This Week in History

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Several important events in history took place over the coming days that helped shape the world we live in. Here is a quick rundown of this week in history.

On August 27, 1984, President Ronald Reagan announced the Teacher in Space Project through NASA with the ultimate goal of putting school teachers in space so they could bring their experiences back to the classroom.

The first nominee for the program was Christa McAuliffe, a high school teacher from Concord, New Hampshire. She beat out more than eleven thousand other applicants for the prestigious position and planned on teaching two lessons from the space shuttle Challenger.

Unfortunately, tragedy struck on Jan. 28, 1986 when the spacecraft exploded just 73 seconds after takeoff from Cape Canaveral, Florida. McAuliffe and the six other passengers were killed in the accident and NASA would not undertake another space shuttle mission for nearly three years.

On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. One of the most successful events of the Civil Rights Movement, it was attended by over a quarter of a million people and televised nationwide.

King called for the end of racism in America, and for the federal government to improve its efforts to make society fair for all people. His speech has been hailed as one of the most important of the 20th century and is still studied and referenced today.

King continued to fight for civil rights until he was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee by James Earl Ray. The Lorraine Motel, where he was killed, is now the site of the National Civil Rights Museum.

On August 30, 1780, American Gen. Benedict Arnold officially accepted a secret offer from Maj. John Andre and Gen. Henry Clinton to defect to the British side during the Revolutionary War and give up the fort of West Point. In return, Arnold would receive a substantial amount of money and a commision in the British Army.

West Point was an incredibly vital strategic position as it overlooked the Hudson River and could defend or attack any naval force passing through.

Arnold was given command of the fort personally by George Washington, who greatly respected him and his military efforts. Arnold’s deception was discovered when Maj. Andre was captured by American forces while carrying papers detailing the traitorous plan. Arnold was forced to flee and spent the remainder of the war fighting for the British before leaving for London when the Treaty of Paris was signed. Andre wasn’t so lucky, and was hanged as a spy on Oct. 2, 1780.

On August 31, 1994, a permanent ceasefire was accepted by the Provisional Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland, bringing an end to nearly 30 years of violence. Northern Ireland, especially Belfast, had seen years of attacks, bombings and the death of over 3,000 people as a battle was waged between various political parties and paramilitary groups over whether the six northern counties of Ireland would remain part of the United Kingdom or join the Republic of Ireland.

The conflict came to an end with the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, which established organizations to connect Northern Ireland with the Republic and also decreed that Northern Ireland would remain a part of the United Kingdom. It was later revealed that President Bill Clinton was instrumental in facilitating these peace talks and was awarded several honorary prizes in recognition of his efforts.


Seamus McKeever is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at seamus.mckeever@uconn.edu.