May 1st - Observed as May Day, a holiday and spring festival since ancient times, also observed in socialist countries as a workers' holiday or Labor Day.

May 1, 1960 - An American U-2 spy plane flying at 60,000 feet was shot down over Sverdlovsk in central Russia on the eve of a summit meeting between President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Soviet Russia's Premier Nikita Khrushchev. The sensational incident caused a cancellation of the meeting and heightened existing Cold War tensions. The pilot, CIA agent Francis Gary Powers, survived the crash, and was tried, convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison by a Russian court. Two years later he was released to America in exchange for an imprisoned Soviet spy. On his return to America, Powers encountered a hostile public.  Powers later became a helicopter traffic watch reporter in the LA area.  His A/C ran out of fuel and in an attempt to avoid ground casualties, he crashed landed and was killed.

Birthday - World War II General Mark Clark (1896-1984) was born in Madison Barracks, New York. He commanded the U.S. Fifth Army which invaded Italy in September of 1943, fighting a long and brutal campaign against stubborn German opposition.

Birthday - African American Olympic athlete Archie Williams (1915-1993) was born in Oakland, California. Williams, along with Jesse Owens, defeated German athletes at the 1936 Berlin Olympics and helped debunk Adolf Hitler's theory of Aryan racial superiority. Williams won a gold medal in the 400-meter race. After the Olympics, he went on to earn a mechanical engineering degree from the University of California-Berkeley but faced discrimination and wound up digging ditches. He later became an airplane pilot and trained Tuskegee Institute pilots including the black air corp of World War II.

May 2, 2011 - U.S. Special Operations Forces killed Osama bin Laden during a raid on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

May 4, 1970 - At Kent State University, four students - Allison Krause, 19; Sandra Lee Scheuer, 20; Jeffrey Glenn Miller, 20; and William K. Schroeder, 19 - were killed by National Guardsmen who opened fire on a crowd of 1,000 students protesting President Richard Nixon's decision to invade Cambodia. Eleven others were wounded. The shootings set off tumultuous campus demonstrations across America resulting in the temporary closing of over 450 colleges and universities.

May 5, 1865 - Decoration Day was first observed in the U.S., with the tradition of decorating soldiers' graves from the Civil War with flowers. The observance date was later moved to May 30th and included American graves from World War I and World War II, and became better known as Memorial Day. In 1971, Congress moved Memorial Day to the last Monday in May, thus creating a three-day holiday weekend.

May 5, 1961 - Alan Shepard became the first American in space. He piloted the spacecraft Freedom 7 during a 15-minute 28-second suborbital flight that reached an altitude of 116 miles (186 kilometers) above the earth. Shepard’s success occurred 23 days after the Russians had launched the first-ever human in space, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, during an era of intense technological competition between the Russians and Americans called the Space Race.

May 6, 1937 - The German airship Hindenburg burst into flames at 7:20 p.m. as it neared the mooring mast at Lakehurst, New Jersey, following a trans-Atlantic voyage. Thirty six of the 97 passengers and crew were killed. The inferno was caught on film and also witnessed by a radio news commentator who broke down amid the emotional impact and exclaimed, "Oh, the humanity!" The accident effectively ended commercial airship traffic.

May 7, 1915 - The British passenger ship Lusitania was torpedoed by a German submarine off the coast of Ireland, losing 1,198 of its 1,924 passengers, including 114 Americans. The attack hastened neutral America's entry into World War I.

May 7, 1945 - In a small red brick schoolhouse in Reims, Germany, General Alfred Jodl signed the unconditional surrender of all German fighting forces thus ending World War II in Europe. Russian, American, British and French ranking officers observed the signing of the document which became effective at one minute past midnight on May 9th. Jodl was then ushered in to see Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who curtly asked Jodl if he fully understood the document. Eisenhower then informed Jodl that he would be held personally responsible for any deviation from the terms of the surrender. Jodl was then ushered away.

May 7, 1992 - The 27th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, prohibiting Congress from giving itself pay raises.

May 8, 1942 - During World War II in the Pacific, the Battle of the Coral Sea began in which Japan would suffer its first defeat of the war. The battle, fought off New Guinea, marked the first time in history that two opposing naval forces fought by only using aircraft without the opposing ships ever sighting each other.

May 8, 1945 - A second German surrender ceremony was held in Berlin. Soviet Russia's leader Josef Stalin had refused to recognize the German surrender document signed a day earlier at Reims. This time, German Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel signed the surrender document which declared, as did the first, that hostilities would end as of 12:01 a.m. on May 9th.

Birthday - Harry S. Truman (1884-1972) the 33rd U.S. President was born in Lamar, Missouri. He became president upon the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt in April 1945. Two weeks after becoming president he was informed of the top secret Atomic bomb project. In the war against Japan, an Allied invasion of Japan was being planned which would cost a minimum of 250,000 American lives. Truman then authorized the dropping of the bomb. On August 6, 1945, the first bomb exploded over Hiroshima, followed by a second bomb dropped on Nagasaki on August 9th. The next day, Japan sued for peace. Truman served as President until January of 1953. He was the last of only nine U.S. Presidents who did not attend college. His straightforward, honest, no-nonsense style earned him the nickname, "Give 'em hell, Harry."

May 9, 1862 - During the American Civil War, General David Hunter, Union commander of the Department of the South, issued orders freeing the slaves in South Carolina, Florida and Georgia. He did so without congressional or presidential approval. The orders were countermanded by President Abraham Lincoln ten days later.

May 11, 1862 - To prevent its capture by Union forces advancing in Virginia, the Confederate Ironclad Merrimac was destroyed by the Confederate Navy. In March, the Merrimac had fought the Union Ironclad Monitor to a draw. Naval warfare was thus changed forever, making wooden ships obsolete.

May 11, 1969 - During the Vietnam War, the Battle of "Hamburger Hill" began. While attempting to seize the Dong Ap Bia Mountain, U.S. troops repeatedly scaled the hill over a 10-day period and engaged in bloody hand-to-hand combat with the North Vietnamese. After finally securing the objective, American military staff decided to abandon the position, which the North Vietnamese retook shortly thereafter. The battle highlighted the futility of the overall American military "strategy".

May 12, 1949 - Soviet Russia lifted its blockade of Berlin. The blockade began on June 24, 1948 and resulted in the Berlin airlift. For 462 days - from June 26, 1948, until September 30, 1949, American and British planes flew about 278,000 flights, delivering 2.3 million tons of food, coal and medical supplies to two million isolated West Berliners. A plane landed in Berlin every minute from 11 Allied staging areas in West Germany. The planes were nicknamed ''candy bombers'' after pilots began tossing sweets to children. They also flew out millions of dollars worth of products manufactured in West Berlin.

May 13, 1846 - At the request of President James K. Polk, Congress declared war on Mexico. The controversial struggle eventually cost the lives of 11,300 U.S. soldiers and resulted in the annexation of lands that became parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, Utah and Colorado. The war ended in 1848 with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

May 14, 1607 - The first permanent English settlement in America was established at Jamestown, Virginia, by a group of royally chartered Virginia Company settlers from Plymouth, England.

May 14, 1942 - During World War II, an Act of Congress allowed women to enlist for noncombat duties in the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC), the Women Appointed for Voluntary Emergency Service (WAVES), Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS), and Semper Paratus Always Ready Service (SPARS), the Women's Reserve of the Marine Corp.

May 16, 1862 - During the American Civil War, Union General Benjamin Butler, military governor of New Orleans, issued his "Woman Order" declaring that any Southern woman showing disrespect for Union soldiers or the U.S. would be regarded as a woman of the town, or prostitute. This and other controversial acts by Butler set the stage for his dismissal as military governor in December 1862.

Birthday - Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh (1890-1969) was born in the central Vietnamese village of Kim Lien (as Nguyen That Thanh). In 1930, he organized the Indo-Chinese Communist party and later adopted the name Ho Chi Minh, meaning "he who enlightens." In 1945, he proclaimed the independence of Vietnam and served as president of North Vietnam from 1945 to 1969. He led the longest and most costly war during the 20th Century against the French and later the Americans. On April 29, 1975, six years after his death, the last Americans left South Vietnam. The next day the city of Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Minh City.

May 20, 1862 - President Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act opening millions of acres of government owned land in the West to "homesteaders" who could acquire up to 160 acres by living on the land and cultivating it for five years, paying just $1.25 per acre.

May 20, 1927 - Charles Lindbergh, a 25-year-old aviator, took off at 7:52 a.m. from Roosevelt Field, Long Island, in the Spirit of St. Louis attempting to win a $25,000 prize for the first solo nonstop flight between New York City and Paris. Thirty-three hours later, after a 3,600 mile journey, he landed at Le Bourget, Paris, earning the nickname "Lucky Lindy" and becoming an instant worldwide hero.

May 20, 1932 - Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. She departed Newfoundland, Canada, at 7 p.m. and landed near Londonderry, Ireland, completing a 2,026-mile flight in about 13 hours. Five years later, along with her navigator Fred Noonan, she disappeared while trying to fly her twin-engine plane around the equator.

May 22, 1972 - President Richard Nixon became the first American president to visit Moscow. Four days later, Nixon and Soviet Russia's leader Leonid Brezhnev signed a pact pledging to freeze nuclear arsenals at current levels.

May 22, 1947 - Congress approved the Truman Doctrine, assuring U.S. support for Greece and Turkey to prevent the spread of Communism.

May 24, 1844 - Telegraph inventor Samuel Morse sent the first official telegraph message, "What hath God wrought?" from the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., to Baltimore.

May 25, 1787 - The Constitutional Convention began in Philadelphia with delegates from seven states forming a quorum.

May 26, 1940 - The Dunkirk evacuation began in order to save the British Expeditionary Force trapped by advancing German armies on the northern coast of France. Boats and vessels of all shapes and sizes ferried 200,000 British and 140,000 French and Belgian soldiers across the English Channel by June 2nd.

Birthday - American politician Hubert H. Humphrey (1911-1978) was born in Wallace, South Dakota. Humphrey was a mainstay of liberal Democratic politics, championed civil rights, and was considered by political friends and foes alike to be a truly decent man. He served as vice president under Lyndon Johnson. In 1968, Humphrey was the Democratic candidate for president, but lost to Republican Richard Nixon in a very close race.

Birthday - All-around athlete Jim Thorpe (1888-1953) was born near Prague, Oklahoma. He won the pentathlon and decathlon events at the 1912 Olympic Games and also played professional baseball and football.

May 29, 1787 - At the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia the Virginia Plan was proposed calling for a new government consisting of a legislature with two houses, an executive chosen by the legislature and a judicial branch.

May 29, 1865 - Following the American Civil War, President Andrew Johnson issued a proclamation granting general amnesty to Confederates. The amnesty excluded high ranking Confederates and large property owners, who had to apply individually to the President for a pardon. Following an oath of allegiance, all former property rights, except slaves, were returned to the former owners.

Birthday - American revolutionary leader Patrick Henry (1736-1799) was born in Studley, Virginia. He is best remembered for his speech in 1775 declaring: "I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death."

May 30, 1922 - The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., was dedicated. The Memorial was designed by architect Henry Bacon and features a compelling statue of "Seated Lincoln" by sculptor Daniel Chester French.

May 30, 1943 - During World War II in the Pacific, the Aleutian Islands off the coast of Alaska were retaken by the U.S. 7th Infantry Division. The battle began on May 12 when an American force of 11,000 landed on Attu. In three weeks of fighting U.S. casualties numbered 552 killed and 1,140 wounded. Japanese killed numbered 2,352, with only 28 taken prisoner, as 500 chose suicide rather than be captured.

May 31, 1862 - During the American Civil War, the Battle of Seven Pines occurred as Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston's Army attacked Union General George McClellan's troops in front of Richmond Virginia and nearly defeated them. Johnston was badly wounded. Confederate General Robert E. Lee then assumed command, replacing the wounded Johnston. Lee renamed his force the Army of Northern Virginia.