Your Week in History: World's longest bridge and shortest war - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Your Week in History: World's longest bridge and shortest war

This lithograph from 1888 depicts the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa. (Source: Wikimedia Commons) This lithograph from 1888 depicts the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Bicycle inventor Pierre Lallement riding a velocipede in 1870. (Source: Wikimedia Commons) Bicycle inventor Pierre Lallement riding a velocipede in 1870. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Martin Luther King Jr. speaks during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. (Source: National Archives/Wikimedia Commons) Martin Luther King Jr. speaks during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. (Source: National Archives/Wikimedia Commons)
This painting by Hyacinthe Rigaud in 1701 depicts French King Louis XIV. (Source: Wikimedia Commons) This painting by Hyacinthe Rigaud in 1701 depicts French King Louis XIV. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
The southern end of the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. (Source: Army Corps of Engineers/Wikimedia Commons) The southern end of the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. (Source: Army Corps of Engineers/Wikimedia Commons)

(RNN) – Football - meaningful football - starts this week.

Get on your knees and thank whatever higher power you believe in that the season of first downs, red zone percentage, defenseless receivers and "game managers" has returned. Even baseball teams cower in the presence of a looming football season.

It's no accident that the AA team where I live, the Montgomery Biscuits, holds an Alabama/Auburn night every year with a series of contests pitting those teams' faithful against each other between innings. It's a good public service, because without that they'd have nothing to argue about (yeah, right).

Anyway, congratulations to the Auburn fans, who came out on top Saturday night 28-20 despite their representative mangling the words in the "fight song sing-off." It's the closest thing Auburn has had to an SEC win in more than 650 days.

Also, congratulations to Biscuits pitcher Victor Mateo who threw a no-hitter in a 3-0 win that was much less controversial.

Here are some of the events of note that happened between Aug. 26 and Sept. 1.

Life and Death

So, who's able to be connected to John Wayne this week? I'm glad you asked. Let's start with director John Ford, who died Aug. 31, 1973. Ford and Wayne worked together on several movies, including Stagecoach, Rio Grande, The Quiet Man, The Searchers and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

Lee Marvin, who played Liberty Valance, died Aug. 29, 1987. Marvin, however, is better known for his Oscar-winning dual role in Cat Ballou and as Maj. Reisman in The Dirty Dozen.

Jim Davis, who is known for his role as Jock Ewing on Dallas, was born Aug. 26, 1909, and was in El Dorado with Wayne. His role as Jim Purvis isn't a big one, but it is notable. He makes fun of the sheriff in one scene and then takes the butt of his rifle to the gut in another.

Yvonne De Carlo born was born Sept. 1, 1922, and played Wayne's cook in McLintock!, but she is more famous for her roles as Sephora in The Ten Commandments and as Lily Munster in The Munsters.

I found no connection between Wayne and James Coburn, but Coburn was born Aug. 31, 1928, and rose to fame with roles in The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape and Midway.

Roman emperors Caligula and Commodus were born Aug. 31 in 12 A.D. and 161, respectively. Caligula is one of the most famous Roman emperors due to his domineering reign and sexual debauchery. He was also the first Roman emperor to be assassinated. Commodus was brutal and egotistic and was also assassinated. He was not, however, killed by Russell Crowe.

Michael Jackson was born Aug. 29, 1958, and Mother Teresa was born Aug. 26, 1910.

There are three people whose birth and death occur this week. Mary Ann Nichols was born Aug. 26, 1845, and died Aug. 31, 1888; Rocky Marciano was born Sept. 1, 1923, and died Aug 31, 1969; and Ingrid Bergman was born and died Aug. 29 in 1915 and 1982, respectively.

Nichols is the first confirmed victim of Jack the Ripper, Marciano is the only undefeated and untied heavyweight boxing champion and Bergman is famous for her three Oscars, two Emmys and a Tony. Her notable films include Gaslight, Joan of Arc, Anastasia, Murder on the Orient Express and Casablanca.

Louis XIV had the longest reign of any French king, and it ended with his death Sept. 1, 1715. His birth comes next week - Sept. 5, 1638.

Aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh died Aug. 26, 1974, "Mormon Moses" Brigham Young died Aug. 29, 1877, Emmett Till was murdered Aug. 28, 1955, explorer William Clark died Sept. 1, 1838, and bicycle inventor Pierre Lallement died Aug. 29, 1891.

Princess Diana was killed in a car crash Aug. 31, 1997. The car she was riding in hit a support column in a tunnel in Paris, killing her, her boyfriend Dodi Fayed and the car's driver, Henri Paul, who was drunk. Of course, there are many conspiracy theories surrounding her death, including assassination and allegations she was pregnant.

I went on a trip to Paris after graduating high school and the pillar her car crashed into was one of the things we were shown while on a bus tour. For what it's worth, it was the 13th pillar in the tunnel.

Lon Chaney died Aug. 26, 1930. He was known for his roles in The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera. He also walked with the Queen and did the Werewolves of London. Ted Knight died Aug. 26, 1986. Knight was known for his roles as inept news anchor Ted Baxter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and as great American philosopher Judge Elihu Smails in Caddyshack.

Overlooked Anniversaries

It's a big week for women. The 19th Amendment took effect Aug. 26, 1920, and gave women the right to vote. The Women's Strike for Equality was held 50 years later, but three years earlier 10 suffragettes were arrested on Aug. 28, 1917, while picketing the White House.

Five women petitioned the Supreme Court of Canada on Aug. 27, 1927, for a clarification of the term "persons." Specifically, they wanted to know if "persons" included "female persons" for the purpose of being appointed to the Senate. Eight months later, they were unanimously told no, but 2 1/2 years later that ruling was overturned.

Prince Charles and Princess Diana divorced Aug. 28, 1996, Pepsi was invented Aug. 28, 1898, Thurgood Marshall became the first African-American Supreme Court justice on Aug. 30, 1967, The Old Man and the Sea was published Sept. 1, 1952, Hurricane Katrina made landfall Aug. 29, 2005, the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway - the world's longest bridge over water - opened Aug. 30, 1956, and the Beatles performed their last concert Aug. 29, 1966.

Foghorn Leghorn made his debut, I say, debut in Walky Talky Hawky on Aug. 31, 1946. He spends the whole cartoon - doo-dah, doo-dah - trying to convince a baby chicken hawk that he is not a chicken and that a dog, I say, a dog is.

The longest filibuster by a single person in Senate history was Aug. 28, 1957, by Strom Thurmond. He was trying to prevent the Senate from voting on the Civil Rights Act of 1957, which was passed less than two weeks later. Thurmond spoke for 24 hours and 18 minutes, breaking the previous record by nearly two hours.

The Krakatoa caldera erupted Aug. 26, 1883. The eruption was powerful enough to register across the globe and was estimated at four times as powerful as the strongest nuclear weapon ever detonated.

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was held Aug. 28, 1963, and culminated with the famous "I have a dream" speech by Martin Luther King Jr. King was the final of 10 speakers, but the remarks for which the speech has become famous were not planned.

Something About Sports

The first baseball tripleheader was played Sept. 1, 1890, between the Brooklyn Bridegrooms and the Pittsburgh Innocents, the modern-day Los Angeles Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates. Only three triple-headers have ever been recorded, and there won't be any more because they are banned under Major League's Baseball's labor agreement.

Rickey Henderson set the single-season stolen base record Aug. 27, 1982, when he broke Lou Brock's record of 118 steals with his first of four during the game. Five years earlier, Toby Harrah and Buck Wills became the only players in MLB history to hit back-to-back inside-the-park home runs.

Ilie Nastase and John McEnroe played one of the wildest matches in U.S. Open history Aug. 30, 1979. In their second-round match, Nastase was penalized for arguing in the third set. He continued to rant through the match and in the fourth set sat down and refused to play. He was then penalized a point that lost him a game and after more arguing with the umpire was disqualified.

The crowd pelted the court with trash, the chair umpire was removed and the match continued. McEnroe won the match 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 and eventually won the tournament.

Bobby Fischer became the world chess champion Sept. 1, 1972. Fischer's match with Boris Spassky was called the Match of the Century and took place from July 11 to Aug. 31. The game was suspended Aug. 31 and was supposed to be resumed, but Spassky resigned, giving Fischer a 12 1/2 to 8 1/2 win.

Fischer lost the first game of the match and refused to play the second following a dispute over television equipment, giving Spassky a 2-0 lead. He was expected to forfeit the match but returned to play and only lost one more - the 11th - of the 21 games played. He won seven games total, with the final win coming after seven consecutive draws. Fischer became the first American to win the event and ended 24 years of Russian dominance (Fischer alleged they had been cheating).

Fischer forfeited the title three years later over a rules dispute and only played competitively once more in an unsanctioned rematch with Spassky in 1992, which Fischer won 10-5 with 15 draws. The rematch was held in Yugoslavia, which was under a United Nations embargo. An arrest warrant was issued for Fischer for defying a government order to not participate, and he never returned to the U.S.

Fischer was arrested in Japan for having an expired passport (in actuality it had been revoked by the U.S. government) in 2004 and accepted political asylum in Iceland to avoid deportation. Fischer had expressed several anti-U.S. opinions - including his delight over the attacks of 9/11 - and anti-Semitic views - despite himself being Jewish - prior to the arrest. The series of events led to an excellent ESPN feature on him.

The Week in Warfare

The Battle of Crecy was fought Aug. 26, 1346. One of the most significant battles of the Hundred Years' War, England won a decisive victory over France due to the implementation of a new weapon. France was armed with crossbows, but English archers were outfitted with longbows, which had a greater range and could fire arrows three times more rapidly.

The battle is also the first documented use of the ribault, which was an early version of the cannon. England had about 15,000 men at the battle while France had nearly twice that many. But France suffered more than 2,000 casualties while England suffered 200.

George Washington suffered a defeat at the Battle of Long Island on Aug. 27, 1776. In the first major battle after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the British were able to take control of New York City. The British had expected to capture Washington's army, but he orchestrated an overnight evacuation into Manhattan that spared all 9,000 of his soldiers.

The Second Battle of Bull Run was fought in the same location as the First Battle of Bull Run and had the same result - Confederate victory. Known as the Second Battle of Manassas to the Confederacy, the battle was fought from Aug. 28 to Aug. 30, 1862, and was a much larger battle than the first one.

The Union launched the largest single attack of the entire war but was repulsed by heavy artillery fire in a trap laid by Robert E. Lee, who had split his army. The Confederacy was outnumbered in the battle but had a strong defensive position that the Union's repeated assaults couldn't penetrate. The Union lost approximately twice as many men as the Confederacy after a counterattack on the battle's final day. The defeat resulted in Union Gen. John Pope being relieved of his command by President Abraham Lincoln.

The shortest war ever fought took place Aug. 27, 1896. The Anglo-Zanzibar War lasted all of 40 minutes. Following the death of Sultan Hamad bin Thuwaini, Khalid bin Barghash rose to power, but the British preferred Hamud bin Muhammed. Khalid hid in the palace while British ships fired on the compound, killing more than 500 people while sustaining only a single injury.

Holidays You Should Celebrate

National Dog Day is Aug. 26. It's a dog day of summer! (Yeah, I know. That was bad.) Give your dog an extra treat or two and don't get mad if he/she "has an accident" in the house. It's important to have your pet spayed or neutered, but it can wait until tomorrow. If you're thinking of adopting a dog, it also would be a good day to do that.

September is the official month for a lot of weird things. Among them are fall hats, honey, square dancing, courtesy, classical music and better breakfast (hint: use the honey).

Preview of next week


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