Sultan Abdülmecid I ruled the Ottoman Empire from 1823 to 1861. He was most famous for his efforts in trying to unite and modernize the Ottoman Empire through the Tanzimat reforms. However the sultan’s greatest act of kindness was in 1847 as Ireland was in the grips of the Great Famine. After hearing about the famine from his Irish doctor, Abdülmecid had decided to send 10,000 pounds in aid. However Queen Victoria, who only sent 2000 pounds to help Ireland, did not want to be outdone by Abdülmecid’s more generous offer and ordered him to send only a 1000 pounds. Although Abdülmecid did agree to this offer, secretly he sent three ships filled with food and provisions to the Irish town of Drogheda.
Sultan Abdülmecid pretty much won my heart after giving Queen Victoria a symbolic middle finger and helped hundreds of people who were starving, all in one beautiful story.
Tuesday, Sept 4: “Little Rock Nine” Denied Entrance to School
On this day in 1957, the “Little Rock Nine,” a group of African American high school students, unsuccessfully attempted to pass through angry crowds to integrate Central High School in Arkansas. Governor Orval Faubus had called out the National Guard to prevent them from entering the school.
Later that month, the students finally were able to enter the school under the protection of paratroopers dispatched by President Dwight Eisenhower.
President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act on this day—August 6—in 1965. On the occasion he said:
…let me now say to every Negro in this country: You must register. You must vote. You must learn, so your choice advances your interest and the interest of our beloved Nation. Your future, and your children’s future, depend upon it, and I don’t believe that you are going to let them down. This act is not only a victory for Negro leadership. This act is a great challenge to that leadership. It is a challenge which cannot be met simply by protests and demonstrations. It means that dedicated leaders must work around the clock to teach people their rights and their responsibilities and to lead them to exercise those rights and to fulfill those responsibilities and those duties to their country. If you do this, then you will find, as others have found before you, that the vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men.
Dr. Samuel “Sammy” Lee, 91, was the first Asian-American to win an Olympic gold medal for the U.S. at the 1948 London games, and the first man to win back-to-back gold medals in Olympic platform diving.
As a twelve-year-old in 1932, Lee dreamed of becoming a diver, but at the time Latinos, Asians and African-Americans were only allowed to use Fresno’s Brookside Pool on Wednesdays, on what was called “international day”: the day before the pool was scheduled to be drained and refilled with clean water. Because Lee needed a place to practice and could not regularly use the public pool, his coach dug a pit in his backyard and filled it with sand. Lee practiced by jumping into the pit.
I’ve learned so much about Olympians in the past few weeks, and this guy was a fucking champ. This article on Investors Business Daily goes a bit more in depth on what Mr. Lee was up against. Only having access to a pool ONCE a week, having to swallow his pride and train with a douchebag eventually led him to the Olympics where he beat out his competitors who probably had an advantage over him with the luxury of being able to train in a pool at their leisure. Then he came back four years later and did it again!
Lee went on to become an ear, nose, and throat doc, serve in the U.S. Army Medical Corps during the Korean War–wonder what that was like for a Korean American–and, later, coach diving legend Greg Louganis to a silver medal in the 1976 Olympics. He’s a member of the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame, has a square named after him in LA’s K-town, and is now retired and living in Huntington Beach, CA.
(Via Financial Times) “To understand the Assads and their grip on power, this meticulously researched magazine feature is a must read.
It tells the story of Bashar, the Syrian dictator who came to power by accident, and the powerful personalities that surround him, including Assef Chawkat, his now deceased brother-in-law (“the real ‘brains’ behind the regime…”) and Chawkat’s wife Bushra, a trained pharmacist who is reportedly a strong-willed Ba’athist.”
Forty-three years ago, US Army Sergeant Steve Flaherty wrote a letter home to his mother from the jungles of Vietnam. Last Saturday, his letters returned to the United States.
One of Flaherty’s letters reads: “If Dad calls, tell him I got too close to being dead but I’m okay I was real lucky. I’ll write again soon… Our platoon started off with 35 men but winded up with 19 men when it was over. We lost platoon leader and whole squad…”
Read about the long journey of Sergeant Flaherty’s letters from Vietnam in 1969 to the US in 2012.
(Photo: Obituary of US Army Sergeant Steve Flaherty. From PRI’s The World.)