The Thing About Today – September 1

September 1, 2020
Day 245 of 366


September 1st is the 245th day of the year. It is Independence Day, commemorating Uzbekistan’s separation from the Soviet Union in 1991.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Chicken Boy’s Day (honoring the odd statue on Route 66 in California) and National No Rhyme (Nor Reason) Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1653, German organist, composer, and educator Johann Pachelbel was born.
  • In 1726, German organist, composer, and educator Johann Becker was born.
  • In 1804, Juno was discovered by the German astronomer Karl Ludwig Harding. It is one of the largest asteroids in the Main Belt.
  • In 1836, Narcissa Whitman, one of the first English-speaking white women to settle west of the Rocky Mountains, arrived at Walla Walla, Washington.
  • In 1854, German playwright and composer Engelbert Humperdinck was born.
  • In 1875, soldier and author Edgar Rice Burroughs was born.
  • In 1877, English chemist and physicist Francis William Aston was born. He won the 1922 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery, by means of his mass spectrograph, of isotopes in many non-radioactive elements and for his enunciation of the whole number rule.
  • In 1878, Emma Nutt became the world’s first female telephone operator when she was recruited by Alexander Graham Bell to the Boston Telephone Dispatch Company.
  • In 1895, German engineer and designer Engelbert Zaschka was born. He was the inventor of the Human-Powered Aircraft.
  • In 1897, the Tremont Street Subway in Boston opened. It was the first underground rapid transit system in North America.
  • In 1906, the International Federation of Intellectual Property Attorneys was established.
  • In 1911, the armored cruiser Georgios Averof was commissioned into the Greek Navy. It served as the Greek flagship during most of the first half of the century and now serves as a museum ship.
  • In 1914, the last known passenger pigeon, a female named Martha, died in captivity in the Cincinnati Zoo.
  • In 1934, the first Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer animated cartoon, The Discontented Canary, was released to movie theatres.
  • In 1939, Adolf Hitler signed an order to begin the systematic euthanasia of mentally ill and disabled people.
  • Also in 1939, actress, comedian, screenwriter, and producer Lily Tomlin was born.
  • In 1974, English actor and musician Burn Gorman was born. He played Owen Harper on Torchwood.
  • In 1952, The Old Man and the Sea, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Ernest Hemingway, was first published.
  • In 1954, Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, starring Grace Kelly and James Stewart, was released.
  • In 1957, Cuban-American singer-songwriter and actress Gloria Estefan was born.
  • In 1972, American Bobby Fischer beat Russian Boris Spassky in Reykjavík, Iceland, to become the world chess champion.
  • In 1974, the SR-71 Blackbird set the record for flying from New York to London in the time of 1 hour, 54 minutes and 56.4 seconds. That’s at a speed of 1,435.587 miles per hour (or 2,310.353 kilometers per hour).
  • In 1979, space probe Pioneer 11 became the first spacecraft to visit Saturn when it passed the planet at a distance of 21,000 kilometers (13,000 miles).
  • In 1984, Swedish film composer Ludwig Göransson was born.
  • In 1985, a joint American–French expedition located the wreckage of the RMS Titanic.
  • In 1996, actress and singer Zendaya was born.


September 1st is Knowledge Day (День Знаний), the day when the school year traditionally starts in Russia and many other former Soviet republics as well as other countries in the former Eastern Bloc and Israel. This excludes Romania, which typically starts on September 11th, and the former state of East Germany.

Knowledge Day originated in the USSR and was established by the Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of 15 June 1984. It marks the end of summer and the beginning of autumn, and is a milestone for the incoming class of first graders who come to school for the first time and often participate in a celebratory assembly on this date.

The day also involves the First Bell (Первый Звонок), which has a counter-date at the end of the year called Last Bell (Последний звонок).


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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