Saturday, March 14, 2009

What's Special About This Week--March 16-20

Back by popular demand--or at the least request of one reader, here are events are on the calendar for the coming week.

March 16, St Urho's Day---This day is set aside to honor the man who drove the grasshoppers out of Finland, thus saving their grape crop. Grape growing in Finland sounds a wee bit unlikely, but that is the rumor. This legendary character is perhaps a figment of the imaginations of Minnesota Finns who wanted to get a holiday before St. Patrick. Decide for yourself when you visit this site with the "official" story.

March 16, 1801--U. S. Military Academy at West Point established--Since it was established 208 years ago, more than 50,000 people have graduated from West Point. Among them are some of the most famous military leaders in the United States--U. S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, Dwight David Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur, and Norman Schwarzkopf. Visit the official homepage of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point to learn about everything from their history to their admissions policy.

March 17--St. Patrick's Day-- I am not going to tell you about St. Patrick's Day--you already have heard about it since before you started school. Go to this informative website if you want to get some real facts instead of worrying about getting pinched. Where did that wild idea originate?

March 17, 1941--National Gallery of Art opened in Washington, D.C.--- In 1920s, Andrew W. Mellon was one of the richest men in the country. He also had an eye for good art which he collected over many years. When he died in 1937, he gave his art collection to the people of the United States. An act of Congress established the National Gallery which was completed in 1941. Two more buildings have been added since that time. Our seventh grade students will visit the National Gallery when they visit Washington, D.C. this spring, but anyone can take a guided tour via the Internet right here.

March 18, 1837--The University of Michigan established in Ann Arbor-- Go, Blue!
I could not let this date pass since so many of us at Emerson School have ties with the University of Michigan. (Please note that most of my extended family would say that the real U of M is in Missoula, Montana, but I won't argue that point here.) We know what it looks like today, but the history is pretty interesting. Here is the place to go to see pictures of the University as it grew over the years. It sure has changed over the years.

March 18, 1965--First human to walk in space-- When I was a girl in the 1960s we all spent a great deal of time wondering and worrying about the Space Race. The United States and the Soviet Union were both rushing to be the first to explore space. I remember sitting in front of the television, watching with excitement as the latest rocket was shot from Cape Canaveral. As the last of the trail of smoke from the rocket disappeared from the screen my dog, Auggie, always rushed up to lick the screen as if asking where it had gone. It was the Soviet Union, however, that took the first chance of having a cosmonaut (the Soviet equivalent of an astronaut) bravely exit the space ship as it orbited the earth and walk in space. Alexei Leonov spent ten minutes outside while his crew mate worried about his safe return. Leonov did return safely to the ship and many space walkers have followed in his footsteps. Read more about them here.

March 19--The Swallows return to Capistrano--- There are so many songs and stories about the swallows that return each year to the Mission of San Juan de Capistrano in California that is hard to know where fact ends and fiction begins. It is true, however, that centuries ago the padres of the mission noticed that cliff swallows consistently returned from their southern migration on St. Joseph's Day, March 19. There are religious and scientific explanations for this on this interesting site.

March 19--Poultry Day--Here is a little celebrated holiday, but it really exists--just do an Internet search if you are wondering. Google offered me over 10,000,000 hits. You can save time and just visit this funky site that suggests eggs for breakfast and barbecue chicken for dinner.

March 20--Great American Meatout-- Did you eat too much chicken on the 19th? Maybe you should consider going vegetarian for awhile. The Great American Meatout was established to coincide with the vernal equinox when people are thinking spring. The reasoning is that it is a good time to think about healthy eating. You can read their explanations here and then decide what you want to eat today.

March 20--Big Bird's Birthday-- You can always celebrate another birthday, so why not celebrate with the friendliest bird on Sesame Street. The Muppets even have their own wiki where you can read all about Big Bird and plan your own party.

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