January 3rd was a notable date for people far and near, recent and long ago. In 1521 Martin Luther was excommunicated by a papal bull (decree) issued by Pope Leo X. Luther didn’t let it stop him, serving as one of the major leaders of the Protestant Reformation.

In the more recent past – when I was 3 years old – Alaska became the 49th state to join the United States, joined later in 1959 by Hawaii. It instantly became the largest state in the Union – knocking Texas out of first place. We had bought it from Russia way back in 1867, shortly after the end of the Civil War, prompted by concerns they had about defending it against the British after the Crimean War. It wasn’t until after the Klondike Gold Rush of the late 1890’s that it became more populous. And it wasn’t until after WWII when significant action was seen in Alaska, that it was added to the Union.

And in 1892 the great writer and professor J.R.R.Tolkien was born in South Africa. He survived WWI and some would see his literary writings as reflective of his experiences. He went on to thrill readers with the Hobbit, and what was at the time it’s sequel, The Lord of the Rings. He was good friends with C.S. Lewis, another much loved writer.