We the People

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Politics and civil commentary with community columnist John Eyster.

Class finds no shortage of important events for Feb. 4

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John W. Eyster
Thursday, February 6, 2014

Tuesday, February 4—I wrote the post for my WE THE PEOPLE blog thinking that that date would be just a routine day in history. I did KNOW that the Electoral College UNANIMOUSLY elected George Washington first president and John Adams first vice-president of the United States as provided in the newly ratified US Constitution.

I invited my students at UW-Whitewater to help me search for other notes for the history of the 4th of February. I was amazed by the HISTORY of the 4th of February. I want to share the items noted by my students. There are a couple which have a couple possible dates depending on the source used.

2007—Payton Manning's first Super Bowl XLI

2004—Mark Zuckerberg launches Facebook

1976—7.5 earthquake hit Guatemala & Honduras killing 22,778.

1952—Jackie Robinson is the first Black to be manager of a major TV station, WNBC—New York.

1945—Yalta Talks w/Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin meet in Yalta

1936—Chemical element, Radium discovered.

1932—First Winter Olympics held in US at Lake Placid

1913—Rosa Parks born—Key person in US Civil Rights movement

1849—UW-Madison held its FIRST class. (Generally, I think the 5th of February is celebrated.)

1787—End of Shay's Rebellion which contributed to movement for a new US Constitution

I'm intrigued by the idea of choosing ANY date and finding out what were the events of that date. Which DATE are you going to check? WHY that date?

One interesting date could be YOUR BIRTH DATE. My own birth date is October 12 which has been identified as “Columbus Day" and been celebrated on the ACTUAL DATE since 1792. Then “Columbus Day” was moved perpetually to the 2nd Monday of October when our US Congress passed the "Uniform Monday Holiday Act" on January 16, 1968 and signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on June 28, 1968. It became effective on January 1, 1971.

I am an advocate to change the label on "Columbus Day" to either "Explorers' Day" to recognize ALL of the explorer's involved with discovering North America. I do NOT agree with Bill McClellan's column, "Columbus Day or Explorers Day? McClelland is a traditionalist" OR "Native Americans' Day" or "Indigenous Peoples' Day" to recognize the "victims" of the explorers. Various states designate the 3rd Monday of October with different labels. What do YOU think?

You may have special interest to read more about the shift of "Veteran's Day" from the 11th of November to the 4th Monday of October which was then returned to the 11th of November in 1978 due to PUBLIC OUTCRY of the distortion of the HISTORY of this date.

This is an appropriate time to alert you to the fact that this law did NOT create "President's Day." Rather, the law moved George Washington's Birthday to the 3rd Monday in February. George Washington's Birthday is a FEDERAL HOLIDAY. The designation "President's Day" is NOT based on federal law, it is due to advertisers and the media. I think it is interesting that the Congress did NOT play with Abraham Lincoln's Birthday which is February 12.

I suggest you read John Christian Hoyle's informative article, "President's Day: Long-Standing Misnomer" published by The Christian Science Monitor on February 13, 1998.

If you search a date, I'll be interested to read your COMMENT identifying the reason you chose that date and the events you found on that date in history.

John W. Eyster lives in the Edgerton area. He is an adjunct professor assigned with the online/distance education faculty of Viterbo University, LaCrosse. He continues his personal mission supporting democracy/civics education in Wisconsin K-12 schools through Project Citizen, We the People, Discovering Democracy (Milton HS). John is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff or management.

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