Year
1961

Eisenhower bids farewell

On January 17, 1961, in a nationally televised speech, Dwight D. Eisenhower addresses the American people for the last time as president. Expressing ideas that seem prophetic in retrospect, Eisenhower offered his fears and hopes for the future, warning against the unfettered growth of the “military-industrial complex,” as he coined it, and calling for diplomacy, restraint, and compassion in dealing with future crises with the Soviet Union. Despite his sadness that peace was not in sight, the great Allied commander offered a closing prayer to the world from America. “We pray,” he said, “that people of all faiths, all races, all nations…will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.”

Three days later, Eisenhower left the White House and retired with his wife, Mamie, to their farm in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, their permanent home until Eisenhower’s death on March 28, 1969. The couple had been fond of sitting on their back porch, which looked east toward the famous Civil War battlefield.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

The execution of Gary Gilmore

Gary Gilmore, convicted in the double murder of an elderly couple, is shot to death by a firing squad in Utah, becoming the first person to be executed in the United States since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. In 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that, in violation of ...read more

H-bomb lost in Spain

On this day, a B-52 bomber collides with a KC-135 jet tanker over Spain’s Mediterranean coast, dropping three 70-kiloton hydrogen bombs near the town of Palomares and one in the sea. It was not the first or last accident involving American nuclear bombs. As a means of maintaining ...read more

Boston thieves pull off historic robbery

On this day in 1950, 11 men steal more than $2 million from the Brinks Armored Car depot in Boston, Massachusetts. It was the perfect crime–almost–as the culprits weren’t caught until January 1956, just days before the statute of limitations for the theft expired. The robbery’s ...read more

Soviets capture Warsaw

On this day, Soviet troops liberate the Polish capital from German occupation. Warsaw was a battleground since the opening day of fighting in the European theater. Germany declared war by launching an air raid on September 1, 1939, and followed up with a siege that killed tens of ...read more

South Vietnamese forces raid POW camp

Led by South Vietnamese Lt. Gen. Do Cao Tri, and with U.S. air support and advisers, some 300 paratroopers raid a communist prisoner of war camp near the town of Mimot in Cambodia on information that 20 U.S. prisoners were being held there. They found the camp empty, but captured ...read more

Nixon threatens President Thieu

President Richard Nixon warns South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu in a private letter that his refusal to sign any negotiated peace agreement would render it impossible for the United States to continue assistance to South Vietnam. Nixon’s National Security Advisor Henry ...read more

PGA is formed

On January 17, 1916, a group of golf professionals and several leading amateur golfers gather at the Taplow Club in New York City, in a meeting that will result in the founding of the Professional Golfers Association (PGA). The lunch meeting occurred at the invitation of Rodman ...read more

NBC Television greenlights The Monkees

The inspiration came from the Beatles, the financing came from Screen Gems, the music came from Don Kirshner and the stars came from an exhaustive audition process that began with this ad in Daily Variety in September 1965: Madness!! Auditions For Acting Roles in New TV Series ...read more

Anne Bronte is born

On this day in 1820, Anne Bronte, the youngest of the six Bronte children, is born in Yorkshire, England. Their mother died when Anne was still an infant, and the children were left largely to their own devices in the bleak parsonage in Haworth, a remote village in Yorkshire, ...read more

Earthquake rocks Los Angeles

On this day in 1994, an earthquake rocks Los Angeles, California, killing 54 people and causing billions of dollars in damages. The Northridge quake (named after the San Fernando Valley community near the epicenter) was one of the most damaging in U.S. history. It was 4:31 a.m. ...read more

The Great Brinks Robbery

A team of 11 thieves, in a precisely timed and choreographed strike, steals more than $2 million from the Brinks Armored Car depot in Boston, Massachusetts. The Great Brinks Robbery, as it quickly became known, was the almost perfect crime. Only days before the statute of ...read more

Sherman’s army rained in

On this day in 1865, Union General William T. Sherman’s army is rained in at Savannah, Georgia, as it waits to begin marching into the Carolinas. In the fall of 1864, Sherman and his army marched across Georgia and destroyed nearly everything in their path. Sherman reasoned that ...read more

Corvette unveiled at GM Motorama

On this day in 1953, a prototype Chevrolet Corvette sports car makes its debut at General Motors’ (GM) Motorama auto show at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. The Corvette, named for a fast type of naval warship, would eventually become an iconic American muscle car and ...read more