January 13, 2020
Day 13 of 366
January 13th is the thirteenth day of the year. It is New Year’s Eve for countries operating on the Julian calendar, as well as a day of sidereal winter solstice’s eve celebrations in South and Southeast Asian cultures.
In the United States, it is “celebrated” as Korean American Day, National Peach Melba Day, National Rubber Ducky Day, National Sticker Day, and National Clean Off Your Desk Day. The last one is typically celebrated on the second Monday in January.
Historical items of note:
- In 1830, The Great Fire of New Orleans began.
- In 1888, the National Geographic Society was founded in Washington, DC.
- In 1919, actor Robert Stack was born. I know him best from years of watching Unsolved Mysteries as a kid.
- In 1926, Michael Bond was born. An English soldier and author, he created Paddington Bear.
- In 1942, the first use of an aircraft ejection seat was conducted during World War II by a German test pilot flying a Heinkel He 280 jet fighter.
- In 1943, actor Richard Moll (Bull from Night Court) was born.
- In 1949, Indian commander, pilot, and astronaut Rakesh Sharma was born.
- In 1968, Johnny Cash performed live at Folsom State Prison.
January 13th also marks Stephen Foster Memorial Day, a day that celebrates the life of “the father of American music” on the anniversary of his death.
Stephen Collins Foster was born on July 4, 1826. He wrote more than 200 songs, many of which are considered classic American music including “Oh! Susanna”, “Hard Times Come Again No More”, “Camptown Races”, “Old Folks at Home” (also known as “Swanee River”), “My Old Kentucky Home”, “Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair”, and “Beautiful Dreamer”.
Many of his songs were included in blackface minstrel shows. To that end, his music is considered to be disparaging to African Americans. His work is often considered childhood songs since they are typically included in elementary curricula, and most of his original manuscripts have been lost over time.
Foster came down with a fever in January 1864. He fell in his hotel and accidentally cut his neck. He died three days later at the age of 37.
The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.
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