March 3, 2020
Day 63 of 366
March 3rd is the sixty-third day of the year. It is World Wildlife Day, a United Nations day of celebration and awareness of the world’s wild fauna and flora. In its adoption of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1973, the United Nations General Assembly reaffirmed the intrinsic value of wildlife and its various contributions, including ecological, genetic, social, economic, scientific, educational, cultural, recreational and aesthetic, to sustainable development and human well-being.
Historical items of note:
- In 1776, the first amphibious landing of the United States Marine Corps begins the Battle of Nassau.
- In 1845, Florida was admitted as the 27th U.S. state. It is unknown how soon Florida Man arrived on the scene.
- In 1847, Alexander Graham Bell was born. He was the Scottish-American engineer and academic who invented the telephone.
- In 1873, the United States Congress enacted the Comstock Laws, making it illegal to send any “obscene, lewd, or lascivious” books through the mail. This included obscenity, contraceptives, abortifacients, sex toys, personal letters with any sexual content or information, or any information regarding such restricted items. Many of the Comstock Laws have since been declared unconstitutional.
- In 1875, Georges Bizet’s opera Carmen premiered at the Opéra-Comique in Paris.
- In 1882, Charles Ponzi was born. He was an Italian businessman whose corrupt practices gave birth to the term “Ponzi scheme”.
- In 1891, Shoshone National Forest was established as the first national forest in the United States and the world.
- In 1904, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany became the first person to make a sound recording of a political document. He used Thomas Edison’s phonograph cylinder for the task.
- In 1913, thousands of women marched in a suffrage parade in Washington, D.C.
- In 1920, James Doohan was born. A Canadian-American actor and soldier, he portrayed Montgomery “Scotty” Scott on Star Trek.
- In 1923, TIME magazine was published for the first time.
- In 1939, Mohandas Gandhi began a hunger strike in Bombay to protest the autocratic rule in British India.
- In 1962, American heptathlete and long jumper Jackie Joyner-Kersee was born.
- In 1968, physicist Brian Cox was born.
- In 1969, Apollo 9 was launched on a mission to test the lunar module. Astronauts James A. McDivitt, David R. Scott, and Russell L. Schweickart completed the mission over ten days.
- In 1980, The USS Nautilus was decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register.
- In 1991, an amateur video captures the beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers.
- In 2005, Margaret Wilson was elected as Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives. This began a period lasting until August 23, 2006 where all the highest political offices (including Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State), were occupied by women. New Zealand the first country for this to occur.
In 1931, the United States adopted The Star-Spangled Banner as its national anthem.
Before 1931, other songs served as the hymns of the United States, including “Hail, Columbia” for most of the 19th century. “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee”, which is melodically identical to “God Save the Queen” (the United Kingdom’s anthem) also served the purpose. Following the War of 1812 and subsequent conflicts, other songs emerged to compete for popularity including “America the Beautiful”.
The lyrics of The Star-Spangled Banner come from the “Defence of Fort M’Henry”, a poem written on September 14, 1814, by Francis Scott Key. He was a 35-year old lawyer who was inspired after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by British ships in Baltimore Harbor during the War of 1812. It was the large American flag, with 15 stars and 15 stripes, flying triumphantly above the fort during the United States victory that caught his eye.
The poem was set to the tune of a popular British song, “To Anacreon in Heaven”, written by John Stafford Smith for a men’s social club in London. Renamed “The Star-Spangled Banner”, the song took off as a patriotic song, despite being very difficult to sing with its range of 19 semitones.
“The Star-Spangled Banner” was recognized for official use by the United States Navy in 1889, and by United States President Woodrow Wilson in 1916. It was finally confirmed as the official national anthem by a congressional resolution (46 Stat. 1508, codified at 36 U.S.C. § 301) and President Herbert Hoover in 1931.
The poem has four stanzas, but only the first is commonly performed.
O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner, O long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country, should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
A couple of alternative versions have popped up over the years. Eighteen years after Francis Scott Key’s death, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. added a fifth stanza to the song in indignation over the start of the American Civil War. Written in 1861, it was published in songbooks of the era.
When our land is illumined with Liberty’s smile,
If a foe from within strike a blow at her glory,
Down, down with the traitor that dares to defile
The flag of her stars and the page of her story!
By the millions unchained, who our birthright have gained,
We will keep her bright blazon forever unstained!
And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave
While the land of the free is the home of the brave.
For the 1986 rededication of the Statue of Liberty, Christian recording artist Sandi Patty wrote her version of an additional verse. The revision of the anthem brought her national acclaim.
The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.
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