Milestones: Friday, October 13, 2023
FIRST CALLED ‘THE PRESIDENTIAL PALACE’ — THE CORNERSTONE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE, THE PRESIDENT’S 1600 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE RESIDENCE, was laid on Oct. 13, 1792, and was part of the planning for an “innovative” national capital. When constructed, what was first called the “presidential palace” was three stories high and had more than 100 rooms. John Adams, the second president of the United States, and his family were the first occupants; the complex did not receive the “White House” name until a decade after its construction. British troops burned the White House during the War of 1812, but after its reconstruction and refurbishment, it again had inhabitants by 1817.
The design for the government “District of Columbia” was the mastermind of architect and engineer Pierre (Peter) Charles L’Enfant and the McMillan Commission, according to the DC Preservation League’s website.
A PASSION FOR FLYING — JESSE LEROY BROWN, BORN Oct. 13, 1926 at Hattiesburg, Mississippi, was the first African American naval aviator and also the first Black naval officer to lose his life in combat, when he was shot down over Korea. A trip to an airshow with his father sparked young Jesse’s passion for flying. A good student, he excelled in mathematics and studied architectural engineering at Ohio State University. Enrolling at a Naval Air Station (partly to pay his way through school), Brown encountered several obstacles, including from racists trying to sabotage his training, but completed his training on Oct. 21, 1948 — 75 years ago this month. Brown flew combat missions, helping Marines out of encirclements, doing so in treacherous winter weather. During one mission, his plane was hit and he was trapped, while his wingman and comrade Thomas J. Hudner persistently tried in vain to rescue him from the aircraft.
Brown was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart and Air Medal. The USS Jesse L. Brown was launched as the first ship named in honor of a Black naval officer.
MOLLY PITCHER — MARY LUDWIG HAYS MCCAULEY, BORN Oct. 13, 1754, was nicknamed “Molly Pitcher,” for her role in the Continental Army, that of a water carrier. During the Battle of Monmouth (June 28, 1778), Molly was said to have distinguished herself by taking over for her wounded husband, William, loading and firing a cannon for him. General George Washington issued her a warrant as a non-commissioned officer, and she became known as “Sergeant Molly.”
Other sources, however, say that “Molly Pitcher” is a metaphor for women who have acted heroically in times of battle or crisis, and have ascribed the moniker to Margaret Corbin, the wife of another artilleryman, John Corbin, in the Continental Army in Philadelphia. When John Corbin was killed in action, she fired the cannon in his place until incurring an arm injury. She was awarded an annual pension of $50.
GOOD KING EDWARD — OCTOBER 13 IS OBSERVED AS THE FEAST DAY OF AN 11TH CENTURY KING WHO WAS LATER CANONIZED AS ST. EDWARD, THE CONFESSOR. King of England from 1042-1066 — the year that William the Conqueror invaded Normandy — Edward the Confessor was an Anglo-Saxon monarch and considered to be the last ruler of the House of Wessex. He reigned 24 years before the Battle of Hastings. Some historians regard Edward the Confessor as a pious, unworldly man; however, others chronicle him as a capable and resourceful sovereign — and definitely not “unworldly,” as he could be ruthless.
Pope Alexander III canonized Edward the Confessor in 1161. His October 13 feast day is observed in both the Roman Catholic and Church of England liturgical calendars.
BROOKLYN-BORN ‘SECOND GENT’ — DOUGLAS CRAIG EMHOFF (birthdate October 13, 1964) is an American lawyer who is the second gentleman of the United States, married to Kamala Harris, the first woman vice president of the United States. He has made history also as the first Jewish spouse of either a president or vice president. An entertainment lawyer earlier in his career, Emhoff is a distinguished visitor from practice at Georgetown University Law Center, and a distinguished fellow of Georgetown Law’s Institute for Technology Law and Policy, according to the university’s website, and has taught courses such as “Entertainment Law Disputes.”
Emhoff and his parents lived at 1480 Ocean Ave., near Avenue J, in Midwood until he was about five years old, according to Curbed and BKLYNER.
OLDEST MAN IN SPACE — WILLIAM SHATNER, WHO PLAYED THE SWASHBUCKLING CAPTAIN JAMES T. KIRK ON STAR TREK-THE ORIGINAL SERIES, made it into “Space, the final frontier” — this time in real life, at age 90, on Oct. 13, 2021. Blue Origin, the suborbital spaceflight services company that Amazon owner Jeff Bezos founded, invited Shatner aboard the NS-18 (New Shepard), where the Star Trek actor was one of four space tourists for the 10-minute voyage. Said an emotional Shatner, “Everybody in the world needs to see this.” Shatner thus became the oldest man in space in the real world; although in the Star Trek universe, that honor went to his longtime chief medical officer, Dr. Leonard (Bones) McCoy, who was 120 years old when he first met Lt. Commander Data during a tour of the 24th-century Enterprise.
Shatner wrote in his memoir, “Boldly Go: Reflections on a Life of Awe and Wonder,” that he felt anxious when the space-flight day arrived, even though he had participated in numerous preparatory simulations and training courses with fellow voyagers: Glen de Vries, a tech mogul; Audrey Powers, Blue Origin’s vice president; and Chris Boshuizen, a former NASA engineer.
See previous milestones, here.
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