For the week of Feb. 25, 2024
Enrico Caruso (1873-1931): Italian American. Opera singer. The most acclaimed operatic tenor of his time, Caruso was also the first great singer whose voice is preserved in recordings.
Haing Ngor (1951-1996) Cambodian American. Physician, actor. Haing Ngor arrived in the United States after escaping imprisonment by the Khmer Rough following the 1975 take over of Cambodia by that party, and endured four years of torture and starvation. He had to conceal his medical training to escape, which after a Vietnamese invasion ousted the Khmer Rough. He immigrated to the United States in 1980 to resume his medical practice. In 1984, Ngor won the Academy Award for Best supporting actor for his portrayal of Dith Pran in the movie The Killing fields. Ngor was the first nonprofessional to win and Oscar for acting since Harold Russell in 1946 for the Best years of Our Lives. He was shot to death outside his on this date. He was 45 years old.
Jose de San Martin (1178-1850): Soldier and statesman. With Simon Bolivar, San Martin led the movement of Spain's South American colonies to win their freedom from Spain. In 1811 he resigned from the Spanish army to organize the armed resistance to Spanish rule in the land of his birth, modern day Argentina. He raided an army there and led it over the Andes to Chile, taking Santiago in 1817, and then organized a Chilean navy to transport the rebel army to Lima. There he proclaimed the establishment of a new country on July 28,1821. Although he was made leader of the new nation, he came into political conflict with Bolivar and retired to France.
Nation Day : Kuwait. Also observed on February 26, this two-day holiday marks the successful pushing back of Iraqi troops from Kuwait during the Gulf War in 1991.
Blanche K. Bruce (1841-1898): African American. Legislator. Born into slavery, Bruce represented Mississippi in the United State Senate from 1875 to 1881. The only African American to serve a full term in the Senate before Reconstruction. Bruce opposed the exclusion of Chinese from the United States and fought for citizenship rights for American Indians.
Ralph Ellison (1914-1994): African American. Writer. Introduced to literature by his mother, who worked as a domestic, Ellison attended Tuskegee Institute on a music scholarship. However, in 1936 he moved to New York City, where he began to write short stories while supporting himself as a freelance photographer and audio engineer. He served in the merchant marines during World War II. After seven years of effort, he published Invisible Man in 1952, which won the National Book Award. Since then, the book has become a classic of African American literature and has been translated into seventeen languages. He taught and lectured widely, was appointed to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, served on the National Council on the Arts and Humanities and the Carnegie Commission on public television, and was a trustee of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He died on this day at his home in New York City.
Independence Movement Day: South Korea. Although Japan annexed Korea in 1910, a movement for independence arose in 1919. However, it was not until the end of World War II that Korea became independent, and then only as the two separate states of North and South Korea.
Three nOne Day (Samil-Jol): Korea. From 1905 to 1945, Japan dominated Korea. This day commemorates the March movement of 1919 of massive demonstrations against Japanese rule. The movement was suppressed and Korea, although divided at the 38th parallel, became independent only after the end of World War II.
Granting of citizenship to Puerto Ricans (1917): United States. On this date the United States Congress passed the Jones Act, which conferred U.S. citizenship on Puerto Ricans and gave them the right to elect representatives to both houses of the territorial legislature. The act was opposed by some of the most prominent Puerto Rican leaders because they felt it was a poor substitute for full independence.
Alexander Crummell (1819-1898): African American. Minister, missionary, and writer. After his ordination as an Episcopal minister, Crummell traveled to England to raise funds to support his work among African Americans. He decided instead to enroll at Cambridge University, where he took a degree. From 1853 to 1873 he worked as a missionary and teacher of theology in Monrovia, Liberia. He then returned to the United States and served as rector of a church in Washington D.C. Crummellis published works include collections of sermons and essays on contemporary topics of concern to African Americans.
Doll Festival (Hina Matsuri): Japan. This is one of the major social festivals in traditional Japan. There is much visiting among family members and friends, and visitors bring gifts of dolls. The traditional holiday foods are red-bean-flavored rice, rice dumplings wrapped in cherry leaves, and a special sweet cake.
Indian Appropriations Act (1871): United States. This act declared that no American Indian tribe was to be recognized as a nation empowered to make treaties with the U.S. government. It asserted the right of the federal government to manage American Indian affairs without tribal consent.
National Day: Morocco. In 1915 Morocco became independent from France and Spain. The king is especially honored on this day. The holiday feast traditionally includes mechoiu (whole roasted lamb) and pastilla (salted pie filled with lamb, eggs, pigeon, chicken, vegetables, and spices.)
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