Milestones: Friday, August 25, 2023
LIBERATION OF PARIS — PARIS WAS LIBERATED on Aug. 25, 1944 after four years of Nazi occupation, when, on the morning of Aug. 25, the 2nd Armored Division and the 4th Infantry Division cleared out their respective halves of Paris, liberating the City of Light. Four years earlier, on June 14, 1940, Germany had invaded France (a scene immortalized in the classic film Casablanca). The invasion happened one month after the German Wehrmacht stormed into France, whose government signed an armistice with Germany to avoid occupation, an agreement that established the puppet Vichy state.
The liberation almost didn’t happen right away, as Supreme Allied Commander (and future U.S. President) Dwight D. Eisenhower had received advice from the Allied forces to delay their campaign so as to not adversely affect other wartime operations. However, Charles de Gaulle, at the time Free French General, had his own pressing needs and thus he pressured Eisenhower to proceed with the liberation plan before the communist faction of the Resistance movement beat him to it.
THE COUNCIL OF NICAEA — THE FIRST ECUMENICAL DEBATE HELD by the early Christian church, concluded on Aug. 25, 325 AD (old calendar) with the establishment of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Roman Emperor Constantine I had convened the Council in Nicaea (in modern-day Turkey) three months earlier to resolve a crisis in theology over the Aryan faith that taught Christ was inferior to God. The controversy began when an Alexandrian priest named Arius questioned the full divinity of Christ because he was born and had a beginning within time, The academic debate festered into a schism between congregations throughout the empire. The Roman emperor Constantine, who had converted to Christianity earlier in the fourth century, convened the bishops and urged them to resolve the crisis and adopt a creed that would reconcile the mystery of Christ’s divinity and humanity; he stayed actively involved in the discussions.
The Council of Nicaea drafted and approved the doctrine of the Holy Trinity that declares God the Father, Christ and the Holy Spirit are equal to each other. The Church banished the Aryan leaders on grounds of heresy.
‘THE LOCO MOTION’ — TEEN SINGER EVA NARCISSUS BOYD on Aug. 25, 1962 scored her first and only #1 hit with the danceable song “the Loco Motion.” Talent and being at the right place in time proved a winner for Eva Boyd, just 17 at the time, who had just moved to New York City from her North Carolina hometown. Eva Boyd was newly arrived in New York City — Brighton Beach, actually — from her native North Carolina when a neighbor pointed her to a job opportunity as a nanny for Carole King and Gerry Goffin, future members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame who were working as songwriters for the legendary Don Kirshner. Eva provided the vocals for one of their songs, which they snagged on the first recording; she also created a new dance that became the craze for a while.
‘The Loco Motion’ climbed the pop charts and was #1 for a week. At the time, Carole King was just two years older than Eva Boyd.
CHILD AMBASSADOR — SAMANTHA SMITH, THE 13-YEAR-OLD “AMBASSADOR” TO THE SOVIET UNION, died in a plane crash on Aug. 25, 1985. Three years earlier and a fifth-grader in Manchester, Maine, Samantha had written a letter to Soviet leader Yuri Andropov, expressing her worries that Russia and the United States would get involved in a nuclear war, and writing, “Are you going to have a war or not?” What a history lesson this turned out to be for Samantha: A few months later her letter was reprinted in Russia and Andropov, who was the first KGB agent to become the Soviet Union’s general secretary and then president, wrote her a response, assuring her that he did not desire nuclear war with any nation and called her a “courageous and honest” little girl. He also invited Samantha to visit the Soviet Union as his guest, although they did not have the opportunity to meet personally, but she became a media sensation upon her return to the States.
Andropov died in February 1984 of natural causes, just over four months short of his 70th birthday. Young Samantha died in a plane crash on the approach to Bar Harbor Airport, the aircraft had struck some trees.
‘THE GREAT MOON HOAX’ — THE NEW YORK SUN on Aug. 25, 1835 published the first in a series of articles reporting the discovery of life on the moon, supposedly aggregated from the Edinburgh Journal of Science, with a Dr. Andrew Grant, a colleague of famed astronomer Sir John Herschel. They had set up an observatory in Cape Town, South Africa that used a powerful new telescope. Grant, being a secondary source, reported Herschel’s discovery of unicorns, beavers and even winged humanoids who resembled bats. Except that the articles were intended as satire and later became known as “The Great Moon Hoax.”
Most likely, Cambridge-educated Sun Reporter Richard Adams Locke had penned the articles to poke fun at earlier hypotheses about extraterrestrial life. The articles did sell newspapers.
‘LIBERAL LION OF THE SENATE’ — EDWARD “TED” MOORE KENNEDY, the youngest brother of slain U.S. President John F. Kennedy and a U.S. senator from Massachusetts for almost 50 years, died on Aug. 25, 2009, after battling a malignant brain tumor. Kennedy, who served as a Senator from 1962-2009, was a Democratic Party leader known for being able to work across the aisle at the same time advocating for liberal causes, and gained the moniker the “liberal lion of the Senate.” Hailing from a privileged Boston family, Kennedy ran for Senate in a special election upon his 30th birthday, the minimum eligibility age for this office. During his almost-47 years in the Senate, he scored victories in his fight for legislation ranging from education, health care, minimum wage increase and equal rights. He opposed the Vietnam and Iraq Wars.
Although his career and Presidential aspirations were marred by the tragic 1969 auto crash at Chappaquiddick that killed one of his legislative aides, Ted Kennedy received affirmation from his supporters to stay in the Senate, where he remained active until his death.
TIMELESS CLASSIC — THE WIZARD OF OZ, which has become one of the most beloved and time-honored movies of all time, opened in theaters on Aug. 25, 1939. The film was based on L. Frank Baum’s 1900 children’s novel titled “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” and starred Judy Garland as the young Kansas farm girl Dorothy, who gets caught in a tornado, finds herself transported to the Land of Oz, and is instantly declared a heroine when her house lands on one of the realm’s two wicked witches. Although “The Wizard of Oz” lost the Best Picture title to “Gone with the Wind,” the two titles shared some tempestuous irony in their story lines.
The Wizard of Oz won an Oscar for Best Song,“Over the Rainbow,” and Garland, who sang it also won a special award at that year’s Oscar ceremony, for Best Juvenile Performer. The Wizard of Oz, which made its television debut in 1956, has become a time-honored holiday tradition since.
See previous milestones, here.
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