Tag Archives: Lyndon B. Johnson

Historian’s Almanac: January 4, 2015

Today is the fourth day of January, the first month in both the Julian and Gregorian calendars.  January is named after Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and transitions—doors, gates, passages, windows, etc., that sort of thing. Janus is an interesting character in Roman mythology, but that must wait for another time.

January is one of the seven months with thirty-one days.  It is the second month of winter and coldest month in most of the northern hemisphere.  Oh course, as one might expect it is the warmest month in most of the southern hemisphere, where it is the second month of summer.  It is the seasonally equivalent of July in the northern hemisphere, and, of course just the opposite in the southern hemisphere.

My reason for pointing out this trivia about January is because January 4, today, is National Trivia Day.  What other why to honor the holiday than to indulge oneself in a bit of really meaningless trivia.  January 4 is also National Spaghetti Day.  I guess that fact sets the menu for today.  However, if you want meatballs with your spaghetti, you may want to wait until March 3, when it will be National Meatball Day.

In his state of the union message in January, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared war on poverty and outlined his agenda for transforming America into a “Great Society”:  “This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America.”  LBJ was not the first, nor the last, to make war on poverty and bring economic justice to the citizens of the United States.

President Johnson aspired to be a second Franklin D. Roosevelt.  He hoped that his Great Society would complete what President Roosevelt’s New Deal began.  It wasn’t to be, unfortunately.  The Vietnam War ruined LBJ’s efforts, just it one might say that World War II undermined FDR’s efforts.

I must not fail to mention that today is the birthday of Sir Isaac Newton, perhaps the greatest scientist of the modern era.  By synthesizing the discoveries of the sixteenth-century Scientific Revolution, Newton provided a model of the universe that remains valid today, contrary to whatever the followers of Albert Einstein may claim.

I honor the memory of Albert Camus who died on this day in 1960.  Camus was one of the greatest literary figures of the post-World War II period.  He remains one of the best known of the so-called existentialist authors.

Until next time, be good to all God’s creation and always walk under the mercy.

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Historian’s Almanac for August 6, 2013

 On this day in 1926, the first feature-length motion picture with sound, Don Juan, starring the immortal John Barrymore was being shown at Warner Theatre (a.k.a. Piccadilly Theatre) in New York.  A ticket cost $10.00, that’s approximately $130.00 in today’s dollars, to see the nearly three-hour-long spectacular.  The first motion picture with sound was actually shown at the Paris Exposition of 1900.

 It’s the birthday of Andy Warhol (1928-1987) known as the “Prince of Pop.”  Warhol was one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century.  In 1961 a friend suggested that he paint something like a soup can.  He did. In 1962 Warhol had his first art exhibit in a gallery in Los Angeles.  He displayed 32 paintings of Campbell soup cans, one for each type of soup.  Warhol sold the entire set to an art dealer for $1000.  The dealer later sold the 32 small canvases for $15 million.  A signed, numbered, and authenticated print of a Campbell Soup can be purchased for around $1,200.  “An artist,” said Warhol, “is somebody who produces things people don’t need.”

 President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the 1965 Voting Rights Act into law, thus turning the once solid Democratic South over to the Republican Party.

In 1945, the United States carried out what many consider to have been the greatest war crime of the Second World War.  A B-29 bomber named the Enola Gay dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.  The debate over the motive for dropping the bomb, and a second one on Nagasaki just three days later, will never end.  The horror of it is vividly portrayed in John Hersey’s novel Hiroshima and in the graphic novel Barefoot Gen by Keiji Nakazawa, a survivor.

Finally, while thinking about the anniversary of the atomic bomb being dropped on Hiroshima, I was reminded of a USA program to explode an atomic bomb on the moon.  After the Russians launched their Sputnik satellite in 1957, American military leaders became fearful that the Russians might do to us what we did to the Japanese.  The result was a project called “A Study of Lunar Research Flights,” nicknamed “Project 119.”  It was intended to impress the Soviet leaders with America’s military might.  Physicist Leonard Reiffel was placed in charge of the project.  He was assisted by a graduate astronomy student by the name of Carl Sagan.  The event was to take place in 1959, but was abandoned, when someone suggested that it might possibly harm people on earth, other than the Japanese or Russians, we might assume.

Until next time, be good, do good, and always live under the mercy.