Blog Posts

History of John Adams

June 29, 2024 /
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John AdamsHISTORY OF THE 4TH OF JULY: JOHN ADAMS

Before John Adams became the first Vice President of the United States under George Washington, the second President of the United States, the first resident of the White House, and the writer of the Massachusetts State Constitution, he was one of the creators of the Declaration of Independence during the Revolutionary War.

What was he like? How did he and Jefferson get along? What were his views on government and religion?

 

John Adams and the Committee of Five

He was on the Committee of Five and was seven years senior to the 33-year-old Thomas Jefferson, but realized that Jefferson was the more eloquent writer.

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History of the 4th of July: Thomas Jefferson

June 28, 2024 /
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presidential portrait of thomas jefferson (by rembrandt peale, 1800)fxdHISTORY OF THE 4th OF JULY: THOMAS JEFFERSON

Beginning our series on the History of the 4th of July featuring the Founding Fathers

Perhaps no one person is more associated with the 4th of July in American history than Thomas Jefferson, probably because it was his hand that penned the immortal Declaration of Independence.

As my friend Clay Jenkinson – who has been portraying Jefferson for over 40 years – says in his book Thomas Jefferson: The Man of Light:

“The Third President is the Muse of American life, the chief articulator of our national value system and our national self-identity. Jefferson was a man of almost unbelievable achievement: statesman, man of letters, architect, scientist, book collector, political strategist, and utopian visionary. But he is also a man of paradox: liberty-loving slaveholder, Indian-loving relocationist, publicly frugal and privately bankrupt, a constitutional conservative who bought the Louisiana Territory in 1803.”

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History of Saints Peter and Paul Day

June 27, 2024 /
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greco, el sts peter and paul

Saint Peter and Saint Paul, by El Greco (1587-1592)

HISTORY OF SAINTS PETER AND PAUL DAY

June 29 marks the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul. It is a liturgical feast also called the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul.

 

Why Not a Separate Feast Day for Each?

Each of these men is a major figure in the history of Christianity, and each is a significant contributor to the writings of the New Testament.

Wouldn’t you think they’d each get their own feast day?

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History of All You Need Is Love, by The Beatles

June 25, 2024 /
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All You Need Is LoveHISTORY OF ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE, BY THE BEATLES

On June 25, 1967, The Beatles released the song “All You Need Is Love.”

At that time, they participated in the Our World TV show, which used the recently constructed communication satellite system and broadcast their performance across the globe. Beatles drummer Ringo Starr said later,

“It was the first worldwide satellite broadcast ever.”

 

Impact of All You Need Is Love

With “All You Need Is Love,” the Beatles released the anthem of flower power – during the Summer of Love – as I’ve written previously about the prominence that summer of their recently released album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Global_Beatles_Day_promotional_posterIt was broadcast live on TV in 24 countries to over 400 million viewers. The single was later included in the U.S. version of the album Magical Mystery Tour and in the animated movie Yellow Submarine. Since 2009, Global Beatles Day, an international celebration of the Beatles’ music and social message, has taken place on June 25 each year in tribute.

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History of St. John the Baptist Day: Midsummer

June 24, 2024 /
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St John the BaptistHISTORY OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST DAY

The Feast of St. John the Baptist, or the Nativity of St John the Forerunner, sometimes called St. John the Baptist Day, is celebrated on June 24 in many places worldwide, though not much in the United States, as we’ll see below.

The celebration of the Feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist goes back at least a millennium and a half. The Council of Agde mentions the feast in 506 AD in its list of festivals. Most saints’ festivals are tied to their death, but John’s is an exception, being connected to his birth.

This famous painting of John the Baptist, at left, by Leonardo da Vinci, believed to be the artist’s last painting, hangs in the Louvre Museum in Paris.

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Science of the Strawberry Moon

June 21, 2024 /
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full moon rising behind chasseral during sunset photo by giles laurentScience of the Strawberry Moon

Strawberries emerge in May and ripen in June, giving their name to June’s Full Moon. This Strawberry Moon, which often coincides with the Summer Solstice, will reach peak illumination in the United States on Friday, June 21, at 9:08 p.m., E.T.

It also goes by other names: Green Corn Moon, Hot Moon, and Berries Ripen Moon.

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Science of the Summer Solstice: Start of Summer

June 19, 2024 /
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Summer SolsticeSCIENCE OF THE SUMMER SOLSTICE

Solstice comes from the Latin word solstitium, meaning “Sun, standing still.” The Summer Solstice occurs on June 20 at 20:51 UTC, Coordinated Universal Time, Zulu Time, or roughly Greenwich Mean Time. Greenwich, England, is the prime meridian — the zero point for longitude lines.

Why is UTC the abbreviation for Coordinated Universal Time?

The acronym came about as a compromise between English and French speakers: Coordinated Universal Time would normally be abbreviated as CUT, and the French name Temps Universel Coordonné would be TUC.

 

Summer Time and the Summer Solstice

This is also known as the Northern Solstice because the Sun is positioned directly above the Tropic of Cancer in the Northern Hemisphere.

  • This time of year is known as Midsummer, though the official Midsummer Day is actually celebrated on June 24, thanks to differences between the Julian and Gregorian calendars.

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History of Juneteenth: and the Emancipation Proclamation

June 18, 2024 /
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Juneteenth

Juneteenth Stamp

HISTORY OF JUNETEENTH: and the Emancipation Proclamation

June Nineteenth, or Juneteenth, historically marked the celebration of the emancipation of African-American slaves in Texas in 1865. While the annual celebration started in Texas the following year in 1866 – and became an official Texas state holiday there in 1980 – this formerly obscure holiday is now observed across the United States and around the world.

In 2021, Congress and the President made Juneteenth the 12th official federal holiday. It is celebrated with church-centered celebrations, parades, fairs, backyard parties, games, contests, and cookouts.

Now it goes by many names and has often been celebrated on the third Saturday in June. It is also known as Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Juneteenth National Independence Day, and Black Independence Day.

Britannica.com calls it a “holiday commemorating the end of slavery,” and the History Channel says that it “commemorates an effective end of slavery in the United States.”

But was it? What is the origin of this holiday that is almost 160 years old?

 

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History of Father’s Day: the Beginning

June 14, 2024 /
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Fathers DayHISTORY OF FATHER’S DAY: the Beginning

[NOTE: I wrote a more extended and serious version of this article for CBS.com several years ago. It has been published on their network of sites for major cities nationwide. You can find that article here.]

 

Origin of Father’s Day

The celebration of Father’s Day goes back to the beginning, actually to the Garden of Eden when Abel gave his father Adam a razor while his brother Cain gave his father a snake-skin tie. This was the beginning of Cain’s downward slide.

 

Contrasts

Scholars have debated for ages why Mother’s Day seems to be more honored than Father’s Day. This phenomenon has been compared to the difference in popularity between the Irish patron saint and the Italian patron saint.

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History of Flag Day

June 13, 2024 /
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Flag DayHISTORY OF FLAG DAY

June 14 is Flag Day in the United States. While it may not be as widely celebrated as other American holidays, it is one of the oldest.

It was resolved by the Second Continental Congress in 1777, even before the conclusion of the American War of Independence, the Revolutionary War.

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History of Shavuot: The Feast of Weeks

June 11, 2024 /
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Shavuot poster, late 1940sHISTORY OF SHAVUOT

Tonight at sunset, June 11, begins the Jewish holiday Shavuot, also known as the Feast of Weeks, and continues until sundown on June 13. The holiday, also known in Greek as Pentecost, is on the sixth day of the Hebrew lunarsolar calendar month of Sivan, which means that in the Gregorian solar calendar, it may occur between May 15 and June 14.

Shavuot, or Shavuos, is called the “Feast of Weeks” because it occurs seven weeks (7 × 7 days) or 50 days (inclusive) after the first day of the Jewish Passover. It is distinguished from the Christian Passover in that the date of this is tied to Easter, due to decisions made at the Christian ecumenical Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325.

Shavuot is one of the three pilgrimage festivals, holidays when work was forbidden, and Jews were to bring their sacrifices to the Temple in Jerusalem.

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History of D-Day: 80 Years Ago

June 4, 2024 /
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D-Day

HISTORY OF D-DAY

Why has D-Day captured the imagination of American consciousness for over three-quarters of a century?

 

Eighty years ago, on June 6, 1944, the Allies launched an offensive on the Normandy coast of France to liberate continental Europe from the Nazi German occupation. On Twitter/X, the hashtag is #DDay80

D-Day was the largest invasion by sea and air in history, literally turning the tide. It was the beginning of the end of the War. General Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of Allied Forces, sent the troops out that day:

“You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle.”

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