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What Happened on October 21?

  • Thomas Edison lit up a light bulb for the first time. (1879) Edison lit the bulb, which burned for a total of 13.5 hours, with a carbonized thread filament.

  • The world's first kamikaze attack took place. (1944) A Japanese pilot purposefully flew a plane loaded with a 440-pound (about 200-kilogram) bomb into an Australian Navy ship at the beginning of the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the biggest naval battle in the history of warfare.

  • US President Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered Werner Von Braun transferred from the US Army to NASA. (1959) Von Braun and his team of scientists worked to develop the launch vehicles that were later used in the Apollo missions that took people to the Moon.

  • Eris, the Solar System's largest dwarf planet, was seen and photographed for the first time. (2003) The images were taken by a research team at the Palomar Observatory in California. The dwarf planet wouldn't be positively identified by the team until January 5, 2005.

  • The first and second of the Medicine Lodge Treaties were signed. (1867) There were three treaties in total. The third of the treaties was signed on October 28. The treaties signed between Native American tribes and the US government required tribes to relocate to reservations in Oklahoma.

  • In an agreement with the US, North Korea agreed to halt its nuclear weapons program. (1994) The agreement, known as Agreed Framework, required North Korea to agree to weapons inspections as well. The US part of the agreement involved guarantees that the US would not launch a nuclear attack against North Korea and would help in the replacement of its nuclear reactor with a light water reactor, among other things. The agreement fell apart in 2003 when North Korea withdrew its participation in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

  • More than 100,000 protesters descended upon Washington D.C. to urge the US to end involvement in the Vietnam War. (1967) Large demonstrations against US involvement also were simultaneously conducted in Western Europe and Japan.

  • The USS Constitution was first launched. (1797) The 44-gun US Navy frigate is still afloat today in the Charlestown Navy Yard. It is the oldest commissioned Navy ship that remains afloat.

  • The Strait of Magellan was discovered. (1520) The strait is a waterway that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Portuguese sailor Ferdinand Magellan discovered the strait while sailing around the world.

  • English nurse Florence Nightingale was sent with her staff to the Crimean War. (1854) Nightingale, who had trained her volunteer staff of 38 nurses, found abominable conditions on the war front, with injured soldiers ailing in overcrowded hospitals with no ventilation and backed-up sewers. Her experiences there led her to champion a campaign for sanitary conditions in hospitals and overall sanitary reform to reduce illness.

Discussion Comments
By RoyalSpyder — On Oct 29, 2014

In relation to the last bullet point, it's certainly not something I learned about in school, and even more so, it's quite shocking that the hospitals had such poor conditions. Correct me if I'm wrong, but for the most part, it seemed like the staff couldn't have cared less about the soldiers, and this wasn't the first time something like this happened.

However, I'm glad that Florence Nightingale took a stand and decided to take action against these atrocities. While I don't know much about war, I often wonder if this is how most soldiers are treated when they're take to hospitals, even in this day and age. While many news stories say no, I tend to think otherwise.

By Krunchyman — On Oct 29, 2014

Even though I've learned about kamikazes in high school, even till this day, it surprises me that some Japanese pilots were willing to sacrifice their lives just so they could have a shot at someone.

Even if they are successful in hitting their target, for the most part, they're giving up their life for nothing. After all, what if they were to miss? Not only does it show some of the ruthless tactics these pilots had during the war, but it also shows how during any war, you have to be prepared for anything.

While there are those who are willing to sacrifice themselves in a noble manner (such as dying to save someone that they care about), on the other hand, you have those who are completely ruthless, and have a "take no prisoners" kind of mentality, as we can clearly see here.

By Viranty — On Oct 28, 2014

As a society, even though millions of us use light bulbs in our house, I sometimes feel that we (myself included) forget about the one who was responsible for creating and lighting up the light bulb; Thomas Edison.

One thing that I find funny about his inventions was that more often than not, people would deny his claims, and would usually label him as a someone who was crazy. However, look at how far he came along.

In my opinion, it really goes to show how even when people say that you can't do something, you should rarely listen to their claims.

Maybe they're right, maybe they're wrong, but regardless, it wouldn't hurt to try. However, I do wonder where electricity would be in this day and age without Thomas Edison. Surely, if he didn't work on lighting, someone else would have filled his place, right?

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