Archive for August, 2013

International Day against Nuclear Tests

When is International Day against Nuclear Tests?

Nuclear weapons have changed the way conflicts are resolved in the world. The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki effectively ended the last stage of World War II in 1945 at a high cost. Since then, world powers have fought to develop and test their own weapons to prepare for potential attacks, and to scare off other countries.

The United Nations has always operated on a peaceful stance, so it’s no surprise that this is the agency behind the creation of the International Day against Nuclear Tests. Held every August 29th, this day is designed to raise the awareness of the dangerous effects of nuclear testing. In addition, the holiday aims to promote peaceful resolutions without the use of such deadly weapons.

History of Nuclear Bombs

The first-ever nuclear test took place in Alamogordo, New Mexico, on July 16, 1945. It was a test for the subsequent bombing of Hiroshima, which occurred less than a month later. Since then, this desert-area has been plagued with damage and human diseases thought to be related to the nuclear testing. On top of that, residents and relatives have long been concerned about the effects that continued government testing had on the area.

Japan was left in disarray after the atomic bombings, while the rest of the world stood in awe of the modern weaponry the United States used to effectively end World War II. While the U.S. continued to test weapons afterward, other countries soon followed suit by creating and testing their own bombs – this was especially the case during the Cold War. Such nations found that the best way to prepare for the detonation of nuclear bombs was to test them. The potential effectiveness is gauged by measurements in the ground, water and atmosphere following a detonation.

Standing Up Against Nuclear Tests

The United Nations has estimated that over 2,000 nuclear tests have occurred worldwide since that first detonation in Alamogordo. Due to the adverse human and environmental effects of testing, the agency is strongly opposed to it. In December 2009, the U.N. held a meeting to create the International Day against Nuclear Tests. The organization decided to recognize the holiday on August 29th to recognize the closing of Kazakhstan’s Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test site on that same date in 1991. In fact, the initial resolution to create the holiday was founded by the Republic of Kazakhstan.

The first International Day against Nuclear Tests took place on August 29, 2010. To date, it is the most prominent global effort to oppose nuclear bombs. Prior to this, the United Nations had tried to end nuclear testing with the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1996, but it was never enforced.

Observance and Considerations

This holiday is not a government holiday, but rather a day of observance. The end goal of the International Day against Nuclear Tests is for nations to stop testing bombs, and subsequently using them altogether. However, this is likely not to become a reality for at least several more years. While many nations understand the risks of nuclear bombs, they continue to hold on to them in fear of attacks from other governments. Until there is no desire to wage war, nuclear bombs are likely, yet unfortunately, here to stay.

In the meantime, the goal for every International Day against Nuclear Tests is to raise awareness of all the dangers surrounding the bombs. The United Nations hopes that people will eventually disarm once education about the problems is increased. During the holiday, seminars and peaceful demonstrations are held in all parts of the world.

Emancipation Day

When is Emancipation Day?

Emancipation Day is a holiday that commemorates President Abraham Lincoln’s preliminary proclamation to abolish slavery on September 22, 1862. While the Emancipation Proclamation wasn’t officially ordered until January 1st of the following year, this was the first step towards officially freeing slaves.

History

Slavery was widespread in the United States prior to the Civil War. This was especially the case in southern states, where slaves worked on plantations. One of the leading causes of the Civil War was over slavery – the majority of people in the south felt it was their right to keep slaves, and threatened to break apart from the country and form their own nation.

President Lincoln was a lifetime supporter of slavery abolishment, which was a belief passed down from his own parents. Not only was it important to him that slavery be abolished in the Union, but he was also concerned about slaves in the rebellion states of the Old South. Plans for issuing an Emancipation Proclamation would abolish slavery in the whole country, even though the two sides were still at war. The exception were a few southern states not found to be in rebellion. Slavery was officially banned with the passing of the Thirteenth Amendment of the Constitution in December 1865.

A precursor to the Proclamation was issued on September 22, 1862. It was a monumental day that led to the official Emancipation Proclamation just a few months later. Most slaves in the United States were freed at the time, and many joined the army where they would get paid for their services.

Location

Gallia County in southeastern Ohio remains at the epicenter of Emancipation Day, as this was the area where President Lincoln made his famous 1862 speech. In fact, Gallia County has celebrated Emancipation Day since September 22, 1863. This was the same year that the Emancipation Proclamation took effect, although the Civil War was still fought for another two years.

In honor of emancipation and of President Lincoln’s efforts to abolish slavery, Ohio regards Emancipation Day as a state holiday every September 22nd. It’s not a public holiday, so government institutions still remain open if the holiday falls on a working day. Other states celebrate Emancipation Day on the same traditional date, although some areas observe the holiday during different times of the year. For example, some states regard Emancipation Day as the final date in which all remaining slaves were set free on Juneteenth on June 19th, 1865.

Celebrations

Emancipation Day is celebrated as the beginning of the end of slavery in the United States. The largest celebrations are held in southeastern Ohio, where the preliminary proclamation was made back in 1862. Visitors frequent Gallia County every September 22nd to pay tribute. Tourists and residents alike also participate in related festivals and reenactment plays. Schools across the country may participate through a history lesson about the Emancipation Proclamation, while others may write essays. While not a national holiday, Emancipation Day is an important date in our history that is regarded as a turning point in the country that would change it for the better.