Today was a day for exploration. In 1524 Giovanni de Verazzano has a bridge named after him in New York) set sail westward from the coast of Africa to find a route to the Pacific Ocean. He was an Italian, like Columbus, but he sailed in the service of the King of France. He ended up exploring much of the East Coast of the current US.

In 1773 Captain James Cook led the first expedition to sail south of the Antarctic Circle. He later died while exploring the Pacific islands. In 1912 another British explorer, Captain Robert Falcon Scott, reached the South Pole, just one month after Roald Amundsen, the Norwegian explorer.

In 1893 a US-backed coup overthrew the native kingdom of Hawaii, leading to its annexation and statehood. In 1946 the UN Security Council, which was designed to thwart such actions, held its first meeting. And in 1961 President Eisenhower delivered the first televised farewell speech and warned about the accumulation of power by the “military-industrial complex”. Ironically the same day the former Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Patrice Lumumba was executed by firing squad after he was accused of conspiring with the Soviets – another casualty of the Cold War

Notable births on this date include Benjamin Franklin(1706) – American writer, inventor, and Founding Father, and David Lloyd George(1863) British Prime Minister who led the postwar enactment of the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles. The lessor known of the Bronte sisters – Anne -was born in 1820. And the notorious Al Capone began his rise to ruin in 1899.

This date also brought us the seemingly endless life of Betty White, the sultry voice and move of one-time Catwoman Eartha Kitt (1927), and the unmistakable James Earl Jones (1931) – Darth Vadar and so many others.

We also welcomed into our world the man who would become the first African American elected governor – Virginia’s own Douglas Wilder (1931), as well as an always champion boxer Muhammad Ali (1942), and the first African American first lady Michelle Obama (1964).

We bid farewell to the American Civil War general and controversially elected 19th US President Rutherford B Hayes (1893), the chess whiz Grandmaster Bobby Fischer (2008), and the always snarky columnist Art Buchwald (2007).

Quite a day, wouldn’t you say? Hope you have a great day too.:)