The Thing About Today – April 25

April 25, 2020
Day 116 of 366


April 25th is the 116th day of the year. It is Parental Alienation Awareness Day, which brings awareness to the process of a child becoming estranged from a parent as the result of the psychological manipulation of another parent.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Hug a Plumber Day, National Telephone Day, National Zucchini Bread Day, National Kiss of Hope Day, National Pool Opening Day, National Rebuilding Day, and National Sense of Smell Day. The last four are all typically observed on the last Saturday in April.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1792, highwayman Nicolas J. Pelletier became the first person executed by guillotine.
  • Also in 1792, “La Marseillaise” was composed by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle. It is the national anthem of France, and was composed after the declaration of war by France against Austria. The original title was “Chant de guerre pour l’Armée du Rhin” (“War Song for the Army of the Rhine”).
  • In 1859, British and French engineers broke ground for the Suez Canal.
  • In 1900, Austrian-Swiss-American physicist, academic, and Nobel Prize laureate Wolfgang Pauli was born.
  • In 1901, New York became the first U.S. state to require automobile license plates.
  • In 1908, journalist Edward R. Murrow was born.
  • In 1917, singer Ella Fitzgerald was born.
  • In 1945, the last German troops retreated from Finland’s soil in Lapland, thus ending the Lapland War and all military acts of World War II in Finland.
  • In 1946, actress Talia Shire was born.
  • In 1954, the first practical solar cell was publicly demonstrated by Bell Telephone Laboratories.
  • In 1959, the Saint Lawrence Seaway officially opened to shipping traffic, linking the North American Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean.
  • In 1960, the United States Navy submarine USS Triton (SSRN-586) completed the first submerged circumnavigation of the globe.
  • In 1961, Robert Noyce was granted a patent for an integrated circuit.
  • In 1964, actor, voice artist, comedian, and producer Hank Azaria was born.
  • In 1965, puppeteer and voice actor John Henson was born.
  • In 1969, actress and producer Renée Zellweger was born.
  • Also in 1969, actress Gina Torres was born.
  • In 1983, Pioneer 10 traveled beyond Pluto’s orbit.


Today was a big day in history, so I’m highlighting two events that I found interesting.


In 1945, United States and Soviet troops met in Torgau along the River Elbe, cutting the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany in two.

The first contact between American and Soviet patrols occurred near Strehla, after First Lieutenant Albert Kotzebue, an American soldier, crossed the River Elbe in a boat with three men of an intelligence and reconnaissance platoon. On the east bank, they met forward elements of a Soviet Guards rifle regiment of the First Ukrainian Front, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Gardiev.

The same day, another patrol under Second Lieutenant William Robertson with Frank Huff, James McDonnell and Paul Staub met a Soviet patrol commanded by Lieutenant Alexander Silvashko on the destroyed Elbe bridge of Torgau. The commanders of the 69th Infantry Division of the First Army and the 58th Guards Rifle Division of the 5th Guards Army met at Torgau, southwest of Berlin. They celebrated with the formal “Handshake of Torgau” between Robertson and Silvashko in front of photographers the following day.

The Soviet, American, and British governments released simultaneous statements that evening in London, Moscow, and Washington, reaffirming the determination of the three Allied powers to complete the destruction of the Third Reich. Known as Elbe Day and East Meets West Day, this event marked an important step toward the end of World War II. Elbe Day has never been an official holiday in any country, but in the years since 1945 the memory of this friendly encounter gained new significance in the context of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.


In 1953, James Watson, Francis Crick, Maurice Wilkins, Rosalind Franklin and colleagues published “Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid” describing the double helix structure of DNA.

In the United States, DNA Day was first celebrated on April 25, 2003. The proclamation of both the Senate and the House of Representatives only declared a one-time celebration, so for every year going forward, annual DNA Day celebrations were organized by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI).

April 25 has since been declared “International DNA Day” and “World DNA Day” by several groups.


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.




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