The Thing About Today – July 20

July 20, 2020
Day 202 of 366


July 20th is the 202nd day of the year. In 1969, Apollo 11’s crew successfully made the first manned landing on the Moon in the Sea of Tranquility. American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin become the first humans to walk on the Moon six and a half hours later.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Moon Day, National Lollipop Day, National Pennsylvania Day, and National Get Out of the Dog House Day (which is typically observed on the third Monday in July).


Historical items of note:

  • In 1398, the Battle of Kellistown was fought between the forces of the English led by Roger Mortimer, 4th Earl of March against the O’Byrnes and O’Tooles under the command of Art Óg mac Murchadha Caomhánach, the most powerful Chieftain in Leinster.
  • In 1807, Nicéphore Niépce was awarded a patent by Napoleon for the Pyréolophore, the world’s first internal combustion engine, after it successfully powered a boat upstream on the river Saône in France.
  • In 1822, Austro-German monk, geneticist, and botanist Gregor Mendel was born.
  • In 1848, the first Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York concluded.
  • In 1919, mountaineer and explorer Edmund Hillary was born.
  • In 1934, police in Minneapolis fired upon striking truck drivers during the Minneapolis Teamsters Strike of 1934. They killed two and wounded sixty-seven.
  • In 1938, actress Diana Rigg was born.
  • Also in 1938, actress Natalie Wood was born.
  • In 1940, California opened its first freeway, the Arroyo Seco Parkway.
  • In 1960, the Polaris missile was successfully launched from a submarine, the USS George Washington (SSBN-598), for the first time.
  • Also in 1960, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) elected Sirimavo Bandaranaike as Prime Minister, the world’s first elected female head of government.
  • In 1968, the first International Special Olympics Summer Games were held at Soldier Field in Chicago.
  • In 1969, actor Josh Holloway was born.
  • In 1971, actress Sandra Oh was born.
  • In 1976, the American Viking 1 lander successfully lands on Mars.
  • In 1977, the Central Intelligence Agency released documents under the Freedom of Information Act revealing that it had engaged in mind-control experiments in Project MKUltra.
  • In 1985, actor and screenwriter John Francis Daley was born.
  • In 1988, singer-songwriter, actress, and dancer Julianne Hough was born.
  • In 1997, the fully restored USS Constitution (also known as Old Ironsides) celebrated its 200th birthday by setting sail for the first time in 116 years.
  • In 2005, the Civil Marriage Act legalized same-sex marriage in Canada.
  • In 2015, the United States and Cuba resumed full diplomatic relations after five decades.


In 1924, the International Chess Federation (Fédération Internationale des Échecs, shortened to FIDE) was formed in Paris, France. It connects the various national chess federations and acts as the governing body of international chess competition.

International Chess Day is celebrated annually on this day to commemorate the foundation of the FIDE. The day was proposed by UNESCO and has been celebrated since 1966. FIDE, which has 181 chess federations as its members, organizes chess events and competitions around the world on the day.

As recently as 2013, International Chess Day was celebrated in 178 countries, and on December 12, 2019, the UN General Assembly unanimously approved a resolution recognizing the day.

The day is celebrated by many of the 605 million regular chess players around the world.


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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