This Week in History

Brainstorming possible August holidays last week made me think that some of my readers might appreciate the occasional excuse to declare their own personal celebration and take a day off. So let us commence a new, recurring feature here at The Pietist Schoolman, with the rarely-before-used title, “This Week in History”!

Aung San Suu Kyi Poster
Italian poster calling for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi

August 8, 1988 – The “8888” Uprising in Burma

I’m going to admit up front that much of my “research” for these posts will entail visits to Wikipedia, so it’s entirely possible that I, gullible fellow that I am, might get duped once or twice. That’ll be especially true for any event that happens to fall on an interesting calendar day: like, say, 8/8/88. But trusting in the veracity of open source encyclopedias…

While baseball fans like me remember this as the night that the lights first went on at Wrigley Field, it’s historically more significant as a pivotal moment in the 1988 pro-democracy protests in Burma that brought soon-to-be Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi to prominence. After her party won the 1990 elections, Burma’s military junta placed her under house arrest (where she largely remained until last year, with occasional, brief periods of freedom).

August 9, 1173 – The foundation for the “Leaning Tower” of Pisa is laid

I mention this almost entirely to justify the following bit of self-promotion:

A few years back, my friend and colleague Sam suggested that we produce a pastiche of the old “Mr. Peabody” cartoons from Rocky & Bullwinkle for the Western Civ/church history course we both teach. So I wrote a script about Peabody and Sherman (the latter played by our esteemed senior colleague, Kevin Cragg) encountering Galileo. It closed with the astronomer dropping bocce balls out of the Leaning Tower of Pisa onto the foot of his adversary, Cardinal Bellarmine.

To my eternal joy, Sam also cast me as Mr. Peabody, meaning that long after I’m dead, my children and their children and future generations of Gehrzes will be able to hear my voice coming out of the mouth of a cartoon dog. Here’s the final product:

August 10, 1776 – Word of the “Declaration of Independence” reaches Britain

I have to admit, it had never even occurred to me to wonder how long this took. I guess I knew it took several weeks to cross the Atlantic at the time, but lo and behold, news of our country’s founding document first appeared in the British media of the time in the August 10-13 edition of the London Chronicle, which reported: “Advice is received that the Congress [but with the cool 18th century ‘s’] resolved [ditto] upon independence the 4th of July; and, it is said, have declared war against Great Britain in form.” Click here to see the front page of this historic issue.

August 11, 1961 – David Brooks and Craig Ehlo are born

Would you have ever guessed that former Cleveland Cavs guard Craig Ehlo was David Brooks‘ age? (Or that David Brooks was Craig Ehlo’s age?) Doesn’t that make you wonder if David Brooks felt a twinge of psychic pain at the exact moment that Michael Jordan did this to Craig Ehlo?

No? Okay. It’s just me. That’s cool.

August 12, 1898 – Peace signed between Spain and the United States

While little known today, the Spanish-American War thrust the US into its present role as a global power. Simultaneously, it revealed that the tiny regular army was virtually incompetent at waging modern war and exacerbated the socio-political conflicts that make this war rank right up (down?) there with the War of 1812 and the Iraq War for having divided the nation from the outset. I touched on it briefly in my “Loving War, Seeking Peace” post that closed the World War I series.


5 thoughts on “This Week in History

    1. Of course you do. Why would I not want my voice compared to Gabe’s? (Erin: “I’m not attracted to you. I cringe when you talk.”)

      It’s kind of like how they used to train actors to pitch their accent “halfway across the Atlantic”: somewhere in between American and British. I’ve trained my voice so that it falls halfway between a know-it-all animated canine and a man that Michael Scott assumed was a transvestite. Very similar.

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