Dr. Hurlbutt's Highly Peculiar Online Calendar

June 2011

(National Seafood Month)

June 1: Explorers, led by the British naval officer James Clark Ross, reached the North Magnetic Pole for the first time in 1831. The pole was then situated at Cape Adelaide on the Boothia Peninsula of northern Canada. The magnetic poles are not fixed points, but drift with the fluctuations of the earth's magnetic field, in recent times by as much as 25 miles per year.

June 3: National Donut Day (Salvation Army). The Chicago Salvation Army began the tradition of National Donut Day in 1938 as a fund-raising device. Always observed on the first Friday of June, the day honors Salvation Army "lassies" who went into the trenches during the First World War to prepare donuts and other foods for the U.S. soldiers serving there.

June 4: A military coup took place in Ghana on this day in 1979, when the ruling general was overthrown by junior officers, who then held elections. In 1981, however, the leader of the coup, Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings, overthrew the resulting regime and ruled the country himself for the next twenty years. The anniversary of the original coup was celebrated as a public holiday in Ghana until 2001, when a newly elected government abolished it.

June 5: Seamen's Day (Iceland). The Icelanders celebrate their nautical heritage with festivities on the first Sunday in June (unless that day coincides with Pentecost, in which case the holiday is postponed for a week). Begun in Reykjavik in 1938, Seamen's Day (Sjómannadagur) provides an opportunity for swimming and rowing races, parades, tugs of war, and sea-rescue competitions. In many Icelandic communities the holiday now ranks second only to Christmas.

June 6: The Allied landing in Normandy took place on "D-Day" in 1944. In an amphibious assault of unprecedented size, some 130,000 troops came ashore, suffering nearly 10,000 casualties, including more than 4,000 dead, and established an exploitable beachhead in Nazi-occupied France.

June 7: By unanimous vote the United States Senate ratified the Treaty of Tripoli in 1797, which President John Adams then signed three days later. although the Arabic original of the treaty does not include the passage, the English version approved by the Senate and signed by the president declares that religious differences should pose no hindrance to good relations between the United States and Tripoli, as "the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion" and had never waged war on any Muslim country.

June 9: The Republic of Texas authorized the issue of $500,000 in its own currency in 1837.

If I owned Hell and Texas, I'd rent out Texas and live in Hell. - Philip H. Sheridan, speech at Fort Clark, Texas, 1855.

June 11: King Kamehameha I Day (Hawaii). Known as "the Great," Kamehameha ruled Hawaii from 1795 to 1819, during which time he unified the entire island chain through conquest and negotiation. The holiday has been observed since 1872, and is now an official state holiday.

June 12: Peace of Chaco Day (Paraguay). This holiday commemorates the truce that ended a long and bloody war between Paraguay and Bolivia. Skirmishes began in 1928 in the Chaco Boreal, a largely uninhabitable wilderness claimed by both countries. Large-scale operations followed in 1932, continuing senselessly until the truce in 1935. An international peace conference gave Paraguay title to most of the disputed territory in 1938.

June 14: The Continental Congress approved the Stars and Stripes as the first national flag in 1777. The idea of celebrating the anniversary emerged in the late nineteenth century. Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed "Flag Day" nationally in 1916, and Harry Truman signed legislation promoting the event as a recurring observance in 1949. Flag Day is a legal holiday only in Pennsylvania, home state of Betsy Ross. Whether by accident or design, the Supreme Court chose this day in 1943 to issue its landmark decision in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, holding that public schools could not compel children to salute the flag if doing so violated their religious beliefs.

June 16: Washington National Airport (now Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport) in Arlington, Virginia, opened in 1941.

June 19: Fathers' Day (U.S., Canada, and many other countries). Observed on the third Sunday of June, Fathers' Day was first celebrated in Spokane, Washington, in 1910. In Catholic countries, St. Joseph's Day (March 19) serves the same function of honoring male parents. Reportedly, more collect calls are made on Fathers' Day than on any other day of the year.

Becoming a father is not difficult; being a father, on the other hand, is very hard. - Wilhelm Busch (1832-1908)

June 20: Feastday of St. Silverius. The son of Pope Hormisdas, Silverius became pope in 536, due to the influence of Theodatus, King of the Ostrogoths, who wanted a pontiff independent of Constantinople. Unimpressed, the Byzantine Empress Theodora deposed Silverius in 537 in favor of Vigilius. The new pope confined Silverius to an island, where he was harshly treated and soon died.

June 21: Summer Solstice (Northern Hemisphere), Winter Solstice (Southern Hemisphere). There are two solstices each year, falling in June and December, when the earth's orbit brings it to its most extreme declination relative to the sun. In June, the sun is furthest north, resulting in the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere and the shortest in the southern. In December, the sun is furthest south, so the situation is reversed. The summer solstice is the first day of summer, the winter solstice, of winter.

June 22: President Ulysses S. Grant signed a bill into law in 1870 creating the U.S. Department of Justice headed by the Attorney General (whose position had been created in 1789). The Department officially began operations nine days later.

June 23: The Sanjak of Alexandretta was incorporated into Turkey as the province of Hatay in 1939 with the acquiescence of the French, who had previously administered the territory as part of the League of Nations mandate for Syria. Alexandretta had an extremely diverse population, including Turks, Arabs of many different religious affiliations, Jews, Kurds, Armenians, and Greeks. An outbreak of communal violence in 1936 prompted Turkey to file a complaint with the League on behalf of the Turkish community, as a result of which the province received autonomy in 1937. Alexandretta's new administration came under heavy Turkish government influence, however, prompting renewed public disorder. The province's new pro-Turkish assembly responded by declaring the "Republic of Hatay" in September 1938 and voted for union with Turkey in June 1939. Given the tense international situation at the time, France chose not to contest the issue. Syria, however, refused to accept the loss of the province until 2005.

June 24: The Lindauer Queenstown Winter Festival begins in Queenstown, New Zealand. First held in 1975, the ten-day festival takes place in a small ski-resort town and provides an occasion for otherwise placid New Zealanders to become rumbustious. Events in past years have included such things as a frozen cow-pat competition, alongside more traditional winter sports.

Cheer up! The worst is yet to come. - Philander Johnson (1866-1939).

June 26: Some 130 children were reportedly abducted from the German town of Hamelin (Hameln) in Lower Saxony on this day in 1284, giving rise to the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. While there is some historical evidence that the disappearance of the children actually happened, the facts behind the incident can no longer be established.

June 28: In 1914 the Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip assassinated the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Archduke Francis Ferdinand, and his morganatic wife Sophie, at Sarajevo, precipitating the First World War. Five years later, the victorious Allies chose this day to sign the Treaty of Versailles with Germany, the main defeated power.

June 30: On this date in 1997, J. K. Rowling’s first novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was published in Great Britain, where it quickly became a sensation. The book was subsequently published in the United States as Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone, on the apparent assumption that American children were too intellectually backward to embrace the title chosen by the author.


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