The Thing About Today – August 1

August 1, 2020
Day 214 of 366


August 1st is the 214th day of the year. It is Swiss National Day, the national holiday of Switzerland. The founding of the Swiss Confederacy was first celebrated on this date in 1891, and annually since 1899, but this has only been an official holiday since 1994.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as International Mahjong Day, National Raspberry Cream Pie Day, National Girlfriends Day, National Minority Donor Awareness Day, Respect for Parents Day, National Disc Golf Day, National Jamaican Patty Day, National Mustard Day, and Mead Day. The last four are typically observed on the first Saturday in August.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1291, the Old Swiss Confederacy was formed with the signature of the Federal Charter.
  • In 1774, British scientist Joseph Priestley discovered oxygen gas, corroborating the prior discovery of this element by German-Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele.
  • In 1779, lawyer, author, and poet Francis Scott Key was born.
  • In 1800, the Acts of Union 1800 were passed which merged the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland into the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
  • In 1819, novelist, short story writer, and poet Herman Melville was born.
  • In 1834, slavery was abolished in the British Empire as the Slavery Abolition Act 1833 came into force, although it remained legal in the possessions of the East India Company until the passage of the Indian Slavery Act, 1843.
  • In 1893, Henry Perky patented shredded wheat.
  • In 1911, Harriet Quimby took her pilot’s test and became the first American woman to earn an Aero Club of America aviator’s certificate.
  • In 1914, the German Empire declared war on the Russian Empire at the opening of World War I. The Swiss Army mobilized because of World War I.
  • In 1927, the Nanchang Uprising occurred, marking the first significant battle in the Chinese Civil War between the Kuomintang and Chinese Communist Party. This day was commemorated as the anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army.
  • In 1933, actor and comedian Dom DeLuise was born.
  • In 1936, the Summer Olympic Games opened in Berlin with a ceremony presided over by Adolf Hitler.
  • In 1942, singer-songwriter and guitarist Jerry Garcia was born.
  • In 1948, Israeli-American screenwriter and producer Avi Arad was born. He founded Marvel Studios.
  • In 1957, the United States and Canada formed the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).
  • In 1961, United States Defense Secretary Robert McNamara ordered the creation of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the nation’s first centralized military espionage organization.
  • In 1965, Frank Herbert’s novel, Dune was published for the first time. It was named as the world’s best-selling science fiction novel in 2003.
  • Also in 1965, director and producer Sam Mendes was born.
  • In 1981, MTV began broadcasting in the United States. Ironically, the first video aired was “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles.


In 1759, during the Seven Years’ War, the Battle of Minden took place. It was an allied Anglo-German army victory over the French, and in Britain, this was one of a number of events that constituted the Annus Mirabilis of 1759. It is celebrated as Minden Day by certain British Army regiments.

The celebration of the day involves the wearing of “Minden Roses” on the regimental head dress, and, in the case of the infantry regiments, the decoration of the regimental colors with garlands of roses. This recalls that the regiments wore wild roses at the battle that they had plucked from the hedgerows as they advanced to engage the enemy.

The colors of roses varies. Red and yellow roses are worn by most of the units (including the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and the Royal Anglians, both of whom continue to mark Minden as one of their most important regimental days), whilst the PWRR wear a single red rose. A white rose is favored by the Light Infantry.

In some cases this reflects parts of the regimental recruiting areas. The PWRR have strong links with Hampshire (whose badge is a red rose) and the Light Infantry is associated with part of Yorkshire (represented by a white rose).


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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