This Month in History: October

There’s a lot going on in the world these days, and sometimes it can seem like things that happen now are more important than anything in the past. It’s nice to look back and see what important things have occurred in the past to make our world better, and what things have happened that we’ve survived.

Let’s look at some of the things that happened in Octobers past.

Panama Canal Returned to Panama

The Panama Canal is an engineering marvel, bridging the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans at the narrow isthmus of Panama in Central America. The United States began the project in order to cut the travel time from the East Coast to the West Coast by 6,000 miles.

The United States constructed the canal and maintained control for more than 60 years. But, after much protest by Panamanians wanting local control over the canal, the two countries agreed to give control of the canal back to Panama, starting October 1, 1979.

Panama Canal (Google Maps)
Panama Canal

Uganda Gains Independence from Great Britain

The people who live in what is now Uganda in Africa were first exposed to European traders and missionaries in the 1860s and 1870s, when they came looking for the source of the Nile river and trade routes. Shortly thereafter, Ugandan people were put under the “Ugandan Protectorate” by Great Britain.

This protectorate status lasted until October 9, 1962, when under Queen Elizabeth II, the country was granted independence and embraced as part of the Commonwealth of Nations. Since that time, the country has been independent, but often experiences political unrest and struggle for power.

Parliament of Uganda (Google Maps)
Parliament of Uganda

Nikita Khrushchev Pounds his Shoe at United Nations

After World War II, a “cold” war broke out between democratic countries led by the United States, and communist countries led by the Soviet Union. At a meeting of the heads of state of the members of the United Nations on October 12, 1960, the delegate from the Philippines was speaking out against communism, which enraged Nikita Khrushchev, the leader of the Soviet Union. According to reports, he was so furious he removed his shoe and banged it on his table. This famous outburst was one of many, including the leader claiming that the Soviets would “bury” the Americans and win the war of global competition.

United Nations Headquarters Building (Google Maps)
United Nations Headquarters Building

Yale University is Founded

Fewer than 100 years after settling the area, colonists in Connecticut founded the first college in their colony, and the fourth in the entire colonies on October 16, 1701. The school formally changed its name to Yale College in 1718 after a benefactor. Since that time, Yale University has become one of the premier educational institutions in the world, and has educated five US presidents, as well as countless political leaders and business icons.

Yale (Google Maps)
Yale

Battle of Saratoga

The Battle of Saratoga in 1777 helped to turn the tide of the Revolution. British General John Burgoyne had a strategy to divide and conquer the American army, but he failed in two attempts in September and October, and was forced to surrender to American General Horatio Gates on October 17, 1777.

While this was just one of many battles, it showed French leaders that the American upstarts had a chance against the might of their enemy, the British, and joined the war on the side of the Americans. Their involvement was a critical point in helping America win her freedom from the British.

During the battle, American soldier Benedict Arnold was wounded in the leg. Later, he betrayed the country he fought for, but there’s still a monument to his service, in the shape of a boot no less!

Benedict Arnold's Boot Monument street view (StreetView)
Benedict Arnold's Boot Monument street view

US Invades Grenada

As dawn rose on October 25, 1983, US troops landed at the airport on the Caribbean island of Grenada. Over the previous few weeks, political instability had come to a breaking point, the leader overthrown and killed in riots, and unrest was growing worse. Grenada’s government requested international help, and because there were more than 600 US medical students on the island, President Reagan sent about 7,600 troops to restore peace to the country. The military action was over within a few days and with relatively few casualties.

Democratic elections were held in 1984, and the country has been democratic ever since.

Grenada Island (Google Maps)
Grenada Island

Shootout at the OK Corral

At 3:00 on October 26, 1881, the most famous gunfight in the Wild West took place in Tombstone, Arizona. After an old feud came to head between an outlaw gang and the police authorities in the small territory town, the five members of the Cowboys faced off against town Sheriff Virgil Earp, his brothers Morgan and Wyatt, and friend Doc Holliday. After 30 seconds of shooting, two outlaws were dead, the rest of the gang had scattered.

The feud didn’t end that day, and the two sides continued to settle scores for years.The shootout did not actually take place at the OK Corral, but down the street. Nonetheless, the OK Corral and Tombstone have become famous in American lore.

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (StreetView)
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral

These are just a few stories from the vault of history showing us that important, interesting, and outlandish things happen all the time.

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