July 2015

This Day in History… July 31, 1971

Astronauts Take Lunar Rover for First Drive on the Moon 

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On July 31, 1971, U.S. Astronauts David Scott and James Irwin became the first humans to drive on the Moon.

Though we’d traveled to the Moon in 1969, the astronauts couldn’t move around very fast, so were limited in how many samples they could collect. To make this easier, NASA began work on lunar rovers. They were developed in just 17 months and cost $38 million (for four rovers). The result was like something out of the future. Made out of a variety of lightweight alloys, the 463-pound rovers could carry up 1,080 pounds. They were folded so they could fit in the cargo bay and locked into place as they were removed and opened up. The rovers could reach of top speed of eight miles per hour. Continue reading

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This Day in History… July 30, 1956

“In God We Trust” Made Official U.S. Motto 

Although it had appeared on American coins for 92 years, “In God We Trust” didn’t become America’s official motto until July 30, 1956.

Its roots in American tradition date back to the War of 1812, when Francis Scott Key included the phrase “And this be our motto: In God is our Trust” in his “Star-Spangled Banner.” Fifty years later, as America was embroiled in Civil War, Reverend M.R. Watkinson requested that our coins include a statement recognizing God to “relieve us from the ignominy of heathenism.” He, and many others, wished to show that God sided with Union. Continue reading

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This Day in History… July 29, 1958

Birth of NASA and Dawn of the Space Age 

NASA’s 50th Anniversary

America ofically entered the Space Race on July 29, 1958, when Congress established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

America officially entered the Space Race on July 29, 1958 when Congress established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

The Space Race had begun a little under a year earlier. In October 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik I, its first satellite, which orbited Earth in 98 minutes. News of this shocked Americans, who began fearing the Soviets might be able to launch nuclear weapons. Continue reading

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This Day in History… July 28, 1935

First Flight of the B-17 Flying Fortress 

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On July 28, 1935, Boeing’s Model 299, as it was called at the time, embarked on its first flight from a Seattle airfield. The plane would go on to be one of the most famous used during World War II.

As Seattle Times reporter Richard Smith watched the four-engine plane packed with machine gun mounts pass by, he called it a “Flying Fortress.” Boeing liked the name and trademarked it, designated the plane the B-17 Flying Fortress. Continue reading

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This Day in History… July 27, 1940

Bugs Bunny Makes His Cartoon Debut 

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On July 27, 1940, the world first met Bugs Bunny and heard him utter his now famous phrase, “Eh, what’s up, Doc?”

Earlier versions of an animated rabbit had been used in cartoons during the late 1930s that were directed by Ben “Bugs” Hardaway and Cal Dalton. One day, designer Charlie Thorson labeled one of the drawings “Bugs’ bunny” (after the cartoon’s director) and the name stuck. Continue reading

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This Day in History… July 26, 1775

Ben Franklin Appointed America’s First Postmaster General 

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As America waged war with the United Kingdom in the summer of 1775, the need arose for an independent mail service, not controlled by the British. On July 26, 1775, the Second Continental Congress established America’s first postal system and selected Benjamin Franklin as its first leader.

Franklin had a long history with mail service in the colonies and was an obvious choice. In 1753, he had been appointed deputy postmaster general of the American Colonies. He greatly improved the frequency and reliability of mail service. By 1761, the post office showed a profit for the first time. Continue reading

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