John’s Believe It Or Not… May 21st

In 2004 Stanislav Petrov was given an award for averting a potential nuclear war in 1983. In 1881 American Red Cross founded. In 1960 Huge earthquake hits Chile. In 1932 Earhart completes transatlantic flight. In 1990 – Lucien Bouchard founded the Bloc Québécois.

John Fioravanti Stands at the front of his classroom in 2006

It’s Sleep-In Sunday! Did you know…

* 1990 – Lucien Bouchard founded the Bloc Québécois. (In yesterday’s post we saw the story about the Referendum in the province of Quebec that was sponsored by Premier Rene Levesque and his separatist political party, the Parti Quebecois. During that failed referendum, Lucien Bouchard worked hard to support the “Yes” side led by Levesque. Then Bouchard jumped into federal politics as a Progressive Conservative under Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. By 1990, he lost faith in Canada and decided to rejoin the fight to take Quebec out of Confederation. Lucien Bouchard, Minister of the Environment in the PC government of Brian Mulroney, resigns from the Cabinet and Progressive Conservative Party; says government unwilling to compromise the Meech Lake Accord to secure its passage. Within weeks, he will gather a breakaway group of 5 Quebec-based Conservatives and 2 Liberal MPs, also angered by the failure of the Meech Lake Accord, in founding a new independent party, later named the Bloc Québécois, founded officially on June 15, 1991. The Bloc will win 54 Quebec seats in the 1993 federal election, becoming the Official Opposition in Jean Chretien’s new Liberal government. Now, Quebec separatists have two political parties working towards Quebec independence – the Parti Quebecois operating in Quebec provincial politics and the new Bloc Quebecois operating at the federal level in Ottawa. Only in Canada, eh!

Lucien Bouchard speaking in front of a Bloc Quebecois banner
Montreal, April 7, 1995, File Photo.
(At that time) The leader of the Bloc Quebecois; Lucien Bouchard giving the opening speech at the Bloc Quebecois convention in Montreal on April 7, 1995.
The Bloc Quebecois is the Federal party promoting Quebec’s independence at the House of Commons in Ottawa (Canada). Its actual leader is Gilles Duceppe.
Lucien Bouchard is now (April 2000) leader of the Parti Quebecois and also Premier of Quebec Province.).
Photo by Pierre Roussel,(c) 1995

* 2004 Stanislav Petrov awarded World Citizen Award for averting a potential nuclear war in 1983. (On September 26, 1983, just three weeks after the Soviet military had shot down Korean Air Lines Flight 007, Petrov was the duty officer at the command center for the Oko nuclear early-warning system when the system reported that a missile had been launched from the United States, followed by up to five more. Petrov judged the reports to be a false alarm, and his decision is credited with having prevented an erroneous retaliatory nuclear attack on the United States and its NATO allies that could have resulted in large-scale nuclear war. An investigation later confirmed that the Soviet satellite warning system had indeed malfunctioned. Had Petrov reported incoming American missiles, his superiors might have launched an assault against the United States, precipitating a corresponding nuclear response from the United States. Petrov declared the system’s indication a false alarm. Later, it was apparent that he was right: no missiles were approaching and the computer detection system was malfunctioning. It was subsequently determined that the false alarm had been created by a rare alignment of sunlight on high-altitude clouds above North Dakota and the Molniya orbits of the satellites, an error later corrected by cross-referencing a geostationary satellite. Petrov later indicated that the influences on his decision included: that he was informed a U.S. strike would be all-out, so five missiles seemed an illogical start; that the launch detection system was new and, in his view, not yet wholly trustworthy; and that ground radar failed to pick up corroborative evidence, even after minutes of delay.)

Stanislav Petrov
Stanislav Petrov (Alchetron)

* 1881 American Red Cross founded. (In Washington, D.C., humanitarians Clara Barton and Adolphus Solomons found the American National Red Cross, an organization established to provide humanitarian aid to victims of wars and natural disasters in congruence with the International Red Cross. Barton, born in Massachusetts in 1821, worked with the sick and wounded during the American Civil War and became known as the “Angel of the Battlefield” for her tireless dedication. In 1865, President Abraham Lincoln commissioned her to search for lost prisoners of war, and with the extensive records she had compiled during the war, she succeeded in identifying thousands of the Union dead at the Andersonville prisoner-of-war camp. She was in Europe in 1870 when the Franco-Prussian War broke out, and she went behind the German lines to work for the International Red Cross. In 1873, she returned to the United States, and four years later she organized an American branch of the International Red Cross. The American Red Cross received its first U.S. federal charter in 1900. Barton headed the organization into her 80s and died in 1912.)

1881 - Clara Barton founds the American Red Cross
1881 – Clara Barton founds the American Red Cross (CSMH History Class – PBworks)

* 1960 Huge earthquake hits Chile. (On this day in 1960, the first tremor of a series hits Valdivia, Chile. By the time they end, the quakes and their aftereffects kill 5,000 people and leave another 2 million homeless. Registering a magnitude of 7.6, the first earthquake was powerful and killed several people. It turned out to be only a foreshock, however, to one of the most powerful tremors ever recorded. At 3:11 p.m. the following afternoon, an 8.5-magnitude quake rocked southern Chile. The epicenter of this tremendous shaking was just off the coast under the Pacific Ocean. There, the Nazca oceanic plate plunged 50 feet down under the South American plate. The earthquake caused huge landslides of debris down the mountains of the region, as well as a series of tsunamis in the coastal region of Chile. At 4:20 p.m., a 26-foot wave hit the shore, taking most structures and buildings with it when it receded. But the worst was still to come. Minutes later, a slower 35-foot wave rolled in; it is estimated that this wave killed more than 1,000 people, including those who had thought they had moved safely to high ground.nGiven the tremendous force of the quake, the death toll could have been far higher. A foreshock 30 minutes prior to the large tremor had forced many people outside, where they were less vulnerable to structural collapses. In addition, the people of the area knew to expect a tsunami and most evacuated the coast immediately. After leaving Chile, the tsunami traveled hundreds of miles west toward Hawaii, the Philippines, and Japan, where hundreds also died. In fact, the waves set off by this earthquake bounced back and forth across the Pacific Ocean for a week. Aftershocks were recorded for a full 30 days after the main tremor.)

Map showing the extent of the tsunami generated by the Chile earthquake of 1960.
Map showing the extent of the tsunami generated by the Chile earthquake of 1960. (Encyclopedia Britannica)

* 1932 Earhart completes transatlantic flight. (Five years to the day that American aviator Charles Lindbergh became the first pilot to accomplish a solo, nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean, female aviator Amelia Earhart becomes the first pilot to repeat the feat, landing her plane in Ireland after flying across the North Atlantic. Earhart traveled over 2,000 miles from Newfoundland in just under 15 hours. Unlike Charles Lindbergh, Earhart was well known to the public before her solo transatlantic flight. In 1928, as a member of a three-person crew, she had become the first woman to cross the Atlantic in an aircraft. Although her only function during the crossing was to keep the plane’s log, the event won her national fame, and Americans were enamored with the daring and modest young pilot. For her solo transatlantic crossing in 1932, she was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross by the U.S. Congress. In 1935, in the first flight of its kind, she flew solo from Wheeler Field in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Oakland, California, winning a $10,000 award posted by Hawaiian commercial interests. Two years later, she attempted, along with copilot Frederick J. Noonan, to fly around the world, but her plane disappeared near Howland Island in the South Pacific on July 2, 1937. The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Itasca picked up radio messages that she was lost and low in fuel–the last the world ever heard from Amelia Earhart.)

Amelia Earhart
Amelia Earhart (Craig Hill Training Services)

Acknowledged Sources:

* Canadian History Timeline – Canada’s Historical Chronology

* On This Day – History, Film, Music and Sport

* This Day In History – What Happened Today

* Wikipedia – The Free Encyclopedia                


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.

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