A picture’s worth a thousand words – or maybe more. What does this picture make you think of? Don Quixote might be one of them. If so it is an appropriate picture for today, because in 1605, over 4 centuries ago, the first edition of that book was published in Spain by Miguel Cervantes. What we now know of as Great Britain came to be on this date, with the Scottish Parliament ratifying the Act of Union. Though there are probably a lot of Scots who have been eager to have it go away – and perhaps the Scottish Parliament might do that – due to the disagreement on Brexit.
A couple of religiously motivated events happened today. Virginia enacted the Statute of Religious Freedom, authored by Thomas Jefferson. And Nebraska ratified the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, beginning the days of Prohibition. It would later be repealed, by the 21st Amendment in 1933 – the only amendment having been repealed. And in 1991 the Gulf War began.
A couple of politicians were born on this date, John C Breckinridge, 14th US Vice President, and Fulgencio Batista, Cuban colonel and ruler of Cuba before being overthrown by Fidel Castro. Neither of them is remembered positively by history. Diane Fossey (1932) and Lin-Manuel Miranda (1980) also joined us and contributed greatly. Fossey’s work is remembered for us in Gorillas in the Mist -zoology, and anthropology. Lin-Manuel of course is noted for his great musical Hamilton – we have a new take on our Founding Father, the duel, and his rival Aaron Burr, sir.
In my earlier days, I remember celebrating the exploits of AJ Foyt (1935) winner of 4 Indy 500 races, as well as many more. And who can forget Laura Schlessinger (1947)- one of the early stars of the talk show circuit?
On this date we said goodbye to Andrew Wyeth (2009) noted American painter, and Arturo Toscanini (1957), the great Italian cellist and conductor. We both played the cello- me for a short time and him for a lifetime. Bob Jones Sr (1968) evangelist and founder of Bob Jones University, which I had to good fortune to not attend – though I have friends and professors who did (one bragged about being thrown out).
And then there was Edward Gibbon, the British historian who gave us the ponderous Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. He quit his writing in 1794 but that book remains his legacy with its insights and warnings about the limits of power. Who would have thought that the Empire would fall when it had dominated the known world of its time? Kind of like us Baby Boomers who thought the Soviet Union would last forever. True Russia is still a danger, but the “Evil Empire” is no more. And for that, we can be forever grateful.
The windmill in the picture above is located in Marymoor Park and if you are in the area I would encourage you to view it up close – though without lances.