Today is Presidents Day

Today is Presidents Day

Presidents Day is a federal holiday which, in the United States, is observed on the third Monday in February. This day is set aside, by more and more of America’s population, to honor all of the past United States Presidents that have served our country. Two of our nation’s greatest Presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, are brought to mind as we celebrate this day. Their birth dates, which fall close to this same time, have been celebrated for decades with public ceremonies in Washington, D.C. and throughout the United States.

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Today in History: First Ironman in Hawai in 1978

Today in History: First Ironman in Hawai in 1978

40 years go today, the first “Ironman Triathlon” was held in Kailua-Konain, The world championship has been held annually since 1978 (with an additional race in 1982) and is preceded by a series of qualifying Ironman events. The race consists of a 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, a 112-mile (180.25 km) bicycle ride and a marathon 26.22-mile (42.20 km) run, raced in that order and without a break. It is widely considered one of the most difficult one-day sporting events in the world. Most Ironman events have a limited time of 17 hours to complete the race. The race typically starts at 7:00 a.m.; the mandatory swim cut off for the 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim is 9:20 a.m. (2 hours 20 minutes), the mandatory bike cut off time is 5:30 p.m. (8 hours 10 minutes), and the mandatory marathon cut off is midnight (6 hours 30 minutes). Any participant who manages to complete the triathlon in these timings is designated an Ironman. Source: wikipedia.org

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Today in History: First Official Air Mail Flight in 1911

Today in History: First Official Air Mail Flight in 1911

107 years ago today, the first official flight with air mail takes place in Allahabad, British India when 23-year old French pilot Henri Pecquet transported 6000 letters and postcards in his biplane from Allahabad to Naini, some 6 miles (10 km) away.

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Today is National Hippo Day

Today is National Hippo Day

Did you know that Hippo loosely translates to “River Horse” in ancient Greek? National Hippo Day celebrates the third largest mammal on Earth. Go ahead and waddle in a mud bath, get angry with some tourists, or just yawn a lot whilst opening your mouth really-really widely ….

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Today in History: Bombing of Dresden in 1945

Today in History: Bombing of Dresden in 1945

73 years ago today, a series of Allied firebombing raids begins against the German city of Dresden, reducing the “Florence of the Elbe” to rubble and flames, and killing as many as 135,000 people. It was the single most destructive bombing of the war—including Hiroshima and Nagasaki—and all the more horrendous because little, if anything, was accomplished strategically, since the Germans were already on the verge of surrender.

Among the conclusions reached at the February 1945 Yalta Conference of the Allied powers was the resolution that the Allies would engage in concerted strategic bombing raids against German cities known for war-production and manufacturing, in an effort to bring the Nazi war machine to a crashing halt. The tragic irony of the raid on Dresden, a medieval city renowned for its rich artistic and architectural treasures, is that during the war it had never been a site of war-production or major industry. Both Allies and Germans alike have argued over the real purpose of the firebombing; the ostensible “official” rationale was that Dresden was a major communications center and bombing it would hamper the German ability to convey messages to its army, which was battling Soviet forces at the time. But the extent of the destruction was, for many, disproportionate to the stated strategic goal—many believe that the attack was simply an attempt to punish the Germans and weaken their morale.

More than 3,400 tons of explosives were dropped on the city by 800 American and British aircraft. The firestorm created by the two days of bombing set the city burning for many more days, littering the streets with charred corpses, including many children. Eight square miles of the city was ruined, and the total body count was between 35,000 and 135,000 (an approximation is all that was possible given that the city was filled with many refugees from farther east). The hospitals that were left standing could not handle the numbers of injured and burned, and mass burials became necessary. Source: www.history.com.

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Tonight is the Opening Ceremony of the XXIII Olympic Winter Games

Tonight is the Opening Ceremony of the XXIII Olympic Winter Games

Millions of people around the world will tune in to watch the festivities and celebrate the beginning of “the world’s greatest sporting event.” The 2018 Winter Games will be hosted by Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The first Olympic Games took place in Ancient Greece in 776 BC. Historians believe there was just one event—a short sprint called the “stadion.” The modern-day Olympic Games began in 1896. Today, over 10,000 athletes from over 200 countries compete for a coveted gold medal.

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Today in History: Southern Pacific completes “Sunset Route” in 1883

Today in History: Southern Pacific completes “Sunset Route” in 1883

135 years ago today, Southern Pacific Railroad completed its transcontinental “Sunset Route” from New Orleans to California, consolidating its dominance over rail traffic to the Pacific.

One of the most powerful railroad companies of the 19th century, the “Espee” (as the railroad was often called) originated in an ambitious plan conceived in 1870 by the “Big Four” western railroad barons: Collis P. Huntington, Charles Crocker, Leland Stanford, and Mark Hopkins. A year earlier, the Big Four’s western-based Central Pacific had linked up with the eastern-based Union Pacific in Utah, creating the first transcontinental American railway. With that finished, the “Big Four” began to look for ways to increase their control over West Coast shipping, and decided to focus their efforts on extending the California-based Southern Pacific southward.

By 1877, the Southern Pacific controlled 85 percent of California’s railroad mileage. Huntington, who now dominated the company, saw an excellent opportunity to create a transcontinental line through the southern United States. Huntington had to act fast if was to beat the competition. The Texas and Pacific Railroad was already pushing westward toward the Pacific at a fast pace. Marshalling his awesome energy and financial resources, Huntington began driving his Southern Pacific line eastward. He won the race in 1881, when he linked the Southern Pacific to the Santa Fe Railroad at Deming, New Mexico, creating the second American transcontinental railway. Two years later, on February 5, 1883, Huntington gained full control of a number of smaller railroads, creating the Southern Pacific’s “Sunset Route” from New Orleans to California.

With the “Sunset Route,” Huntington confirmed his domination over California rails. He had taken considerable financial risks to build the Southern Pacific system, and he collected very considerable financial rewards. The Southern Pacific had a near monopoly over rail service to California, and Huntington and his associates took advantage of the situation by charging high shipping rates.

Termed “the Octopus” for its tentacled stranglehold on much of the California economy, the Southern Pacific inspired Californians to create some of the first strong public regulations over railroads in American history. But despite the anger and outrage Huntington’s exploitation inspired, few would deny that the mighty Southern Pacific Railroad played an essential role in fostering the growth of a vibrant California economy for decades to come.

Source: www.history.com.

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