February 19th in history:
Space travelers from Russia and other countries rode aboard the Mir Space Station during its 15 years in Earth orbit. The Mir successfully went into orbit on February 19th, 1986.
On this day in 1988, athletes were competing at the Winter Olympics in Calgary. One of the most memorable athletes at Calgary was British ski-jumper Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards. Heavier than his opponents and requiring glasses, Eddie won a cult following even though he rode his skis to last-place finishes in both his events.
Eddie Arcaro was born February 19th, 1916. Arcaro won almost 4,800 horse races in his career as a jockey, including two Triple Crowns.
Actor Lee Marvin also had success riding a horse. Marvin, born February 19th, 1924, won the Best Actor Oscar in 1965 for playing the drunken gunfighter Kid Shaleen in “Cat Ballou.”
November 12 in history:
An American Airlines flight crashed in Queens, New York on November 12th, 2001, shortly after taking off from JFK Airport. More than 250 people were killed. It was the first major crash of a commercial airplane in the U.S. since the World Trade Center attack two months earlier, leading to concerns that it might be an act of terrorism. Even though pilot error was found to be the cause of the disaster, rumors spread that a terrorist did blow up the plane.
A very unusual explosion took place on this date in 1970, in Florence, Oregon…after a whale beached itself there. The Oregon Highway Division was the agency in charge of the state’s beaches at the time, and highway staffers decided that the best way to dispose of the eight-ton whale carcass was to blow it up with half-a-ton of dynamite. The explosion, captured on film by a local TV station, blasted chunks of whale hundreds of feet from the carcass.
An ice skating star was born in Oregon on the same day that whale blew up. Tonya Harding competed in women’s figure skating at the Winter Olympics of 1992 and 1994. The second time, Harding’s backers plotted to help her get to the Olympics by physically attacking her chief rival, Nancy Kerrigan, at the U.S. championships. Tonya got to the Olympics again, but the scheme blew up in their faces. Kerrigan recovered from her leg injury and won the Olympic silver medal, while Harding placed 8th.
Harding shares her November 12th birthday with another Olympic athlete: Nadia Comaneci of Romania, born in 1961. Comaneci made history at the Montreal Games of 1976 by getting the first perfect score in Olympic women’s gymnastics.
June 14th in history:
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.
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. On June 14th of 2013, the Superman movie “Man of Steel” was released.
Superman is supposed to be “faster than a speeding bullet…more powerful than a locomotive…able to leap tall buildings at a single bound.” Speed skater Eric Heiden, born on this day in 1958, sped like a bullet around an icy track to win five gold medals for the U.S. at the Lake Placid Winter Olympics in 1980. Disneyland introduced its locomotive on a single rail, the Monorail, on June 14th, 1959. And putting up tall buildings in New York and elsewhere made Donald Trump famous, long before he became the 45th President of the United States. This is the day Trump was born in 1946.