This week in history includes monumental events such as World War II Victory Day, boycotted Olympics and violent student protests. Additionally, this week had its share of firsts, such as the first national celebration of Mother's Day and the first White House telephone line. For more events, keep reading what happened this week in history.
1970: Students Launch Nationwide Protest Against Vietnam War College students across the country joined forces in protest of the Vietnam War on May 6, 1970. The protests were organized as a reaction to the shooting of four students at Kent State University earlier that year in a demonstration to protest President Nixon's decision to send U.S. troops to Cambodia. In some cases, faculty members joined students in the protest. Overall, 536 campuses were shut down completely and 51 of them closed for the remainder of the academic year.
A few days later on May 9, 1970, nearly 100,000 collegiates demonstrated peacefully in Washington near the White House, demanding that U.S. military forces withdraw from Vietnam and Southeast Asia. The peaceful protest later turned into a fiasco when more militant protests spread throughout the city, resulting in police attacking the crowds with tear gas.
1915: Lusitania Torpedoed, 128 Americans Killed President Woodrow Wilson originally pledged neutrality at the start of World War I, but tensions heightened when German forces torpedoed the British vessel Lusitania, killing 128 Americans in the process. The ocean liner was torpedoed by a German submarine near the coast of Ireland and sank within 20 minutes. In total, nearly 2,000 people drowned. The attack caused outrage in the U.S., but Germany defended its actions, noting that it had issued warnings of attacking all ships that entered the war zone with Britain.
1945: Victory Day for U.S. and Europe Cities across Europe celebrated Victory Day and the end of World War II on this day in 1945. On May 8, 1945, German troops formally laid down their arms and surrendered to allied forces. Official surrender documents were signed in Berlin and East Germany. While Americans and Europeans celebrated their historic victory, German soldiers attempted a mass exodus to the West in hopes of escaping Soviet capture. The Germans encountered conflicts with Soviets as they made their exit from the Eastern European front, so Victory Day is currently celebrated on May 9 in former Soviet countries.
1984: Soviets Announce Boycott of Olympics The Soviet Union announced that it would not compete in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, on the grounds that Soviet athletes would not be safe from protests and attacks at the event, especially since the Olympics was being held in the United States. This statement came four years after the U.S. decided to boycott the 1980 Olympics in Moscow to protest Russian involvement in Afghanistan. President Ronald Reagan responded to the Soviets' stance by describing it as a "blatant political decision for which there was no real justification."
Following the Soviet boycott, 13 other communist nations, including East Germany, also withdrew from the Olympics. Overall, the boycott had more of an impact on sports than on diplomacy. Without competition from the Soviet Union and East Germany, the U.S. walked away from the 1984 Olympics with 83 gold medals.
1914: Woodrow Wilson Proclaims First Mother's Day President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation establishing the first national Mother's Day holiday on this day in 1914. Previously, individual states celebrated Mother's Day, but it wasn't until this day that Mother's Day was officially set on the second Sunday of every May. Wilson named this holiday as a way for citizens to "publicly express our love and reverence for the mothers of our country."
Over the years, various presidents, including Abraham Lincoln and George W. Bush, have echoed Wilson's sentiments about honoring mothers. Lincoln has been quoted as saying, "All that I am or hope to be I owe to my angel mother" and in 2002, George W. Bush honored his "fabulous mother" and all American mothers for their "love and sacrifice."
1877: First Phone Installed in White House On this day in 1877, the first phone was installed in the telegraph room of White House under the administration of President Rutherford B. Hayes.Hayes rarely received phone calls, since the only other organization with a direct line to the White House was the Treasury Department. The phone number to reach the White House was simply, "1," and it wasn't until the Hoover administration that the first telephone line was installed on the president's desk in the Oval Office.
1924: J. Edgar Hoover Begins Legacy at FBI The now infamous J. Edgar Hoover was named the acting director of the Bureau of Investigation, now called the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI, beginning his 48 year tenure as the leader of the organization. After being named to this position, Hoover began monitoring suspicious activities that eventually led to Red Scare-fueled roundups and deportations. Adding to Hoover's legacy was his approval of FBI spying on the American Civil Liberties Union and civil rights activists, including Martin Luther King Jr. The extent of Hoover's surveillance remained largely unknown until after his death in 1972.