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February 3rd

February 3rd is known as Ngay thanh lap Dang in Vietnam.  It’s the day the Communist Party of Vietnam was founded in the year 1930, and the anniversary is celebrated every year on this day.

Sixty years earlier on February 3rd, the 15th Amendment to the Constitution is ratified in the United States of America, ensuring the “right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

The Communist ideology and the 15th Amendment may seem incongruous, but the reasons for both are actually, in a way, the same: to make sure everyone feels like they matter; like they’re part of something.  Whether either achieved their goal, or whether either system is the best equipped to achieve it, is another story, but the goal is important.  When everyone feels like they’re part of something, when they have a vested interest, they want it to succeed, and nothing needs to succeed more than a society of people- from top to bottom, because every person does matter.

Of course representation doesn’t come free.  There is no representation without taxation, so it only makes sense that the 16th Amendment, which authorized the Federal Government to collect income tax, was also ratified on a February 3rd, this one in 1913.   Sometimes, you have to take a little bit of bad with the good.

February 1st

On February 1st in the year 1835, slavery was abolished in the island nation of Mauritius*.  The island was under British control at the time, after wresting control from the French in 1810, who took it in 1715 after the Dutch lost interest in it, only after the Portuguese abandoned it first.

Exactly 25 years after slavery was abolished on the small island nation off the south east coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean, on the other side of the world on February 1st, 1861, a State Convention meeting in Austin, Texas voted to secede from the United States of America.   Texas may have been only one state to secede, and not even the first, but it was crucial to the Confederate cause.  With ports on the east coast blocked off by the Union army, shipping lanes for the South to move men, munitions and goods were cut off.  But Texas was able to go through Mexico to trade outside of the States, and use the Mississippi River to move goods up through the South during the first couple of years of the Civil War, which within three months of the State Convention in Austin would be in full swing, marking perhaps the darkest period in American history.

But again on February 1, four years later now in 1865, President Lincoln approved and signed the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which stated:

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

There are ups and downs, victories and defeats in every journey.  Some of the ups may feel victory, like the war is won.  And some of the downs may seem devastating.  Things may seem to be lost and there is no bouncing back, but on February 1st we see that nothing is done so long as there is still fight left.  We can always pick ourselves back up to achieve something worthwhile enough to keep fighting for.

 

* Not to be confused with Mauritania, or the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, a country in North Africa, which was the last country in the world to abolish slavery in 1981.

January 23rd

On this date in 1849, the Geneva Medical College awarded the first medical degree to a woman in the United States to Elizabeth Blackwell, and in 1997, Madeleine Albright was sworn in as the first female Secretary of State in the country.

So a good day for women’s rights and achievement, but also a good day for humanity.  Secretary Albright was unanimously confirmed by the Senate, and in order for Miss Blackwell to be accepted by Geneva Medical College, the admissions board put the special circumstance to their 150 students; all of them male.  If one student objected, she would rejected.  All 150 men voted to let Miss Blackwell attend and at her graduation, the Dean stood and gave her a bow.

One’s struggle may seem insular.  The trials and tribulations, and the victories and achievements won from it belong to those who are in the thick of the fight, striving to rise.  Dr. Blackwell earned her degree.  Sec. Albright deserved that post.  No one can take any of the credit away from them, but just because a struggle is one’s own, that doesn’t mean they have to face it alone.

January 22nd

On this date in 1968, the first unmanned flight of the Apollo Lunar Module (LM1) lifted off.  The Apollo 5 mission was supposed to take off the previous April, but after delays and failed tests, the lift off landed on January 22, 1968.  The mission was deemed a success so the LM2 test flight was cancelled and they went straight to the LM3, flown on the Apollo 9 on March 3, 1969, which was the first manned flight with the Lunar Module, and then on July 16th, Apollo 11 lifted off with the Lunar Module Eagle, which would carry Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the Moon.

Fast forward five years from that first LM mission, the first step to the small step for man, and giant leap for mankind, and on January 22nd, 1973, the crew of the Apollo 17, launched on December 7, 1972, is addressing Congress about their mission, which was the last moon landing.

That was it.  Five years to the date, NASA had gone from the first step to that small step and giant leap, to sitting in front of Congress to tell them they had done it.  They had accomplished everything they had to with regards to the moon in just five years.  And more importantly, they had inspired millions and more.  It was by no means a simple endeavor.  In those five years, they reached the highest of highs and hit the lowest of lows, but always they kept going forward.  They had a mission to achieve something that had never been done before, and they did it and completed it in just five years.  It’s amazing what can be accomplished when inspired.