February 12, 2020
Day 43 of 366
February 12th is the forty-third day of the year. It is National Freedom to Marry Day in the United States. It is also Red Hand Day, also known as the International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers.
In the United States, it is “celebrated” as National Plum Pudding Day.
Historical items of note:
- In 1502, Isabella I issued an edict outlawing Islam in the Crown of Castile in Spain. This forced virtually all of her Muslim subjects to convert to Christianity.
- In 1809, Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, was born.
- In 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded.
- In 1915, actor Lorne Greene was born.
- In 1924, George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue received its premiere in a concert titled “An Experiment in Modern Music”. The concert was held at Aeolian Hall in New York, with Gershwin playing the piano with Paul Whiteman and his band.
- In 1938, author and educator Judy Blume was born.
- In 1945, actress Maud Adams was born.
- In 1946, African American United States Army veteran Isaac Woodard was severely beaten by a South Carolina police officer. The incident, during which Woodard lost his vision in both eyes, galvanized the civil rights movement and partially inspired the Orson Welles film Touch of Evil.
- In 1950, actor Michael Ironside was born.
- In 1953, actress Joanna Kerns was born.
- In 1963, construction began on the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri.
- In 2001, the NEAR Shoemaker spacecraft touched down in the “saddle” region of 433 Eros, becoming the first spacecraft to land on an asteroid.
- In 2004, the city of San Francisco began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in response to a directive from Mayor Gavin Newsom.
In 1915, the first stone of the Lincoln Memorial was placed in Washington, D.C. This occurred on the 106th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth.
The architect for the memorial was Henry Bacon and the designer of the interior statue was Daniel Chester French. The statue was carved by the Piccirilli Brothers and the interior murals were painted by Jules Guerin. The overall design echoed a Greek Doric temple and contains inscriptions of the Gettysburg Address and the President’s second inaugural address. It has been the site of several famous speeches, including Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” address.
It wasn’t the first public memorial to President Lincoln. That honor goes to a statue by Lot Flannery erected in front of the District of Columbia City Hall in 1968, three years after Lincoln’s assassination. Public demand for a fitting national memorial, ranging back to the time of Lincoln’s death, finally got traction when Congress took action in 1867. Courtesy of congressional chicanery, the project eventually settled on design and location by 1913.
The location was dedicated on February 12, 1914, and was completed on schedule. The memorial itself was dedicated on May 30, 1922, by William H. Taft, then Chief Justice of the United States, and presented to President Warren Harding. Lincoln’s only surviving son, 78-year-old Robert Todd Lincoln, was in attendance.
The Memorial was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966. It is open to the public 24 hours a day and is visited by over seven million people per year.
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.