Archive for August, 2013

World Tourism Day

When is World Tourism Day?

World Tourism Day is a global holiday aimed to celebrate all the benefits of international tourism. From increased cultural awareness to the economic benefits, there are many facets of tourism that benefit people from all corners of the world. This holiday is celebrated every September 27th.

History

The idea for World Tourism Day stems from efforts made by the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization, which was established in 1970. In 1979, the UNWTO voted to create a holiday to address modern tourism. As more and more countries become developed, tourists are flocking to these areas to seek out new cultural experiences. Not only do such experiences help to increase intercultural awareness and communication, but they are also a great source of revenue for the hosting countries. In fact, tourism has quickly become one of the biggest economic divisions worldwide. The United Nations created World Tourism Day to increase awareness of the importance of tourism, while also providing education on the importance of it.

The UNWTO decided to make September 27th World Tourism Day for a few of reasons. First, the idea of the holiday came about around the same time of year in 1979. Also, the UNWTO was established on September 27th in 1970. Furthermore, the organization sought to pick a universally accepted date for tourism worldwide. In the northern hemisphere, late September is warm enough to travel without conditions being overly hot in many regions. In the southern hemisphere, tourism is at its peak in late September, as many people seek out the warmth of tropical regions. The first World Tourism Day was celebrated on September 27, 1980.

Celebrations and Observations

Many nations celebrate World Tourism Day by encouraging people to go on vacation. During this time of year, you may notice advertisements for special vacation destinations in your own area, as well as those from other nations beckoning you to come and visit. Some theme parks, hotels, museums and historic points of interest offer discount prices on September 27th to encourage tourism.

While traveling is at the very essence of World Tourism Day, this date is not a public holiday. Instead, it’s designed as a day of observance, with perhaps some special events strewn in along the way. Businesses and government institutions remain open on World Tourism Day. Instead, you may wish to plan an advanced vacation around the holiday as a way of celebrating – especially if you have the opportunity to go somewhere new on discount. The purpose of World Tourism Day is to learn about all the benefits of being a global traveler, and not to just simply take the day off from work.

Special Themes

The United Nations’ World Tourism Organization comes up with a different theme each year to address World Tourism Day. A different country may also host the organization’s celebrations. The first theme in 1980’s World Tourism Day was: “Tourism’s Contribution to the Preservation of Cultural Heritage.” Other past themes include: “Tourism for Development,” “Tourism and Energetic Sustainability,” “Tourism Enriches,” and “Tourism Opens Doors for Women.” The theme for 2013 is “Tourism and Water” in order to recognize the International Year of Water Cooperation.

World Maritime Day

When is World Maritime Day?

World Maritime Day is an annual holiday held the last week of every September to celebrate the economic benefits of the shipping industry. Created by the United Nations’ International Maritime Organization, this holiday is also designed to increase awareness on how shipping can be made safer for people and the environment. Specific themes and events are held every year to recognize the maritime industry and its impacts on nations across the globe.

History

The world would arguably be a much different place without shipping practices. Not only would there be an isolation in cultures, but goods would not be traded between continents. People would not be able to explore different parts of the world via cruises, and navy ships wouldn’t be in place to protect coastlines. Since the 1800s, growing concerns have implemented changes in the maritime industry. Despite the benefits of international shipping, the process can have adverse effects on human safety and the environment.

After World War II, the United Nations was created out of a mission to allow all countries to peacefully coexist. In 1948, the International Maritime Organization was created to implement rules to make shipping practices safer worldwide. The first World Maritime Day was held in 1978. Since then, participation has skyrocketed to nearly 170 member states. The purpose of the holiday is to raise the awareness of the importance of global shipping, while increasing education on safe practices for all.

Celebrations

While the United Nations celebrates World Maritime Day on a global scale every year, the specific celebrations vary between nations. It is perhaps most celebrated in countries that reside near water. On this day in the United States, for example, many coastal communities host celebrations in which the public is invited to special events to showcase ships and other watercraft. Visits to shipping museums are also commonplace on this day. At school, teachers may provide special lessons to give students a better understanding of the social and economic impacts of the maritime industry.

In some cases, the activities of World Maritime undertake a more serious tone. Despite the progress in world shipping practices, there are still a great deal of safety issues. These concerns are often addressed during conferences held on World Maritime Day.

Themes

The date of World Maritime Day varies, but it always falls on a day during the final week of September. Each year, the International Maritime Organization designates a theme for this holiday. In 2013, the theme is “Sustainable Development: IMO’s Contribution Beyond Rio+20.”  Rio+20 was a United Nations conference held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012. The purpose of the conference was for world leaders and organizations to get together and discuss how to promote social equality and reduce poverty. One of the focus areas was water, which the maritime industry has a great part in.

2013’s theme for World Maritime Day looks at ways the industry can make a difference in our lives without creating adverse effects on the economy or the environment. Shipping has changed the world economy, but without safe practices, it can damage societies and livelihoods.

Patriot Day

When is Patriot Day?

September 11, 2001 was named the day “we will never forget.” After the terrorist attacks on the occurred on that day, Americans have regarded every September 11th as Patriot Day. This holiday is often referred to as 9/11.

History

The events of September 11th caught the world by surprise. The United States, arguably the most powerful country in the world, was attacked on its own soil by Islamic extremists who hijacked commercial aircraft. These terrorists simultaneously took over four airplanes. The first crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m. local time. Another plane struck the South Tower at 9:03 a.m. The Pentagon was terrorized in similar fashion, although only a small portion of the building was destroyed in comparison to the Twin Towers. The fourth plane crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania – it was concluded that passengers on board that plane took over from the hijackers before they had a chance to strike another American landmark.

9/11 was devastating in numerous ways. The total loss of life is an estimated 3,000 people. Economically, the U.S. was in shambles as the country was taken aback in terror. The tragic events also forever changed western relations with Middle Eastern nations.

The World Trade Center was the center of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Not only was the greatest loss of life experienced at the Twin Towers, but the structures themselves were also completely destroyed. An estimated 20 additional victims were miraculously pulled out of the rubble, and the entire cleanup didn’t finish until the end of May, 2002.

Observations

The way the holiday is celebrated is similar to that of Pearl Harbor Day in that it is more of a day for observation than a cause for celebration. While Patriot Day is an important holiday in the United States, it isn’t considered a government holiday like Independence Day. Unless September 11th falls on a weekend day, then this means that all schools, banks and government institutions all remain open. However, most institutions hold moments of silence to recognize when each of the two planes hit the World Trade Center, as well as when the other two planes crashed into Shanksville, Pennsylvania and the Pentagon.

In addition to moments of silence, the President always orders that the American flag be flown on all government buildings at half-mast. Americans across the country may also choose to wave flags at their homes or places of business, as well as on their person.

Patriot Day is even more personal for survivors and relatives of those lost on September 11th.  Those affected may travel to the sites of the crashes to lay flowers and pay tribute to those who died that day.

Ground Zero

Ground Zero is now a memorial and museum at the site of the former World Trade Center. This not only gives people the option to pay tribute to the lives lost on 9/11, but visitors from around the world can come and tour the museum, which gives a full history of the Twin Towers. The original towers opened in 1973, and were an iconic symbols until their ultimate demise in 2001.

Note: Patriot Day is not the same holiday as Patriot’s Day. Also celebrated in the United States, Patriot’s Day is held every third Monday in April. It commemorates the 1775 battles of Lexington and Concord fought near Boston, which helped the U.S. gain independence from Great Britain. The two holidays are celebrated for different reasons, and are completely separate from one another.

National POW/MIA Recognition Day

When is National POW/MIA Recognition Day?

National POW/MIA Recognition Day his an American holiday that recognizes prisoners of war (POW), as well as those form the armed services that are missing in action (MIA). The holiday came about after the Vietnam War, and is currently celebrated every third Friday in September. This is a special time that all Americans can recognize the sacrifices made by the armed forces, especially those who never made it home.

History

The first National POW/MIA Recognition Day was held on July 18, 1979. It was observed on a few different dates until September 1986, when the holiday was changed to the third Friday of that month. Since then, National POW/MIA Recognition Day has always been held on that Friday in September. While not a government holiday, this gives related institutions as well as businesses to publicly recognize the day while people are at work. Every year, the President of the United States holds a special speech and ceremony in honor of National POW/MIA Recognition Day.

The Flag

One of the most powerful symbols of National POW/MIA Recognition Day is the flag. While the American flag is always flown on this holiday, citizens also fly the POW/MIA flag. It was developed by Newt Heisley in 1971 to honor men who went missing or were imprisoned during the Vietnam War. Heisley himself had served in the Air Force during World War II, and his own son was in the Marine Corps preparing to enter the Vietnam War at that time. As a commercial artist in New York City, Heisley was following a client’s orders to create the flag design.

The resulting design was a black flag with a silhouette of a man’s face and chest in the center of a white circle. In the background, there is barbed wire fencing and a guard tower, made to symbolize the man’s imprisonment. Above the circle reads: POW*MIA, and below it: “You Are Not Forgotten.” While the flag was certainly personal to Heisley, he didn’t know that the design would become the ultimate symbol of the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia. It also became the official symbol of National POW/MIA Recognition Day, and is flown below the American flag every year. Some citizens also fly this iconic flag during Veterans Day and Memorial Day, while others fly it all year round.

Celebrations and Observations

National POW/MIA Recognition Day is primarily a day of observation. The idea of the holiday is different than other Armed Forces recognition days, such as Memorial Day, because it recognizes serving members who don’t make it back home – dead or alive. Not knowing the outcome of a loved one fighting oversees is heartbreaking, especially if you don’t have the opportunity to give him or her a proper burial. In this respect, National POW/MIA Recognition Day also honors the families of those missing or imprisoned in war.

Communities across the country fly the POW/MIA flag, and many also put on special ceremonies to honor those soldiers in the Armed Forces. Memorial services may also be held for members who remain missing in action.