September 12, 2020
Day 256 of 366
September 12th is the 256th day of the year. It is Saragarhi Day in the Sikh community, commemorating the Battle of Saragarhi. It was a last-stand battle fought before the Tirah Campaign in 1897 between the British Raj and Afghan tribesmen. An estimated 24,000 Orakzai and Afridi tribesmen were seen near Gogra, at Samana Suk, and around Saragarhi, cutting off Fort Gulistan from Fort Lockhart. The Afghans attacked the outpost of Saragarhi, with thousands of them swarming the fort. The soldiers in the fort, all of whom were Sikhs, chose to fight to the death in what is considered by some military historians as one of the greatest last stands in history.
In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Video Games Day, National Chocolate Milkshake Day, National Day of Encouragement, National Report Medicare Fraud Day, and National Programmers Day (which is observed on the 256th day of the year).
Historical items of note:
- In 1848, a new constitution marked the establishment of Switzerland as a federal state.
- In 1910, the premiere performance of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 occurred in Munich with a chorus of 852 singers and an orchestra of 171 players.
- In 1914, Welsh-English soldier and actor Desmond Llewelyn was born. He portrayed Q in the James Bond film franchise.
- In 1933, Leó Szilárd, waiting for a red light on Southampton Row in Bloomsbury, conceived the idea of the nuclear chain reaction.
- In 1940, Wayne McLaren was born. He was the American stuntman, rodeo performer, model, and actor who was best known for playing the Marlboro Man. He died of lung cancer in 1992.
- In 1957, German composer and producer Hans Zimmer was born.
- In 1958, Jack Kilby demonstrated the first working integrated circuit while working at Texas Instruments.
- In 1959, Bonanza premiered. It was the first regularly scheduled television program presented in color.
- In 1962, United States President John F. Kennedy delivered his “We choose to go to the Moon” speech at Rice University.
- In 1964, A Fistful of Dollars premiered. It was the film that started the Spaghetti Western genre and Clint Eastwood’s career.
- In 1973, actor Paul Walker was born.
- In 1978, actor Ben McKenzie was born.
- In 1981, singer and actress Jennifer Hudson was born.
- Also in 1981, The Smurfs premiered.
- In 1986, singer and actress Emmy Rossum was born.
- In 1992, NASA launched Space Shuttle Endeavour on STS-47, marking the 50th shuttle mission. The shuttle crew included Mae Carol Jemison (the first African-American woman in space), Mamoru Mohri (the first Japanese citizen to fly in a United States spacecraft), and Mark Lee and Jan Davis (the first married couple in space).
September 12th is Defenders Day in the State of Maryland, the city of Baltimore, and Baltimore County.
The day commemorates the successful defense of the city of Baltimore spanning September 12-14, 1814, from an invading British force during the War of 1812.
It was during this conflict, the Battle of Baltimore, that Fort McHenry was shelled by the British Royal Navy’s revolutionary newly-constructed bomb and mortar ketch warships. Although the attacking fleet stayed out of the shorter range of McHenry’s artillery, the Americans refused to surrender. They inspired Maryland lawyer and amateur poet Francis Scott Key to compose a four stanza poem entitled “The Defence of Fort McHenry”.
That poem later became “The Star-Spangled Banner” when it was set a few days later to a musical tune popular with an old English gentlemen’s society from the 18th century. It gained increasing popularity over the next 117 years, eventually becoming the national anthem of the United States in 1931.
The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.
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