Moments in history shape the world we live in today. Seemingly meaningless decisions - like a choice of outfit or an off-the-cuff comment - can have huge consequences, with many of the people involved having no idea that they'd just rewritten history. In an ideal world, decisions of major importance are taken with plenty of time to consider the positives and the negatives. We don't live in an ideal world, of course, so this isn't always possible. Sometimes, choices have to be made at the last minute - like these 5 last-minute decisions that changed the course of history.
The 26th US president, Teddy Roosevelt, was known for his grandiose speeches. Whilst on the campaign trail in 1912, Roosevelt folded up a 50-page speech and tucked it into his breast pocket - a life-saving decision, quite literally. An assassin took a shot at the president, the bullet hitting him in the chest, but lodging into the thick wad of paper. Amazingly, Teddy carried on and delivered one of the most memorable speeches in American politics.
The sinking of the Titanic - ominously described as 'unsinkable' - is one of the greatest naval tragedies in history. Her comeuppance was due to a series of incredibly unfortunate events as well as negligent decisions, but one last-minute decision could have changed everything. Just before Titanic set sail, Second Officer David Blair was removed from the crew. Blair forgot to hand over his key for a locker that contained a potentially invaluable pair of binoculars, leaving remaining crew members with nothing but the naked eye to watch out for icebergs.
One of the most tragic moments - and decisions - in music history, happened on 3 February 1959. Known to fans as 'the day the music died', it saw Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and JP Richardson Jr. perish when their small plane crashed near Clear Lake, Iowa. Having been on the road for a while without a change of clothes, Holly bizarrely insisted that the group charter a plane to get to their next gig in Minnesota ahead of schedule just so they could get started on the laundry.
It's one of the most recognizable lines from one of the most famous speeches ever given, but Martin Luther King's 'I have a dream' was actually a last-minute improvisation. Standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on 28 August 1963, Dr. King had a speech prepared. However, inspired by the gospel singer Mahalia Jackson calling from the crowd to 'tell them about the dream,' King began to improvise, speaking from the heart and delivering one of the seminal moments in not just civil rights history, but history as a whole.
Given their monumental effect on the world, the American nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki weren't actually planned in great detail. Not only did the US wait until the last minute to decide if it would be nuclear bombs they'd drop, but the shortlist of cities to target was also quite long. The initial plan was to target Kokura after Hiroshima, but a young member of the crew named Kermit Beahan called off the strike, deeming it too cloudy above the city for required visibility. Nagasaki, however, was not so lucky.