On this day, 17 years ago, a U.S. Air Force jet flew to the Antarctic to drop off emergency medical supplies to a South Pole research center for physician Dr. Jerri Nelson after she discovered a lump in her breast. In winter, at a time when the station is physically cut off from the rest of the world, she had to operate on herself to extract tissue samples for analysis, and later wrote this auto-biography about it. (1999)
The cancer later went into remission, but recurred seven years later, eventually causing her death in 2009.
MORE Good News on this Day:
- “Get Down, You Fool!” – Abraham Lincoln survived in battle as the only US president to come under enemy fire (1864)
- Babe Ruth made his debut in Major league baseball. He began his career as an outstanding pitcher, twice winning 20 games, but wanted to play every day so converted to an outfielder. He responded by breaking the MLB single-season home run record in 1919. His career record of 714 home run stood for 39 years and other batting (and some pitching) records remain unbroken today. (1914)
- Transatlantic satellite television was transmitted for the first time (1962)
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was posthumously awarded the Medal of Freedom (1977)
- Nolan Ryan became the first major league pitcher to earn 4,000 strikeouts in a career (1985)
- Full diplomatic relations were established between the United States and its former enemy Vietnam (1995)
And, on this day in 1859, Big Ben, the bell in the world’s largest chiming clock tower first rang out over London from its new perch as part of Westminster Palace, home to the Houses of Parliament. It took 30 hours to winch the bell, named Big Ben, into the tower’s belfry. The origin of the name is thought to come from Sir Benjamin Hall, the First Commissioner of Works and Public Buildings, whose name is inscribed on the bell.