The Thing About Today – August 4

August 4, 2020
Day 217 of 366


August 4th is the 217th day of the year. It is Constitution Day in the Cook Islands, commemorating their self-governance from 1965.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day and National Night Out Day (which is typically observed on the first Tuesday in August.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1693, Dom Perignon supposedly invented champagne. It’s not clear whether he actually invented champagne, however, he has been credited as an innovator who developed the techniques used to perfect sparkling wine.
  • In 1821, The Saturday Evening Post was published for the first time as a weekly newspaper.
  • In 1863, Matica slovenská was established in Martin. It is Slovakia’s public-law cultural and scientific institution focusing on topics around the Slovak nation.
  • In 1900, Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother of the United Kingdom, was born.
  • In 1901, trumpet player and singer Louis Armstrong was born.
  • In 1942, actor Don S. Davis was born.
  • In 1944, a tip from a Dutch informer led the Gestapo to a sealed-off area in an Amsterdam warehouse. It was there that the found and arrested Jewish diarist Anne Frank, her family, and four others.
  • In 1961, lawyer and politician, 44th President of the United States, and Nobel Prize laureate Barack Obama was born.
  • In 1968, South Korean-American actor Daniel Dae Kim was born.
  • In 1975, actor Andy Hallett was born.
  • In 1977, United States President Jimmy Carter signed legislation creating the United States Department of Energy.
  • In 1981, actress Abigail Spencer was born.
  • In 1983, actress, producer, and screenwriter Greta Gerwig was born.
  • In 1987, the Federal Communications Commission rescinded the Fairness Doctrine, which had required radio and television stations to present controversial issues “fairly”.
  • In 2007, NASA launched the Phoenix spacecraft, which researched the history of water on Mars.


In 1790, a newly passed tariff act created the Revenue Cutter Service, the forerunner of the United States Coast Guard.

The organization was founded by then-Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton. The United States Congress, guided by Hamilton, authorized the building of a fleet of the first ten Revenue Service cutters. Immediately after the American Revolutionary War, the newly established United States was struggling to stay financially afloat and national income was desperately needed. A great deal of this income came from import tariffs, and because of rampant smuggling, the need was immediate for strong enforcement of tariff laws. Those ships represented the United States Government’s first official “armed force afloat” since the United States Navy wasn’t founded until 1798.

The United States Coast Guard received its present name through an act of Congress signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson on January 28, 1915. This act merged the Revenue Cutter Service with the U.S. Life-Saving Service, providing the nation with a single maritime service dedicated to saving life at sea and enforcing the nation’s maritime laws.

The Coast Guard began to maintain the country’s maritime aids to navigation, including operating lighthouses, when President Franklin Roosevelt announced plans to transfer the U.S. Lighthouse Service to the Coast Guard in May of 1939. Congress permanently transferred the Department of Commerce Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation to the Coast Guard in July 1946, thereby placing merchant marine licensing and merchant vessel safety under Coast Guard regulation.

After 177 years in the Treasury Department, the Coast Guard was transferred to the newly formed Department of Transportation effective April 1, 1967. As a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the U.S. Coast Guard was transferred to the new Department of Homeland Security in 2003.

August 4th is annually celebrated as Coast Guard Day to commemorate the birthday of the service.


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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