The Thing About Today – January 6

January 6, 2020
Day 6 of 366


January 6th is the sixth day of the year. It is observed as Epiphany (Three Kings’ Day) or Theophany in Western and Eastern Christianity, respectively.

In the United States, it is “celebrated” as National Bean Day, National Cuddle Up Day, National Shortbread Day, National Technology Day, and National Thank God It’s Monday Day. The last one typically falls on the first Monday in January.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1412, French martyr and saint Joan of Arc was born.
  • In 1540, King Henry VIII of England married Anne of Cleves.
  • In 1839, The Night of the Big Wind swept across Ireland. This was the most damaging storm in 300 years and damaged or destroyed more than twenty percent of the houses in Dublin.
  • In 1893, the Washington National Cathedral was chartered by Congress, signed by President Benjamin Harrison.
  • In 1903, Greek-American pianist and conductor Maurice Abravanel was born.
  • In 1912, New Mexico was admitted as the 47th U.S. state.
  • In 1925, John DeLorean, the American engineer and businessman who founded the DeLorean Motor Company, was born. The vehicles he produced had enough style to become a famous time machine.
  • In 1946, the first-ever general election was held in Vietnam.
  • In 1955, Rowan Atkinson was born. An English actor, producer, and screenwriter, Atkinson is probably best known for his roles in the Blackadder and Mr. Bean television series.
  • In 1969, American actor Norman Reedus was born.
  • In 1973, Schoolhouse Rock premiered on ABC.
  • In 1975, Wheel of Fortune premiered on NBC.
  • In 1982, English actor Eddie Redmayne was born.
  • In 1984, actress and comedian Kate McKinnon was born.


In 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt delivered the Four Freedoms speech during his State of the Union address. The speech was delivered eleven months before the surprise attack by Japanese forces on Pearl Harbor, the event that forced the United States to declare war on Japan during World War II.

The speech outlined four fundamental freedoms that people everywhere in the world should enjoy: Freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. The first two freedoms were inspired by the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights, but the latter two freedoms went beyond the typical Constitutional values and bases. The basic human right to economic security was enshrined decades later as the human security paradigm in social sciences, and the freedom from fear was a key element of the United Nations which the president was establishing.

The Four Freedoms Speech was part of Roosevelt’s hope that the United States would abandon the isolationist policies that emerged from World War I. The speech also established the ideological basis for involvement in World War II, framed in terms of individual rights and liberties. It lived on for decades as a frame for remembrance of those lost in the war, as well as a staple for values central to American life and exceptionalism.

In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression—everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way—everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want—which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants—everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear—which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor—anywhere in the world.

That is no vision of a distant millennium.

It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation.

That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.

Interestingly enough, while President Roosevelt declared that the Four Freedoms embodied “rights of men of every creed and every race, wherever they live,” he was also the leader who authorized Japanese-American and Italian-American internment camps during World War II. Racial segregation also continued in the United States for decades to follow.


The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.




What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.