The Thing About Today – June 20

June 20, 2020
Day 172 of 366


June 20th is the 172nd day of the year. Today is the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, marking the official first day of summer and the longest day of the year. It is also known as estival solstice or midsummer, and it occurs when one of the Earth’s poles has its maximum tilt toward the Sun.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Kouign Amann Day, American Eagle Day, International Nystagmus Day, National Hike with a Geek Day, National Vanilla Milkshake Day, National Ice Cream Soda Day, Anne and Samantha Day (typically observed on the Solstice), and National Seashell Day (typically observed on the first day of summer).


Historical items of note:

  • In 451, Flavius Aetius battled Attila the Hun at the Battle of Chalons. After the battle, which was inconclusive, Attila retreated. This caused the Romans to interpret it as a victory.
  • In 1782, The United States Congress adopted the Great Seal of the United States.
  • In 1837, Queen Victoria succeeded to the British throne.
  • In 1840, Samuel Morse received the patent for the telegraph.
  • In 1877, Alexander Graham Bell installed the world’s first commercial telephone service in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
  • In 1909, actor Errol Flynn was born.
  • In 1928, actor and producer Martin Landau was born.
  • In 1931, actress Olympia Dukakis was born.
  • In 1940, actor John Mahoney was born.
  • In 1942, Polish political prisoner Kazimierz Piechowski and three others, dressed as members of the SS-Totenkopfverbände, stole an SS staff car and escaped from the Auschwitz concentration camp.
  • In 1943, the Detroit race riot broke out and continued for three days. It occurred in a period of dramatic population increase and social tensions associated with the military buildup of World War II as Detroit’s automotive industry was converted to the war effort. At the time, white commissions mistakenly attributed the cause of the riot to black people and youths, but the NAACP identified deeper causes including a shortage of affordable housing, discrimination in employment, lack of minority representation in the police, and white police brutality.
  • In 1947, actress Candy Clark was born.
  • In 1949, singer-songwriter, pianist, producer, and actor Lionel Richie was born.
  • In 1954, Israeli colonel, pilot, and astronaut Ilan Ramon was born. He was a space shuttle payload specialist on STS-107, the fatal mission of Space Shuttle Columbia, in which he and six other crew members were killed in a re-entry accident.
  • In 1963, following the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Soviet Union and the United States signed an agreement to establish the so-called “red telephone” link between Washington and Moscow.
  • In 1967, actress Nicole Kidman was born.
  • In 1975, the film Jaws was released in the United States. It became the highest-grossing film of that time, started the trend of films known as “summer blockbusters”, and generally made people afraid to go into the water.


June 20th is World Refugee Day, an international observance dedicated to raising awareness of the situation of refugees throughout the world.

On December 4, 2000, the United Nations General Assembly decided that this day in June would be celebrated as World Refugee Day. In the resolution, the General Assembly noted that 2001 marked the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.

Each year, the United Nations, United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), and countless civic groups around the world host events in order to draw the public’s attention to the millions of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons worldwide who have been forced to flee their homes due to war, conflict, and persecution.

The annual commemoration is marked by a variety of events in more than 100 countries, involving government officials, humanitarian aid workers, celebrities, civilians, and the forcibly displaced themselves.


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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