This Day in History – February 15 – Hijinx, Humor, and Insight


NewsWhistle is pleased to feature Gary Jenneke’s “This Day In History” column.

You can read the original at Gary’s THIS DAY IN HISTORY blog — or scroll down to enjoy Gary’s unique look at life’s comings and goings.




399 BC – Socrates sentenced to death.


One of the charges against Socrates was impiety, or refusal to accept the gods of the state.

Well, with our separation of church and state, it’s nothing we have to worry about here…Right?


1898 – USS Maine sunk.

uss maine

Two explosions rocked the battleship and she sunk in Havana Harbor with a loss of 260 men. The exact cause of the explosion was unknown for years, but Spain was suspected of having planted a mine. In 1976, a Naval inquiry concluded that a coal fire ignited the ammunition magazine.

At the time Spain controlled Cuba, and America wanted it. So Spain was indicted in the press. According to HistoryToday.comThe yellow press, led by William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, proprietors of the New York Journal and the New York World, took every opportunity to inflame the situation with the exhortation to ‘Remember the Maine’, publicise the alleged cruelties of Spanish repression and encourage a belligerent hunger for action.”

It was an early example of the effective use of alternative facts.


1933 – Attempted assassination of FDR.

President-elect Franklin Roosevelt was giving a speech from the back seat of his touring car when unemployed bricklayer Giuseppe Zangara fired six rounds. The incident took place in Miami, Florida. Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak, who was with Roosevelt, was hit in the stomach and died three weeks later. Zangara was executed in the electric chair just five weeks after the incident.

Had Zangara been successful, how different our history might have been.



1564 – Galileo. Astronomer, mathematician, philosopher, physicist.

Often referred to as the Father of Science, he had at first considered the priesthood. Given that he fathered three children out of wedlock, he probably was not well suited for a career in that field.

A shaker and mover in the scientific revolution of the 17th century, he ran afoul of the Catholic church. The all-purpose word of the powerful back then, heresy, came into play. He spent the last two decades of his life under house arrest but continued to work and produced books and scientific advancements.

Then, as now, science seemed to make the church and state uneasy. They must see it as a challenge to their power and authority.


1710 – Louis XV the Well Beloved. He was King of France for 59 years, having ascended to the throne at age five.

louis xv

According to “He is best known for contributing to the decline of royal authority that led to the French Revolution in 1789.”

It was rumored but not substantiated that he insisted on being called “the Well Beloved” when “the Louis” seemed inadequate.


1956 – Hilda Beatriz Guevara. Daughter of Cuban revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara, she died at age 39 of cancer.

From the UK Independent’s websiteHilda Guevara always remembered her ‘Uncle Fidel’ reading a letter from her absent dad in 1967 when she was 11 years old. “It said that, if he fell in combat, I shouldn’t cry,” she recalled. “Because you don’t cry for men who die for their ideas.””

A bit cynical on “Uncle’s” part because one of the reasons Che was in Bolivia was that there was a limited role for him in Cuba.



At various junctures of his life, Gary has been an indifferent grade school student, poor high school student, good Navy radioman, one-time hippie, passable college student, inveterate traveler, dedicated writer, miscast accountant (except for one interesting stint at a Communist café), part-time screenwriting teacher, semi-proud veteran, unsuccessful retiree and new blogger.

You can reach him at



The above information was sourced from the following sites and newspapers:

Socrates –

USS Maine –

Galileo –

Louis XV –

Hilda Beatriz Guevara – UK Independent website

We’d also like to thank the following photographers and videographers for the use of their images:

* Lead-In Image – Dragan Jovanovic / – “BARCELONA, SPAIN – SEPTEMBER 14, 2015: Street Performer imitating Galileo Galilei on the famous La Rambla Street, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.”

galileo embed

* Death of Socrates – Georgios Kollidas / – “Socrates Drinking The Conium. Engraved by unknown engraver and published in Pictorial History Of The Worlds Great Nations, United States, 1882.”

* USS Maine – Everett Historical / – “The Spanish American War; The destruction of the battleship [USS] Maine in Havana Harbor, February 15, 1898.”

* Attempted Assassination of FDR (video clip) – Assassinations That Changed The World /

* Louis XV – Morphart Creation /

* Outro (Man-In-Museum Cartoon) – SkyPics Studio /