1933 — The USS Akron crashes in the Atlantic

The USS Akron was a helium-filled rigid airship of the U.S. Navy which was the world’s first purpose-built flying aircraft carrier, carrying F9C Sparrowhawk fighter planes which could be launched and recovered while she was in flight. With an overall length of 785 ft (239 m), the Akron and her sister airship the Macon were among the largest flying objects ever built, and the largest ever helium-filled airships.

The USS Akron was destroyed in a thunderstorm off the coast of New Jersey on the morning of 4 April 1933. Strong winds forced the ship down so low that its lower fin contacted the Atlantic, drawing the rest of the ship after it. In rough seas, the ship soon broke up, killing 73 of the 76 crewmen and passengers, the greatest loss of life in any known airship crash.

Referenced in:
The Crash of the Akron — Bob Miller

1968 – Martin Luther King is assassinated

Martin Luther King won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, after years of non-violent struggle for civil rights. By 1967, he was moving on from that. While it remained an important part of his goals, he had also become a vocal opponent of the Vietnam War and in 1967 established the Poor People’s Campaign – both of which reflected an approach to social justice that was increasingly based on class rather than race.

King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee as he stood on the balcony of his hotel. A single shot fired by James Earl Ray caused a remarkable amount of damage, and although King was raced to a nearby hospital by his friends, the doctors were unable to save him. His death led to riots in many American cities (other than Indianapolis, where Bobby Kennedy made one of the greatest speeches of his career, and found his plea for cooler heads heeded), and a national day of mourning was declared by the President.

Referenced in:
Pride – U2
They Don’t Care About Us – Michael Jackson