For the week of Dec. 3, 2023
Joseph Conrad (born Jozef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski) (1857-1924): Polish British. Writer. After spending his youth as a merchant seaman on French and British ships, Conrad settled in England and began a career as a novelist and short story writer. His works, many of them set on the high seas, are absorbing stories that raise profound questions about the nature of fate and individual responsibility.
Giuseppe Maria Francisco Vigo (1747-1836): Italian. Trader and supporter of the American Revolution. After amassing a fortune in the fur trade in the Northwest Territory, Vigo supplied arms and supplies to the colonial forces led by his friend George Rogers Clark. During a brief period of captivity at the British-held fort at Vincennes, Vigo provided Clark with information that led to Clark's capture of the fort in 1779, a key victory in the securing of the Northwest.
Josef Pilsudski (1867-1935):Polish. Political and military leader. Born to a Polish family when the territory of historic Poland was divided and ruled by Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Russia, Pilsudski devoted his energies to the cause of restoring his nation's independence, beginning as a youthful revolutionary and evolving into a statesman who became the chief of state when Poland was reestablished as a nation in 1918. He served until 1922, leading Polish forces in their successful war against Russia in 1919-1920. He seized *power again in 1926 and dominated the government until his death. *
Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784): African American Poet. This is the anniversary of the death of the first distinguished African American Poet, who was brought to America as a slave at about eight years of age. Educated in Latin and English by her master and mistress, Wheatley became famous for her learned and elegant poetry.
Saint Nicholas Day: Netherlands. This begins the Christmas season in the Netherlands. On this day Saint Nicholas, Sinterklaas, arrives. Cities have parades where he comes riding on a white horse or in a barge or even on a motorcycle wearing a bishop's hat and a red cape. That evening, adults have parties and exchange gifts, while children set out shoes filled with carrots and hay for Saint Nicholas' horse. In the morning, they find the shoes filled with gifts.
Ira Gershwin (1896-1983): Jewish American. Lyricist and playwright. Ira Gershwin collaborated with his brother, the composer George Gershwin, to write *Many of the classics of American popular song, of them scores of musical comedies for the stage and movies. The Gershwins' shows include Funny Face, Lady Be Good, and the Black folk opera Porgy and Bess. *
Constitution Day: Spain . After the death of Spain's dictator, Francisco Franco, in 1975, Spain became a democracy and on this day in 1978 a new constitution was adopted by referendum.
Diego Rivera (1886-1957): Mexican. Painter. With David Siqueiros and Jose Clemente Orozco, Rivera led the mural painting movement that flourished in newly independent Mexico. His vision of an art created for the people found its most memorable expression monumental wall paintings depicting the ideals of the common people.
Bodhi Day (Buddha's Enlightenment): Buddist. Among Mahayana Buddhists, this holiday celebrates Buddha's attaining understanding of the truth of existence, freeing himself from all human suffering, and finding perfect happiness. The date *is based on the Japanese Buddist calendar.
Feast of the Immaculate Conception: Roman Catholic. This celebrates the Roman Catholic belief that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was conceived free from original sin.
Ralph Bunch (1904-1971): African American. Diplomat, political scientist, and United Nations official. For his work in negotiating an agreement between Israel and Arab nations in 1949, Bunch was awarded the Nobel Peace Price Prize.
T(homas) H(opkins) Gallaudet (1787-1851): French. Educator. An American teacher, Gallaudet established the first school for the hearing impaired in the United States in 1817.
Human Rights Day. On this day in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the first such statement of principle by an international body. The document, conceived as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, sets forth the basic civil, economic, political, and social rights that should be guaranteed to very person.