1940: WWII ramps up
During the summer of 1940, all eyes were on the rising tensions among the countries in Europe. By Aug. 11, when the U.S. sent 4,000 tanks to the allies, many of the strongest international powers were already involved in the fight.
1941: Signing of the Atlantic Charter
While the U.S. wasn’t fully engaged in WWII until the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, the country was preparing for its eventual inclusion in the fight as early as Aug. 14, 1941. It was on this day that President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill met in Newfoundland, Canada to sign the Atlantic Charter. The document established the countries’ aims for the war and established eight “common principles” both nations would be devoted to in a post-war world.
1942: Worldwide premiere of 'Bambi'
With dozens of the most powerful countries in the world firmly entrenched in WWII, the summer of 1942 certainly wasn’t a carefree one. Still, it wasn’t all terrible. For example, on Aug. 13, the Disney film “Bambi” had its worldwide release, and the animated film about an orphaned deer ended up bringing in $268 million during its initial run.
1943: All-American Girls Professional Baseball League
The summer of 1943 saw the first season of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (or the AAGPBL). As most able-bodied men aged 18 and older were being drafted for service, MLB teams were left without enough players to field games, and the industry was threatened with collapse. Philip K. Wrigley, the owner of the Chicago Cubs, came up with the idea of replacing all men’s teams with women’s softball teams in order to attract crowds and keep parks open. The AAGPBL existed until 1954.
1944: D-Day invasion at Normandy
Just after midnight June 6, 1944, the Allied troops began their biggest offensive attack, one that would set them on the path toward eventual victory in WWII. Code-named Overlord, the cross-channel invasion took place on the beaches of Normandy, far from the area north of the Seine where Hitler was expecting them. The D-Day invasions were not only one of the biggest events of the summer of 1944, but also one of the most significant events of the 20th century.
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1945: US celebrates V-J Day
While the D-Day invasions of 1944 were a huge turning point for the Allied troops, WWII didn’t officially end until almost a year later. On Aug. 14, 1945, it was announced that Japan had agreed to an unconditional surrender, bringing years of fighting to a close. While the surrender documents weren’t signed for several more weeks (on Sept. 2), Americans spent the 14th and 15th celebrating the victory.
1946: Debut of the bikini
At a fashion show July 5, 1946, a French designer named Louis Reard debuted his scandalous new two-piece bathing suit, which he dubbed le bikini. At the time, the bathing costume was considered so improper that the original model employed to wear it refused, and Reard had to enlist a stripper to walk the runway instead.
1947: National Security Act of 1947
On July 26, President Harry S. Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947 into law. The Act—which established the CIA, National Security Council, and Department of Defense—has had a major influence on the way we deal with threats of war, espionage, terrorism, and other issues of national security.
1948: Albert I launched into outer space
Albert I, a rhesus monkey, was the first living animal ever launched into space. He was strapped aboard a V-2 Blossom on June 11, 1948, achieving 63 kilometers in altitude (well into the mesosphere) before dying of suffocation on the way back to earth. While the event didn’t receive much fanfare at the time, Albert I certainly earned his spot as one of the unsung heroes of space travel.
1949: George Orwell publishes '1984'
English novelist George Orwell published his final and perhaps most-influential book, “1984,” on June 8, 1949. The dystopian novel contains a harsh critique of the totalitarianism politics that were then emerging, and it has often been called one of the most influential books of the 20th century. An instant best-seller, the novel made headlines again in 2017 when it topped bestseller lists after the election of President Donald Trump.
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