150 years ago today, Memorial Day was officially first observed in the U.S. when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery across the river from Washington, D.C. (1868)
MORE Good News on this Day in History:
- A New York City building was renamed Madison Square Garden and opened to the public (1879)
- Albania becomes an independent nation with the signing of the Treaty of London (1913)
- The Lincoln Memorial was dedicated in Washington, D.C. (1922)
- Cal Ripken Jr. of the Baltimore Orioles began his streak playing in the first of a record 2,632 consecutive major league baseball games (1982)
- Spain became the 16th member of NATO (1982)
- A 33-foot high “Goddess of Democracy” statue was unveiled in Tiananmen Square by student demonstrators in China (1989)
- Germany announced plans to abandon nuclear power over the next 11 years, outlining an ambitious strategy to replace it with renewable energy sources in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima disaster (2011)
- Viswanathan Anand, at 43, won his fifth World Chess Championship and, for the fourth year in a row, brought home the crown to India, the birthplace of chess–and the only place where a celebrity player gets mobbed in the street (2012)
And on this day in 1941, Manolis Glezos and Apostolos Santas climbed up the Athenian Acropolis, tore down the Nazi swastika, and replaced it with the Greek flag. The resistance fighters suffered torture and imprisonment for their stunt, but they inspired Greeks and all subjected people to work against the occupation, and became international anti-Nazi heroes.
In his 80s, Manolis Glezos was still participating in protest demonstration in Athens, even getting sprayed with tear gas and arrested. As an MP of the Coalition of Radical Left in 2014, he was elected to the European Parliament with over 430,000 votes, more than any other candidate in Greece. At age 91, he was also the oldest person elected to the European Parliament.
Apostolos Santas managed to escape from prison in 1948 and flee to Italy, and later Canada, where he was granted political asylum. In 1962 he returned to Greece, where he spent the rest of his life and died in 2011 at age 89. (Photos by Michalis Famelis, and German archives, CC