The Thing About Today – November 19

November 19, 2020
Day 324 of 366

November 19th is the 324th day of the year. It is Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, a day on which the work of women entrepreneurs is observed and discussed. It was founded and implemented by Wendy Diamond after volunteering in Honduras with the Adelante Foundation, an organization that provides microcredit to low income women.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Carbonated Beverage With Caffeine Day, National Play Monopoly Day, Great American Smokeout (typically observed on the Thursday before Thanksgiving), and National Rural Health Day (typically observed on the Third Thursday in November).

Historical items of note:

  • In 1847, the second Canadian railway line, the Montreal and Lachine Railroad, was opened.
  • In 1863, United States President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address at the dedication ceremony for the military cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Despite the prominent place of the speech in the history and popular culture of the United States, its exact wording is disputed. The five known manuscripts of the Gettysburg Address in Lincoln’s hand differ in a number of details, and also differ from contemporary newspaper reprints of the speech.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

  • In 1877, Italian businessman and politician Giuseppe Volpi was born. He was the founder of the Venice Film Festival.
  • In 1916, Samuel Goldwyn and Edgar Selwyn established Goldwyn Pictures. It operated from 1916 to 1924 until it was merged with two other production companies to form the major studio, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, better known today as MGM.
  • In 1924, actor William Russell was born. He played companion Ian Chesterton on Doctor Who.
  • In 1933, radio and television host Larry King was born.
  • In 1950, United States General Dwight D. Eisenhower became Supreme Commander of NATO-Europe.
  • In 1953, actor Robert Beltran was born. He played Chakotay on Star Trek: Voyager.
  • In 1954, Télé Monte Carlo, Europe’s oldest private television channel, was launched by Prince Rainier III.
  • In 1959, the Ford Motor Company announced the discontinuation of the unpopular Edsel.
  • Also in 1959, actress Allison Janney was born.
  • In 1961, actress and producer Meg Ryan was born.
  • In 1962, actress, director, and producer Jodie Foster was born.
  • In 1963, actress Terry Farrell was born. She portrayed Jadzia Dax on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
  • In 1969, Apollo 12 astronauts Pete Conrad and Alan Bean landed at Oceanus Procellarum (the “Ocean of Storms”) and became the third and fourth humans to walk on the Moon.
  • In 1983, actor Adam Driver was born.
  • In 1994, the United Kingdom held its first National Lottery drawing. A £1 ticket gave a one-in-14-million chance of correctly guessing the winning six out of 49 numbers.
  • In 1998, Vincent van Gogh’s Portrait of the Artist Without Beard sold at auction for $71.5 million (US).
  • In 1999, the People’s Republic of China launched its first Shenzhou spacecraft.
  • In 2006, Nintendo’s first video game console with motion control, the Wii, was released.

November 19th is World Toilet Day

World Toilet Day is an official United Nations international observance day designed to inspire action to tackle the global sanitation crisis. Worldwide, 4.2 billion people live without “safely managed sanitation” and around 673 million people practice open defecation. One of the sustainable development goals is to “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”.

Toilets are important because access to a safe functioning toilet has a positive impact on public health, human dignity, and personal safety, especially for women. Sanitation systems that do not safely treat excreta allow the spread of disease, including serious soil-transmitted diseases and waterborne diseases such as cholera, diarrhea, typhoid, dysentery, and schistosomiasis.

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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