On this date, March 29, in 1974, the unmanned U.S. space probe Mariner 10 became the first spacecraft to visit the planet Mercury.
I’ve always enjoyed the on-this-date features in newspapers. Don’t know why, but I seldom skip over them. In fact, I’ll often use one of the factoids for Facebook and Twitter posts. They sometimes make good conversation starters and often carry the potential to serve as reminders of good memories or warnings from bad events.
That’s what I started to do this morning and was impressed by the volume of notable events that have occurred on March 29.
My search began, as it often does, with The Associated Press’ daily column. You might want to bookmark https://apnews.com/hub/today-in-history for your use. Another great site is the History Channel at https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history. The AP has many more items listed, but history.com gives tremendous depth. It’s from there I grabbed the Mariner 10 info, including that Mercury’s surface temperature varies from 800 degrees Fahrenheit when facing the sun to -279 degrees when facing away.
Back to March 29 through the years. I’m not going to reprint the whole article, but you can find it by clicking here.
Let’s quickly skim over the highlights.
In 1861, President Lincoln ordered a relief expedition to Fort Sumter, S.C.
In 1867, Queen Victoria signed an act creating the Dominion of Canada.
In 1943, World War II rationing of meat, fats and cheese began.
In 1951, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage for the Soviet Union.
In 1971, Army Lt. William L. Calley Jr. was convicted of murdering 22 Vietnamese civilians in the 1968 My Lai massacre.
In 1971, a jury recommended the death penalty for Charles Manson and three female followers for the 1969 Tate-La Bianca murders.
In 1973, the last U.S. combat troops left South Vietnam.
In 1974, eight Ohio National Guardsmen were indicted on federal charges stemming from the shooting deaths of four students at Kent State University.
In 1984, the Baltimore Colts football team moved to Indianapolis.
In 2004, seven former Soviet-bloc nations (Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Latvia and Estonia) joined NATO.
In 2017, Britain filed for divorce from the European Union.
In 2020, country singer Joe Diffie died at 61 from what a spokesman said were complications from COVID-19.
In 2021, salvage teams dislodged a ship that had blocked the Suez Canal for six days.
But there’s more.
The AP article always ends with today’s birthdays. Those catching my attention were former British Prime Minister Sir John Major, 79; basketball Hall of Famer Walt Frazier, 77; football Hall of Famer Earl Campbell, 67; actor Marina Sirtis, 67; actor Lucy Lawless, 54; and tennis Hall of Famer Jennifer Capriati, 46.
One more thing…
What do history teachers make when they want to get together?