1983 – Benigno ‘Ninoy’ Aquino is assassinated

Benigno Aquino Jnr, nicknamed Ninoy, was a Senator in the Phillipines. Elected in 1967, he was arrested in 1972 after Phillipine President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law. The charges were widely considered to have been falsified, but Aquino spent the next eight years in prison anyway. He was released in 1980 after suffering a heart attack, and lived in Boston for three years.

The rising tide of anti-Marcos sentiment convinced him to return to the Phillipines. But upon his return, he was shot and killed by members of the Phillipine army. It remains unclear as to whether Marcos had anything to do with the assassination, although it seems clear that the conspirators were at least supporters of his.

In the end, it backfired on Marcos and his faction. Aquino became a martyr, and opposition to the Marcos regime solidified and grew. In 1986, his widow, Cory Aquino, was elected President of the Phillipines, beginning a new era of liberty and jokes about Imelda Marcos’ shoe collection.

Referenced in:

Mal Sacate – Kris Kristofferson

1914 – Archduke Franz Ferdinand is assassinated

It’s one of those things: the wrong man at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was that man, Sarajevo was that place and July 28, 1914, was definitely the wrong time. While on a motorcade with his wife, Sophie Hollenburg, the Archduke narrowly dodged an assassination attempt by bomber Muhamed Mehmedbaši.

Muhamed’s failure led to the man who had placed him there, Danilo Ili, to send another of his team, Gavrilo Princip, to complete the job. Princip fired two shots, fatally wounding the Archduke and his wife with one shot each.

And in doing so, he set in motion a chain of events that would lead, inexorably, to the outbreak of World War One.

Referenced in:

Manuscript – Al Stewart
All For You, Sophia – Franz Ferdinand

1963 — U.S. President John F Kennedy is assassinated

One of the defining events of its era, the assassination of President Kennedy remains a remarkably controversial one, even today. Conspiracy theories abound as to who shot Kennedy and why.

While the official story, that Lee Harvey Oswald did it, with the rifle, in the book depository, is plausible, it is also notably incomplete – there are any number of holes and anomalies in it. The murder of Oswald only two days later, before he could stand trial, has done nothing to quell these uncertainties.

On a symbolic level, the death of Kennedy was the end of an era in many ways. Quite aside from the idealism that he brought to the nation, his death marked a change in the way America saw itself – no longer the lily-white paladin, but more the grim avenger willing do the dirty work no one else would – although in fairness, this change of self-image would take the rest of the decade to be complete.

Referenced in:

Civil War — Guns n’ Roses
Tabloid Junkie — Michael Jackson
Tomorrow, Wendy — Andy Prieboy
We Didn’t Start The Fire — Billy Joel
He Was A Friend of Mine — The Byrds
Tomorrow, Wendy — Concrete Blonde
Song for a Friend — The Kingston Trio
Purple Toupee — They Might Be Giants
She Is Always Seventeen — Harry Chapin