The Thing About Today – July 12

July 12, 2020
Day 194 of 366


July 12th is the 194th day of the year. It is Independence Day in Kiribati (which separated from the United Kingdom in 1979) and São Tomé and Príncipe (which separated from Portugal in 1975).


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Simplicity Day, National Different Colored Eyes Day National Pecan Pie Day, Paper Bag Day, and Eat Your Jello Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 100 BC, Roman politician and general Julius Caesar was born.
  • In 1493, Hartmann Schedel’s Nuremberg Chronicle, one of the best-documented early printed books, was published.
  • In 1817, essayist, poet, and philosopher Henry David Thoreau was born.
  • In 1854, George Eastman was born. He founded the Eastman Kodak company.
  • In 1862, the Medal of Honor was authorized by the United States Congress.
  • In 1895, architect and engineer Buckminster Fuller was born. He designed the Montreal Biosphère and published more than 30 books, coining or popularizing terms such as “Spaceship Earth”, “Dymaxion” (applied to a house, car, and map), ephemeralization, synergetic, and “tensegrity”. Since he popularized the widely known geodesic dome, the carbon molecules known as fullerenes were named in his honor for their structural and mathematical resemblance to geodesic spheres.
  • Also in 1895, director, producer, and songwriter Oscar Hammerstein II was born.
  • In 1943, German Wehrmacht and Soviet forces engaged in one of the largest armored engagements of all time, known as the Battle of Prokhorovka.
  • In 1951, actress Cheryl Ladd was born.
  • In 1957, astronaut Rick Husband was born. He was the commander of Space Shuttle Columbia when it disintegrated upon re-entry during mission STS-107.
  • In 1971, the Australian Aboriginal Flag was flown for the first time.


July 12th is The Twelfth, also known as the Glorious Twelfth or Orangemen’s Day, an Ulster Protestant celebration that celebrates the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the victory of Protestant King William of Orange over Catholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. As noted yesterday, this began the Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland.

The event is celebrated with large parades held by the Orange Order and Ulster loyalist marching bands, and streets are bedecked with British flags and bunting while large towering bonfires are lit. The Twelfth is mainly celebrated in Ulster and is a public holiday in Northern Ireland. The Twelfth involves thousands of participants and spectators.

In Ulster, where about half the population is from a Protestant background and half from a Catholic background, the Twelfth has been accompanied by violence since its inception. Many see the Orange Order and its marches as sectarian, triumphalist, and supremacist, as well as a politically unionist and loyalist organization. This violence related to The Twelfth in Northern Ireland worsened during the 30-year ethno-political conflict known as the Troubles.

This violence is often downplayed as the event is presented as a family-friendly cultural event open to tourists, though small factions still tend to stir up trouble.


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.



The Thing About Today – July 11

July 11, 2020
Day 193 of 366


July 11th is the 193rd day of the year. It is Eleventh Night in Northern Ireland, the night before the Twelfth of July, a yearly Ulster Protestant celebration. Large bonfires are lit to celebrate the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the victory of Protestant King William of Orange over Catholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, which began the Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland.

It’s also Free Slurpee Day and National 7-Eleven Day at participating 7-Eleven stores in North America. Get yourself some free frozen sugar water!


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Cheer Up The Lonely Day, National Rainier Cherry Day, National Blueberry Muffin Day, All American Pet Photo Day, and National Mojito Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1274, Scottish king Robert the Bruce was born.
  • In 1302, the Battle of the Golden Spurs – Guldensporenslag in Dutch – in which a coalition around the Flemish cities defeated King Philip IV of France’s royal army. It is commemorated annually as Feestdag van de Vlaamse Gemeenschap, or the Day of the Flemish Community of Belgium.
  • In 1405, Ming admiral Zheng He set sail to explore the world for the first time. His seven maritime expeditions, the Ming treasure voyages, took place between 1405 and 1433.
  • In 1798, the United States Marine Corps was re-established after having been disbanded after the American Revolutionary War.
  • In 1801, French astronomer Jean-Louis Pons made his first comet discovery. Over the next 27 years, he discovered another 36 comets, more than any other person in history.
  • In 1804, Vice President of the United States Aaron Burr mortally wounded former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton in a duel.
  • In 1893, the first cultured pearl was obtained by Japanese entrepreneur Kōkichi Mikimoto.
  • In 1895, brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière demonstrated movie film technology to scientists.
  • In 1899, essayist and journalist E. B. White was born. He was the author of several highly popular books for children, including Stuart Little (1945), Charlotte’s Web (1952), and The Trumpet of the Swan (1970), as well as a co-author of The Elements of Style, an English language style guide.
  • In 1919, the eight-hour day and free Sunday became law for workers in the Netherlands.
  • In 1920, Russian actor and dancer Yul Brynner was born.
  • In 1921, former President of the United States William Howard Taft was sworn in as 10th chief justice of the United States Supreme Court, becoming the only person ever to hold both offices.
  • In 1950, actor Bruce McGill was born.
  • In 1956, actress Sela Ward was born.
  • In 1960, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee was first published in the United States.
  • In 1962, the first transatlantic satellite television transmission took place.
  • In 1966, actor Greg Grunberg was born.
  • In 1973, Varig Flight 820 crashed near Paris, France on approach to Orly Airport, killing 123 of the 134 onboard. In response, the Federal Aviation Administration banned smoking in airplane lavatories.
  • In 1977, Martin Luther King, Jr. was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
  • In 1979, America’s first space station, Skylab, was destroyed as it re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere over the Indian Ocean.


July 11th is World Population Day. Established by the United Nations, it’s a day that seeks to raise awareness of population issues, such as the importance of family planning, gender equality, poverty, maternal health, and human rights.

It was inspired by the public interest in Five Billion Day on July 11, 1987, the approximate date on which the world’s population reached five billion people. While press interest and general awareness in the global population surges only at the increments of whole billions of people, the world population increases annually by 100 million approximately every 14 months.

On January 1st, it was estimated at 7,621,019,000 people. Today it is approximately 7,797,200,000. It is estimated that the world population reached one billion for the first time in 1804. 123 years later, in 1927, it reached two billion, but it took only 33 years to reach three billion in 1960. Thereafter, it reached four billion in 1974, five billion in 1987, six billion in 1999, and, according to the United States Census Bureau, seven billion in March 2012.

The United Nations, however, estimated that the world population reached seven billion in October 2011.

According to current projections, the global population will reach eight billion by 2024, and is likely to reach around nine billion by 2042.


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.



The Thing About Today – July 10

July 10, 2020
Day 192 of 366


July 10th is the 192nd day of the year. It is Independence Day in the Bahamas, commemorating their separation from the United Kingdom in 1973.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Clerihew Day, National Kitten Day, National Piña Colada Day, and Collector Car Appreciation Day (which changes annually).


Historical items of note:

  • In 988, the Norse King Glúniairn recognized Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill, High King of Ireland, and agreed to pay taxes and accept Brehon Law. This is considered to be the founding of the city of Dublin.
  • In 1553, Lady Jane Grey took the throne of England.
  • In 1895, German composer and educator Carl Orff was born.
  • In 1913, the temperature in Death Valley, California, hit 134 °F (57 °C). It is the highest verified temperature ever to be recorded on Earth.
  • In 1920, journalist David Brinkley was born.
  • In 1925, the so-called “Monkey Trial” began in Dayton, Tennessee against John T. Scopes, a young high school science teacher accused of teaching evolution in violation of the Butler Act.
  • In 1926, actor Fred Gwynne was born.
  • In 1943, tennis player and journalist Arthur Ashe was born. In the early 1980s, he is believed to have contracted HIV from a blood transfusion he received during heart bypass surgery. He worked to educate the public about HIV and AIDS, and he founded the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS and the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health before his death from AIDS-related pneumonia at the age of 49 on February 6, 1993.
  • In 1945, actor Ron Glass was born.
  • In 1962, Telstar, the world’s first communications satellite, was launched into orbit.
  • In 1966, the Chicago Freedom Movement, led by Martin Luther King, Jr., held a rally at Soldier Field in Chicago. As many as 60,000 people attended.
  • In 1970, actor John Simm was born.
  • In 1977, actor Chiwetel Ejiofor was born.
  • In 1978, ABC World News Tonight premiered on ABC in the United States. Anchor Max Robinson was the first black anchorman on a network newscast in the country.
  • In 1980, singer-songwriter, actress, and fashion designer Jessica Simpson was born.


In 1856, Nikola Tesla was born.

The Serbian-American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, and futurist is best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system. He’s also a fixture in science fiction, both in the historical and alternate history subgenres.

There is so much to talk about in Nikola Tesla’s life and it’s impossible to cover it all here. I wholeheartedly recommend doing some reading about his life and accomplishments.

His birthday is unofficially celebrated as Tesla Day.


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.



The Thing About Today – July 9

July 9, 2020
Day 191 of 366


July 9th is the 191st day of the year. It is Constitution Day in both Australia and Palau, and it is Independence Day in both Argentina (from Spain as the United Provinces of South America by the Congress of Tucumán in 1816) and South Sudan (from Sudan in 2011).


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Sugar Cookie Day. My “cyber-mom” Janis is going to love this one.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1609, Bohemia was granted freedom of religion through the Letter of Majesty by the Holy Roman Emperor, Rudolf II.
  • In 1755, the Braddock Expedition was soundly defeated in the Battle of the Monongahela by a smaller French and Native American force. This was in Braddock’s attempt to capture Fort Duquesne in what is now downtown Pittsburgh.
  • In 1762, Catherine the Great became Empress of Russia following the coup against her husband, Peter III.
  • In 1776, General George Washington ordered the Declaration of Independence to be read out to members of the Continental Army in Manhattan, while thousands of British troops on Staten Island prepared for the Battle of Long Island.
  • In 1793, the Act Against Slavery in Upper Canada banned the importation of slaves. It also freed those who are born into slavery after the passage of the Act at 25 years of age.
  • In 1850, United States President Zachary Taylor died after eating raw fruit and iced milk. Having served only sixteen months as the twelfth President of the United States, he was succeeded in office by Vice President Millard Fillmore.
  • In 1868, the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified, guaranteeing African Americans (on paper, at any rate) full citizenship and all persons in the United States due process of law.
  • In 1937, the silent film archives of Fox Film Corporation were destroyed by the 1937 Fox vault fire.
  • In 1938, actor Brian Dennehy was born.
  • In 1945, author and screenwriter Dean Koontz was born.
  • In 1955, actor and producer Jimmy Smits was born.
  • In 1956, Dick Clark made his first appearance as host of American Bandstand.
  • Also in 1956, actor Tom Hanks was born.
  • In 1957, actress Kelly McGillis was born.
  • In 1976, actor, director, and producer Fred Savage was born.
  • In 1978, actress Linda Park was born.


In 1993, the Parliament of Canada passed the Nunavut Act. This led to the creation of Nunavut in 1999, which divided the Northwest Territories into arctic (Inuit) and sub-arctic (Dene) lands based on a plebiscite (essentially, a referendum).

In 2000, “Nunavut Day” was celebrated on April 1, the day that Nunavut became a legally distinct territory. However, the 1993 Nunavut Land Claims Agreement had greater significance to the people of Nunavut, so the holiday was moved to July 9 the following year.

Nunavut comprises a major portion of Northern Canada and most of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. It is the fifth-largest country subdivision in the world, as well as North America’s second-largest after Greenland. The capital Iqaluit (formerly “Frobisher Bay”), on Baffin Island in the east, was chosen by the 1995 capital plebiscite. Other major communities include the regional centers of Rankin Inlet and Cambridge Bay.

Nunavut also includes Ellesmere Island to the far north, as well as the eastern and southern portions of Victoria Island in the west, and all islands in Hudson, James, and Ungava Bays, including Akimiski Island far to the southeast of the rest of the territory. It is Canada’s only geo-political region that is not connected to the rest of North America by a highway.

Nunavut is the second-least populous of Canada’s provinces and territories and is home to the world’s northernmost permanently inhabited place, Alert.


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.



The Thing About Today – July 8

July 8, 2020
Day 190 of 366


July 8th is the 190th day of the year. It is Air Force and Air Defense Forces Day in Ukraine.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Freezer Pop Day and National Chocolate with Almonds Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1776, church bells (and possibly the Liberty Bell) were rung after John Nixon delivered the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence of the United States.
  • In 1831, John Pemberton, the chemist and pharmacist who invented Coca-Cola, was born.
  • In 1889, the first issue of The Wall Street Journal was published.
  • In 1932, the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached its lowest level of the Great Depression, closing at 41.22.
  • In 1947, reports were broadcast that a UFO crash-landed in Roswell, New Mexico. This would become known as the Roswell UFO incident.
  • In 1948, the United States Air Force accepted its first female recruits into a program called Women in the Air Force (WAF).
  • In 1951, actress and director Anjelica Houston was born.
  • In 1958, actor and musician Kevin Bacon was born. Everyone’s connected to him somehow.
  • In 1959, actor Robert Knepper was born. He’s been in everything.
  • In 1970, Richard Nixon delivered a special congressional message enunciating Native American self-determination as official United States Indian policy, leading to the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975.
  • In 2010, Inception premiered.


In 2011, the Space Shuttle Atlantis was launched in STS-135, the final mission of the United States Space Shuttle program.

The mission’s primary cargo was the Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) Raffaello and a Lightweight Multi-Purpose Carrier (LMC), which were delivered to the International Space Station (ISS). The flight of Raffaello marked the only time that Atlantis carried an MPLM. The four-person crew, consisting of Christopher Ferguson, Douglas G. Hurley, Sandra Magnus, and Rex J. Walheim, was the smallest of any shuttle mission since STS-6 in April 1983.

The shuttle returned to Earth on July 21, 2011, marking the end of the Space Shuttle program.


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.



The Thing About Today – July 7

July 7, 2020
Day 189 of 366


July 7th is the 189th day of the year. It is World Chocolate Day.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Dive Bar Day, National Father-Daughter Take a Walk Day, National Strawberry Sundae Day, and National Macaroni Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1456, a retrial verdict acquitted Joan of Arc of heresy 25 years after her death.
  • In 1863, the United States began its first military draft. Exemptions cost $300.
  • In 1865, Four conspirators in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln were hanged.
  • In 1907, science fiction writer and screenwriter Robert A. Heinlein was born.
  • In 1911, the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, and Russia signed the North Pacific Fur Seal Convention of 1911. It banned open-water seal hunting and was the first international treaty to address wildlife preservation issues.
  • In 1915, Colombo Town Guard officer Henry Pedris was executed in British Ceylon for allegedly inciting the persecution of Muslims.
  • In 1919, actor Jon Pertwee was born. He portrayed the Third Doctor on Doctor Who.
  • In 1928, sliced bread was sold for the first time (on the inventor’s 48th birthday) by the Chillicothe Baking Company of Chillicothe, Missouri. It is still unknown what was the best thing before sliced bread.
  • In 1930, industrialist Henry J. Kaiser began construction of Boulder Dam, which is now known as Hoover Dam.
  • In 1940, singer-songwriter, drummer, and actor Ringo Starr was born.
  • In 1949, actress, writer, and producer Shelley Duvall was born.
  • Also in 1949, Dragnet premiered on NBC radio. It would later become a television series in 1951 and 1967.
  • In 1958, United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Alaska Statehood Act into law.
  • In 1981, United States President Ronald Reagan appointed Sandra Day O’Connor to become the first female member of the Supreme Court of the United States.
  • In 1992, the New York Court of Appeals ruled that women have the same right as men to go topless in public.


July 7th is Saba Saba Day.

Saba Saba Day means many things, including the 1954 founding of the Tanzanian political party, the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU). It means “seven seven” in Swahili, the national language of Tanzania, as well as Tanganyika and Zanzibar, the two countries whose union created the United Republic of Tanzania in 1964.

In Kenya, Saba Saba is remembered as the day when nationwide protests took place in 1990 to demand free elections. The politicians who had called for the protests, Kenneth Matiba and Charles Rubia, were beaten and detained by the then tyrannical dictator President Moi.

In present-day Kenya, Saba Saba has taken on a new meaning, with civil societies and Social Justice Working Groups asking for respect of the constitution, an end to police brutality and killings.


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.



The Thing About Today – July 6

July 6, 2020
Day 188 of 366


July 6th is the 188th day of the year. It is International Kissing Day, a practice that originated in the United Kingdom and was adopted worldwide in the 2000s. Who knew that they loved kissing so much?


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Hand Roll Day and National Fried Chicken Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1348, Pope Clement VI issued a papal bull protecting the Jews accused of having caused the Black Death.
  • In 1560, the Treaty of Edinburgh was signed by Scotland and England.
  • In 1885, Louis Pasteur successfully tested his vaccine against rabies on Joseph Meister, a boy who was bitten by a rabid dog.
  • In 1887, David Kalākaua, monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii, was forced to sign the Bayonet Constitution. This act transferred much of the king’s authority to the Legislature of the Kingdom of Hawaii.
  • In 1892, three thousand eight hundred striking steelworkers engaged in a day-long battle with Pinkerton agents during the Homestead Strike, leaving ten dead and dozens wounded.
  • In 1919, the British dirigible R34 landed in New York, completing the first crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by an airship.
  • In 1925, actor, singer, and producer Merv Griffin was born. He created Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!.
  • In 1927, actress and author Janet Leigh was born.
  • In 1937, actor Ned Beatty was born.
  • In 1944, Jackie Robinson refused to move to the back of a bus, eventually leading to a court-martial. It was one of several racist attacks levied against him during his time in the Army. He was acquitted and later honorably discharged.
  • In 1945, actor Burt Ward was born. He portrayed Robin in the 1960s Batman series.
  • In 1951, actor and producer Geoffrey Rush was born.
  • In 1957, John Lennon and Paul McCartney met for the first time, as teenagers at Woolton Fete, three years before forming the Beatles.
  • In 1978, actresses, producers, and twins Tia and Tamera Mowry were born.
  • In 1979, actor and comedian Kevin Hart was born.
  • In 1980, actress Eva Green was born.
  • In 1990, the Electronic Frontier Foundation was founded.
  • In 1994, Forrest Gump premiered.


July 6th is Kupala Night, a traditional eastern Slavic holiday that is celebrated in Ukraine, Poland, Belarus, and Russia.

The name of the holiday was originally Kupala, a pagan fertility rite later adapted into the Orthodox Christian calendar by connecting it with St. John’s Day. The Ukrainian, Belarusian and Russian name of this holiday combines “Ivan” (John, which in this case is John the Baptist) and Kupala which was thought to be derived from the Slavic word for bathing.

The tradition of Kupala predates Christianity. The pagan celebration was adapted and reestablished as one of the native Christian traditions intertwined with local folklore.

The holiday is still enthusiastically celebrated by the younger people of Eastern Europe. The night preceding the holiday (Tvorila night) is considered the night for “good humor” mischiefs (which sometimes would raise the concern of law enforcement agencies). On Ivan Kupala day itself, children engage in water fights and perform pranks, mostly involving pouring water over people.


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.



The Thing About Today – July 5

July 5, 2020
Day 187 of 366


July 5th is the 187th day of the year. It is Independence Day in Algeria (which separated from France in 1962), Cape Verde (which broke from Portugal in 1975), and Venezuela (which left Spain in 1811).


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Apple Turnover Day, National Graham Cracker Day, National Hawaii Day, National Workaholics Day, and National Bikini Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1687, Isaac Newton published Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica.
  • In 1841, Thomas Cook organized the first package excursion, traveling from Leicester to Loughborough.
  • In 1915, the Liberty Bell left Philadelphia by special train on its way to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. This is the last trip outside Philadelphia that the custodians of the bell intend to permit.
  • In 1935, the National Labor Relations Act, which governs labor relations in the United States, was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
  • In 1937, the luncheon meat Spam was introduced into the market by the Hormel Foods Corporation.
  • In 1946, the bikini first went on sale after debuting during an outdoor fashion show at the Molitor Pool in Paris, France.
  • In 1954, the BBC broadcasted its first television news bulletin.
  • In 1958, author and illustrator Bill Watterson was born.
  • In 1964, screenwriter and producer Ronald D. Moore was born.
  • In 1996, Dolly the sheep became the first mammal cloned from an adult cell.
  • In 2016, the Juno space probe arrived at Jupiter and began a 20-month survey of the planet.


In 1934, “Bloody Thursday” occurred as police opened fire on striking longshoremen in San Francisco.

The 1934 West Coast Waterfront Strike started on May 9, 1934, and lasted eighty-three days as longshoremen in every US West Coast port walked out from their jobs. The longshoremen had either been unorganized or represented by company unions since the years immediately after World War I, when the shipping companies and stevedoring firms had imposed the open shop after a series of failed strikes. Attempts had been made to organize and unionize longshoremen but had made little progress.

Communists had infiltrated the community, but the group that published The Waterfront Worker, a newspaper that focused on longshoremen’s most pressing demands – more men on each gang, lighter loads, and an independent union – operated independently from the party. Tensions rose until the strike began in May 1934, sparking daily clashes as employers hired strikebreakers who operated under police protection, leading to further altercations as strikers struck back.

“Bloody Thursday” was an attempt to reopen San Francisco. As spectators watched from Rincon Hill, the police shot tear gas canisters into the crowd, then followed with a charge by mounted police. Picketers threw the canisters and rocks back at the police, who charged again, sending the picketers into retreat. Tensions rose until policemen fired a shotgun into the crowd, striking three men in the intersection of Steuart and Mission streets. Two of them later died from their wounds.

The result of the strike was the unionization of all of the West Coast ports of the United States. The San Francisco General Strike of 1934, along with the Toledo Auto-Lite Strike of 1934 led by the American Workers Party and the Minneapolis Teamsters Strike of 1934 led by the Communist League of America, were catalysts for the rise of industrial unionism in the 1930s, much of which was organized through the Congress of Industrial Organizations.

The “Bloody Thursday” anniversary is marked by shutting down the West Coast ports every July 5th in honor of those who were killed by police during the lengthy strike.


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.



The Thing About Today – July 4

July 4, 2020
Day 186 of 366


July 4th is the 186th day of the year. It is the first evening of Dree Festival, celebrated until July 7th by the Apatani people in Arunachal Pradesh, India.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Barbecued Spareribs Day, National Caesar Salad Day, and Hop-a-Park Day (which is typically observed on the first Saturday in July).


Historical items of note:

  • In 1054, a supernova called SN 1054 was seen by the Chinese Song dynasty, Arabian, and possibly Amerindian observers near the star Zeta Tauri. For several months it remained bright enough to be seen during the day. Its remnants formed the Crab Nebula.
  • In 1744, the Treaty of Lancaster, in which the Iroquois ceded lands between the Allegheny Mountains and the Ohio River to the British colonies, was signed in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
  • In 1802, at West Point, New York, the United States Military Academy opened.
  • In 1803, the Louisiana Purchase was announced to the people of the United States.
  • In 1817, in Rome, New York, construction began on the Erie Canal.
  • In 1826, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, respectively the second and third presidents of the United States, died on the same day. Coincidentally, it was the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the United States Declaration of Independence. Adams’ last words were, “Thomas Jefferson survives.”
  • In 1827, slavery was abolished in the State of New York.
  • In 1831, Samuel Francis Smith wrote “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” for the Boston, Massachusetts July 4th festivities.
  • In 1837, Grand Junction Railway, the world’s first long-distance railway, opened between Birmingham and Liverpool.
  • In 1845, Henry David Thoreau moved into a small cabin on Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. His account of his two years there, titled Walden, would become a touchstone of the environmental movement.
  • In 1855, the first edition of Walt Whitman’s book of poems, Leaves of Grass, was published in Brooklyn.
  • In 1862, Lewis Carroll told Alice Liddell a story. It would grow into Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequels.
  • In 1863, the Army of Northern Virginia withdrew after losing the Battle of Gettysburg. This signaled an end to the Confederate invasion of United States territory.
  • In 1872, thirtieth President of the United States Calvin Coolidge was born.
  • In 1881, the Tuskegee Institute opened in Alabama.
  • In 1892, the first double-decked streetcar service was inaugurated in San Diego, California.
  • In 1903, the Philippine-American War was officially concluded.
  • In 1910, African-American boxer Jack Johnson knocked out white boxer Jim Jeffries in a heavyweight boxing match, sparking race riots across the United States. Johnson’s victory over Jeffries had dashed white dreams of finding a “great white hope” to defeat him.
  • In 1924, actress Eva Marie Saint was born.
  • In 1927, playwright and screenwriter Neil Simon was born.
  • In 1939, Lou Gehrig, recently diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), informed a crowd at Yankee Stadium that he considered himself “The luckiest man on the face of the earth”. He then announced his retirement from major league baseball.
  • In 1943, the Battle of Kursk, the largest full-scale battle in history and the world’s largest tank battle, began in the village of Prokhorovka.
  • In 1946, after 381 years of near-continuous colonial rule by various powers, the Philippines attained full independence from the United States.
  • In 1950, Radio Free Europe first broadcast.
  • In 1951, William Shockley announced the invention of the junction transistor.
  • In 1960, due to the post-Independence Day admission of Hawaii as the 50th U.S. state on August 21, 1959, the 50-star flag of the United States debuted in Philadelphia.
  • In 1966, United States President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Freedom of Information Act into law. The act went into effect the next year.
  • In 1976, the United States celebrated its Bicentennial.
  • In 1997, NASA’s Pathfinder space probe landed on the surface of Mars.
  • In 2005, the Deep Impact collider hit the comet Tempel 1.
  • In 2006, Space Shuttle Discovery launched mission STS-121 to the International Space Station. It was the only shuttle launch in the program’s history to occur on the United States’ Independence Day.
  • In 2012, the discovery of particles consistent with the Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider was announced at CERN.


In 1776, the United States Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Second Continental Congress.

The Lee Resolution for independence was passed on July 2 with no opposing votes. The Committee of Five – John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston – had drafted the Declaration to be ready when Congress voted on independence. John Adams, a leader in pushing for independence, had persuaded the committee to select Thomas Jefferson to compose the original draft of the document, which Congress edited to produce the final version.

The Declaration explained why the Thirteen Colonies at war with the Kingdom of Great Britain regarded themselves as thirteen independent sovereign states, no longer under British rule. With the Declaration, these new states took a collective first step toward forming the United States of America.

In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,—That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness of his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The first and most famous signature on the engrossed copy was that of John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress. Two future presidents (Thomas Jefferson and John Adams) and a father and great-grandfather of two other presidents (Benjamin Harrison V) were among the signatories. Edward Rutledge (at age 26) was the youngest signer, and Benjamin Franklin (at age 70) was the oldest signer. The fifty-six signers of the Declaration represented the new states.

  • New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
  • Massachusetts: Samuel Adams, John Adams, John Hancock, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
  • Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
  • Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
  • New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
  • New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
  • Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
  • Delaware: George Read, Caesar Rodney, Thomas McKean
  • Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
  • Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
  • North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
  • South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward Jr., Thomas Lynch Jr., Arthur Middleton
  • Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton


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.



The Thing About Today – July 3

July 3, 2020
Day 185 of 366


July 3rd is the 185th day of the year. It is Emancipation Day in the United States Virgin Islands. It commemorates the Danish Governor Peter von Scholten’s 1848 proclamation that “all unfree in the Danish West Indies are from today emancipated,” following a slave rebellion led by John Gottlieb (General Buddhoe) in Frederiksted, Saint Croix.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Fried Clam Day, National Eat Your Beans Day, and National Chocolate Wafer Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1608, Québec City was founded by Samuel de Champlain.
  • In 1738, painter John Singleton Copley was born.
  • In 1844, the last pair of great auks were killed.
  • In 1852, the United States Congress established the country’s second mint in San Francisco.
  • In 1884, Dow Jones & Company published its first stock average.
  • In 1927, actor Tim O’Connor was born. You know him as that guy in ’70s and ’80s television.
  • In 1928, John Logie Baird demonstrated the first color television transmission in London.
  • In 1938, United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the Eternal Light Peace Memorial and lit the eternal flame at Gettysburg Battlefield.
  • In 1941, lawyer and activist Gloria Allred was born.
  • In 1943, actor Kurtwood Smith was born.
  • In 1947, journalist and author Dave Barry was born. I was introduced to his work through Harry Anderson and Dave’s World in the mid-1990s.
  • In 1952, the Constitution of Puerto Rico was approved by the United States Congress.
  • In 1962, actor and producer Tom Cruise was born.
  • In 1964, actress, voice actress, comedian, and writer Yeardley Smith was born.
  • In 1965, actress Connie Nielsen was born.
  • In 1969, the biggest explosion in the history of rocketry occurred when the Soviet N-1 rocket exploded and subsequently destroyed its launchpad.
  • In 1976, actress Andrea Barber was born.
  • In 1980, actress Olivia Munn was born.
  • In 1985, Back to the Future premiered. Great Scott!
  • In 1996, British Prime Minister John Major announced the Stone of Scone would be returned to Scotland.


In 1944, Minsk, the capital of Belarus, was liberated from the Wehrmacht during the Minsk Offensive in World War II.

The offensive was part of the second phase of the Belorussian Strategic Offensive of the Red Army in the summer of 1944, commonly known as Operation Bagration. The Red Army encircled the German Fourth Army in Minsk, and Hitler ordered his troops to hold fast and declared the city to be a fortified place. The Soviet army attacked from the north-east, the east, and the south, killing 40,000 of the 100,000 Axis soldiers in Minsk. The result was a complete victory for the Red Army, the liberation of Minsk, and the rapid destruction of much of the German Army Group Centre.

As a result, the day is celebrated as Independence Day in Belarus, also known as Republic Day or Liberation Day.


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.