On March 11, 1942, General Douglas MacArthur abandoned the island fortress of Corregidor in the Philippines under orders from President Franklin Roosevelt. Left behind at Corregidor and on the Bataan Peninsula were 90,000 American and Filipino troops, who, lacking food, supplies, and support, would soon succumb to the Japanese offensive. MacArthur issued a statement to the press in which he promised his men and the people of the Philippines, “I shall return.”
On March 11, 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev was selected by the Communist Party as the new general secretary and leader of the Soviet Union, following the death of Konstantin Chernenko the day before. Gorbachev oversaw a radical transformation of society during the next six years, concluding with the break-up of the Soviet Union.
On March 11, 1990, Lithuania became the first Soviet Republic to proclaim its independence from the USSR. The Soviet government responded with an oil embargo and economic blockade against the Baltic republic and, in January 1991, Soviet paratroopers and tanks invaded Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital, beginning a standoff that lasted until September 6, 1991, when the crumbling Soviet Union agreed to grant independence to Lithuania and the other Baltic republics of Estonia and Latvia.