The Thing About Today – August 14

August 14, 2020
Day 227 of 366


August 14th is the 227th day of the year. It is Independence Day in Pakistan, celebrating the day when the country was declared as a sovereign nation following the end of the British Raj in 1947.

It is also V-J Day, commemorating the day in 1945 when Japan accepted the Allied terms of surrender in World War II and the Emperor recorded the Imperial Rescript on Surrender. This date is calculated based on the home countries of the Allied forces, and took place on August 15th by Japan Standard Time.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Creamsicle Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1040, King Duncan I was killed in battle against his first cousin and rival Macbeth. The latter succeeded him as King of Scotland. William Shakespeare later wrote about Macbeth in the play of the same name, but based his work on Holinshed’s Chronicles (1577) and is not historically accurate.
  • In 1720, the Spanish military Villasur expedition was defeated by Pawnee and Otoe warriors near present-day Columbus, Nebraska.
  • In 1851, dentist, gunfighter, and gambler John Henry “Doc” Holliday was born.
  • In 1885, Japan’s first patent was issued to the inventor of a rust-proof paint.
  • In 1888, an audio recording of English composer Arthur Sullivan’s “The Lost Chord” was played during a press conference introducing Thomas Edison’s phonograph in London, England. It was one of the first recordings of music ever made.
  • In 1893, France became the first country to introduce motor vehicle registration.
  • In 1901, the first claimed powered flight occurred. It was by Gustave Whitehead in his Number 21.
  • In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act, creating a government pension system for the retired.
  • In 1945, actor, comedian, musician, producer, and screenwriter Steve Martin was born.
  • In 1946, actress Susan Saint James was born.
  • In 1950, cartoonist Gary Larson was born.
  • In 1953, composer and conductor James Horner was born.
  • In 1963, French actress Emmanuelle Béart was born.
  • In 1965, producer, director, and screenwriter Brannon Braga was born.
  • In 1966, model, actress, and producer Halle Berry was born. She was Miss World United States 1986.
  • In 1968, actress and producer Catherine Bell was born.
  • In 2015, the United States Embassy in Havana, Cuba was re-opened after 54 years of being closed when Cuba–United States relations were broken off.


In 1592, the first sighting of the Falkland Islands occurred by English explorer John Davis.

His sighting was part of the 1591 voyage with Thomas Cavendish (which was Cavendish’s last voyage) intending to discover the Northwest Passage. After the rest of Cavendish’s expedition returned without reaching their goal, Davis continued on his own to attempt the passage of the Strait of Magellan. He was defeated by the weather but spotted the Falklands along the way. His crew was forced to kill hundreds of penguins for food on the islands, but the stored meat spoiled in the tropics and only fourteen of his 76 men made it home alive.

The name “Falkland Islands” comes from Falkland Sound, the strait that separates the two main islands. The name “Falkland” was applied to the channel by John Strong, the captain of an English expedition that landed on the islands in 1690. He named the strait in honor of Anthony Cary, 5th Viscount of Falkland, the Treasurer of the Navy who sponsored his journey. The Viscount’s title originates from the town of Falkland, Scotland. That town’s name derives from a Gaelic term referring to an “enclosure” (lann).

The name “Falklands” was not applied to the islands until 1765 when British captain John Byron of the Royal Navy claimed them for King George III as “Falkland’s Islands”.

So, no relation to your humble author.

Falklands Day was the celebration to commemorate this event but was replaced by Liberation Day, which commemorates the end of the Falklands War on June 14, 1982.

Falkland Day ceased to be a public holiday in 2002 when the Executive Council moved the holiday to provide for the re-introduction of Peat Cutting Monday, on the first Monday in October.


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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