There are some things that occur yearly, and others that are singular events. For instance, every year in March, college basketball hits its fever pitch as they wean their hundreds of teams down to the "final four" best to play for a championship. Baseball players, eager to start swinging bats and throwing balls, head off to spring training camp. Racecar drivers hit the hottest tracks in the warmest weather states, already well on their way to the next Nextel cup. Free agency kicks into high gear in the NFL, working its way to the draft as every team tries to position itself to get those cream-of-the-crop players. And teens everywhere, suffering no shortage of hormone overload as it is, march off to spring breaks on hot, sandy beaches throbbing with energy and excitement. It's time for Palm Sunday, Easter, Earth Day, and Women's History month. (Is there a men's history month?)
But then, you have singular events.. those "headline" moments that sometimes mean the difference between life as we know it, and life as it may become. Let's look at some March headlines, both recent and historical, that are wonderful or awful, but have all been born of some need of humans to direct their lives. I thought it worthy of reflection considering the state of our nation today, and the dramas playing out before us even today, lest we forget our place in the chain of humanity.
2005 - We haven't made it halfway through the month, but tragedy has struck and shocked us all. An inadequately guarded prisoner killed a judge and two people after overpowering his court escort and grabbing her gun. The husband and mother of a judge were shot to death in cold blood in safety of their home by a man who later shot himself. A man killed several members of his church without saying a word, and turned the gun to his own head. A child was dragged from the warmth of her small bed as she slept, suffering nameless abuses, murder, and ultimately burial, no more than few hundred feet from her home. Eerily, in 1932, the 20-month-old son of aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh was kidnapped from his home in Hopewell, New Jersey. The Lindberghs then paid a $50,000 ransom, but it didn't matter. The small boy's body was found in a wooded area a few miles from the house.
At this writing, a helpless disabled woman has been placed on a starvation plan by her estranged husband, while a judge with a strong desire to write law regarding mercy killings stands nearby washing his hands. In the course of this particular case, I have learned much about the motives of people bent on using the tactic of "mercy killings" to eliminate the sick, disabled, elderly, retarded, and other unfortunate citizens from our society. The subliminal connection to Hitler's "mercy killing" plans and other euthanasia initiatives frankly scares the hell out of me.
2002 - America goes to war in Iraq. Today, our nation looks back at a difficult path, one strewn with hard decisions and tragic circumstance, but with a clear mission and now visibly realized goal. Repressed peoples everywhere are taking the reins of their own lives, looking for ways to make themselves free nations ruled by democratic principles. True, in matters of openness and fair play, there will be transgressions.. but overall, the good coming out of the war is overtaking the bad, and we should be forever grateful to our men and women in uniform, and to leaders with the guts to stay the course.
1993 - Intel introduced the Pentium-processor, and the world of computing has reached quantum levels of speed since then primarily due to this innovative invention.
1991 - Pamela Smart was found guilty in New Hampshire of manipulating her student-lover to kill her husband. We've had several teacher/student-adult/child sexual relationship abuse cases since that time. I believe this is directly related to the overtly permissive sexual behavior encouraged by media mandibles. Hungry for advertising dollars, the lifeblood of which is viewership, they know there's nothing like sensationalism to elicit a spate of big eyes and big money. The unfortunate side effect, however, is the obvious dropping of moral barriers in the minds of future generations. Once we allow behavior and activities that a healthy society would never want or permit, we take the risk of normalizing such conduct, and therefore nullify our ability to influence younger, more susceptible minds with the wisdom of good behavior versus behavior that feels good.
1989 - Oliver North began two days of testimony at his Iran-Contra trial in Washington, DC. Today, this wonderful man is a journalist and expert commentator of integrity, whose column I look for and whose show I watch.
1977 - Indira Ghandi resigned as the prime minister of India; in 1930, Gandhi led civil disobedience.
1972 - The U.S. Senate passed the Equal Rights Amendment. It was not ratified by the states, and didn't get through Congress until 1974. Where are we with this emotional decision today?
1960 - Two men, A.L. Schawlow and C.H. Townes, obtained a patent for the laser, the first for any laser. Think of how this invention has changed our world forever... in medicine, computing, entertainment, safety.. it was one of those magical, life changing creations that no one could have ever dreamed would become so powerful. Much like the telephone.
1956 - Perry Como became the first major t.v. variety show host to book a rock and roll act on his program. The act was Carl Perkins. :) Now we have millions of musical events available through endless sources of media.
1933 - President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill legalizing the sale and possession of beer and wine containing up to 3.2% alcohol. This society-changing event impacted us forever. Entire industries, livelihoods, and fortunes rest on the favorable passage of this bill, and there isn't a beer or wine drinker who'd want it any other way.
1904 - Niagara Falls ran out of water due to a drought.
1894 - The first playoff competition for the Stanley Cup began, with Montreal playing Ottawa. Today, the National Hockey League is struggling just to stay alive as a sports franchise and entertainment source for hockey fans around the world.
1882 - The U.S. Congress outlawed polygamy. So.. does this mean they were legislating regarding personal behavior? If you ask today's politicos, this is a big "no no". But if you ask me, the entire reason Congress exists is to exercise the will of the people. They are supposed to be people helping people... us helping us, if you will... and if the majority of us believe a thing is wrong, and can demonstrate reasonable facts in support of that belief, then Congress must act on behalf of the will of the people. This should occur at every level of government, and work hand-in-hand with the administration of the judiciary.
1880 - The Salvation Army was founded in the United States. This social service organization was first founded in England by William Booth and operates today in 90 countries. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps, an organization sending young American volunteers to developing countries to assist with health care, education and other basic human needs.
1876 - Telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell, who with his father was involved in teaching deaf persons to speak, developed an interest in the vibrating membrane as a method of electrically transmitting sounds. He subsequently invented the telephone, on which his very first sentence to his assistant, "Mister Watson, come here, I want you." was spoken on March 10.
1873 - Slavery was abolished in Puerto Rico. An example of how humanity must conquer inhumanity in every society in all parts of this world. It is what separates the civilized from the uncivilized, the Samaritan from the brute, the good from the evil.
1872 - Illinois became the first state to require sexual equality in employment. Can it be that a Midwest state set the example for the progressive East coast? Talk about social pioneers!
1862 - The first issue of U.S. government paper money occurred as $5, $10 and $20 bills began circulation. I was shocked at how much time elapsed between when we were founded as a nation until we had actual money.
1819: The United States starts its Indian "civilization" program. Today, we have a Colorado professor who would carelessly use a throw-away nation to garner deference and respect under the false pretense that he is of American Indian descent. As if this bestows a special light upon his self-serving insights.
1790 - Thomas Jefferson became the first U.S. Secretary of State. Today, we have a cultured, brilliant, beautiful woman of African descent holding that very honorable position, and it is one of today's headlines in which I take great joy. I'd love to see a meeting between Condoleeza Rice and Thomas Jefferson.. wouldn't that be great?
1789 - Government under the U.S. Constitution begins.
1775 - Patrick Henry delivered his Give Me Liberty speech, igniting the American Revolution.
1770 - The Boston Massacre happens. Before the American Revolution, King George and the British Parliament passed strict laws to control their American colonies, but the American colonists resisted the new laws. On March 5, 1770, British soldiers fired on a mob of colonists in Boston. This incident, known as the Boston Massacre, moved American colonists closer to rebellion and revolution.
1692 - Salem Witch Hunt begins. Many people, including children, were burned to death or otherwise executed, because of their "demonic" behavior. It was many years later found that there was something in the food they were eating in the new world that lent to aberrant behavior. The lesson: err on the side of life and healing, not death and destruction.
1457 - The first book was printed on a printing press. It was the Gutenberg bible.
I think it fitting to end with this particular one, as it occurred on my birthday (March 22) and I find that personally delightful to know. There were too many events to mention, good and bad, that occurred in March's over the years to mention in this column. But like they told Caesar back in 44 B.C., right before his demise on the 15th.. beware the ides (the 15th) of March.
Me? I'm just happy its my birthday. My mom sent me a present, and I plan to have ice cream cake and pray for one more year. Thank you. :)