I had to look twice at this in Wikipedia to determine what it was. Apparently, someone created this commemoration back in 2011 so that we would not forget to back up our systems – or be glad that we had backups for all our data. I think the better remembrance for this date is the International Transgender Day of Visibility which was created by a trans activist in 2009, especially at this time when they are under attack. It is one thing to not fully understand their situation, but be ready to learn. It is quite another thing not to want to understand and to attack their very existence. Let us remember.
In 1854 Japan was forced to open its ports to US trade by Commodore Matthew Perry through the signing of the Convention of Kanagawa with the Tokugawa Shogunate – forcing Japan to end its 200-year isolation. Not the first nor the last Western colonialist interference in Asian cultures much more ancient than our own. Meanwhile, in Vienna, there was a riot in 1913 at a concert of modernist music – including works by Arnold Schoenberg – by the Vienna Concert Society. A similar thing happened in May of the same year when Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite debuted in Paris. Maybe that was why in 1930 the US Motion Picture Association instituted strict regulations about sex, crime, religion, and violence in films – codes that would last almost four decades.
There were positive events on this date as well. The Eiffel Tower opened in 1889. The Civilian Conservation Corps, of which my Dad was a part, was established in 1933, to combat rampant unemployment during the Great Depression. Remington Rand delivered the first UNIVAC mainframe computer to the US Census Bureau in 1951. And in 1968 President LBJ realized the strength of the opposition to the Vietnam War and announced that he would not run for reelection later in the year.
A quartet of American political leaders call this date their birthday: Barney Frank ( House Mass) and Patrick Leahy (Senate NY) were both born in 1940; Independent Maine Senator Angus King was born in 1944; and Tennessee Senator, VP, and climate change advocate Al Gore was born in 1948.
We welcomed in activists in the fields of philosophy (Rene Descartes, 1596), labor (Cesar Chavez, 1927), fashion (Liz Claiborne, 1929), and film – Richard Chamberlain (Thornbirds) and Shirley Jones (Partridge Family) in 1934. And musicians were not to be left out: Austrian pianist and composer Joseph Haydn started making music in 1732; and American songwriter, trumpet player, and producer Herb Alpert started looking for his Tijuana Brass in 1935.
Those passing off the world stage on this date include former US VP John C Calhoun (1850) the first of only two VPs to resign; American financier J P Morgan (1913) one year after avoiding the Titanic; Knute Rockne (1931) famed college football coach; and Olympic great Jesse Owens who faced both his own country’s discrimination and showed up Hitler in Berlin ceased to run in 1980.
We also lost Charles Herbert Best (1978) – American-Canadian physiologist and chemist who co-discovered insulin, and tragically Brandon Lee (1993), son of the late great Bruce Lee, both dying way too young.
It is also Cesar Chavez Day honoring the US labor activist, and founder of the United Farm Workers Union, who was born on this date in 1927. When you eat vegetables, think of him, and the multitudes of unappreciated migrant farm workers who sweat to harvest the crops.