On this day 60 years ago, the 370-mile St. Lawrence Seaway was officially opened, marking the completion of one of the greatest engineering feats of the 20th Century. After 50 years of talks between the U.S. and Canada, the system of locks and channels took five years to construct, spanning the difference of 224-feet in sea level rise to help oceangoing ships move cargo between the Atlantic Ocean and the Great Lakes—the heart of American manufacturing.
Queen Elizabeth, representing Canada, opened the Seaway with US President Dwight Eisenhower aboard her Royal Yacht Britannia in Montreal. As crowds cheered and waved flags, church bells and fireworks rang out, and all the sirens and horns in the harbor wailed. The two heads of state were each presented with a commemorative book with the names of the 22,000 workers who built the Seaway—“the great joint enterprise between our two countries”.
The 2,300-mile inland water route to Duluth, Minnesota crosses the international border 27 times with the crucial St. Lawrence Seaway (from Port Colborne, Ontario to Montreal) costing $470 million dollars to build. WATCH a 40-second newsreel from the event… (1959)
MORE Good News from this Day:
- The first federal law governing purity in food or drugs was enacted in the US., initiated because of the Mexican–American War, and the desire to ban the importation of “adulterated drugs” (1848)
- Madagascar gained its independence from France (1960)
- The first installment of the Harry Potter book series – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – was first published in the UK (1997)
- The first rough map of the human genome was unveiled, an international effort proposed and funded by the US government, proving the DNA of any two individuals is 99.9% identical (2000)
- The US Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act declaring that same-sex couples deserve equal rights to the benefits under federal law that go to all other couples who are legally married in any state (2013)
- The US Supreme Court agreed 5-4 that the Constitution protects the rights of same-sex couples to marry no matter where in the US they reside (2015)
And, on this day in 1945, the inspirational United Nations Charter was signed by 50 countries in San Francisco: “WE THE PEOPLES OF THE UNITED NATIONS DETERMINED
* to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and (read more)
* to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small,
* to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained,
* to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,
* to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbors,
* to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security,
* to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest,
* to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples, HAVE RESOLVED TO COMBINE OUR EFFORTS TO ACCOMPLISH THESE AIMS.”
Also, on this day in 1963, John F. Kennedy pronounced the now-famous line, ”Ich bin ein Berliner” (I am a Berliner) during a speech in West Berlin.
With the remark, Kennedy declared support for the “besieged city” of West Germany 22 months after Soviet-supported East Germany erected the Berlin Wall to prevent any exodus to the West. The message was aimed as much at the Soviets as it was toward Berliners, whose families were separated, and was a clear statement of U.S. policy in the wake of the Communists’ construction of the Cold War Wall. Considered one of Kennedy’s best speeches, it was a great morale boost for West Berliners who lived in an enclave deep inside East Germany and feared a possible communist occupation. Spoken before an audience of 450,000, Kennedy said, “Two thousand years ago, the proudest boast was civis romanus sum [“I am a Roman citizen”]. Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is “Ich bin ein Berliner!”… All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words “Ich bin ein Berliner!” WATCH the short speech…