What Happened on August 14?

  • Japan surrendered to the Allies, ending World War II. (1945) The announcement was made five days after the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki and eight days after the US dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, killing more than 200,000 Japanese citizens.

  • A blackout struck the entire Northeast United States and Canada. (2003) More than 50 million people lost power for as long as two days in some areas. It was one of the the largest blackouts in world history, along with the 2012 blackout in India and the 1999 blackout in Brazil.

  • The last public execution took place in the United States. (1936) Rainey Bethea, a 27-year-old black man, was publicly hanged for the rape and murder of a 70-year-old white woman in Owensboro, Kentucky.

  • Timothy McVeigh was sentenced to death for his part in the Oklahoma City bombing. (1997) The jury which convicted McVeigh on 11 federal counts recommended the death penalty on June 13 that year. The recommendation was accepted by the district court on this day. McVeigh was executed June 11, 2001.

  • Mattel recalled another 18 million toys with strong magnets that could become detached. (2007) Mattel identified the toys as a choking hazard. The recall came directly on the heels of its recall of lead-tainted toys earlier that same year.

  • The Social Security Act was signed into law in the United States. (1935) US President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the act into law, creating pension plans and unemployment insurance for US citizens.

  • A forest fire in Oregon started, ultimately destroying 240,000 acres (970 square kilometers) of forest. (1933) The fire was started by loggers and wasn't put out until September 5th. It later was considered the first in a string of forest fires now called the "Tillamook Burn" that burned between 1933 and 1951.

  • Japan issued its first patent. (1885) The first patent was given to Hotta Zuisho for rust-proof paint. Six other patents were awarded on this day as well, three of which were for tea machines. For comparison, the first US patent was awarded in 1790.

  • One of the first music recordings ever made was played at the conference to unveil Thomas Edison's phonograph. (1888) A recording of Arthur Sullivan's piece The Lost Chord was played on the newly-introduced phonograph.

  • American actor and comedian Steve Martin was born. (1945) Martin first gained fame as a stand-up comedian. He is perhaps best known for his comedic roles in such movies as The Jerk, Planes, Trains & Automobiles, L.A. Story and The Pink Panther.

Discussion Comments


Many years ago, in 2004, I remember having a blackout in my neighborhood. To be honest, in some ways, it was even worse than the one that struck the Northeast United States and Canada, as in my situation, the power was out for four days instead of three. Also, as a good solution on how to handle power outages, it's always beneficial to contact your nearest electrical company, and get an idea on the situation.


In relation to the forest fire at Oregon, the thing I find amazing about this is that it really shows just how destructive fire can be. Initially, when any type of fire starts, it might not be that big of a deal, especially considering how little ground it might seem to cover. However, it should always be taken care of as soon as possible, unless one wants it to lead to the kind of destruction mentioned in the bullet point. On another note, how destructive a fire can be also depends on how dry the area is. For example, a forest that hasn't had any rain in weeks may be more vulnerable than other landscapes.


One thing I've noticed is that the third bullet point mentions that Rainey Bethea's execution was the last public one in the United States. In other words, does this mean that even though executions still occur in the U.S., they're not broadcasted live anymore? After all, while it definitely seemed like something that was much more common in the past, you really don't hear about people being executed anymore. Also, even if you do, it's mostly behind closed doors. Perhaps its due to the fact that many laws have changed.

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