9.13.2016 Day in History

Today worldwide marks International Chocolate Day; in the central portion of the Italian peninsula twenty-six centuries and a single year ago, early Rome’s fourth king, Lucius Priscus, declared a triumphal celebration for his armies’ crushing defeat of the Sabine fighters; seventy-six years along time’s arc, in 509 BCE, as part of the activities that brought a Roman Republic into being, elites and masses alike commemorated the most important house of worship in ancient Rome, the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus that had been three quarters of a century in the making atop the city’s Capitoline Hill; a thousand forty-two years onward toward now, in 533, Byzantium’s Emperor Belisarius led fighters near Carthage in North Africa that decisively defeated the Vandals at the Battle of Ad Decimum; just four years shy of seven centuries hence, in 1229, the second son of Genghis assumed the leadership of the Mongol Empire, before he proceeded to lead its most significant advances in Europe and Eastern Asia; five hundred seventy-nine years back,Portuguese military forces led an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the Algerian citadel at Tangier; sixty-four years further along, in 1501, Michelangelo started to create the statue that would become his iconic depiction of David; four decades forward from there, in 1541, John Calvin retuned to Geneva after a three year exile with the goal of creating a reformed and thoroughly Calvinist church; a year beyond a half century thereafter, in 1592, the esteemed and sardonic wit of Michel de Montaigne quieted for eternity; then, a year more than a century and a half further along time’s road, in 1743, England, Austria, and Sardinia signed the Treaty of Worms, a grotesque pandering to unearned aristocratic privilege and taxation of the masses, an attempt to divide Austria and France; precisely thirty-nine years subsequent to that conjunction, in 1782, French and Spanish troops joined in a joint assault on Gibraltar that failed to dislodge the British, despite their preoccupation with colonial matters across the sea; thirty-two years yet later on, in 1814, Francis Scott Key, as he witnessed the crest of the British failed attempt to win Baltimore in the War of 1812, composed “The Defense of Fort McHenry,” which provided soon enough provided lyrics for “The Star Spangled Banner;” thirty-three additional years in the direction of today’s light and air, in 1847, five youthful heroes died defending Chapultepec Castle as American militias prepared to occupy Mexico City; a mere year yet nearer to the here and now, in 1848, a Vermont Railroad worker survived a more than one-inch-wide steel spike through his skull, which permitted many years of fruitful study and speculation about brain function; two dozen more years on time’s inexorable march, in 1872, the redoubtable German thinker and

By Allan Ajifo
By Allan Ajifo

anthropological champion of materialism, Ludwig Feuerbach, breathed his last; exactly a thousand four hundred sixty-one days onward toward now, in 1876, a baby boy cried out whom fate had elected to mature as the American poet and writer Sherwood Anderson; six years farther down the pike, in 1882, across the Atlantic and much of the Mediterranean, British imperial forces solidified their country’s control of Egypt and the Suez Canal by overwhelming and massacring Egyptian troops who were defending Cairo at the Battle of Tel el Kebir; an even dozen years in the future from that, in 1894, a British baby boy was born on his way to a life as the writer, dramatist, critic, and activist J.B. Priestley; four more years en route to this day in time, in 1898, Hannibal Goodwin received a valuable patent for celluloid photographic film; seven hundred thirty days past that momentous point, in 1900, Filipino freedom fighters won one of their few victories by destroying an American force at the Battle of Pulang Lupa; eleven years on the dot after that, in 1911, a male infant bounced into the world in the American South who would grow up as the crooner and lyricist Bill Monroe; three more years on the way to today, in 1914, roughly seven thousand miles Southeast in Germany’s imperial holdings in Southern Africa, British colonial troops began operations to oust Germans from the continent altogether; two years yet nearer to the here and now, in 1916, a male child came along who would mature as the prolific creative genius, Roald Dahl; across the wide Atlantic another two years henceforth, in 1918, a baby boy opened his eyes who would rise as the inimitable musical and songwriting genius, Ray Charles; four years again toward today, in 1922, over the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, the ultimate scenes of Turkey’s establishment of a modern republic unfolded with the massive fire in the City of Smyrna, which contributed to the deaths of as many as tens of thousands of Greeks and Armenians, survivors of whom became refugees as Turkish fighters consolidated their hold on the port city; another year further down time’s pathway, in 1923, at the other end of the Mediterranean, reactionary Spaniards, having conducted a coup against the struggling nation’s democracy, acceded to the more or less bumbling dictatorship of Miguel Primo de Rivera, who promised to rule for ninety days but only resigned after seven years; back in North America a thousand and ninety-six days still later, in 1926, the U.S. Postal Service issued orders to its agents to ‘shoot to kill’ in the event of any attempted robbery of the mail; an additional two years on time’s trek, in Italy in 1928, the popular and iconoclastic writer and storyteller and dramatist lived out his final scene whom audiences knew as Italo Svevo; six years even closer to the current context, in 1934, three striking textile workers died in fighting in Rhode Island, in the early stages of a nationwide uprising that would soon involved nearly half a million disaffected wage-earners in that industrial sector; another half dozen years onward, in 1940, back in the Mediterranean, Italian fascist forces initiated their invasion of the ever-contested North African ground of Egypt; eleven years past that precise passing, in 1951, nearly a thousand miles North in England’s Irish territories, a little baby girl entered our midst who would grow as the teacher and activist and feminist and storyteller and dramatist Anne Devlin; another two years USSR_Emblem_1936 russia sovieton time’s road, in 1953, Nikita Khrushchev rose to become the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union; three years afterward, back in the U.S. in 1956, the International Business Machines Corporation released its first RAMAC 305 Computer, the first such device to utilize disk storage in its operations; a decade still more proximate to the present pass, in 1966, a male child shouted out en route to his life as the talk show host and wit, Tavis Smiley; on precisely the same date three years later, in 1969, an Atlanta child entered our midst in standard fashion who would end up becoming the filmmaker, screenwriter, and performer, Tyler Perry;two further years on the general path to now, in 1971, National Guard and State Police in New York became Storm Troopers in ending a rebellion at the Attica State Prison, killing nearly a dozen guards held as hostage and three dozen inmates in the process; half a decade past that instant in space and time, in a far larger potential assault on human life in 1976, two erstwhile ‘liberal scholars’ and policy makers at the Brookings Institution released a highly-promoted study that the Soviet Union remained America’s great enemy, a dire threat to everyone, and so forth;three years in even greater proximity to our present point, in 1979, South Africa declared one of its ‘Homelands,’ similar to ‘reservations’ elsewhere, to be an ‘independent’ state, a public relations and hegemonic move recognized nowhere else on Earth, save by Israel; six years subsequently, in 1985, Japan’s NES Corporation released Super Mario Brothers in Tokyo and launched that longstanding gaming franchise; seven hundred thirty days after that, on the nose, in 1987, opportunistic thieves broke into an abandoned hospital in Goiania, Brazil, where they inadvertently stole a powerful gamma radiation source that ended up killing four people and injuring several hundred others; another two years en route to the present moment, in 1989, Bishop Desmond Tutu led upwards of twenty thousand brave souls in a protest march against Apartheid in Capetown, South Africa; four years beyond that

CC BY-NC-ND by fanz
CC BY-NC-ND by fanz

exhilarating conjunction, in 1993, Palestinian Liberation Organization head Yassir Arafat shook hands with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin at the White House after both parties signed the Oslo Accords; three years hence and maybe nine thousand miles away in 1996, the magnificent and soulful genius Tupac Shakur lived out his final day before ‘unknown’ assailants shot him down; another three years more on the highway to our current case, in 1999, the prolific and well-regarded educational theorist Benjamin Bloom faded away one last time; five years further along, in 2004, a giant in the history of population control, Mexican scientist Luis Miramontes, who co-invented birth control pills, made his final exit; two years thereafter, just across the border in Texas in 2006, esteemed and estimable former Governor Ann Richards died; the very next year, in 2007, the United Nations General Assembly issued its Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.