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March 7, 1965 – 600 civil rights marchers were walking from Selma, Alabama to the State Capital in Montgomery as part of a voter registration and anti-intimidation movement then sweeping the south. The march had been organized by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Both groups were bravely involved in the movement. As the marchers attempted to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge, they were meet by Alabama state troopers and savagely beaten and assaulted with tear gas before mounted troopers charged into the crowd. The savagery of a state-sponsored attack was flashed around the world drawing more attention to the American civil rights movement. Five months later President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibiting testing and poll taxes as a detriment to registering to vote. In 1987, John Lewis, who had been badly beaten that day and still carries its scars, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and has served ever since.
January 11, 1964 – Luther Terry, Surgeon General of the United States, publishes Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the United States. This landmark study concludes that cigarette smoking is linked to chronic bronchitis, emphysema, lung cancer, cardiovascular disease and a host of other aliments. Tobacco may have been cultivated as long ago as 5,000 BC in South America. Jean Nicot, (think nicotine) introduced smoking to France in 1560, and it soon spread to England and the rest of the world. It was first cultivated as a cash crop in the British colony of Jamestown, Virginia in 1612 by John Rolfe. Originally, tobacco was used for its medicinal purposes but the pleasure derived from smoking rapidly increased its popularity. Almost from the beginning, there were those who denounced smoking. It was once banned in the Ottoman and Chinese Empires. But the satan of tobacco addiction quickly spread. In this country the cultivation and consumption of tobacco feed what would become a giant and phenominally profitable industry and smoking was encouraged, even by doctors, who thought it calmed the nerves. Classes were taught in how to smoke correctly, and it was thought to make the smoker seem sophisticated and worldly. But, by the early 20th century, people began to take notice that there were undesirable side effects. The tobacco companies tried to drown out their critics, but men like Terry persisted and his publication started the move to eliminate smoking from our society that continues to this very day.
January 10, 1962 – The modern rocket can be traced to Nazi Germany in the 1930s. The Treaty of Versailles put restrictions on Germany’s artillery. The Nazis saw the rocket as a way around these restrictions, and by 1943 had produced the V-2 which reigned down upon London in retaliation for Allied bombing of German cities. After the war, the U.S. launched Operation Overcast and Operation Paperclip to recruit German scientists like Wernher von Braun and bring them to the United States to continue their work in rocketry. If this meant covering up their Nazi party affiliations, then so be it. Simultaneously, the Soviet Union had begun its own rocket program and the Space Race was on. In 1957, the Soviets launched Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite. In April, 1961 Yuri Gagarin became the first man in outer space and clearly the Russians were ahead. In May, President Kennedy called on America to achieve “landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth”. This quest to reach the Moon was still in its infancy when, on this date, NASA first announced its plan to build the C-5 (later known as the Saturn V) rocket to achieve this goal. In roughly 7½ years later, this would be accomplished; Niel Armstrong first touched the lunar surface on July 21, 1969. But the process took time. First the Mercury program (1959 – 1963) launched an American, Alan Shepard, into outer space and then John Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth. The Gemini Program (1962 – 1966) developed the technologies needed for a lunar landing. The Apollo program (1967 – 1972) used the massive 363 foot Saturn V to reach for the moon and return to Earth safely.
January 9, 1965 – Goldfinger, the first James Bond movie developed specifically for the U.S. market, opens around the country. Bond was the creation of author Ian Flemming, who first published Casino Royale in 1953. He went on to write another 13 novels before his death in 1964. The first two films, Dr. No and From Russia With Love, were produced for the British market. Their success inspired the producers to notch it up and spend more on the third film than the first two combined. Goldfinger premiered in London in September 1964 with the New York premiere the following December. Bond, code name 007, had become the ultimate cool guy with his suave demeanor, martinis, and beautiful women, not to mention his license to kill. This was the first film to include an Aston Martin tricked out by British secret service. The film drew bemused smirks with its double entendre character Pussy Galore, a very risqué name by today’s standards, not to mention 1965 sensibilities. After Bond is kidnapped, he wakes up in a private jet:
James Bond: Who are you?
Pussy Galore: My name is Pussy Galore.
James Bond: I must be dreaming.
Ah, that’s the stuff that dreams are made of…..