John’s Believe It Or Not … May 8th

John Fioravanti Stands at the front of his classroom in 2006

It’s VE Day + 70! Did you know…

* 1945 – Canadian troops move into Amsterdam on VE-Day. (Victory in Europe Day – Canadian troops move into Amsterdam on VE-Day, as the unconditional surrender of Germany, signed at Rheims on May 7, is ratified at Berlin; World War II ends in Europe with the unconditional surrender of German land, sea and air forces.)

Canadian Soldiers pose at news of surrender
Infantrymen of “D” Company, The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada, with their Universal Carrier, which is inscribed “Germany Kaput – Italia Tutto Finito – Here We Come Canada”, De Glindhorst, Netherlands, 5 May 1945. (L-R): Private Wilf Monbourquette, Sergeant Ross MacKay, Privates Hugh McErlain, Lawrence Spence, Harry Campbell, Dusty Millar and Aubrey Bolitho.
Date: 5 May 1945
Place: De Glindhorst, Netherlands
Photographer: Michael M. Dean

* 1945 V-E Day is celebrated in America and Britain. (On this day in 1945, both Great Britain and the United States celebrate Victory in Europe Day. Cities in both nations, as well as formerly occupied cities in Western Europe, put out flags and banners, rejoicing in the defeat of the Nazi war machine. The eighth of May spelled the day when German troops throughout Europe finally laid down their arms: In Prague, Germans surrendered to their Soviet antagonists, after the latter had lost more than 8,000 soldiers, and the Germans considerably more; in Copenhagen and Oslo; at Karlshorst, near Berlin; in northern Latvia; on the Channel Island of Sark–the German surrender was realized in a final cease-fire. More surrender documents were signed in Berlin and in eastern Germany. The main concern of many German soldiers was to elude the grasp of Soviet forces, to keep from being taken prisoner. About 1 million Germans attempted a mass exodus to the West when the fighting in Czechoslovakia ended but were stopped by the Russians and taken captive. The Russians took approximately 2 million prisoners in the period just before and after the German surrender. Meanwhile, more than 13,000 British POWs were released and sent back to Great Britain. Pockets of German-Soviet confrontation would continue into the next day. On May 9, the Soviets would lose 600 more soldiers in Silesia before the Germans finally surrendered. Consequently, V-E Day was not celebrated until the ninth in Moscow, with a radio broadcast salute from Stalin himself: “The age-long struggle of the Slav nations…has ended in victory. Your courage has defeated the Nazis. The war is over.”)

VE Day celebrations - Imperial War Museum Duxford
VE Day celebrations – Imperial War Museum Duxford

* 1973 AIM occupation of Wounded Knee ends. (On the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, armed members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) surrender to federal authorities, ending their 71-day siege of Wounded Knee, site of the infamous massacre of 300 Sioux by the U.S. 7th Cavalry in 1890. On February 27, 1973, some 200 AIM-led Sioux seized control of Wounded Knee, taking 11 allies of Dick Wilson hostage as local authorities and federal agents descended on the reservation. The next day, AIM members traded gunfire with the federal marshals surrounding the settlement and fired on automobiles and low-flying planes that dared come within rifle range. Russell Means began negotiations for the release of the hostages, demanding that the U.S. Senate launch an investigation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Pine Ridge, and all Sioux reservations in South Dakota and that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hold hearings on the scores of Indian treaties broken by the U.S. government. The Wounded Knee occupation lasted for a total of 71 days, during which time two Sioux men were shot to death by federal agents. One federal agent was paralyzed after being shot. On May 8, the AIM leaders and their supporters surrendered after White House officials promised to investigate their complaints. Russell Means and Dennis Banks were arrested, but on September 16, 1973, the charges against them were dismissed by a federal judge because of the U.S. government’s unlawful handling of witnesses and evidence.)

Wounded Knee, South Dakota: (Left) December, 1890 (Right) April, 1973 pictures of the massacre
Wounded Knee, South Dakota: (Left) December 1890 (Right) April 1973 (Courtesy of vaultedtreasures.blogspot.com)

* 1963 Sean Connery stars in his first Bond movie, Dr. No. (On this day in 1963, with the release of Dr. No, moviegoers get their first look–down the barrel of a gun–at the super-spy James Bond (codename: 007), the immortal character created by Ian Fleming in his now-famous series of novels and portrayed onscreen by the relatively unknown Scottish actor Sean Connery. Connery had acted in repertory theater and television and scored some bit parts in films before landing his first significant role, opposite Lana Turner in Another Time, Another Place (1958). Bigger roles followed, notably in Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure (1959). Harold Saltzman and Albert “Cubby” Broccoli, the producers of Dr. No, had other actors in mind to play Bond, including Cary Grant and James Mason; Fleming himself preferred another leading candidate, David Niven. After winning the role, however, Connery swiftly made it his own. Costarring Ursula Andress, Joseph Wiseman and Jack Lord, Dr. No sends Bond, a British Secret Service agent, to Jamaica to investigate the murders of a fellow agent and his secretary. There, he is forced to confront the villainous Chinese scientist Dr. No (Wiseman) with the help of a bikini-clad seashell collector, Honey Ryder (Andress) and a CIA agent (Lord). Dr. No established many signature elements of the Bond film series, including its distinctive theme song, fast-paced action sequences, sexy “Bond girls”–both good and bad, Bond’s fondness for vodka martinis “shaken, not stirred” and his introduction of himself as “Bond. James Bond.”)

Cinema poster for Dr. No
(Courtesy of Wikipedia)

* 2010 Betty White becomes oldest Saturday Night Live host. (On this day in 2010, 88-year-old actress Betty White, known for her former roles on “The Golden Girls” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” becomes the oldest person to host the long-running, late-night TV sketch comedy show “Saturday Night Live” (SNL). White’s hosting gig came about, in part, after hundreds of thousands of her fans signed onto a Facebook campaign rallying for it. In late December 2009, a 29-year-old fan started a Facebook campaign dubbed “Betty White to Host SNL (please?)!” That March, after nearly half a million fans, had joined the campaign, it was confirmed White would host the show on May 8, 2011. Lorne Michaels, SNL’s Canadian-born creator and executive producer, later said the show had tried to get White to host at least three times in previous decades but was unable to make it work with her schedule. “Saturday Night Live,” which debuted in October 1975, is known for its topical parodies and impersonations, and for pushing boundaries with its sketches. The show has introduced a long list of memorable characters and catchphrases that have become part of pop-culture history. Over the years, it also has launched the careers of such performers as Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Mike Myers, Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, David Spade, Jimmy Fallon, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. SNL features a different guest host and musical act each week. Comedian George Carlin hosted the first-ever episode of SNL in 1975; that same year, actress Candice Bergen was the first woman to host the program. In 1982, 7-year-old Drew Barrymore became the youngest person ever to host SNL. As SNL’s eldest host, White earned generally glowing reviews, and the show, which featured musical guest Jay-Z, drew its highest ratings in 18 months. The octogenarian actress later won the seventh Emmy Award of her career for her SNL appearance.)

BETTY WHITE ROCKS SNL SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE RATINGS 5-8-10! BREATHES NEW LIFE INTO OLD SHOW!
BETTY WHITE ROCKS SNL SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE RATINGS 5-8-10! BREATHES NEW LIFE INTO OLD SHOW! (Courtesy of galechesterwhittington2.blogspot.com)

Acknowledged Sources:

* Canadian History Timeline – Canada’s Historical Chronology http://canadachannel.ca/todayincanadianhistory/index.php

* This Day In History – What Happened Today    http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/

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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.

8 thoughts on “John’s Believe It Or Not … May 8th”

  1. Great selection of interesting facts here, John. Sean Connery is my all time favourite James Bond although he was before my time. He was just so perfect in the role – a true English gentleman and spy [sounds like an oxymoron?] That information about Betty White. Oh to be 88 and have such a fan base.

    Liked by 1 person

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