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John’s Believe It Or Not… June 28th

In 1981 – Terry Fox Dies in Vancouver. In 1953 Workers assemble first Corvette. In 1914 Archduke Ferdinand assassinated. In 1919 Treaty of Versailles – ending WWI and establishing the League of Nations is signed in France. In 1969 The Stonewall Riot.

John Fioravanti is standing in front of the blackboard in his classroom.

It’s Hump Day Wednesday! Did you know…

* 1981 – Terry Fox Dies in Vancouver. (Thirty years ago today, Terry Fox began his inspiring “Marathon of Hope”, with the dream of running across the country and raising what was then a staggering $1 million for cancer research.

Three decades later, more than $500 million has been raised in his name since his story of courage and determination became the stuff of Canadian legend.When Fox began his run on April 12,

When Fox began his run on April 12, 1980, by dipping his foot into the Atlantic Ocean in St. John’s Harbour, he said he wanted to make a difference in the lives of other people battling cancer.

His mother, Betty, says it was the time her son spent in the hospital while he battled his cancer that forged his resolve to do something more that just survive.)

Terry shaking hands with a man beside his van that has a sign showing how many miles he ran to date and how many miles yet to go.

* 1953 Workers assemble first Corvette in Flint, Michigan. (On this day in 1953, workers at a Chevrolet plant in Flint, Michigan, assemble the first Corvette, a two-seater sports car that would become an American icon. The first completed production car rolled off the assembly line two days later, one of just 300 Corvettes made that year.

The idea for the Corvette originated with General Motors’ pioneering designer Harley J. Earl, who in 1951 began developing plans for a low-cost American sports car that could compete with Europe’s MGs, Jaguars, and Ferraris. The project was eventually code-named “Opel.” In January 1953, GM debuted the Corvette concept car at its Motorama auto show at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. It featured a fiberglass body and a six-cylinder engine and according to GM, was named for the “trim, fleet naval vessel that performed heroic escort and patrol duties during World War II.” The Corvette was a big hit with the public at Motorama and GM soon put the roadster into production.

On June 30, 1953, the first Corvette came off the production line in Flint. It was hand-assembled and featured a Polo White exterior and red interior, two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission, a wraparound windshield, whitewall tires and detachable plastic curtains instead of side windows. The earliest Corvettes were designed to be opened from the inside and lacked exterior door handles. Other components included a clock, cigarette lighter and red warning light that activated when the parking brake was applied–a new feature at the time. The car carried an initial price tag of $3,490 and could go from zero to 60 miles per hour in 11 or 12 seconds, then considered a fairly average speed.

In 1954, the Corvette went into mass production at a Chevy plant in St. Louis, Missouri. Sales were lackluster in the beginning and GM considered discontinuing the line. However, rival company Ford had introduced the two-seater Thunderbird around the same time and GM did not want to be seen bowing to the competition. Another critical development in the Corvette’s survival came in 1955, when it was equipped with the more powerful V-8 engine. Its performance and appeal steadily improved after that and it went on to earn the nickname “America’s sports car” and become ingrained in pop culture through multiple references in movies, television, and music.)

The first Corvette
The first Corvette (pdx retro)

* 1914 Archduke Ferdinand assassinated. (On this day in 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophie are shot to death by a Bosnian Serb nationalist during an official visit to the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. The killings sparked a chain of events that led to the outbreak of World War I by early August. On June 28, 1919, five years to the day after Franz Ferdinand’s death, Germany and the Allied Powers signed the Treaty of Versailles, officially marking the end of World War I.

The Archduke traveled to Sarajevo in June 1914 to inspect the imperial armed forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina, annexed by Austria-Hungary in 1908. The annexation had angered Serbian nationalists, who believed the territories should be part of Serbia. A group of young nationalists hatched a plot to kill the Archduke during his visit to Sarajevo, and after some missteps, 19-year-old Gavrilo Princip was able to shoot the royal couple at point-blank range, while they traveled in their official procession, killing both almost instantly.

The assassination set off a rapid chain of events, as Austria-Hungary immediately blamed the Serbian government for the attack. As large and powerful Russia supported Serbia, Austria asked for assurances that Germany would step in on its side against Russia and its allies, including France and possibly Great Britain. On July 28, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, and the fragile peace between Europe’s great powers collapsed, beginning the devastating conflict now known as the First World War.

After more than four years of bloodshed, the Great War ended on November 11, 1918, after Germany, the last of the Central Powers, surrendered to the Allies. At the peace conference in Paris in 1919, Allied leaders would state their desire to build a post-war world that was safe from future wars of such enormous scale. The Versailles Treaty, signed on June 28, 1919, tragically failed to achieve this objective. U.S. President Woodrow Wilson’s grand dreams of an international peace-keeping organization faltered when put into practice as the League of Nations. Even worse, the harsh terms imposed on Germany, the war’s biggest loser, led to widespread resentment of the treaty and its authors in that country–a resentment that would culminate in the outbreak of the Second World War two decades later.)

The shot that shook the world – Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnina Serb student, being arrested immediately after he assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in 1914.
The shot that shook the world – Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian Serb student, being arrested immediately after he assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in 1914. (

* 1919 Treaty of Versailles – ending WWI and establishing the League of Nations is signed in France. (The Treaty ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of World War I signed separate treaties. Although the armistice, signed on 11 November 1918, ended the actual fighting, it took six months of Allied negotiations at the Paris Peace Conference to conclude the peace treaty. The treaty was registered by the Secretariat of the League of Nations on 21 October 1919.

Of the many provisions in the treaty, one of the most important and controversial required “Germany [to] accept the responsibility of Germany and her allies for causing all the loss and damage” during the war (the other members of the Central Powers signed treaties containing similar articles). This article, Article 231, later became known as the War Guilt clause. The treaty forced Germany to disarm, make substantial territorial concessions, and pay reparations to certain countries that had formed the Entente powers. In 1921 the total cost of these reparations was assessed at 132 billion marks (then $31.4 billion or £6.6 billion, roughly equivalent to US $442 billion or UK £284 billion in 2017). At the time economists, notably, John Maynard Keynes, predicted that the treaty was too harsh—a “Carthaginian peace”—and said the reparations figure was excessive and counter-productive, views that, since then, have been the subject of ongoing debate by historians and economists from several countries. On the other hand, prominent figures on the Allied side such as French Marshal Ferdinand Foch criticized the treaty for treating Germany too leniently.)

Political cartoon ridiculing the punishing elements of the treaty applied to Germany

* 1969 The Stonewall Riot. (Just after 3 a.m., a police raid of the Stonewall Inn—a gay club located on New York City’s Christopher Street–turns violent as patrons and local sympathizers begin rioting against the police.

Although the police were legally justified in raiding the club, which was serving liquor without a license among other violations, New York’s gay community had grown weary of the police department targeting gay clubs, a majority of which had already been closed. The crowd on the street watched quietly as Stonewall’s employees were arrested, but when three drag queens and a lesbian were forced into the paddy wagon, the crowd began throwing bottles at the police. The officers were forced to take shelter inside the establishment, and two policemen were slightly injured before reinforcements arrived to disperse the mob. The protest, however, spilled over into the neighboring streets, and order was not restored until the deployment of New York’s riot police.

The so-called Stonewall Riot was followed by several days of demonstrations in New York and was the impetus for the formation of the Gay Liberation Front as well as other gay, lesbian, and bisexual civil rights organizations. It is also regarded by many as history’s first major protest on behalf of equal rights for homosexuals.)

The Stonewall protest against gay oppression

Today’s Sources:

* Canadian History Timeline – Canada’s Historical Chronology

* On This Day – History, Film, Music and Sport

* This Day In History – What Happened Today

* CTV News                                           

* Wikipedia – The Free Encyclopedia     


Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December 2013 and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (, to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

9 thoughts on “John’s Believe It Or Not… June 28th”

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts today, Robbie. Yes, that treaty was very unwise. Terry was one of those real heroes – no wealth or power, not a movie star or a rock idol – just a youngster who spent time in a cancer ward with little kids who inspired him to run for a cure – to run for them, and he died sooner than necessary because of his choice. He is greatly revered in this country for his great love and courage.


  1. Terry Fox! Such a hero 🙂 His mom Betty was amazing too – the strength she showed and how she kept his spirit alive was something else.. OH and I checked the mail about an hour ago and your book arrived!! Yahooooo oh that cover is beautiful and I cannot wait to read it. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, he was the best kind of hero – selfless, determined, and courageous. Makes me proud to be Canadian. So happy the book arrived! Please enjoy!


  2. I never understood how/why WWI began, nor did I know of the correlation with WWII. It seems that peace is tenuous at best when politics drives the craziness. I vaguely recall the Marathon of Hope – heartwarming story. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There were four background causes of WWI that created the tensions which exploded into war after the assassination. WWII can be seen as the rematch. Although Hitler was clearly the aggressor – the treaty that ended the first war was a contributing factor. Many historians view this period as The European Civil War – Parts 1 and 2. These wars forced the USA to come out of its isolationism and in frustration, the US decided it would keep the peace going forward. Hope that summary helps, Gwen. Thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Another excellent edition, John. My tenth-grade math teacher had one of the original Corvettes. I hope he took care of it. In 1956 we all had car envy. It is amazing the impact that Tery Fox has had on fundraising. The assassination of the Archduke had ramifications that were felt until after WWII was over. Good subject for a historical novel.

    Liked by 1 person

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