March 30, 2020
Day 90 of 366
March 30th is the ninetieth day of the year. It is National Doctors’ Day in the United States, and given current events, I think it’s appropriate to celebrate doctors and medical professionals worldwide. Reach out to the medical professionals in your life today and thank them for their tireless service on the front lines of this pandemic.
In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Take a Walk in the Park Day, National I Am in Control Day, National Pencil Day, National Turkey Neck Soup Day, and National Virtual Vacation Day.
Historical items of note:
- In 1811, German chemist Robert Bunsen was born. He investigated emission spectra of heated elements, discovered caesium in 1860 and rubidium in 1861, and developed an improvement on laboratory burners (later called the Bunsen burner).
- In 1818, physicist Augustin Fresnel read a memoir on optical rotation to the French Academy of Sciences. It seems that, when polarized light is “depolarized” by a Fresnel rhomb, its properties are preserved in any subsequent passage through an optically-rotating crystal or liquid.
- In 1822, the Florida Territory was created in the United States.
- In 1841, the National Bank of Greece was founded in Athens.
- In 1842, ether anesthesia was used for the first time. This occurred in an operation by the American surgeon Dr. Crawford Long.
- In 1853, Vincent van Gogh was born.
- In 1861, Sir William Crookes announced his discovery of thallium.
- In 1867, Alaska was purchased from Russia for $7.2 million, roughly two cents per acre, by United States Secretary of State William H. Seward. The Alaska Purchase was derided by critics as Seward’s Folly and Seward’s Icebox. It seems to have worked out well.
- In 1937, actor Warren Beatty was born.
- In 1939, actor John Astin was born. I remember him best as Gomez Addams in The Addams Family and The Riddler in the second season of Batman.
- Also in 1939, the Heinkel He 100 fighter set a world airspeed record of 463 miles per hour.
- In 1950, actor Robbie Coltrane was born.
- In 1958, voice actor Maurice LaMarche was born.
- In 2017, SpaceX conducted the world’s first re-flight of an orbital class rocket.
In 1981, President Ronald Reagan was shot in the chest outside Washington Hilton Hotel by John Hinckley, Jr.
President Reagan was seriously wounded by a ricocheting .22 caliber bullet that bounced off the presidential limousine and hit him in the left underarm. It broke a rib and punctured a lung, resulting in serious internal bleeding. Reagan was taken to George Washington University Hospital for surgery, ad he recovered and was released about ten days later.
Besides Reagan, White House Press Secretary James Brady, Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy, and police officer Thomas Delahanty were also wounded. They all survived, but Brady suffered brain damage and was permanently disabled. When Brady died in 2014, it was classified as a homicide since it resulted from this injury.
Hinckley’s motivation for the attack was to impress actress Jodie Foster after he developed an obsession with her after watching one of her films. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity on charges of attempting to assassinate the president, and he remained confined to a psychiatric facility until September of 2016. He was not charged with James Brady’s death.
The assassination attempt had long-reaching effects, including a trivial change to The Greatest American Hero, which premiered that same year. The lead character, Ralph Hinkley, underwent a name change to Ralph Hanley for a few months to avoid any confusion with the failed assassin.
The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.
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