Feb. 23, 1999

Beaks and Books, Flights at Best

by John Tagliabue

Broadcast Date: TUESDAY: February 23, 1999

Poem: "Beaks and Books, Flights at Best," by John Tagliabue, from New and Selected Poems: 1942-1997 (National Poetry Foundation).

It was on this day in 1954 that Jonas Salk's POLIO VACCINE was given to children for the first time in a mass clinical trial in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After a nation-wide clinical trial later that year the vaccine was approved for general use and within six years the incidence of polio had dropped by 95%.

It's the birthday of the journalist WILLIAM L. SHIRER, born 1904 in Chicago, the author of the classic history of Nazi Germany, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, which came out in 1960.

It's the birthday of the historian and black activist William Edward Burghardt Du Bois—W.E.B. DU BOIS—born 1868 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. He had a Ph.D. from Harvard in history but wrote 16 books on the social conditions of blacks in America, including the first major sociological study of a black community, The Philadelphia Negro, published in 1899. Du Bois founded the Niagara Movement in 1905 to promote black activism, and the movement led to the foundation of the NAACP.

It was on this day in 1836 that the Mexican general Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna attacked THE ALAMO at San Antonio, an abandoned monastery chapel which had been taken over by some Texan volunteers at the beginning of the Texas war for independence in December 1835. The Texas volunteers—about 183 including Davy Crockett and the commanders James Bowie and William Travis—held out until March 6 when 1800 Mexican soldiers stormed through the courtyard and killed nearly all of them.

Today's the birthday in 1633 in London of the diarist SAMUEL PEPYS, who wrote a series of diaries in the 1600s describing political events, the Plague and the Great Fire of London, and the everyday events of his household.

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




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