March 4, 1960 - It was on this day that the French freighter, La Coubre, exploded as it was unloaded in the harbor at Havana, Cuba. The ship was carrying 76 tons of munitions from Belgium.
At the moment of the blast, Che Guevara, the Marxist revolutionary, was attending a meeting nearby. He rushed to the scene and helped attend to the hundreds of victims.
A secondary blast also claimed many lives. At least 75 people died in the disaster. The actual cause remains murky, but many in Fidel Castro's government believed that the CIA was involved.
At a memorial service the following day, Castro gave a famous speech in which he used the words "Patria o Muerte" (Homeland or Death) for the first time. As Castro spoke, Che Guevara appeared near the podium and photographer Alberto Korda snapped a photograph that would become one of history's most iconic images, appearing on billboards, hats, t-shirts, tattoos and millions of other places. Some believe it's the most reproduced photograph of all time.
Korda recalled the moment he snapped the shot:
I remember it as if it were today ... seeing him framed in the viewfinder, with that expression. I am still startled by the impact ... it shakes me so powerfully.
The ubiquitous photo is known as Guerrillero Heroico (Heroic Guerrilla).