April 1st in history:
A historic day for the Air Force in two countries: The Royal Canadian Air Force was founded on April 1st, 1924. Exactly 30 years later, in 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower authorized the establishment of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado.
Clearing the “air” of smoke: Eisenhower’s vice-president, Richard Nixon, was president himself in 1970. On April 1st of that year, Nixon signed the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act, which would take all radio and TV commercials for cigarettes off the air in early ’71.
A popular substitute for smoking - chewing gum – has made a fortune for the William Wrigley Company, founded in Chicago on April 1st, 1891. Wrigley’s didn’t start selling gum until a year after the company was in business. Free samples of gum given away with packages of baking powder became more popular than the powder.
January 2nd in history:
At the start of what turned out to be his last year in the White House, President Richard Nixon signed a national speed limit bill on January 2nd, 1974. The speed limit was set at 55 mph nationwide, to save gasoline during an energy shortage.
Nixon was vice president in January of 1960, and he became the Republican nominee that year to succeed lame-duck president Dwight Eisenhower. On January 2nd of 1960, Nixon’s eventual Democratic opponent, Senator John F. Kennedy, launched his presidential campaign.
Kennedy won the 1960 election, but did not live to run again in 1964. While many people thought Nixon might run for president again in ’64, the GOP nomination that year went to Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater — who was born on January 2nd of 1909.
November 4 in history:
U.S. Presidents elected on November 4th include Barack Obama in 2008, Dwight Eisenhower in 1952, and Ronald Reagan in 1980.
The ’80 election may have been decided partly because of two things that happened November 4th, 1979. On that day, radicals in Iran took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and kept 52 people hostage for the next 444 days. The hostage incident was a protest of America’s decision to allow the former Shah of Iran into the U.S. for medical treatment, a move which some believed was part of an American plot to return him to power.
The other event was a TV interview with Senator Ted Kennedy aired on November 4th of ’79 on CBS, shortly before Kennedy announced he would challenge President Carter for the Democratic nomination. Roger Mudd of CBS asked Kennedy why he wanted to be president. Media pundits repeatedly criticized Kennedy after he was unable to give a straight answer to the question.
Roger Mudd was a frequent substitute anchor on the “CBS Evening News” for long-time anchor Walter Cronkite, who was born on this date in 1916. Like Cronkite, another person known for announcing election results on TV was born on November 4th…Jeff Probst (1962), famous for saying “The tribe has spoken” in declaring who was voted off the island on the reality show “Survivor.”
October 14 in history:
On this date in 1981, the Egyptian government elected Hosni Mubarak as president, to succeed Anwar Sadat, who had been shot and killed a week earlier. Mubarak remained president until being ousted as a result of protests in 2011.
Former U.S President Theodore Roosevelt was shot and slightly wounded in Milwaukee on October 14th, 1912, while campaigning as the Bull Moose candidate for president. The bullet was slowed down by a folded copy of his speech in his coat pocket, and Roosevelt finished his speech before going to a hospital.
That week in 1912, the Army football team was 2-0 and preparing for a game against Yale. One of the star players for the cadets was halfback and future president Dwight Eisenhower, born on October 14th, 1890.
September 23 in history:
Senator Richard Nixon had to give the biggest speech of his political career on this date in 1952. Nixon’s role as Dwight Eisenhower’s running mate in the presidential election was in jeopardy, because of questions about a fund used to help him pay campaign expenses. In a live, televised address, Nixon claimed that he would keep just one gift to his family…a dog named “Checkers.” The speech saved his spot on the Republican ticket.
Nixon went on to be elected president in 1968, the year that protesters rioted outside the Democratic Convention in Chicago. Eight organizers of the protests went on trial, starting on September 23rd, 1969. When the judge ordered a separate trial for defendant Bobby Seale, the protesters became known as the “Chicago 7.”
Bobby Seale’s name was used in a punchline in the college-reunion movie “The Big Chill,” which opened the New York Film Festival on September 23rd, 1983. That was the 36th birthday of “Big Chill” cast member Mary Kay Place, also known for her role as a country singer on ”Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.”
August 27 in history:
August 27th is the only date which is the birthday of more than one Vice-President of the United States. Three V-P’s actually were born on this date…Lincoln’s first V-P, Hannibal Hamlin (1809), Coolidge’s V-P, Charles Dawes (1865), and Lyndon Johnson (1908), who later became President after Kennedy’s assassination.
Dawes is the only U.S. vice-president who wrote a number-one hit song. His tune titled “Melody in A Major” was turned into “It’s All in the Game,” and the Tommy Edwards recording topped the charts in 1958. On this date in ’58, it looked like the game of major league baseball would be leaving Washington, D.C., when the owner of the Senators ball club said he would probably move the team to Minnesota. President Eisenhower even weighed in that day, urging the Senators to stay in D.C.
Another town got a professional sports team on August 27th, 1921, when the Green Bay Packers went pro and joined an organization which would soon be renamed the National Football League.
August 21 in history:
The first Lincoln-Douglas debate took place in Ottawa, Illinois on August 21st, 1858. Abraham Lincoln was challenging incumbent U.S.Senator Stephen Douglas, and their seven debates around Illinois all centered around the issue of slavery.
Sources say Lincoln was 6-foot-4. In a stove-pipe hat, Lincoln might have been just about as tall as basketball star Wilt Chamberlain, who stood at 7 feet, 1 inch. “Wilt the Stilt,” born in 1936, shared an August 21st birthday with sportscaster Chris Schenkel (1923), who covered many of Chamberlain’s games for ABC.
After he retired from the NBA, Chamberlain spent much of his time living in Hawaii. On this date in 1959, President Eisenhower signed the law making Hawaii the 50th state.
July 7th in history:
On this date in 1958, President Eisenhower signed the Alaska Statehood Act, making Alaska the 49th state – and the biggest state in size. Alaska was admitted officially the following January.
Construction of Boulder Dam (now Hoover Dam) began on July 7th, 1930. At the time it was completed, the 700-foot high dam on the Colorado River was the largest concrete structure in the world.
Was Boulder Dam “the greatest thing since sliced bread”? Maybe not, but pre-sliced bread was considered a big thing when it was introduced on July 7th, 1928, by a bakery in Chillicothe, Missouri. That innovation was advertised as the “greatest forward step” in baking since wrapped bread.
The U.S. Army was established by the Continental Congress on June 14th, 1775.
Two years later, June 14th, 1777, the Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as the design for the U.S. flag. The anniversary became known as Flag Day.
On this date in 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower signed a bill adding the words “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance.
And Superman, who fights for “truth, justice, and the American way,” was introduced to comic book readers on June 14th, 1938, when the first issue of Action Comics was released.