Day By Day

Thursday, January 21, 2010

This Day In History

Today is "National Hugging Day"; it is also "Squirrel Appreciation Day". So go out there and hug a squirrel. Of course the little critters are a bit hard to catch, especially now that I am getting old and slow. They're really fast and they climb high, so catching one to hug is a real challenge. I recommend nets and tranquilizer darts. If those don't work I suggest that you search out someone near and dear to you and give him/her/it a big hug. If, that is, you can catch him/her/it.

On this day in 1793 Citizen Louis Capet [formerly King Louis VVI of France] was guillotined in what is today the Place de la Concorde. After the execution several members of the crowd witnessing the event ran forward to dip their clothes in the King's blood. Others committed suicide by slitting their throats or jumping into the Seine. Albert Camus considered that the execution was the turning point of French contemporary history, "an act that secularized the French world and banished God from the subsequent history of the French people". If you are interested in the French Revolution I would recommend that you check out Simon Schama's wonderful history, Citizens.

And on this day in 1924 Vladimir Ilych Ulyanov, better known as "Lenin", died. Lenin was a monster (Churchill compared his influence to that of a "plague bacillus") and I would say "good riddance" except for the fact that what followed him [Stalin] was even worse.

And on this day in 1950 former State Department official Alger Hiss was found guilty of perjury and sentenced to five years in prison. Hiss, accused of being a Soviet agent and lying about it under oath, always maintained his innocence and left-wingers have proclaimed him to be a victim of "McCarthyism", but with the fall of the Soviet empire Western investigators gained access to secret files in Communist bloc nations and testimony of Soviet operatives that seem to confirm Hiss' guilt. Most scholars today believe that Hiss, indeed, was a Soviet agent, one of several who attained high office and positions of influence in the Roosevelt administration, but a hard-core group of left-wingers still consider him to be a martyr.