For all those living in Washington State, or who were born here, or were here about 40 years ago, and have a sense of history, you know what this day is. The anniversary of the eruption of Mount St Helens. In May 1980 I was out in Ohio going to college when I heard the news. My sister Barb was living in Yakima, in the shadow of the mountain, and got ash all over her car. I had grown up in Oregon and was shocked at the news. We all knew the mountain was technically dormant, not extinct, but like all the other peaks in the Cascades, we figured it was dead. That morning proved us wrong.
In less momentous news slavery was abolished in Rhode Island in 1652. Yet, in 1896 the Plessy v Ferguson decision of the US Supreme Court decided that racial segregation (separate but equal) in education was okay.And the beat of war goes on – in 1917 the Selective Service Act was passed, paving the way for men to be conscripted to fight for the Allies in WWI. In an ironic choice of titles the Indian project Smiling Buddha lead to the first nuclear weapons test in 1974.
But real progress also happened on this date: In 1912 the first Indian film was released in Mumbai. In 1933 as part of the New Deal, President FDR signed into law the Tennesse Valley Authority, providing flood control, electricity, and other economic development to a US region hard hit by the poverty of the Great Depression.
We welcomed a few creative souls onto the world stage on this date in history: Persian mathematician, astronomer, and poet Omar Khayyam (1048); American Civil War photographer and journalist Matthew Brady(1822); American minister and author Francis Bellamy(1855) who com0posed the original Pledge of Allegiance in 1892 (inconvenient truth – he was a socialist, but wanted to see his country united); Italian- American filmmaker Frank Capra (1897) who brought us the classic “It’s A Wonderful Life”; and American playwright and composer Meredith Wilson(1902) who brought us The Music Man.
Those who left us on this date include – ironically Elijah Craig (1808) who though a minister and educator was also an inventor who invented bourbon whiskey. Austrian composer and conductor Gustav Mahler (1911) and Russian ballet dancer and actor Alexander Gudunov (1995) passed off the stage. Elizabeth Montgomery (1995, Bewitched) and Ken Osmond (2020, Eddie Haskell of Leave It To Beaver), also walked away from the camera. And life-long pacifist – only US Representative to vote against declarations of war for WWI and WWII, Jeannette Rankin who was the first woman to be elected to Congress, and still the only woman ever elected to the House from Montana, ceased her activism in 1973.
This is International Museum Day and National Speech Pathology Day in the US.