April 7, 2020
Day 98 of 366
April 7th is the ninety-eighth day of the year. It is Genocide Memorial Day in Rwanda, as well as the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Rwanda Genocide as established by the United Nations. The Rwandan genocide was a mass slaughter of Tutsi, Twa, and moderate Hutu between April 7 and July 15, 1994, during the Rwandan Civil War. The massacre was perpetrated by the Hutu government and related militias, and the attacks were racially motivated. Estimates of those murdered range between 500,000 and 1,074,016.
In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Beer Day, National Coffee Cake Day, National Girl Me Too Day, and National No Housework Day. It is also recognized as the SAAM Day of Action, a day during Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) to stop sexual assault, harassment, and abuse before they happen through education. The day is typically observed on the first Tuesday in April.
Historical items of note:
- In 529, the first draft of the Corpus Juris Civilis – recognized as a fundamental work in jurisprudence – was issued by Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I.
- In 1141, Empress Matilda became the first female ruler of England, adopting the title “Lady of the English”.
- In 1724, Johann Sebastian Bach’s St John Passion, BWV 245, held its premiere performance at St. Nicholas Church, in Leipzig, Germany.
- In 1805, Ludwig van Beethoven’s Third Symphony premiered at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna, Austria.
- In 1827, English chemist John Walker sold the first friction match. He had invented the device in the previous year.
- In 1906, Mount Vesuvius erupted and devastated Naples, Italy.
- In 1915, singer-songwriter and actress Billie Holliday was born.
- In 1927, the first long-distance public television broadcast occurred. It was from Washington, D.C., to New York City, and it displayed the image of Commerce Secretary Herbert Hoover.
- In 1928, actor, singer, and producer James Garner was born.
- In 1931, activist and author Daniel Ellsberg was born.
- In 1933, the prohibition on alcohol in the United States was repealed for beer of no more than 3.2% alcohol by weight. Prohibition was a nationwide constitutional ban on the production, importation, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages starting in 1920 with the Eighteenth Amendment. The repeal happened eight months before the ratification of the Twenty-First Amendment and is now celebrated as National Beer Day in the United States.
- Also in 1933, actor Wayne Rogers was born. He played Captain “Trapper” John McIntyre on M*A*S*H.
- In 1939, director, producer, and screenwriter Francis Ford Coppola was born.
- In 1940, Booker T. Washington became the first African-American to be depicted on a United States postage stamp.
- In 1945, the battleship Yamato, one of the two largest ever constructed, was sunk by American aircraft during Operation Ten-Go.
- In 1946, special effects designer and makeup artist Stan Winston was born.
- In 1949, the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific opened on Broadway. It would run for 1,925 performances and win ten Tony Awards.
- In 1954, martial artist, actor, stuntman, director, producer, and screenwriter Jackie Chan was born. (No, he doesn’t do all of his own stunts: Look up Mars (Cheung Wing-fat), one of Jackie Chan’s best friends, who was first credited as his stunt double in 1983’s Project A.)
- In 1955, Winston Churchill resigned as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom amid indications of failing health.
- In 1964, actor Russell Crowe was born.
- In 1983, astronauts Story Musgrave and Don Peterson performed the first Space Shuttle spacewalk during Mission STS-6 on Challenger.
- In 2001, Mars Odyssey was launched.
In 1948, the World Health Organization (WHO) was established by the United Nations. Its main objective is ensuring “the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health.”
The WHO’s broad mandate includes advocating for universal healthcare, monitoring public health risks, coordinating responses to health emergencies, and promoting human health and well being. It provides technical assistance to countries, sets international health standards and guidelines, and collects data on global health issues through the World Health Survey. Its flagship publication, the World Health Report, provides expert assessments of global health topics and health statistics on all nations. The WHO also serves as a forum for summits and discussions on health issues.
World Health Day, the celebration of the organization’s birthdate, is a global health awareness day sponsored by the WHO. The organization brings together international, regional and local events on the day related to a particular theme. World Health Day is acknowledged by various governments and non-governmental organizations with interests in public health issues, who also organize activities and highlight their support in media reports, such as the Global Health Council.
World Health Day is one of eight official global health campaigns marked by WHO, along with World Tuberculosis Day, World Immunization Week, World Malaria Day, World No Tobacco Day, World AIDS Day, World Blood Donor Day, and World Hepatitis Day.
The theme for World Health Day 2020 is the support of nurses and midwives.
The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.
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