April 11, 2020
Day 102 of 366
April 11th is the 102nd day of the year. It is World Parkinson’s Day, observed in honor of Dr. James Parkinson, the English surgeon, apothecary, geologist, paleontologist, and political activist who first described the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in his 1817 An Essay on the Shaking Palsy.
Historical items of note:
- In 1727, Johann Sebastian Bach’s St Matthew Passion BWV 244b premiered at the St. Thomas Church in Leipzig.
- In 1755, Dr. James Parkinson was born.
- In 1881, Spelman College was founded in Atlanta, Georgia as the Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary. It was designed as an institute of higher education for African-American women.
- In 1940, author and screenwriter Thomas Harris was born. His most famous character is Hannibal Lecter.
- In 1951, The Stone of Scone was found on the site of the altar of Arbroath Abbey. It was the stone upon which Scottish monarchs were traditionally crowned and had been taken by Scottish nationalist students from its place in Westminster Abbey.
- In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which prohibited discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing.
- In 1970, Apollo 13 was launched with astronauts James A. Lovell, Jr., John L. Swigert, Jr., and Fred W. Haise, Jr. aboard. It was meant to be the third manned mission to the lunar surface, but the mission was aborted when an oxygen tank in the service module failed two days into the mission.
- In 1974, actress Tricia Helfer was born.
- In 2012, The Avengers premiered in Los Angeles, marking a major milestone for Marvel Studios and superhero cinema.
In 1900, the United States Navy took possession of the first modern submarine, the USS Holland (SS-1).
The first military submarine of the United States fleet was the Turtle from 1775, but the Holland was the first modern commissioned submarine, purchased for $150,000. She was commissioned on October 12, 1900, with Lieutenant Harry H. Caldwell in command. She was propelled by a gasoline engine, an electric motor, and a 66-cell battery with a maximum speed of 6 knots.
The Holland was the fourth submarine to be owned by the Navy, preceded by Alligator, Intelligent Whale, and Plunger. That last one became the namesake for the second commissioned boat, USS Plunger (SS-2).
Most of Holland‘s service life was spent in experimentation and training. She was decommissioned on July 17, 1905, and sold as scrap for $100, but her legacy lives on as she started an unbroken chain of United States submarines that continues to this day. Her success was also instrumental in the founding of the Electric Boat Company, now known as the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics Corporation.
As a result of the Navy’s purchase of the USS Holland, today is recognized as National Submarine Day by certain circles of veterans. In 1969, Senator Thomas J. Dodd of Connecticut introduced a bill to designate April 11th as National Submarine Day, but no record of a proclamation from President Richard Nixon has been found.
The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.
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