Nov. 22, 2000
Poem: “Ever,” by Richard Tillinghast, from Six Mile Mountain (Story Line Press).
And when she was gone
the silver lost its frail brilliance,
the cut glass cobwebbed,
the clocks ran down.
The two brothers
in the story she would read us on Christmas Eve
never made their way in from the blizzard,
never rescued the beggar-woman from the snowdrift
or laid their pennies on the alter,
or found out why the chimes rang.
Today is St. Cecilia’s Day, dedicated to the patron saint of music.
On this day in 1963, President John F. Kennedy was killed by an assassin’s bullet while riding in a motorcade in downtown Dallas. Millions of Americans learned the news as Walter Cronkite read the wire copy: “Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States is dead.” Three rifle shots had apparently been fired from the sixth floor of a building along the motorcade route. Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested for the shooting, and two days later he was shot and killed in the Dallas police station by a local nightclub owner, Jack Ruby. President Kennedy’s body was flown back to Washington, where his casket lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda, on the same black-draped platform which nearly a century earlier had borne the casket of Abraham Lincoln.
It’s the birthday of English composer Benjamin Britten, born in Lowestoft, Suffolk, England (1913). His works include the operas Peter Grimes (1945) and Billy Budd (1951), the Ceremony of Carols (1942), and his War Requiem, written for the re-consecration of Coventry Cathedral (1962).
On this day in 1906, delegates to the International Radio Telegraphic Convention in Berlin chose the letters S.O.S. as the new international distress signal. S.O.S., represented in Morse code by three dots, three dashes, and three dots, stands for “Save Our Souls.”
It’s the birthday of American pianist, singer and songwriter Hoagland Howard (“Hoagy”) Carmichael, born in Bloomington, Indiana (1899). Largely self-taught, he went on to compose such hits as “Two Sleepy People” (1939), “In the Cool Cool Cool of the Evening” (1951), and “Stardust” (1927).
It’s the birthday of French leader Charles de Gaulle, born in Lille, France (1890). He served as a lieutenant in World War One, and when the Germans invaded France in 1940, de Gaulle led one of the few successful tank operations against the enemy. After the Nazi-backed Vichy government came to power in France, de Gaulle fled to London, where he organized a Free French resistance movement and a provisional French government. After the Normandy invasion and the liberation of Paris, de Gaulle’s provisional government became the government of France. De Gaulle resigned the presidency in 1946, and stayed in retirement until he was asked to form a new government in 1958, in response to the crisis precipitated by the Algerian War. When asked about the difficulties he faced as president of France, de Gaulle once quipped, “How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?”
It’s the birthday of English Victorian novelist Mary Ann Evans, better known by her pseudonym, George Eliot, born in Chilvers Coton, Warwickshire, England (1819). Her novels include Adam Bede (1859), The Mill on the Floss (1860), Silas Marner (1861), and her masterpiece, Middlemarch (1872).
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®