Archive for November, 2012
Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day
December 7, 1941 marks the day that the Empire of Japan attacked the U.S. Army and Navy in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The attack at the base also officially marked U.S. involvement in World War II. Today, December 7th is known as Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, as Americans remember the thousands of soldiers killed and injured during that day.
Until September 11, 2001, the events at Pearl Harbor were the deadliest attack on American soil. At least 2,400 people lost their lives, and over 1,000 were wounded. While most of the deaths and injuries were related to the sinking of naval ships, other soldiers lost their lives in airplanes. On top of that, civilians in the surrounding area were injured from the morning’s surprise attacks.
December 7th was immediately recognized as Pearl Harbor day, and it was one day that would not easily be forgotten. However, it wasn’t officially a holiday until Congress dubbed December 7th as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day in 1994. Just three years before, on the 50th anniversary of the attacks, Congress also created commemorative medals for all those who were at Pearl Harbor that day. Civilians were also included as recipients of the Pearl Harbor Commemorative Medal.
After the end of World War II, it took time to recover and reflect from all the aftermath. In 1962, the USS Arizona memorial was built in Pearl Harbor right over the sunken ship. The memorial holds the names of all those who lost their lives that day. It is one of the most visited places in Hawaii today, and you can get there from the Pearl Harbor Visitor’s Center on a guided tour boat. The ship went down with many soldiers trapped inside—they were never recovered. Small amounts of oil still leak out from the ship at the sea floor.
While the Arizona is the most popular Pearl Harbor memorial to visit, you can also see the wreckage and memorial of the USS Utah. Also located within Pearl Harbor, it is just north of Ford Island. You can get to the memorial by boat, and you can also see parts of the wreckage from shore.
A visit to Hawaii isn’t the only way you can observe Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. While this isn’t declared a federal holiday, Pearl Harbor Day is widely celebrated across the country every year. Parades, wreath ceremonies and public events are just some of the few ways in which veterans and civilians come together to remember all who lost their lives on that tragic day. It is common for people to lower their U.S. flags to half-staff for the full day.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt stated that the day was one “which will live in infamy.” There was a great deal of truth and wisdom in those words, as Americans still observe Pearl Harbor Day now more than 70 years later. While the events may not be as fresh as the attacks on 9/11, it is still a significant part of American history that is not likely to ever be forgotten. The date particularly hits home to the soldiers who survived that day, as well as the family and friends of all involved in the tragedy.
2012 marks the 71st anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attacks. The Pearl Harbor Visitor Center is hosting special tours and commemorative events during the entire first week of December, with the official anniversary event on the 7th. There are other events held across the country as well, so you won’t have to look far in order to participate in this holiday of reflection.
Pearl Harbor Collectibles
Human Rights Day
On December 10, 1948, the newly established United Nations General Assembly made the first global written declaration for human rights. Coined as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), it was the first international promise to seek equal rights around the world. In 1950, the United Nations decided to make December 10th Human Rights Day to keep the momentum of the UDHR going.
The issue of human rights is still prevalent today, but it first gained prominence in the late 1940s. After World War II, citizens across the globe witnessed the aftermath of the Holocaust and wanted to take action to ensure that such horrific acts against humans would never occur again. Also, increased communication technologies made more people aware of genocides and civil wars in other nations, particularly those in Asia and Africa.
Human Rights Day is celebrated in a variety of forms. Some advocates celebrate the day in an upbeat way through ceremonies, parades, plays and musical performances. Others make it a mission to increase outreach on this holiday to people who don’t understand their rights. Most countries focus on educating women and children on human rights, especially in regions where such groups may be oppressed. In other cases, Human Rights Day presents opportunities for protests against oppressive governments. The majority of these protests are carried out peacefully.
2008 marked a special celebration for Human Rights Day. December 10, 2008 marked 60 years since the United Nations penned the UDHR. To date, it is the most-translated document in the world, and it has been printed in over 360 languages. The purpose of the UDHR holds true to this day as citizens from around the world continue to learn about their rights and gain freedom from oppressive governments. Some countries pass out copies of the UDHR every year on Human Rights Day.
All nations in the world recognize December 10th as Human Rights Day with the exception of South Africa. Instead, the day is observed on March 21st to remember the Sharpeville massacre that resulted in dozens of deaths after citizens protested against the Arpatheid government. This government promoted white supremacist policies, which resulted in segregation among the population. The deadly massacre occurred on March 21, 1960.
It’s no coincidence that December 10th is also the same day that the Nobel Peace Prize and the United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights are also awarded. The first award is annual, and the second is given every five years. Both prizes tie into the same theme of human rights, so each tie into this holiday just right.
While Human Rights day is designated as a full day for world-wide recognition of inhumane treatment in a variety of forms, it is important that participants take away with lessons to apply to everyday situations. The fight for human rights can be a long-term battle for some groups, and it is important to have the right information and resources on hand at all times in order to succeed.
World Day for Persons with Disabilities
World Day for Persons with Disabilities, also referred to as the International Day of People with Disability, is observed December 3rd. Originally established by the United Nations in 1992, this international holiday is meant to promote the awareness and understanding of all forms of disability. This day has been decades in the making, and each year has a special theme.
While the United States has long-supported people with disabilities, not everyone gets this type of recognition in other nations. Before the founding of this holiday, many disabled individuals were denied rights and shunned upon. The United Nations founded the World Day for Persons with Disabilities in part to help everyone gain the rights they deserve. At the same time, many of these rights come in the form of support.
The International Day of People with Disability originally stems from a project started by the United Nations in 1976. That year, the U.N.’s General Assembly decided to dedicate an entire year to awareness and increased rights for people with disabilities. The dedication year was slated for 1981. Coined as the International Year of Disabled Persons, the United Nations worked fiercely to increase the rights of people with disabilities, including the education sector. The organization also fought to increase research for disability prevention.
To further enhance the agenda of 1981’s goals, the United Nations declared 1983-1992 as the Decade of Disabled Persons. However, a decade isn’t simply enough when it comes to advocating for the rights of the disabled. In fact, this is a year-round battle since new issues constantly come about. For this reasons, the United Nations decided to declare December 3rd as the World Day for Persons with Disabilities in 1992.
While considered a holiday, the International Day of People with Disability is more than just a day of observance. The purpose of this day is to increase awareness across the world for a variety of disabilities, ranging from physical, mental and emotional ones. Citizens in various countries are encouraged to seek political action to help others gain the rights they deserve.
In many cases, cultural views have changed thanks to the increased awareness this holiday has brought to certain nations. Not only are people with disabilities are treated equally, but they are also given the economic and social opportunities they may have previously been denied. Such scenarios may be difficult to imagine in the United States, but the fact is that many disabled persons are still not treated equally in other nations.
To keep the momentum of the holiday going, the United Nations implemented themes for each World Day for Persons with Disability starting in 1998. In 2012, the theme is slated to be: “Removing barriers to create an inclusive society for all.” This theme will increase awareness about the many obstacles that disabled persons have to go through in order to exercise equal rights. Examples include a lack of technology, or denied access to mobility devices.
Themes from recent years include:
- 2011: “Together for a better world for all.”
- 2010: “Keeping the promise: Mainstreaming disability in the Millennium Development Goals toward 2015.”
- 2009: “Empowerment of persons with disabilities and their communities around the world.”
- 2008: “Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Dignity and justice for all of us.”
- 2007: “Decent work for persons with disabilities.”
- 2006: “E-accessibility.”
There are many ways you can celebrate World Day for Persons with Disabilities. While the day may hit home if you or a loved one is disabled, it is important that everyone gets involved to improve the lives of others. Some cities hold forums and public meetings to discuss local issues while others choose to hold parades and other celebrations.
Abraham Lincoln was one of the greatest Presidents to ever serve the United States. Not only did he abolish slavery in the country, but he is also responsible for bringing the Union back together after the Civil War. The 16th president lived a relatively short life, dying in 1865 at the age of 56 after being assassinated. Due to Lincoln’s great achievements, the United States recognizes February 12 every year, which was this president’s birthday.
President Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809 in the small town of Hodgenville, Kentucky. He lived a modest family life, but was instilled many of the values that would later shape his presidency. His family was opposed to slavery, and they eventually settled down in free territory. As he grew into adulthood, he eventually relocated to what would be his home state of Illinois.
Abraham Lincoln started a career in public service early in life. First, he served as captain to the Illinois military during the Black Hawk War. After his services ended, Lincoln made a run for the Illinois General Assembly, which is better known as the state legislature today. He would go on to lose that seat because of a lack of money, but he still gained quite a following. Eventually he would become a lawyer as well as an Illinois Congressman. He lost a race for U.S. Senator due to his anti-slavery views. During his early career, he was given the nickname of “Honest Abe.”
In 1860, Abraham Lincoln was nominated by the Republican Party’s presidential candidate. He would go onto win the presidency, during which would become one of the most difficult eras in U.S. history. While President Lincoln already had his sights set on abolishing slavery, he also had to contend with the south seceding from the Union over this issue. Attempts to appeal to the South failed, and this war-hating president was forced to declare a civil war in order to save the United States.
During the Civil War, President Lincoln wasted no time in abolishing slavery. On New Year’s Day in 1863, slavery was abolished in all federal territories, thanks to Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. This extended not only within the Union, but down to the Confederate states, too. This was one of the greatest achievements of his presidency, and it set the stage for the over-due Civil Rights movement that would occur a century later.
Lincoln was reelected in 1864 during the final months of the Civil War. The war officially ended on April 9, 1865 and all the states united once again. Sadly, President Lincoln didn’t get to witness much of the Reconstruction Era after the war, as he was mortally shot just five days later on April 14, 1865. The assassination was carried out in Washington D.C.’s Ford’s Theatre by John Wilkes Booth. Lincoln was the first president to be assassinated.
The nation subsequently went into mourning after Lincoln’s assassination and his birthday was quickly declared a holiday. Lincoln’s Birthday was first celebrated in 1874 in Buffalo, New York. While February 12 isn’t considered a Federal holiday like President’s Day, it is still observed as a day of remembrance with ceremonies every year.
Lincoln’s Birthday is commemorated every year in his hometown of Hodgenville. The small town has designated his birthplace as a National Historic Site. On February 12, Hodgenville carries out a small ceremony in remembrance of Honest Abe.
In addition to the annual Hodgenville ceremony, Lincoln’s Birthday is also celebrated at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. The memorial first opened in 1922 and has carried out a special birthday celebration every year since.
A special birthday celebration was held in 2009 to honor the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birthday. During that year, the U.S. mint released four new pennies. Each features one of four different stages of his life on the backs of each coin.