Today is President George Washington’s Birthday (President’s Day)

 George Washington (1732–99) by Gilbert Stuart Photo: Public Domain (Wikimedia Commons)
George Washington (1732–99) by Gilbert Stuart
Photo: Public Domain (Wikimedia Commons)

Although today is referred to as “President’s Day” it is not a federal holiday by that name. It is officially designated as Washington’s Birthday under federal law. There was a movement to combine both Washington and Lincoln’s birthday (since they occur days apart) or honor the office of president. That never came to be. Instead in 1968 the Uniform Monday Holiday Act was past and came into force in 1971. That shifted most federal holidays to a Monday if it fell during the week. Washington’s Birthday name was not changed and so under federal law it is still Washington’s Birthday. However many states issue their own proclamations celebrating not only Washington but Lincoln and others from their own state. Advertisers have caught on as well. So today many call it President’s Day but who it commemorates beyond George Washington is up to the state governors.

The unity of Government, which constitutes you one people, is also now dear to you. It is justly so; for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very Liberty, which you so highly prize.
President George Washington,Farewell Address, 19 September 1799.


CONTROVERSY-SHOULD THE MARCONI WIRELESS BE RETRIEVED BEFORE DECAY MAKES IT IMPOSSIBLE?

Titanic Wreck Bow
Image: Public Domain (NOAA-http://www.gc.noaa.gov/images/gcil/ATT00561.jpg)

I have been withholding posting on some new developments about Titanic until I was fully read up on it. Not too long ago a long dormant treaty to protect the wreck of RMS Titanic was agreed to by the United Kingdom and the United States. Both sides mutually agree that the wreck is to remain untouched. Canada and France have not signed the treaty but are in possible consultations to sign on as well.

Actual salvage ended some years ago when RMS Titanic Inc. (owned by Premier Exhibitions) said no further salvage expeditions were planned.  A salvage award was done and the entire collection is up for sale (it has to be sold as one unit). So far no one has put up a successful bid due to the high price and the strict conservation requirements the court imposed.

The state of the wreck is, well, it is a wreck that is going the way of most wrecks. It is steadily decaying and probably will be totally gone in a few decades (perhaps sooner or later but it is inevitable). That raises a concern that perhaps a valuable historical artifact will be totally lost forever if it cannot be recovered soon.

At least that is the concern of RMS Titanic Inc that now is petitioning the federal court for permission to retrieve the Marconi wireless transmitter from inside Titanic. Up until now, artifacts have been retrieved from the debris field and not from the ship itself. The argument is a simple one: it has to be retrieved before the ship decays further making it impossible. As can be expected, a storm of controversy has erupted. If it goes the course as before, the name calling and accusations of grave robbery will be thrown out.

During the first salvage, the Titanic community was divided.  Flame wars erupted on the Internet that were so nasty, so personal, and took no prisoners that it drove many from Titanic online communities to never return.  Anyone that was pro-salvage was vilified personally and without remorse. One notorious anti-salvager is rumored to have faked his own death to avoid facing his victims.

The essential argument is that with the ship in a rapid state of decay, retrieving this one artifact for history ought to be allowed. It is a compelling argument but so is letting Titanic being left alone as a memorial to those who have perished. A reproduction could serve the same purpose without having to disturb the wreck further.

Still had Howard Carter took pictures and sealed up the tomb of a virtually unknown pharoah, we would never have seen how ornate the tombs of pharoahs really were (most were looted and ransacked) in the Cairo museum today. Both sides have merit and a court in Virginia will make that decision. The treaty may or not play a role in this but it will be interesting to watch.

UK and US agree ‘momentous’ deal to protect the sunken wreck of the Titanic (Daily Mail, 21 Jan 2020)

Relic hunters plan to retrieve Titanic radio that relayed the ship’s final pleas for help (Washington Post, 22 Jan 2020

Titanic News for January 12, 2020

Titanic Exhibit at Luxor in Las Vegas Adds 108 New Artifacts (Las Vegas Review Journal, 11 Jan 2020-Subscription Required)

Titanic Presentation In Oak Forest Explores The Irish Experience Aboard The Ship (Daily Southtown, 10 Jan 2020)

After presenting the Titanic: Irish Ship, Irish Experience in September at the Irish American Heritage Center in Chicago, McCann contacted Chicago Gaelic Park about bringing the multimedia presentation there. “I go over the roots of the Titanic especially being built in Belfast, Ireland. I also talk about how the Titanic impacted society before and after. The Irish ties of the Titanic are massively overlooked and are not talked about enough,” she said. “The audience that I’m reaching probably already knows that the Titanic was built in Belfast and has Irish roots but it goes a lot deeper than that. It’s something that is overshadowed by the tragic event that happened.”

Vegas’ Titanic Exhibit In Las Vegas Adding 108 New Artifacts (10news.com, 10 Jan 2020)

The new artifacts include 20 never-before-seen items that have been under careful preservation since being recovered from the ocean floor and 102 items that have never been on display in the Las Vegas exhibition. In addition, the exhibit will be “refreshed” throughout, including the addition of new technologies and a photo station where visitors will be able to pose with prop lifejackets from a major motion picture. For the first time ever, visitors will be able to take personal photos beginning Jan. 13, 2020. Additional enhancements to the Exhibition will be made throughout spring 2020 and soon, the Exhibition will be able to host private events and receptions.

Oceangate Raises $18M To Build A Bigger Submersible Fleet And Set Up Titanic Trips (Geekwire, 9 Jan 2020)

OceanGate says it has raised $18.1 million in new investment, laying the financial groundwork for an expansion of its fleet of deep-sea submersibles and setting the stage for dives to the 108-year-old Titanic shipwreck in 2021. The funding round was reported in documents filed today with the Securities and Exchange Commission. OceanGate CEO and founder Stockton Rush said the figure reported in the documents, $19.3 million, would be amended to reflect the actual size of the round. He declined to identify the investors, other than to say that “it was 100% insiders.”

Today is Epiphany/Three Kings Day

Adoración de los Reyes Magos
El Greco (1541–1614)
Public Domain

Epiphany or Three Kings Day is January 6 and as the Twelfth Night officially ends the Christmas season. It is often celebrated on the nearest Sunday between January 2 and January 8.

It is a day to celebrate the baptism of Jesus and the arrival of The Magi (Three Kings or Wise Men). In the Middle Ages Christmas was celebrated from Christmas Eve to January 6. And Epiphany Day was a major celebration well into the mid 19th century when its importance diminished. The Catholic Church no longer requires January 6 to be celebrated as a solemnity on that exact day and celebrates it on the Sunday that follows it. Some Protestant churches celebrate the Epiphany season from January 6 till Ash Wednesday. Orthodox Christians celebrate it on January 19 as they follow the Julian calendar.

In many Spanish speaking countries, Dia de los Reyes (Three Kings’ Day)is celebrated with special foods and gatherings. Many European countries have their own unique observances as well. Children often gets treats or presents on this day. In Italy, La Befana flies through the night on January 5 on a broomstick to deliver gifts to good kids and give coal to the bad ones.

So who were the Three Kings? There is a lot of debate on this. Some doubt they existed and some consider it a pious fantasy. Much of what is called the Three Kings today are embellishments that have been added over time. The Gospel of Matthew, the earliest source of the story, is quite simple and only refers to them as Magi from the east. Nor does it say there were only three but three gifts were given. And it is possible they were actually Nabataeans, a trading people that lived in northern Arabia to the Southern Levant whose capital is known as Petra today. Dwight Longnecker in his book Mystery of the Magi examines this evidence. Worth reading if you want to learn more about who these Magi might really have been.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Wishing everyone a wonderful and prosperous 2020. Happy New Year!

Happy New Year (publicdomainpictures.net)
Photo: Larisa Koshkina

Auld Lang Syne
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

https://youtu.be/zVwuS3K7Hcw

TODAY IS FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY

The Flight into Egypt (Albrecht Dürer 1471-1528)
Photo: Public Domain

The Feast of the Holy Family was instituted as liturgical celebration of the Roman Catholic Church to venerate the Holy Family–Jesus, Saint Joseph and Blessed Mary–as a model for all Christian families. The feast was first introduced in 1893 by Pope Leo XIII and set on the Sunday after the Epiphany. However in 1969 it was moved to the first Sunday after Christmas to make it part of the Christmas season.

Sources:
Feast of the Holy Family (Britannica.com)
The Feast of the Holy Family(ChurchYear.net)

TODAY IS THE FEAST OF THE HOLY INNOCENTS

Massacre of the Innocents
Matteo di Giovanni (1435–1495)
Public Domain

The Feast of the Holy Innocents or Innocent’s Day is to remember the slaughter of male children 2 years and younger in Bethlehem and in its vicinity by Herod the Great. The story as related in the Gospel of Matthew (2:16-18). Herod was angered when the Wise Men did not return to him after locating the Messiah. No one can say with certainty how many were killed. Some have doubted it happened at all but it would be consistent with Herod the Great’s personality. He had no problems executing even members of his family if he thought they were betraying him. And since Bethlehem was a small area, the slaughter may not have been widely noticed.

Nearly all the Christian churches observe the feast day though not on the same day. The Catholic Church and most western churches observe it on December 28 but Eastern Orthodox celebrates on December 29. The slain children are treated as martyrs of the church. It is not certain when it was first observed. While the exact date of the deaths is unknown, it is kept in the octave of Christmas as followed after the birth of Jesus. However it is believed it took place 2 years after Jesus birth. Matthew says the Wise Men saw child with his mother indicating he was no longer a baby. And Herod had learned from the Wise Men the approximate date of the birth.

Sources:

TODAY IS ST. STEPHEN’S DAY(BOXING DAY U.K.)

If you remember the Christmas carol Good King Wenceslas you heard the name. Stephen was a deacon in the early Christian church who was accused of blasphemy and put on trial by Jewish authorities in Jerusalem. After a trial in which he denounced them, Stephen was stoned to death. One of the witnesses to the event was Saul of Tarsus, who later converted and is known today as the apostle Paul. Stephen is considered the first martyr for the faith, the reason his feast day immediately follows the celebration of Jesus birth. All the major Christian congregations–Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Orthodox–all venerate him as a Saint and celebrate the feast day (Western churches on 26 December, 27 Dec Orthodox, and 8 Jan Oriental Orthodox). In some countries (mainly Western Europe)it is a public holiday.

Stoning of St Stephen, altarpiece of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice
Public Domain (Wikimedia)

In the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand it is celebrated as Boxing Day, a secular holiday that falls on the same day as Feast of Stephen. Traditionally it is the day in which servants and tradespeople receive the “Christmas box” from their employers. While that tradition may still hold true, it is either a second Christmas day for some or an extra shopping day (though in some countries it apparently is a day when a lot of returns to retailers takes place). It is also a major sports day as well

Further Information

St. Stephen (Catholic Encyclopedia)
Boxing Day (pauldenton.co.uk)

Commentary on Titanic news and other related items.