Friday, April 30, 2010

What's The Occasion? Queen's Day


Unless it falls on a Sunday, April 30th is celebrated in the Netherlands as Koninginnedag, or Queen's Day; if it should fall on a Sunday the official birthday of the country's Queen Beatrix is observed on the 29th...

It all began in August 1885, to celebrate the birthday of then-Crown Princess Wilhelmina; following the September 1948 ascension of her daughter Queen Juliana the celebration was shifted to the current date, and when Wilhelmina's granddaughter came to the throne in April 1980 it was decided to leave the Queen's Day where it is, since Queen Beatrix's birthday is January 31st.

The festivities begin with Koninginnenacht, or Queen's Night, held in major cities the night before since the mid-1990s, during which night clubs and bars often stay open all night to accomodate revellers; Queen's Night was originally instituted to forestall the emerging trend of Queen's Day rioting - the entirely sensible rationale being that a celebration was preferable to a curfew. Needless to say, the rioting ended.

Queen's Day itself is marked by the orange craze, or oranjegekte, during which the Dutch show their affection for their sovereign by wearing orange, the colour of the royal House of Orange-Nassau. The day also sees a 'vrijmarkt' or 'free-market' - a kind of country-wide yard sale; it has been estimated that 1.8 million people end up circulating about 200 million euros during the vrijmarkt - about 111 euros each on average - all of it a tax-free gift of Her Majesty's government. The event is also a boon to the less well-off, as any items still unsold by the end of the day tend to be left on the kerbside, and can provide rich pickings depending on the district.

Each year the Queen and Royal Family try to visit a different locale to celebrate Queen's Day. Only twice in her reign have the festivities had to be cancelled... In 2001 Hoogeveen and Meppel lost out as part of an effort to combat an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, but were visited the following year as a consolation; in 2009, of course, festivities across the country were cancelled as a result of an attack by Karst Tates in Apeldoorn.
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George Washington's First Inaugural Address


On this day in 1789 George Washington stood on the second floor balcony of Federal Hall in New York City - then the capital of the United States - and in front of a large crowd that had been assembling since first light took the oath of office from Chancellor of New York Robert Livingston, who then swore in Washington's Vice President (and eventual successor) John Adams.

Washington then repaired indoors, to the Senate Chamber, where he delivered his first inaugural address to the members therein assembled. As shown above, and reproduced in part below, the 1,419 words of the address have an archaic ring to them and speak of Washington's seeming reluctance to assume the mantle of the presidency; whether genuine or not, the modesty he demonstrated is part of what made him the great leader he was.

* * *

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:
Among the vicissitudes incident to life no event could have filled me with greater anxieties than that of which the notification was transmitted by your order, and received on the 14th day of the present month. On the one hand, I was summoned by my country, whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and love, from a retreat which I had chosen with the fondest predilection, and, in my flattering hopes, with an immutable decision, as the asylum of my declining years—a retreat which was rendered every day more necessary as well as more dear to me by the addition of habit to inclination, and of frequent interruptions in my health to the gradual waste committed on it by time. On the other hand, the magnitude and difficulty of the trust to which the voice of my country called me, being sufficient to awaken in the wisest and most experienced of her citizens a distrustful scrutiny into his qualifications, could not but overwhelm with despondence one who (inheriting inferior endowments from nature and unpracticed in the duties of civil administration) ought to be peculiarly conscious of his own deficiencies. In this conflict of emotions all I dare aver is that it has been my faithful study to collect my duty from a just appreciation of every circumstance by which it might be affected. All I dare hope is that if, in executing this task, I have been too much swayed by a grateful remembrance of former instances, or by an affectionate sensibility to this transcendent proof of the confidence of my fellow-citizens, and have thence too little consulted my incapacity as well as disinclination for the weighty and untried cares before me, my error will be palliated by the motives which mislead me, and its consequences be judged by my country with some share of the partiality in which they originated.

To read the rest...
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Pop History Moment: The 1939 World's Fair Opened

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On this day in 1939 the second of three World's Fairs to be held in New York City, entitled The World of Tomorrow, opened.

Opening day was chosen because it was the 150th anniversary of George Washington's first inauguration, which took place at Federal Hall in New York City in 1789; FDR gave the opening address at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, which was the first time an American President appeared on television. More than 200,000 people attended the fair on its first day.

For a virtual tour of the 1939 World's Fair, click here...

One fine fictional account of the 1939 World's Fair is the E. L. Doctorow novel World's Fair, published in 1985.

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POPnews - April 30th

[The location of George Washington's first inauguration is today marked by this fine statue bearing a carved inscription commemorating the event at its base; it was on this very spot that Chancellor of New York Robert Livingston administered the oath of office to both Washington and his Vice President John Adams.]

313 CE - Emperor Licinius unified the entire Eastern Roman Empire under his rule following the Battle of Tzirallum.

1006 - Supernova SN 1006 - the brightest in recorded history - appeared in the constellation Lupus; it's occurrence was noted independently by astronomers in China, Egypt, and Switzerland.

1315Enguerrand de Marigny was hanged on the public gallows at Montfaucon; the former chamberlain of Philip IV the Fair, he'd been arrested by Louis X at the instigation of Charles of Valois, and twenty-eight articles of accusation including charges of receiving bribes were brought against him.

1789 - On the balcony of Federal Hall on Wall Street in New York City - which was then the capital of the fledgling republic - George Washington took the oath of office, becoming the first elected President of the United States (even though he was only elected by the Electoral College, and ran unopposed, making him the only President ever elected unanimously).

1803 - The United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from France for $15 million; overnight the Louisiana Purchase more than doubled the size of the young nation, and would become the greatest achievement of Thomas Jefferson's presidency.

1812 - The Territory of Orleans became the 18th US state under the name Louisiana.

1894 - The so-called Coxey's Army reached Washington, DC, having been led there by Jacob Coxey from Massillon, Ohio, to protest the widespread unemployment caused by the Panic of 1893; legend has it the march inspired the whimsical picaresque of L. Frank Baum's 1900 novel Wonderful Wizard of Oz.  Only time will tell what works of art the Panic of 2009 will produce...

1900 - Casey Jones died in a train wreck in Vaughn, Mississippi, while trying to make up time on the Cannonball Express; thanks to his black friend Wallace Saunders, who wrote a song about his exploits called The Ballad of Casey Jones - later recorded by, among others, bluesman Mississippi John Hurt - Jones achieved a vast posthumous fame.

1904 - The Louisiana Purchase Exposition World's Fair opened in St. Louis, Missouri.

1927 - The Federal Industrial Institute for Women opened in Alderson, West Virginia, as the first women's federal prison in the United States; now better known as 'Camp Cupcake', it's most famous recent inmate has been Martha Stewart, while in the past Lynette 'Squeaky' Fromme, Sara Jane Moore, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Tokyo Rose, and Billie Holiday have also served time there.

1938 - An animated short entitled Porky's Hare Hunt debuted in movie theaters, introducing Happy Rabbit, the forerunner of Bugs Bunny.

1945 - Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun committed suicide in the Fuehrerbunker just one day into their marriage, as Soviet soldiers raised the Russian flag over the Reichstag and Berlin fell to Allied forces - officially making theirs the worst honeymoon in history.

1947 - Nevada's Boulder Dam was officially renamed Hoover Dam.

1956 - Harry S. Truman's former Vice President, Senator Alben Barkley, died during a speech in Virginia; he collapsed after proclaiming 'I would rather be a servant in the house of the lord than sit in the seats of the mighty.'

1975 -  Following the unconditional surrender of South Vietnamese president Duong Van Minh Operation Frequent Wind airlifted the last US citizens out of Saigon prior to an expected North Vietnamese takeover, bringing US involvement in the Vietnam War to an end and precipitating the Fall of Saigon.

1980 - Queen Juliana abdicated the Dutch throne on the occasion of her 71st birthday, following which her daughter became Queen Beatrix.

1988 - Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, officially opened World Expo '88 in Brisbane.

1991 - A tropical cyclone hit Bangladesh, killing an estimated 138,000 people.

1993 - Virgin Radio broadcast for the first time in the United Kingdom.
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