– the first shots were fired in the US Civil War 150 years ago on April 12 1861.
Robert Sutton, chief historian of the National Park Service, said:
“Today we commemorate the beginning of the Civil War, but we also celebrate the fact that, with the end of the war and with the 13th amendment to the Constitution, more people were freed from enslavement at one time than at any time in world history.” (Reuters – the 13th amendment abolished slavery)
– Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, just 27, became the first human to journey into outer space 50 years ago on April 12 1961.
Brewster Shaw, a former NASA astronaut, writes in The Atlantic :
Until we first orbited the Earth fifty years ago, our only view of the surface was the view from an airplane window. The first flights of Yuri Gagarin and Alan Shepard expanded our vision — we saw the curvature of the planet, as well as the lack of man-made boundaries.
This reminded me of the West Wing episode when Sam explains why we need to keep exploring: