Besides the legal and patriotic holidays there’s a miscellany of anniversaries and occasions such as Groundhog Day, Inventors Day and Pickle Day. We even have an Underdog Day to salute the nation’s underdogs and unsung heroes.
The degree of significance of any observance obviously depends on the interests of the individual.
But there’s an unusual package of anniversaries coming up in the next seven days – Dec. 15 through Dec. 21. I think you will agree these are worthy of contemplation:
Dec. 15 is Bill of Rights Day.
The First Congress under the Constitution, meeting in New York, submitted for ratification 12 amendments “to clarify certain individual and state rights.” Ten of the 12 were ratified by the colonies and be came known as the Bill of Rights – added to the Constitution as of Dec. 15, 1791.
Some of the leading advocates of the amendments were George Mason, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson.
It is said that Jefferson, then minister to Paris, was startled upon receiving a copy of the Constitution to see that it contained no document guaranteeing rights.
“A bill of rights,” he said, “is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth.”
Dec. 16 is the “Boston Tea Party” anniversary, marking the date in 1773 when chests of tea aboard three cargo ships were dumped into the harbor by colonists disguised as Indians.
The action followed two rousing mass meetings in protest of British efforts to force East Indian Company tea on the colonies.
Dec. 17, the “Monday following the second Wednesday in December” is when electors of each state, under formalities of the Electoral College system, traditionally meet in the state capitals to cast their votes for president and vice president in the wake of general elections.
This also is the anniversary of the first documented airplane flight – by Wilbur and Orville Wright at Kitty Hawk, N.C. Dec. 17, 1903 – introducing the Air age.
Dec. 18 is Stradivari Day, honoring the celebrated Italian violin maker. Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737) made more than 1,000 instruments, but only about 600 of his almost-priceless violins remain. Some are owned by famous concert artists. Most, however, are treasures in museums and private collections.
Dec. 19 is the anniversary of the first Christmas greeting from Space in 1958 when the U.S. satellite Atlantas Broadcast a 58-word recorded Yule greeting from President Dwight Eisenhower.
Dec. 20 is Louisiana Purchase Day, when the U.S. took possession after approval by Congress at a special session on that day in 1803.
Under terms negotiated with France’s Napoleon, the U.S. paid about $15 million for 530 million acres, doubling the country’s area in one stroke at a super bargain price.
From the Louisiana Territory ‘ – called “probably the largest real estate transfer ever known” – was carved out 13 states in whole or in part, between the Mississippi River and the Rockies.
Dec. 21 is Community Service Day as well as Forefathers Day.
To conclude, let’s turn buck one day to the 20th for a final special designation – Mudd Day. Have you ever heard of it? I hadn’t until I read a Los Angeles Times Syndicate “tip service” memo which explained:
“The day honors Dr. Samuel A. Mudd who was sentenced to life imprisonment for giving medical aid to disguised John Wiles Booth (after Lincoln’s assassination and served four years before being pardoned by President Andrew Johnson.”