Canada today marks National Aboriginal Day, while around the globe people commemorate World Hydrography Day, International Yoga Day, World Humanist Day, and, on a more whimsical note, International Go-Skateboarding Day; in the far-Eastern Mediterranean where much of the power of imperial Rome had assumed Byzantine forms fourteen hundred eighty-four years ago, a war fleet embarked from Constantinople, soon to visit Greece and Sicily, ultimately destined to attack the Vandals in what is now Libya and Algeria; seven hundred ten years in advance of today, Kulug Khan ascended the Mongol throne as he also celebrated his coronation as the Yuan’s imperial chief; twelve decades forward from that conjunction, in 1527, the philosopher of power and perfidy, Nicola Machiavelli, spent his final day on Earth; a half century and five years later, in 1582, the most potent Japanese potentate of the Sengoku period face the unpleasant task of killing himself under the threatening oversight of his own general, Akechi Mitsuhide; around the world in Prague thirty-nine years further along, in 1621, close to thirty members of the Czech nobility faced their death sentences for their part in the disastrous Battle of White Mountain, where they sought to defend local rights and Protestant beliefs from the Holy Roman Empire at the start of the Thirty Years War; eighteen years onward from that, in 1639, a baby boy was
born into his Protestant family in England, en route to a life as the preacher and thinker, Increase Mather; precisely ninety-five years thereafter, in 1734, to the West in Montreal, a disaffected slave, who had made good on her threat to burn her owner’s home—and much of the city’s commercial center in the bargain–when the mistress refused Marie Angelique’s freedom hung from a rope till her death for the ‘crime’ of insisting on freedom; just short of three and a half decades more in the general direction of today, in 1768, James Otis offered a different sort of insult in the name of freedom, when he addressed the Massachusetts General Court with a speech that “offended the King and Parliament;” twenty-three years hence, across the wide Atlantic in 1791, an again different sort of drama of freedom unfolded as France’s sixteenth King Louis and his close family sought to flee Paris and its revolutionary ardors and dangers;thirty-five additional years down time’s path, in 1826, to the South in Greece, yet another case of fighting and death and freedom and intrigue unfolded as Egyptian troops of the Ottoman Empire sought to crush an uprising in the Peloponnesian Peninsula in Greece, where the local insurgents drove back the invaders, much to the joy of England and its arms merchants; twenty-two more years toward today, in 1848, Romanian nationalists issued the Proclamation of Islaz, which laid the basis for overthrowing Russian rule temporarily and establishing Wallachian governance for a time; seven hundred thirty days past that rebellious outbreak, in 1850, across Europe and over the sea to North America, a male child looked around for the first time en route to a life as Daniel Carter Beard, whose accomplishments included inaugurating the Boy Scouts of America; one hundred forty years back, after a ‘trial’ in which paid coal company attorneys handled the prosecution and paid coal company ‘detectives’ provided the evidence for conviction, ten so-called Molly Maguires died on gallows in Northeastern Pennsylvania for their ‘crimes,’ without a single doubt primarily as martyrs and victims to coal-company profiteers who would brook no organized labor among their workforces; half a dozen years subsequently, in 1883, the girl child entered our midst in a Vermont family of freed slaves and independent thinkers who would become the prolific and long-lived storyteller and communicator Daisy Turner; sixteen years afterward, in 1898, the United States overran the Spanish forces on Guam and seized control of the islands for ‘manifest destiny;’ two more years along time’s arc toward now, in 1900, China’s collapsing empire’s leaders formally declared war on Japan, the United States, France, and Great Britain as the Boxer Rebellion’s fighting
intensified following the previous day’s placement of the diplomatic district of Beijing under siege; five years yet later on, in 1905, the male infant came along in standard fashion in France who would grow up as the estimable thinker and advocate of liberation, Jean Paul Sartre; seven years farther down the pike, in 1912, the female baby took her first breath who would end up as the redoubtable writer, critic, and thinker, Mary McCarthy; two years after that, in 1914, Bertha von Suttner, the first woman to receive a Nobel Prize, the literary laureates, sang her swan song; three hundred sixty-five days nearer to now, in 1915, in its decision in Guinn v. the United States, the Supreme Court held that prohibiting voting among specified groups of citizens was unconstitutional; four years more on time’s inexorable march, to the North in Canada in 1919, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police opened fire on strikers in the General Strike of Winnipeg, killing two; another half decade en route to the here and now, in 1924, a male child in France howled out on his way to a life as the psychoanalytic theorist and interpreter of Freud’s “seduction theory,” Jean Laplanche; five years henceforth, in 1929, in Mexico, a U.S. diplomat ‘brokered’ an agreement in a three-year Christero Rebellion of supporters of the Catholic Church, an institution that had lost much of its power and some of its property as a result of the Mexican Revolution; eleven years subsequent to that moment in space and time, across the Northern border in 1940, the fiery patriot and courageous soldier Smedley Butler merited his own rendition of taps; eight years forward from there, in 1948, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a binding opinion that permitted unions to advocate particular Congressional candidates, which had previously run afoul of a Corrupt Practices Act, and across the ocean in England, the baby boy was born who would become the acclaimed writer and thinker and controversial atheist, Ian McEwan; a mere year later still, in 1949, in Guyana, the male child regarded the world on his first day as he moved along to become the award-winning and multi-talented writer, poet, dramatist, and thinker Ian McEwen; seven years after
that, in 1956, playwright and radical thinker Arthur Miller, accompanied by his new wife, Marilyn Monroe, appeared before the fascistic House Un-American Activities Committee and refused to name any of his ‘comrades,’ whom the leaders of HUAC had promised in advance that he would not need to reveal, for which refusal, soon enough Miller faced an indictment—and the prospect of prison—for ‘contempt’ of Congress; a year even closer to the current context, in 1957, a male infant first howled on he path to becoming a lighthearted and yet controversial cartoonist, Berkeley Breathed; a thousand four hundred sixty-one days thereafter, in 1961, a French infant entered the world in the routine fury of labor and blood, sired by Spanish revolutionary parents, en route to a life as the brilliant and popular musician of people-power and love, Manu Chao; three years following that happy event, back in the U.S. in 1964, a much less sanguine eventuality took place as the Ku Klux Klan orchestrated the murder—fully expecting impunity—of three civil rights workers, two White and one Black, in Mississippi; three hundred sixty-five days forward in time and space, in 1965, the musical group the Byrds released their album, Mr. Tambourine Man, inaugurating a period of years in which listeners regarded musical evolution as ‘a folk-rock revolution;’ half a decade onward from that passage, in 1970, the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history to that point transpired when Penn Central went under; a thousand ninety-six days subsequently, in 1973, the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Miller v. California, establishing a “three-pronged test”—including two necessary components of community standards and one of cultural merit—for determining obscenity; nine years still more proximate
to the present pass, in 1982, a Federal jury found the wealthy would-be assassin of Ronald Reagan John Hinckley not-guilty by reason of insanity; the very next year, in 1983, to the South in North Carolina, the male infant was born whose fate was to become a scion of a Federal family, Edward Snowden, who blew the whistle on mass whistle-blowing by the National Security Agency; fourteen years hence, in 1997, upwards of a hundred thousand marchers picketed in favor of the strike by journalists and staff of Detroit Free Press; three additional years along time’s path, in 2000, across the Atlantic, Scotland’s governing body overwhelmingly repealed that portion of England’s Local Government Act that prohibited the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality; three hundred sixty five days past that point on the dot, in 2001, the brilliant and much-loved rocker and lyricist John Lee Hooker lived out his final verse, and a Federal grand Jury in Virginia issued an indictment against thirteen Saudis and one Lebanese for murdering American soldiers in a bombing in the Saudi city of Khobar, a judicial action to which the Sauds responded with the announcement that all the accused were already in prison and that extradition was unnecessary; a further three years on time’s measured moves toward the future, in 2004, the first spacecraft that a commercial venture launched, SpaceShipOne, lifted off and entered orbit; a year even later, in 2005, the White supremacist whom authorities believed had helped to murder James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Mickey Schwermer exactly forty-one years before, faced a judgment of guilty of manslaughter in the reopened case before a Mississippi District Court.