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What Happened on April 8?

  • Buddha is said to have been born. (564 BC) Though it is likely that Siddartha Gautama, the first Buddha, was actually born in May, many Buddhists celebrate his birthday on this day. Celebrations include attending long sutras, somewhat like sermons; eating vegetarian food; and making offerings of kheer, a type of sweet porridge.

  • Congress approved the Works Progress Administration (WPA). (1935) The WPA was a central part of President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, and employed over 8 million people until it was dismantled in 1943. The program focused mainly on public works like roads and bridges, many of which still exist.

  • The League of Nations had its last meeting. (1946) The League of Nations (LoN) was replaced almost immediately replaced by the United Nations, which had actually been created three years earlier at the Tehran conference. Though the LoN was very innovative as an international governing agency at the time, it was rarely effective because of its structure and reluctance to act.

  • A ceasefire was signed in Sudan. (2004) The Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement officially ended fighting in the Darfur Conflict, though splinter groups remained violent.

  • The Venus de Milo was discovered. (1820) The famous marble sculpture was discovered on the island of Milos by a peasant and a French naval officer in several pieces, including parts of her now missing arms. It was almost immediately bought by France, and was presented to the king before being placed in the Louvre.

  • Times Square got its modern name. (1904) The now-famous square in New York was originally known as Longacre Square. It was renamed Times Square after the New York Times.

  • The first person to be diagnosed with Alzheimer's died. (1906) Auguste Deter, a German woman, was the first patient to be diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. She had been brought to an insane asylum by her husband after she began showing signs of dementia, and Dr. Alois Alzheimer examined her, peaking his interest in the disease that eventually became known by his name.

  • Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin sold war bonds on the streets of New York. (1918) Chaplin and Fairbanks weren't the only celebrities to lend their services to the war bond effort. Al Jolson, Mary Pickford, and Elsie Janis, all super stars of their day, made several public appearances to help boost the war effort.

  • Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth's home run record. (1974) Aaron, then playing with the Atlanta Braves, hit his 715th home run on this day, breaking Babe Ruth's legendary record. Aaron is one of only six players to ever hit more than 600 home runs.

  • Britain and France signed an Entente Cordiale. (1904) The agreement ended almost 1,000 years of intermittent fighting between the countries, and marked the beginning of modern Anglo-French relations.
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