The Thing About Today – August 9

August 9, 2020
Day 222 of 366


August 9th is the 222nd day of the year. It is National Women’s Day in South Africa, a public holiday that commemorates the 1956 march of approximately 20,000 women to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to petition against the country’s pass laws. Such laws required South Africans defined as “black” under The Population Registration Act to carry an internal passport, known as a pass, that served to maintain population segregation, control urbanization, and managed migrant labor during the apartheid era. The first National Women’s Day was celebrated on August 9, 1995.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Rice Pudding Day, National Veep Day, National Book Lovers Day, and National Spirit of ’45 Day (typically observed on the second Sunday in August).


Historical items of note:

  • In 1173, construction began on the campanile of the Cathedral of Pisa. Now known as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, construction would take two centuries to complete.
  • In 1757, American humanitarian Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton was born.
  • In 1814, during the Indian Wars, the Creek people signed the Treaty of Fort Jackson, giving up huge parts of Alabama and Georgia.
  • In 1842, the Webster-Ashburton Treaty was signed, establishing the United States-Canada border east of the Rocky Mountains.
  • In 1854, Henry David Thoreau published Walden.
  • In 1892, Thomas Edison received a patent for a two-way telegraph.
  • In 1899, Australian-English author and actress P. L. Travers was born. She is best known for the Mary Poppins series of children’s books.
  • In 1927, English actor and screenwriter Robert Shaw was born. “Cage goes in the water, you go in the water. Shark’s in the water. Our shark. Farewell and adieu to you, fair Spanish ladies. Farewell and adieu, you ladies of Spain. For we’ve received orders for to sail back to Boston. And so nevermore shall we see you again.”
  • In 1930, Betty Boop made her cartoon debut in Dizzy Dishes.
  • In 1944, the United States Forest Service and the Wartime Advertising Council released posters featuring Smokey Bear for the first time.
  • Also in 1944, actor and producer Sam Elliott was born.
  • In 1945, Nagasaki was devastated when an atomic bomb, Fat Man, was dropped by the United States B-29 Bockscar. Thirty-five thousand people were killed outright.
  • In 1957, actress and producer Melanie Griffith was born.
  • In 1968, American-British actress, activist and writer Gillian Anderson was born.
  • In 1969, followers of Charles Manson murdered pregnant actress Sharon Tate (wife of Roman Polanski), coffee heiress Abigail Folger, Polish actor Wojciech Frykowski, men’s hairstylist Jay Sebring, and recent high-school graduate Steven Parent.
  • In 1973, Scottish actor and director Kevin McKidd was born.
  • In 1974, as a direct result of the Watergate scandal, Richard Nixon became the first (and only, so far) President of the United States to resign from office. His Vice President, Gerald Ford, became president.
  • In 1976, French actress Audrey Tautou was born.
  • In 1983, actress Ashley Johnson was born.
  • In 1985, actress and singer Anna Kendrick was born.
  • In 2014, Michael Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer. The 18-year-old African American allegedly assaulted the officer and attempted to steal his weapon, but the officer ended up shooting Brown twelve times during the altercation. The shooting sparked protests and unrest in the city over excessive use of force and racial profiling by police.


August 9th is the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, a day to raise awareness and protect the rights of the world’s indigenous population.

The observance also recognizes the achievements and contributions that indigenous people make to improve world issues such as environmental protection. It was first pronounced by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1994, marking the day of the first meeting of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations of the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in 1982.


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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