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Column: The first day of summer
Martin Cahn (2019).jpg
Martin L. Cahn

Today is June 21, 2019. In the Northern Hemisphere, it’s the first day of summer, and boy has it felt like it for some time now!

So, to keep cool, how about some cool facts about June 21? (Yes, this is going to be one of my more light-hearted entries. Enjoy!)

Of course, if we’re celebrating the first day of summer up here, folks in the Southern Hemisphere (think Australia, most of Africa, Southeast Asia) are marking the first day of winter. Ain’t life on a titled planet wonderful?

Today is the 172nd day of the year; 193 days remain until the end of the year (or, for those of you who simply must know, 186 days before Christmas).

Halifax, Nova Scotia, was founded on this date in 1749. Today, Halifax -- known as a Regional Municipality -- boasts a population of more than 400,000 people and is known as both an economic and cultural center of Canada’s Atlantic provinces.

On June 21, 1898, the U.S. captured the western Pacific island of Guam from Spain. Guam is the southern-most island of the Mariana Islands. The remainder of the chain is known as the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. commonwealth where I lived during my high schools years, 1979-82. Guam remains trust territory.

The Boxer Rebellion -- with China declaring war on the U.S., Britain, Germany, France and Japan -- began on June 21, 1900.

June 21, 1915: The U.S. Supreme Court, in Guinn v. United States, strikes down a piece of Oklahoma “grandfather” legisliation that had the effect of denying the right to vote to blacks.

In 1942 on June 21, a Japanese submarine surfaced near Oregon’s Columbia River and fired 17 shells at Ft. Stevens. It is one of only a handful of Japanese attacks against the U.S. mainland during World War II.

Three years later, on June 21, 1945, The Battle of Okinawa ended when an organized resistance of Imperial Japanese Army forces collapsed on the southern tip of the main island.

OK, I said this was going to be light-hearted. Let’s skip all the way up to 2004 when, on June 21, SpaceShipOne became the first privately-funded spaceplane to acheive spaceflight.

Here’s some other facts about June 21:

• Guys, if you didn’t get enough Father’s Day presents, you can try to convince your family that you’re actually from Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Uganda, Pakistan or the United Arab Emirates. Today is Father’s Day in those countries.

• My sons will like this one: Today is “Go Skateboarding Day” -- so, have it, guys!

• Today is also World Humanist Day and World Hydrography Day. I’m not too sure what to make of the first one. Hydrology Day, however, is supposed to help educate the public on the importance of mapping the world’s marine environment.

• In relation to today being the summer/winter solstice (depending on which hemisphere you live in), today is also International Surfing Day; Greenland’s National Day; the day of a winter solstice festival in the southern Chile called We Tripantu; the Andean-Amazonic New Year known as Willkaktui; and Fête de la Musique, or World Music Day, primarily celebrated in France, but also internationally.

Of course, a number of famous people were born on June 21. They include Holy Roman Empress Maria of Austria (1528); Al Hirschfeld, caricaturist and painter (1903); Jean-Paul Sarte, French philosopher and author (1905); Judy Holliday and Jane Russell, both singers and actresses (1921); Maureen Stapleton, actress (1924); Bernie Kopell, actor/comedian (1933); Mariette Hartley, actress (1940); Ray Davies, singer and songwriter (1944); Meredith Baxter and Michael Gross, Family Ties actors (1947); Berkeley Breathed, cartoonist (1957); and the list goes on.

I’ll skip up to 1968 and one of my most favorite women in the world: Heather Steinberg. Never heard of her? Well, her maiden name happens to be Cahn, and she lives in Colorado.

Happy Birthday, sis! Hopefully, it’s a little cooler where you are.