Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Please remove your hat while reading this:

It was on this date in 1777 that the Stars and Stripes was adopted as the official flag of the United States of America.

The first Flag Day observance was not held on the 100th anniversary of the adoption of the Stars and Stripes on June 14, 1877, as some sites might tell you, but read on my friend, this seems to the real story:

In 1861, at the start of the Civil War, a man named George Morris persuaded his city of Hartford, Conn., to undertake a patriotic celebration on behalf of the Union. But the concept didn't catch on, there or elsewhere.

Two decades later, in 1885, a 19-year-old Waubeka schoolteacher named Bernard Cigrand plunked a small flag into an inkwell on his desk and assigned his students to write essays on patriotism. Later he traveled the country to promote respect for the flag, becoming president of the American Flag Day Association.

In 1916, Cigrand, after years of toil, got President Woodrow Wilson, on May 30, 1916, to issue a proclamation calling for a nation wide observance of Flag Day.

In 1949, President Harry Truman signed an Act Of Congress designating the 14th day of June every year as National Flag Day.

So now you know. (You may now be seated and put your hat back on.)

June 14, 1949 -
This truly dark comedy, Kind Hearts and Coronets, starring the ever present Alec Guinness, was released on this date.

Initially Alec Guinness was only offered four of the roles; it was Guinness himself who insisted on playing all eight.

June 14, 1967 -
One of the iconic films from the 60s, the British drama To Sir, with Love, starring Sidney Poitier premiered in the US on this date.

Sidney Poitier was appointed an Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1974. (He's a native of the Bahamas, part of the Commonwealth of British Nations.) This is not an honorary award. He is entitled to be known as Sir Sidney Poitier, but does not use it himself.

June 14, 1976 -
The Gong Show debuted on NBC on this date. People with dubious talents perform their acts before a celebrity panel of judges, who are free to eject the performer at any time by banging a large gong. The best non-gonged performer each night wins $516.32.

During the time the show is on the air, it's creator, Chuck Barris, suffered a complete mental breakdown, he said from the stress of being a secret CIA hit man.

No really, I'm not kidding you.

June 14, 1985 -
One of John Houston's last films, the black comedy Prizzi's Honor, opened on this date.

Julie Bovasso taught Jack Nicholson how to speak "Brooklynese". Researching the role, he hung out in lowlife dives in Brooklyn.

A message from outer space

Today in History:
June 14, 1648 -
Midwife Margaret Jones was hanged in Boston for witchcraft on this date.

It is the first such execution for the Massachusetts colony, but not the first in the colonies.

June 14, 1940 -
Rick Blaine and Ilsa Lund had a quick drink as they planned to leave Paris ahead of the Nazi invasion. Little does Rick know that Ilsa does not plan to join him (but that's another story ....)

Paris falls to the Nazis on this date. Marshal Philippe Petain became the head of the French government and sued for peace. Gertrude Stein translated Petain's speeches and hailed him as a hero of the French nation.

And sometimes, a rose is just a collaborator.

June 14, 1946 -
My whole life is about winning. I don't lose often. I almost never lose.

Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States was born on this date.  That's all I'm going to say.

June 14, 1954 -
At the Lincoln Memorial, President Dwight Eisenhower signs a law inserting the words "under God" into the Pledge of Allegiance. Eisenhower declares: "From this day forward, the millions of our schoolchildren will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural schoolhouse, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty." Precisely which Almighty is left to the listener's imagination.

This year, I'd like to think that Ike was thinking about the Mayan god - Backlum Chaam.

June 14, 1961 -
I suppose there is a lot of toughness in me.

1980s pop music star George Alan O'Dowd was born in Kent, England on this date.

June 14, 1962 -
Albert Henry DeSalvo, a small time petty criminal confessed that he murdered Anna Slesersby, a petite divorcee, by strangling her with the belt from her robe on this date. She was only the first victim of The Boston Strangler.

Or did he? (Yeah apparently, he did; as of a few years ago there was positive DNA evidence to link DeSalvo to the crimes.)

June 14, 1966 -
The Vatican announced the abolition of its Index librorum prohibitorum (Index of Prohibited Books), originally instituted in 1557 by Pope Paul IV. Notable novelists on the list were Laurence Sterne, Voltaire, Daniel Defoe, Honor de Balzac, Jean-Paul Sartre.

If you are ever in doubt of what to read - check out the Index.

June 14, 1989 -
Zsa Zsa Gabor was arrested for slapping a Beverly Hills police officer and driving with an expired license. Afterwards Zsa Zsa complains to the press that the handling she received from the BHPD "was like Nazi Germany."

Ultimately, Gabor is convicted and sentenced to 72 hours in jail.

And on a personal note:
Happy Birthday Thierry

Also, congratulations to Tracy K. Smith, America's New Poet Laureate.


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