Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
August 21 is the 233rd day of the year (234th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 132 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day in 1959, Hawaii became our 50th state. Hawaii is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It occupies most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of Australia. Hawaii’s natural beauty, warm tropical climate, inviting waters and waves, and active volcanoes make it a popular destination for tourists, surfers, biologists, and volcanologists alike. Due to its mid-Pacific location, Hawaii has many North American and Asian influences along with its own vibrant native culture. Hawaii has over a million permanent residents along with many visitors and U.S. military personnel. Its capital is Honolulu on the island of Oahu.
The state encompasses nearly the entire volcanic Hawaiian Island chain, which comprises hundreds of islands spread over 1,500 miles (2,400 km). At the southeastern end of the archipelago, the eight “main islands” are (from the northwest to southeast) Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe, Maui, and Hawaii. The last is by far the largest and is often called “The Big Island” to avoid confusion with the state as a whole. The archipelago is physiographically and ethnologically part of the Polynesian subregion of Oceania.
The first known settlers of the Hawaiian Islands were Polynesian voyagers who arrived sometime in the eighth century. In the early 18th century, American traders came to Hawaii to exploit the islands’ sandalwood, which was much valued in China at the time. In the 1830s, the sugar industry was introduced to Hawaii and by the mid 19th century had become well established. American missionaries and planters brought about great changes in Hawaiian political, cultural, economic, and religious life. In 1840, a constitutional monarchy was established, stripping the Hawaiian monarch of much of his authority.
In 1893, a group of American expatriates and sugar planters supported by a division of U.S. Marines deposed Queen Liliuokalani, the last reigning monarch of Hawaii. One year later, the Republic of Hawaii was established as a U.S. protectorate with Hawaiian-born Sanford B. Dole as president. Many in Congress opposed the formal annexation of Hawaii, and it was not until 1898, following the use of the naval base at Pearl Harbor during the Spanish-American War, that Hawaii’s strategic importance became evident and formal annexation was approved. Two years later, Hawaii was organized into a formal U.S. territory. During World War II, Hawaii became firmly ensconced in the American national identity following the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941.
Admission, or Statehood, Day is an official state holiday. It is the home state of President Barack Obama, the only President from that state and one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. The pictures were the very hard to select. The second picture (above) is an aerial view of Diamond Head.
Diamond Head is a dormant volcanic cone on the island of Oahu. It is called Le’ahi by Hawaiians, most likely from lae ‘browridge, promontory’ plus ‘ahi ‘tuna’ because the shape of the ridgeline resembles the shape of a tuna’s dorsal fin. Its English name was given by British sailors in the 19th century, who mistook calcite crystals embedded in the rock for diamonds.
Then of course there are volcanoes at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The first picture on the left is the more famous of the volcanoes, Mauna Loa which is the largest volcano on Earth by volume and area and one of the five volcanoes in that form the islands.
1192 – Minamoto Yoritomo becomes Seii Tai Shogun and the de facto ruler of Japan. (Traditional Japanese date: July 12, 1192)
1680 – Pueblo Indians capture Santa Fe from Spanish during the Pueblo Revolt.
1760 – The church (later cathedral) of “Our Lady of Candlemas of Mayaguez (Puerto Rico)” is founded, establishing the basis for the founding of the city.
1770 – James Cook formally claims eastern Australia for Great Britain, naming it New South Wales.
1772 – King Gustav III completes his coup d’etat by adopting a new Constitution, ending half a century of parliamentary rule in Sweden and installing himself as an enlightened despot.
1831 – Nat Turner leads black slaves and free blacks in a rebellion.
1852 – Tlingit Indians destroy Fort Selkirk, Yukon Territory.
1863 – Lawrence, Kansas is destroyed by Confederate guerrillas Quantrill’s Raiders in the Lawrence Massacre.
1878 – The American Bar Association is founded.
1888 – The first successful adding machine in the United States is patented by William Seward Burroughs.
1911 – The Mona Lisa is stolen by a Louvre employee.
1918 – World War I: The Second Battle of the Somme begins.
1928 – WRNY began regularly scheduled television broadcasts in New York City.
1942 – World War II: a Nazi flag is installed atop the Mount Elbrus.
1942 – World War II: Allied forces involved in the Guadalcanal campaign defeated an attack by Imperial Japanese Army soldiers in the Battle of the Tenaru.
1944 – Dumbarton Oaks Conference, prelude to the United Nations, begins.
1945 – Physicist Harry K. Daghlian, Jr. is fatally irradiated in a criticality incident during an experiment with the Demon core at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
1959 – President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs an executive order proclaiming Hawaii the 50th state of the union. Hawaii’s admission is currently commemorated by Hawaii Admission Day
1963 – Xa Loi Pagoda raids: the Army of the Republic of Vietnam Special Forces loyal to Ngo Dinh Nhu, brother of President Ngo Dinh Diem, vandalises Buddhist pagodas across the country, arresting thousands and leaving an estimated hundreds dead.
1968 – Soviet Union-dominated Warsaw Pact troops invade Czechoslovakia, crushing the Prague Spring; on the same day, Nicolae Ceausescu, leader of Communist Romania, publicly condemns the Soviet maneuver, encouraging the Romanian population to arm itself against possible Soviet reprisals.
1968 – James Anderson, Jr. posthumously receives the first Medal of Honor to be awarded to an African American U.S. Marine.
1969 – An Australian, Michael Dennis Rohan, sets the Al-Aqsa Mosque on fire
1971 – A bomb exploded in the Liberal Party campaign rally in Plaza Miranda, Manila, Philippines with several anti-Marcos political candidates injured.
1983 – Philippine opposition leader Benigno Aquino, Jr. is assassinated at the Manila International Airport (now renamed Ninoy Aquino International Airport).
1986 – Carbon dioxide gas erupts from volcanic Lake Nyos in Cameroon, killing up to 1,800 people within a 20-kilometer range.
1991 – Latvia declares renewal of its full independence after the occupation of Soviet Union.
1991 – Coup attempt against Mikhail Gorbachev collapses.
1992 – Ruby Ridge Standoff in Idaho
1993 – NASA loses contact with the Mars Observer spacecraft.
2001 – NATO decides to send a peace-keeping force to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
2001 – The Red Cross announces that a famine is striking Tajikistan, and calls for international financial aid for Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
2007 – Hurricane Dean makes its first landfall in Costa Maya, Mexico with winds at 165 mph (266 km/h). Dean is the first storm since Hurricane Andrew to make landfall as a Category 5.
* Christian Feast Day:
* Abraham of Smolensk (Eastern Orthodox Church)
* Euprepius of Verona
* Maximilian of Antioch
* Pope St. Pius X
* Sidonius Apollinaris
* August 21 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)
* Consualia, in honor of Consus. (Roman Empire)
* Ninoy Aquino Day (Philippines)
* Youth Day/King Mohammed VI’s Birthday (Morocco)