Apr. 1, 1999

Sweater Weather: A Love Song to Language

by Sharon Bryan

Broadcast Date: THURSDAY: April 1, 1999

Poem: "Sweater Weather: A Love Song to Language," by Sharon Bryan, from Flying Blind (Sarabande Books).

It's APRIL FOOL'S DAY today, the holiday for pranksters—as Mark Twain said, "The First of April is the day we remember what we are on the other 364 days of the year."

It was on this day in 1945 that the United States began its attack on the Japanese island of OKINAWA when U.S. troops landed on the island's west coast, one of the last major campaigns of the Second World War. It was one of the bloodiest battles of World War II because the Japanese knew it would be used as an American base for the invasion of Japan. Over 23,000 American soldiers were killed, 36,000 wounded, and 34 battleships sunk. The Japanese lost over 91,000 soldiers, and over 150,000 Okinawan civilians were killed.

It was on this day in 1933 that an official NAZI BOYCOTT OF JEWISH BUSINESSES was implemented, the first national action against the Jews after the Nazi seizure of power in January that year. It began at 10:00 a.m. on a Saturday, when uniformed Nazi guards were stationed in front of every Jewish shop or business to prevent their customers from entering, and Nazi trucks drove around with anti-Jewish signs and slogans on them. More than 2,000 further anti-Jewish measures would be implemented by the Nazis while they were in power.

It's the birthday today of the composer and piano virtuoso Sergei Rachmaninoff, born 1873 in Oneg, Russia. He became famous in 1892 with his Prelude in C Sharp Minor, but when his first symphony was performed in 1897, it was condemned and he collapsed into a depression and couldn't compose for nearly three years, although he revived to write many dazzling symphonies and works for the piano, including his most often-played "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini". After he moved to the United States after the Russian Revolution in 1917 he lost his creative spark, claiming he missed the Russian people, and devoted himself to appearing in concert.

It's the birthday of the French playwright EDMOND ROSTAND, born 1868 in Marseille on the south coast of France, best known for his romantic comedy Cyrano de Bergerac, the story of a talented man who feels that no woman will ever love him because of his enormous nose. Another of his plays, The Romantics, written in 1894, was made into an American musical, The Fantasticks, in 1960.

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