MONDAY, 29 MAY, 2006
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Poem: "The Swing" by Timothy Steele from Toward the Winter Solstice. © Swallow Press/Ohio University Press. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

The Swing

She shrieks as she sweeps past the earth
And, rising, pumps for all she's worth;
The chains she grips almost go slack;
Then, seated skyward, she drops back.

When swept high to the rear, she sees
Below the park the harbor's quays,
Cranes, rail tracks, transit sheds, and ranks
Of broad, round, silver storage tanks.

Her father lacks such speed and sight,
Though, with a push, he launched her flight.
Now, hands in pockets, he stands by
And, for her safety, casts his eye

Over the ground, examining
The hollow underneath the swing
Where, done with aerial assault,
She'll scuff, in passing, to a halt.


Literary and Historical Notes:

It's the birthday of the novelist who wrote under the name Max Brand, (books by this author), Frederick Faust, born in Seattle, Washington (1892). He was the most prolific fiction writer in American history. He published more than two hundred novels in his lifetime, and for decades after his death, his unpublished novels continued to appear in paperback. He wrote thrillers, love stories and melodramas, but he specialized in the Western, even though he knew almost nothing about frontier life. He's best known for his novel Destry Rides Again (1930).

During the Great Depression, he was one of the best-paid pulp fiction writers in America, earning five cents a word. He managed to make about 100,000 dollars a year at that rate, finishing a full-length novel every week.


It's the birthday of the novelist and essayist G.K. (Gilbert Keith) Chesterton, (books by this author), born in London, England (1874). He's remembered today for his detective novels about the bumbling, crime-solving priest Father Brown, but during his lifetime he was primarily known as an essayist. He wrote constantly, about politics, society, literature and religion. He was one of the first critics to argue that Charles Dickens was a great novelist, after the decline of his reputation in the early twentieth century. He was one of the first people to argue that the influence of religion on public life would be replaced by the influence of advertisements.


It was on this day in 1932 that World War I veterans began arriving in Washington, D.C., demanding their military bonuses about fifteen years early. Congress had approved the bonuses as a retirement plan back in 1924, and those bonuses weren't supposed to be paid until 1945, when the soldiers had reached the age of retirement. But it was the Great Depression, and most of those veterans were out of work and living in poverty, and they were desperate for early bonuses to help them survive.

The Bonus March was the idea of an unemployed former Army sergeant named Walter Waters, who stood up at a veterans' meeting in Portland, Oregon, on March 15, 1932, and said that every man at the meeting should hop a train to Washington, D.C., and demand the money that was rightfully his.

Walter Waters and his men arrived in Washington, D.C., on this day in 1932. Over the next few months about 25,000 others joined them. They had been congregating in D.C. for almost a month when the bonus bill finally came to the floor. It was passed by the House of Representatives, but it was defeated in the Senate two days later. Many of the Bonus Marchers went home, disappointed, but the original group of men stayed behind, vowing to remain until they received justice.

President Herbert Hoover ordered the Army to drive them out of town. Several army battalions of cavalry and tanks advanced on the veterans, tossing tear-gas grenades and setting the shantytown on fire. Over the next week, newspapers and newsreels showed images of veterans fleeing the burning shantytown with their families, through clouds of tear gas and smoke, followed by tanks and mounted troops waving swords. It was a public relations disaster. When presidential candidate Franklin D. Roosevelt read a newspaper article about the eviction, he said, "This will elect me," and he was right.




TUESDAY, 30 MAY, 2006
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Poem: "For All" by Gary Snyder from The Gary Snyder Reader. © Counterpoint. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

For All

Ah to be alive
     on a mid-September morn
     fording a stream
     barefoot, pants rolled up,
     holding boots, pack on,
     sunshine, ice in the shallows,
     northern rockies.

Rustle and shimmer of icy creek waters
stones turn underfoot, small and hard as toes
     cold nose dripping
     singing inside
     creek music, heart music,
     smell of sun on gravel.

     I pledge allegiance

I pledge allegiance to the soil
     of Turtle Island,
and to the beings who thereon dwell
     one ecosystem
     in diversity
     under the sun
With joyful interpenetration for all.


Literary and Historical Notes:

It's the birthday of director Howard Hawks, born in Goshen, Indiana (1896). When asked about his style as a filmmaker, he said, "I just aim ... at the actors."


It's the birthday of Harlem Renaissance poet Countee Cullen, (books by this author), born in Louisville, Kentucky (1903).


It was on this day in 1431 that Joan of Arc was burned at the stake for heresy in Rouen, France. She was an ordinary French peasant girl, living during the Hundred Years War between France and England. When she was still a teenager, she heard the voice of God telling her to join the battle and help defeat the English army. She performed a series of apparent miracles and persuaded the French army to let her command a group of soldiers. At the battle of Orleans, she led the French army, bearing a flag with Jesus' name written across it, and the English were defeated. She continued fighting battles until May 23, 1430, when she was captured by enemy soldiers. They turned her over to the church to be tried as a heretic, idolater and sorcerer.

Her trial lasted for months. Every day she was brought into the interrogation room, where she was the only woman among judges, priests, soldiers, and guards. The judges hoped to trick her into saying something that would incriminate her as a witch, so they asked endless questions about all aspects of her life, in no particular order. They were especially interested in her childhood, and because the transcripts of the trial were recorded, we now know more about her early life than any other common person of her time.

She testified that she had learned from her mother how to pray and how to clean the house, and that she was an excellent sewer and spinner. She talked about the games she played as a child, the songs she sang and the way she and other children danced around a particular tree in their town. She pointed out that she preferred singing to dancing. She said that she'd always loved the sound of bells ringing in her town, and she was greatly upset whenever the bell wasn't rung on schedule. She said that many of the people in her village believed in fairies, and that her godmother claimed to have seen a fairy once, but she doubted it. She said that she first started hearing divine voices when she as thirteen, while working in her father's garden.

After months of questioning, she was told that if she didn't sign a confession, she would be put to death. She finally signed it, but a few days later she renounced the confession, and on this day in 1431, she was burned at the stake. She was nineteen years old.

She was mostly forgotten for about 400 years, and then she was revived as a patriotic figure during the French revolution. In 1920 she was canonized as a saint by Pope Benedict the Fifteenth. She is the only person ever burned at the stake for heresy who later became a saint.




WEDNESDAY, 31 MAY, 2006
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Poem: "The Babes in the Wood," Anonymous. Public domain.

The Babes in the Wood

My dear, do you know,
How a long time ago,
   Two poor little children,
Whose names I don't know,
Were stolen away
On a fine summer's day,
   And left in a wood,
As I've heard people say.

Among the trees high
Beneath the blue sky
   They plucked the bright flowers
And watched the birds fly;
Then on blackberries fed,
And strawberries red,
   And when they were weary
'We'll go home,' they said.

And when it was night
So sad was their plight,
   The sun it went down,
And the moon gave no light.
They sobbed and they sighed
And they bitterly cried,
   And long before morning
They lay down and died.

And when they were dead
The robins so red
   Brought strawberry leaves
And over them spread;
And all the day long,
The green branches among,
   They'd prettily whistle
And this was their song—
'Poor babes in the wood!
Sweet babes in the wood!
   Oh the sad fate of
The babes in the wood!'


Literary and Historical Notes:

It was on this day in 1669 that one of the most famous diaries of all time came to an end: Samuel Pepys (books by this author) wrote in his diary for the last time after keeping it regularly for ten years. He wrote about the details of his personal life, and also about historical events like the British Restoration, the Great Plague of 1665 and the Great Fire of 1666. Much of what we know about life in mid-seventeenth-century England comes from his diary.

Pepys ended the diary because he thought he was going blind. He wrote in his final entry: "And thus ends all that I doubt I shall ever be able to do with my own eyes in the keeping of my journal, I being not able to do it any longer, having now so long as to undo my eyes almost everytime that I take a pen in my hand. ... And so I betake myself to that course which [is] almost as much as to see myself go into my grave—for which, and all the discomforts that will accompany my being blind, the good God prepares me." Pepys's eyesight got better after a few months, and he lived another thirty-three years, but he never wrote in his diary again.


It was on this day in 1790 that Congress enacted the United States copyright law. The law gave authors exclusive rights to publish and sell maps, charts and books for a period of fourteen years, with a chance to renew the copyright for another fourteen years. There have been many changes to the U.S. copyright law since 1790. In the nineteenth century, copyrights became available for photographs, paintings, drawings and models. In 1909, musical rolls for player pianos became covered by the law. In the last thirty years, copyright law has expanded to include cable TV, computer software, tapes, CDs, DVDs, and, most recently, MP3s.

Copyright terms have also gradually gotten longer. Up until 1998, copyrights lasted for the life of the author plus an additional fifty years before they went into the public domain. But in that year, the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act extended the duration of copyrights by twenty years. The act was supported by a group of large corporations, led by Disney. Most of Disney's famous characters were scheduled to enter the public domain between 2000 and 2004, but now other artists and companies won't be able to use them in their books and movies and songs until at least 2019—which means that Disney has another thirteen years of making money off Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and all the rest.


It's the birthday of poet Walt Whitman, (books by this author) born in West Hills, Long Island, New York (1819). He grew up in Brooklyn, and lived in New York City for most of his life. He began working as a printer's assistant from a very young age, and in the '40s and '50s he worked for a series of newspapers in Brooklyn and Manhattan. He always loved New York. In one editorial, he wrote that New York City was "the great place of the western continent, the heart, the brain, the focus, the main spring, the pinnacle, the extremity, the no more beyond of the New World."

It was in New York City, in 1855, that Whitman published the first edition of his poetry collection Leaves of Grass. He couldn't find anyone to publish it for him so he sold a house and used the money to publish it himself. There was no publisher's name or author's name on the cover, just a picture of Whitman himself. He wrote the poems in a new style, a kind of free verse without rhyme or meter. He said in one preface to the book, "Here are the roughs and beards and space and ruggedness and nonchalance that the soul loves."

Leaves of Grass got mostly bad reviews, but Ralph Waldo Emerson called it "the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet contributed." Whitman printed Emerson's comment on the second edition of the book, and he wrote an anonymous review of it himself, hoping to spark sales.

Whitman continued to add poems to Leaves of Grass and publish it in different editions throughout his life. It eventually went through nine different editions; Whitman compared the finished book to a cathedral that took years to build, or a tree with visible circles of growth. In the 1880s the Society for the Suppression of Vice called it immoral in a Boston newspaper, and that's when it finally started to sell. Whitman used the money to buy a cottage in Camden, where he spent the rest of his life.




THURSDAY, 1 JUNE, 2006
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Poem: "The Best Slow Dancer" by David Wagoner from Traveling Light. © University of Illinois Press. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

The Best Slow Dancer

Under the sagging clotheslines of crepe paper
By the second string of teachers and wallflowers
In the school gym across the key through the glitter
Of mirrored light three-second rule forever
Suspended you danced with her the best slow dancer
Who stood on tiptoe who almost wasn't there
In your arms like music she knew just how to answer
The question mark of your spine your hand in hers
The other touching that place between her shoulders
Trembling your countless feet lightfooted sure
To move as they wished wherever you might stagger
Without her she turned in time she knew where you were
In time she turned her body into yours
As you moved from thigh to secrets to breast yet never
Where you could be for all time never closer
Than your cheek against her temple her ear just under
Your lips that tried all evening long to tell her
You weren't the worst one not the boy whose mother
Had taught him to count to murmur over and over
One slide two slide three slide now no longer
The one in the hallway after class the scuffler
The double clubfoot gawker the mouth breather
With the wrong haircut who would never kiss her
But see her dancing off with someone or other
Older more clever smoother dreamier
Not waving a sister somebody else's partner
Lover while you went floating home through the air
To lie down lighter than air in a moonlit shimmer
Alone to whisper yourself to sleep remember.


Literary and Historical Notes:

It's the birthday of novelist Colleen McCullough, (books by this author), born in Wellington, Australia (1937). She came from a rural, working-class family that wandered around Australia until finally settling in Sydney when Colleen was twelve years old. She wanted to be a doctor, but she wasn't allowed to go to medical school because of a skin condition, and so she went into neurophysiology, the study of the nervous system.

She got a job at a hospital in London, and while she was there she met an American professor who was so impressed with her ability that he invited her to manage his laboratories back at Yale. She did all kinds of work in the laboratories, but because she was a woman she was paid about half as much as her co-workers. So, to try to make a little extra money, she decided to write a novel.

Her first novel, Tim, was published in 1974. That book sold well, but her first great success was The Thorn Birds (1977), an epic novel that tells the story of an Australian family across three generations. It became an international best-seller and enabled McCullough to quit her job and devote all of her time to writing.


It's the birthday of poet John Masefield, (books by this author), born in Ledbury, England (1878). When he was thirteen years old, he left home to work on a merchant navy ship, the HMS Conway. After a few years of sailing, he settled in New York City. After two years he went back to England, fell in love with the poetry of W.B. Yeats, and became a poet himself. His first book of poems, Salt-Water Ballads, came out in 1902.


It's the birthday of Brigham Young, (books by this author), born in Wittingham, Vermont (1801). He grew up in a strict, religious household in upstate New York. His parents made him read the Bible every day. He got married in 1824, when he was twenty-three, and he and his wife joined the Methodist Church.

In April of 1830, Samuel Smith, the brother of the Mormon leader Joseph Smith, passed through Young's town to distribute copies of the Book of Mormon. Young was skeptical at first, but two years later, he was baptized as a Latter-day Saint.

In the summer of 1832, Brigham Young and his brother decided to make the 325-mile journey from New York to Kirtland, Ohio, to meet the leader of Mormonism, Joseph Smith. On the evening of their arrival, Smith invited them to pray with him. During their prayer session, Brigham Young spoke in incomprehensible tongues, and Smith declared that it was a gift of God.

A couple of years later, Smith appointed Young to be the leader of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, a sort of traveling council whose job it was to spread the message of Mormonism. He traveled all across the country, in Canada, and in England, trying to win converts. When Smith was killed in 1844, Young was made President of the Mormon Church. Two years later, he led a group on a trek to the West, to Salt Lake City, Utah.




FRIDAY, 2 JUNE, 2006
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Poem: "A Private Man on Public Men" by Thomas Hardy from The Complete Poems. © Macmillan Publishing Company. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

A Private Man on Public Men

When my contemporaries were driving
Their coach through Life with strain and striving,
And raking riches into heaps,
And ably pleading in the Courts
With smart rejoinders and retorts,
Or where the Senate nightly keeps
Its vigils, till their fames were fanned
By rumour's tongue throughout the land,
I lived in quiet, screened, unknown,
Pondering upon some stick or stone,
Or news of some rare book or bird
Latterly bought, or seen, or heard,
Not wishing ever to set eyes on
The surging crowd beyond the horizon,
Tasting years of moderate gladness
Mellowed by sundry days of sadness,
Shut from the noise of the world without,
Hearing but dimly its rush and rout,
Unenvying those amid its roar,
Little endowed, not wanting more.


Literary and Historical Notes:

It's the birthday of columnist Frank Rich, born in Washington, D.C. (1949). He served as the drama critic for The New York Times for thirteen years before switching to feature and opinion articles.


It's the birthday of the Marquis de Sade, (books by this author), born in Paris (1740), from whom we get the term "Sadism."


It's the birthday of novelist Barbara Pym, (books by this author), born in Shropshire, England (1913). She published five novels in the '50s and '60s, but then her work fell out of fashion and she didn't publish another novel for the next sixteen years. Then, in 1977, in an article in the Times Literary Supplement, the writers Lord David Cecil and Philip Larkin both named her as one of the great neglected authors of the twentieth century. She suddenly became one of the most popular novelists in both England and America. She published three more novels, including Quartet in Autumn (1977), and all of her earlier novels were reissued.


It's the birthday of novelist and poet Thomas Hardy, (books by this author), born in Higher Bockhampton, Dorset, England (1840). Dorset was a poor, rural county where life hadn't changed very much for hundreds of years and older people spoke a local dialect similar to German. Hardy would stay up late reading poetry and magazines, and listening to his grandmother tell stories about the time of Napoleon. His father was a mason and a building contractor, and when Hardy was sixteen he left school and became an apprentice to a well-known architect.

He was more interested in poetry than architecture, though, and he would get up early every morning to study Latin and Greek. When he was twenty-two he moved to London, where he began writing his own poetry. He wasn't able to publish it, and so he tried writing novels instead. His first novel, Desperate Remedies, was published anonymously in 1871. His first big success was Far from the Madding Crowd, published in 1874. He went on to write The Return of the Native (1878), Tess of the D'Urbervilles (1891), and Jude the Obscure (1895), and he became one of the most popular novelists of his time.

Most of his novels were first published serially in popular magazines, and Hardy made sure not to write anything that might be considered too offensive to his readers. But when he published Tess of the D'Urbervilles in book form, he included several chapters that were cut from the magazine version.

Tess of the D'Urbervilles is about a young woman who has an illegitimate child and eventually goes on to murder the child's father, but Hardy portrayed the woman sympathetically and critics called the book shameless and immoral. His next novel, Jude the Obscure (1895), created an even bigger scandal.

Hardy had always thought of writing novels as no more than a way to make a living, and by this point he was so fed up with the criticism that he announced he would never write fiction again. He had been writing poetry for over thirty years, and now that he had become a famous novelist he was able to publish much of what he had written. His first collection, Wessex Poems, was published in 1898, and he would publish nothing but poetry for the last thirty years of his life. His Collected Poems came out in 1930.




SATURDAY, 3 JUNE, 2006
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Poem: "A Strange New Cottage in Berkeley" by Allen Ginsberg from Collected Poems 1947-1980. © Harper & Row. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

A Strange New Cottage in Berkeley

     All afternoon cutting bramble blackberries off a tottering brown
fence
     under a low branch with its rotten old apricots miscellaneous under
the leaves,
     fixing the drip in the intricate gut machinery of a new toilet;
     found a good coffeepot in the vines by the porch, rolled a big tire out
of the scarlet bushes, hid my marijuana;
     wet the flowers, playing the sunlit water each to each, returning for
godly extra drops for the stringbeans and daisies;
     three times walked round the grass and sighed absently:
     my reward, when the garden fed me its plums from the form of a
small tree in the corner,
     an angel thoughtful of my stomach, and my dry and lovelorn tongue.


Literary and Historical Notes:

It's the birthday of novelist Larry McMurtry, (books by this author), born in Wichita Falls, Texas (1936). He wrote his first novel, Horseman, Pass By (1961), when he was just twenty-two years old. It's narrated by a seventeen-year-old boy who is witnessing the end of the Old West, and it was made into a movie called Hud (1963), which won an Academy Award. Terms of Endearment, The Last Picture Show, and Lonesome Dove were also made into popular movies.


It's the birthday of poet Allen Ginsberg, (books by this author), born in Newark, New Jersey (1926). He fell in love with the poetry of Walt Whitman when he was in high school, after hearing his English teacher read a passage from Whitman's "Song of Myself" to the class. He later said that he would never forget his teacher's "black-dressed bulk seated squat behind an English class desk, her embroidered collar, her voice powerful and high ... so enthusiastic and joyous ... so confident and lifted with laughter."

He went to Columbia University, planning to take pre-law classes and become a lawyer like his brother, but he switched his major to English after taking a Great Books class from the critic Lionel Trilling. He fell in with a group of poets and artists that included Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, and William S. Burroughs. They read poetry to each other and took drugs and had all-night conversations, and sometime in the late '40s they started calling themselves "Beats."

When Ginsberg was twenty-six years old, he was sitting in his apartment in Harlem when he suddenly had a vision of William Blake. He told friends and family that he had found God. He said, "My body suddenly felt light, and [I felt] a sense of cosmic consciousness, vibrations, understanding, awe, and wonder and surprise. And it was a sudden awakening into a totally deeper real universe than I'd been existing in." But Ginsberg still wasn't sure that he wanted to be a poet after he graduated from Columbia. He worked as an apprentice book reviewer for Newsweek magazine for a time, and then he spent five years working for an advertising agency in an office in the Empire State Building. In 1955, he and his psychiatrist decided he would be happier writing poetry. He took six months of unemployment insurance money and moved to San Francisco, where he became part of the poetry scene that included Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. In October of 1955, he read his poem "Howl" to a large group of people at the Six Gallery in San Francisco. It was a huge success, and it launched a writing career that lasted over forty years.

"Howl" begins, "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix, angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night ..."

Ginsberg wrote, "I want to be known as the most brilliant man in America ... who sang a blues made rock stars weep ... who called the Justice department & threaten'd to Blow the Whistle / Stopt Wars ... distributed monies to poor poets & nourished imaginative genius of the land."

He said, "Poetry is the one place where people can speak their original human mind. It is the outlet for people to say in public what is known in private."




SUNDAY, 4 JUNE, 2006
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Poem: "since feeling is first" by e. e. cummings from 100 selected poems. © Grove Weidenfeld. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

since feeling is first

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don't cry
—the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids' flutter which says

we are for each other: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life's not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis


Literary and Historical Notes:

It was on this day in 1989 that the Chinese government cracked down on students conducting pro-democracy demonstrations in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. The demonstrations by the pro-democracy student groups had begun months earlier, after the government accused them of planning a coup d'état. They drew thousands of supporters from three dozen universities and staged hunger strikes and sit-ins. The Chinese government declared martial law, and troops approached the square with tanks in the late evening of June 3.

Ordinary workers had gathered along the nearby roads. They had been demonstrating in support of the students for weeks, and they crowded into the streets to block the advance of the tanks toward the square. Though the event would come to be called the Tiananmen Square massacre, almost all the people killed were the ordinary people in the streets outside the square. Violence broke out around midnight on this day in 1989, with some people throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at the troops, and the troops responding with gunfire.

Soldiers surrounded the perimeter of the square, and the students expected that they would kill everyone at the center. Around 4:00 a.m., all the lights went out, and it got quiet. The students debated whether or not they should surrender. They heard the engines of the tanks start up, and finally they made the decision to evacuate. Almost all the students survived.

One of the few journalists who witnessed the evacuation said, "Many [of the students] had tears rolling down their cheeks. All looked shaken; many were trembling or unsteady on their feet. But all looked proud and unbeaten. One group shouted, 'Down with the Communist Party!' [It was] the first time I had ever heard this openly said in China."

An American Associated Press photographer named Jeff Widener took the famous photograph of a student staring down a tank, refusing to move.


It was on this day in 1940 that British forces began the evacuation from Dunkirk. World War II had been going on for about eight months. British forces had gone to Belgium to help defend Belgium and France against the invading Nazi army, but they were poorly prepared for battle and completely overwhelmed. Hundreds of thousands of troops were driven back to the French coastal town of Dunkirk. If the Nazis had invaded that city with ground troops, they could have captured the whole British army.

Instead, Hitler ordered that the British troops on the beaches be attacked from the air. The British men hunkered down to weather the bombing, dug trenches for defense, and got ready for evacuation. But when the British ships showed up to carry the troops across the English Channel, they were only prepared to carry about one tenth of the more than 500,000 men who were stranded on the beach. The Nazis began bombing the British ships, and it seemed that all hope was lost.

But the British government sent out a request for all persons with sea-worthy vessels to help in the evacuation. Men in fishing boats, trawlers, lifeboats, paddle steamers, and yachts crossed the channel to help the soldiers escape. More than 300,000 soldiers were saved in the evacuation of Dunkirk. When they arrived in Britain, they were given a hero's welcome.


It was on this day in 1942 that the Battle of Midway took place over the Pacific Ocean. It was one of the first battles fought almost entirely in the air, and it's considered one of the major turning points of the Pacific half of World War II. At the time, the Japanese had a far superior naval and air fleet, and they had scored a series of victories over the Allies since bombing Pearl Harbor. They hoped to seize Midway Island because it was the last American outpost in the central Pacific. They could have use it to stage an invasion of Hawaii, which would have given them complete strategic control over the Pacific Ocean.

The Japanese had one of the largest and most heavily armed navel fleets ever assembled up to that time. They launched their first attack early in the morning on this day in 1942. The Japanese pilots dropped their bombs on the Midway airfield, and then flew back to their carriers to refuel and reload with bombs.

The U.S. knew that the Japanese would be attacking that day, because they had cracked the Japanese codes, but they didn't know where the Japanese fleet was located. While the Japanese were refueling, a squadron of American bombers noticed the wake of a small Japanese ship and decided to follow it. When they descended from the clouds, they realized that they had accidentally stumbled upon the Japanese fleet, caught almost defenseless, with all their planes docked and refueling. The American bombers dove down from 12,000 feet, dropped their bombs on the Japanese aircraft carriers, and took off again.

In just five minutes, the U.S. bombers had delivered a devastating blow to the Japanese fleet. The battle raged for three more days, but the Japanese never recovered from that first attack. Their navy was shattered, and from that battle onward, they were on the defensive. The Japanese never won another decisive naval battle for the rest of the war.


It was one this day in 1919 that the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, giving women the right to vote, was passed by the United States Congress. Women across America voted in their first national election in November of 1920, though there was still some resistance to the idea. Some cities instituted a rule that voters would have to state their age in order to vote, with the hope that women would be discouraged enough to stay home—but it didn't seem to work.




«

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  • “Writers end up writing stories—or rather, stories' shadows—and they're grateful if they can, but it is not enough. Nothing the writer can do is ever enough” —Joy Williams
  • “I want to live other lives. I've never quite believed that one chance is all I get. Writing is my way of making other chances.” —Anne Tyler
  • “Writing is a performance, like singing an aria or dancing a jig” —Stephen Greenblatt
  • “All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • “Good writing is always about things that are important to you, things that are scary to you, things that eat you up.” —John Edgar Wideman
  • “In certain ways writing is a form of prayer.” —Denise Levertov
  • “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Let's face it, writing is hell.” —William Styron
  • “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” —Thomas Mann
  • “Writing is 90 percent procrastination: reading magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials.” —Paul Rudnick
  • “Writing is a failure. Writing is not only useless, it's spoiled paper.” —Padget Powell
  • “Writing is very hard work and knowing what you're doing the whole time.” —Shelby Foote
  • “I think all writing is a disease. You can't stop it.” —William Carlos Williams
  • “Writing is like getting married. One should never commit oneself until one is amazed at one's luck.” —Iris Murdoch
  • “The less conscious one is of being ‘a writer,’ the better the writing.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is…that oddest of anomalies: an intimate letter to a stranger.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is my dharma.” —Raja Rao
  • “Writing is a combination of intangible creative fantasy and appallingly hard work.” —Anthony Powell
  • “I think writing is, by definition, an optimistic act.” —Michael Cunningham
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