On this day in 1989, almost 2 million people held hands across the Baltic States, as a peaceful resistance against the USSR.
Later named the Baltic Way, or Baltic Chain, stretched 643km and went across Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) fell in 1991, due to the immense social desire in those countries for independence from Russia; and was helped by Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev.
The Baltic Way was considered incredibly effective in raising global awareness of the occupation of Baltic States by Soviet forces; and that this was a moral not a political problem.
Since the fall of Communism in Europe, August 23rd has become a day of remembrance, not only in these Baltic countries but across the European Union, as Black Ribbon Day.
On this day in 1911 the Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre Museum in Paris.
It was decided that it must have been the work of a mad-man in the middle of the night, but the painting was not found until 1913 when an Italian painter tried to sell it to an art dealer.
Da Vinci’s infamous portrait is considered by most to be the world’s most famous painting, and the world’s most seen painting. It is loved, admired, critiqued and transposed as a pop culture icon across the globe, because of its beauty and mystery.
Who is Mona Lisa? Is it a self-portrait of Da Vinci, Is it his lover? Why is she smiling? Does she know a secret? And most importantly, how and why has she held the world’s attention for the better part of 500 years?
On this day in 1959 Hawaii became the 50th state of America.
President Dwight Eisenhower announced its statehood, and fireworks and partying ensued across Hawaii – for some it was the end of a 110 year struggle, but for others it meant the possible destruction of the unique Hawaiian culture.
The Bill for Statehood was passed in March the year before hand, and consisted of a petition of 120, 000 signatures that weighed 113kg and was over 1.6km long.
On this day in 1975 the NASA launched the Viking 1 lander to Mars.
Viking 1 landed on the surface of the red planet in July 1976, and was the first attempt to ascertain more facts about whether or not there could be life on Mars.
The public were thrilled with the excellent quality photos it transmitted back to Earth, and scientists grew optimistic about the Martian atmosphere and surface.
On this day in 1914, the Australian Red Cross Society was formed.
This incredible organisation was started as an organisation to help cope with the casualties from WWI.
Since then, the Australian Red Cross has become one of the nation’s largest charity organisations, and runs the country’s largest Blood Bank.
Thanks for all your hard work Red Cross!
On this day in 1920, women were given the right to vote in the United States of America.
It was on this day that the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, and it reads:
“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied of abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”
While the amendment was first introduced in 1878, it would take 42 years to acquire the 3 quarters of American State legislatures to pass it.
Few women that started the movement were alive to see it passed, and somewhat ironically, there were no women present at the signing.
Author’s note – I’d like to thank Mrs Banks from Mary Poppins, for teaching us all the importance of the women’s suffrage movement from the age of 4 and onwards.
On this day in 1945, Indonesia was declared an independent nation.
After hearing of the Japanese surrender in World War II, Indonesian President Akmed Sukarno, announced that he was ended the country’s 350 year Dutch colonial rule.
This was not allowed or recognised by the Netherlands until 1949.