Day in History 28 March – Virginia Woolf – Dwight D. Eisenhower

VirginiaWoolfOn this day in 1941, writer Virginia Woolf put on her overcoat, filled its pockets with stones, walked into the River Ouse near her home in Lewes, East Sussex, England, and drowned herself, at the age of 59.   Born Adeline Virginia Stephen at 22 Hyde Park Gate in London on 25 January 1882.  In my opinion, one of the foremost modernists of the twentieth century.  During the interwar period, Woolf was a significant figure in London literary society and a central figure in the influential Bloomsbury Group, an influential group of associated English writers, intellectuals, philosophers and artists.  Her most famous works include the novels Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927) and Orlando (1928), and the book-length essay A Room of One’s Own (1929), with its famous dictum, “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”  Woolf suffered from severe bouts of mental illness throughout her life, thought to have been the result of what is now termed bipolar disorder.  Virginia Stephen married writer Leonard Woolf on 10 August 1912.  Despite his low material status (Woolf referring to Leonard during their engagement as a “penniless Jew”) the couple evidently shared a close bond.  The ethos of the Bloomsbury group encouraged a liberal approach to sexuality, and in 1922 she met the writer and gardener Vita Sackville-West, wife of Harold Nicolson.  After a tentative start, they began a sexual relationship.  In 1928, Woolf presented Sackville-West with Orlando, a fantastical biography in which the eponymous hero’s life spans three centuries and both sexes.  Nigel Nicolson, Sackville-West’s son, wrote “The effect of Vita on Virginia is all contained in Orlando, the longest and most charming love letter in literature, in which she explores Vita, weaves her in and out of the centuries, tosses her from one sex to the other, plays with her, dresses her in furs, lace and emeralds, teases her, flirts with her, drops a veil of mist around her”.  After their affair ended, the two women remained friends until Woolf’s death.  The Final Footprint – Woolf’s body was not found until 18 April 1941.  Woolf was cremated and her husband buried her cremated remains under an elm in the garden of Monk’s House, their home in Rodmell, Sussex.  Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is a Tony Award-winning 1962 play by Edward Albee.  It examines the breakdown of the marriage of a middle-aged couple, Martha and George.  The title is a pun on the song “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?” from Walt Disney’s The Three Little Pigs (1933), substituting Woolf’s name.  Martha and George repeatedly sing this version of the song throughout the play.  The film adaptation was released in 1966, written by Ernest Lehman, directed by Mike Nichols, and starring Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, George Segal and Sandy DennisMichael Cunningham‘s 1998 Pulitzer Prize–winning novel The Hours focused on three generations of women affected by Woolf’s novel Mrs Dalloway.  In 2002, a film version of the novel was released starring Nicole Kidman as Woolf, a role for which she won the 2002 Academy Award for Best Actress.  The film also starred Julianne Moore and Meryl Streep and featured an award-winning score by American composer Philip Glass.

On this day in 1969, five-star general and the 34th President of the United States, Ike, Dwight David Eisenhower died of congestive heart failure at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington D.C. at the age of 78.  Born 14 October 1890 in Denison, Texas.  During World War II, he served as Supreme Commander of the Allied forces in Europe, with responsibility for planning and supervising the successful invasion of France and Germany in 1944–45. In 1951, he became the first supreme commander of NATO.  A Republican, Eisenhower entered the 1952 presidential race and won by a landslide, defeating Democrat Adlai Stevenson and ending two decades of the New Deal Coalition holding the White House.  In the 1956 election, he would again face Stevenson, easily winning re-election.  Richard M. Nixon would serve as his vice president for both of his terms in office.  Eisenhower graduated from the U. S. Military Academy in West Point.  He married Mary Geneva “Mamie”Doud (1916-1969 his death).  Eisenhower retired to the place where he and Mamie had spent much of their post-war time, a working farm adjacent to the battlefield at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  The Final Footprint – Eisenhower is entombed in a small chapel, the Place of Meditation, on the grounds of the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene, Kansas.  The day following his death, his body was moved to the Washington National Cathedral’s Bethlehem Chapel where he lay in repose for twenty-eight hours.  On March 30, his body was brought by caisson to the United States Capitol where he lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda.  On March 31, Eisenhower’s body was returned to the National Cathedral where he was given an Episcopal Church funeral service.  That evening, Eisenhower’s body was placed onto a train en route to Abilene.  Nixon, by this time president himself, said of Eisenhower’s death; “Some men are considered great because they lead great armies or they lead powerful nations.  For eight years now, Dwight Eisenhower has neither commanded an army nor led a nation; and yet he remained through his final days the world’s most admired and respected man, truly the first citizen of the world.”  There are many tributes and memorials to Eisenhower.  My personal favorite being the Eisenhower tree which overhangs the 17th fairway at Augusta National Golf Club, where he was a member.  Evidently the tree proved to be quite an obstacle for him when he played the course.  He asked the club to remove the tree and they refused.

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Day in History 27 March – James VI and I

On this day in 1625, King of Scots James VI and King of England as James I, died at Theobalds House, England at the age of 58.  Born on 19 June 1566 at Edinburgh Castle.  As the eldest son and heir apparent of the monarchy he automatically became Duke of Rothesay and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland.  James was baptised “Charles James” on 17 December 1566 in a Catholic ceremony held at Stirling Castle.  He became King of Scotland when he was just thirteen months old on 24 July 1567, succeeding his mother Mary, Queen of Scots, who had been compelled to abdicate in his favour.  In 1603, he succeeded the last Tudor monarch of England and Ireland, Elizabeth I, who died without issue.  He then ruled England, Scotland, and Ireland for 22 years, often using the title King of Great Britain.  Under James, the “Golden Age” of Elizabethan literature and drama continued, with writers such as William Shakespeare, John Donne, Ben Jonson, and Sir Francis Bacon contributing to a flourishing literary culture.  Sir Anthony Weldon claimed that James had been termed “the wisest fool in Christendom”, an epithet associated with his character ever since.  James was the only son of Mary, Queen of Scots, and her second husband, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley.  Both Mary and Darnley were great-grandchildren of Henry VII of England through Margaret Tudor, the older sister of Henry VIII.  James was the first cousin twice removed Elizabeth I.  Mary’s rule over Scotland was insecure, for both she and her husband, being Roman Catholics, faced a rebellion by Protestant noblemen.  James married the fourteen-year-old Anne of Denmark, younger daughter of the Protestant King of Denmark Frederick II.  The couple were married formally at the Bishop’s Palace in Oslo on 23 November 1589 and, after stays at Elsinore and Copenhagen, returned to Scotland in May 1590.  The stability of James’s government in Scotland and in the early part of his English reign, as well as his relatively enlightened views on religion and war, have earned him a positive evaluation from many recent historians.  The Final Footprint – James was entombed in Westminster Abbey.  Bishop John Williams of Lincoln preached the sermon, observing, “King Solomon died in Peace, when he had lived about sixty years … and so you know did King James”.  “As he lived in peace,” remarked the Earl of Kellie, “so did he die in peace, and I pray God our king [Charles I] may follow him”.  Other notable Final Footprints at Westminster include; Robert Browning, Lord Byron, Geoffrey Chaucer, Oliver Cromwell, Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Edward The Confessor, Elizabeth I, George II, George Friederic Handel, Samuel Johnson, Ben Jonson, Charles II, Edward III, Edward VI, Henry III, Henry V, Henry VII, Richard II, Rudyard Kipling, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Milton, Isaac Newton, Laurence Olivier, Henry Purcell, Mary I, Mary II, Mary Queen of Scots, Thomas Shadwell, Edmund Spenser, Lord Alfred Tennyson, Dylan Thomas, and William III.

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Day in History 26 March – Ludwig van Beethoven – Walt Whitman

Portrait by Joseph Karl Stieler

On this day in 1827, composer and pianist, Ludwig van Beethoven died in Vienna at the age of 56.  Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, now in present-day Germany.  Beethoven was likely born on 16 December 1770.  He moved to Vienna in his early 20’s, studying with Joseph Haydn and quickly gained a reputation as a virtuoso pianist.  His hearing began to deteriorate in the late 1790s, yet he continued to compose, conduct, and perform, even after becoming completely deaf.  In my opinion, Beethoven is the crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music and he remains one of the most famous and influential composers of all time.  My favorite Beethoven composition is his Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major, Op. 73, the “Emperor Concerto”.  Beethoven never married though he apparently had several loves.  He met Giulietta Guicciardi in about 1800 and mentions his love for her in a letter to a friend.  Beethoven dedicated to Giulietta his Sonata No. 14, popularly known as the “Moonlight” Sonata.  Marriage plans were thwarted by Giulietta’s father and perhaps Beethoven’s common lineage.  Perhaps Beethoven proposed to Josephine Deym, at least informally.  While his feelings were apparently reciprocated, she turned him down possibly due to the fact that she was born of nobility and he was a commoner.  It is also likely that he considered proposing (whether he actually did or not is unknown) to Therese Malfatti, the dedicatee of “Für Elise” in 1810; his common status may also have thwarted those plans.  Apparently while staying in the Bohemian spa town of Teplitz, he wrote three love letters to an “Immortal Beloved.”  While the identity of the intended recipient is the subject of ongoing debate, the most likely candidate, based on people’s movements and the contents of the letters, is Antonie Brentano, a married woman with whom he had begun a friendship in 1810.  The Final Footprint – Beethoven was initially interred in the Währing cemetery, north-west of Vienna, after a requiem mass at the church of the Holy Trinity (Dreifaltigkeitskirche).  The funeral procession on 29 March 1827 was attended by an estimated 20,000 Viennese citizens. Franz Schubert, who would die the following year and would be buried next to Beethoven, was one of the torchbearers.  Beethoven’s remains were exhumed for study in 1862, and moved in 1888 to Vienna’s Zentralfriedhof, the largest and most famous cemetery among Vienna’s nearly 50 cemeteries.  His grave is marked by a large marble monument.  Eddie Van Halen‘s middle name “Lodewijk” was derived from Beethoven (Lodewijk is the Dutch version of Ludwig).  Other notable Final Footprints at Zentralfriedhof include; Johannes Brahms, Antonio Salieri, Schubert, Johann Strauss I, Johann Strauss II.  In addition, a cenotaph was erected there in honour of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Walt_Whitman_-_George_Collins_CoxOn this day in 1892, poet, essayist, journalist, teacher, government clerk, volunteer nurse during the Civil War, The Father of Free Verse, Walt Whitman died in Camden, New Jersey at the age of 72.  Born Walter Whitman on 31 May 1819, in West Hills, Town of Huntington, Long Island.  A humanist, he was a part of the transition between transcendentalism and realism, incorporating both views in his works.  In my opinion, Whitman is among the most influential poets in the American canon.  His work was very controversial in its time, particularly his poetry collection Leaves of Grass, which was described as obscene for its overt sexuality.  First published in 1855 with his own money, Leaves of Grass was an attempt at reaching out to the common person with an American epic.  He continued expanding and revising it until his death in 1892.  Whitman never married.  The Final Footprint – A public viewing of his body was held at his Camden home; over one thousand people visited in three hours. Apparently, Whitman’s oak coffin was barely visible because of all the flowers and wreaths left for him.  Four days after his death, he was entombed in the private mausoleum he had built at Harleigh Cemetery in Camden.  Another public ceremony was held at the cemetery, with friends giving speeches, live music, and refreshments.  Whitman’s friend, the orator Robert Ingersoll, delivered the eulogy.  Later, the remains of Whitman’s parents and two of his brothers and their families were moved to the mausoleum.  Whitman has been claimed as America’s first “poet of democracy”, a title meant to reflect his ability to write in a singularly American character.  A British friend of Walt Whitman, Mary Smith Whitall Costelloe, wrote: “You cannot really understand America without Walt Whitman, without Leaves of Grass… He has expressed that civilization, ‘up to date,’ as he would say, and no student of the philosophy of history can do without him.”.  Poet Ezra Pound called Whitman “America’s poet… He is America.”.  Andrew Carnegie called him “the great poet of America so far”.  Whitman considered himself a messiah-like figure in poetry.  William Sloane Kennedy, speculated that “people will be celebrating the birth of Walt Whitman as they are now the birth of Christ”.  The literary critic, Harold Bloom wrote, as the introduction for the 150th anniversary of Leaves of Grass:

If you are American, then Walt Whitman is your imaginative father and mother, even if, like myself, you have never composed a line of verse. You can nominate a fair number of literary works as candidates for the secular Scripture of the United States. They might include Melville’s Moby-Dick, Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Emerson’s two series of Essays and The Conduct of Life. None of those, not even Emerson’s, are as central as the first edition of Leaves of Grass.

Whitman’s vagabond lifestyle was adopted by the Beat movement and its leaders such as Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac in the 1950s and 1960s as well as anti-war poets like Adrienne Rich and Gary SnyderLawrence Ferlinghetti numbered himself among Whitman’s “wild children”, and the title of his 1961 collection Starting from San Francisco is a deliberate reference to Whitman’s Starting from Paumanok.  Whitman also influenced Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, and was the model for the character of Dracula.  Stoker said in his notes that Dracula represented the quintessential male which, to Stoker, was Whitman, with whom he corresponded until Whitman’s death.  Other admirers included the Eagle Street College, an informal group established in 1885 at the home of James William Wallace in Eagle Street, Bolton, to read and discuss the poetry of Whitman.  The group subsequently became known as the Bolton Whitman Fellowship or Whitmanites.  Its members held an annual ‘Whitman Day’ celebration around the poet’s birthday.  Whitman’s poetry has been set to music by a large number of composers including: Kurt Weill, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Frederick Delius, Paul Hindemith, Karl Amadeus Hartmann, Benjamin Britten, Leonard Bernstein, Ned Rorem, Ronald Corp, George Crumb, Roger Sessions and John Adams.  The Walt Whitman Bridge crosses the Delaware River near his home in Camden.

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Day in History 25 March – Buck Owens

On this day in 2006, singer and songwriter, Buck Owens died in his sleep at his ranch in Bakersfield, California at the age of 76.  Born Alvis Edgar Owens, Jr. on 12 August 1929 in Sherman, Texas.  Evidently Buck was a donkey on the Owens farm and one day Alvis, Jr. announced that his name was also Buck and it stuck.  Owens settled in Bakersfield in 1951 and pioneered what came to be known as the Bakersfield sound.  From 1969 to 1986, Owens co-hosted the TV series Hee Haw with Roy Clark.  My favorite Owens’ songs are “Together Again” and “Love’s Gonna Live Here.”  Owens was married four times all ending in divorce; Bonnie Campbell, Phyllis Buford, Jana Jae Greif, Jennifer Smith.  The Final Footprint – Owens is entombed in the The Buck Owens Family Private Mausoleum “Buck’s Place” at Greenlawn Southwest Mortuary and Cemetery in Bakersfield.

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Day in History 24 March – Elizabeth I

“Darnley Portrait” c. 1757

On this day in 1603,  Queen regnant of England and Queen regnant of Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death, The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth I died at Richmond Palace at the age of 69.  Born in Greenwich Palace in the Chamber of Virgins on Sunday 7 September 1533, and named after both her grandmothers, Elizabeth of York and Elizabeth Howard.  She was the second child of Henry VIII of England to survive infancy born in wedlock; her mother was Henry’s second wife, Anne Boleyn.  Following the death of Henry on 28 January 1547, Elizabeth’s half-brother Edward VI would rule for six years until his death at the age of fifteen, Lady Jane Grey would rule for nine days and Elizabeth’s half-sister Mary I would rule for five years until her death at the age of 42.  Elizabeth’s 44 year reign provided welcome stability for the kingdom and helped forge a sense of national identity.  Elizabeth’s reign is known as the Elizabethan Era, famous above all for the flourishing of English drama, led by playwrights such as William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe.  Elizabeth never married.  Apparently she was in love with her childhood friend Lord Robert Dudley.  Unfortunately due to the scandal surrounding the death of his wife, marriage to him was not possible.  On her marital status she said; “If I follow the inclination of my nature, it is this: beggar-woman and single, far rather than queen and married”.  And; “And, in the end, this shall be for me sufficient, that a marble stone shall declare that a queen, having reigned such a time, lived and died a virgin.”  Elizabeth opposed a French presence in Scotland.  She feared that the French planned to invade England and put her first cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots, who was Catholic and considered by many to be the heir to the English crown on the throne.  When Mary was forced by the Protestant Scottish lords to abdicate in favour of her son James, Mary fled to England seeking the protection of Elizabeth.  Perceiving her as a threat, Elizabeth had her arrested.  After 19 years in custody in a number of castles and manor houses in England, she was tried and executed for treason for her alleged involvement in three plots to assassinate the queen.  Elizabeth weathered the storm of religious division, surrounded herself with wise advisors who were dedicated to her, and used her own considerable political savvy, some would say luck, to become one the most beloved monarchs of all time.  The impoverished and tattered country she had inherited had become one of the richest, most powerful nations in the world.    The Final Footprint – Elizabeth’s coffin was carried downriver at night to Whitehall, on a barge lit with torches.  At her funeral on 28 April, the coffin was taken to Westminster Abbey on a hearse drawn by four horses hung with black velvet, where she was entombed.  Her death marked the end of the Tudor dynasty.  Many books and movies have featured Elizabeth, including Elizabeth (1998) and Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007), both starring Cate Blanchett in the title role.  She was nominated for an Academy Award for both films.  The first film was nominated for best picture.  Other notable Final Footprints at Westminster include; Robert Browning, Lord Byron, Geoffrey Chaucer, Oliver Cromwell, Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Edward The Confessor, George II, George Friederic Handel, James I (James VI of Scotland), Samuel Johnson, Ben Jonson, Charles II, Edward III, Edward VI, Henry III, Henry V, Henry VII, Richard II, Rudyard Kipling, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Milton, Sir Isaac Newton, Laurence Olivier, Henry Purcell, Mary I, Mary II, Mary Queen of Scots, Thomas Shadwell, Edmund Spenser, Lord Alfred Tennyson, Dylan Thomas, and William III.

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Day in History 23 March – Elizabeth Taylor

On this day in 2011, multiple Academy Award nominated actress and two-time winner, social activist, champion of AIDS awareness, Liz, Dame Elizabeth Taylor, died from congestive heart failure in Los Angeles at the age of 79.  Born Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor on 27 February 1932 in Hampstead Garden Suburb, London.  My all-time favorite movie in which she appeared was George Steven‘s epic Giant (1956) based on the Edna Ferber novel and starring Rock Hudson and James Dean.  My other favorites include; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) based on the Tennesse Williams play and co-starring Paul Newman; Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) based on the Williams play and co-starring Katharine Hepburn and Montgomery Clift; Cleopatra (1963) co-starring Richard Burton; Relections in a Golden Eye (1967) based on the novel by Carson McCullers and co-starring Marlon Brando.  In 1959, Taylor converted from Christian Science to Judaism.  Taylor was married eight times to seven men; Conrad Hilton, Jr. (1950-1951 divorce), Michael Wilding (1952-1957 divorce), Mike Todd (1957-1958 his death), Eddie Fisher (1959-1964 divorce), Richard Burton (1964-1974 divorce, 1975-1976 divorce), John Warner (1976-1982 divorce) and Larry Fortensky (1991-1996 divorce).  Taylor married Fortensky at Michal Jackson’s Neverland Ranch.  Taylor attended Jackson’s private funeral.  Long Live Liz!  The Final Footprint – Taylor was entombed in the Great Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California, the day after her death in accordance with Jewish custom.  The Great Mausoleum was fashioned after Campo Santo in Genoa, Italy and contains many of the most highly sought after final resting spaces within Forest Lawn Glendale.  Within the Great Mausoleum is the Court of Honor where individuals are inducted as “Immortals” by Forest Lawn’s Council of Regents and the structure is protected by guards and is not accessible by the public.  Time Magazine described it as the “New World’s Westminster Abbey”.  Other notable Final Footprints at Forest Lawn Glendale include; L. Frank Baum, Humphrey Bogart, Lon Chaney, Nat King Cole, Dorothy Dandridge, Jean Harlow, Sam Cooke, Walt Disney, Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, Michael Jackson, Carole Lombard, Casey Stengel, Jimmy Stewart, and Spencer Tracy.

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Day in History 22 March – Goethe

Portrait 1828 by Joseph Karl Stieler

On this day in 1832, writer and polymath, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, died in Weimar, Grand Duchy of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach at the age of 82.  Born 28 August 1749 in Frankfurt, then an Imperial Free City of the Holy Roman Empire.  It is my opinion that Goethe is the greatest writer in German literature.  His Faust is one of the best long poems ever written.  In 1774 he wrote the book which would bring him worldwide fame, The Sorrows of Young Werther.  Goethe appears to have had several muses who influenced his writing.  In Leipzig, Goethe fell in love with Käthchen Schönkopf and wrote cheerful verses about her in the Rococo genre.  On a trip to the village Sesenheim, Goethe fell in love with Friederike Brion.  In 1776, Goethe formed a close relationship to Charlotte von Stein, an older, married woman.  The intimate bond with Frau von Stein lasted for ten years.  In 1806, Goethe was living in Weimar with his mistress Christiane Vulpius.  They would finally marry after eighteen years (1806 – 1816 her death).  By 1820, Goethe was on amiable terms with Kaspar Maria von Sternberg.  In 1823, having recovered from a near fatal heart illness, Goethe fell in love with Ulrike von Levetzow whom he wanted to marry.  As a would be, want to be, frustrated writer, I fully understand the value of a good muse.  Goethe’s influence would spread across Europe and across varied artistic mediums.  The first production of Richard Wagner‘s opera Lohengrin took place in Weimar in 1850.  The conductor was Franz Liszt, who chose the date 28 August, Goethe’s birthday, in honour of Goethe.  He is widely quoted; “Against criticism a man can neither protest nor defend himself; he must act in spite of it, and then it will gradually yield to him”, “Divide and rule, a sound motto; unite and lead, a better one”, and “Enjoy when you can, and endure when you must.”  Goethe, one of the world’s greatest thinkers.  The Final Footprint – Goethe is entombed in the Ducal Vault in Weimar’s Historical Cemetery.  Friedrich Schiller is entombed there as well.  A bronze statue of Goethe and Schiller was erected in Weimar.  The Goethe Monument was erected in Chicago’s Lincoln Park.

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Day in History 21 March – Pocahontas

On this day in 1617, Native American Indian chief’s daughter, Pocahontas died in Gravesend, Kent, England at the approximate age of 21.  Born about 1595 in what is now Virginia.  She was the daughter of Powhatan, the paramount chief of Tsenacommacah, an alliance of about thirty Algonquian-speaking groups and chiefdoms in Tidewater Virginia.  Pocahontas was known for having assisted colonial settlers at Jamestown and for reportedly saving Captain John Smith‘s life.  She converted to Christianity and married the English settler John Rolfe.  They had a son, Thomas Rolfe and her many descendants include; Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, wife of Woodrow WilsonAdmiral Richard Byrd; Virginia Governor Harry Flood Byrd; fashion-designer and socialite Pauline de Rothschild; former First Lady Nancy Reagan.  The Rolfes left Virginia for England in 1616.  She died just as they were beginning a return trip to Virginia.  The Final Footprint – Pocahontas is interred somewhere in Gravesend, the exact whereabouts are not known.  Her memory is honored in Gravesend with a life-size bronze statue at St. George’s Church.

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Day in History 20 March – Sir Isaac Newton

Portrait of Newton by Godfrey Kneller (1689)

On this day in 1727,  physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian, Sir Isaac Newton died in his sleep in Kensington, Middlesex, England at the age of 84.  Born 25 December 1642 at Woolsthorpe Manor in Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, a hamlet in the county of Lincolnshire.  In my opinion, one of the most influential people in human history.  His Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Latin for “Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy”; usually called the Principia) (1687) lays the groundwork for most of classical mechanics and describes universal gravitation and the three laws of motion.  Newton often told the story that he was inspired to formulate his theory of gravitation by watching the fall of an apple from a tree.  Seems to me it is unlikely that the apple actually hit him on the head.  Newton was an unorthodox Christian and actually wrote more on Biblical studies than on science and mathematics.  English poet Alexander Pope wrote of Newton; “Nature and nature’s laws lay hid in night/God said “Let Newton be” and all was light.”  Newton himself wrote; “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”, and “I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”  The Final Footprint – Newton is entombed in Westminster Abbey.  His monument is north of the entrance to the choir against the choir screen, near his tomb.  Executed by the sculptor Michael Rysbrack (1694–1770) in white and grey marble with design by the architect William Kent.  The monument features a figure of Newton reclining on top of a sarcophagus, his right elbow resting on several of his great books and his left hand pointing to a scroll with a mathematical design.  Above him is a pyramid and a celestial globe showing the signs of the Zodiac and the path of the comet of 1680.  The Latin inscription on the base translates as: “Here is buried Isaac Newton, Knight, who by a strength of mind almost divine, and mathematical principles peculiarly his own, explored the course and figures of the planets, the paths of comets, the tides of the sea, the dissimilarities in rays of light, and, what no other scholar has previously imagined, the properties of the colours thus produced. Diligent, sagacious and faithful, in his expositions of nature, antiquity and the holy Scriptures, he vindicated by his philosophy the majesty of God mighty and good, and expressed the simplicity of the Gospel in his manners. Mortals rejoice that there has existed such and so great an ornament of the human race!”  Other notable Final Footprints at Westminster include; Robert Browning, Lord Byron, Geoffrey Chaucer, Oliver Cromwell, Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Edward The Confessor, Elizabeth I, George II, George Friederic Handel, James I (James VI of Scotland), Samuel Johnson, Ben Jonson, Charles II, Edward III, Edward VI, Henry III, Henry V, Henry VII, Richard II, Rudyard Kipling, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Milton, Laurence Olivier, Henry Purcell, Mary I, Mary II, Mary Queen of Scots, Thomas Shadwell, Edmund Spenser, Lord Alfred Tennyson, Dylan Thomas, and William III.

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Day in History 19 March – Larry Bud Melman

On this day in 2007, actor and comedian, Larry Bud Melman, died at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip, New York at the age of 85.  Born Calvert Grant DeForest on 23 July 1921 in Brooklyn.  Perhaps best known for his appearances on Late Night with David Letterman and the Late Show with David Letterman.  He was the cousin of actor DeForest Kelley of Star Trek fame.  His appearances on Letterman were so funny.  I used to watch Letterman back in the day when I could stay awake past 2300 hours.  The Final Footprint – DeForest was cremated and his cremains were interred in Pinelawn Cemetery in Farmingdale, New York.

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