On February 15, 1898, the U.S. battleship, Maine, blew up, and sank in Havana Harbor. Two hundred sixty of the nearly 400 American soldiers aboard perished. The ship had been dispatched to protect U.S. interests during a time when Spanish rule was being challenged by Cuban rebels. A U.S. Naval Court ruled that a mine had caused the explosion. The aftermath of rage connected to the incident, and the suppression of the Cuban freedom fighters escalated into war.
Seventy-eight years later, naval investigators revamped their conclusion: the disastrous explosion was not from a mine; it was likely caused by an on-board fire which ignited a stockpile of ammunition.
The Grateful American Book Prize recommends The Sinking of the USS Maine: Declaring War Against Spain by Samuel Willard Crompton.
On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, and America was pulled into World War ll. Two months later, President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which required all Americans of Japanese descent living on the Pacific Coast, to report for mandatory relocation to a detainment camp.
The prisoners were not released until December 17, 1944.
For more information about the controversial decision, the Grateful American Book Prize recommends Monica Hesse’s novel, The War Outside.
America’s first spaceship was Friendship 7; John Glenn was the first astronaut to experience the void of space. He was launched into orbit February 20, 1962, circled the planet three times, and returned to earth approximately five hours later.
America became quite taken with Glenn, and his six Project Mercury compatriots, and, soon, President John F. Kennedy was moved to “promise” a U.S. moon landing within a decade.
Seven years later– on July 20, 1969– NASA’s Apollo 11 spacecraft entered lunar orbit with Neil Armstrong, Mike Collins and Buzz Aldrin. Armstrong boarded his Lunar Module, the Eagle, and the country watched, transfixed, as he became the first man—ever– to set foot on the moon.
For more information, the Grateful American Book Prize recommends We Seven: By the Astronauts Themselves by NASA’s seven original astronauts: John H. Glenn, M. Scott Carpenter, Gordon L. Cooper, Virgil I. Grissom, Walter M. Schirra, Alan B. Shepard, Donald K. Slayton.
History Matters is a biweekly feature courtesy of The Grateful American Book Prize.