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This week in history

 March 25 in History

 Today's birthday

For the week of Mar. 24, 2019

Arturo Toscanini (1867-1957): Italian American. Orchestra conductor. Toscanini, one of the great virtuoso conductors of the early twentieth century, first came to prominence as a conductor of operas. After serving as musical director of La Scala, the opera house of Milan in his native Italy, and then of the Metropolitan Opera in New York, he became conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, and finally of the NBC Symphony, sponsored by the radio network, which broadcast his performances to millions of homes across the nation. He was legendary for his phenomenal memory, his attention to detail, and his powers of interpretation, particularly in his performances of Verdi, Beethoven, and Wagner.

Independence Day: Greece. During the early 19th century, Greeks throughout the world joined a secret society, the Philike Hetairia (Friendly Association), whose purpose was to collect money and arms for a revolution to free Greece from Turkish rule. In March of 1821 the head of the organization, Alexander Ypsilanti, entered Turkish territory with a group of armed followers and declared the independence of Greece. Although his uprising was crushed, it is remembered as the first event in Greeceis struggle for independence.

The Annunciation: Christian. Based on the gospel in Luke 1:266-56, this holy day celebrates the Angel Gabrielis announcement to Mary of Galilee that she would become the mother of Jesus.

Henry O. Flipper (1856-1940): African American. Military officer. Henry Flipper was the first Black West Point graduate. Although the fifth Black accepted to West Point, he was the first to graduate and in 1877 became the first Black commissioned officer in the United States Army. Flipper described his successful struggle against ostracism and prejudice in The Colored Cadet at West Point (1878). He joined the Tenth Cavalry, one of two all-Black army units. At Fort Sill in the Oklahoma territory, he perfected a system for draining mosquito ninfested stagnant water that caused outbreaks of malaria at the fort. In 1881, he was court-martialed on charges of embezzlement. A review of the trial record at the time concluded that the charges were dubious, but President Chester Arthur refused to set the verdict aside. In 1976, the United States Army lifted Flipperis dishonorable discharge, recognizing that the conviction was racially motivated. On February 19, 1999, President Clinton granted a posthumous pardon to Flipper. Flipper has also been honored at West Point with an annual award given in his name to an outstanding cadet, and with a section of the library named after him.

National Day: Bangladesh. Formerly the eastern part of Pakistan, Bangladesh is the worldis 139th independent nation, having emerged as a sovereign, independent state on December 16, 1971. March 26, 1971 marks the day the newly formed Bangladesh government declared independence form Pakistan.

Muharram (New Year): Islam This begins the New Year of 1422 based on the Islamic lunar calendar for Muslims. The Islamic lunar calendar dates from the hegira, the flight of the Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Medina in 622 (based on the solar calendar.)

Edmund Muskie (1914-1996): Polish American. Governor, senator, presidential candidate, secretary of state. Edmund Muskie was a long-time leader of the Democratic Party, holding many high offices in both state and federal government. Born in the mill town of Rumford, Maine, and later its senator for 21 years. He ran as the Democratic Partyis vice presidential candidate with Hubert Humphrey in 1968. Under the Carter administration, he became secretary of state.

Respect for Ancestors Day (Thanh Mimh): Vietnam. This is similar to the holiday in all other Asian cultures for paying respects to oneis ancestors by visiting and decorating their graves.

Sean Oi Casey (1880- 1964): Irish. Playwright. OiCasey is best known for his tragicomic dramas set in the poor neighborhoods of Dublin during the Irish uprising against the British and the subsequent civil war.

Cesar Chavez (1927-1993): Mexican American. Labor leader and activist. A migrant farm worker who became a nationally respected voice for social justice, Chavez spent his life combating the poverty and discrimination suffered by Mexicans and Mexican Americans, particularly agricultural laborers. In 1962 he began organizing farm workers into a union that three years later joined with a Filipino union in a strike against California grape growers for better wages and more humane working conditions. (The two groups later merged as the United Farm Worker) Table grape producers helped out for five years while Chevez focused national attention on the plight of farm workers. A national consumer boycott helped bring the strike to a successful conclusion in 1970.

Jack Johnson (1878-1946): African American. Prize fighter. Johnson was the worldis first Black heavyweight champion, holding the title from 1908 to 1915.

Octavio Paz (1931-1998): Mexican. Writer. Octavio Paz was Mexicois leading poet and essayist and one of the worldis leading figures in literature. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Literature in 1990 and praised for iimpassioned writing with wide horizons, characterized by sensuous intelligence and humanistic integrity.i He was widely known for his essay iThe Labyrinth of Solitudei and his epic poem i Sunstone.i In addition to his writing, Octavio Paz had a distinguished diplomatic career, serving as Mexicois consul and ambassador to such countries as France, Japan, and India.