John’s Believe It Or Not… April 30th

John Fioravanti Stands at the front of his classroom in 2006

Happy Sunday To You! Did you know…

* 311 Roman Emperor Galerius issues Edict of Toleration, ending the persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire. (The Edict of Toleration by Galerius was issued in 311 in Serdica (today Sofia, Bulgaria) by the Roman emperor Galerius, officially ending the Diocletianic persecution of Christianity. The Edict implicitly granted Christianity the status of “religio licita”, a worship recognized and accepted by the Roman Empire. It was the first edict legalizing Christianity, preceding the Edict of Milan by two years.)

Three transparent plaques upon which the edict is etched.

* 1945 Adolf Hitler commits suicide. (On this day in 1945, holed up in a bunker under his headquarters in Berlin, Adolf Hitler commits suicide by swallowing a cyanide capsule and shooting himself in the head. Soon after, Germany unconditionally surrendered to the Allied forces, ending Hitler’s dreams of a “1,000-year” Reich. In January 1945, facing a siege of Berlin by the Soviets, Hitler withdrew to his bunker to live out his final days. Located 55 feet under the chancellery, the shelter contained 18 rooms and was fully self-sufficient, with its own water and electrical supply. Though he was growing increasingly mad, Hitler continued to give orders and meet with such close subordinates as Hermann Goering, Heinrich Himmler, and Josef Goebbels. He also married his long-time mistress Eva Braun just two days before his suicide. In his last will and testament, Hitler appointed Admiral Karl Donitz as head of state and Goebbels as chancellor. He then retired to his private quarters with Braun, where he and Braun poisoned themselves and their dogs before Hitler then also shot himself with his service pistol. Hitler and Braun’s bodies were hastily cremated in the chancellery garden, as Soviet forces closed in on the building. When the Soviets reached the chancellery, they removed Hitler’s ashes, continually changing their location so as to prevent Hitler devotees from creating a memorial at his final resting place. Only eight days later, on May 8, 1945, the German forces issued an unconditional surrender, leaving Germany to be carved up by the four Allied powers.)

The corpse of Hitler

* 1948 Organization of American States established. (The United States and 20 Latin American nations sign the charter establishing the Organization of American States (OAS). The new institution was designed to facilitate better political relations between the member states and, at least for the United States, to serve as a bulwark against communist penetration of the Western Hemisphere. The OAS never truly functioned as either the United States or the Latin American members had hoped. For the United States, the OAS proved a disappointment since the other member states did not seem to share its own Cold War zeal. In a number of cases–most notably Castro’s Cuba–the OAS refused to give its approval of direct action to remove what the United States felt were “communist threats.” In other cases, such as the U.S. intervention in the Dominican Republic in 1965, the OAS gave only grudging support after the fact. For their parts, the Latin American member states have also been disappointed in the OAS. The U.S.-orchestrated overthrow of the government of Guatemala in 1954, the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba in 1961, the intervention in the Dominican Republic in 1965, and other examples of the unilateral use of force by the United States indicate that it had not given up its “gunboat diplomacy” in Latin America.)

OAS Headquarters in Washington DC
OAS Headquarters in Washington DC (Encyclopedia Britannica)

* 1927 The first US federal prison for women opens. (The Federal Industrial Institution for Women, the first women’s federal prison, opens in Alderson, West Virginia. All women serving federal sentences of more than a year were to be brought here. Run by Dr. Mary B. Harris, the prison’s buildings, each named after social reformers, sat atop 500 acres. One judge described the prison as a “fashionable boarding school.” In some respects the judge was correct: The overriding purpose of the prison was to reform the inmates, not punish them. The prisoners farmed the land and performed office work in order to learn how to type and file. They also cooked and canned vegetables and fruits. Other women’s prisons had similar ideals. At Bedford Hills in New York, there were no fences, and the inmates lived in cottages equipped with their own kitchen and garden. The prisoners were even given singing lessons. Reform efforts had a good chance for success since the women sent to these prisons were far from hardened criminals. At the Federal Industrial Institution, the vast majority of the women were imprisoned for drug and alcohol charges imposed during the Prohibition era.)

Prison building at Alderson, West Virginia

* 1997 “Coming out” episode of Ellen. (On this day in 1997, in a widely publicized episode of the ABC sitcom Ellen, TV character Ellen Morgan (played by Ellen DeGeneres) announces that she is gay. In the fall of 1996, word leaked out that the character of Ellen Morgan, a bookstore manager, might acknowledge that she was a lesbian, making Ellen the first prime-time sitcom to feature a gay leading character. Over the next six months, ABC relentlessly encouraged the hype, with DeGeneres herself fueling the fire by joking in television interviews that her character was “Lebanese” and resisting attempts to clarify her own sexuality. A week before the episode aired, DeGeneres made a well-publicized “coming out” of her own, appearing on the cover of TIME magazine under the headline “Yep, I’m Gay.” An interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC’s 20/20 ran on April 25, during the all-important “sweeps week” for the network. An estimated 42 million viewers watched April 30th’s special hour-long episode, which featured cameo appearances by Laura Dern (as the woman Ellen falls for), Oprah Winfrey (as the therapist to whom she makes her revelation), k.d. lang, Demi Moore, Billy Bob Thornton and Dwight Yoakam. Later episodes of Ellen failed to hold audiences, however, and by the end of the 1997 season, the show was canceled due to low ratings. DeGeneres went on to star in the short-lived CBS sitcom The Ellen Show and provide the voice for a lead character in the acclaimed 2003 animated blockbuster Finding Nemo. In September 2003, she launched a syndicated talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, which won four Daytime Emmy Awards in its first season. From 2004 to 2008, DeGeneres picked up four straight Daytime Emmy Awards for Best Talk Show Host. She has also served as a host for both the Emmy Awards and the Academy Awards.)

The moment of truth: Ellen DeGeneres (as Ellen Morgan) on her eponymous TV sitcom, came out to her therapist, played by Oprah Winfrey, in a 1997 episode
The moment of truth: Ellen DeGeneres (as Ellen Morgan) on her eponymous TV sitcom, came out to her therapist, played by Oprah Winfrey, in a 1997 episode

Today’s ‘Thank You, Canada’ Video

This feature is added in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary of nationhood.

Canada’s Gift To Women: The WonderBra

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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.

14 thoughts on “John’s Believe It Or Not… April 30th”

  1. Many a book has been written postulating that Hitler survived the collapse of the Third Reich. However people love conspiracy theories and they sell books he said cynically, or realistically depending on one’s point of view …!
    I was interested to read about America’s enlightened approach to the treatment of female prisoners. Its a shame that so many states still employ the barbarity of the death penalty today.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not sure if there are any of these ‘country club’ institutions still operating in the States. I’m sure that women convicted of serious crimes today are sitting in more traditional prisons. Ah yes… the death penalty. Someday I’ll do a post on that topic.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, and of course it has been grist for the conspiracy theory folks. Some of them spotted him in South America and have a descendant ready to team up with The Donald to take over the planet. I take it that the video opened for you? Thanks for your comment, Robbie!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Darn – I guess I’ll have to abandon that feature if people can’t view these 1-minute videos. If only Canadians can see the videos, there’s not much point – my Canadian audience is teeny tiny. Go figure! Thanks, John!

      Liked by 1 person

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