Wednesday

Sep. 2, 1998

Walking the Dog

by Howard Nemerov

WEDNESDAY 9/2

Today's Reading: "Walking the Dog" by Howard Nemerov from TRYING CONCLUSIONS, published by University of Chicago Press.

On this day in 1945—also called V-J Day—World War Two came to an end in Tokyo Bay, on the deck of the battleship the U.S.S. Missouri. The Japanese foreign minister signed the unconditional surrender announced by Emperor Hirohito the previous month.

And on this day in 1945, in Hanoi, the nationalist leader HO CHI MINH proclaimed the independence of Vietnam from all colonial powers. He said the new nation would be called the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, and declared himself its first president. But even though he had wide support in Vietnam, France had no intention of giving up Indochina, and did not recognize the new republic.

It's the birthday of the American poet and journalist EUGENE FIELD, born in St. Louis (1850). Much to his disgust, he was often called the Poet of Childhood. Of his poems, "Wynken, Blynken and Nod" and "Little Boy Blue" have become classics of a sort.

It's the birthday, in Honolulu of LILIUOKALANI [lih LEE uh WOE kuh LAWN eeh], in 1838, Queen of the Hawaiian Islands before they were annexed by the United States in 1898. A bitter foe of annexation, Queen Liliuokalani led the "Stand Firm" movement. In 1895 an insurrection in the queen's name was put down by Sanford B. Dole and his Missionary Party, and Liliuokalani, kept under house arrest on charges of treason, formally abdicated—then withdrew from public life to write her memoirs.

THE GREAT FIRE OF LONDON started on this day in 1666 at a bakery on Pudding Lane and spreading to the neighboring warehouse which stored tar barrels, causing a sudden explosion. The fire destroyed 13,000 buildings and homes within four days.

On this day in 1189, Richard the First was crowned in Westminster Cathedral, London. The crown came from his father, King Henry the Second of England, from whom Richard forcibly took it. His first act as the new king was to free his mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, from the Tower of London, where his father had imprisoned her 16 years earlier.

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