Thursday, May 9, 2013

Thursday in History: We Didn't Start the Fire

Every week, I sit down to research a new Thursday in History. I start by searching the date on Wikipedia. I know that sounds “unscientific” or whatever, because anyone can edit Wikipedia, but the truth is that most Wikipedia articles have tons and tons of sources attached, and these sources can take you to actual scholarly places that can show you how and why they know their stuff. Wikipedia, to me, is like a Cliff’s Notes version of whatever I want to research. I scan the article, and if it catches my interest, I dig deeper.
This stage of research is pretty fun. If you’ve ever searched a date on Wikipedia you’ll know that major events are shown first, and then who was born on that day, followed by who died on that day. Finally, at the bottom of the list, there are feast days and celebrations from various religions, along with national holidays from different countries.
There are weeks when I don’t get past the events section, because there are a zillion awesome things that just happened to fall on the same day. Some days are more boring. That’s just life on earth. Sometimes I get inspired to write a bunch of stuff just by looking at the title of an article, and other times I prop my chin up with my hand and scroll all the way to the bottom of the page, trying to keep awake.
This week, I found myself thinking, “who even cares about some of thes stuff?” Obviously, everything that appears on the list is important to someone, otherwise it wouldn’t be there. The birth/death of a Czech footballer might not be super important to my life (the only connection we’d have is that some of my ancestors are from that region), but there are people using wikipedia who showed up just to read articles about Czech footballers. (I have nothing against Czech footballers, by the way, I was just using that as an example; before you throw kolaches at me, know that I think Czech footballers are rad.) (Mmm, kolaches.)
Some cool things have happened on this day in history. There was an attempt made to steal the crown jewels from the Tower of London by a thief dressed as a man of the cloth in 1671. A horse drawn bus was used for the first time in Mumbai in 1874 (which gives more meaning to the term autobus). And in 1950, a man named Robert Schuman presented a paper on his idea for a cohesive and peaceful governmental body in Europe, which is why today is celebrated as Europe Day in what is now the European Union.
It was also the day that a pop star was born. A pop star who loves history as much as I do.
Happy Thursday in History Birthday, Billy Joel.

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