Nov. 20, 1998

Kilty Sue

by Marck L. Beggs

FRIDAY 11/20

Poem: "Kilty Sue," by Marck L. Beggs, in DOG MUSIC (St. Martin's Press, 1995).

It's the birthday of THOMAS CHATTERTON, the English poet born in 1752, Gloucestershire. He was only 17 years old when he took arsenic and died, but he already had a number of good poems behind him — most of them signed Thomas Rowley. He was dejected by the reception the poems got, and took his own life. But he was seen by the poets who came after him as the first great Romantic English poet, and Coleridge, Wordsworth, Shelley and Keats all wrote poems in his memory.

It's the birthday of the astronomer EDWIN POWELL HUBBLE, born in the town of Marshfield, in southern Missouri, 1889 — the man for whom the Hubble Space Telescope is named. Most of his work centered on the exploration of stars and nebulae outside the Milky Way. He discovered that many of them were much further away than previously thought — several hundred thousand light-years away, a discovery that forced astronomers to revise their ideas about the galaxy. And he discovered that other galaxies were receding from ours, that the universe was expanding.

It's ALISTAIR COOKE's birthday today; he's 90 years old, born in Manchester, England. He settled in New York in 1937, became a U.S. citizen in 1941, and eight years later began a weekly 15-minute radio program, Letter from America, giving his own interpretations of American history and culture. He is still writing his Letter from America—one of the longest-running radio shows.

It was on this day in 1945 that the NAZI WAR CRIMES TRIALS AT NUREMBERG began. The most famous was the Military Tribunal where the biggest names of Nazi Germany, men who represented the worst of the W.W. II atrocities were on trial, including Hermann Goering, Rudolf Hess, and Martin Bormann. The 21 defendants sat in two rows in the courtroom, charged with war crimes, offenses against humanity, or crimes against peace. Their trial lasted 10 months, and during that time the world learned about the death camps, the medical experiments on prisoners, the mass executions, and much else. Twelve death sentences were handed down, three life imprisonments, and four long prison terms; the rest acquitted. The most famous defendant, Goering, Hitler's second-in-command, cheated the gallows by swallowing poison just before his execution.

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