5.19.2017 Day in History

Today in Greece is Genocide Remembrance Day, in Vietnam Ho Chi Minh day, and in the United States, Malcolm X Day, the day, respectively, of both the great leaders’ births; in the Summer palace, among the extensive imperial holdings of early Tang Dynasty China a thousand three hundred and sixty-eight years ago, recently subjugated and restive Turks joined in a small faction that sought to overthrow the emperor, a sally that the Tang forces quickly suppressed but which showed both the geopolitical fault lines of Asia and the fractures that characterized extensive empire then as now; four hundred twelve years onward in time, in 1051, France’s king, in looking for a new wife not too closely his cousin, married Anne of Kiev, whose brilliance and fire made her a historic queen whose lineage laid the basis for all subsequent French rulers; an additional four hundred eighty-four years past that, in 1535 France,Jacques Cartier commanded a flotilla of three ships as they embarked for his second voyage for France to the Americas; a century and fourteen years henceforth, in 1649, England’s Long Parliament across the Channel declared the United Kingdom a Commonwealth and not a kingdom, a proclamation that held sway for just over a decade; two hundred seventy two years before today’s light,  Jean Pierre Christin first developed the Centigrade scale for measuring heat; half a dozen years hence, in 1749, England’s second King George granted a charter to the Ohio Company for land near present day Pittsburgh that the French also claimed; thirteen years further down life’s highway, in 1762, a baby boy entered the world who would grow up as idealist German philosopher, Johann Gottlieb Fichte;precisely thirty-three years later, in 1795, literary biographer and prominent diarist James Boswell made his final entry, and exit, and the male child bounced into the world who would grow up as the wealthy businessman, Johns Hopkins, who would endow a famous university;another thirty-three years in the direction of today, in 1828, then-president John Quincy Adams passed a protective tariff for the wool trade that was antithetical to many commercial interests; two decades thereafter, in 1848, Mexico acceded to treaty terms that ended the war with the United States and granted the gringos most of the Rocky Mountain West that now accounts for California and nearby territory; sixteen years down the road from that intersection, in 1864, American literary giant Nathaniel Hawthorne drew a final breath; just beyond three decades henceforth, in 1895, Cuban freedom fighter and journalist Jose Marti died in battle; seven hundred and thirty-one days subsequent to that moment, in 1897, across the Atlantic in England, Oscar Wilde walked free of the homophobic clutches of the English criminal justice system at Reading Gaol; half a decade further down the pike, in 1902, back in North America’s Appalachian Mountains, an explosion at a mine near Coal Creek, Tennessee, snuffed out the lives of nearly two hundred miners, who died because capital’s profits outweighed mere workers’ lives; nine years thereafter, in 1911, Canada established the first North American National Park System; eight years after that juncture, in 1919, Southeast across the Atlantic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk led forces in the Black Sea region of Turkey to initiate the nation’s independence struggle against the occupation forces of the ‘allies’ of World War One; three hundred sixty-six days more in time’s measured leap year march, in 1920, again in Appalachia, militant and organized miners near Matewan, West Virginia, sharply resisted their eviction from company-owned housing, killing half a dozen ‘deputies’ in the process and initiating a period of almost open class warfare in the coalfields; one year after that point, in 1921, also in the United States, Congress passed ‘emergency’ measures sharply restricting immigration; a year later and six thousand miles East in the USSR_Emblem_1936 russia sovietSoviet Union, in 1922, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union established the Young Pioneer Organization, the Red Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts; a thousand ninety-six days yet nearer to now, in 1925, the baby boy opened his eyes who would rise as the immeasurable Black leader, Malcolm Little, or X; an additional three years afterward, in 1928, near Mather, Pennsylvania, another coal mine ‘accident’ that resulted from profiteering claimed the lives of almost two hundred unlucky colliers; two years hence, in 1930, a baby girl was born who would mature as scholar, playwright, and critic Lorraine Hansberry, while a baby boy was also busy being born who would become scholar of slavery and capitalism, the historian Eugene Genovese; eleven years farther along time’s arc, in 1941, around the world in Southeast Asia, the Viet Minh Revolutionary Organization came into existence in French Indochina, and half a world away, a female infant came into the world who would end up making and writing movies and offering witty commentary on life as Nora Ephron; another year even closer to the current context, in 1942, the Steelworkers Organizing Committee took its present name, the United Steelworkers of America; three years more proximate to now, in 1945, a male baby came squalling among us to end up as legendary musician and songwriter, Peter Townshend; a year later, in 1946, writer and dramatist Booth Tarkington had his final scene; two more years in the aftermath of that event, in 1950, Egypt temporarily closed the Suez Canal to Israeli ships and commerce, and more than thirty stevedores died, with hundreds more seriously injured, when longshoreman were loading mines, which the Department of Defense had labeled unsafe for use in the U.S. military, onto ships bound for Pakistan and elsewhere in the Asian ordnance market; just shy of a decade still later, in 1959, the North Vietnamese Army established the operational outfit that would soon enough open supply lines to the South that would help win the Vietnam War as the Ho Chi Minh Trail; a thousand four hundred and sixty-one days past that precise point in space and time, around the world in 1963, the New York Post published Martin Luther King

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Jr.’s “Letter from the Birmingham Jail”, which decried compromise with repression and terror; three years still more proximate the present pass, in 1966, a baby girl first shouted out en route to her life as acclaimed aficionado of contemporary fiction, Jodi Picoult; five years further on, in 1971, Soviets launched their second Mars explorer and ‘Candy-is-Dandy’ poet and writer Ogden Nash breathed his last; three years subsequently, in 1984, a contestant on the game show, Press Your Luck, having detected an algorithmic flaw in the program’s approach, walked off with over a hundred thousand dollars; an additional four years toward the here and now, in 1989, estimable Trinidadian journalist and historian C L R James died; seven hundred and thirty days more proximate to the present, in 1991, Croatians doomed Yugoslavia by voting for independence, a decision much heralded by the United States; three years beyond that point, in 1994, French social theorist and philosopher Jacques Ellul hypothesized no longer; three years yet later on, in 1997, grassroots organizing succeeded in pressuring Mexico to designate the Sierra Gorda region as a protected biosphere; just three years back, incisive and brilliant social historian Gabriel Kolko drew his final breath, and associate of Martin Luther King, Jr., and acclaimed annalist of African American religion in American society, Vincent Harding, lived out his final scene; another year along time’s path, just last year in 2015, a significant oil spill in California dumped nearly 3,500 barrels of hydrocarbons in ecologically sensitive waters and beaches near Santa Barbara when a poorly maintained pipeline from offshore platforms ruptured underwater.