On this day in 1968 US Olympic sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos are stripped of their medals at the games in Mexico City for their protest during the medal ceremony the day before. Both African American men bowed their heads and raised a black gloved fist to the sky, the black power salute, while the United States national anthem played. Smith had set a world record in the 200 meter dash and earned the gold medal, while Carlos finished third to earn the bronze. Along with being stripped of their medals both athletes were told they had to leave Mexico immediately. I always wondered what the silver medalist felt through all of this. It was Peter Norman of Australia. As it turns out he supported his fellow medalists and wore the same badge on his shoulder that protested the poverty that plagued black Americans.
On this day in 1989 a 7.1 earthquake rocked the San Francisco Bay area at 5:04 local time during the height of the rush hour commute home. 63 people were reported killed and over 100,000 buildings were reported as damaged, along with large portions of the infrastructure. Many people nationwide saw the aftermath unfold while waiting to see the World Series dubbed the "Battle of the Bay" between the Oakland A's and the San Francisco Giants. It experienced a 10 day delay before resuming. The Golden Gate Bridge remained undamaged, despite reports of it swaying heavily from side to side, but the Bay Bridge experienced a large section of it's upper deck road collapsing onto the lower deck.
On this day in 1777 the American colonists win the Battle of Saratoga against the British during the American Revolution. Many argue that this was the most important victory for the Americans during the war as it convinced France to intervene on their side. It also prevented the British from cutting New England off from the rest of the colonies. Under the command of General John Burgoyne, the British surrendered their 5,000 man army at the village of Saratoga after failing to break the American line.
On this day in 1974 president Gerald Ford was brought before Congress to explain why he pardoned his predecessor Richard Nixon. By granting the pardon, Nixon could not be legally pursued for the Watergate scandal that forced him to resign the office of the president. Some said this was a back door deal that was a thank you by Ford to Nixon for naming him vice president 2 years prior. Ford's explanation was that he wanted the nation to begin healing and the quickest way to do so was to grant the pardon so everyone could move on. And you wonder why he wasn't re-elected.
I would also like to take this opportunity to wish my dear old dad a Happy Birthday!