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New York Yankees' Babe Ruth is seen in

New York Yankees' Babe Ruth is seen in 1923. Credit: AP

What can you say about a day that has seen the births of Sigmund Freud (1856), Orson Welles (1915) and Willie Mays (1931)?

May 6 has been a day for auspicious debuts.

In 1889, the Eiffel Tower was formally opened in Paris, Babe Ruth said hello in 1915 with his first major-league home run (as a member of the Boston Red Sox, before one of the most infamous hello-goodbye trades in sports history), medical student Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute mile on a track in Oxford in 1954, and Britain and France opened the Chunnel under the English Channel in 1994.

But May 6 has not been entirely welcoming.

In 1887, Sioux war chief Crazy Horse surrendered to U.S. forces, and was killed by a guard four months later; the German airship Hindenburg caught fire and crashed in New Jersey, killing 35 people and prompting the famed radio cry, “Oh, the humanity”; Russian despot Josef Stalin, who had killed hundreds of thousands of Russians in purges, became the nation’s premier in 1941; and thousands of American students in 1970 shut down hundreds of colleges and universities across the nation in campus protests against the Vietnam War, two days after four student protesters were killed at Kent State University.

One of the day’s most poignant farewell’s played out in living rooms across the country as more than 52 million Americans said goodbye to Ross, Rachel, Chandler, Monica, Phoebe and Joey. Yes, “Friends” aired its final episode on May 6, 2004.

I’ll be there for you.

Columns