This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.
Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
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May 21 is the 141st day of the year (142nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 224 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day in 1881, the American Red Cross was established in Washington, D.C. by Clara Barton, who became the first president of the organization.
Clara Barton (1821-1912) had a career as a teacher and federal bureaucrat when the American Civil War broke out. Barton liked teaching when she was younger. All of her older siblings became teachers. Her youngest sibling was 12 years of age, when Barton was born. Her brother David was always like a teacher to her. She taught her first class, at age 17. She also expanded her concept of soldier aid, traveling to Camp Parole, Maryland, to organize a program for locating men listed as missing in action. Through interviews with Federals returning from Southern prisons, she was often able to determine the status of some of the missing and notify families.
After performing humanitarian work during and after the conflict, on advice of her doctors, in 1869, she went to Europe for a restful vacation. There, she saw and became involved in the work of the International Red Cross during the Franco-Prussian War, and determined to bring the organization home with her to America.
When Barton began the organizing work in the U.S. in 1873, no one thought the country would ever again face an experience like the Civil War. However, Barton was not one to lose hope in the face of the bureaucracy, and she finally succeeded during the administration of President Chester A. Arthur on the basis that the new American Red Cross organization could also be available to respond to other types of crisis.
As Barton expanded the original concept of the Red Cross to include assisting in any great national disaster, this service brought the United States the “Good Samaritan of Nations” label in the International Red Cross. Barton became President of the American branch of the society, known officially as the American National Red Cross. Soon after the initial May 1881 meeting in Washington, on August 22, 1881, the first local chapter of the Red Cross was formed in village of Dansville, New York, where Barton kept a part-time residence between 1876 and 1886. Subsequent local chapters were established in Rochester and Syracuse. Ultimately, John D. Rockefeller, along with four others and the federal government, gave money to create a national headquarters in Washington, D.C., located one block from the White House.
293 – Roman Emperors Diocletian and Maximian appoint Galerius as Caesar to Diocletian, beginning the period of four rulers known as the Tetrarchy.
878 – Syracuse, Italy is captured by the Muslim sultan of Sicily.
879 – Pope John VIII gives blessings to duke Branimir and to Croatian people, considered to be international recognition of the Croatian state.
996 – Sixteen-year-old Otto III is crowned Holy Roman Emperor.
1502 – The island of Saint Helena is discovered by the Portuguese explorer Joao da Nova.
1725 – The Order of St. Alexander Nevsky is instituted in Russia by Empress Catherine I. It would later be discontinued and then reinstated by the Soviet government in 1942 as the Order of Alexander Nevsky.
1809 – The first day of the Battle of Aspern-Essling between the Austrian army led by Archduke Charles and the French army led by Napoleon I of France sees the French attack across the Danube held.
1851 – Slavery is abolished in Colombia, South America.
1856 – Lawrence, Kansas is captured and burned by pro-slavery forces.
1863 – American Civil War: The Union Army succeeds in closing off the last escape route from Port Hudson, Louisiana, in preparation for the coming siege.
1863 – Organization of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Battle Creek, Michigan.
1864 – Russia declares an end to the Russian-Circassian War and many Circassians are forced into exile. The day is designated the Circassian Day of Mourning.
1871 – French troops invade the Paris Commune and engage its residents in street fighting. By the close of “Bloody Week” some 20,000 communards have been killed and 38,000 arrested.
1871 – Opening of the first rack railway in Europe, the Rigi-Bahnen on Mount Rigi.
1879 – War of the Pacific: Two Chilean ships blocking the harbor of Iquique (then belonging to Peru) battle two Peruvian vessels in the Battle of Iquique.
1881 – The American Red Cross is established by Clara Barton.
1894 – The Manchester Ship Canal in England is officially opened by Queen Victoria, who knights its designer Sir Edward Leader Williams.
1904 – The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) is founded in Paris.
1911 – Mexican President Porfirio Díaz and the revolutionary Francisco Madero sign the Treaty of Ciudad Juarez to put an end to the fighting between the forces of both men, and thus concluding the initial phase of the Mexican Revolution.
1917 – The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is established through Royal Charter to mark, record and maintain the graves and places of commemoration of Commonwealth of Nations military forces.
1917 – The Great Atlanta fire of 1917.
1924 – University of Chicago students Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold, Jr. murder 14-year-old Bobby Franks in a “thrill killing”.
1927 – Charles Lindbergh touches down at Le Bourget Field in Paris, completing the world’s first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean.
1932 – Bad weather forces Amelia Earhart to land in a pasture in Derry, Northern Ireland, and she thereby becomes the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.
1934 – Oskaloosa, Iowa, becomes the first municipality in the United States to fingerprint all of its citizens.
1936 – Sada Abe is arrested after wandering the streets of Tokyo for days with her dead lover’s severed genitals in her hand. Her story soon becomes one of Japan’s most notorious scandals.
1937 – A Soviet station becomes the first scientific research settlement to operate on the drift ice of the Arctic Ocean.
1939 – The Canadian National War Memorial is unveiled by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in Ottawa.
1946 – Physicist Louis Slotin is fatally irradiated in a criticality incident during an experiment with the Demon core at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
1951 – The opening of the Ninth Street Show, otherwise known as the 9th Street Art Exhibition – a gathering of a number of notable artists, and the stepping-out of the post war New York avant-garde, collectively known as the New York School.
1961 – American civil rights movement: Alabama Governor John Malcolm Patterson declares martial law in an attempt to restore order after race riots break out.
1966 – The Ulster Volunteer Force declares war on the Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland.
1969 – Civil unrest in Rosario, Argentina, known as Rosariazo, following the death of a 15-year-old student.
1972 – Michelangelo’s Pieta in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome is damaged by a vandal, the mentally disturbed Hungarian geologist Laszlo Toth.
1979 – White Night riots in San Francisco following the manslaughter conviction of Dan White for the assassinations of George Moscone and Harvey Milk.
1981 – Irish Republican hunger strikers Raymond McCreesh and Patsy O’Hara die on hunger strike in Maze prison.
1982 – Falklands War: British amphibious assault during Operation Sutton lead to the Battle of San Carlos.
1990 – Democratic Republic of Yemen and North Yemen agree to merge into the Republic of Yemen.
1991 – Former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi is assassinated by a female suicide bomber near Madras.
1991 – Mengistu Haile Mariam, president of the People’s Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, flees Ethiopia, effectively bringing the Ethiopian Civil War to an end.
1994 – The Democratic Republic of Yemen unsuccessful attempts to secede from Republic of Yemen; a war breaks out.
1998 – In Miami, Florida, five abortion clinics are hit by a butyric acid attacker.
2001 – French Taubira law officially recognizes the Atlantic slave trade and slavery as crimes against humanity.
2003 – An earthquake hits northern Algeria killing more than 2,000 people.
2005 – The tallest roller coaster in the world, Kingda Ka opens at Six Flags Great Adventure.
2006 – The Republic of Montenegro holds a referendum proposing independence from the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro. The Montenegrin people choose independence with a majority of 55%.
2010 – JAXA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, launches the solar-sail spacecraft IKAROS aboard an H-IIA rocket. The vessel would make a Venus flyby late in the year.
2012 – In Qafa e Vishës bus tragedy near Himara, Albania 13 students of Aleksandër Xhuvani University killed in bus crash.
2012 – A suicide bombing kills more than 120 people in Sana’a, Yemen.
2014 – A knife attack on a Taipei Metro train leaves four people dead and almost two dozen others injured.
2014 – The National September 11 Museum opens to the public.
* Afro-Colombian Day (Colombia)
* Christian Feast Day:
Charles-Joseph-Eugene de Mazenod
Emperor Constantine I
Earliest day on which Corpus Christi can fall, while June 24 is the latest; held on Thursday after Trinity Sunday. (Roman Catholic Church)
Helena of Constantinople, also known as “Feast of the Holy Great Sovereigns Constantine and Helen, Equal-to-the-Apostles.” (Eastern Orthodox Church)
May 21 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)
* Circassian Day of Mourning (Circassians)
* Day of Patriots and Military (Hungary)
* Independence Day, honors the 2006
plebiscite that indicated that 55.5% of Montenegrins were in favor of becoming a sovereign nation. (Montenegro)
* Navy Day (Chile)
* Saint Helena Day, celebrates the discovery of Saint Helena in 1502.
* World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development (International)