tag : Custer's Last Stand, D-Day, espionage, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Lou Gehrig, Normandy, Robert F. Kennedy, Sing Sing, Tiananmen Square, Watergate
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June Historical Events
- June 4, 1989 - The Chinese government ordered its troops to open fire on unarmed protesters in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. The protest had started on April 16 as about 1,000 students marched to mourn the death of Hu Yaobang, a pro-reform leader within the Chinese government. Despite government warnings, pro-reform and pro-democracy demonstrations continued for a month drawing ever-larger crowds of young people, eventually totaling over a million persons. On May 13, three thousand students began an eight-day hunger strike. The government imposed martial law on May 20 and brought in troops. On June 2, in their first clash with the People’s Army, demonstrators turned back an advance of unarmed troops. However, in the pre-dawn hours of June 4, the People’s Army, using tanks, machine-guns, clubs and tear gas, opened fire on the unarmed protesters. Armored personnel carriers then rolled into the square crushing students still sleeping in their tents. The Chinese government later claimed only 300 died in the attack. U.S. estimates put the toll at over 3,000. Following the massacre, over 1,600 demonstrators were rounded up and jailed, with 27 being executed.
- June 5, 1968 - Robert F. Kennedy was shot and mortally wounded while leaving the Hotel Ambassador in Los Angeles. The shooting occurred after a celebration of Kennedy’s victory in the California presidential primary. He died at 1:44 a.m., June 6, at age 42, leaving behind his wife Ethel and eleven children, the last one born after his death. President John F. Kennedy had named his brother and campaign manager, Robert Francis Kennedy, to the post of U.S. Attorney General in 1961. Robert served as the president’s closest confidant. After the assassination of JFK, Robert remained as Attorney General until 1964, when he resigned to make a successful run for the U.S. Senate from New York. Allied with the plight of the poor and disadvantaged in America, he spoke out against racial discrimination, economic injustice and the Vietnam War. In March of 1968, he had announced his candidacy for the presidency. And with the win in California, appeared headed for the nomination.
- June 6, 1944 - D-Day, the largest amphibious landing in history, began in the early-morning hours as Allied forces landed in Normandy on the northern coast of France. Operation Overlord took months of planning and involved 1,527,000 soldiers in 47 Allied divisions along with 4,400 ships and landing craft, and 11,000 aircraft. The Germans had about 60 divisions spread along France and the Low Countries. American forces landed on two western beaches, Utah and Omaha, while British and Canadian troops landed farther east on Gold, Juno and Sword beaches. By the end of the day 150,000 Allied soldiers and their accompanying vehicles had landed with 15,000 killed and wounded.
- June 16, 1963 - Valentina Tereshkova, 26, became the first woman in space as her Soviet spacecraft, Vostok 6, took off from the Tyuratam launch site. She manually controlled the spacecraft completing 48 orbits in 71 hours before landing safely.
- June 17, 1972 - Following a seemingly routine burglary, five men were arrested at the National Democratic Headquarters in the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. However, subsequent investigations revealed the burglars were actually agents hired by the Committee for the Re-election of President Richard Nixon. A long chain of events then followed in which the president and top aides became involved in an extensive cover-up of this and other White House sanctioned illegal activities, eventually leading to the resignation of President Nixon on August 9, 1974.
- June 19, 1953 - Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed by electrocution at Sing Sing Prison in New York. They had been found guilty of providing vital information on the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union during 1944-45. They were the first U.S. civilians to be sentenced to death for espionage and were also the only married couple ever executed together in the U.S.
- Birthday – Baseball great Lou Gehrig (1903-1941) was born in New York City. He played in 2,130 consecutive games and seven World Series for the New York Yankees and had a lifetime batting average of .340. He contracted the degenerative muscle disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, now called ‘Lou Gehrig’s disease,’ and died on June 2, 1941.
- June 25, 1876 - General George A. Custer, leading 250 men, attacked an encampment of Sioux Indians near Little Bighorn River in Montana. Custer and his men were then attacked by 2000-4000 Indian braves. Only one scout and a single horse survived ‘Custer’s Last Stand’ on the Little Bighorn Battlefield. News of the humiliating defeat infuriated Americans and led to all out war. Within a year, the Sioux Indians were a broken and defeated nation.
- June 28, 1914 - Archduke Francis Ferdinand, Crown Prince of Austria and his wife were assassinated at Sarajevo, touching off a conflict between the Austro-Hungarian government and Serbia that escalated into World War I.
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