75 years ago today, a Royal Air Force sergeant survived a jump from 18,000 feet without a parachute. The 21-year-old WWII gunner decided when his Lancaster bomber was on fire, it was better to jump than burn. His fall was broken by pine trees and soft snow and he suffered only a sprained leg. Nicholas Stephen Alkemade was subsequently captured and interviewed by the German Gestapo, who were initially suspicious of his claim to have fallen without a parachute until the wreckage of the aircraft was examined… (1944)

WWII bomber German plane side-by-sideHe was a celebrated prisoner of war, before being repatriated in May 1945. Reportedly, the Germans gave Alkemade a certificate testifying to the fact, according to Guy Murchie, in The World Aloft. (File photo: Royal Air Force photo of a tail gunner, Sergeant J Morgan)

MORE Good News on this Date:

  • The British Parliament abolished the slave trade (1807)
  • The modern Olympics began in Athens, Greece (1896)
  • Greek Independence Day was established (1920)
  • 97 percent of all Dutch physicians went on strike againt Nazi registration (1943)
  • While still in his twenties, Martin Luther King Jr. led 25,000 to the state capitol in Montgomery, Ala. (1965)
  • John & Yoko staged first bed-in for peace in Amsterdam (1969)
  • Wiki Wiki Web, the world’s first wiki was made public by Ward Cunningham in Portland, Oregon (1995)
  • The Dunkin’ Donuts, Baskin-Robbins Community Foundation gave $1 million to put food in backpacks for poor children to take home from school throughout America (2014)

And, on this date in 2009, thirteen Palestinian girls and boys from a West Bank refugee camp traveled with their musical director to Israel to perform for elderly Holocaust survivors.

violin and player-BW-padesucre-Flickr-CC
Photo by padesucre, CC

Most of the audience at the Holocaust Survivors Center did not know the youths were Palestinians from such a rough area until it was announced. Amidst gasps, the orchestra began to play songs for peace, and the audience broke out in applause.  The event was part of “Good Deeds Day,” an annual event at the Center.

By Eva Rinaldi, CC license

Happy Birthday to Sir Elton John, who turns 72 years old today. Growing up in London, the singer-songwriter learned to play piano at age three. In his 5-decade career, Elton John has sold more than 300 million records, making him one of the best-selling musical artists in the world.

He has more than fifty Top 40 hits, such as Rocket Man, Tiny Dancer, and Bennie and the Jets, and seven consecutive No. 1 US albums. His tribute single, re-penned in dedication to the late Princess Diana, “Candle in the Wind 1997” sold over 33 million copies worldwide and is the best-selling single in the history of the UK and US singles charts. WATCH a 70-Year Video Tribute… (1947)

Another Notable Birthday: Gloria Steinem, 85;

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