February, a factually fascinating month

In January we gave readers a few bits and pieces that the month has offered over time.  So, for all the history buffs, here are just a few February facts:

  • America, while founded on the basis of “equality under the law for all”, was not always completely fair to all. February is now known as Black History Month, which is a celebration of prominent African-American history. This history is integral to our country’s development into a truly free land, as it encompasses the abolition of slavery, the Civil Rights movement and the breaking down of color walls in America. Several prominent figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., Jackie Robinson and Rosa Parks all made sacrifices to work toward the integration of African-Americans in society.

 

  •  The ‘sit-in” movement’ began in February in Greensboro, North Carolina, when a group of four African-American students walked into a cafe and ordered coffee. They were refused service, so, in protest, decided to stay there all day. This would inspire others to do the same, leading to a widespread protest that would cement its place as the beginning of many peaceful protests in the name of equal rights for all. This form of ‘civil disobedience’, in which protesters would nonviolently violate laws, became commonplace during the 50s and 60s as a way to show the cruelty of America against blacks and other minority races.

 

  • The “final frontier” of human history, outer space, has always played a part in the development of civilization. For countless centuries, humans have looked up to the stars, wondering if we are truly alone in this universe. We’ve used them for navigation, advice, and even seen greater meaning in the great beyond.  Then on February 20, 1962, Alan Shepard became the first American launched into space, which marked a significant milestone for America during the Space Race against the Soviets and showed that the U.S. was a serious contender in the journey to the cosmos.

 

  • Another significant space-related event that occurred in February was the launch of the Space Shuttle Columbia. The second of two tragedies in the space shuttle program, the Columbia exploded on re-entry into the atmosphere, killing all seven crew members. The fatal incident was linked to a fuel leakage, which ignited during the turbulent re-entry process. This event, along with the Challenger explosion in 1986, caused widespread grief and mourning across the nation. In a famous speech, President George H. Bush stated tearfully in an address to the nation, “The Columbia is lost. There are no survivors. … These astronauts knew the dangers and they faced them willingly, knowing they had a high and noble purpose in life. Because of their courage and daring and idealism, we will miss them all the more. … The cause in which they died will continue. Mankind is led into the darkness beyond our world by the inspiration of discovery and the longing to understand. Our journey into space will go on.” 

 

  • Death and destruction have always been the cost of progress, and while gruesome, the legends of icons who found purpose in their lives before meeting death have always inspired us. World War II, one of the most devastating wars in history, is chock-full of stories of bravery and heroism. One of the most famous pictures of all time, taken during the American invasion of Iwo Jima, is a permanent reminder of the heroism of American soldiers in the Pacific Theater. The picture was taken after the capture of Mount Suribachi, the highest point on the island of Iwo Jima. The image captures six United States Marines raising the American flag over the war-torn island, marking a major victory for the American forces over Imperial Japan, as it was the first time in the war that America occupied homeland Japan. Three of the Marines photographed died later in the battle, which proves the brutality of the Pacific campaign.

 

  • A holiday held during the month of February is Valentine’s Day. However, this romantic holiday also shares a date with an important date in American mafia history, the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. This event, in which seven ‘North Side’ gang members were killed by mafia boss Al Capone’s men from the ‘Italian South Side’ mafia. During Prohibition, massacres committed by mafia groups were at an all-time high, driven by Prohibition and the failing economy, which turned most in the dregs of America to crime.
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