• On May 30, 1431, in Normandy, Joan of Arc, the peasant girl who became the savior of France, is burned at the stake for heresy. Her most serious crime was her rejection of church authority in favor of direct inspiration from God. She was 19 years old.
• On May 26, 1897, the first copies of the classic vampire novel “Dracula,” by Irish writer Bram Stoker, appear in London bookshops. Stoker had originally named the vampire “Count Wampyr.”
• On May 29, 1914, in one of the worst maritime disasters in history, heavy fog causes a collision of boats — the Empress of Ireland and the Storstad — that kills 1,073 people on the St. Lawrence River in Canada.
• On May 24, 1935, the Cincinnati Reds beat the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1 in Major League Baseball’s first-ever night game, played under recently installed lights at Crosley Field in Cincinnati. The game drew 25,000 fans as President Franklin D. Roosevelt symbolically switched on the lights from Washington, D.C.
• On May 27, 1943, a B-24 carrying U.S. airman and former Olympic runner Louis Zamperini crashes into the Pacific Ocean. After surviving the crash, Zamperini floated on a raft in shark-infested waters before being picked up by the Japanese and spending two years in brutal prison camps. His story of survival was featured in the 2010 book “Unbroken,” by Laura Hillenbrand.
• On May 28, 1961, the British newspaper The London Observer publishes British lawyer Peter Benenson’s article “The Forgotten Prisoners,” launching a movement that later became Amnesty International.
• On May 25, 1994, the ashes of 71-year-old George Swanson are buried in Pennsylvania in the driver’s seat of his 1984 white Corvette. Swanson, a U.S. Army sergeant during World War II, had acquired 12 cemetery burial plots so his beloved Corvette would fit in his grave with him.
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