100 years – the first five

Ever since I’ve started reading George Mahood’s ‘Everyday is a holiday’, I get crazy ideas. What’s my latest? Well, I began a small research project to find about events that occurred every year on the 30th of July since 1916. Why 30th of July you may ask, hmm.., it marks the day I was born. Ahan, I thought it would be cool to know what happened on this particular date every year since 1916, giving it a frame of hundred years. All excited. 

I got super thrilled about the discoveries I’m going to make and the stories I’d encounter. ‘Why wait?’, I said to myself and began to chase. I was sure the early years were going to be filled with war stories, considering the first and second world war

Let’s begin with the story of Statue of Liberty, a gift to the United states by the French. It represents ‘Libertas’, Roman goddess who bears a torch and a tablet evoking the law. The statue remains an icon of freedom. She stood at the New York welcoming all since 1886. She witnessed the war and sustained minor damages too. On the 30th of July, 1916, the Black Tom explosion at Jersey, an act of sabotage by German agents to destroy American made dynamites and explosives that were to be supplied to US allies (Britain and France) for their war efforts, caused minor damage to the torch bearing right arm of Statue of Liberty. The narrow ascent to the torch has remained closed for public ever since. It wasn’t my intention to begin this project with a sad note. Nope, not at all. However, we are talking news from war times, hardly any good tunes there.

Have you heard of Zaleszczycki and Sniatyn? I did not have the slightest clue until some google search that I did now. Supposedly 30th of July 1917 is marked as the fall of Zaleszczycki and Sniatyn, they were retaken by Austrian Third Army. Zaleszczycki (in Polish) is a small city on the Dniester river in western Ukraine (between 1918 and 1939 it was part of Poland). Sniatyn is a city in western Ukraine too along the Prut river. Nearly all of Sniatyn’s Jewish population was murdered during holocaust. Two years ago I’d visited Berlin’s war museums. I found such heart wrenching stories all along. It can only remind us that there are two sides to the war and both are dark, sucking them all like a black hole.

Joyce Kilmer was a journalist, poet, literary critic and an editor at New York Times. On 30th of July 1918, he died. Here’s his poem ‘Trees’, that made him famous.

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

– Joyce Kilmer, 1913

I love the summer and nest of robins there.

Here’s also a note from Hell’s observer on the 30th of July, 1918 – between the rains and guns


Sigmund Widmer, a Swiss historian was born on 30th of July 1919. I had to make this entry at-least to satisfy the historian devil who’s entered my body recently. I think by now you’ve also figured that I’m a traveler. Let’s talk about Chicago. It’s a wonderful place, isn’t it? I like the lake, popcorn, silver bean and the glass balcony view. Once, I had a chance to visit a friend’s aunt who lives in a skyline apartment beside the harbor. The view was as beautiful as the lady of the house. At eighty plus she was bubbling with an energy of eighteen, she’ll remain ever inspiring. Chicago is also known for riots. Race riots : Chicago in red summer of 1919 was between 27th July and 3rd August. It’s considered to be the worst race riot in the history of Illinois. A century further, we still are battling the right to equality, be it gender or race or any other societal barriers, at various corners of this world

Marie Tharp, born on 30th of July 1920, is the woman who discovered the backbone of earth. Marie Tharp´s cartographic accomplishments were exceptional because she overcame educational and employment barriers that limited opportunities for women of her generation. Without doubts she prepared the field for other researchers. In 2009, Ocean in Google Earth included the Marie Tharp Historical Map layer, to allow people to view Tharp’s map using the Google Earth interface.The Marie Tharp Fellowship is a competitive academic visiting fellowship awarded to women to work with researchers at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. Marie’s life and work gives me pride as a woman.

Wow, that’s a whole lot. Almost everything I’ve put in there is my new learning, but, the themes have always remained in my writing – war, travel, equal rights, poems.  Have any anecdote to share?


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