September 26, 2020
Day 270 of 366
September 26th is the 270th day of the year. It is Dominion Day in New Zealand. It commemorates the granting of Dominion status – a constitutional term of art used to signify a semi-independent Commonwealth realm – but the holiday goes generally unobserved in the country.
In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Compliance Officer Day, National Dumpling Day, National Johnny Appleseed Day, National Shamu the Whale Day, National Pancake Day, and National Situational Awareness Day.
A batch of events are commemorated on the last Saturday of September: National Public Lands Day, Save Your Photos Day, National Family Health and Fitness Day USA, and National Ghost Hunting Day. Two others are observed on the fourth Saturday of September: National Seat Check Saturday and National Hunting and Fishing Day. Finally, National Singles Day is typically observed on the Saturday of Singles Week.
It’s a busy day.
Historical items of note:
- In 1580, Sir Francis Drake finished his circumnavigation of the Earth.
- In 1774, gardener and environmentalist John Chapman was born. He was better known as Johnny Appleseed.
- In 1789, George Washington appointed Thomas Jefferson as the first United States Secretary of State.
- In 1849, Russian physiologist and physician Ivan Pavlov was born. A Nobel Prize laureate, he is primarily known for his working classical conditioning, particularly with ringing bells and salivating dogs.
- In 1888, English poet, playwright, critic, and Nobel Prize laureate T. S. Eliot was born.
- In 1898, pianist and composer George Gershwin was born.
- In 1905, Albert Einstein published the third of his Annus Mirabilis papers, introducing the special theory of relativity.
- In 1932, actor Richard Herd was born.
- In 1933, as gangster Machine Gun Kelly surrendered to the FBI, he shouted out, “Don’t shoot, G-Men!” That later became a nickname for FBI agents.
- In 1942, actor Kent McCord was born.
- In 1944, English television host Anne Robinson was born. She has a talent for finding the weakest link.
- In 1948, English-Australian singer-songwriter and actress Olivia Newton-John was born.
- In 1949, a groundbreaking ceremony for the Hollywood sign was held in Hollywood, Los Angeles. The old Hollywoodland sign was torn down and replaced with the current sign which has become a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument.
- In 1956, actress Linda Hamilton was born.
- In 1962, The Beverly Hillbillies premiered.
- In 1964, Gilligan’s Island premiered.
- In 1968, Hawaii Five-O premiered.
- In 1969, Abbey Road, the last recorded album by The Beatles, was released.
- In 1973, Concorde made its first non-stop crossing of the Atlantic in record-breaking time.
- In 1982, Knight Rider premiered.
- In 2008, Swiss pilot and inventor Yves Rossy became the first person to fly a jet engine-powered wing across the English Channel.
- In 2010, Downton Abbey premiered.
In 1983, the nuclear early-warning system of the Soviet Union reported the launch of 5 intercontinental ballistic missiles from bases in the United States.
Soviet Air Force officer Stanislav Petrov identified a report of an incoming nuclear missile as a computer error and not an American first strike. His decision is seen as having prevented a retaliatory nuclear attack against the United States and its NATO allies, which would have resulted in an immediate and irrevocable escalation to full-scale nuclear war.
The false alarms were caused by a rare alignment of sunlight on high-altitude clouds and the satellites’ Molniya orbits. The error was later corrected by cross-referencing a geostationary satellite. The system had indeed malfunctioned.
The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.
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