30 years ago today, thousands of East Germans received a triumphant welcome from fellow Germans after communist leaders agreed to let them flee to the West. West German foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher made the dramatic announcement the day before in Prague, telling 4,000 refugees encamped at the embassy that they were being allowed to emigrate by train to the West.
In the aftermath of World War II, Germany had been split in two, with the eastern side forced to live under the heavy-handed authoritarian occupation of the Soviet Union. Germany celebrates Unity Day on Thursday, remembering the events three decades ago that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall in November, and the reunification of the nation the following year. (1989)
MORE Good News on this Day:
- John Philip Sousa, who later, invented the sousaphone, became leader of the United States Marine Corps Band (1880)
- Everything-Happens-For-a-Reason: Wiley Post, who became the first pilot to fly solo around the world, had an accident that cost his left eye–but the settlement money bought him his first aircraft (1926)
- Cyprus and Nigeria gained their independence from the UK in 1960; Ghana, in 1957
- Roger Maris hit his 61st home run of the season for the New York Yankees, breaking Babe Ruth’s record of 60 set in 1927 (1961)
- The Japanese Shinkansen ‘bullet’ trains began the first high-speed rail service (1964)
- The Free Speech Movement was launched on the UC Berkeley campus – info (1964)
- The United States returned sovereignty of the Panama canal to Panama (1979)
- The first CD player was released by Sony for consumer use of compact discs (1982)
Also on this day, 129 years ago, Yosemite National Park in California became the third U.S. National Park.
President Lincoln had set aside the majestic valley, years earlier, marking the first time in human history a huge tract of land had been dedicated to public use and preservation. The more than one million square-miles of Yosemite in the Sierra Nevada Mountains are host to giant sequoia trees, towering waterfalls, and the largest granite monolith in the world, El Capitan. (1890)
Happy Birthday to actress, singer and author, Julie Andrews, who turns 84 today. (1935)
And, Happy 50th Birthday to comedian, writer, and actor Zack Galifianakis, known for his role as the awkward brother-in-law in The Hangover. (1969)
Also, Happy Birthday to former President Jimmy Carter who turns 95 years old today. The 39th president of the United States (1977–1981), is one of the few American presidents to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
The author of ‘A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety,’ last month he helped build another home for Habitat for Humanity with his wife Rosalynn, once again showing that his age, and even beating cancer, hasn’t slowed him down. The couple has volunteered for the housing organization for more than 30 years, during which time, they have helped build more than 4,000 homes. WATCH a video about his Habitat for Humanity passion… (1924)