March 1, 2021



Good News in History, December 24

Happy Birthday to Dr. Anthony Fauci who turns 80 years old today. America’s leading infectious disease expert, he’s advised 6 Presidents on HIV AIDS, and was one of the principal architects of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), an AIDS program that has saved millions of lives in the developing world. He’s now famous for being the top scientist on the White House coronavirus task force.

To honor the immunologist for his service, Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser proclaimed today to be ‘Dr. Anthony Fauci Day, ‘tweeting, “We are incredibly proud to count Dr. Fauci among the many DC residents.”

Since 1984, Fauci has performed as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. (1940)

MORE Good News on this Date:

  • Verdi’s opera Aida premiered at the opening of the Suez Canal (1871)
  • First broadcast of a music program on radio, from Massachusetts (1906)
  • Albania became a republic (1924); Libya (1951) and Laos (1954) gained independence
  • Happy 61st Birthday to filmmaker Lee Daniels, who directed The Butler and his film Precious, which received 6 Academy Award nominations including Best Director, and also created the TV series Empire and Star (1959)
  • A rare Christmas Eve snowstorm fell on the southern US (2004)

And, on this date every year, the Declaration of Christmas Peace is read aloud at noon in the Old Great Square in Finland’s oldest city, Turku, a tradition dating back to the Middle Ages. With fanfare and warning, the declaration calls for quiet and peaceful conduct during the Christmas period, including no animal hunting. It is broadcast throughout the country every year on December 24.

Swedan forestAnd, 101 years ago today, the inventor Theophilus Van Kannel passed away, but he left the world a warmer more civilized place. On one cold day in wintery Philadelphia, Van Kannel sat working at the lobby desk in a busy building. Each time people entered and exited the main doors, Van Kannel was exposed to a chilling gust of wind and snow. He put his mind to work and shortly thereafter patented a solution — the revolving door.

On August 7, 1888 he won the patent which described, “Three radiating and equidistant wings. . . provided with weather-strips to insure a snug fit. . . and perfectly noiseless. Moreover, the door cannot be blown open by the wind. . . there is no possibility of collision, and yet persons can pass both in and out at the same time. ” The patent goes on to describe how a partition can be hinged so as to open and allow the passage of long objects through the revolving door. ” The world’s first wooden revolving door was installed at Rector’s, a restaurant on Times Square in Manhattan to minimize their heating and air conditioning losses, and in 1889 he founded the Van Kannel Revolving Door Company. (1919)

On this day 202 years ago, the Christmas carol Silent night (Stille Nacht) was composed in a few hours and performed in this little church in Austria.

St Nicholas church in Oberndorf, Austria, where the song was first sung, by Gakuro, CC license

The parish priest Joseph Mohr, himself a violinist and singer, wrote the lyrics some two years earlier. He wanted to use it for Midnight Mass, so he walked nearly two miles (3 km) from his home in Oberndorf bei Salzburg to visit his friend Franz Xaver Gruber.

In only a few hours, Gruber, a school teacher who also served as the church’s choir master and organist, set his poem to music. The simple song was sung that evening in a simple arrangement for guitar and choir. Within a few years, arrangements of the carol spread to churches in the Salzburg Archdiocese by folk singers from the Ziller Valley who took the composition on tours around Europe — performing for audiences that included Franz I of Austria and Alexander I of Russia. Mohr’s name was almost lost.

Over the years, because the original manuscript had been lost, Mohr’s name was forgotten and although Gruber was known to be the composer, many people assumed the melody was composed by a famous composer — and it was variously attributed to Haydn, Mozart, or Beethoven . However, a manuscript was discovered in 1995 in Mohr’s handwriting proving that he authored the poem in 1818.

Recorded by a large number of singers from every music genre, the version sung by Bing Crosby became the third best-selling single of all-time. During his life, Mohr also created a fund to allow children from poor families to attend school and set up a system for the care of the elderly. (1818)


And, on this day in 1914, the Christmas truce of World War I began when German troops fighting in Belgium began decorating their trenches and singing Christmas carols.

The British troops on the other side soon joined in the singing and soon these soldiers greeted each other on the plains between them, putting the war on hold while exchanging gifts of whiskey and cigars. Watch a wonderful depiction below …

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