The Thing About Today – August 19

August 19, 2020
Day 232 of 366


August 19th is the 232nd day of the year. It is Afghan Independence Day, commemorating the Treaty of Rawalpindi in 1919 which granted Afghanistan independence from Britain.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as International Bow Day, National Aviation Day, and National Soft Ice Cream Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1570, Italian Jewish violinist and composer Salamone Rossi was born.
  • In 1612, the “Samlesbury witches” were put on trial. The three women from the Lancashire village of Samlesbury, England were accused of practicing witchcraft, and the trial was one of the most famous witch trials in British history.
  • In 1812, the American frigate USS Constitution defeated the British frigate HMS Guerriere off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada. This engagement during the War of 1812 is what earned her the nickname “Old Ironsides”.
  • In 1839, the French government announced that Louis Daguerre’s photographic process was a gift “free to the world”.
  • In 1854, the First Sioux War began when United States Army soldiers killed Lakota chief Conquering Bear and in return were massacred.
  • In 1871, engineer and pilot Orville Wright was born.
  • In 1906, inventor Philo Farnsworth was born. He invented the Fusor, made many crucial contributions to the early development of all-electronic television.
  • In 1921, screenwriter and producer Gene Roddenberry was born. He is best known for developing the worlds of Star Trek.
  • In 1938, actress Diana Muldaur was born. She played multiple roles in the Star Trek universe, and inspired a catchphrase for Women at Warp: A Star Trek Roddenberry Podcast“Never forget: Pulaski banged Riker’s dad.”
  • In 1940, model, actress, and Bond Girl Jill St. John was born.
  • In 1947, actor Gerald McRaney was born.
  • In 1952, actor and director Jonathan Frakes was born.
  • In 1960, downed American U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers was sentenced to ten years imprisonment in Moscow, Russia by the Soviet Union for espionage.
  • In 1964, Syncom 3, the first geostationary communication satellite, was launched.
  • In 1965, actress and producer Kyra Sedgwick was born.


August 19th is World Humanitarian Day.

It is an international day dedicated to recognizing humanitarian personnel and those who have lost their lives working for humanitarian causes. It was designated by the United Nations General Assembly as part of a Swedish-sponsored resolution, honoring the day on which the then Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Iraq, Sérgio Vieira de Mello and 21 of his colleagues were killed in the bombing of the UN Headquarters in Baghdad in 2003.

A Brazilian national, Sérgio Vieira de Mello dedicated a lifetime spanning over thirty years in the United Nations, serving in some of the most challenging humanitarian situations in the world to reach the voiceless victims of armed conflict, alleviate their suffering and draw, attention to their plight. His death together with 21 colleagues shocked the humanitarian community and robbed them of one of their most outstanding humanitarian leaders and intellectuals.


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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