Mar 17 2011

On This Day in History March 17

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

March 17 is the 76th day of the year (77th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 289 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 461, Saint Patrick, Christian missionary, bishop and apostle of Ireland, dies at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland.

Much of what is known about Patrick’s legendary life comes from the Confessio, a book he wrote during his last years. Born in Great Britain, probably in Scotland, to a well-to-do Christian family of Roman citizenship, Patrick was captured and enslaved at age 16 by Irish marauders. For the next six years, he worked as a herder in Ireland, turning to a deepening religious faith for comfort. Following the counsel of a voice he heard in a dream one night, he escaped and found passage on a ship to Britain, where he was eventually reunited with his family.

According to the Confessio, in Britain Patrick had another dream, in which an individual named Victoricus gave him a letter, entitled “The Voice of the Irish.” As he read it, Patrick seemed to hear the voices of Irishmen pleading him to return to their country and walk among them once more. After studying for the priesthood, Patrick was ordained a bishop. He arrived in Ireland in 433 and began preaching the Gospel, converting many thousands of Irish and building churches around the country. After 40 years of living in poverty, teaching, traveling and working tirelessly, Patrick died on March 17, 461 in Saul, where he had built his first church.

First St. Patrick’s Day parade

In New York City, the first parade honoring the Catholic feast day of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is held by Irish soldiers serving in the British army.

Early Irish settlers to the American colonies, many of whom were indentured servants, brought the Irish tradition of celebrating St. Patrick’s feast day to America. The first recorded St. Patrick’s Day parade was held not in Ireland but in New York City in 1762, and with the dramatic increase of Irish immigrants to the United States in the mid-19th century, the March 17th celebration became widespread. Today, across the United States, millions of Americans of Irish ancestry celebrate their cultural identity and history by enjoying St. Patrick’s Day parades and engaging in general revelry.

 45 BC – In his last victory, Julius Caesar defeats the Pompeian forces of Titus Labienus and Pompey the Younger in the Battle of Munda.

180 – Marcus Aurelius dies leaving Commodus the sole emperor of the Roman Empire.

624 – Led by Muhammad, the Muslims of Medina defeat the Quraysh of Mecca in the Battle of Badr.

1337 – Edward, the Black Prince is made Duke of Cornwall, the first Duchy in England.

1776 – American Revolution: British forces evacuate Boston, Massachusetts after George Washington and Henry Knox place artillery in positions overlooking the city.

1780 – American Revolution: George Washington grants the Continental Army a holiday “as an act of solidarity with the Irish in their fight for independence”.

1805 – The Italian Republic, with Napoleon as president, becomes the Kingdom of Italy, with Napoleon as King.

1842 – The Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was form;

1860 – The First Taranaki War begins in Taranaki, New Zealand, a major phase of the New Zealand land wars.

1861 – The Kingdom of Italy (1861-1946) is proclaimed.

1891 – SS Utopia collides with HMS Anson in the Bay of Gibraltar and sinks, killing 562 of the 880 passengers on board.

1921 – The Second Republic of Poland adopts the March Constitution.

1939 – Second Sino-Japanese War: Battle of Nanchang between the Kuomintang and Japan begins,

1941 – In Washington, D.C., the National Gallery of Art is officially opened by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

1942 – Holocaust: The first Jews from the Lviv Ghetto are gassed at the Belzec death camp in what is today eastern Poland.

1945 – The Ludendorff Bridge in Remagen, Germany collapses, ten days after its capture.

1947 – First flight of the B-45 Tornado strategic bomber.

1948 – Benelux, France, and the United Kingdom sign the Treaty of Brussels, a precursor to the North Atlantic Treaty establishing NATO.

1950 – Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley announce the creation of element 98, which they name “Californium”.

1955 – The Richard Riot occurs in the streets of Montreal over the suspension of hockey legend Maurice Richard.

1957 – A plane crash in Cebu, Philippines kills Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay and 24 others.

1958 – The United States launches the Vanguard 1 satellite.

1959 – Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, flees Tibet for India.

1960 – U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs the National Security Council directive on the anti-Cuban covert action program that will ultimately lead to the Bay of Pigs Invasion.

1966 – Off the coast of Spain in the Mediterranean, the DSV Alvin submarine finds a missing American hydrogen bomb.

1969 – Golda Meir becomes the first female Prime Minister of Israel.

1970 – My Lai Massacre: The United States Army charges 14 officers with suppressing information related to the incident.

1973 – The Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph Burst of Joy is taken, depicting a former prisoner of war being reunited with his family.

1979 – The Penmanshiel Tunnel collapses during engineering works, killing two workers.

1985 – Serial killer Richard Ramirez, aka the “Night Stalker”, commits the first two murders in his Los Angeles, California murder spree.

1988 – A Colombian Boeing 727 jetliner, Avianca Flight 410, crashes into a mountainside near the Venezuelan border killing 143.

1988 – Eritrean War of Independence: The Nadew Command, an Ethiopian army corps in Eritrea, is attacked on three sides by military units of the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front in the opening action of the Battle of Afabet.

1992 – Israeli Embassy attack in Buenos Aires: Suicide car bomb attack kills 29 and injures 242.

1992 – A referendum to end apartheid in South Africa was passed 68.73% to 31.27%.

2000 – More than 800 members of the Ugandan cult Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God die in what is considered to be a mass murder and suicide orchestrated by leaders of the cult.

2003 – Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Robin Cook, resigns from the British Cabinet in disagreement with government plans for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

2004 – Unrest in Kosovo: More than 22 are killed and 200 wounded. 35 Serbian Orthodox shrines in Kosovo and two mosques in Belgrade and Niš are destroyed.

2008 – Governor of New York Eliot Spitzer resigns after a scandal involving a high-end prostitute. Lieutenant Governor David Paterson becomes New York State governor.

Holidays and observances

   * Christian Feast Day:

         o Alexius of Rome (Eastern Church)

         o Gertrude of Nivelles

         o Joseph of Arimathea (Western Church)

         o Patrick

         o Proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy, celebrated only for particular anniversary such as 1961 (100th) and 2011(150th)

   * Evacuation Day (Suffolk County,


   * Liberalia, in honor of Liber Pater. Considered by some to be part of Agonalia. (Ancient Rome)

   * National Muay Thai Day

   * Saint Patrick’s Day, a public holiday in Ireland, Montserrat and the Canadian Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, widely celebrated elsewhere in North America and worldwide.