The first Columbus Day event to be celebrated as a day of Italian-American heritage was held on this day in New York City in 1866. The day became a legal holiday in the United States with the help of Angelo Noce, a first generation Italian, in Denver, Colorado. The first statewide holiday was proclaimed by Colorado governor Jesse F. McDonald in 1905, and it was made a statutory holiday in 1907. In 1934, Generoso Pope and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt named this day a federal holiday. However, in recent years, Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, South Dakota, and Vermont do not recognize Columbus Day at all. In 2016, Vermont started celebrating Indigenous Peoples' Day instead and South Dakota celebrates the day as Native American Day.
John Denver Dies in an Aircraft Accident
Known for such hits as "Rocky Mountain High" and "Take Me Home, Country Roads," country singer John Denver was no longer recording new material by the 1990’s, at least not with any large popularity. However, by this time he had become a movie star, political activist and an accomplished private pilot. On this day in 1997, Denver flew an aircraft that he wasn’t familiar with and apparently lost control of the aircraft leading to his fatal crash over Monterey Bay.