60 Years Ago
The Great Divide
Troops from Soviet-backed North Korea storm across the 38th parallel and invade South Korea, June 25, 1950. Hoping, he says later, to avoid World War III, President Harry Truman orders U.S. forces to lead a United Nations’ defense of South Korea. The three-year war leaves more than 2.5 million dead and the two Koreas divided—as they remain—at the 38th parallel.
75 Years Ago
The Courage To Change
On a trip to Akron, Ohio, in 1935, Bill Wilson (below: in 1970), a recovering alcoholic, seeks out fellow drinker Dr. Bob Smith, hoping to lead Smith out of drunkenness and bolster his own sobriety. On June 10, Smith stops drinking, and Alcoholics Anonymous is born. The two men build AA on the idea of alcoholics aiding one another, using a 12-step protocol that Wilson enumerates in 1938. By 2010, AA has two million members and is the model for many groups facing addictions. Wilson dies in 1971, age 75.
100 Years Ago
Old Man and the Sea
Jacques-Yves Cousteau is born in Saint-André-de-Cubzac, France, on June 11, 1910. When a car accident ends his dream of becoming a navy pilot, Cousteau heads underwater, adapting an automobile gas regulator in 1942 to invent (with Emile Gagnan) the Aqua-Lung—the first commercially successful scuba gear. His more than 110 subsequent underwater films and television programs promote a new awareness of ocean ecology by bringing millions of viewers along as he explores—often aboard the refitted minesweeper Calypso—the 70 percent of the world covered by water. “We must save the oceans if we want to save mankind,” writes Cousteau, who dies in 1997, age 87.
110 Years Ago
Angered by increasing foreign and Christian influences in China, anti-imperialist insurgents known as the “Righteous and Harmonious Fists”—dubbed Boxers by the foreign press for their beliefs that exercise rituals could protect them from bullets—lay siege in June 1900 to the foreign diplomats’ quarters in Beijing. Supported by Qing Empress Dowager Cixi, who orders all foreigners killed, the 55-day siege is finally ended by an eight-country international force. The defeat of the Boxer Rebellion weakens Qing power, which ends with revolution in 1911.
140 Years Ago
Walking The Walk
Atlantic City, New Jersey, opens the nation’s first beach boardwalk, June 26, 1870. The mile-long promenade is proposed by hotelier Jacob Keim and railroad conductor Alexander Boardman to keep tourists, drawn to the town by developers’ promises of healthful air, from tracking sand into hotels and trains. Extended over time to its current length of more than four miles, the boardwalk becomes famous for saltwater taffy, bathing beauties—Miss America contestants first pose here in 1921—casinos and, after 1935, being primo Monopoly property.