July 31, 2020
Day 213 of 366
July 31st is the 213th day of the year. It is Warriors’ Day (Hari Pahlawan) in Malaysia, a day that commemorates the servicemen killed during the two World Wars and the Malayan Emergency (a guerrilla war fought in the Federation of Malaya between 1948 and 1960).
In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Avocado Day, National Raspberry Cake Day, National Mutt Day, National Talk in an Elevator Day, National System Administrator Appreciation Day, and National Get Gnarly Day. The last three are typically observed on the last Friday in July.
Historical items of note:
- In 781, the oldest recorded eruption of Mount Fuji occurred. On the traditional Japanese calendar, this happened on the sixth day of the seventh month of the first year of the Ten’o (天応) era.
- In 1703, Daniel Defoe was placed in a pillory for the crime of seditious libel after publishing a politically satirical pamphlet. The public pelted him with flowers.
- In 1715, seven days after a Spanish treasure fleet of twelve ships left Havana, Cuba for Spain, eleven of them sank in a storm off the coast of Florida. A few centuries later, the treasure was salvaged from those wrecks.
- In 1777, The United States Second Continental Congress passed a resolution that the services of Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette “be accepted, and that, in consideration of his zeal, illustrious family and connexions, he have the rank and commission of major-general of the United States.”
- In 1790, the first United States patent was issued. It was to inventor Samuel Hopkins for a potash process.
- In 1856, Christchurch, New Zealand was chartered as a city.
- In 1865, the first narrow-gauge mainline railway in the world opened at Grandchester, Queensland, Australia.
- In 1932, actor and screenwriter Ted Cassidy was born. Among other offbeat characters, he was Lurch in The Addams Family.
- In 1941, the Nazi plan for the genocide of Jews during World War II was formally initiated. Under instructions from Adolf Hitler, Nazi official Hermann Göring ordered SS General Reinhard Heydrich to “submit to me as soon as possible a general plan of the administrative material and financial measures necessary for carrying out the desired Final Solution of the Jewish question.”
- In 1948, New York International Airport was dedicated at Idlewild Field. It was later renamed John F. Kennedy International Airport.
- In 1958, actor, director, producer, and screenwriter Michael Biehn was born.
July 31st is Ka Hae Hawaii Day, the Hawaiian Flag Day. Established in 1990, it commemorates the ensign – adopted on December 29, 1845 – that has been used by the kingdom, protectorate, republic, and territory of Hawaii. It is the only US state flag to include a foreign country’s national flag, the Union Jack of the United Kingdom, which represents the British Empire’s historical relations with the Hawaiian Kingdom, particularly with King Kamehameha I.
The holiday uses the same date as Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea, Sovereignty Restoration Day, a holiday of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi that is celebrated by proponents of the Hawaiian sovereignty movement. The former national holiday commemorated the restoration of sovereignty to the former Hawaiian Kingdom following the occupation of Hawaiʻi by Great Britain during the 1843 Paulet Affair. The day remembered the restoration of Hawaiian sovereignty by British Rear-Admiral Richard Darton Thomas and when King Kamehameha III uttered the phrase: Ua Mau ke Ea o ka ʻĀina i ka Pono (“The life of the land is preserved in the righteousness of the people”).
The holiday was dropped by King Kamehameha V, who deemed the holiday inappropriate, in 1870 and replaced it with Kamehameha Day. It was briefly revived starting in 1891 until the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893.
The holiday continued to be observed privately by loyalists of the monarchy as a form of opposition and resistance and is still celebrated today by proponents of the Hawaiian sovereignty movement as resistance against what they consider sovereignty advocates consider an ongoing American occupation of Hawaiʻi.
The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.
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