May 27, 2021

#ThrowbackThursday – 27 May

In times of good fortune and misfortunes alike, humankind has been able to pull off seemingly impossible acts.

In the face of danger, uncertainty or just plain restlessness, we have shown that with the right amount of dedication, confidence, and a bit (if not a lot) of luck, we can prevail over the odds, as proven by these five events that went down in history on 27 May:

1937 – The Opening of the Golden Gate Bridge

After five years of construction, one of San Francisco’s most iconic landmarks was officially opened to the public.

Spanning a length of 2 737 metres, standing at a height of 227 metres, and containing 88 000 tons of steel, the Golden Gate Bridge connects San Francisco and Marin County. An estimated $35 million was spent to construct the “international orange”-coloured bridge.

At the opening ceremony, Joseph Strauss, the bridge’s chief engineer, said: “The Golden Gate Bridge, the bridge which could not and should not be built … stands before you in all its majestic splendour, in complete refutation of every attack made upon it.”

An estimated 200 000 people crossed the bridge that day, before it was opened to vehicular traffic the following day.

1940 – The Miracle of Dunkirk

During World War II, Allied troops were evacuated from Belgium to England in what was called “Operation Dynamo”.

Under threat by German forces, the troops – made up of British, French and Belgian soldiers – retreated to the harbour and beaches of Dunkirk. There, they were trapped, for the Luftwaffe air raids had destroyed the port’s facilities.

With air cover provided by the Royal Airforce, writes US Officer George Fielding Eliot, “one of the most motley fleets of history – ships, transports, merchantmen, fishing boats, pleasure craft” began ferrying these soldiers to the safety of English shores. By 4 June, about 338 000 Allied troops had been saved.

1963 – Kenyatta Takes Charge of Kenya

From 1920 onwards, Kenya was predominantly under the rule of the British Empire. By 1963, it became independent under the leadership of Jomo Kenyatta, the country’s first prime minister and head of the Kenya African National Union (KANU).

KANU won the national election after gaining a majority vote in the House of Representatives. According to a British media outlet, “thousands of Kenyans ran through the rain-drenched streets of Nairobi tonight cheering at news of the results”, which hailed the end of a colonialist era.

Kenyatta presided over Kenya for 15 years before he died aged 78.

2013 – The World’s Largest Flag

A village in Romania entered the record books when it unfurled the largest flag in the world.

The flag, which weighed five tons, measured 349 x 227 metres – roughly three times the size of a football field – and bore the national colours, took several hours for 200 people to unfurl over an airfield in Clinceni. Soon enough, it was unfolded and weighed down by small sandbags.

Jack Brockbank – an adjudicator for Guinness World Records – measured the flag, which covered 79 290 square metres. He then declared: “It gives me great pleasure to recognise a new Guinness World Record title. Congratulations, Romania!”

Romania beat the previous record-holder, Lebanon, whose national flag only covered 65 650 square metres.

2018 – BTS Tops the Billboard 200

For the first time ever, a K-pop group topped the US Billboard 200 … an achievement that hardcore BTS fans would want everyone to remember (and most certainly never forget).

BTS debuted on top of the charts with their third studio album, “Love Yourself: Tear”. The album, which was mostly sung in Korean, also became the first primarily foreign-language to hit the Number 1 spot in over 12 years.

At the time, “Love Yourself: Tear” became the South Korean boy band’s highest-charting album in the Western market. They would then surpass these feats two years later when they released “Map of the Soul: 7”, which topped the Billboard 200 upon its debut.