Year
1945

Conscientious objector wins Medal of Honor

Private First Class Desmond T. Doss of Lynchburg, Virginia, is presented the Congressional Medal of Honor for outstanding bravery as a medical corpsman, the first conscientious objector in American history to receive the nation’s highest military award.

When called on by his country to fight in World War II, Doss, a dedicated pacifist, registered as a conscientious objector. Eventually sent to the Pacific theater of war as a medical corpsman, Doss voluntarily put his life in the utmost peril during the bloody battle for Okinawa, saving dozens of lives well beyond the call of duty.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

USS Cole attacked by terrorists

At 12:15 p.m. local time, a motorized rubber dinghy loaded with explosives blows a 40-by-40-foot hole in the port side of the USS Cole, a U.S. Navy destroyer that was refueling at Aden, Yemen. Seventeen sailors were killed and 38 wounded in the attack, which was carried out by ...read more

The origin of Oktoberfest

Bavarian Crown Prince Louis, later King Louis I of Bavaria, marries Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. The Bavarian royalty invited the citizens of Munich to attend the festivities, held on the fields in front of the city gates. These famous public fields were named ...read more

USSR leads the space race

The Soviet Union launches Voskhod 1 into orbit around Earth, with cosmonauts Vladamir Komarov, Konstantin Feoktistov, and Boris Yegorov aboard. Voskhod 1 was the first spacecraft to carry a multi-person crew, and the two-day mission was also the first flight performed without ...read more

Terrorists kill 202 in Bali

On this day in 2002, three bombings shatter the peace in the town of Kuta on the Indonesian island of Bali. The blasts, the work of militant Islamist terrorists, left 202 people dead and more than 200 others injured, many with severe burns. The attacks shocked residents and those ...read more

Columbus reaches the New World

After sailing across the Atlantic Ocean, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus sights a Bahamian island, believing he has reached East Asia. His expedition went ashore the same day and claimed the land for Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain, who sponsored his attempt to find a ...read more

Gen. Joseph Stilwell dies

On this day in 1946, Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell, the man who commanded the U.S. and Chinese Nationalist resistance to Japanese incursions into China and Burma, dies today at age 63. Born March 19, 1883, in Palatka, Florida, and a graduate of the West Point Military Academy, Stilwell ...read more

Thomas Jefferson composes romantic letter

On this day in 1786, a lovesick Thomas Jefferson composes a romantic and introspective letter to a woman named Maria Cosway. Early in 1786, widower Thomas Jefferson met Maria Cosway in Paris while he was serving as the U.S. minister to France. Cosway was born to English parents ...read more

John Denver dies in an aircraft accident

To those who bought records like “Rocky Mountain High” and “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by the millions in the 1970s, John Denver was much more than just a great songwriter and performer. With his oversized glasses, bowl haircut and down vest, he was an unlikely fashion icon, ...read more

Fire rages in Minnesota

A massive forest fire rages through Minnesota on this day in 1918, killing hundreds of people and leaving thousands homeless. The fire burned at least 1,500 square miles. The fire, known as the Cloquet-Moose Lake fire because that is where the damage was worst, began at rail ...read more

The victim of an anti-gay assault dies

University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard dies after a vicious attack by two anti-gay bigots. After meeting Shepard in a Laramie, Wyoming, gay bar, The Fireside Lounge, Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney lured him to the parking lot, where he was savagely attacked and ...read more