John’s Believe It Or Not… May 25th

In 2000 – Remains of an unidentified Canadian soldier are buried in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. In 1977 Star Wars opens. In 1994 Pennsylvania man buried with his beloved Corvette. In 1979 Worst air crash in U.S. history. In 1660 The English Restoration.

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It’s Therapeutic Thursday! Did you know…

* 2000 – Remains of an unidentified Canadian soldier, who died at Vimy Ridge, are buried in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. (The Canadian Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (in French: Tombe du Soldat Inconnu) is located before the National War Memorial in Confederation Square, Ottawa, Ontario. The culmination of a project begun by the Royal Canadian Legion, the tomb was added to the war memorial in 2000 and holds the remains of an unidentified Canadian soldier who died in France during World War I. The soldier was selected from a cemetery in the vicinity of Vimy Ridge, the site of a famous Canadian battle. On the afternoon of May 28, the body of the unknown soldier was transported to the National War Memorial on a horse-drawn Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) gun carriage. Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, her husband, and Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, as well as veterans, Canadian Forces personnel, and members of the RCMP, were in the funeral cortege. Then, with full military honours before a crowd of 20,000, the body, in a silver maple casket, was re-interred in a sarcophagus in front of the war memorial. Legionnaires placed a handful of soil from each of Canada’s provinces and territories, as well as from the soldier’s former grave site, on the casket before the tomb was sealed. The original headstone of the unknown soldier is the sole artifact and the focal point of Memorial Hall in the Canadian War Museum. The hall was designed in such a way that sunlight will only frame the headstone once each year on the 11th of November at 11:00 am. At the former burial site of the unknown soldier, a grave marker similar to the other headstones in the Cabaret-Rouge Cemetery was placed at the now-empty grave. It is inscribed with these words:

THE FORMER GRAVE OF AN
UNKNOWN CANADIAN SOLDIER
OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR.
HIS REMAINS WERE REMOVED
ON 25 MAY 2000 AND NOW
LIE INTERRED AT THE
NATIONAL WAR MEMORIAL
IN OTTAWA CANADA.

Canada's granite and bronze Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the foot of the National War Memorial
Canada’s granite and bronze Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the foot of the National War Memorial (www.rcl-zoneg5.ca)

* 1977 Star Wars opens. (On this day in 1977, Memorial Day weekend opens with an intergalactic bang as the first of George Lucas’ blockbuster Star Wars movies hits American theaters. The incredible success of Star Wars–it received seven Oscars, and earned $461 million in U.S. ticket sales and a gross of close to $800 million worldwide–began with an extensive, coordinated marketing push by Lucas and his studio, 20th Century Fox, months before the movie’s release date. “It wasn’t like a movie opening,” actress Carrie Fisher, who played rebel leader Princess Leia, later told Time magazine. “It was like an earthquake.” Beginning with–in Fisher’s words–“a new order of geeks, enthusiastic young people with sleeping bags,” the anticipation of a revolutionary movie-watching experience spread like wildfire, causing long lines in front of movie theaters across the country and around the world.)

Long time ago Star Wars: A look back on opening day in May 1977
Long time ago Star Wars: A look back on opening day in May 1977 (Hero Complex – Los Angeles Times)

* 1994 Pennsylvania man buried with his beloved Corvette. (On this day in 1994, the ashes of 71-year-old George Swanson are buried (according to Swanson’s request) in the driver’s seat of his 1984 white Corvette in Hempfield County, Pennsylvania. Swanson, a beer distributor and former U.S. Army sergeant during World War II, died the previous March 31 at the age of 71. He had reportedly been planning his automobile burial for some time, buying 12 burial plots at Brush Creek Cemetery, located 25 miles east of Pittsburgh, in order to ensure that his beloved Corvette would fit in his grave with him. After his death, however, the cemetery balked, amid concerns of vandalism and worries that other clients would be offended by the outlandish nature of the burial. They finally relented after weeks of negotiations but insisted that the burial be private and that the car be drained of fluids to protect the environment. “George wanted to go out in style, and, indeed, now he will,” commented Swanson’s lawyer in a report from The Associated Press. “We agree that this is rather elaborate, but really it’s no different than being buried in a diamond-studded or gold coffin.” According to the AP, Swanson’s widow, Caroline, transported her husband’s ashes to the cemetery on the seat of her own white 1993 Corvette. The ashes were then placed on the driver’s seat of his 10-year-old car, which had only 27,000 miles on the odometer. Inside the car, mourners also placed a lap quilt made by a group of women from Swanson’s church, a love note from his wife and an Engelbert Humperdinck tape in the cassette deck, with the song “Release Me” cued up and ready to play. The license plate read “HI-PAL,” which was Swanson’s go-to greeting when he didn’t remember a name. As 50 mourners looked on, a crane lowered the Corvette into a 7-by-7-by-16-foot hole. “George always said he lived a fabulous life, and he went out in a fabulous style,” Caroline Swanson said later. “You have a lot of people saying they want to take it with them. He took it with him.”)

George Swanson's grave marker features the Corvette
George Swanson’s grave marker features the Corvette (Car Life Blog)

* 1979 Worst air crash in U.S. history. (On Friday afternoon, Memorial Day weekend, American Airlines Flight 191, a Los Angeles-bound DC-10, takes off at 3:03 p.m. from Chicago-O’Hare International airport with 271 aboard. As Flight 191 raised its nose during the initial stage of the takeoff, an engine under the left wing broke off with its pylon assembly and fell to the runway. The aircraft climbed to about 350 feet above the ground and then began to spin to the left, continuing its leftward roll until the wings were past the vertical position, with the nose pitched down below the horizon. Moments later, the aircraft crashed into an open field about a half-mile from its takeoff point, killing all 271 people aboard and two others in a nearby trailer park. It was the worst domestic air crash in U.S. history.)

Flight 191 explosion visible from the airport.
(Chicago Tribune)

* 1660 The English Restoration. (Under invitation by leaders of the English Commonwealth, Charles II, the exiled king of England, lands at Dover, England, to assume the throne and end 11 years of military rule. Prince of Wales at the time of the English Civil War, Charles fled to France after Oliver Cromwell’s Parliamentarians defeated King Charles I’s Royalists in 1646. In 1649, Charles vainly attempted to save his father’s life by presenting Parliament a signed blank sheet of paper, thereby granting whatever terms were required. However, Oliver Cromwell was determined to execute Charles I, and on January 30, 1649, the king was beheaded in London. After his father’s death, Charles was proclaimed king of England by the Scots and by supporters in parts of Ireland and England, and he traveled to Scotland to raise an army. In 1651, Charles invaded England but was defeated by Cromwell at the Battle of Worcester. Charles escaped to France and later lived in exile in Germany and then in the Spanish Netherlands. After Cromwell’s death in 1658, the English republican experiment faltered. Cromwell’s son Richard proved an ineffectual leader, and the public resented the strict Puritanism of England’s military rulers. In 1660, in what is known as the English Restoration, General George Monck met with Charles and arranged to restore him in exchange for a promise of amnesty and religious toleration for his former enemies. On May 25, 1660, Charles landed at Dover and four days later entered London in triumph. It was his 30th birthday, and London rejoiced at his arrival. In the first year of the Restoration, Oliver Cromwell was posthumously convicted of treason and his body disinterred from its tomb in Westminster Abbey and hanged from the gallows at Tyburn.)

King Charles II at the Restoration 1660 (Original) (Signed) art by Cecil Doughty Archive
King Charles II at the Restoration 1660 (Original) (Signed) art by Cecil Doughty Archive (www.pinterest.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/

* Wikipedia – The Free Encyclopedia      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_Tomb_of_the_Unknown_Soldier

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.

2 thoughts on “John’s Believe It Or Not… May 25th”

  1. One of the many reasons I love your blog is that I’m brought into a Canadian’s view of the world. Each of us imagines the world to be as we see it – in my case, as a U.S. Citizen. Your blog offers another vantage point – and provides a history lesson. And, always, I begin the day thoughtfully. Thank you! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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