Friday, February 29, 2008

February 29

Today is a day that you only see on the calendar every four years.

The reason for it is because the Earth takes 365 days and 6 hours to make one trip arounbd the sun. After four of those trips the six hours part of the solar year accrues into an extra day, so in order to keep our calendars as accurate as possible we add the extra day to it, and that traditionally occurs in February.

Here's a small sample of the historical events that took place on February 29.

1692 – First accusations began during the Salem witch trials. The trials occurred in Massachusetts, where more than 150 people were arrested and at least 25 people died by hanging, torture or during their prison stay.

1848 – Neufchatel declares the independence of Switzerland.

1940 – Hattie McDaniel was the first African-American actress to win an Oscar. She won the Best Supporting Actress award for her role as “Mammy” in Gone with the Wind. The movie won eight Oscars.

1944 – The invasion of the Admiralty Islands began as General Douglas MacArthur led US forces in "Operation Brewer". Troops surged onto Los Negros, following a month of Allied advances in the Pacific Theater during World War II.

1952 – The first “Walk/Don't Walk” signs were installed in New York City.

1956 - U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower announces to the nation that he is running for a second term.

1964 – Australian swimmer Dawn Fraser set her 36th world record. She was timed at 58.9 seconds in the 100-meter freestyle in Sydney, Australia. She was the first female swimmer to win gold medals in three consecutive Olympic Games (1956, 1960 and 1964).

1972 – The Carpenters received a gold record for the hit single Hurting Each Other. The Carpenters were made up of siblings Karen and Richard. They were some of the best-selling music artists of the 1970s. Karen unfortunately died in 1983 at the age of 32 due to complications from recoving from anorexia.

1972 - Hank Aaron becomes the first player in the history of Major League Baseball to sign a $200,000 contract.

1988 - South African archbishop Desmond Tutu is arrested along with 100 clergymen during a five-day anti-apartheid demonstration in Cape Town

1996 - Novelist Joan Collins awarded $1 million USD from Random House for breach of contract.

1996 - A Peruvian Boeing 737 crashes in the Andes, killing 123 people.

2000 - Six year old Dedrick Owens shoots and kills Kayla Rolland, also six years old, at Theo J. Buell Elementary School in Mount Morris Township, Michigan.

2004 - Jean-Bertrand Aristide resigns as President of Haiti following popular rebel uprising.

There are some folks who are getting the chance to celebrate their birthdays today. People born on this day are sometimes called leaplings and in non leap years they can either celebrate it either on February 28 or March 1.

People who were born on February 29 include:

1468 – Pope Paul III (d. 1549)
1792 – Gioacchino Rossini, Italian composer (William Tell, The Barber of Seville) (d. 1868)
1896 – Morarji Desai, former Indian prime minister (d. 1995)
1916 – Dinah Shore, American singer (d. 1994)
1924 – Al Rosen, American baseball player
1924 – Carlos Humberto Romero, former president of El Salvador
1936 - Jack Lousma, astronaut
1936 - Henri Richard, Canadian hockey player
1952 - Bart Stupak, American politician
1960 – Richard Ramirez, American serial killer
1960 – Anthony (Tony) Robbins, American motivational speaker
1964 – Lyndon Byers, Canadian hockey player
1968 - Chucky Brown, American basketball player
1968 - Bryce Paup, American football player
1972 - Saul Williams, American rapper, poet, and actor
1972 - Pedro Zamora, Cuban-born American AIDS activist (d. 1994)
1972 – Antonio Sab├áto Jr, Italian-born actor
1976 – Ja Rule, American rapper and actor
1980 – Chris Conley, American musician and songwriter/composer
1980 - Ruben Plaza, Spanish cyclist
1984 - Cam Ward, Canadian ice hockey player
1984 - Darren Ambrose, English footballer
1984 - Adam Sinclair, Indian Hockey player
1988 - Scott Golbourne, English footballer

My niece's original due date was supposed to be February 29, 2000. My sis whined and complained during her entire pregnancy that she didn't want her daughter to be born on a leap year day. She kept saying she hated the thought that her child would only have an actual birthday party every four years as I kept admonishing her to be careful what you wish for.

To help her see the upside of a February 29 birthday, I cracked the joke that when my niece turned 40 she would enjoy saying with a straight face that she was only 10 years old, but that didn't placate Latoya.

Well, my sis got her wish. My niece was born a month premature on January 20, so every four years Chanty's birthday is overshadowed by a presidential inauguration.

I hope my niece get to witness a historic inauguration for her 9th birthday. ;)

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