June 6, 2020
Day 158 of 366
June 6th is the 158th day of the year. It is National Huntington’s Disease Awareness Day in the United States, designed to bring awareness to the inherited disorder that results in the death of brain cells and the quest for a cure.
In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Eyewear Day, National Higher Education Day, National Gardening Exercise Day, National Yo-Yo Day, National Drive In Movie Day, and National Applesauce Cake Day. It’s also the first Saturday in June, which means that it’s National Black Bear Day, National Bubbly Day, National Prairie Day, and National Trails Day.
Historical items of note:
- In 1844, the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) was founded in London. The Village People would tell us all about it 134 years later.
- Also in 1844, the Glaciarium opened in London. It was the world’s first mechanically frozen ice rink.
- In 1859, Queensland was established as a separate Australian colony from New South Wales. The date is commemorated as Queensland Day.
- In 1892, the Chicago “L” elevated rail system began operation.
- In 1912, the eruption of Novarupta in Alaska began. It was the largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century.
- In 1918, biochemist, academic, and Nobel Prize laureate Edwin G. Krebs was born.
- In 1923, author, illustrator, and painter V.C. Andrews was born.
- In 1932, the Revenue Act of 1932 was enacted. It created the first gas tax in the United States, at a rate of 1 cent per US gallon.
- In 1933, the first drive-in theater opened in Camden, New Jersey.
- In 1934, United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 into law, establishing the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
- In 1947, actor Robert Englund was born.
- In 1963, actor Jason Isaacs was born.
- In 1971, Soyuz 11 was launched.
- In 1987, actor Daniel Logan was born.
- In 2002, a near-Earth asteroid estimated at ten meters in diameter exploded over the Mediterranean Sea between Greece and Libya. The explosion was estimated to have a force of 26 kilotons, slightly more powerful than the Nagasaki atomic bomb.
In 1944, the Allied invasion of Normandy during World War II – codenamed Operation Overlord – began with Operation Neptune, commonly referred to as D-Day.
The largest seaborne invasion in history, the operation began the liberation of German-occupied France (and later western Europe) and laid the foundations of the Allied victory on the Western Front. 155,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy in France. The Allied soldiers quickly broke through the Atlantic Wall and pushed inland.
Planning began in 1943. In the months leading up to the invasion, the Allies conducted Operation Bodyguard to mislead the Germans regarding the date and location of the main Allied landings. The landings were conducted in poor weather and were actually postponed one day from their intended assault. If the weather was any worse for June 6th, a further postponement would have meant a delay of at least two weeks due to the phase of the moon, the tides, and the time of day.
The amphibious landings were preceded by extensive aerial and naval bombardment and an airborne assault consisting of 24,000 American, British, and Canadian airborne troops shortly after midnight. Allied infantry and armored divisions began landing on the coast of France at 6:30am.
The target 50-mile stretch of the Normandy coast was divided into five sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword. The landing was treacherous: The beaches were under heavy fire from gun emplacements, and the shore was mined and covered with obstacles such as wooden stakes, metal tripods, and barbed wire. Due to the high cliffs at Omaha, the casualties were heaviest there. At Gold, Juno, and Sword, several fortified towns were cleared in house-to-house fighting, and two major gun emplacements at Gold were disabled using specialized tanks.
Despite all of this, the Allies failed to achieve any of their goals on the first day. The five beachheads were not connected until June 12th, but the operation gained a foothold that the Allies gradually expanded over the coming months. Allied casualties were documented for at least 10,000. Between 4,000 to 9,000 German soldiers died during the assault.
The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.
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