Edited by Gerald Boerner
This day has seen numerous notable events since the mid-1930s. Why? The 20th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution changed inauguration day for the President from March 4th to January 20th. Therefore, all the Presidential Inaugurations since that time have occurred on this day. The revised date of the Inauguration started with the Second Inauguration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936, which is notable only because of this change of date.
President Harry S. Truman was inaugurated on this day in 1949 after defeating John Dewey in an election that pointed out the shortcoming with political polling techniques. But Truman’s Inauguration was noteworthy for another reason; this was the first inauguration that was broadcast live for that new media device, the television. While only a limited number of families owned TV sets at that time, this would be the first opportunity to watch the inauguration from one’s own living room.
The 1961 inauguration of a new President, John F. Kennedy, would be noteworthy for several reasons. In the first place, it was a first for this country; JFK would be the first Roman Catholic President and he would also be the youngest man to occupy the Oval Office. But JFKs inauguration was significant for his speech so eloquently delivered after his swearing in ceremony. In that speech he included the now-famous words: “ask not what your country can do for you — as what you can do for your country.”
More to the point, the 1981 inauguration of Ronald Reagan was significant for several reasons. Not only did it find a former Hollywood actor becoming President, but it followed a hard-fought election campaign with Jimmy Carter, the sitting President. And one of the biggest issues was due to a foreign power: Iran. In 1979, radical Islamic fundamentalist students occupied the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and 52 American citizens were held hostage. As of inauguration day, this hostage crisis had lasted 444 days. But after Ronald Reagan had been sworn in as the new President and before he finished his Inauguration Speech, the 52 hostages were released by Iran. Apparently, the Iranian government did not want to face the conservative new President.
This day also marked the day almost a decade later, when the British hostage negotiator, Terry Waite, was taken hostage in Biruit in 1987. He would spend most of his confinement in solitary until his release in 1991. It would appear that hostage-taking would become a key element of the Islamic militants over the next couple of decades.
Almost lost in this set of significant events is the appointment of John Marshall was appointed by Thomas Jefferson to the post of Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1801, He would be the second Chief Justice of that court in the young history of this country. And, oh yes, this was the day in 1892 that would see the first basketball game played in the YMCA gym in Springfield, Massachusetts.
So, has this day been eventful? You bet it was and it has been filled with events of significance since the founding of this country. It has seen us move from a primarily rural, agrarian society (yes, I know that these terms are redundant!) to today’s primarily urban, commercial society. I use the term commercial advisedly. By and large, we are now less of an industrial or manufacturing society than a service-based, commercial one. Most of our manufacturing jobs have been shipped “off-shore” to countries like India, Indonesia, Korea, and China. Let us hope that our society can remain strong and educated so that our innovation and creativity can once again put us into the forefront of the industrial world.
But now it is time to jump into our brief overview of the events of today, January 20th… GLB
These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2012 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved
[ 1159 Words ]
Quotations Related to Hostages:
“In fact, this is a blackmail of the terrorists at the expense of the suffering of the hostages.”
— Alberto Fujimori
“You must avoid giving hostages to fortune, like getting an expensive wife, an expensive house, and a style of living that never lets you aford [sic] the time to take the chance to write what you wish.”
— Irwin Shaw
“If people are informed they will do the right thing. It’s when they are not informed that they become hostages to prejudice.”
— Charlayne Hunter-Gault
“He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune; for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief.”
— Francis Bacon
“Freeing hostages is like putting up a stage set, which you do with the captors, agreeing on each piece as you slowly put it together; then you leave an exit through which both the captor and the captive can walk with sincerity and dignity.”
— Terry Waite