International Assassinations!

Murder has always been a common method of taking out enemies, whether it be a personal rival or political foe. When the murder is planned out in advance and executed in cold blood, it’s often referred to as an assassination.

Here are some of the most interesting and notorious international murders in history.

Franz Ferdinand-Sarajevo, Bosnia

While all deaths are tragic, the death of Archduke Franz Ferdinand at the hands of a separatist assassin actually led to a world war and the deaths of more than 16 million people.

On June 28, 1914, the Archduke and his wife were traveling in Sarajevo, in the province of Bosnia-Herzegovina when a member of the Black Hand separatist group attempted to murder them with a grenade, which failed. Later in the day, they were riding to visit some victims when their driver got lost and drove into an ambush where the Archduke and his wife were shot and killed by another member of the group. The incident led to a series of treaties being called into force, leading to all the major countries of Europe and eventually the United States in the most destructive war the world had ever seen.

Where WWI started - Franz Ferdinand assassination (Google Maps)
Where WWI started - Franz Ferdinand assassination

Thomas Becket-Canterbury Cathedral, England

Thomas Becket was a British nobleman and eventually Chancellor to King Henry II. He was so trusted by the king that when the Archbishop of Canterbury died, he appointed Becket as the new Archbishop even though Becket wasn’t even a priest! However, Becket took his religious calling seriously and refused to bend the will of the church to that of the king, who eventually allegedly called for him to be assassinated.

On December 29, 1170, four knights of the king’s service approached Becket in Canterbury Cathedral and stabbed him to death. After his murder, religious followers throughout England and Europe began to venerate him and he was canonized a saint in 1173. Pilgrims and well-wishers can visit Canterbury Cathedral, although Becket’s bones were destroyed by King Henry VIII.

Canterbury Cathedral (Bing Maps)
Canterbury Cathedral

Gandhi-New Dehli, India

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in 1869 in India, and while living abroad in South Africa, became an activist for civil rights. He led India’s movement for independence from Great Britain using only nonviolent means, and in 1947, the country was granted its independence. However, many people felt his methods were too accommodating to Great Britain and Pakistan during the post-liberation negotiations.

Gandhi was shot three times by Nathuram Godse in New Dehli on January 30, 1948. He died immediately or nearly immediately, and the entire country mourned his death. Over two million attended his funeral procession. The site of his death was turned into a memorial so that the country could continue to pay their respects to their country’s liberator.

The Martyr's Column (assassination of Mahatma Gandhi) (Google Maps)
The Martyr's Column (assassination of Mahatma Gandhi)

Caesar-Rome, Italy

“Beware the Ides of March” is an old saying that warns of bad things happening in the near future. According to legend, Julius Caesar, the first dictator of ancient Rome, was given this warning from a seer, foretelling he would be dead before the day was over. As Caesar made his way toward the Senate, a group of his friends and peers who were upset with his recent power grabs accosted him and stabbed him 23 times.

As Caesar was stabbed, he is said to have remarked to his favorite protege and follower “et tu, Brute?” meaning, “You too, Brutus?”. Once he realized that even his faithful follower had betrayed him, he surrendered to his fate.

Caesar’s murder was one of the most famous, and most impactful in history, as it led to an entire change in the political direction of the Roman Empire.

Julius Caesar's Murder Site (Google Maps)
Julius Caesar's Murder Site

Pope John Paul II-St. Peter’s Square, Vatican

Pope John Paul II was a very popular and well-regarded leader of the Catholic faith from 1978-2005. He was born in Poland in 1920, and grew up under Nazi rule in Warsaw. Through the years, he was elevated in the ranks of the Catholic Church, eventually becoming elected Pope in 1978 after the untimely death of Pope John Paul I.

On May 13, 1981, he was entering St. Peter’s Square in an open vehicle, greeting the crowd when a lone gunman Mehmet Ali Agca shot him three times, severely wounding him. However, apparently the man of God was watched over that day, because he survived the attack and even forgave his shooter. No concrete motive or theory could explain the shooting.

St. Peter's Square (Google Maps)
St. Peter's Square

One significant result of the shooting was that from then on, the Pope nearly always traveled in a specially designed vehicle that allowed the leader to be visible to his followers while protected by bulletproof glass. Because of the unique design, the vehicle was nicknamed the “Popemobile” and it traveled with the leader wherever he went in the world.

Popemobile of 2016 (StreetView)
Popemobile of 2016

If nothing else, these tragic murders (and attempted murder) show that these crimes happen for mundane, random and insane reasons, and can have impacts that literally change the course of the world.

Beautiful Places Around the World We Can Enjoy from Our Living Room

While most of us are practicing social distancing, now is a good time to take a virtual tour of some of the most beautiful natural wonders around the world.

Mystic Falls, Yellowstone

Mystic Falls in Yellowstone National Park is just one of hundreds of breathtaking sites to see in the park. It is a 70-foot waterfall that can be reached by a short 1.2 mile hike in the Upper Geyser Basin. The waterfall cascades down the mountain canyon, providing a beautiful and calming view for those who reach the destination.

For those hiking in real life, take the clockwise route to take advantage of the easier slope and to enjoy a dramatic reveal of the falls when you reach your destination.

Mystic Falls (StreetView)
Mystic Falls

Uluru, Australia

Uluru, formerly known as Ayers Rock by non-indigenous Australians, is a massive rock formation that juts up nearly 3,000 feet from the surrounding area. It is sacred to the Aboriginal people, and is one of Australia’s most famous landmarks. The formation is nearly five miles around, and is a great tourist destination.

Visitors will be in awe of the rock’s beauty and how it appears to glow red at sunrise and sunset, and change colors throughout the day.

Uluru / Ayers Rock (Google Maps)
Uluru / Ayers Rock

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and Zambia

Flowing from the Zambezi River is Victoria Falls, named in honor of Queen Victoria of Great Britain. The waterfall is considered the largest in the world because of its combined width and height, though it is neither the single widest or tallest waterfall.

The waterfall is dramatic because of the vast plateau that extends for hundreds of miles in every direction. The falls rest on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia, and serves as a symbol of how nature’s beauty cannot be contained to any one country.

Victoria Falls (Google Maps)
Victoria Falls

Grand Canyon, Arizona

The Grand Canyon in the southern United States is one of the largest, and most breathtaking, canyons in the world. It has been carved by the Colorado River over two billion years, and visitors are impressed that the small, muddy river has created something so vast and beautiful.

Visitors to the Grand Canyon National Park can hike into the valleys and walk along crests and ridges to take pictures of some of the most impressive views of nature’s slow and steady progress.

Grand Canyon (Google Maps)
Grand Canyon

Lake Como

Lake Como in Italy is famous for being a vacation spot for the rich and famous, but it’s no wonder people flock to its shores, because it is one of the most beautiful and peaceful places on Earth. The lake was formed by glacier activity, and the mountain lake retains some feel of ancient, more peaceful times.

Villas and small villages dot the lake’s perimeter, adding to the quaint, delicate feel of the region that immediately invites visitors to relax, settle in and become part of the surroundings.

View of Lake Como from Castello di Vezio (StreetView)
View of Lake Como from Castello di Vezio

Mount Everest

No list of Earth’s amazing locations would be complete without a mention of Mount Everest, the largest mountain in the world, nestled in the beautiful Himalayan mountain range. It peaks at nearly 9,000 feet, making it as remote as you can get on the surface of the Earth.

In the last century, climbing the mountain has become a goal of endurance climbers, celebrities, and people looking to break down barriers; but most of us just look at the icy wonder in amazement and appreciate the pristine beauty of the tallest peak in the world.

Mount Everest (Google Maps)
Mount Everest

These are just a few of the beautiful places on Earth that we can all enjoy from indoors, and soon we’ll be out and about enjoying the beautiful scenery closer to home.

This Month in History: February

February may be the shortest month, but it’s still packed with history. Let’s look at some of the important things that have happened in Februaries past.

February 4: Charles Lindbergh is Born

Charles Lindbergh, the world famous pilot of the 1920s, was born in Detroit, Michigan on February 4, 1902. As a small child he moved to Little Falls, Minnesota, where he developed his interest in mechanics and flying.

Charles A. Lindbergh Childhood Home (StreetView)
Charles A. Lindbergh Childhood Home

Lindbergh became famous when, at 25, he flew from Long Island, New York to Paris, France, without stopping. The flight propelled Lindbergh into the national spotlight.

In 1932, his young child, Charles Lindbergh Jr., was kidnapped for ransom and found murdered several weeks later, in what was called the “Crime of the Century”. The murder changed the Lindbergh family, who temporarily moved to Europe for safety and privacy, and remained out out the spotlight as much as possible.

Lindbergh kidnapping home (Birds Eye)
Lindbergh kidnapping home

February 6: Aaron Burr is Born

Aaron Burr was born on February 6, 1756. He was a decorated war hero, lawyer, senator and even vice president. But what he’s famous for is being a participant in the most famous duel in American history.

Burr was born in Newark New Jersey, attended Princeton University, and then enlisted in the Continental Army at the start of the war. He became a national hero, and rode that fame to a political career that peaked with him serving as Thomas Jefferson’s vice president.

However, after years of personal feuding, Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr fought in a duel on July 11, 1804, where Burr killed Hamilton. He was never prosecuted for the murder, and served out his term as vice president before receding from the national spotlight and dying in relative obscurity in 1836.

Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr - site of fatal duel (Bing Maps)
Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr - site of fatal duel

February 11: Nelson Mandela is Freed from Prison

Nelson Mandela (1918-2012) was an anti-apartheid and revolutionary fighter in South Africa, who worked for equal rights his entire life. His radical work, including promoting armed conflict in the fight against apartheid, led to a life sentence in prison, where he continued working for equality.

He served 18 years in the prison on Robben Island, which has been turned into a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Robben Island (Google Maps)
Robben Island

Visitors can see the cell as it would have looked when Mandela lived there.

Nelson Mandela's Cell (Robben Island) (StreetView)
Nelson Mandela's Cell (Robben Island)

After 27 years, much international attention, and even sanctions against the government for their racist policies, the South African President released Mandela on February 11, 1990. Mandela went on to become the first black president of South Africa and a global advocate of equality and human rights.

February 12: President Clinton Acquitted in the Senate

This historical event seems fresh in the minds of many Americans, as Congress again deliberates whether to impeach and remove a sitting president. After a lengthy investigation by a special prosecutor and impeachment by the House of Representatives in December 1998.

The case then went to the Senate, where the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presided over the proceedings. Over the next few weeks, senators considered all the facts laid out on the charges. On February 12, 1999 the Senate voted on the charges: Whether the president had committed perjury and whether he had obstructed justice. Both votes did not reach the two thirds threshold required to remove President Clinton from office.

He served out his term in relative popularity, but has never outlived the reputation of having been impeached, even though he was not convicted.

US Capitol (StreetView)
US Capitol

February 14: St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

During the 1920s, Prohibition Era gangsters ruled the cities of New York and Chicago. The likes of Al Capone and other gangsters fought for control of the lucrative alcohol markets and often resorted to violence. On February 14, 1929, seven men associated with the North Side gang were assassinated in broad daylight in Chicago by four men, including two dressed as police officers.

While the crimes were never solved, it was assumed that Al Capone and the Chicago police were involved in the murder to gain the upper hand in the underground alcohol market and as payback for a murdered son of a police officer.

Site of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre (Google Maps)
Site of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre

February 20: John Glenn Orbits the Earth

During the 1960s, the United States and the Soviet Union were in a tight race to see who could escape the confines of the Earth, and the Soviets were off to a head start. The United States worked hard to catch up, and in 1962, NASA launched John Glenn into space from their pad at Cape Canaveral. He was the first American to orbit Earth, and did so three times before returning safely, and upon reentry he became a national hero.

Cape Canaveral Complex 14 (Google Maps)
Cape Canaveral Complex 14

February 22 George Washington is Born

On February 22, 1732, George Washington was born to a prominent Virginia family. While his family was elated at his birth, no one could have known that the baby born that winter day would someday change history.

George Washington's Boyhood Home (Birds Eye)
George Washington's Boyhood Home

Washington rose to prominence in the Virginia militia and was called upon when the colonies revolted against the British. His military and political acumen helped win independence from Britain. Later, he became the first president of the new country, the United States of America. He retired to Mount Vernon, his plantation outside Alexandria Virginia.

George Washington's Mount Vernon Plantation (Birds Eye)
George Washington's Mount Vernon Plantation

His birthday is commemorated each year on the third Monday in February, and is called President’s Day or Washington’s Birthday. It’s the least a grateful nation could do to honor their first and perhaps greatest leader.

So many important, and world-changing, events have taken place in February, and there’s no doubt that important things are taking place even now that will shape the future of our world.

This Month in History: November

Taking time to reflect on the past is important because it gives us an opportunity to review where we’ve been and how far we’ve come, to celebrate the amazing things that have been accomplished by ordinary people, and to remember the events that changed the course of history.

Let’s look back through history to review some of the important events that occurred in Novembers past.

November 1: Creation of the European Union

On November 1, 1993, the European Union (EU) came into effect, bringing together 12 countries in an economic and political union, lowering barriers and eliminating borders to promote unity among the countries.

Since then, the organization has grown to 28 member states functioning in an ever closer union.

Vrijthof (Maastricht) (Birds Eye)
Vrijthof (Maastricht)

November 3: Panamanian Independence

After breaking away from Spain along with the rest of South America in 1819, Panama was part of an ambitious attempt to govern most of the region as one country. Panama then “separated” from Colombia in 1903.

Panama’s independence allowed the country to take full control of the future Panama Canal, a waterway connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, reducing travel time for people and goods, and effectively making the world smaller and more accessible.

Panama Canal (Google Maps)
Panama Canal

November 4: Discovery of King Tut’s Tomb

King Tutankhamun, or King Tut, was an ancient Egyptian king who ruled in his youth for about ten years. His tomb was discovered by Howard Carter as part of a massive unearthing of ancient royal burial sites in the Valley of the Kings, on November 4, 1915.

The contents were breathtaking, including a stunning blue and gold mask that has become famous the world over.

King Tut & the Valley of the Kings (Google Maps)
King Tut & the Valley of the Kings

November 9: Fall of the Berlin Wall

After World War II, the victors, including the US and the Soviet Union, divided supervision of Germany, and divided the capital city of Berlin as well. To prevent defectors, the Soviet Union built a wall between the eastern and western portions of the city.

It stood until November 9, 1989, when revolution led to the political and physical barrier between the two cities coming down.

The citizens of East and West Berlin physically tore down portions of the wall, and these images of citizens rising up against an oppressive regime became the symbol of the end of the Cold War.

Berlin Wall (StreetView)
Berlin Wall

November 11: Veteran’s Day

After more than four years of brutal fighting on a global scale, the great powers of the world declared a ceasefire, ending World War I. On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, in 1918, fighting was officially halted. Since that day, grateful citizens have commemorated the date, remembering the war and the soldiers who fought it in and every other war. In Europe it is known as Armistice Day and in the United States it is called Veterans Day.

Flanders, a region in Belgium, experienced particularly intense fighting and casualties, and has been memorialized in poem. An American cemetery was built for the many soldiers who died fighting in World War I.

Flanders Field American Cemetery and Memorial (Google Maps)
Flanders Field American Cemetery and Memorial

November 17: Suez Canal

The Suez Canal, a waterway connection between the Mediterranean and Red Sea, was officially opened November 17, 1869. The Egyptian canal created a new trade route between Europe and Asia, cutting off thousands of miles of dangerous sea travel around the Cape of Good Hope at the southern end of Africa.

The canal is still in constant use today, making global travel and trade faster and more convenient.

Suez Canal (Google Maps)
Suez Canal

November 19

Four months after the Battle of Gettysburg, President Lincoln traveled to the site to dedicate a soldiers’ cemetery.  President Lincoln’s short speech followed a two-hour keynote address, and while well-received, was not lauded right away. However, with the perspective of history, his speech is recognized as one of the most important speeches in America. It canonized the American ideal of “government by the people, of the people, and for the people”.

Gettysburg (Google Maps)

November 22

One of the most infamous events in American history is the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas on November 22, 1963. The President and his wife traveled to Texas on a political trip. The presidential motorcade traveled downtown to greet well-wishers. President Kennedy was shot in the neck and head by Lee Harvey Oswald. He died a few hours later.

The X marks the spot where President Kennedy was shot (StreetView)
The X marks the spot where President Kennedy was shot

His wife Jacqueline planned a memorable state funeral, and he was laid to rest in Arlington Cemetery, with an “eternal flame” memorial.

John F. Kennedy burial site (Google Maps)
John F. Kennedy burial site

November 26

On the evening of November 26, 2008, a coordinated terror attack in Mumbai, India, began. Terrorists attacked 12 separate sites throughout the city, and the attacks lasted four days. More than 174 people died, including 31 individuals at the five-star Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, which was also the final place to be secured by government forces on Sunday, November 29. The hotel became a symbol of the attacks and the impact they had on the psyche and economy of Mumbai and India.

Taj Mahal Palace & Tower (Google Maps)
Taj Mahal Palace & Tower

Every day, history is being made. Not everyone will discover an ancient tomb or give a memorable speech, but everyone has the potential to change the world around them. So, be bold and make your own history.

Romantic Cities Around the World

Ah, true love. No matter where you are, when you’re with the one you love, it feels like you’re in paradise. Everyone knows Paris is a great place for lovers, but it’s not the only place in the world that two can fall more in love. If you’re in love, visit one of these cities. Your love will feel even stronger because of the magic in the air.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

With tango as the city’s unofficial pastime, how can Buenos Aires not be on the list of romantic destinations?

Nothing is more romantic than strolling through a beautiful park, and Rosedal de Palermo is one of the best. With a combination of manicured paths, secluded corners, rose gardens and fountains to enhance the romance, this is one place to be when you’re in love.

Rosedal de Palermo (Google Maps)
Rosedal de Palermo

After your stroll, you and your love might spend a romantic evening at the theater. Teatro Colon, built at the turn of the last century, has grandiose chandeliers, raised balconies, vaulted ceilings and beautiful detailing that inspire romance and connection no matter where you sit.

Teatro Colón (Google Maps)
Teatro Colón

Kyoto, Japan

Smaller and more intimate than than Tokyo, Kyoto is the perfect place for lovers because of the unique combination of history, delicate architecture and natural beauty.

Sakura Alley, also known as Cherry Blossom Alley, is a veritable tunnel of trees, especially when the trees blossom in the spring. Imagine two lovebirds walking hand in hand down the lane, blossoms above them, falling from the trees and pooling at their feet. It’s picture perfect!

Sakura (Cherry blossom) alley (StreetView)
Sakura (Cherry blossom) alley

Jishu Shrine may be the most important place for lovers in Japan. Known as “the Cupid of Japan” the shrine has two stones where, if a person can walk from one to the other with their eyes closed, their wishes for love will be fulfilled. It has so much success that there are plaques from grateful couples who have visited the shrine.

Jishu Shrine
Photo Credit: Fast Japan

Marrakesh, Morocco

Located at the feet of the Atlas Mountains, Marrakesh seduces all who visit with it’s beautiful vistas, lush greenery and exotic smells and sounds.

The Majorelle Gardens are an oasis in the desert of Marrahesh. Visitors can experience much of the native flora and fauna, including rare bird species native to North Africa. They can also rest at pools full of beautiful lilies and enjoy the smells of a lush African garden.

Majorelle Garden (Yves Saint-Laurent's retreat) (Google Maps)
Majorelle Garden (Yves Saint-Laurent's retreat)

Jemaa el-Fnaa is the ancient city’s town square and market. During the day, visitors can mix with locals, buy juice or water and be entertained by trained monkeys and snake charmers. In the evening, the market becomes more animated, with food stalls, retail shops, cafes and entertainment taking place all around. The dynamic feeling of the square makes you feel more alive and more in love than ever before!

Jemaa el-Fnaa (StreetView)
Jemaa el-Fnaa

New York City, New York

New York is always the place to be, and there’s no exception for lovers! The energy and spirit of the city can’t help but energize visitors and leave them feeling passionate about life and love.

Central Park is the perfect place for lovers. A refuge in the middle of the city allows lovers to relax, focus on their emotions and make memories among beautiful landscapes. There’s no bad time to visit the park, and couples will always leave with greater passion for one another.

The Blockhouse (Oldest Building in NYC's Central Park) (Google Maps)
The Blockhouse (Oldest Building in NYC's Central Park)

The Empire State Building does love well. Each Valentine’s Day it lights up with a heart to celebrate love.

Empire State Building and One World Trade Center at night (StreetView)
Empire State Building and One World Trade Center at night

Visitors can go to the top and take in the breathtaking views of the city, or they can spy the landmark throughout the city, taking in the building’s grandeur from wherever they are in the city.

Empire State Building (Birds Eye)
Empire State Building

If you’re in love, whether it’s new or old, visiting these cities will be sure to increase the passion, love and companionship that you and your partner share.