Looking Back

Some days I just want to forget about everything and honor the Chinese for inventing sunglasses 820 years ago on this day, July 1, in the year 1200.

Now whenever I put on my shades and my eyes don’t ache from the sun, I will think of China.

I would much rather think about what Guy of Dampierre, the second son of William II of Dampierre and Margaret II of Flanders, was doing on this day in 1253 and how it was a rather dark time for Protestants who were burned at the stake in the Netherlands.

Sorry Trump, the world didn’t begin and won’t end with you. In fact, you are but a pimple on the butt of history compared with other events. Here are just a few of the events, big and small, some well-known and some not so much, that marked July 1 through the ages. The events are chosen at random, with no special import, something like the 2016 presidential election.

The war between Holland and Flanders started on July 1, 1253, when Guy of Dampierre led a force of French soldiers at West Kapelle on Walcheren. For those who aren’t up on Flemish history, Guy was the second son of William II of Dampierre and Margaret II of Flanders.

That day Guy was beaten back by the Hollanders and Zealanders, marking the first major victory of the Hollanders over the Flemings.

And in the Netherlands, the embers were hot as the first Protestants were burned at the stake on this day in 1517.

Matsuo Basho, zen poet, left on this day in 1689 for a journey of 150 days to Honshu, Japan. Bashō was the most famous poet of the Edo period in Japan and is recognized as the greatest master of haiku, a three-line poem with 17 syllables, as in “the first cold shower, even the monkey seems to want, a little coat of straw” or “Old pond, frog leaps in, water’s sound.”

On to an issue of more local note, the first vote on the Declaration of Independence was on July 1, 1776, three days before the country formally cut ties to England.

The magnetic North Pole was beckoning as on this day in 1831, Admiral James Cross reached the pole.

And for perspective on the national pastime, this was the day in 1859 when Amherst beats Williams in the first intercollegiate baseball game in Pittsfield, Mass. In a pitchers’ duel, Amherst won 66–32.

In Russia, it was a good day for the Jewish population because on this day in 1862 Czar Alexander II granted Jews the right to publish books.

And the next year, on July 1, 1863, union soldiers halted the rebel advance by defeating Gen. Robert E. Lee’s troops at the battle of Gettysburg.

And the same day in 1863, while the U.S. was being torn apart over slavery, Suriname and Dutch Antilles abolished slavery. And they did it without mass bloodshed.

And for a fact that every bright-minded person knows, July 1, 1879, was the date that ex-Khedive (commonly known as viceroy) Ismael Pasha lost his job.

Pasha, who liked to be called Ismail the Magnificent, was the Khedive of Egypt and Sudan from 1863 to 1879, when he was removed on this day at the behest of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

Fast forward 19 years to July 1, 1898, when future president Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders charged up San Juan Hill, on the way to a major victory of the U.S.in the Spanish-American War, fueled by the yellow journalism of William Randolph Hearst.

Albert Einstein was rather busy on July 1, 1905, when he introduced his theory of special relativity which turned the world of physics on its head. The theory of special relativity explains how space and time are linked for objects that are moving at a consistent speed in a straight line. As an object approaches the speed of light, its mass becomes infinite and it is unable to go any faster than light travels. Got it?

In a totally unrelated action, six years later, the Canadian government removed the words “Dei Gratia” (by the Grace of God) from Canadian coins. The U.S. never followed suit as “In God We Trust” remains on our money.

It was a bloody day on July 1, 1916, when the British Army lost 19,240 men to the Germans in the Battle of the Somme in World War I, one of the bloodiest battles in history. The 17-day battle did not end the war and did end up with one million men wounded or killed.

Back home, a year later, race riots rocked East St.Louis, Ill., with 40 to 200 people killed, depending on the source.

A moment of monumental import came on July 1, 1921, when the Communist Party of China was founded and Chen Duxiu elected its leader.

On July 1, 1937, Spanish bishops announced their support for President Francisco Franco and his fascist movement. So much for religion supporting the good guys.

Three years later to the day, in 1940, Australia showed its colors when it refused entry to Dutch Jewish refugees. Thank you Australia, which was not alone in the international community, in turning away Jews who were trying to flee the Nazi killers.

The German V2 rockets were quite successful during World War II and on July 1, 1944, more than 2,500 Brits were killed by rockets in southeast England.

And not to be outdone, from the sublime to the ridiculous, Khalid Hasan took his rightful post in history on July 1, 1954. That day, the Pakistani cricket leg-spinner made his “test debut” against England at the age of 16 years 352 days, then a world record.

And as any cricket aficianado knows, the leg spin is a type of spin bowling in cricket. Also called leggie, the ball is thrown with a wrist spin causing the ball to spin from right to left when the ball bounces, away from the leg side of a right-handed batsman.

So yes, there has been a lot going on, apart from the insanity being proffered by President Bone Spurs and his administration.




Journalist for 40 years and now a creative writer

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Phil Garber

Phil Garber

Journalist for 40 years and now a creative writer

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