Thursday, May 20, 2010

This Day, This May

“Besides this May
We know
There is Another—
How fair
Our Speculations of the Foreigner!

Some know Him whom We knew—
Sweet Wonder—
A Nature be
Where Saints, and our plain going Neighbor
Keep May!"

- Emily Dickinson, Besides This May

In the news today - May 20th, the 140th day of 2010:

…the Devastating Oil Spill seeps into the Louisiana Wetlands, as the Interior Secretary Acknowledges Lax Oil Regulation; North Korea Denies Sinking a South Korean Warship; Bangkok Burns as Anarchy Reigns; Europe’s Ongoing Economic Woes Unfold; Air Travel Delays Loom due to Intermittent Volcanic Eruptions in Iceland; Pakistan bans Facebook and YouTube; and, in Washington, two retired generals are warning that more than a Quarter of Young Americans are now Too Fat to Fight

On the bright side, today is Eliza Doolittle Day!

In fact, this day and month have been chosen to observe, commemorate, or raise awareness of many different causes around the world - from the sublime to the ridiculous (listed in no particular order):

National Military Appreciation Month

World Trade Month

Jewish American Heritage Month

South Asian Heritage Month

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

International Bike (Bicycle) Week and Bike Month

New Zealand Music Month

National Strawberry Month

Older Americans Month

National Stroke Awareness Month

National Moving Month

Fungal Infection Awareness Month

National Hamburger Month

Honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary Month

National Breastfeeding Week

International Doula Month

National Share A Story month

Frigga Blót (Germanic Neopaganism)

Mental Health Awareness Month


National Zombie Awareness Month

In the words of Ralph W. Emerson - “What potent blood hath modest May."

Born on this day:

1768 - Dolley Madison, First Lady of the United States

1799 - Honoré de Balzac, French novelist

1818 - William Fargo, co-founder of Wells, Fargo & Company

1883 - King Faisal I of Iraq

1908 - James Stewart, American actor

1915 - Moshe Dayan, Israeli general

1944 - Joe Cocker, British singer

1946 - Cher, American singer and actress

1959 - Israel Kamakawiwo'ole of Hawaii, American singer

1971 - Pavlos, Crown Prince of Greece

1971 - Tony Stewart, American race car driver

1982 - Imran Farhat, Pakistani cricketer

And, finally, May 20th in history:

325 - The Ecumenical Council of the Christian Church is held

526 - Earthquake kills 250,000 in Antioch, Syria

1293 - Earthquake kills 30,000 in Kamakura, Japan

1498 - Explorer Vasco da Gama reaches India

1570 - Cartographer Abraham Ortelius issues the first modern atlas.

1609 - Shakespeare's Sonnets are first published in London, perhaps illicitly, by the publisher Thomas Thorpe

1775 - Mecklenburg Patriots declare Independence from England (in Charlotte, NC)

1784 - England and the Netherlands sign peace treaty (Peace of Paris)

1862 - President Abraham Lincoln signs the Homestead Act

1873 - Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis receive patent for blue jeans

1900- Opening of the second modern Olympic Games in Paris

1902 - Cuba gains independence from the United States

1916 - "The Saturday Evening Post" publishes its first cover with a Norman Rockwell painting

1927 - Charles Lindbergh takes off from Roosevelt Field in Long Island, New York, on the world's first solo non-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean aboard “the Spirit of St. Louis”

1932 - Amelia Earhart takes off from Newfoundland to begin the world's first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean by a female pilot

1940 - The first prisoners arrive at a new concentration camp at Auschwitz.

1956 - United States drops hydrogen bomb over Bikini Atoll

1956 - Heartbreak Hotel/I Was the One - Elvis Presley - number one on the charts

1969 - The Battle of Hamburger Hill in Vietnam ends – US and South Vietnamese troops prevail

1978 - Mavis Hutchinson, 53, makes it to New York City to become the first woman to run across America - the 3,000-mile trek took her 69 days

1980 – Quebec says No to independence from Canada

1983 - Car bomb in South Africa kills 16

1984 - First publications of the discovery of the HIV virus that causes AIDS in the journal Science by Luc Montagnier and Robert Gallo individually

1989 - Sunday Silence wins Preakness by a nose

1990 - Hubble Space Telescope sends 1st photographs from space

1991 - Chicago Bull Michael Jordan named NBA’s MVP

1991 - Jeff Reardon gains his 300th career save

2002 - The independence of East Timor is recognized by Portugal

2006 - San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds ties Babe Ruth for second place on the career list with his 714th home run.

2007 - "The Simpsons" airs 400th episode

2008 - Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., is diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor.

As for the future, Nostradamus and NASA predict an Annular Solar Eclipse on this day, May 20th, in 2012.

If the past is anything to go by, the world will keep on turning, inexorably, to May.

“Every year, back comes Spring, with nasty little birds yapping their fool heads off and the ground all mucked up with plants." - Dorothy Parker


  1. The Dickinson poem is a perfect introduction to this entertaining collection of facts, dates, and events--and to give Dorothy Parker the last word (and such a last word it is, too) is a brilliant stroke.

  2. What an amusing little list of May factoids; I am forever forgetting when Zombie Awareness month is! :)

    I loved reading about Eliza Doolittle day - and who knew all the other talented people born on May 20. Up til now the only birthday I had celebrated on May 20th was that of my first childhood dog - who knew she shared the day with such illustrious company.

    I love the Dorothy Parker quote too~


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