May 15 represents a number of beginnings including Las Vegas, the historic Winnipeg General Strike, the first McDonalds, the first woman general and the California Supreme Court upholding same-sex marriage in California. It is also marked by daring and heroism with the first American to spend more than a day in space and a daring rescue of a runaway train.
In Part 2 we cover a day of violence and retreat with an attack on the state of Israel within hours of its declaration of independence, police opening fire on a dorm at Jackson State University, the attempted assassination of George Wallace and the Soviet army retreat from Afghanistan.
Viva Las Vegas
Las Vegas, Nevada, is founded when 110 acres in what later would become downtown, are auctioned off. The city would not be incorporated until 1911 and the first casino would not come until 1931.
Winnipeg General Strike Begins
Post-war Canada faced high unemployment and inflation and labor unrest. In Winnipeg, Canada’s largest city on the plains, the city’s industry refused to recognize or bargain with the Winnipeg Trades and Labor Council. As a result, the union called for a general strike and by 11:00 a.m. on May 15, 1919, the city went silent as 30,000 public and private sector workers went on strike – the largest general strike in Canadian history.
The city dismissed its entire police force and replaced them with anti-union “Specials”. On June 21st, in what became known as “Bloody Saturday”, the Specials attacked a pro-strike demonstration by World War I veterans, killing two and injuring 30. After a promise of a provincial inquiry, the strike was ended after 41 days.
Bloody Saturday and the subsequent arrest of strike leaders led to sympathy strikes across Canada.
First McDonald’s Opens
First McDonald’s opens in San Bernardino, California. Today there are more than 34,000 stores worldwide.
First Woman General in US Armed Forces
President Nixon promoted Anna Mae Hays of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps. to Brigadier General, making her the first woman promoted to general rank in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Runaway Train Threatens Ohio
A runaway freight train rolled about 70 miles through Ohio with no one aboard before a railroad employee jumped onto the locomotive and brought it to a stop. Denzel Washington starred in the movie based on the event.
Gay Marriage Debuts in California
California Supreme Court declared gay couples in the state could marry – a victory for the gay rights movement that was overturned by the passage of Proposition 8 the following November.