Thursday

Nov. 11, 1999

The Edward C. Peterson Tree

by Charlie Langdon

Broadcast Date: THURSDAY: November 11, 1999

Poem: "The Edward C. Peterson Tree" by Charlie Langdon from The Dandelion Vote published by Hilton Publishing.

Today is Memorial Day—known to Canadians as Remembrance Day—also known as Veterans Day or Victory Day. Many observe a moment of silence at the hour the firing stopped to end World War I—the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. At 5 a.m. of that day in 1918, the armistice was signed in the railway car of French Marshal Foch [foash], in the Forest of Compiegne [koam-PYEN], 30 miles northeast of Paris. Private Harry Gunther, of Baltimore, was the last American killed in action that day—one of a total of 9 million killed in the war.

Today is also called St. Martin's Day, for St. Martin of Tours. According to the Old Farmer's Almanac, true Indian summer can occur only between this date and November 20th. Most 19th-century almanacs proclaimed, "If All Saints' brings out winter, St. Martin's brings out Indian summer." Weather conditions for traditional Indian summer include not just warm days but a smoky, hazy atmosphere, free of wind. The barometer must be high, the nights clear and chilly.

On this day in 1938, the song "God Bless America" was first sung by Kate Smith, for whom Irving Berlin had written it. She sang it during her radio broadcast for Veterans Day, during a time when the nation was embroiled over whether to enter World War Two. It would become Kate Smith's most requested song.

It's the birthday of novelist Carlos Fuentes [FWEN-tayss], born in Mexico City(1928).

Today is the 74th birthday of comic Jonathan Winters, born in Dayton, Ohio (1925).

Today is the 77th birthday of novelist Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., born in Indianapolis (1922). His novel Slaughterhouse Five (1969) was based on his experience as a prisoner of war in the basement of a slaughterhouse during the Allies' fire bombing of Dresden in February 1945. After the war he studied anthropology, then worked as a reporter and a public relations writer before his first novel, Player Piano (1952), came out. His grimly funny books plead for human kindness in a dehumanized world. Other novels include Cat's Cradle (1963), Breakfast of Champions (1973), Hocus Pocus (1990), and Timequake (1997).

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

 









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