June 24, 2020
Day 176 of 366
June 24th is the 176th day of the year. It is Inti Raymi’rata, which is a traditional religious ceremony of the Inca Empire in honor of the god Inti (which is Quechua for “sun”), the most venerated deity in Inca religion. It correlates to the celebration of the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year in terms of the time between sunrise and sunset, and the Inca New Year, when the hours of light would begin to lengthen again.
In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Pralines Day and National Parchment Day (which is typically observed on the last Wednesday in June).
Historical items of note:
- In 1497, John Cabot landed in North America at Newfoundland, leading the first European exploration of the region since the Vikings.
- In 1571, Miguel López de Legazpi founded Manila, the capital of the Philippines.
- In 1604, Samuel de Champlain discovered the mouth of the Saint John River, site of the Reversing Falls and the present-day city of Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada.
- In 1880, O Canada was first performed at the Congrès national des Canadiens-Français. The song would later become the national anthem of Canada.
- In 1916, Mary Pickford became the first female film star to sign a million-dollar contract.
- In 1939, Siam was renamed Thailand by Plaek Phibunsongkhram, the country’s third prime minister.
- In 1946, economist and politician Robert Reich was born.
- In 1947, Kenneth Arnold made the first widely reported UFO sighting near Mount Rainier, Washington.
- Also in 1947, actor and director Peter Weller was born.
- In 1948, the Berlin Blockade began as the Soviet Union made overland travel between West Germany and West Berlin impossible.
- In 1950, actress Nancy Allen was born.
- In 2010, Julia Gillard assumed office as the first female Prime Minister of Australia.
- In 2012, Lonesome George died. He was the last known individual of Chelonoidis nigra abingdonii, a subspecies of the Galápagos tortoise.
In 1314, the Battle of Bannockburn concluded with a decisive victory by Scottish forces led by Robert the Bruce.
The King of Scots defeated the army of King Edward II of England in the First War of Scottish Independence, and though it did not bring overall victory in the war (which would go on for 14 more years) it was a landmark in Scottish history.
King Edward invaded Scotland after Bruce demanded in 1313 that all supporters still loyal to ousted Scottish king John Balliol acknowledge him as their king or lose their lands. Stirling Castle, a Scots royal fortress occupied by the English, was under siege by the Scottish army. King Edward assembled a formidable force of soldiers from England, Ireland and Wales to relieve it. This was the largest army ever to invade Scotland. This attempt failed when he found his path blocked by a smaller army commanded by Bruce.
After Robert Bruce killed Sir Henry de Bohun on the first day of the battle, the English were forced to withdraw for the night. Sir Alexander Seton, a Scottish noble serving in Edward’s army, defected to the Scottish side and informed them of the English camp’s position and low morale. Robert Bruce decided to launch a full-scale attack on the English forces and to use his division of schiltrons again as offensive units, a strategy his predecessor William Wallace had not used.
The English army was defeated in a pitched battle which resulted in the deaths of several prominent commanders, including the Earl of Gloucester and Sir Robert Clifford, as well as the capture of many others.
The victory against the English at Bannockburn is the most celebrated in Scottish history, and for centuries the battle has been commemorated in verse and art. The anniversary is known as Bannockburn Day.
The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.
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