Feb. 15, 1999


by Billy Collins


Poem: Billy Collins, "Dharma," published in Poetry Magazine, August 1998.

It's PRESIDENT'S DAY, annually the third Monday in February, commemorating George Washington's birthday on the 22nd and Abraham Lincoln's on the 12th.

The Broadway and Hollywood composer HAROLD ARLEN was born on this day in 1905, in Buffalo, New York. He wrote over 500 songs, including "Stormy Weather," "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea," "Get Happy," and "Blues in the Night." The tune to "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" came to him when he was driving down a Los Angeles street—he scribbled it down right in the car.

The U.S. battleship MAINE exploded and sank in Havana Harbor 101 years ago today. Two hundred-sixty sailors lost their lives. She'd been sent there to protect Americans who were caught in Cuba's rebellion against Spain.

It was on this day in 1862 that Ulysses S. Grant launched a major assault on FORT DONELSON, TENNESSEE. And his capture of the fort a day later was the first major Union victory of the war. Grant's victory at Donelson caused President Lincoln to take notice of him, and promotions for Grant quickly followed.

Suffragist SUSAN B. ANTHONY was born on this day in Adams, Massachusetts, 1820. In 1872 led a group of women to the polls in Rochester—she was arrested and convicted, but refused to pay the fine. She continued to fight for suffrage right up until the end of her life. She was an avid bicyclist and said, "Bicycling has done more to emancipate woman than any one thing in the world. It gives her a feeling of self-reliance and independence the moment she takes her seat."

The founder of the Steinway piano company, HENRY STEINWAY, was born on this day in 1797, in Braunschweig, Germany.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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