October 27, 2020
Day 301 of 366
October 27th is the 301st day of the year. It is Independence Day in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, commemorating their separation from the United Kingdom in 1979.
Navy Day, you say? Wasn’t the birthday of the Navy on October 13th? More on that in a minute.
Historical items of note:
- This day in 1275 marks the traditional founding date of the city of Amsterdam.
- In 1682, Philadelphia was founded in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
- In 1795, the United States and Spain signed the Treaty of Madrid, which established the boundaries between Spanish colonies and the United States.
- In 1838, Missouri governor Lilburn Boggs issued the Extermination Order, which decreed that all Mormons were to leave the state or be killed.
- In 1858, American colonel and politician Theodore Roosevelt was born. He was a Nobel Prize laureate and the twenty-sixth President of the United States.
- In 1904, the first underground New York City Subway line opened. It was later designated as the IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line.
- In 1922, actress and poet Ruby Dee was born.
- In 1936, Mrs Wallis Simpson obtained her divorce, which would eventually allow her to marry King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom and force his abdication from the throne.
- In 1939, actor, comedian, screenwriter, and producer John Cleese was born.
- In 1946, Slovak-Canadian actor, director, and producer Ivan Reitman was born.
- In 1947, You Bet Your Life with Groucho Marx premiered on ABC radio.
- In 1953, actor, director, and screenwriter Robert Picardo was born.
- In 1954, Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. became the first African-American general in the United States Air Force.
- Also in 1954, illustrator Jan Duursema was born.
- In 1961, NASA tested the first Saturn I rocket in Mission Saturn-Apollo 1.
- In 1971, the Democratic Republic of the Congo was renamed Zaire.
- In 1992, United States Navy radioman Allen R. Schindler, Jr. was murdered by shipmate Terry M. Helvey for being gay. This precipitated debate about gays in the military that resulted in the United States’ “Don’t ask, don’t tell” military policy.
- In 1994, Gliese 229B became the first Substellar Mass Object to be unquestionably identified.
So, Navy Day.
In the United States, the Navy League of the United States organized the first Navy Day in 1922, holding it on October 27 because it was the birthday of President Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt was a naval enthusiast, promoter of sea power, and former assistant Secretary of the Navy just before the Spanish–American War of 1898.
The event met with mixed reviews in the first year, but the next year brought over 50 major cities participating. The United States Navy sent a number of its ships to various port cities for the occasion. In 1949, Louis A. Johnson, the second Secretary of the newly merged and created Department of Defense, directed that the Navy’s participation occur on the newly established Armed Forces Day for the unified and coordinated uniformed services in May. As a private civilian organization, the Navy League was not affected by this directive, so they continued to organize separate Navy Day celebrations.
In the 1970s, historical research found that the “birthday” of the earlier Continental Navy during the American Revolutionary War was determined as October 13, 1775. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt worked with the Navy League to define October 13th as the new date of Navy Day, but it is still largely recognized as October 27th.
The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.
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