Day By Day

Friday, November 20, 2009

This Day In History

Today is "Universal Children's Day", officially so designated in 1954 by the U. N. This is not to be confused with "International Children's Day" sponsored by UNICEF which comes in December, nor the other "International Children's Day" which comes in June, nor with "National Child's Day" which President Bush established on the first Sunday of June, nor with "Children's Day" which was celebrated last week in India, nor with the "Children's Day" [formerly "Boy's Day"] which was celebrated in May in Japan, nor with the hundreds of other national and international celebrations of children. Actually, for people with children still at home every day seems to be "children's day", and that is how it should be.

On this day in 1272 Edward I [Longshanks] was proclaimed King of England. Today he's mostly remembered as the guy who killed Braveheart, but he was an extremely competent king who greatly strengthened the monarchy. His son, however, was a different matter.

And on this day in 1866 Howard University was founded in Washington, D.C.

And on this day in 1910 Francisco Madero issued a call for revolution against Mexican President-for-Life, Porfirio Diaz. This is the start of the Mexican Revolution that brought Madero to the presidency. It didn't last long, though. Soon Madero himself faced revolt and in 1913 he was displaced by a coup and executed by strongman, Victoriano Huerta.

On this day in 1945 the Nazi War Crimes trials began in Nuremberg. These trials remain one of the most controversial events of the Twentieth Century. Many consider them to be fully justified considering the nature of the Nazi regime, but it is clear that the trials were terribly flawed. Not only were prosecutors selective in the choice of defendants and used fraudulent evidence to convict some of them, but many of the charges were made "ex post facto" [that is, the actions were only defined as crimes after they were committed]. U.S. Chief Justice Harlan Stone called the trials a "fraud" and a "high-grade lynching party"; liberal icon, Justice William Douglas called them "unprincipled"; and even the American prosecutor, Robert Jackson, admitted that the Allies [particularly the French and the Soviets] were guilty of precisely the same "crimes" that were being charged against the defendants. Most disturbingly, the Nuremberg Trials set precedents for legal actions that have repeatedly been abused by left-wing ideologues ever since.

On this day in 1967, according to Census Bureau projections, the population of the United States stood at 200 million people. In less than forty years it had exceeded 300 million people.

And on this day in 1978 Jim Jones' followers drank the kool-aid and died.

Entering the building:

Kennesaw Mountain Landis [1866] First Commissioner of Baseball, hired to clean up the mess after the Black Sox scandal.

Edwin Hubble [1889] -- he proved that there were galaxies outside the Milky Way and discovered the "Red Shift" that showed that the universe was expanding.

Robert Byrd [1917] Democratic Senator from West Virginia and former Ku Klux Klansman who served as Senate Majority Leader.

Robert F. Kennedy [1925] -- Joe McCarthy henchman who rode his brother's coat-tails to national office as Attorney General and while there hatched and ordered the execution of assassination plots against foreign leaders [most notably Fidel Castro] while ordering domestic surveillance against potential political foes [including Martin Luther King, Jr.]; who shamelessly exploited his brother's death to seek election to the U. S. Senate from New York, despite not actually living in the State, and to launch a campaign for the Democratic Party nomination for the presidency. Ironically, this man, who had ordered the assassination of others, and who had exploited his brother's assassination for political gain, was himself assassinated by a Palestinian radical Muslim.

And on this day in 1929 Dick Clark, DJ who hosted "American Bandstand" out of a studio on Market Street in West Philly and went on to become one of the most influential figures in the music business, was born.

And "Happy Birthday" to Joseph "Plugs" Biden [1942], Scranton native and longtime senator from Delaware who is currently one heartbeat away from the presidency [shudder].

Leaving the Building:

Leo Tolstoy [1910] Russian novelist whom nearly everyone claims to have read but probably didn't.

Allan Sherman [1973] "Hello Mutha, hello Fadder, here I am in Camp Granada..."

General Francisco Franco [1975] Leader of the Falangist movement in Spain and longtime dictator of that country.

And a very "Happy Anniversary" to Queen Elizabeth II of the U.K. and her consort, Prince Philip.