Category Archives: This day in History

Crusaders Take the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem (1099)

Built in the 4th century by Constantine, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem is the supposed location of Jesus’ tomb. The holy site was captured and partially destroyed numerous times, and, in 1096, the First Crusade was launched in part to recapture it. In 1099, Crusaders poured into Jerusalem, killed its non-Christian population, and took the church. It was rebuilt, and has since been carefully divided among quarreling Christian factions. Who has traditionally kept the key? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

James Earl Ray Escapes from Prison Again (1977)

In 1967, Ray, who was serving time for armed robbery, escaped from prison by hiding in a bread truck. He remained at large until 1968, when he was captured in London following an international manhunt sparked by the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Ray pled guilty to the murder and was sentenced to 99 years in prison. In 1977, he once again escaped, but this time he was recaptured within days. In 1969, Ray recanted his confession and claimed that who was responsible for King’s death? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Children Report Visions of the Virgin Mary in Fátima, Portugal (1917)

In 1917, three children were herding sheep in Fátima when, according to their story, the Virgin Mary appeared to them. They claimed that she continued to appear to them on the 13th of every month, relaying messages and prophesies. Word of the visions spread, and at one point, the children were arrested. Then, on October 13, thousands reported seeing the sun spin in the sky near Fátima, which became a pilgrimage site. Two of the children died before the age of 12. What happened to the third? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Battle of Alcatraz Begins (1946)

The Battle of Alcatraz followed an escape attempt from Alcatraz Island’s federal penitentiary by six inmates who got stuck inside a cellhouse after failing to secure a key to the prison yard. Trapped, the inmates took the guards prisoner and took control of the cellhouse. The US Marines were called in, and two guards and three inmates died in the ensuing confrontation. Two inmates were later executed for their role in the incident. How long was it before the next attempted escape from Alcatraz? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Charles de Gaulle Resigns as President of France (1969)

A celebrated general and statesman, de Gaulle was elected first president of France’s Fifth Republic—a system of government with broad executive powers—in 1959. He helped write the constitution and pushed for direct popular election of the president. The mass civil unrest of May 1968 by students and workers almost toppled his government, and in 1969 de Gaulle was defeated in a referendum on constitutional amendments and resigned. He died just a year later. Whom did he bar from his funeral? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Elvis Presley Inducted into the US Army (1958)

Though World War II ended in 1945, military conscription in the US continued in peacetime, and in 1957, the 22-year-old “King of Rock and Roll” was drafted for a two-year stint in the army. Despite concerns about his career, Presley did not try to avoid service and was inducted into the army at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, in a ceremony mobbed by photographers. Five months later, and just a month before he was shipped out to Germany, Presley was granted a short emergency leave for what reason? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Benito Mussolini Founds the Fasci di Combattimento (1919)

In the troubled period following WWI, Mussolini organized his followers, mostly veterans, into a paramilitary organization that promoted aggressive nationalism and violently opposed communism and socialism. Amid strikes, unrest, and governmental failure, Mussolini advocated the use of force to restore order. In 1921, his Fasci di Combattimento became the Fascist Party, planting the seeds for the regime that would rule Italy for nearly 20 years. What title did Mussolini choose for himself? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Arab League Is Founded (1945)

The League of Arab States was formed in 1945 to give unified political expression to Arab nations and to foster the regional economy. It originally consisted of seven member states and has since grown to include 22. Member states collaborate on cultural, economic, and social programs and have agreed to coordinate military defense measures. They also use the league as a forum for mediating disputes. Which notable countries with large Arab populations are not members of the league? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Caligula Becomes Emperor of Rome (37 CE)

When Caligula became the Roman emperor in 37 CE, replacing the hated Tiberius, the public welcomed his reign, and for a time it was uneventful. Seven months later, he fell severely ill, and when he recovered, he was a changed man. Suddenly, his reign was marked by financially ruinous extravagance, unmatched cruelty, and rampant executions, even of his former supporters. He was assassinated within a few years. What may have caused the mental instability Caligula displayed after his illness? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Edward R. Murrow's See It Now Airs McCarthyism Episode (1954)

In the early 1950s, US Senator Joseph McCarthy persecuted scores of people he deemed subversive in a series of widely-publicized hearings that whipped the public into an anti-Communist frenzy. In 1954, journalist Edward R. Murrow produced an episode of his TV show See It Now that criticized the Red Scare and turned public opinion against McCarthy using the senator’s own words. Murrow later invited McCarthy to respond. What happened when the senator accepted? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary