31 October 2000
Noise, magic, and children are the themes of the day, as masked bands of children prepare to visit our homes extracting carbohydrates from us. Halloween became UNICEF Day when a few kids decided to do something for other kids a half century ago in Philadelphia, and I've chosen quotes on that theme. If any wonder why I, a faithful Lutheran, would omit Reformation Day, it is because that day is observed on the Sunday before 31 October - wait until 2004.
In addition to the noise of Martin Luther's hammer pounding his talking points to the door in Wittenberg, there was the explosion in the Reuben James, the first US warship sunk during World War II, on the same day that 14 years of blasting, drilling, and hammering stopped in South Dakota. The huge work of sculpture cost only a million dollars, it's unlikely that the environmental impact statement could be prepared for that today.
On this day the "greatest lover of all time" escaped from prison in Venice, where he was held on charges of being a magician. This probably wouldn't have made the cut if it hadn't been National Magic Day in honor of the death of Erich Weiss, better known as Harry Houdini.
|On this day in history:|
1517 - The German Augustinian monk Doctor Martin Luther, aged 31, nailed to the door of the castle church at Wittenberg a list of 95 theological points he wished to debate, which started the Protestant Reformation. "Out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light, the following propositions will be discussed at Wittenberg, under the presidency of the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and of Sacred Theology, and Lecturer in Ordinary on the same at that place."
1756 - Giovanni Giacomo Casanova, in a Venetian prison on charges of being a magician, proved it by making a spectacular escape. He made it over the Alps in time to introduce the lottery to Paris the next year.
1918 - The "Spanish" influenza-virus killed 21,000 in the US in the previous week, possibly the highest week of the epidemic although numbers are not at all reliable due to the speed of the disease - 550,000 died in the US, over 5 Million in India, between 21 and 24 Million worldwide in slightly over a year. It first jumped from swine to soldiers at Fort Riley at Funston, Kansas in March, the major spread started after those soldiers went to Europe and all the armed forces took it home.
1941 - The destroyer USS Reuben James (DD-245) was escorting a convoy of supplies bound for England off the Iceland coast, positioned between the convoy and a German "Wolfpak" when it was hit by a torpedo at 5:25 am. The ship's magazine exploded and Reuben James quickly sank, 44 of the crew were rescued, 100 died. It was the first US Navy ship sunk in hostile action in World War II.
1941 - The last air drill was shut down after 14 years of dusty, noisy work carving the 60-foot tall heads of US presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt out of the granite of Mount Rushmore. 450,000 tons were removed, sculptor Gutzon Borglum had developed a process that allowed them to blast within 4 inches of the final surface. President Coolidge dedicated the site on 10 August 1927, the artist died in March of 1941, the last work was done by his son Lincoln.
|Holidays around the world today include:|
UNICEF Day, US and Canada - UNICEF, the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund, was founded in 1946 to meet the needs of children in postwar Europe and China. In 1950 youth in Philadelphia made an impromptu collection for the fund while trick-or-treating, raising about $17, and it has become a tradition that has raised $105 Million.
Chiang Kaishek's Birthday, Taiwan - National holiday to observe the 1887 birth of the first president of that country after the Communist takeover in 1949. He was president of the Republic of China from 1928, continuing in exile on Taiwan until his death in 1975.
National Magic Day, US - Commemorates the 1926 death of Harry Houdini, first observed in the Summer of 1927, established officially in various states and cities on the anniversary of Houdini's death in 1938. It has since expanded to National Magic Week, the last week of October, and is the occasion for meetings of magicians and free performances for shut-ins and the handicapped.
|Quotes that may (or may not) relate to the events above:|
I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where
they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content
of their character.
The soul is healed by being with children.
Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters
of Life's longing for itself.... You may house their bodies, but not their
souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot
visit, not even in your dreams.
Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of
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|Silly Fine Print:|
Copyright 2000 G. Armour Van Horn, all rights reserved. This document may be distributed freely. Please forward the complete message including this copyright notice.