This Day in History: LBJ Signs Civil Rights Act; Wal-Mart Opens; Zeppelin Takes Flight; and more

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This day in history signifies a landmark change in civil rights and grocery shopping in America.

Zeppelin takes flight (1900)
On July 2, 1900, the Luftschiff Zeppelin 1 took flight for the first time.  

Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin began construction on his first airship in the summer of 1898. This ship was completed in the winter of 1899, but Count Ferdinand waited until the summer to take flight.

The flight lasted just under 20 minutes and the ship traveled 3 miles over Lake Constance.

One of the engines failed on the flight, but the fundamental engineering behind “LZ-1” was the basis for future Zeppelin airships.

World UFO Day* (1947)
World UFO Day is highly contested among those who celebrate it – disagreements are held over whether or not the day should be celebrated on June 24 or July 2.

On June 24, aviator Kenneth Arnold reportedly saw several unidentified flying object in Mount Rainier, WA.

On July 2, supposed UFOs crashed in in Roswell, NM – commonly referred to as the Roswell UFO incident.

Witnesses reported seeing alien space-crafts crash and several alien bodies near the site. The United States Air Force has since released a report claiming a conventional weather balloon, manned by life-size dummies, is actually what crashed.

The mystery of extraterrestrial life remains.

Wal-Mart Opens in Rogers, Ark. (1962)
The first Wal-Mart opened on July 2, 1962 – the grocery store has since grown into an international retailing corporation.

Sam Walton founded the company in Rogers, Ark. The Walton family still owns over 50 percent of the shares of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

As of January, 2017, the company has nearly 12,000 stores in almost 30 countries. Wal-Mart is the world’s largest revenue company and private employer – raking in approximately $480 billion and employing over 2 million people worldwide.

It took just 10 years for the company to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange; it’s the largest grocery retailer in the United States.

Lyndon Baines Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act (1964)
After a decade of what historians consider the American Civil Rights Movement, Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law on July 2.

The law outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin – specifically targeting voter registration requirements, racial segregation in school, employment and public accommodations (such as hotels, restaurants and movie theaters).

The law was followed by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

Republic of Vietnam falls, unifies with North Vietnam (1976)
After two decades as a sovereign nation, The Republic of Vietnam fell and unified with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam on July 2, 1976.

The Republic of Vietnam, commonly referred to as South Vietnam, was a military ally of the United States and France – established by the State of Vietnam referendum in 1955.

The United States waged a war to protect the Republic of Vietnam, against communism, North Vietnam and the Soviet Union, in hopes of keeping the republic from becoming a communist nation.

U.S. involvement in the war was initially supported and the troops were deployed throughout the 1960s, peaking in 1968 before the United States population became increasingly unsupportive to the war. Direct U.S military involvement ended in August of 1973.

The Republic of Vietnam completely fell to the Socialist Republic by April of 1975, when Saigon, the capital, officially surrendered.

The Republics then unified and was admitted to the United Nations in 1977. The Socialist Republic of Vietnam still stands today. 

Steve Fossett circles the world in a balloon (2002)
On this day 15 years ago, James Fossett became the first person to fly solo nonstop around the globe in a balloon.

Fossett was an adventurer, circling the world as a sailor and solo flight fixed-wing pilot as well.

 Fossett disappeared in September of 2007, flying an aircraft over the Great Basin Desert between California and Nevada. He was declared dead in February of 2008 and his remains were found later that year. James Fossett was 63.

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