Sometimes events are hard to forget, so it is with this day. There were three failures this day. In 1946 the League of Nations officially failed – it dissolved and the task of protecting world peace was given over to the United Nations. Ever since the US Senate refused to allow the US to join the League of Nations everyone knew it would be powerless, and it didn’t take WWII to show that. In 1961 the CIA-led, Cuban exile fielded Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba failed and left many casualties on the island shores as well as damaging the US reputation in the Caribean. And more recently the failure to combat school bullying and the all too present availability of guns to the angry led to the Columbine High School mass shooting in 1999, where 13 kids died and 24 were wounded. And future failures have led to many more mass shootings in the years since.
There were some positive news items for this date: Thaddeus S.C. Lowe made a record 900-mile flight from Cincinnati to South Carolina to demonstrate the power of balloons in 1861, ironically doing it in the first year of the Civil War (and reminding me of Jules Verne’s book The Mysterious Island – which starts with a similar situation). In the same year, French scientists Louis Pasteur and Claude Bernard completed an experiment debunking the theory of spontaneous generation (life from non-life). Another pair of French scientists Pierre and Marie Curie refined radium chloride in 1902, continuing their work in radiation for which they would both receive Nobel Prizes. And in 2008 Danica Patrick won the Indy Japan 300 becoming the first female racecar driver to win an Indy-car race.
As we know there was a notorious person born on this date but let’s not give notice other than to say he spent his last one cowardly hunkering down in an underground bunker in Berlin. The designer of the Lincoln Memorial statue – Daniel Chester French was born in 1850. I daily got to see replicas of this because we had a pair of bookends matching the statue. Former Associate Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens came onto the scene in 1920. This date was also the birthday for R&B singer and producer Luther Vandross (1951); American figure skater Rosalyn Summers (1964); American food writer Julie Powell (1973 Julie and Julia); and LOTR (Gollum)actor – though you never saw his face -Andy Serkis (1964) -who I was privileged to meet here in Seattle.
There was a pope and an anti-pope who died on this date (anti-pope resulting from the Avignon papacy/split in the Church) -AntiPope Victor IV in 1164 and Pope Clement V in 1134. Bram Stoker, the creator of Dracula, laid down his pen in 1912. And Mexican actor, producer, and screenwriter, Cantiflas passed away in 1993. I remember his name because it was distinctive and because I saw him along with David Niven in another Jules Verne-inspired film, Around the World in Eighty Days.