This Day in History: Apollo 11 Lands on the Moon; Canada Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage; and more

Buzz Aldrin
AP

California opens the first freeway (1940)

On July 20, 1940, the first freeway in the Western United States – Arroyo Seco Parkway, formerly called Pasadena Freeway – opened after over two years of construction.

The freeway, which originally connected Orange Grove Avenue in Pasadena with Avenue 40 in Los Angeles, was not completed until January of 1941, costing over $5.5 million – worth about $98 million today after calculating for inflation, according to the US Department of Labor.

The parkway - or freeway, depending on who you ask - still remains open today; it is still the most direct route between Los Angeles and Pasadena.

FDR nominated for unprecedented 4th term by DNC; Hitler survives assassination-attempt (1944)

Just four years later, on his way to becoming the longest tenured president in United States’ history, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was nominated for an unprecedented fourth time by the Democratic National Committee.

President Roosevelt – still one of the most oft-referenced presidents for liberals – is best known for the New Deal, his series of programs, reforms and regulations addressing the Great Depression.

It was actually composed of a two-part legislative agenda. The first heavily reforming banking; the second created Social Security and other major labor-related regulations.

He presided over much of the Great Depression and World War II. The War ended on May 8, 1945, barely a month after his death.

Among his other historical accomplishments during his 13-year tenure as president, he also appointed eight Supreme Court justices.

He died of a massive cerebral hemorrhage on March 29, 1945, just 11 weeks into his fourth term. He was 63.

On the same day FDR was nominated for a fourth term. Claus von Stauffenberg and company attempted a military coup, which included an attempted assassination of Adolf Hitler.

Stauffenberg, carrying a bomb in his briefcase, infiltrated a Nazi officer meeting. He placed the briefcase near Hitler; however, Hitler survived, as well as 20 of the other officers. Reports say Stauffenberg was not able to prime a second explosive he planned to use, but he was unsuccessful nonetheless.

Stauffenberg and an accomplice then escaped, only to learn Hitler had survived mostly unharmed.

Hitler committed suicide less than a year later after watching his Nazi regime fall to Allied forces.

Space-travel of the 1960s and 70s

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, flown by Michael Collins, landed Apollo 11 on the moon – only Armstrong and Aldrin actually stepped on the moon, becoming the first two humans to do so – fulfilling President John F. Kennedy’s dream of sending an astronaut to the moon and returning.

The spaceship launched from Merritt Island, Florida, on July 16; it returned on July 24, landing in the Pacific Ocean.

The landing was broadcast on national television, which is where Aldrin's famous quote, "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," originates from.

Conspiracy theorists have spent much of the past 5 decades doubting the legitimacy America’s lunar landing – often questioning if America located extraterrestrial life; or if they faked the entire event,

While many thought Apollo 11 would launch a new age of American space exploration, it actually was closer to the end of an era. Apollo 17, which was a manned lunar landing in December of 1971, was the last time humans ventured to the orbiting rock.

On July 20, 1976, Viking 1 became the first spacecraft to successfully land on Mars.

It spent over 2000 days on Mars’ surface, which was a record before being surpassed by another spacecraft, Opportunity, in 2010.

Viking 1’s mission was to search for extraterrestrial life on Mars; it never discovered any, but took several noteworthy photos of Mars.

Viking 2, a tandem craft, landed on August 7, 1976.

NASA and other scientists have since determined it is unlikely there is any life on mars. Humankind’s hunt for an intelligent life-form continues.

CIA admits in FOIA docs to mind control experiments (1977)

Just a year later, the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) admitted to experimenting the effects of drugs on American Citizens under the name ‘Project MK-Ultra’.

The CIA secretly supported human behavior control research at 80 institutions – 44 colleges, as well as hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and prisons, according to the New York Times.

The testing included the use of LSD and the director of the CIA, Admiral Stanfield Turner, admitted there was evidence the CIA had planned to test on, unknowing, terminal cancer patients and criminal sexual psychopaths.

The CIA contributed several hundreds of thousands of dollars to institutions, in order perform the covert testing.

Director Turner promised the CIA was looking into reparations for those who were tested on and no longer had ran any similar programs.

Canada legalizes same sex marriage (2005)

On July 20, 2005, Canada became the fourth country to legalize same-sex marriage.

After several provinces legalized via court decision, the country enacted the Civil Marriage Act, which was introduced by former Prime Minister Paul Martin.

Just 12 years later, now over 20 countries recognize same-sex marriage, and that number continues to grow.

The United States legalized same-sex marriage in 2015. 

US/Cuba resume diplomatic relations after five decades (2015)

After severing ties with the communist nation during the Cold War in 1961, on July 20, 2015, Cuba and the United States restored diplomatic relations.

President Obama became the first president to visit Cuba in over 80 years, in March of 2016.

Diplomatic relations were originally ended by the United States – the CIA was funding dissidents against then President of Cuba, Fidel Castro. Castro was a communist who led the Cuban revolution before assuming power.

Castro died in November of 2016; his brother took over governing the nation in 2008.

Last month President Donald Trump announced he was cancelling the deals the Obama administration had made with Cuba; saying new deals would be negotiated.

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