On this day, February 15, two momentous events in American history, 35 years apart, occurred, transforming America forever.
In 1898, 114 years ago today, the battleship USS Maine exploded in Havana Harbor in Cuba, killing about 260 on board, and although it was caused by an accidental explosion, it spurred America into war against Spain, in what became known as the Spanish American War. As a result of the war, America became an “empire” with colonies in Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippine Islands, and had a “sphere of influence” over Cuba, eventually leading to problems when Fidel Castro rose to power in 1959 and condemned US “imperialism” in his island nation.
In 1933, 79 years ago, we almost lost President elect Franklin D. Roosevelt, as he was the target of an assassin, Joseph Zangara, who instead mortally wounded Chicago mayor Anton Cermak, while FDR was visiting Miami, Florida. Had FDR been killed or seriously wounded, we might not have had the New Deal programs that helped to ameliorate the Great Depression, and instead would have had conservative Texan and former Speaker of the House John Nance Garner, the Vice President elect, as our President.
The role of America in world affairs, and the coming of the greatest President of the 20th century, and only second to Abraham Lincoln in our entire history, were transformational moments in the American story!