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“What is it about August?”

— George H.W. Bush

August always promises to be National Boredom Month.  Family visits.  Vacations. Dog days.  But history won’t let August sleep.  Here, in answer to the former president’s exasperation, is a list of THIRTEEN world shaking events that happened in August.

August 1, 1914 — The Guns of August roar as World War I breaks out.

August 4, 1964 — American PT boats in North Vietnam’s Gulf of Tonkin are attacked — or aren’t — by enemy fire. Congress soon signs off on the Gulf of Tonkin resolution that jumpstarts the Vietnam War. 

August 6, 1945 — The Atomic Age begins with the bombing of Hiroshima.

August 7, 1990 — President George H.W. Bush (“What is it about August?”) orders Operation Desert Shield to repel the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, earlier that August.

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August 9, 1974 — Richard Nixon resigns, ending the Watergate scandal.  

August 13, 1961 — The USSR builds a wall across the divided city of Berlin.  President Kennedy cuts his vacation short.

August 14, 1945 — Japanese forces surrender, ending World War II.


August 16, 1977 — Elvis Presley dies.  President Carter sends condolences.

August 18, 1920 — The 19th Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, giving women the vote. 

August 19, 1991 — President George H.W. Bush interrupts another vacation when a Soviet coup removes Mikhail Gorbachev from power.  The coup is soon repelled by democratic reformers, leading to the dissolution of the communist party.  The Cold War is over.  

August 26, 1883 — Volcanic eruptions create the largest explosion in world history blowing apart the Indonesian island of Krakatoa.  No American presidents are hurt.

August 28, 1963 — Martin Luther King, Jr. tells 400,000 people on the Washington Mall about his dream. 


August 29, 2005 — Hurricane Katrina makes landfall in New Orleans.  President George W. Bush flies over the flooded city.

Be careful out there.


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