On this day in 1492 Christopher Columbus and his expedition reached North America by "discovering" the Bahamas. Then why is Columbus day the 11th of October? Well, that's when he first sighted land and narrowly avoided a mutiny. For the rest of his syphilis ridden life Columbus believed he had arrived in Asia, but due to a math error his calculations of how big the world was turned out to be off by several thousands of miles. But good job guy, for ushering in the extinction of millions of people.
On this day in 1960 Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev provided a bit of comic relief to those in attendance of a UN meeting by taking off his shoe and banging it against a table out of frustration. A representative from the Philippines called into question the criticisms raised by the Russian leader against colonialism, pointing out the puppet states that existed throughout Eastern Europe under Soviet control. Khrushchev, the hero of Stalingrad during WWII, didn't like this much and made it known to everyone how he felt.
On this day in 1998 Mathew Shepard, an openly gay University of Wyoming student dies after being beaten, robbed, tortured, and tied naked to a fence in the below freezing night. Both of the men who committed the murder were sentenced to life in prison. As a result of this deplorable crime President Clinton passed a series of anti-hate crime bills.
On this day in 1997 John Denver died in a plane crash into Monterey Bay, California. He was flying an ultra-light aircraft in which he had experienced control problems before, but as an avid flier he refused to let a few bad experiences stop him from taking to the air. Denver was famous for his 70's anthems "Rocky Mountain High" and "Country Roads" and had used his fame to fight against censorship in music prior to his death.