This Week in History: August 25-31

Featured Article, History, This Week in History, Traditions
on August 25, 2013
Hurricane katrina Brian Williams
Brian Williams stands in the flooded streets of New Orleans, La., covering the aftermath of 2005's Hurricane Katrina for "NBC Nightly News."

Triumph and tragedy mark this week: the Civil Rights movement had its most memorable moment in the national spotlight and America became a bit more beautiful with the establishment of the National Park Service. Also, sadly, a beloved princess was killed, and thousands of Gulf coast residents lost their homes during Hurricane Katrina.

August 25:
National Park Service Founded

Established on this day in 1916 as a part of the Department of Interior, the National Park Service protects and preserves America’s natural beauty and history. There are 59 national parks, and the National Park System protects a total of 401 areas as landmarks, preserves or parks. Nearly 280,000,000 people visited national parks in 2011.

August 26:

One of the biggest volcanic eruptions in history happened on this day in 1883. Krakatau in Indonesia blew, jettisoning earth into the air, spewing smoke and heat, and causing multiple 120-foot tidal waves. It is said that the explosion could be heard 3,000 miles away. An estimated 36,000 people died as a result of this eruption.

August 27:
Mother Teresa Baptism

On this day—frequently misidentified as her birthday (August 26)—Mother Teresa was baptized as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in Skopje, Macedonia. She would go on to found the Order of the Missionaries of Charity branch of the Catholic Church. Mother Teresa worked in India, helping the poor. She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. She died in 1997.

August 28:
March on Washington

Culminating years of work for civil rights, the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom brought 200,000 to 300,000 people to the streets of Washington, D.C. to protest for equality. Speakers spoke in favor of voting and economic legislation that would give blacks the same rights as whites. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

August 29:
Hurricane Katrina

The costliest hurricane ($100 billion to $200 billion) in U.S. history made its second landfall today in 2005 at Buras, Louisiana. Hurricane Katrina, after first grazing Florida’s coast as a category 1 storm, settled into the Gulf of Mexico and strengthened to a category 5 storm before making landfall as a category 3 hurricane. The torrential rains and heavy winds caused damage across the Gulf coast and killed around 1,800 people. Most damage occurred in New Orleans, where levees broke, causing more substantial flooding of the city. Around 80 percent of the city was underwater. More than one million people evacuated the region, the greatest mass movement of people since the Great Depression.

August 30:
Ted Williams Birthday

One of baseball’s most consistent hitters was born on this day in 1918. Ted Williams played left field for 19 seasons with the Boston Red Sox. His career batting average was an amazing .344 and he still holds the record for a given season with .406 in 1941. Williams served as a navy pilot in World War II and as a Marine pilot in the Korean War. Williams had 521 home runs and is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. He died in 2002.

August 31:
Princess Diana Death Anniversary

The Princess of Wales died on this day in 1997. Princess Diana and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed were killed in a car crash in a Paris tunnel. Initially, authorities blamed paparazzi following the car for the crash. Subsequent investigations revealed that the car’s driver was intoxicated. Diana’s bodyguard survived the crash.