ON THIS DAY: August 20, 2020

August 20th is

Chocolate Pecan Pie Day

National Lemonade Day *

National Radio Day

World Mosquito Day *


MORE! ‘Noni’ Jabavu, Akira Kurosawa and Connie Chung, click



Estonia – Iseseisvuspäec
(Restored Independence Day)

Hungary – Saint Stephen’s Day
& National Day *

India – Akshay Urja Day
(Renewable Energy Day- Rajiv Gandhi Memorial *)

Morocco & Western Sahara – Revolution Day


On This Day in HISTORY

636 – The Battle of Yarmouk, fought for six days near today’s Syrian-Jordanian border, is won decisively by the Rashidun Caliphate over the Byzantine Empire, ending Byzantine control of Syria; The Caliphate wins a decisive victory, and annexes the Levant, the beginning of the first great wave of early Muslim conquests of the Christian-held portions of the Middle East

Modern-Day Yarmouk

1000 – The Hungarian state is founded by Stephen I; celebrated as National Day *

1083 – First Hungarian King Stephen I and his son Emeric are canonized

1457 – Seongjong of Joseon born, 9th King of the Joseon dynasty of Korea, ruling from 1469 to 1494, a period of growth and prosperity, revision and codification of the laws, and encouragement of Confucian scholars, who brought more liberal views to the court. But he also enacted the Widow Remarriage Ban in 1477, which strengthened the already existing social stigma against women who remarried, by barring their sons from public office. He condemned Yi Guji, a princess of his clan, to commit suicide, and her name was deleted from the royal family lineage, when it was discovered she had cohabited with her slave after being widowed, and given birth to a daughter. The slave was tortured to death

1630 – Maria van Oosterwijck born, Dutch ‘Golden Age’ painter; she specialized in richly detailed flower paintings; in the 1670s, she moved to Amsterdam.  Her studio was opposite the workshop of fellow flower painter Willem van Aelst. Van Aelst courted her, but she refused his hand, and he reportedly stopped pursuing her because her devotion to painting was more important to her. Van Oosterwijck remained single throughout her life, but she raised her nephew, who had been orphaned. More than a talented painter, she was a savvy businesswoman who gained the services of an agent in Amsterdam to market her pieces. Among her patrons were Louis XIV of France, the Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I, Augustus II the Strong, and William III of England. She also sold three pieces to the King of Poland. Despite her skillfully executed paintings of flowers being sought out by Dutch and other collectors, she was denied membership in the painters’ guild, because women were not allowed to join.  She taught her servant Geertgen Wyntges, also known as Geertje Pieters, to mix her paints, and trained her as a painter too. After van Oosterwijck died in 1693, Wyntges lived independently, supporting herself as a painter

Vanitas, a still-life, by Maria van Oosterwijck

1719 – Christian Mayer born in Moravia, German astronomer, Court Astronomer at Mannheim, a pioneer in the study of binary stars

1741 – Danish navigator Vitus Jonas Bering reaches Alaska

1775 – The Spanish establish Presidio San Augustin del Tucson, today the city of Tucson, in the state of Arizona

1778 – Bernardo O’Higgins born, Chilean independence leader, general and Supreme Director of Chile (1817-1823)

1841 – Maria Louise Pool, American author, noted for sketches of New England life; published in periodicals like the New York Evening Post and the New York Tribune, then collected in book form; noted for A Vacation in a Buggy; Tenting at Stony Beach; and The Two Salomes  

1866 – The National Labor Union campaigns for an 8-hour workday in the U.S.

1881 – Edgar Guest born in England, American poet and author

1882 – Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” debuts in Moscow

1885 – American premiere of Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado in New York City

1887 – Phan Khôi born, North Vietnamese journalist, author and intellectual leader of a Vietnamese variety of the Chinese Hundred Flowers Campaign, in which scholars were permitted to criticize the Communist regime. When Viet Nam was still under French occupation, Phan Khôi joined the Progressive Party in 1906 at the age of 19. In 1908, the French cracked down on the Progressive Movement, executing the leaders, and sending members, including Phan Khôi, to prison, but he was pardoned in 1909. He taught school, and began contributing to a number of newspapers under the pen name Chương Dân. Beginning in 1929, he worked as a newspaper editor. By 1956, he was the publisher and editor-in-chief of Nhân Văn (Humanities) and leader of the Nhân Văn – Giai Phẩm  (another progressive newspaper) Movement in Hanoi, which was campaigning for freedom of speech, of the press, and for democracy. The Vietnamese Communist Party was accused in the progressive papers of violating the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. In December 1956, the Communist Party forced both newspapers to close; by 1958, most of the dissidents had been arrested; some were publically tried, some were already in prison, while others were forced into public self-criticism.  Phan Khôi was under house arrest, his ideas and writings suppressed. He died suddenly on January 16, 1959, in his Hanoi home

1890 – H. P. Lovecraft born, American horror fiction, short stories and novels

1897 – Sir Ronald Ross, British physician, discovers that female mosquitoes transit malaria between humans. The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine has held annual celebrations of World Mosquito Day * since the 1930s

1901 – Salvatore Quasimodo born, Italian novelist and poet, 1959 Nobel Prize\

1910 – The “Big Burn” destroys 3 million acres of Washington, Idaho and Montana

1910 – Eero Saarinen born in Finland, American architect and industrial designer; noted for designing the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri 

Eero Saarinen, Tulip Chair, and TWA Flight Center at JFK International

1913 – Roger Wolcott Sperry born, American neurobiologist, co-winner of 1981 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine

1919 – ‘Noni’ (Helen Nontando) Jabavu born, one of the first Black South African women writers and journalists, and one of the earliest Black South African women to publish her autobiographies, The Ochre People and Drawn in Colour. She was a radio personality for the BBC, worked as a film technician, a semi-skilled engineer, and as an oxyacetylene welder working on bomber engine parts during WWII

1920 – The first commercial radio station, 8MK (now WWJ) goes on the air in Detroit, Michigan

1927 – John Boardman born, English archaeologist and Ancient Greek art historian; Lincoln Professor of Classical Archaeology and Art of Lincoln College, Oxford (1978-1994); Fellow of Merton College, Oxford (1963- 1978); Assistant Keeper at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford (1955-1959)

1940 – Exiled Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky attacked with an ice ax by a KGB agent, and dies the following day

1940 – British Prime Minister Winston Churchill delivers wartime speech on the Battle of Britain, praises the RAF airmen

1944 – Rajiv Gandhi * born, Indian National Congress politician; President of the Indian National Congress (1985-1991); Leader of the Opposition (1989-1990); Prime Minister of India (1984-1989). Like his mother, Indira Gandhi, he was assassinated. On May 21, 1991, a suicide bomber detonated a belt full of RDX explosives. The blast also 25 killed others

1946 – Connie Chung born, American television journalist, second woman co-anchor of network evening news

1948 – Robert Plant born, English singer-songwriter, lead singer for Led Zeppelin

1951 – Akira Kurosawa’s film Rashomon wins the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in Italy

1955 – Agnes Chan born in Hong Kong, Chinese singer; television and radio presenter in Japan; Doctor of Philosophy, and professor at Japanese universities; essayist and novelist, noted for her series, We All Are People Who Live on the Earth. Chan has been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and a supporter the Japan Committee for UNICEF since 1988.

1955 – Janet Royall born, Baroness Royall of Blaisdon, British Labour Co-operative Party politician and academic; Principal of Somerville College, Oxford since 2017; Leader of the House of Lords (2009-2010); became a member of the Privy Council in 2008, and Lord President of the Council (2008-2009); Lord Temporal of the House of Lords since 2004; head of the European Commission Office in Wales (2003)

1958 – Patricia Rozema born, Canadian film director-producer-writer; I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing, Mansfield Park, When Night Is Falling, Into the Forest

1960 – Senegal breaks from the Mali Federation, declaring its independence

1961 – Amanda S. Berry born, OBE; CEO of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) since 2000; BAFTA’s Director of Development and Events (1988-2000); Scottish Television Enterprises (1990-1997); London Weekend Television (LWT – 1989); Duncan Heath Associates (1983-1988)

1964 – LBJ signs $1 billion “war on poverty” Economic Opportunity Act

1965 – The Rolling Stones release their single “Satisfaction” in the U.S.

1967 – NY Times reviews Dolby noise reduction process for record and tape recording

1968 – Soviet-dominated Warsaw Pact invades Czechoslovakia, crushing Prague Spring

1977 – NASA launches Voyager 2 spacecraft, carrying a 12 inch copper phonograph record with greetings in dozens of languages, and also music and sounds of nature on Earth

The Sounds of Earth record cover

1980 – The UN Security Council condemns Israel’s declaration that all of Jerusalem is its capital – the U.S. abstains from voting

1988 – Peru adds its name to the Berne Convention copyright treaty

1988 – Sarah R. Lotfi born, American filmmaker, noted for films inspired by historical figures and events, including The Last Bogatyr and Menschen

1988 – ‘Black Saturday’ – During a severe drought, almost 250 fires burned in Yellowstone National Park between June and August of 1988. August 20 came to be known as ‘Black Saturday’ because it was the single worst day of destruction. 150,000 acres (610 km2) burned, more park land destroyed than in all the other fires combined that had been recorded since the park was established in 1872

1994 – Archbishop Antonio Quarracino of Buenos Aires, speaking on television declares that all lesbians and gay men should be “locked up in a ghetto” after earlier comparing homosexuality to bestiality

1998 – Canada’s Supreme Court rules Quebec can’t secede without federal consent

2007 – Michael Holthouse starts National Lemonade Day * in Houston, Texas, to celebrate the enterprise of America’s youth

2015 – Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras resigns over latest German economic bailout plan for the country.  Vassiliki Thanou-Christophilou, Court of Cassation president and Greece’s most senior judge, briefly becomes the nation’s first woman prime minister, from August 27 to September 21, 2015

Alexis Tsipras and Vassiliki Thanou-Christophilou

2017 – The Great American Eclipse: huge crowds gather at sites from Oregon to South Carolina which will be on the path of totality tomorrow, August 21, for the first total eclipse of the sun to be visible from coast to coast in the U.S. in 99 years

2019 – In El Salvador, Evelyn Beatríz Hernández Cruz is freed for a second time, after being tried again for the same charge of murder because she gave birth in a toilet to a stillborn baby. Hernández has always maintained her innocence, insisting that she did not realise when she was raped at age 17 that she had become pregnant, and that she lost consciousness during the birth. The judge in this trail concurred with the judge who had handled her previous appeal that there was insufficient evidence to convict. “Thank God, justice was served,” said Hernández outside the courthouse, surrounded by jubilant supporters, after the verdict was handed down. “I thank all of you who have supported me and thank everyone from around the world who has shown support.” In the last decade, 41 Salvadoran women have been freed as a result of dogged campaigning by domestic and international human rights groups, including six women in 2018. At least 16 other women are serving up to 35 years in jail, with four more facing trial.


About wordcloud9

Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for over 50 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband.
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