunate souls? Perhaps if History teaches us one thing it is that we cannot trust the money-grabbing bankers nor the shadows that pull their twisted strings.

        How long must people continue to be enslaved and held in subservience by the elitist few before realising that they really do not have any freedoms left other than the air they breathe and the limitless imagination gifted from afar. Perhaps it is only a matter of time before governments decide to tax the air we breathe and thus choke off our imaginations and erode our freedoms entirely. When will the Earth stop spinning on an axis of fool’s gold?

        I am sure you will be aware of the name Paul Hellyer? He was a former Canadian Defence Minister and remains the longest serving member of the Privy Council of Canada just ahead of Prince Philip. He was also a banker (no conflict of interests there then!??) who at the age of 92 has written and published several books about the World’s Banking Systems. Each book is a revelation of facts and disturbing in its content. I’ll leave the link to his official website in case you, or fellow readers are interested to read more. There are several links to interviews on the site worth watching as well, including comment on ‘alien technologies’ (and ‘alien interaction/encounters’) secreted by the U.S government. It is a fascinating and heady mix.

        Good luck with the last of the raking….how BIG is the lawn John, you seem to be raking forever! Only teasing you. 🙂 Best wishes also with the remaining spring chores, home-ownership appears to be a wonderful labour of love. Enjoy your day my good friend.

        Take care of one and all.

        Namaste 🙂


        Liked by 1 person

        1. You’re correct, Dewin, the people who actually do the work of producing the world’s wealth and get a pittance for their labor, are NOT responsible for economic downturns and full-fledged depressions. It has always been the privileged few, some call them parasites, who cause all the suffering and reap all the benefits. History teaches us that in every era and in every culture. It is the Dark Side of human nature – to prey upon the vulnerable and the weak.

          My mother, rest her soul, always told me that in a democracy, the voters get the government they deserve. I believe that with all of my heart, soul, and mind. Voters seem to think that if they get riled up once in a while and change the government players that they can go back to sleep – job done. So when those new players neglect the ‘common good’ in favor of the interest groups they get rich serving, where are the riled up voters? Sleeping and receiving the government they deserve.

          I don’t have a nice neat solution – wish I did. I don’t think we the people can afford to tear down our democratic institutions and replace them with dictators. Part of the solution is for the people to shoulder their responsibilities as citizen voters and keep pressuring the politicians to act properly for the common good. Certainly, some of that pressure can translate into reform initiatives. And what about our global citizenship? Who is marching for Mother Earth? Who is protesting about the plight of refugees in other parts of the world? No, but let’s get together and protest about Donald Trump’s tax returns! Now there’s something we should all get riled up about! Forget the death and mayhem throughout the world that could be stopped. That’s not important, is it? Pardon my sarcasm… it must be Monday morning!


    1. I couldn’t agree more, John. I remember sitting in a high school class in the ’60s and being told that scientists weren’t sure if the damage could be reversed at that point. That was 50 years ago! Thanks for stopping by with your thoughts, John!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Kim. Most of the time I feel offended to be excluded, but this time made me smile! Each day when I put this post together, I struggle to find a balance between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ events. I don’t often succeed. I appreciate your comment!


  3. Hey John,

    How are you doing on this fine Saturday afternoon? We’ve had sunshine in my neck of the woods for most of the day…a rare and very welcome treat indeed!

    This post feels a little darker than the norm John? All but Earth Day and Oppenheimer as a person, focus on devastation, death, and despair. I am suitably moved, deeply stirred and readily troubled: and then my attention turns to Mother Earth and I feel cradled and embraced in her sweet arms.

    I have often wondered how deeply Oppenheimer grieved watching his genius weaponised. ‘I have become death, the destroyer of worlds’ were his words I believe? I cannot imagine how that must feel, for one man to carry that sort of weight on his shoulders. Or indeed knowing his work was exploited in the cruellest possible manner by government.

    Many millions hope and pray for a better world. Earth Day seems a very appropriate occasion for perhaps ALL of Her children to share in the one common language of Love.

    Hoping your weekend will astound, amaze, and be accommodating of all you need.

    Take care of one and all my friend.

    Namaste 🙂


    (P.S: Slowly catching up…a very heavy and busy week…I’ll email shortly 🙂 )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Dewin! I was outside raking the front lawn on this sunny day – then we went out with friends. I hear you about Oppenheimer, and I included him because of the very reason you pointed out. How could he not feel responsible for Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the entire Cold War + aftermath? Until now, the people who had their fingers on the nuclear triggers have been relatively sane and civilized. Today, I’m not so sure – in fact, I’m sure we don’t in Washington and North Korea. Putin is nuts too. God help us all. Thanks for stopping and sharing, Devin!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hey John,

        A weekend of leisure, food and fine company, who might ask for anything more? You seem to enjoy raking? 🙂 Perhaps it offers a practical method by which to settle the mind and restore semblance of order….like a teacher might take blackboard rubber to a chalky blackboard? Is it blossom that you are raking?

        Curiously I was admitting to my own method of on Steph Richmond’s site…

        I concur with your thoughts regarding the sanity and humanity of the World ‘leaders’ cited. It feels like the world stands on the edge of a precipice…just two paths lay ahead. Evolution towards higher consciousness or devastation and bottomless dark holes. I personally believe there is no longer room for the latter…corrupt governments and vile shadows have bled the people dry and had them suffer un-necessarily for centuries whilst they leisure themselves in opulence, arrogance, and the luxury of deceit. What I find equally as disturbing is watching video where Church authorities sit side-by-side with political evil, extending themselves the same privileges whilst giving lip service to what they preach. The R.C Church is one of the wealthiest organisations in the world, and one of the largest land-owners as well. They even have a City for their self-appointed leader. How gracious of God to be so selective and provide them with such splendour whilst outside the walls of the Vatican, Homeless and the poor continue to die and child poverty continues to rise unabated. I do not think it was God who was so short-sighted but the ego of the church authorities. One doesn’t need an intermediary to find God. We can each do that perfectly well enough without them.

        Have you seen the film Hypernormalisation by Adam Curtis? It is on BBC-iplayer and available on You Tube. If not, it is worth 2 hours of your time. I would recommend it’s watching to everyone. I would also promote watching any material by David Icke (controversial perhaps, a little crazy maybe, but I think a fine voice in the wilderness, and one whose ‘reaching’ ‘open-minded’ views are gathering support)

        In the UK we are soon to enter into a General Election following Brexit. I am a staunch Corbyn supporter, a socialist with liberal mind-set, openness and honesty. I hope the electorate vote the correct way this time and get rid of the greedy money grabbing ego-centric Tories who have taken my country towards ruin. No doubt even when ousted from office they’ll fare well and be looked after by their puppet-masters.

        I think the people of the world are clearly becoming more and more angry and frustrated by the division between governments and the people. The recent ‘attack’ in London, it was aimed directly at government. When people have been living scared of their government I applaud the fact that governments are slowly waking up to feeling scared for themselves. As your post here clearly demonstrates, people have already paid in blood for their governments. Perhaps they now want a little blood back in return?

        I live in Wales, UK. It is a Celtic speaking Nation. One of five that once existed. Personally, I would like to see the Five Nations combine again as one, devolve from the UK, and the English crown, and place their own monarch upon the throne. A monarch with deep-rooted affiliation, and deep-seated respect for both Celtic land and Celtic people. If Scotland can do it, so can Wales. I live in hope.

        Some say it is going to be one hell of a summer. I’m not yet certain quite what that means.

        I’d best away John, I’ve bumbled on long enough and the day is calling me to wander. No sunshine here again, but it’s bright enough to see the path ahead quite clearly.

        Enjoy your Sunday when it arrives…it has to be a good decking day today, right? 🙂

        Take care my friend.

        Namaste 🙂


        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hi, Devin! No, I don’t enjoy raking – it is the outdoors chore I hate the most – clearing the lawns of the winter debris. The joys of home ownership. I have a corner lot so my lawns go on forever! I certainly hope we’re not seeing the beginnings of bloody popular uprisings. History teaches us that the evolution you speak about comes at a very hefty price – most often comprising violence and bloodshed. In this nuclear age, can we afford that price? Wars since 1945 have been fought with just conventional weapons only because none of those wars featured the major nuclear powers actively on opposite sides. I’m with you on the political spectrum. Don’t get me started on the R.C. Church.

          Did you know that Canada invited Scotland to become the 11th Canadian province if they leave the UK? I think all five Celtic nations would find a welcoming home within the Canadian federation. The news this morning is saying that many French candidates running for the presidency of France support leaving the EEU as the UK is doing. It’s the Trump effect.

          Sunny and warm here in Waterloo – decking weather! Yay! It’s been cold and rainy here all week. Enjoy your day!

          Liked by 1 person

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