May 8, 2020
Day 129 of 366
May 8th is the 129th day of the year. It is World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day, an annual celebration of the principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. It is also the anniversary of the birth of Henry Dunant, who was born in 1828, was the founder of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and the recipient of the first Nobel Peace Prize.
In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Coconut Cream Pie Day, National Have A Coke Day, National Student Nurse Day, National Military Spouse Appreciation Day, and National Provider Appreciation Day. The last two are typically observed on the Friday before Mother’s Day.
Historical items of note:
- In 1429, Joan of Arc lifted the Siege of Orléans, thereby turning the tide of the Hundred Years’ War.
- In 1858, English author and poet J. Meade Falkner was born. To my knowledge, he is of no relation.
- In 1884, Thirty-third President of the United States Harry S. Truman was born.
- In 1886, pharmacist John Pemberton began to sell Coca-Cola as a patent medicine.
- In 1899, the Irish Literary Theatre in Dublin produced its first play.
- In 1912, Paramount Pictures was founded.
- In 1919, Edward George Honey proposed the idea of a moment of silence to commemorate the Armistice of 11 November 1918, the event that ended World War I.
- In 1926, English environmentalist and television host David Attenborough.
- Also in 1926, actor and comedian Don Rickles was born.
- In 1935, actress and dancer Salome Jens was born. She is potentially best known as the female Founder leader on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
- In 1940, author and screenwriter Peter Benchley was born. If you know of Jaws, The Deep, The Island, Beast, and White Shark, you know of Peter Benchley.
- In 1958, Dracula was released. The film starred Christopher Lee as the eponymous vampire, was directed by Terence Fisher, and is the first Hammer Horror film released.
- In 1964, actor and director Melissa Gilbert was born.
- In 1975, Spanish-American singer-songwriter, producer, and actor Enrique Iglesias was born.
- In 1976, the rollercoaster The New Revolution opened at Six Flags Magic Mountain. It was the first steel coaster with a vertical loop.
- In 1978, the first ascent of Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen occurred. The ascent was conducted by Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler.
- In 1980, the World Health Organization confirmed the eradication of smallpox.
- In 1981, actor Stephen Amell was born.
May 8 is Victory in Europe Day, generally known as VE Day.
It is the anniversary of the formal acceptance of Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender to the Allied Forces during World War II on May 8, 1945. This event marked the end of World War II in Europe.
VE Day is celebrated across the Western European states on 8 May, with several countries observing public holidays on the day each year. The holidays are known as Victory Over Fascism Day, Liberation Day, or simply Victory Day.
Upon the defeat of Germany, celebrations erupted throughout the western world, especially in the United Kingdom and North America. More than one million people celebrated in the streets throughout the United Kingdom, and crowds massed in London’s Trafalgar Square and up the Mall to Buckingham Palace. There, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, accompanied by Prime Minister Winston Churchill, appeared on the balcony of the palace before the cheering crowds. Princess Elizabeth (the future Queen Elizabeth II) and her sister Princess Margaret were allowed to wander incognito among the crowds and take part in the celebrations.
In the United States, the victory celebrations coincided with President Harry Truman’s 61st birthday. He dedicated the victory to the memory of his predecessor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had died less than a month earlier, stating that his only wish was “that Franklin D. Roosevelt had lived to witness this day”. Later that day, Truman said that the victory made it his most enjoyable birthday.
Celebrations took place in many American cities, especially in New York’s Times Square. The celebrations were tempered by Churchill’s and Truman’s warnings that the war with Japan was still looming.
May 8th has also been designated by the United Nations as the Time of Remembrance and Reconciliation for Those Who Lost Their Lives during the Second World War, an annual observance that pays tribute to the victims of World War II.
The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.
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