Mar. 27- 1912: First Lady Helen Taft and the wife of Japan’s ambassador to the US plant the first two cherry trees along the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC. 1964: The “Great Alaska Earthquake” and resulting tsunami kill 139 people. The quake registered a magnitude 9.2, the strongest in US history and the second strongest ever recorded. 1968: Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first human to orbit the earth in space (4/21/61) is killed in a plane crash outside Moscow, Russia. He was 34 years old. 1977: Two Boeing 747s collide at Tenerife Airport in Spain, killing 583 people in the worst aviation disaster in history.

Mar. 28- 1930: Turkish cities Constantinople and Angora are renamed Istanbul and Ankara (no doubt requiring the reprinting of numerous maps and signs). 1979: An accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant’s Unit 2 near Harrisburg, PA results in the release of radioactive gas but no fatalities. The partial meltdown closed Unit 2 immediately; Unit 1 was permanently shutdown in 2019. 2017: The world’s largest fossilized dinosaur footprint, believed to be from a sauropod and measuring almost six feet long, is discovered in western Australia. Talk about some big shoes to fill!

Mar. 29- 1848: Niagara Falls stops for 30 hours due to an ice jam upriver. 1943: The US government begins rationing meat, butter, and cheese during World War II. 1951: Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are convicted of espionage for passing classified information to Russian agents. They received death sentences one week later and were executed in 1953. 1999: The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above 10,000 for the first time.

Mar. 30- 1867: The US agrees to purchase Alaska from Russia. Though ridiculed in the press as {Secretary of State William} “Seward’s Folly,” the $7.2 million deal worked out quite nicely, and the 2 cents per acre (approximate) cost was a huge bargain! 1889: John Reid, often referred to as the “Father of American golf,” opens the first US golf course in Yonkers, NY. 1970: Secretariat, who would win horse racing’s Triple Crown in 1973, setting speed records in all three races which still stand today, was born at Meadow Farm in Caroline County, VA.

Secretariat wins Triple Crown, 1973. Photo credit:

1981: President Ronald Reagan was shot and wounded by gunman John Hinckley, Jr. in Washington, DC. President Reagan and a Secret Service agent recovered from their wounds, but Press Secretary James Brady suffered a severe brain injury and partial paralysis for the rest of his life.

Mar. 31- 1889: The Eiffel Tower opens in Paris, France. Built for the 1889 Paris Exposition (World’s Fair) and to honor the centenary of the French Revolution, the 984 foot tower was the tallest man-made structure until 1932. 1896: American engineer and inventor Whitcomb Judson receives a patent for his “hookless fastener,” better known today as the “zipper.” 1918: Daylight Savings Time debuts in the US, requiring future generations to remember the mantra “spring forward, fall back” for the semi-annual time adjustment ritual. 1954: The US Air Force Academy is established in Colorado Springs, CO.

Apr. 1 April Fool’s Day- 1938: The Baseball Hall of Fame opens in Cooperstown, NY. 1948: The “Big Bang Theory” is first proposed in the scientific journal “Physical Review.” 1970: President Richard Nixon signs a bill banning cigarette advertising on television and radio, effective January 1, 1971. 2004: Google launches Gmail, touting its speed and offering customers 1 GB of storage (500 times more than was standard at the time). At first, many people believed it was an April Fool’s Day hoax!

Apr. 2- 1513: An expedition led by Ponce de Leon lands in Florida and claims the land for Spain. 1968: The movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, based on Arthur C. Clarke’s novel, premieres in Washington, DC. 1982: Argentine troops seize the Falkland Islands from Great Britain. The conflict ended 74 days later when Argentina surrendered on June 14, and the islands were returned to British control.